Our church’s midweek Bible study and prayer meeting continue throughout lockdown. At this stage, one of the other elders was sharing the midweek meeting with me, and I will post those studies in a separate post later.
This week’s Bible study is on Psalm 11. Some notes and suggestions for prayer follow
Some thoughts on Ps 11
Whenever we face trouble, there are some people who make us more troubled by what they say. This is what is happening at the start of Psalm 11. David is in trouble, and people are giving him bad advice.
I) The good beginning (v1)
“I take refuge in you.” I hide myself, take shelter in You. In the midst of trouble, I am finding my security and peace in the Lord alone.
II) The wrong alternative (v1)
“Flee.” This is what the advisers say: “Get away from this situation. It is not safe.”
Sometimes it is right to flee. Jesus Himself told His disciples to move on to the next place if the gospel was rejected in one town, but David was being advised to flee and hide, not flee to preach in the next town.
In our day, we are not being told to flee. But there is so much advice from people, even from other Christians. We need to weigh all things according to scripture.
III) The wrong conclusion (v2-3)
- The enemy is attacking (v2a). Whether these are literal arrows or “arrows” of words, is not clear.
- The attacks are in secret (2b). Lit, in darkness. The enemy is using the cover of darkness to catch his victim.
- The attacks are against the righteous, the Lord’s people.
- Everything is falling apart (v3).
Faith doesn’t deny the problem; it rejects the world’s solution.
Although we are in different circumstances, we face real problems. There is not just the invisible virus, Christianity is getting more and more pushed to the margins. We don’t close our eyes to reality, but these realities need the right response. This comes in v4.
IV) The correct focus (v4)
The Lord is in His holy temple and He is on the throne. These two parallel statements tell us where the true foundation is. Society’s foundations can fall (v3) but the Lord reigns. He rules the universe and nothing can remove Him from the throne. He is both ruler and judge and He sees all things and He knows all things.
So, we need to place our eyes on him. We might feel that all we are used to has changed. But nothing has changed in heaven.
V) The glorious judge (v4c, 5-6)
He rules, and He is active in the world. He sees beneath the surface and what is done in secret (v2). This is a comfort when we face attack; and an encouragement to pray for the suffering church – the Lord sees.
The Lord tests (v4b). He tests the righteous (v5a), to purify us, but for the wicked (v5b), it is an expression of God’s wrath. V5b is hard. What about God’s love?
- The wicked: the guilty, impenitent, in rebellion against God.
- The one who loves violence. There is an attachment to and a delight in sin, particularly violence and aggression.
- “Hates.” The word also has the sense of being “set against”. This is in contrast to His love and care for His people. Although God loves the world and gave His Son, and whoever believes will be saved, He is set against all sin and unrepentant sinners. And His judgement is righteous.
In v6, David specifically prays for justice to be poured out upon the people of violence. We don’t really pray in this way in the new covenant. However, it is right to pray for the removal of people like the leader of N Korea if he won’t repent.
It is a hard teaching, but it is true. This is the hope of all who love justice. Justice will ultimately be done.
It is also a reason to wrestle in prayer for the lost and to pray that we would be bold in sharing the gospel.
This verse also points forward to the garden of Gethsemane, where Jesus spoke about the cup. Let this cup pass, yet not my will but Yours. The cup is the cup of judgement – the judgement against the sin that God hates, the cup that the Saviour drank to the full to free us from our sins.
VI) The eternal hope (v7)
The Lord’s delight in His people now. The Lord’s delight in us as we serve Him (in contrast with the deeds of the wicked). The world may laugh, but the Lord is pleased with our obedience. Even though it is partial, even though it is tainted by sin, it is a delight to Him.
The righteous will behold his face. Whatever happens, we have this glorious hope. Whatever trouble we have, we shall see Him face to face. What glory!
So, we can persevere. We can keep pressing on. We can stand on the word and not be swayed by bad advice and scaremongering.
And we can pray with great boldness – because the Lord is in His holy temple and He is on the throne.
Ideas for prayer
I) Trust and discernment
Reflect on who God is, and that He is on the throne. Bring your concerns and fears to Him. You can pray specifically about things that trouble you.
Pray for discernment for yourself and for other Christians. Ask the Lord to protect His people from bad advice and fake news. Pray that the church would be a voice of truth in the midst of uncertainty.
II) The word of God
Let’s pray for the proclamation of God’s word.
III) Sound advice from and for those in authority
As the lockdown measures are relaxed, there is lots of controversy. So we urgently need to pray for those in authority and their advisers:
- Pray for the Prime Minister and the Cabinet, for real wisdom from God. Pray for a realisation that they can’t do this without Him. Pray also for the leaders of the other political parties and for the leaders of the different nations of the United Kingdom.
- Pray for the scientific advisers to be given wisdom from the Lord. Pray that the government would have ears to hear the right advice amid the many, many voices.
- Pray for employers to make righteous decisions that minimise risk for their employees. Pray also for trade unions and employee reps.
- Pray for the provision of the right equipment to keep people safe, especially for those in the caring professions.
- Pray for schools as they prepare for possible partial reopening next month. Pray for teachers. Pray for parents also.
Pray for wisdom for churches in the UK, as we prepare for possible reopening in early July. Pray for patience!
Aside from all these practical issues, the greatest need for our nation is for a move of God to bring many people to know Christ. The foundations are shaken, but the Lord is on the throne, and people need to turn from their sin to Him. He hates wickedness and yet He has made a way for people to be saved through Christ. Pray that the Lord would touch many lives and stir up a hunger for the true life that is only found in Christ.
IV) The suffering people of God
It is right that we continue to pray for God’s people. They are our family. While we have experienced great trouble through lockdown, it is nothing compared to the daily suffering of God’s people in other countries.
Pray that in God’s mercy, He would change the hearts of (or remove) those who promote persecution. He are the names of the leaders of the top 10 nations on Open Doors’ world watch list:
- North Korea – Kim Jong Un
- Afghanistan – President Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai
- Somalia – President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed
- Libya – Prime Minister Fayiz al-Saraj
- Pakistan – Prime Minister Imran Khan
- Eritrea – President Isayas Afewerki
- Sudan – Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok
- Yemen – Prime Minister Maeen Abd al-Malik Saeed
- Iran – President Hassan Rouhani
- India – Prime Minister Narendra Modi