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What Can The Righteous Do?

We have been studying the Psalms in one of our study groups. In the eleventh Psalm, v. 3, we came upon a question to which the community of Christian believers can easily relate in our day: “When the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous do?”

We needn’t take much time to make a case for the fact that the foundations of society are being destroyed today. We see the standards of morality and family life, which form the basis of society, crumbling all around us.

Of all institutions within society, one would expect that the churches would be leading the way in upholding divine standards and teachings, thus forestalling societal erosion. Yet, we find many churches, including mainline Christian churches — abandoning even basic doctrines of God’s Word. Witness the fact that the largest Lutheran synod in our nation, meeting in convention this summer in Minneapolis, couldn’t agree on a statement about human sexuality. As though the Bible is unclear on, for example, the subject of homosexuality (but see Romans ch. 1), they asked for more time to study the matter.

David had an answer for his friends who were tending to lose heart at the inroads of the enemies of the faith: “The Lord is in his holy temple; the Lord is on his heavenly throne. He observes the sons of men; His eyes examine them. The Lord examines the righteous, but the wicked and those who love violence His soul hates. On the wicked He will rain fiery coals and burning sulfur; a scorching wind will be their lot. For the Lord is righteous, He loves justice; upright men will see his face” (Ps. 11:4-7).

In the first place, David says, don’t doubt. Don’t lose hope. Remember that, although it seems otherwise, God is still in charge and in control. No guilty party will get off the hook, even though surrounded by a set of dream-team lawyers. Remember Sodom and Gomorrah. When God comes in judgment, justice will prevail on all sides. He will punish the guilty. He will take the “righteous” — those who by faith are covered with the righteousness of Jesus, their Savior — to the perfect bliss of heaven.

Meanwhile, what can and should believers be doing? How can they and theirs avoid becoming victims of societal decay and ruin? Read the first Psalm. Who are those who will stand firm when the foundations are crumbling? Those who are students in the “law of the Lord” (the Word of God), meditating upon it “day and night.”

Note the word “student”. One hour of Sunday worship will not be enough. As one Bible commentator writes: “Christians cannot expect to resist the values of the unbelieving world if they devote one hour of the week to meditating on God’s Word and the other 167 hours to providing for the needs of their bodies and worldly entertainment.”

Consider again regular family devotions (prayer) and personal Bible study. When confronted with temptations or faced with difficult decisions in daily life, cultivate the good habit of remembering and applying the truths of God’s Word.

And, poor beleaguered soul, when all is said and done remember: when the foundations of society are being undermined, the assurance holds: “The Lord will be the sure foundation for your times” (Isaiah 33:6). Even when wickedness and falsehood flourish, “God’s solid foundation stands firm, sealed with this inscription: ‘The Lord knows those who are His,’ and ‘Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness'” (2 Timothy 2:19). need to go to church.

–Pastor Paul Fleischer