Despite the wonder of our freedom achieved by the many sacrifices during the American Revolutionary War (1775-1783), we are still fighting to keep the flame of freedom burning brightly because of persistent external and internal pressures based on radical egalitarianism, ill-founded, logically inconsistent , and/or godless worldviews and philosophical systems. We all sense and see the fight around us, and who does not extrapolate from these devious and dangerous data points and not surmise that times of national and political upheaval could be on the near horizon? To read the news is to merely validate that times are turbulent. We all know, too, if something is not done, the turbulence will only explode as one viewpoint seeks to dominate another, forcing the State to step in to enact and enforce laws to bring peace and safety.
In light of the encroaching chaos, the twisting of current laws, the flagrant disregard of laws, the intimidation of lawmakers to acquiesce to the voice and desires of the mob apart from democratic debate and discussion, the belief you can form your own little utopian country within a country by living lawlessly, the utter disrespect of people in leadership positions, the warped belief that employing foul language is a substitute for sound/logical argument, the creation of laws to silence dissenting opinions/viewpoints, the battle among politicians for power and not lofty, God-honoring principles, the radicalization of a movement initially desirous of creating racial equality, the fear of being ruthlessly canceled by culture if you, a free American, do not embrace the mantras of said culture . . . yes, in light of all of this and so much more cultural sin and turmoil, we, as Christians, must stop and ask ourselves a key question:
How Should A Christians Respond To Turbulent Times? (Psalm 11)
Interestingly enough, Psalm 11 answers this all-important and timely question in a definitive, helpful fashion. In this individual lament, David recounts a time in his political/military life when the culture crumbled around him, and when it hatefully turned against him, seeking to dethrone and silence him. Scholars debate when this occurred, but we are probably safe to conjecture it either occurred when Saul, consumed by jealousy, sought to get rid of his divinely appointed replacement (1 Samuel), or when Absalom, his son, sought to undermine and seize his father’s throne (2 Samuel 15-18). As his godless, unethical opponents sought to ruin him, David, as any believer in this perilous predicament, sought the wisest course of action. The questions he struggled with easily emerge from a study of the text: Should I fight the fight of the faith by standing my ground, or does wisdom call for me the shift into the flight mode?
David’s individual lament just might be yours as you seek to live and move in our ever- increasing chaotic, Christ-hating, lawless culture. As the wicked, who once pleaded for tolerance, now are highly intolerant of anything and anyone who would dare stand in their way, you are probably smart enough to get fearful, to feel your anxiety level starting to peak. Yes, as the “tolerant” ones, who falsely assume a position of moral high ground (strange how they can opt for a relativistic view of truth but then quickly assume they, of all people, possess the heights of morality), make your life miserable by belittling, intimidating, and undercutting you any way they can, you are left asking the questions David posed. Should I stick around for more of this? Should I just seek an early retirement and let the next person in line attempt to handle this more effectively? Is all of this opposition worth it, really? Is it not time to start thinking about my safety by fleeing? Or should I stand on my principles, coupled with the timeless truths I find in the Word of God? Should I find creative and Christ-honoring ways to be salt where there is decay and to be light where there is encroaching darkness?
Believe me, over the last thirty-four years of being a Christian/Pastor, I have asked these types of questions many times. Sometimes wisdom calls for you to step back or to step aside; however, at other times, wisdom calls for you to step up, to plant your feet, and to trust God and be not moved in the face of evil. Personally, I could have chosen another topic for my doctoral dissertation, but when God clearly set up events in my life at the time I knew I had to write on the rise of transgenderism. When God opened the door for me to speak a Robinson High School on several different occasions on why you can trust the translation of the Bible, I knew what I had to do, knowing my presentation would not be widely popular and acceptable. When I was invited to speak for the National Day of Prayer at the Pentagon, I knew what that meant. I knew I would preach the Word of God in a culture divided over the Word; however, when God opened the door, again, I knew flight was not an option . . . although it did cross my thinking mind.
What about you? What does God want you to do? I think you can hear His soft, still voice as you consider David’s advice born out on the anvil of hardship, opposition, and turmoil. His advice to you consists of three components.
Please, Keep Focused (Psalm 11:1)
The superscription, as I have said before, is part of the Hebrew text, meaning it is also the inspired Word from God.
1 To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of David. In the LORD I put my trust;
I find it most interesting how David, a warrior, a military leader, king, a leader’s leader, took the time in the turbulence to craft a song for Israel to sing in worship. What a mature saint. When people made his life miserable, when they attacked him overtly and covertly, when they maligned his good name, when they put an evil spin on everything he did, he turned and poured his heart out to God in song. Amazing, as well as instructive. You may not be musical, nor possess the ability to write lyrics like this; however, this does not mean you cannot have a spiritual song which will put wind in your life sails. I am sure you know what that song is right now, do you not? For me, the song which comes to mind in times of trouble is Great Is Thy Faithfulness. Its words have lifted me up many times as I have encountered the Devil:
Great is Thy faithfulness," O God my Father,
There is no shadow of turning with Thee;
Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not
As Thou hast been Thou forever wilt be.
Great is Thy faithfulness! Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see;
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided—
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!
Summer and winter, and springtime and harvest,
Sun, moon and stars in their courses above,
Join with all nature in manifold witness
To Thy great faithfulness, mercy and love.
Great is Thy faithfulness! Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see;
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided—
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!
Amen. God, thank you for the medicinal value of spirit-filled songs.
At the opening of this particular song, David expresses how he chose to live his Christian life when non-Christians came after him:
1 To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of David. In the LORD I put my trust;
The preposition wedded to the name of God makes this statement grammatically emphatic David powerfully informs us of how to think in turbulent times by pointing us directly .) ַ ֽבּיה ֙ ָוה (
to the LORD, Yahweh, who is the God who is (ontologically speaking), who exists eternally outside and inside all time and space (Ex. 3:14-15). His choice of this name of God is, as I have said at other times, is no accident. The fact it occurs five times in seven verses serves to validate this hermeneutical observation. David wants us to completely understand that in the middle of the mayhem you are experiencing is the eternal LORD. He has not gone anywhere. He has not looked the other way. He has not been caught off-guard by your predicament. He has not been distracted by angelic activity as your life has unraveled. No, He is the LORD who is.
Permit me to re-couch this timeless, tender spiritual truth.
As antagonists ruthlessly sought to dismantle, derail, and/or destroy godly David, he wasted no time putting his absolute trust in the God who is. He did not call his attorneys. He did not ask for a few general officers to come into his office to sort out his course of re-action. He did not assemble his cabinet for wisdom and insight. He did not trust in his own leadership acumen and ability. No, He put his absolute trust in the LORD who is. He did this because he knew that because the LORD is, then He was/is more than capable of being there to help him . . . just as He promised. We should probably remind ourselves of what God has promised us, so we can stay focused in tough, trying times:
19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age (Matt. 28).
God, who cannot lie, with you no matter what. Here is some more insight:
5 Make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, “I WILL NEVER DESERT YOU, NOR WILL I EVER FORSAKE YOU,” (Heb. 13).
Once more, the God who cannot lie has personally promised to be with you throughout all facets of your life, be they triumphant or trying. Do you believe it?
Here is another reminder from the prophet Isaiah, a man who certainly had his share of opposition as a godly man in a godless time:
10 ‘Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand’ (Isa. 41).
Even if you are feeling alone in your trouble, even if you feel you have been abandoned, even if you think you are in this mess by yourself, you are dead wrong as a saint. The living LORD who loves you is with you, and because He is with you, there is, and will be, help from on high.
So I must ask you a personal question. Is your trust really in God, or are you trusting in someone or something else? A follow-up question is in order. How do you know when you are trusting God in your perilous, perplexing predicament? Here are a couple of ideas:
- You are not angry at the LORD for what you are going through.
- You are talking to the LORD in the trouble.
- You are reading the LORD’s Word to seek out wisdom and insight about yoursad, possibly sordid situation. It is through the Scriptures we will find the answers regarding how God wants us to navigate these wild waters of opposition. Learn from Israel, when they distrusted God He took this as disobedience and treated them accordingly (Psalm 78:19-22). Yet when they leaned on Him he provided for them in every way.
- You are in corporate worship because you want to lift the LORD up with His people, and you want to gain strength from His people.
- You praise the LORD for being the LORD of times and seasons (Lam. 3:37-38; Isa. 43:13; 46:10; Dan. 4:32).
- You have never stopped believing that the LORD controls all things for our ultimate good (Jer. 32:41).
Trouble has a way of getting your spiritual lenses out of focus. If this has occurred in your life, I think you know what you need to do right now. Here is a prayer worth praying: “Lord, forgive me for setting my eyes on all the wrong things and wrong people in this tortuous life even. I now commit my eyes to you and will do my part to keep them focused on you.”
A second word of spiritual advice from the pen of David, comes to us in the latter part of verse 1 through verse 3. In these verses we learn a simple premise:
Please, Keep Fearless (Psalm 11:1b-3)
First, join me in reading the verses, and then we will circle back for some much needed analysis.
How can you say to my soul, "Flee as a bird to your mountain "?
Here we encountered what I believe are the words of counsel David received from his friends. From verse 1b it appears these buddies looked at the unabated, unstoppable advancement of evil directed at David and they, in unison, told him he needed to get out of Dodge. In Hebrew, they commanded the king to take flight like a bird to a high, remote mountain for his own safety and sanity. I am sure the advice proved tempting to the troubled leader. Their motto sounded so
appropriate: When the going gets tough, the tough get going out of town. How tempting.
Had David embraced this advice from his timid friends, think of the ramifications which must have filled his mind:
- Griping, complaining, and gossiping would be a thing of the past.
- He could sleep at night.
- He could have some personal peace and rest.
- He would not have to defend everything he did and said.
- His days would not have been filled with angst and angry, volatile people anymore.
- He would not have to worry any longer about being canceled because he said the ever-changing wrong word. (Read Jeremiah with the view how many times the leaders of the nation sought to cancel his words of truth.)
Tempting, would you not say? Ever been there? I have . . . many times.
My best friend, Rick Sealy, who is now with the Lord, came to me when he was 55 and wanted to know if he, the Captain over homicide, should just retire and go off into the sunset, or step up and run for Sheriff. I told him, “Rick, as your pastor and friend, I think God has positioned you to make a godly, holy impact on the 1,300-member sheriff’s department. Too many Christian leaders, because of the high price of leadership, take the easy road and leave, when, I think, God has sovereignly placed them to press on in the fight against evil.”
He ran for the position despite what it could have possibly cost him and his family. This is the kind of courage David evidenced. What about you? What will you do?
David, like Rick and you, knew who and what he was up against.
2 For look! The wicked bend their bow, they make ready their arrow on the string, that they may shoot secretly at the upright in heart.
) ִה ֵ ֪נּה( followed immediately by the interjection, behold, hinneh ,) ִ ֤כּי ( The opening preposition, ki emphatically gives us the reason behind the advice of his friends. The wicked, which is a Hebrew word denoting those quickly oppose God’s law(s) and are socially violent, greedy, and oppressive,1 were getting ready in secret to go so far as to assassinate him to get him out of the way.
Such is the method of power-hungry, totalitarian, Marxist-leaning, despotic people. They feel compelled to do whatever is necessary to achieve their goal, even if it means silencing someone like David who does not support their godless political platform. To the public they present one image, one message, but behind the scenes they are obscene, doing whatever they can in their power-positions to wreak havoc on moral, upstanding, godly citizens, especially if they are leaders. And from what we know from Scripture and history, they typically end up taking out their own supporters in their quest to consolidate power for themselves. The wicked leadership of northern Israel after the kingdom split in 930 B.C., again, validates this observation. No sooner did one king seize the throne than the next would-be dictator removed him. There is, as Solomon writes in Ecclesiastes, nothing new under the proverbial sun.
Knowing these types of ruthless people were getting ready to him down, David could have easily said to his friends, “Ok, I am taking your advice and heading for the hills. I am too tired to continue to deal with them, to put up with their constant barrage and schemes, I am just going to fade into the countryside.”
This is, of course, not what David did, but you can see how he could have easily looked for his easy chair and getting those Social Security monthly payments while he coasted into glory. He could, also, have acted differently on the second line of counsel from his buddies:
3 If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?
I think David repeats the advice from his buddies. Basically, they are saying, “Look, David, if these people are instrumental in bringing down the culture, of scorching the earth as you know it, of wiping out all the foundations which support our country, THEN what are you, a righteous man going to do? Better to just call it a day, get out of the political way, and let them have their day.” Is it not in
Once more, this is not what David did because he focused on the living God. That focus, of course, made him not fearful but inexorably fearless.
What about you? What are you going to do in your time of trouble? Perhaps wicked people are arrayed against you, and they seem to hold all the power to minimize and silence you. Will you permit to win? Perhaps they are sharpening their arrows to get you to move on. What are those arrows? You know the names. Intimidation. Blame for sins/crimes you never committed. Shame for sins/crimes you never committed. Deceptive attacks not based on facts but outright clever, well-timed lies. Name-calling. They did it to Jesus when they said He, of all people was demon possessed (Matt. 11:18). They did it to Jesus when said He broke the law, when, in fact, they were the lawbreakers (Matt. 12:1-6; John 5:10-18). They did it to Jesus when they said His birth was illegitimate (John 8:42). Yes, when they start spreading outright, vicious lies about you and calling you vile names you know you are making progress for God.
Instead of running from the fight, why not fearlessly run toward it knowing the LORD, the living LORD is with you. As has been said, if God is on your side that is a majority. Amen. So what about it? Are you cowering in fear, feeling like leaving the scene, transferring to another job or line of work, of retiring early? I think God’s word is quite clear in these texts. Keep your eyes focused on Him and flex your faith fearlessly, knowing He will equip you for the road ahead.
Third, David drills down further into our response to tough times with even more analysis. Here we discover a third concept we should keep in mind as we wrestle with the wicked world:
Please, Keep Fine-tuned (Psalm 11:4-7)
Let me get real. Tough, testy, and troublesome times can cause you to lose your spiritual focus, to think you are in this all by yourself, that God has left the scene. When your life heads south, when the peace is gone, one can easily start questioning the most fundamental theological truths. Again, been there. Done that. At one low point of my pastoral career, when I felt like I could not possibly take one more hit from carnal, godless people, I considered just leaving the pastorate altogether. Sometimes I daydreamed of just getting in my truck, pulling out on the road, and literally driving off into the Sierras and not coming back.
When that occurred is when it occurred to me I had better get back into the Word of God to dive deep into the person of
God. This is what David did, and perhaps it is what you need to do if you are sitting in your car with your foot on the gas. Listen and learn from a leader who has been in the thick of the battle with the godless. The words just flow from his tongue:
4 The LORD is in His holy temple, The LORD'S throne is in heaven;
The first clause is, again, highly
emphatic by placing the LORD’s name first and deleting the copula, “is.”
By means of ellipsis, whereby David purposefully does not employ the verb “is” the king draws strict attention/focus to where the living LORD is at all times. He is ALWAYS in His heavenly temple. Further, David uses ellipsis again in the second clause to underscore emphatically that the LORD’s throne is ALWAYS in the heavenly sphere, which, by the way, is far beyond our limited, finite, temporal sphere. Other scriptures attest to the fact that God’s throne is in heaven and He, the ultimate Sovereign, sits/rules/and reigns from this throne over the unseen and seen worlds AT ALL TIMES (Ezek. 1; Psalm 47:8; 93:2; 103:19; Isa. 66:1; Rev. 4:2). Ostensibly, this means that even though your world might seem out of control, it is always under His control. He is always working to accomplish His lofty, eternal goals, and nothing or no one will EVER thwart Him. Many texts remind us of this truth. Here is one. To Nebuchadnezzar, the most powerful potentate on the planet at the time, fearless Daniel says:
21 And He changes the times and the seasons; He removes kings and raises up kings; He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding. (Dan. 2).
Many years later, Jesus, the Christ, stood before a wicked politician name Pilate. When troublemakers had finally cooked up false charges to arrest Him on so he could be executed, during the third phase of Christ’s illegal, law-bending trial, Pilate arrogantly said to Him:
10 Then Pilate said to Him, "Are You not speaking to me? Do You not know that I have power to crucify You, and power to release You?" (John 19).
Mark well Christ’s courageous, theologically sound reply:
11 Jesus answered, "You could have no power at all against Me unless it had been given you from above. Therefore, the one who delivered Me to you has the greater sin" (Jn. 19).
In twisted, terror-filled times, Jesus unflinchingly let His godless opposition know that the Heavenly Father was in FULL CONTROL of this lawless, illegal trial. This, of course, pragmatically meant that all would be well and Jesus would, in turn, accomplish all the Father had called Him to do. As Dr. Tony Evans told us at Dallas Theological Seminary back in 1981, “Men, never forget that God can hit a target with a crooked arrow.” Indeed, He can. Never forget that the God whom you serve is holy and He is one His glorious throne which means His will is always going to ultimately prevail . . . because everything down here is tainted by sin and is temporal. You might need to re-read this sentence one more time so it sinks down into your heart.
Additionally, when your world crumbles around you, you need to fine-tune your understanding of what God is up to. Notice David’s insight:
His eyes behold, His eyelids test the sons of men. 5 The LORD tests the righteous (Psalm 11).
The word for behold, chazah ( חזה ) can be classified as a habitual use of the imperfect, meaning it denotes ongoing, repeated action. Translated, the living LORD is ALWAYS viewing His people, that’s you. This, by definition, denotes His omniscience and omnipresence. Could you imagine if your earthly father could have kept his eyes on you at all times? Can you think of what he could have saved you from? The mere fact that the LORD sees you suggests you are going to be all right for He, who possesses all power, all knowledge, all wisdom will bring all of this to bear to fulfill His purposes in your life. Granted, you might be up against some stiff earthly competition; however, they are no match for the heavenly competitor, the LORD! They might appear to be advancing and winning in the present, but we know that His will, His word, and His way are going to ultimately prevail.
Further, when it says “his eyelids test the sons of men” in Hebrew David is talking about when someone squints so they can really see what they are focused on. Here God is focused on you and I for one main purpose: to test us. He repeats this concept in verse 5. What you are going through, as painful as it might be, is all orchestrated by God to test you so you can mature in the faith and be an even greater tool in His hand. Should you run for cover now is to miss some of the greatest lessons of faith you can ever learn, and if you run now, do not delude yourself into thinking that the LORD is through with the lesson. Been there. Done that. Learned that. Far wiser to fine-tune your thinking about Him and His ways and to stand your ground.
Spiritual Christians want to know, why, exactly does God want to test us? Let me count just some of the reasons:
- To give you your due (Jer 17:10).
- To help you come to terms with whether you will follow Him no matter what. Think of Abraham in Genesis 22.
- To change or deepen your paradigm about Him.
- To cause you to lean on Him wholeheartedly, not half-heartedly.
- To burn out the dross in your life so He can accomplish more through your influence.
- To keep sin, like pride, in check so you can be used for His glory (2 Cor. 12).
- To give you the opportunity to really glorify Him and His provision.
- To set you up to the be an example of the gospel to others.
- To show you that He is, in fact, good.
- To show you that He is in providential control. If anything is outside His providential control He is, ipso facto, not providential (Ecc. 7:13; Lam. 3:37; Isa. 43:13; 46:10).
- To teach you that His ways are higher, better, and wiser than your ways (Isa. 55:9).
- To conform you to His image (Rom. 8:29; 1 Pet. 4:13).
- To give you hope that what He is doing will echo in eternity to His glory (Jer. 29:11).
I could go on, but I am sure you get the point. What you are facing is not patch of bad luck. Far from it. All of the badness, all of the opposition, and all of the angst you are experiencing is part of God’s lofty, eternal plan to accomplish things in your spiritual man which would have never been possible if times were always easy and peaceful. To leave now would be to miss the best work of the Master Potter in your life. I do not know about you, but this is fine-tuning I desperately need all of time for it is what keeps me moving forward, not backward.
Before David closed out his song, he gave the lost some sober words to think about:
but the wicked and the one who loves violence His soul hates. 6 Upon the wicked He will rain coals; Fire and brimstone and a burning wind Shall be the portion of their cup.
To those who opposed him, sought his defeat and demise so they could seize power and wealth, the king gave them a word of divine warning. The same God who has His holy eyes on the godly, also has them on the godless, and He will, in due time and at the right time, move in swift eternal judgment because He ultimately hates what they are doing to His people. The allusion here is probably of Sodom and Gomorrah. They continued in their open, willful perversion for many years, even seeking to abuse Lot and his family, yet God finally said, Enough, and vaporized the carnal cities (Gen. 18-19).
Yes, the godless of all types take great pride in their godlessness, duping themselves into thinking that no one can stop them. Men like the Pharisees and Sadducees, kings like Manasseh, queens like Athaliah (2 Kings 11), men like Hymenaeus and Alexander (1 Tim. 1:20) oppose the godly, making their lives miserable and difficult, and leaving them thinking that godliness, holiness, law and order, justice and peace will never prevail. But they are blinded by their own pride of what awaits them when the living God finally calls them to give account.
If anything, the godless of our day are forgetting whom they have to give account to one day. If they were mindful of this day of reckoning (Rev. 20:7ff), they would immediately drop what they are doing and embrace, by faith, Jesus, the Christ so they could be saved. Perhaps God is calling you, the saint, to stand your ground and educate them about who God is, what He is doing, and where history is really headed. I know for sure wants you to remember just who He is so you have a better understanding of your life right now. And just who is He? David closes with this informative word:
7 For the LORD is righteous, He loves righteousness; His countenance beholds the upright.