What can the righteous accomplish
When truth’s pillars are destroyed and law and order collapse?
Yet the Eternal One is never shaken–
He is still found in his temple of holiness
Reigning as Lord and King over all.
He is closely watching everything that happens.
And with a glance, his eyes examine every heart.
For his heavenly rule will prevail over all. Psalms 11:3-4 (Passion Translation)

There is something chilling in these verses and something hopeful.

  • Chilling – David makes the correct observation that when truth’s pillars are destroyed and law and order collapse then there is not much that the righteous can do.  There are times when evil runs amok and never more so than when truth is stifled and every man does what is right in his own eyes.  I think we are seeing the beginning of this today.  Society cannot long survive without truth.
  • Hopeful – David reminds us that, even in a time when truth’s pillars are destroyed we can have hope because the Eternal One is never shaken. God is not moved, nor worried, nor anxious when men reject truth.  This is no more threatening to him than an ant threatens an elephant.  David knows that God’s heavenly rule will prevail over all.

The upshot for we who take in David’s words?  In a time when truth is denied and denigrated, when evil seems to have the upper hand more and more, when mankind seems to become ever more blind by the minute; God still reigns.  He is still in control. He will still accomplish his ends and ultimately all will be well.

“When neither sun nor stars appeared for many days, and no small storm continued to rage, all hope of our being saved was at last abandoned.” (Acts 27:20)

Luke writes concerning the vicious storm in which he and Paul, a centurion and Roman soldiers assigned to bring Paul to Rome, and many other people were trapped.  On board were experienced sailors [of which Luke appears to have been one himself] so when he writes that all hope of being saved was abandoned, we can be sure that the ship and all 276 people who were on it, were in existential danger.

They had not, however, reckoned with Paul’s God.  God had a plan to get Paul to Rome and of course that plan was going to be accomplished and as a sign that it was going to be accomplished, an angel appeared to Paul to tell him.

“For there stood by me this night an angel of the God whose I am and whom I serve, saying, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul; you must stand before Caesar; and behold, God has granted you as a gift all those who sail with you.” (Acts 27:23–24)

Thus the angel prophesied, and so it was done.  Eventually all souls on board the ship made it safely to shore.  God did what he said he would do.

The God that we serve today is the same God whom Paul served.  We do not often see visions in our day [though it appears that the Islamic world is somewhat different], but God is still God and will accomplish his purpose for us and stormy winds and raging seas are no barrier to Him doing so.

[Side note:  My son, a pastor, just returned from a trip to a Middle Eastern country and while there he heard the testimony of a guy who had received a vision of a man telling him to walk 45 minutes in a certain direction, because he needed to meet someone.  The man walked 45 minutes, stopped in front of the building that was next to him and went inside.  There was a man waiting who said, “I’ve been waiting for you to appear.”  The man led him to faith in Christ.]

But Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there will I be buried. May the Lord do so to me and more also if anything but death parts me from you.”” (Ruth 1:16–17, ESV)

Naomi has nothing to offer Ruth.  If she travels back to Bethlehem she will in all likelihood not be married; they will live in poverty; they will spend the rest of their days struggling to survive as two widows with no means of support [husband or children].  Ruth fully understands this.  She is willingly entering into [what she thinks is] a life of suffering and deprivation.

In addition Ruth is turning away from her Moabite gods and fully embracing Yahweh, the God of the Israelites.  Is there any better description of this turning in all of the Scriptures than in Ruth’s simple words: Your God [shall be] my God? 

The Bible Knowledge Commentary comments here:

She chose life with Naomi over her family, her national identity, and her religious idolatry. In one of the most beautiful expressions of commitment in all the world’s literature she laced her future to that of Naomi. She confessed allegiance to the people of Israel (your people) and to the God of Israel (your God). Here was a stirring example of a complete break with the past. Like Abraham, Ruth decided to leave her ancestors’ idolatrous land to go to the land of promise. And Ruth did it without the encouragement of a promise. In fact she made her decision despite Naomi’s strenuous encouragement to do otherwise.

Ruth is an amazing woman and we haven’t yet learned how amazing since we’re only at the end of chapter one.  What looks like a choice of self-destruction into a life of deprivation…well, we shall see what God makes of it.

You have built a stronghold by the songs of babies.
Strength rises up
With the chorus of singing children.
This kind of praise
Has the power to shut Satan’s mouth.
Childlike worship will silence
The madness of those who oppose you. Psalms 8:2 [Passion Translation]

The Passion Translation has an insightful comment at this verse:

There may be a vast difference between the glory of the heavens and the little mouths of children and babies, yet by both the majestic name of the Lord is revealed. It is amazing that perfected praises do not rise to God from the cherubim or seraphim, but from the children and babies, the weakest of humanity.

I don’t know that I can add anything else to that, it’s a magnificent truth that they’ve highlighted.

 

But I know the way back home,
And I know that you will welcome me
Into your house,
For I am covered by
Your covenant of mercy and love.
So I come to your sanctuary with deepest awe
To bow in worship and adore you. Psalms 5:7 [Passion Translation]

The Passion Translation calls this psalm “The Song of the Clouded Dawn.”  And so it is.  Here David is groaning to the Lord (vs.1) but he knows the way back home, back to the house of God, back to close fellowship with a God who cares about him as an individual person, who cares about him intimately (Ps. 139). Back home to welcome; back home to find mercy and love; back home to worship and adore his/our Great God.

This is the pathos of the Psalms. We are meant to feel David’s words and be drawn in by them emotionally so that we have an intellectual and emotional connection to the truth of who God is and what he does.  No matter where we are, or what we have done, home is waiting for us.  We know the way back home, because David tells us what it is.

They will be standing firm
Like a flourishing tree planted by God’s design,
Deeply rooted by the brooks of bliss;
Bearing fruit in every season of their lives.
They are never dry, never fainting,
Ever blessed, ever plentiful. Psalms 1:3 [Passion Translation]

This verse is from the Passion TranslationThe Passion Translation says of itself:

The Passion Translation is a groundbreaking attempt to re-introduce the passion and fire of the Bible to the English reader. It doesn’t merely convey the original, literal meaning of words. It expresses God’s passion for people and his world by translating the original, life-changing message of God’s Word for modern readers.

As you can see from Ps. 1.3, they do accomplish their mission of bringing “passion and fire” to the Scriptures.  Here I particularly like: Bearing fruit in every season of their lives.  They are never dry, never fainting.

This is something that God does.  We don’t need to spend a lot of time worrying whether we will bear fruit when we get to an age in which we think we won’t bear fruit.  Our responsibility is to draw ever closer to the Lord, God’s responsibility is to make sure that we bear fruit.  The apostle Paul put it this way:

And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 1:6, ESV)

You are planted by God’s design, dear reader, why would he abandon you to dry up and wilt away?

“But all who devour you will be devoured, and all your enemies will be sent into exile. All who plunder you will be plundered, and all who attack you will be attacked. I will give you back your health and heal your wounds,” says the Lord. “For you are called an outcast— ‘Jerusalem for whom no one cares.’ ”” (Jeremiah 30:16–17, NLT)

One of the themes that comes up again and again in the Bible is reversal of fortune.  We see it clearly here in Jeremiah.  The context of this verse is that God is talking about his people being sent into captivity in Babylon.  He will not and cannot let them go unpunished for their sin and idolatry; however, he promises to restore them and return them to the land of promise.

Then this verse.  Those who plundered and devoured them will themselves be sent into exile.  The very people who had oppressed God’s people and carried them off to foreign lands will themselves be oppressed and carried off.

This reversal of fortune reminds me of the same theme in Esther when God saves his people from the clutches of the wicked Haman.  In the space of an afternoon, Haman is arrested and hung from a pole, ending his plan to rid the world of the Jews.  Haman was only a cog in God’s plan to protect the Jews from destruction.

The greatest reversal of fortune, of course, is the cross.  At the foot of the cross, all of our sins were laid out and what should have meant destruction for us, in an instant was reversed into salvation and restoration.  We did not get what we deserved, but Jesus got the glory that he did deserve.  Satan was stymied, and sin was conquered, and God reigns.