Chaos is everywhere. This past week on Valentine’s Day, 17 people died from a mass shooting. A boy, who seems to be mentally unstable, took out his anger and malice on his former schoolmates. A boy who didn’t fit in anywhere, so he extended the chaos of his own life to the lives of others. And as all of you know this isn’t the first time. I still remember having the school locked down on April 20, 1998 when the Columbine shootings happened. And every year since, we have seen, boys bring chaos and evil to the children of our nation. But the chaos doesn’t stop in the schools.
One month ago, 13 children were rescued from their abusive parents and jailed existence. People are choosing to forego their biological sex and live as the opposite gender. Parents are treating their children with puberty blockers to help them transition to the opposite sex.
Constant turmoil in the Middle East, especially Syria, keeps the area in a constant fear of all out war. The threat of war with North Korea is not as hot of a topic at the moment, but for so many it is a fear that lingers.
Add to all of it, the stock market instability. The racial tensions that have been rising up in our nation. Chaos seems to be the norm in this life and through it all, it can become so easy to lose sight of God.
Today, we’re going to look at Psalm 11 and see how David handled the chaos of his world.
As we dive into Psalm 11, I want to give you some additional insight into it. This Psalm is one of the eight confidant Psalms. A group of Psalms, where the faith of the Psalmist is undisturbed by the circumstances around them.
This Psalm also has two sides to it, two voices as it were. The voice of the chaos, and the voice of the steadfast. The voice of chaos is most likely coming from the advisors to David, seeing the problems that surround them, they question David’s focus.
The voice of the steadfast, comes from David’s focus on God, which leads David into where God desires us to be today.
Let’s read in Psalm 11.
1 In the Lord I take refuge. How then can you say to me: “Flee like a bird to your mountain. 2 For look, the wicked bend their bows; they set their arrows against the strings to shoot from the shadows at the upright in heart. 3 When the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous do?”
4 The Lord is in his holy temple; the Lord is on his heavenly throne. He observes everyone on earth; his eyes examine them. 5 The Lord examines the righteous, but the wicked, those who love violence, he hates with a passion. 6 On the wicked he will rain fiery coals and burning sulfur; a scorching wind will be their lot.
7 For the Lord is righteous, he loves justice; the upright will see his face.
So what is happening here? David takes an interaction he has, and turns it into a Psalm. David is in a bad situation. Someone is seeking to destroy him. Their not seeking to destroy his reputation, though that is where it always starts, they’re seeking to destroy his entire life.
And his advisors see this and they’re seeking David’s best interest. When David restates their concern you can hear their love for David. “Flee like a bird to your mountain. 2 For look, the wicked bend their bows; they set their arrows against the strings to shoot from the shadows at the upright in heart.
His advisors are saying, “look get out of here for a while, there are evil things that surround you, and we don’t even know where they’re coming from. But what we do know, is that their coming for your blood. And not only are they coming for your life, but they’re coming to destroy the very root of the nation.”
And isn’t that what we see in our society? Isn’t this what we see in our culture? Destruction coming from the shadows, wanting to destroy the lives of people, to destroy the root of what it all has been built upon?
I was just listening to an interview with a Jewish man named Dennis Prager. In the interview he was asked what is the reason for all the social upheaval we’re seeing today? His answer was this, “The Bible is the most important book in history, whether you like it or hate it. It is rooted in a concept called distinctiveness. There are five distinctions that are at the core of the biblical worldview. 1) The difference between man and God. 2) The difference between man and animal. 3) The difference between man and woman. 4) The difference between good and evil. 5) And the difference between holy and profane.” He goes on to say, that each of those distinctions has been demolished in our society.
And where has it come from? If you trace it back, it was done from the shadows for years, until within the last 60 years it has slowly crept out of the shadows, into mainstream society.
And the question the advisors gave to David, is the same one we ask ourselves today, “When the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous do?”
What are you and I to do in the face of the chaos that is plaguing our society? The answer is, we need to learn to respond as David responded.
David responds with three realities we must learn to stand in. Three realities that we must focus on, or else the chaos that surrounds us will take our eyes off the God who has saved us. So let’s take a look at these three realities:
First David replies to his advisors with these words, “The Lord is in his holy temple; the Lord is on his heavenly throne. He observes everyone on earth;”
David points out the reality that God is transcendent. Meaning, he is above all of this chaos, and the chaos does not change him. The chaos that surrounds us changes society, it changes culture, it changes history. But God is unchanged by the chaos. The chaos cannot overcome the power of God. This is why Jesus says in John 16:33, “33 I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
The first reality we must stand in, is that God is above the chaos, and therefore is unchanged by it. The chaos of this world is not out of God’s where he is impotent to deal with it, rather God is powerful in the face of it.
David moves on to the second reality. “his eyes examine them. 5 The Lord examines the righteous, but the wicked, those who love violence, he hates with a passion. 6 On the wicked he will rain fiery coals and burning sulfur; a scorching wind will be their lot.”
David points out that not only is God transcendent, above it all, but he is also emanate. Meaning, God is not so beyond us that he doesn’t know what’s going on. He sees it all. He is examining it all. He is keeping score. People are not getting away with anything. We may not know where the arrows come from, but God does. This is monumental because it reminds us that there will be justice for the unborn. There will be justice for the victims. There will be justice for those who bring the chaos. And it reminds us that God also cares about what is happening. David uses this really strong language, “[God] hates with a passion.”
And when God comes for judgement it won’t be pretty for those who choose wickedness. This is why Peter says in his second letter, “10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare.”
This brings us to our second reality, God sees the chaos, and will not surrender to it. God is fighting against the chaos, and he will prevail.
Finally David gives us the third reality we must stand in, “7 For the Lord is righteous, he loves justice; the upright will see his face.”
David points out something, that is easily overlooked. If we say that we trust in Jesus, then we have only one job, to live upright lives. That means that we are to continue to trust in God and his word. We are to seek to do righteous things. Those things that God says are right and true. God’s word needs to be reflective in our lives. We must forgive, because God’s word says to forgive. We must serve, because God’s word says to serve. We must sacrifice, love, be gentle, hospitable, caring. We must seek to live lives that God calls righteous.
Again, Jesus said in John 16:33, “In this world you will have trouble.” The trouble of this world is a given, what is not a given is that we would be people seeking righteousness. That is what we are to strive for.
When the world is dark, God is in control. When the wicked prevail, judgement will come. But in this darkness, are we succumbing to the dark, or are we living for righteousness? That is the question.
An it is our final reality. We must live the right lives God has called us to live. The chaos is there, but are we doing what God desires of us, or are we falling into the trap of chaos ourselves?
When the mass shootings, the upheaval of our society, and all the dark things shoot their arrows, our response must be to stand. To stand in the reality that God is in control, that God is working towards justice, and that we must be the ones who live right lives in the midst of it all.
This week I have a simple challenge for you. To write on a piece of paper the opening statement of Psalm 11, “In the Lord I take refuge.” In other words, in the Lord I make my stand. The challenge is this, take that paper and tape it to your TV, or your tablet, or whatever you use that connects you to the news. And when the chaos of this world is reported, let this be a reminder to you to make God your refuge. To stand in God. Because he is in control, he is not defeated, and he is looking at you to live a righteous life.
And when we wake up to these realities, then we can stand firm in God, when there is chaos all around us, we will stand just as David did, here in Psalm 11.
May the Lord show you in the chaos that you are not alone, because he is active and calls you to his activity. Amen.