This Psalm begins with a tremendous statement of faith – “In the Lord I take refuge.” The whole Psalm should be understood in the light of this tremendous statement of faith. From the vantage-point of faith, the Psalmist is able to overcome the temptation to doubt God (vs. 1-3). His enemies say to him, “”Flee like a bird to your mountain.” The Psalmist replies, “In the Lord I take refuge.” The “wicked” are out to get him. The Psalmist looks at them, and says, “In the Lord do I take refuge.” It seems that “the foundations are being destroyed.” The Psalmist looks to the Lord, and says, “In the Lord I take refuge.” From the vantage-point of faith, the Psalmist views the whole of life in the light of God. “In the Lord I take refuge.” There is only one refuge. The Lord is our refuge. He is our salvation. There is only one place of safety – “in Christ.” “It is by grace you have been saved through faith” (Ephesians 2:8). By grace, we are in Christ. Through faith, we are in Christ. “He hideth my soul in the cleft of the rock” – This is grace. “Rock of ages, cleft for me, let me hide myself in Thee” – This is faith. Grace and faith belong together. We are not saved by grace apart from faith. We are saved by grace through faith. The grace of God reaches us as we receive Jesus Christ in faith. We are not saved by faith apart from grace. We are saved by grace through faith.
Faith has no meaning in itself. Faith finds its meaning only in relation to the grace of God. Faith is God’s way for us to come to Him through our Lord Jesus Christ. “By grace you have been saved through faith” – This is the Christian’s unshakeable foundation. With this unshakeable foundation, the Christian can face the attacks of the enemy with confidence.
‘ … How then can you say to me: “Flee like a bird to your mountain. For look, the wicked bend their bows; they set their arrows against the strings to shoot from the shadows at the upright in heart. When the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous do ?” (vs. 1-3).
The devil is at work. He seeks to sow seeds of doubt into the heart of God’s people. He suggests to us that God’s gracious foundation for our faith can be destroyed. This is nothing new. It’s as old as Genesis 3:1 – “Did God say … ?“ The devil says to us, “Has God really forgiven your sins?” He says, “Has God really saved you?” The devil wants to get us on the run. He wants us to run away from him. We must not let him get the upper hand. We are to resist him in the strength of Christ’s victory over him. When we “resist the devil” in the strength of Christ’s victory, “he will flee from us” (James 4:7). To believe the devil is to believe the lie. The truth is that, when take our stand in Christ, the devil has no alternative but to ruin from us. Christ’s victory over the devil becomes our victory over Christ has won the victory over the devil. Through faith in Christ, His victory becomes our our victory over the devil.
‘ … How then can you say to me: “Flee like a bird to your mountain.” For look, the wicked bend their bows; they set their arrows against the strings to shoot from the shadows at the upright in heart. When the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous do ?’ (vs. 1-3).
Here are three important lessons concerning Christ’s victory over the devil.
* Through His death on the Cross, Christ has won the victory over the devil. He has won this victory for us (Hebrews 2:14-15 – “Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil— and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.”
* On the basis of the victory that Christ has won for us, we can stand our ground against the devil (Isaiah 28:16 – “So this is what the Sovereign LORD says: “See, I lay a stone in Zion, a tested stone,
a precious cornerstone for a sure foundation; the one who trusts will never be dismayed.”
* When we take our stand in Christ, the devil can do nothing else but flee from us. He is strong when we try to stand against him in our own strength. When, however we remind him of Christ’s victory over him, he can do nothing but bow before Christ’s superior power. Rejoicing in the victory that Christ has won for us, let’s remind the devil that he’s a defeated enemy (James 4:7 – “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”)
Our faith is built on a secure foundation. How do we know this? – “The LORD is on His heavenly throne” (v. 4). Knowing that the Lord is King, we are assured that God’s way of salvation is the one way of salvation. Salvation is by grace through faith. This salvation is centred on Jesus Christ. It is in Jesus Christ that we find the grace of God. It is Jesus Christ in whom we put our trust. Jesus Christ is God’s way of salvation. Through Jesus Christ, we have received salvation. There is no other way of salvation. God’s Kingship is revealed in His way of salvation. There is only way of salvation. It is God’s way of salvation. By grace through faith – This is God’s way of salvation. When we refuse to accept God’s way of salvation, we refuse to acknowledge His Kingship. Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). We dare not attempt to dispute this point with God. Who are we to argue with God? We may attempt to save ourselves. We will not succeed. When we attempt to save ourselves, God looks upon us and He sees our sin. In ourselves, we are not “the righteous.” We may think that we are “righteous.” In God’s eyes, we are “the wicked.” This is the truth concerning every one of us: “There is no one righteous, not even one … all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:10, 23). There is only one way in which “the wicked” can become “the righteous.” We must come to the God of perfect holiness through faith in Jesus Christ. We must remember that “Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring us to God” (1 Peter 3:18). This is God’s way of salvation. We don’t tell God that He has to save us because we think that we have earned the right to be saved. He tells us that we are sinners. He tells us that we need to be saved. He tells us that “Jesus Christ is able to save to the uttermost completely those who come to God through him” (Hebrews 7:25).
We have the great promise of the Gospel. In Christ, there is full salvation for all who come to God through Him. Alongside this great promise, there is also the warning of the Gospel. We read the solemn words of verse 6 – “On the wicked he will rain fire and brimstone; a scorching wind will be their lot” “Fire and brimstone” – What are we to say about this? We must note that the Psalm doesn’t end with “fire and brimstone.” It ends with the words: “upright men will see His face” (v. 7). God doesn’t want to leave us where He finds us. He doesn’t want to leave us trembling in fear of “fire and brimstone.” He speaks to us of these things so that we might see our need of the Saviour. He speaks to us of these things so that we might”flee from the wrath to come” (Luke 3:7). He speaks to us of these things so that we might find our way to the Cross of Christ. He speaks to us of these things so that we might learn to confess our sins and receive God’s forgiveness: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).
Unbelievers have ridiculed “fire and brimstone” preaching. We cannot, however, allow their scornful attitude to lead us to dismiss “fire and brimstone” preaching. We dare not say that such preaching belongs to the past.
We must note that the Bible preaches “fire and brimstone.” We must ask, “How does the Bible preach “fire and brimstone”?” The fact that the Bible preaches “fire and brimstone” means that this emphasis on divine judgment must not be excluded from our preaching in today’s world. The way that the Bible preaches “fire and brimstone” teaches us that we must always preach with a view to leading men and women to know Jesus Christ as their Saviour. Jesus Christ is the only way out of judgment. Jesus Christ is the only way into salvation.We hear the Gospel. we hear its promise. We hear its warning. The Gospel places us at a cross-roads. Each of us must decide. We must come to Christ. We must trust Him as our Saviour. We must come to Him, believing that He died on the Cross for us. We must come to Him and receive His free gift of the forgiveness of our sins. It is only through faith in Him that we will come to know, for ourselves, the truth of the final words of this Psalm: “upright men will see His face” (v. 7).