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Enduring Trials

For look! The wicked bend their bow, They make ready their arrow on the string, That they may shoot secretly at the upright in heart…The LORD tests the righteous, But the wicked and the one who loves violence His soul hates. 
(Psalm 11:2 & 5)

Enduring Trials

In the verses which we are considering this week we see two distinct ways in which the Christian is caused to suffer affliction, testing or trial. The first is at the hand of “the wicked”. The wicked are here shown to be acting as secret soldiers in a war against the children of God. The second cause for suffering or trial is shown to be directly from the hand of God; verse five informs us that God “tests the righteous”. It is obvious that testing from God and the attacks of the wicked are not the same; but in the moment, the pain is felt in both instances.

What is the difference? And how should we as Christians respond to various trials?

I distinctly recall a time when I was at the archery range preparing my bow and arrow for a shot at the target, when as the string was halfway drawn, my string slipped loose from the release, and sent the arrow flying randomly down range. Thankfully it landed safely into a back-stop which was installed to protect against harm in just such an instance. (Hence the reason for strict safety protocols). That episode was an accident, which thankfully did not do any harm to anyone. 

In the text before us, there is no such idea of an accidental firing of an arrow. No, what we see here is that the enemies of God purposefully put the arrow to the string, pull back the bow, take careful sight at the target (you and me), and seek to destroy us, all while they remain hidden from view. In short, they are pictured as archery snipers, and we are the target!

It is no wonder that verse five emphatically declares that the Lord hates the wicked and the violent. These are the enemies who seek to destroy the very Bride of Christ. These are they who hate God and His beloved so much that they cannot see straight. Their mouth is full of profanities. In their quiet and sneaky ways they try to undermine the glorious message of the gospel. They stand in condemnation because of their own refusal to submit to the King, and they desire to bring you down with them. They hate God, and everyone who is united to Him.

This is a psalm of David, and David is reminding us of the faithful hand of care and protection which he has enjoyed from God all his life. We are comforted by the same truth: God is our refuge and our strength.

We are also reminded that God “tests the righteous.” Yes, we may – and do – suffer pain.  Job suffered the loss of everything. Yet, from the hand of God, we are being strengthened, tempered, and refined. The testing from God is meant to prepare us and not to harm us. Thus, we are being prepared for glory.

The Psalm ends with these beautiful words of comfort and assurance for you, dear Christian, even as you suffer the attacks of the enemy and the testing from God: For the LORD is righteous, He loves righteousness; His countenance beholds the upright. (Ps. 11:7). You have not been abandoned, and the Lord is near unto you. Call upon Him in true faith!

Rev. Travis Grassmid

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