The Lord is on His Throne

The Lord is on His Throne

I am incredibly grateful that, as a newborn believer, I was taught to read the Word of God every day. At first, I would sit down each morning, open my Bible, and read wherever it opened. However, my motives were not always the best. I read because I was told this is what God expected, and I wanted to be obedient. But I also wanted to check the box on the back of the offering envelope. In those days, we had offering envelopes with a checklist of things on the back that we should do each week. We were expected to pray, read our Bible, talk to others about Jesus, attend Sunday School, attend worship services, and give.  And we were expected to check those boxes so the pastor would know we were doing what we were supposed to do. Those were all things a good Christian did. So, I dutifully read my Bible to “check the box.” For me, those early days were more about God establishing a habit in me of being in the Word daily than it was about me getting to know God.

About a year later, my mentor taught me a simple method to help me be more intentional about my daily Bible reading. They shared with me that they read five Psalms each day, beginning with the Psalm of the day. For example, today is January 11, 2021, so I would read Psalm 11. But they read a total of five Psalms and a chapter of Proverbs each day. The way to do this is to read the Psalm of the day, today being Psalm 11, and add 30 to the date read Psalms 41. Then add 30 and read Psalm 71, then 101, and finally 131. Since Proverbs has 31 chapters, we would read the chapter corresponding to the date, or for today, chapter 11. I would often write down things I learned about God or truths that struck me.

Over the years, I have learned to read with a purpose by slowing down and engaging the text interactively. We’ll talk more about that in a moment.

However, today I was captivated by Psalm 11.

David is in a desperate situation. He was surrounded by the wicked, and his life was in danger. Despite his circumstances, David stands firm because of his confidence in the Lord. It was a confidence born out of years of walking with God from the time he was a young shepherd boy in the fields to his present situation as King ruling Israel.

His well-meaning but fearful advisors counseled him to “flee like a bird,” in other words, “run!” But David refused to run away from danger. He marveled at the suggestion from the fainthearted advisors because running denied his faith in the Lord, and they should have known better. He wondered where their faith was when they counseled him to run.

When faced with the temptation to flee or not to flee from the wicked who surrounded him, David held fast to his faith in the Lord. Instead of fleeing like a bird to a mountain where he would be safe, he fled to the Lord for refuge. Escape was out of the question! He made that point crystal clear in his message to them. “In the Lord I take refuge!” (v 1)

Out of their fear, his advisors began to argue the facts of his situation in order to convince him to do so.

  • The wicked slander and stalk-like predators for the kill.
  • They lie in ambush with their tongues ready to hurl abuse at the godly. (v. 2) (Cross-reference Ps 10:8-9)
  • The wicked lurk in the dark. The battle is not out in the open where you could see it. Evil is ubiquitous and yet not easy to spot. The wicked are treacherous, stealthy, and intent on maligning and making the godly fall. They are intent on making anarchy a way of life. (Ps 10:7-10, 37:14)
  • The foundations are destroyed. These foundations refer to the law and order of society established by God at creation. This is the belief that God is sovereign over all of His creation and is sustaining the order of the world. God’s justice and law are being replaced by self-rule resulting in anarchy/chaos.

The fearful focus on their surrounding circumstances and ask, “What can the righteous do?” That is a horizontal focus. David, however, has a vertical focus, as we see in verses 4-6.

David was a strong leader; whose confidence was in the Lord. When the fainthearted asked, “What can the righteous do?” David responded that the righteous can trust in the one and only source of secure government – the Lord who

  • has not left His holy temple.
  • is still on His throne in heaven.
  • is sovereignly ruling over His creation.
  • sees and examines closely the activities of both the righteous and the wicked.
  • tests and refines the righteous.
  • hates the wicked and people who love violence. God is opposed to all who choose wickedness and violence in opposition to His will.
  • will reward each according to their deeds.
  • will destroy the wicked.
  • will allow the upright to see His face.

David tried to help the fainthearted advisors see their circumstances from God’s perspective. Like a good leader, David wanted to move them from a horizontal focus to a vertical focus so that they would not be overwhelmed.

The kind of Godly confidence David displayed can withstand trials, persecutions, and temptations. David not only knows the truth about who is Sovereign over all the earth, but he also lives the truth so others may know God. Jesus also had confidence in the Father when He faced Satan’s temptations and the hostility of people. We can trust God to do what He said He would do!

Confidence in the Lord is a mark of Christian maturity!

Earlier I mentioned that I learned to read with a purpose by slowing down and engaging the text interactively. In doing so, my time in the Word was no longer merely an “academic” pursuit of knowledge. As I slowed down and interacted with the Word, both my mind and heart were engaged. In interacting in this way, the Word not only instructed and trained me how to be righteous, but it also reprimanded and corrected me in my thoughts and behaviors. But it didn’t stop there! The more I applied the truths I was learning, living in obedience to the Truth of the Word, the more I knew God intimately, and I grew spiritually. That growth has given me the confidence to stand firm in whatever situation I find myself in and to make Jesus known from those platforms.


Engaging the Scriptures

Here are some simple steps to help you interactively engage the scriptures.

Read Psalm 11 (It’s at the end of this blog)

Note: David is the one speaking, and he is speaking to his advisors.

Re-read it.

This time mark LORD including pronouns.

(I use a triangle. However, you can color it, circle it, etc. The point is to slow you down and see what you are reading.) When reading scripture, I always mark God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit.

Re-read it. (I know, you’ve already read it twice, but it’s ok, it’s God’s Word.)

This time mark

wicked, including pronouns and synonyms. I use a W over the word.

righteous, including synonyms with a circle.

Now the fun begins as you engage more with the scripture!

Make a list. Look at each place you marked LORD and write down all you learn about the LORD. For example:

The Lord is

in His Holy temple

Make another list. This time write what you learn about the wicked.

Ask Questions

Now we will drill down a little deeper by asking some questions using the 5 Ws and H questions. (Who? What? When? Where? Why? How?)

David is in a desperate situation surrounded by the wicked, and his life was in danger. What point does David make before addressing his advisors in verse 1?



What advice have his advisors given him according to verse 1?



Who are they worried about, and why are they concerned?




To get a better understanding of what the wicked are doing, read Psalm 10:8-9, and write down what you learn.




Note: These foundations in verse 3 refer to the law and order of society established by God at creation. This is the belief that God is sovereign over all of His creation and is sustaining the order of the world. God’s justice and law are being replaced by self-rule resulting in anarchy/chaos.

According to verse 3, what is the concern of the advisors?



Where is the focus of David’s advisors? Explain your answer.



From all you have seen so far, how would you describe/characterize David’s advisors?



What is David’s response, according to verses 4-6?




Where is David’s focus?


What do you learn about the Lord in verse 7, and how does that relate to the upright?



Something to think about

Do you look more like the advisors or David? What would others say?


Look at today’s culture. Do you see any similarities to the culture David was living in? Don’t just answer with yes or no, if so write out the similarities.



If so, what have you learned from Psalm 11 that will help you stand in confidence in an evil and corrupt society?


How mature are you? What do you need to do to grow in maturity?


Psalm 11 

1  In the LORD I take refuge; how can you say to my soul, “Flee like a bird to your mountain,

2  for behold, the wicked bend the bow; they have fitted their arrow to the string to shoot in the dark at the upright in heart;

3  if the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?”

4  The LORD is in his holy temple; the LORD’s throne is in heaven; his eyes see, his eyelids test the children of man.

5  The LORD tests the righteous, but his soul hates the wicked and the one who loves violence.

6  Let him rain coals on the wicked; fire and sulfur and a scorching wind shall be the portion of their cup.

7  For the LORD is righteous; he loves righteous deeds; the upright shall behold his face.

What are they thinking? – Psalm 36

What are they thinking? – Psalm 36

This is part 2 of What in the world are they thinking?. To put you in context you may want to go back and read the previous blog, if you haven’t already.

We are living in times that seem to be increasingly evil. Times where right is wrong and wrong is right. As I scan through the news I often ask myself, “What in the world are they thinking?” Recently, as I watched current events unfolding, I found myself asking that question once again. This time God reminded me of Psalm 36, which I had just studied. I had read through the psalm several times but I just wasn’t grasping what it was saying, so I went back and drilled down a bit more. I thought you might need the answer to this question too, so I decided to do a short interactive study together.

You may be asking yourself what I mean by interactive study. This kind of study is a hands-on approach, not simply reading the text, to help students become more engaged with the text, and retain more of what they read. It is a tool to help students strengthen problem-solving and critical thinking skills, which will help you know and understand the author’s purpose for writing. In this short study we will be

  • marking words – which slows you down to really see what is there.
  • making lists – to lift the text off the page in order to see it more clearly as well as help imbed it in your mind.
  • asking questions of the text, Who? What? When? Where? Why? and How?

(I suggest you either print this off and work on the copy, or you can mark right in your Bible.)

At the end of the day you will be amazed at how much more you pick up!

Context helps us better understand the circumstance in which something is written. So let’s take a look at what was going on when David wrote this Psalm.

David is no stranger to the schemes of the wicked, often he found himself in the midst of his enemies. I am sure he probably asked God that same question!  (What in the world are they thinking?) Overwhelmed by the lifestyle and the wickedness of the ungodly as they plotted their schemes, David knew he had to refocus, and he knew where to find relief. Remembering God’s character and how He had worked in his life in the past, David responded to his circumstances by praying. The Lord answered his prayer with an oracle concerning the sinfulness of the wicked surrounding him.

Let’s get started.

  • With that in mind read Psalm 36 without stopping. (We are using the ESV translation)

Psalm 36 

Transgression speaks to the wicked deep in his heart; there is no fear of God before his eyes.

2  For he flatters himself in his own eyes that his iniquity cannot be found out and hated.

3  The words of his mouth are trouble and deceit; he has ceased to act wisely and do good.

4  He plots trouble while on his bed; he sets himself in a way that is not good; he does not reject evil.

Your steadfast love, O Lord, extends to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds.

6  Your righteousness is like the mountains of God; your judgments are like the great deep; man and beast you save, O Lord.

How precious is your steadfast love, O God! The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings.

8  They feast on the abundance of your house, and you give them drink from the river of your delights.

9  For with you is the fountain of life; in your light do we see light.

10  Oh, continue your steadfast love to those who know you, and your righteousness to the upright of heart!

11  Let not the foot of arrogance come upon me, nor the hand of the wicked drive me away.

12  There the evildoers lie fallen; they are thrust down, unable to rise.

Drill down a little deeper

What did you notice on your first read through?

Read verses 1-4. Who is David talking about?

Write wicked in the left hand column just below #1. (This will help you see clearly which group you are reading about)

Mark all references to the wicked, including pronouns, and make a list of all you learn about them. (I use a colored pencil to color the word. It makes it easier to see)

When was the last time you used transgression in a sentence? It is not a word we commonly use. When you see a word when reading your Bible that you are not familiar with you can google it or look it up the old school way using a dictionary. Transgression is “something that is against a command or law. It can be a failure to do your duty. A sin is a transgression against God.”

According to verse 1, what speaks to the heart of the wicked, and how much influence does it have?

Our belief systems determine our behavior. What is the basis for the beliefs and behaviors of the wicked in this verse?

What kind of relationship do they have with God? How does that effect their belief system?

Read back through your list about the wicked. How does what you learn about the wicked help you better understand the answer to the question, “What were they thinking?”

Now read verses 7-12. What group of people is David talking about in these verses?

Write believers in the left hand column just below #7.

Mark all references to the believers, including pronouns. Also mark the wicked in the same way you did in verses 1-4.

Make a list of all you learn about the believers in these verses.

Add any new insights you saw regarding the wicked from this passage, to your list on the wicked.

From what you read in this passage, what do believers base their beliefs and behaviors on?

How is this different from what you learned about the wicked’s belief system? Explain your answer.

Go back and read verses 5-6 again and mark God/Lord and pronouns. (I often use a triangle)

Write God in the left hand column just below #5.

Read verses 7-12 again and mark God, including pronouns.

Make a list of all you learned about God.

In verses 5-6, what are God’s character qualities you see here? How are they described?

How available are these character qualities to believers? Are they limited? Explain your answer.

Steadfast love – The Hebrew word the ESV translates as steadfast love is checed, and is also translated as ‘love’, ‘faithful love’, ‘lovingkindness ‘, ‘gracious love’ or even ‘mercy’ in other translations. The word is hard to define because it a deeper kind of love. It is a unique covenant love that only God can give. That love protects believers from the hostility of the wicked. It is a love, a mercy, a compassion that we can trust in regardless of what our circumstances may be.

A love that never changes, never fails. Always promised, always true. 

According to verses 5-9, where can believers find relief from the hostility they are surrounded by?

How will fully understanding that truth help you live by faith and not in fear when you are overwhelmed by the culture you are living in?

David ends the psalm with a prayer in verses 10-12. What is he asking God to do?

In verse 12, what does David see will happen to the evildoers as a result of their wickedness?


Some things to think about

There are two philosophies and lifestyles contrasted in this Psalm, that of unbelievers and believers.

The philosophy of the wicked is based on the absence of their fear of God. Because of this, the wicked continue doing evil with no pangs of conscience, and no sense of impending judgment. The unbeliever soothes his own conscience to hide his sins. His speech is deceptive, divisive and immoral. They plot their evil schemes from the time they get up in the morning, throughout the day, and continue even after they go to bed at night. The wicked have no sense of responsibility to God for their actions, or fear of punishment, because of that they cease to “be wise and to do good.” They are totally self focused.

David’s philosophy of life (and that of believers), is to be based on their fear of God. In contrast with the corruptions of the wicked, an obedient believer’s life is characterized by

  • their security in the Lord.
  • abundant provisions.
  • their lifestyle and understanding of God’s presence.

God’s steadfast love, faithfulness, righteousness and justice are inexhaustible resources for believers. Through them God preserves man and beast throughout life, in blessings for believers.

Despite the wickedness surrounding him, David found relief by focusing on God’s attributes, enabling him to not be distracted from what God has called him to do.

In the face of the circumstances that surround us, it is really easy to become overwhelmed by the wickedness. We don’t have to be! We can train ourselves to respond to the evil as David did by

  • Responding with prayer.
  • Refocusing on who God is and what He does. (In doing, so you will go from a horizontal focus, fixated on your circumstances, to a vertical focus, your eyes fixed on God.)
  • Remembering what God has already done.
  • Resting in the knowledge that God will do what He said He would do.

In doing so, you will not be distracted from what God has called you to do!

Stand firm! Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go! – Joshua 1:9









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