Psalm 11: Hide and Seek

Psalm 11 New International Version (NIV)

For the director of music. Of David.

In the Lord I take refuge.
    How then can you say to me:
    “Flee like a bird to your mountain.
For look, the wicked bend their bows;
    they set their arrows against the strings
to shoot from the shadows
    at the upright in heart.
When the foundations are being destroyed,
    what can the righteous do?”

The Lord is in his holy temple;
    the Lord is on his heavenly throne.
He observes everyone on earth;
    his eyes examine them.
The Lord examines the righteous,
    but the wicked, those who love violence,
    he hates with a passion.
On the wicked he will rain
    fiery coals and burning sulfur;
    a scorching wind will be their lot.

For the Lord is righteous,
    he loves justice;
    the upright will see his face.

The discipline of hiding in God

The first verse of this Psalm is profoundly simple. David has learned the spiritual discipline of “hide and seek”. When David’s enemies come to destroy him he hides himself in God. Instead of running to his “mountain” as they suggest, he runs to his God. Instead of seeking escape, he seeks God.

A friend of mine told me a story I will never forget.

He decided to have a go at farming. The trouble was that he, by his own admission, was not much of a farmer. It wasn’t long before things started to go wrong. The crops were failing. Instead of being out in the field confronting the problem however, my friend found himself spending more and more time in the shed. The worse the problem got the more time he spent pottering around, cleaning the equipment and tidying the shed. He was working but he was also hiding. He was overwhelmed by the challenge in front of him and so he took refuge in the shed.

I’ll never forget that story because I find myself doing the same thing all the time. I hide from my problems. I’m not a farmer and I hate sheds. They have an overwhelming scent of old gardening gloves and are usually infested with spiders. However, I constantly seek escape in other ways: social media, tv, computer games, eBay etc. even when I know that these things cannot ultimately help me.

Don’t misunderstand me, these things have their place but they cannot offer me security. They only offer distraction.

David on the other hand seems to have learned the discipline of hiding in God and seeking him when he is most under pressure. How? Ultimately the answer is that he knows God. Here are three things about God that we need to know if we are to learn to take refuge in him as David did.

Know that God is in control v4

The Lord is in his holy temple;
    the Lord is on his heavenly throne.
He observes everyone on earth;
    his eyes examine them.

There is nothing that happens in this world that escapes the knowledge of God. He sees all and rules over all. Whatever circumstances we find ourselves in, whatever trouble comes our way, we need to remember that God is not ignorant of his people’s suffering. He sees and understands. We also need to know that God is fully in control of everything we endure. In the words of Colin Buchanan, “God never says ‘Oops.'”

This is no less clear in the New Testament. One of the core convictions of the Christian is that Jesus Christ is the Lord who works in all things according to the purpose of His will. (Ephesians 1)

Know that God will bring justice vv5-6

The Lord examines the righteous,
    but the wicked, those who love violence,
    he hates with a passion.
On the wicked he will rain
    fiery coals and burning sulfur;
    a scorching wind will be their lot.

Hiding in God is not simply running away from your problems. It is actively entrusting them into God’s care. He will bring justice. True, God may allow injustice for a time in order to bring about His higher purpose but he will not allow evil to go free. God will judge the sins of all people. Either he will judge us or, for those who trust in him, Jesus will bear the judgement for us.

This is what fundamentally separates the “righteous” and the “wicked”. The righteous are those who entrust themselves to God to forgive them and to change them. The wicked are those who refuse to acknowledge their guilt or turn back to God. They refuse to take refuge in him. This has a radical effect on the way we live. David is able to avoid taking revenge because he trusts that God will give him justice.

TV, sheds and Facebook cannot solve your problems but God most certainly can…and will.

Know that God is righteous

For the Lord is righteous,
    he loves justice;
    the upright will see his face.

This is what ties the first two points together. We know that God will use his position of sovereign control to bring about justice and goodness because we know who God is. He always does what is right and he loves justice. Those who trust in Him, who seek to honour him in all they do, will see his face.

“Rock of Ages, Cleft for me; let me hide myself in Thee.”

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