First Off…read Psalm 11!
The opening sentence sets the stage for the rest of this short psalm. “In the Lord I take refuge.” Game. Set. Match…I win.
Have you ever had a conversation with yourself? A few years ago I was asked to climb Long’s Peak in Colorado with a buddy. A few hours into the hike it really began to get painfully difficult. I was not cut out for this. Every step felt horrible in my legs, back, and butt! Every step I took brought me closer to wanting to quit even though it also brought me closer to the top. I constantly was telling myself, “Just go 10 more feet…10 more feet….” but then I was ALSO telling myself, “There’s no shame in quitting. All you have to do is tell them you’re done and you can go home! It’s that easy…”
This is what I picture is happening in this text: Inner-Monologue Argument
Voice 1: Hey…look at all those archers, all those wicked men who are attacking us. They look strong. They look well defended…and look! They don’t even come out to face us – they hide in the shadows to attack!
Voice 2: Yeah – I see it. They do look strong and fierce. Oh man…this isn’t good.
V1 (Voice 1): We should run. Flee. Head to the mountains for safety! We can be protected there. This is something tangible we can do. They will slaughter us if we don’t!
V2 (Voice 2): Are you kidding? The mountains cannot protect us – only God can. He knows my heart, he knows my thoughts and desires – he knows me better than I know myself (Rom 8:27-37). He is righteous and just. He watches over and examines all people…me included!
V1: Listen, I’m telling you…it’s OK to do this – God will understand. Plus…what is God going to do here honestly? You call yourself “righteous” but what can you do? What can the “righteous” person do? You’re scared – it’s fine. Let’s flee this place! THAT is something YOU can do…
V2: No…the Lord will protect us in however he deems fit. Only God will be my shelter, my refuge, my safety. Those archers haven’t shot yet…I will hold true to God and in him I find comfort.
Now…what’s difficult about many of the psalms is that we have no context, we have no backing to tell us what exactly is happening and why – all we can really do is speculate. But what we DO know is that there is a temptation here – a strong temptation.
In truth, we don’t know if this was an actual “battle” or something else. It could have been simply David or someone else faced with a scenario where there were evil people in their midst who were trying to bring him down. It could be a group of people spreading rumors and lies about someone and she feels tempted to join in to save herself, or tempted to fire back and “play their game” and so she’s kind of talking to herself. We simply do not know…but temptation is temptation – and temptation, in its simplest form, is doing something “unwise”…which really means that “temptation” is not good.
Temptation, in its “Christian” understanding is being pulled or having a desire to do something that is not good for us…that will harm us EVEN if it brings a “pleasure” now. Temptation…is a choice that stands before us asking us to choose God and HIS ways or be “unwise” and take that which is in fact against God and his desires for us. Temptation…is not truth. Temptation is not factual. Temptation is a hidden lie behind an immediate pleasure. Temptation is tricky, nasty, and brutal…and can cause more harm than anything else.
What’s difficult is that we desire immediate outcomes and responses. We are fed by immediate gratification – and often times God does not work that way…often times we want God working in our time and not His. We want refuge now instead of when God brings it. We want our enemies to be smitted (smotted, smotten, smitten… you get what I’m saying), to be “dealt with” now instead of later. We are like children in this sense. As Jim Gaffigan says, children simply HEAR the word “Ice Cream” and they want it now. “And make it chocolate!”
But the fact is, if we are “wise” if we affirm who God is and that he sits on his holy temple and observes all things and is in control of all things…and that it is “wise” to listen to him instead of temptation – then we must ALSO affirm that it is wise to allow God…in his own time…to do what he will do. What is great is that we see this relationship with the psalmist and the Lord and we know that THEY TOO wrestled with what it means to be in a relationship with God. They TOO struggled with temptation. They too wanted an immediate response – even if that feeling was quick.
It reminds us of who we are…and what it looks like to trust in the Lord. It reminds us to trust Him…and a massive part of that “trusting” may even mean waiting.
So here I shall wait….