PRAYER FROM A SAFE PLACE
Spirit of the Living God, fan into flame the burned-down embers of my faith, and set me ablaze with your fire.
Read PSALM 11
For the director of music. Of David.
1 In the Lord I take refuge.
How then can you say to me:
“Flee like a bird to your mountain.
2 For look, the wicked bend their bows;
they set their arrows against the strings
to shoot from the shadows
at the upright in heart.
3 When the foundations are being destroyed,
what can the righteous do?”
4 The Lord is in his holy temple;
the Lord is on his heavenly throne.
He observes everyone on earth;
his eyes examine them.
5 The Lord examines the righteous,
but the wicked, those who love violence,
he hates with a passion.
6 On the wicked he will rain
fiery coals and burning sulfur;
a scorching wind will be their lot.
7 For the Lord is righteous,
he loves justice;
the upright will see his face.
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
‘Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.’1
I picture a medieval battleground, with arrows flying in all directions and someone trying to flee. The psalmist paints a vivid picture; but he himself is hiding in a safe refuge (v 1). Even if he could fly above the rain of arrows, there is no need. I find it significant that the psalmist begins with the phrase, ‘In the Lord I take refuge’, before the troubles are mentioned. Thus he refuses to flee in fear, but rests in the Lord’s safe keeping. The psalm is clearly written in the context of crisis. When we meet serious trouble, is that how we respond? Or do we rush about every which way, panicking?
Verse 3 points to the importance of foundations and reminds us of Jesus’ parable about the houses on rock and sand.2 Foundations in the wrong place can fail us. Where are yours? Where do you feel safe? In knowing you have a healthy bank balance? Proximity to a supermarket? A good job? The approbation of an influential person? None of these is secure, as the world has been discovering. When a crisis like coronavirus happens, nothing is secure anymore – except the knowledge that we are ‘hidden with Christ in God’3 and therefore whatever happens we are safe forever. That is stability indeed.
There is a warning here of final judgment. God is totally in control (vs 4–7). The mention of fire and brimstone (or ‘burning sulfur’, v 6) is a perpetual reminder of what happened to Sodom.4 The wicked will one day be judged, whereas the righteous, those who are right with God, are loved by him (v 7). So, as the arrows rain down around us, problems and troubles of every kind, we can ‘see his face’ (v 7) in love and worship, trusting he is still in control.
Think back to a particular trouble you’ve faced and reflect on what you have learned through it – about God and about yourself.
Lord, when life tumbles in, my natural impulse is to flee. I ask for stabilizing strength so that I can stand firm, assured by the reminder that you are in control.
1 Ps 62:8 2 Matt 7:24–27 3 Col 3:3 4 Gen 19:24–28
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