An important question is asked in Psalm 11. Go with me for just a glance. David wrote Psalm 11, probably while he was being hunted and haunted by King Saul. With borderline insane paranoia, Saul began seeking the life of David, believing the young man was out to get him and take his position as king. David is on the run. As he writes in the first part of this psalm, he has flown as a bird to the mountain. And in that hiding place, momentarily removed from danger, he asks this question: “If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?” (v. 3).
Great question! Webster tells us that a “foundation” is “the basis upon which something stands or is supported.” Every house has a foundation. Every significant structure, every building has a foundation. The taller the building, the deeper and more important the foundation. Destroy the building’s foundation, and you’ve toppled the building.
Funny, isn’t it, how words repeat themselves on other lips? I was watching a national prayer service in which Dr. Billy Graham, our nation’s esteemed evangelist and spokesman for Christ, referred to the structures the terrorists destroyed on September 11, 2001. He stated that the twin towers may have been destroyed, but their foundations, amazingly, were still in place. He then spoke with great relief for our nation, saying, “It’s the same with us. If our foundations are in place, then nothing else really matters.”
That is precisely David’s point. David is not referring to structures. No house or building is in his mind, and there is no reference to such in this psalm. This psalm is about life. The righteous stand on a firm foundation. Now, should the foundation of a life be destroyed, that life crumbles. But if the foundation remains secure, no amount of stress—in David’s case, no ugly attack on his life by Saul or any of his troops—would cause his life to fracture or crumble.
You see, David is viewing the treacherous, threatening words of Saul as arrows coming from warriors. He uses a vivid word picture in the second verse: “Behold, the wicked bend the bow, they make ready their arrow upon the string….”
In those days the warrior was known for his keen ability with bow and arrow. One of the most effective weapons in David’s day was a sharp, slender arrow as it slipped from the bow guided by the marksman’s eye to the target. David’s point is that the wicked are bending bows, and they are making ready their deadly arrows on the string. I don’t think David had a literal bow and arrow in mind. He was thinking in terms of words shot at him or statements made against him, as part of the plot planned to bring him down. But that won’t happen to him if the foundations of his life are strong and secure. However, if those foundations are destroyed, his life collapses, drops like a sack of salt. How do we know that his foundations were solid and secure? Hint: Look at the first verse. We’ll talk about it tomorrow.
Excerpted from Why God? Calming Words for Chaotic Times, Copyright 2001 by Charles R. Swindoll Inc. (Thomas Nelson Publishers). All rights reserved worldwide. Used by Permission.
About the Author:
Chuck Swindoll has devoted his life to the accurate, practical teaching and application of God’s Word. Active as the senior pastor-teacher of Stonebriar Community Church in Texas, Chuck’s trademark humour, integrity, and authenticity have made him one of this century’s most beloved and trusted preachers. His international radio program Insight for Living has aired for more than 35 years. Want Chuck Swindoll’s insights delivered to your inbox seven days a week? Claim your free subscription to Insight for Today.