Theme: To Whom Should We Look?
In this week’s lessons we see how David dealt with injustice, and learn of our own need to find our refuge in the Lord Jesus Christ alone.
Scripture: Psalm 11:1-7
Not only do we see injustice in other parts of the world; it is also prevalent in the United States. The drug problem that exists in places like South and Central America is our problem, too. The drugs prepared in Columbia and other South and Central American countries are for the American market, and there are few communities that are not affected by it. In major U.S. cities drugs are sold openly on street corners, and violence follows in the wake as dealers fight with each other for control of their drug turf. Frequently innocent people are killed. In Philadelphia, six-year-old Ralph Brooks was paralyzed by a stray bullet fired in a feud between two drug dealers in the area of 20th and Tasker Streets. And in New York City Maria Hernandez, a thirty-four-year-old mother of three who had been resisting the intrusion of drug dealers into her Brooklyn neighborhood, was shot to death through the window of her home, presumably by order of the drug dealers. Ten days earlier her husband had been stabbed in a confrontation with a dealer on the street.
And crime? Much of it is caused by those seeking objects to sell to buy drugs. In Center City Philadelphia cars are regularly broken into and their radios or other saleable objects stolen. It is not uncommon for cars regularly parked on the streets to bear handwritten signs saying, “No $$. No radio. No valuables. No nothing.” And if a car is broken into (or stolen), the police don’t even want to come to investigate, so hopeless is the chance of ever arresting anyone. The righteous who observe all this ask, “When the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous do?”
What can the righteous do? Well, for one thing, they can go on being righteous. And they can stand against the evil of their society, as many in the situations I have described are attempting to do. The one thing they must not do is “flee to the mountains.”
I want to answer the question of verse 3 (“What can the righteous do?”) with another question, however, and that question is: To whom shall the righteous look? The answer is: To the Lord, naturally. He is the only one to whom we can look when the foundations are shaken. Charles Wesley knew it. He wrote of such times:
Other refuge have I none,
Hangs my helpless soul on thee;
Leave, ah leave me not alone,
Still support and comfort me.
All my trust on thee is stayed,
All my help from thee I bring;
Cover my defenseless head
With the shadow of thy wing.
This is what David does, of course. It is what the second part of the psalm is about. Do you remember Psalm 8 and the description it contains of man and his place in the created universe? Men and women are in a mediating position. They are midway between the angelic beings, who are above them, and the beasts, who are below. Yet they are described as being “a little lower than the heavenly beings” (v. 5) rather than “a little higher than the beasts.” When we were studying that psalm, I pointed out how significant this description is. Being made in God’s image, it is man’s privilege and responsibility to look upward to the heavenly beings and beyond them to God, and so become increasingly like God, rather than downward to the beasts with the result that he becomes like them. I showed how our society is becoming increasingly beastlike, since it will not acknowledge, look to or worship God. But the righteous do look to God. That is, they look upward, which is what David does in Psalm 11.
From the lesson, what are we told the righteous can do in response to evil? Give some specific ways to practice these things.
Rather than looking to the Lord, where do Christians sometimes wrongly lean when the righteous foundations are being destroyed? What causes Christians to put their trust in these other things?
Reflection: Have you ever been in a situation where you were suffering an injustice, or perhaps you are the victim of it now? How are you responding to it? What has the Lord given to help us through it? Meditate carefully on the stanza from Wesley’s hymn, and make that prayer your own.
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