Monday, 4 November 2013

Psalm 11 - The Righteous One's faith under apparent disaster.

The combatants at the Lake Thrasymene are said to have been so engrossed with the conflict that neither party perceived the convulsion of nature that shook the ground -

"An earthquake reeled unheedingly away,
None felt stern nature rocking at his feet."

From a nobler cause, it is thus with the soldiers of the Lamb. They believe, and therefore, make no haste; no, they can scarcely be said to feel earth's convulsions as other men, because their eager hope presses forward to the issue at the advent of the Lord.

"In the Lord I have put my trust:
what do you say to my soul
Flee, sparrows, to your hill."
(Sneeringly referring to Zion. Horsley)

They have taken up their position, and who shall ever drive them from it? They refer to a two-fold ground of alarm presented to their thoughts by the foe.

"For, lo, the wicked bend their bow,
They place their arrow upon the string
To shoot privately at the upright in heart
For the foundations are destroyed
What can the righteous do?"

The enemy may thus array his terror, as if the Lord's host were a partridge on the mountains (1 Sam 26:20). There is a sneer at Mount Zion, in v1, it has been suggested; but the words may as well mean, they have their secure rest, their Zoar mountain (Gen 19:17), on which they shall stand and see the rain of snares, fire and brimstone on these men of Sodom (v6); their Judean mountain, where they shall be safe when the abomination of desolat8ion appears (Matt 24:16). It is this - the Lord himself. Though all the pillars of social and religious order were destroyed, still

"The Lord is in his holy temple;
The Lord's throne is in heaven!"

The enemy has not reached up to this fortress; he has not shaken this sure defence. "Shall pillars be brangled because of the swarms of flies upon them?" (Leighton) On the other hand, the Lord is preparing to make a sortie on behalf of his own. He is surveying in preparation for this burst of judgement.

"His eyes behold"

Even more he is in the position of one who contracts his eyebrows and fixes his eyelids in order to discern accurately the mark he aims at:

"His eyelids try the children of men
The Lord tries the righteous."

And the result is interposition on behalf on his own; for in the trial he discovers the difference between the principles of the two hostile parties, and now makes it known.

"The wicked and he who loves violence his soul hates
Upon the wicked he shall rain snares, fire and brimstone.
And a horrible tempest (a wrath-wind) shall be the portion of their cup."
All that came upon Sodom and Gomorrah shall be realised at the Lord's appearing in flaming fire (2 Thess 1:8). At the very time, perhaps when men imagine they have got the righteous in their snares, the Lord comes and his net is spread over them; he snare suddenly starts up (Luke 21:35) and they are taken; caught unexpectedly in a net whose meshes they can never break; seized by the hands of the living God, and doomed to the vengeance of eternal fire as the portion of their cup.

It is the measured, just and due amount of wrath for their sins; for it is called a cup-portion. This comes from the character of Jehovah -

"For righteous is the Lord; he loves righteousness
His face beholds the upright"

His righteousness will visit the ungodly with Sodom-doom; and on the other hand to look with favour on his Abrahams at Mamre, and no longer hide himself as in Psalm 10:4. It is somewhat remarkable that in v7 the Hebrew uses the plural for "his face". Critics are content to call this "Their face" by the plurality of God; and to say it may express perfection or greatness in Him of whom it is used. But, if we admit a reference to Trinity in Genesis 1:26, who not here also?

The face of the Godhead - God head in all its fulness - each person of the Godhead - shall give a look of delighted approval.

 "With a face full of paternal affection he beholds them in the midst of their sorrows, until, welcomed by mercy to the glory from which he excludes the wicked, they behold that face which has always beheld them" (Horne)

Our Lord might sing this Psalm at Bethany on occasions such as Luke 13:31,32 when they came and said "get away for Herod will kill you". And he has left it for us that we may use it, as no doubt David used it when it was first given to the church dangerous times. Dr Allix would apply it especially to the church after she fled into the wilderness comparing v2 with Rev 13:14. It applies with almost equal fulness to all these cases, and yet also to an individual believer's case when tempted, like that good man who said, "Sirs, it is a great thing to believe that there is a God!"

It exhibits to us - The Righteous One's faith under apparent disaster.

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