“if the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?” –Psalm 11:3
In America we are seeing many of our foundations destroyed. There are godly principles upon which for hundreds of years we have stood. These pillars of our society are being decimated by an increasingly liberal and progressive culture. So, what should people of faith do? What will happen to this great nation when these foundations are destroyed?
The answer for many of our evangelical leaders is to fight for these foundations while they are only tottering. In their mind, we must keep fighting for these foundations of our society, so that our freedoms will be preserved. If we do not fight then we will be left with the same question as the Psalmist. If our foundations are destroyed what hope will the righteous have here in America? So we must preserve these foundations no matter the cost.
I believe a good argument could be made for working to preserve the Christian foundations of our nation. But the fear-mongering which comes from this logic is unhealthy. In fact, this way of thinking is the exact opposite of the point of Psalm 11:3.
Psalm 11:3 is connected with Psalm 11:2 and is to be placed on the lips of the cynic who is telling King David he ought to flee to the mountains. The cynic is the voice of the modern hand-wringing evangelical. But the Psalm begins with a rebuke of such a thought. The king is trusting in Yahweh as his refuge, therefore it is not fitting to say that he ought to flee to the mountain because the foundations are destroyed.
Those who peddle fear would have us believe that it is on some particular point that the foundation is still teetering. To not follow the party line on this issue will be to surrender every foundation and if this one falls then to the mountains we must go. And so if we desire to protect the foundations then we must hold our nose and vote for immoral men. We must overlook sexual immorality and accept pride and narcissism as a necessary evil to maintaining our foundations.
All the while we do not realize that when we buy what the fear mongers are selling and begin to peddle their words ourselves we are grabbing a sledgehammer ourselves and swinging at our foundations. The gospel is not made of fear but of hope. And hope has no home in a world driven by fear.
Psalm 11 paints a different picture. Here we see a world in which the one who trusts in the LORD can be immovable even when the foundations crumble. The mountains are no refuge, nor are they an option. Our foundation is immovable. Psalm 11 reminds us that we can be assured that God will vindicate His own righteousness. Was this not the point and hope of the religious right? To see God’s righteousness realized within the world. If this is the case, if it is not power but love for a life patterned after God and His Word which we seek, then we can res assured that God’s righteousness will win the day. He is not blind to the ways of the wicked nor deaf to the cause of the righteous.
Furthermore, Psalm 11 confirms for us that God will continually respond to His children in love. Even if it’s tough and painful love in the midst of the wreckage of a broken society. But he is a sure and certain refuge. This means that hope is never gone. We do not have to flee to the mountains, nor do we have to resort to cynicism or use a fear of fleeing to the mountains to engage in fear-mongering.
“If the foundations are destroyed what can the righteous do?” is not intended to be a call to arms. It’s the desperate plea of a cynic. The words of hope are those of David: “In the LORD I take refuge”. This Psalm is realistic in that the foundations may crumble. But it’s also realistic in it’s hope and trust in the omniscient and omnipotent God of history. He will never crumble. This is a much better path to follow because David Murray is correct, “Christian hope has never been dashed on the rocks of reality.” (The Happy Christian, 93)