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"...if anyone makes the assistance of grace depend on the humility or obedience of man and does not agree that it is a gift of grace itself that we are obedient and humble, he contradicts the Apostle who says, "What have you that you did not receive?" (1 Cor. 4:7), and, "But by the grace of God I am what I am" (1 Cor. 15:10). (Council of Orange: Canon 6)

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  • « Moralism - Not Just Sub Christian But Anti-Christian | Main | Augustine’s Story »

    Psalm Eleven: If the Foundations Be Destroyed, What Can the Righteous Do?

    Images of the Savior from the Psalms
    Psalm Eleven: If the Foundations Be Destroyed, What Can the Righteous Do?

    It is no uncommon experience for the saint to be tempted by many strong and appealing arguments to abandon his hope in the Lord, when waves of fierce opposition arise. So was David often tempted, and so also are all who trust in Christ thus tempted at times. “What has your religion done for you?”, the sneering voices of the fickle crowds inquire; and joining in the insidious plot, the devil whispers into the ear of your heart the same deceptive question, and your own weak flesh rises up to confirm the lie. “Yes, I have trusted in God, I have sought to serve him in all that I do, I have denied myself the opportunity for greater riches and power and security, because I have not been willing to break his Law and build myself up by treating the weak unfairly, or being deceitful and unethical in my practices; and I have ever kept myself from relying on the strong-seeming hills of prominent position and well-supplied bank accounts, those mountains which never fail to bear up the wicked – and here I am on the brink of destruction, and they still prosper! Should I not flee to those same mountains as a bird?”

    “After all,” the troubled soul may continue to think, “the wicked shoot their arrows into my upright heart! How sharp are their words, like daggers in my soul, wrongly accusing me of things I have been innocent of, and laughing at my calamity (whatever it may be), as though I had brought it upon myself, as though I am to be blamed for not having trusted in the same mountains they trust in.”

    And then, the lying temptation brings its full force to bear on the weak and tottering spirit in a crescendo of unassailable logic: “If the foundations be destroyed,” it whispers with a smug air of inescapable certainty, “what can the righteous do? Where now are those rotten foundations upon which you have built your hope, instead of our strong mountain? What has your church done to help you? How has your pastor been able to heal your troubled soul? Those foundations you hoped in, they are destroyed. Your righteousness has been of no avail. Now what else can you do, but flee like a bird to your mountain?”

    Yes, the logic is inescapable to the mind of the flesh; but how differently does that final mighty stroke of temptation fall upon the heart of the one who has truly trusted in Yahweh, as David had done! If the foundations be destroyed, what can the Righteous One do? Well, look at the time when those foundations were uncovered to their very depths, when the rotten foundation of Israel's princes and elders and rulers proved as treacherous a staff as a broken reed which pierces the hand of any who lean upon it, when those pillars upon whom the Righteous One of heaven and earth had built his people were torn down beyond repair. For just when the people needed them most, their princes did not deliver them, but they gave up their only Savior to death! The Pharisees who should have turned every eye to the Messiah rejected him instead, and cast out all who would follow him. His own disciple betrayed him to death, his beloved apostle denied his name, all who were his fled from him – when were the foundations of the saints ever so thoroughly destroyed? What could the Righteous One do then?

    Faltering Christian, do not give up hope, until you have thought long and hard about this final great breaking down of the foundations, and of what the Righteous Messiah then did once and for all! For that is the bridge to the second part of the psalm. If you do not look at him, you will never pass beyond the invincible argument of the first half, to arrive safely at the confident affirmation of the second. The Lord still reigns from his Holy Temple. He will pour down immense, fiery judgment upon all those who trust in their tottering mountain; but the righteous he will deliver forever.

    How may you know this? Well it is hinted at in that last blessed verse, and we will seize upon it with the strong grasp of faith. “What can the Righteous One do?”, the enemy asks triumphantly; well, “the Righteous One is Yahweh” (vs. 7) David replies exultingly; “and so, he can do whatever is impossible with men, to save all the upright in heart.” And to that strong testimony we may add, “When the foundations were destroyed, the Righteous One has already done it – 'It is finished!'”.

    Posted by Nathan on July 6, 2010 12:46 AM

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