290 – Psalm 11 – Trial by fire

There are only seven short verses in Psalm eleven, but it’s packed with truth. Please read the whole Psalm. I’d like us to consider verses four and five. 


Psalm 11:4-5 (NKJV)

           4       [Yahweh] is in His holy temple,

    [Yahweh’s] throne is in heaven;

    His eyes behold,

    His eyelids test the sons of men.

           5       [Yahweh] tests the righteous,

    But the wicked and the one who loves violence His soul hates.


The first thing to notice when considering these two verses together is three of the five times the name Yahweh is used are in these two verses. David’s personal God is being discussed here. The psalmist declares where God is and what He’s doing. But I have a question. How could David possibly know that Yahweh is in His Holy temple and what He’s doing there? We know that God is a spirit, meaning He has no physical body and therefore cannot be seen. Is David lying to us? Does he have some sort of superhuman ability that enables him to see Yahweh and His hidden dwelling place? There is no scriptural evidence that would support such a notion. I think a much more plausible explanation would be that David has become aware of God’s location through being in relationship.

There are really only 2 ways David could know anything about God. The first is Yahweh could communicate with David directly, the second is David could hear it from someone else. If you think about it, this is the way it is for every human being who has ever or will ever live on this planet. 

Consider for a moment the woman at the well when Jesus walked the earth. Do you recall the account as recorded in John chapter four? The extremely short version is, Jesus was sitting next to Jacob’s well when a Samaritan woman came by with her water pot. He strikes up a conversation with her, then tells her about her past, and offers her and her husband “living water”. She runs to town and tells everyone about Jesus. 

Skipping down to John 4:39-42 we read:

John 4:39-42 (NKJV)

           39       And many of the Samaritans of that city believed in Him because of the word of the woman who testified, “He told me all that I ever did.” 

           40       So when the Samaritans had come to Him, they urged Him to stay with them; and He stayed there two days. 

           41       And many more believed because of His own word.

           42       Then they said to the woman, “Now we believe, not because of what you said, for we ourselves have heard Him and we know that this is indeed the Christ, the Savior of the world.”


There are more many observations that one could make in Psalm 11:4-5 than we have space for, but I want to mention a few more. The next observation is David tells us Yahweh’s “throne is in heaven”. Why do we need to know that tidbit of information? Does it really matter to us where an invisible God keeps His chair? I think it does matter. First of all, it’s not just a chair, it’s a throne. A throne is a place of power. A place where decisions are made and judgments are executed that affects a realm full of subjects. In today’s world, it is important to know that Yahweh is still on His throne. He is intimately involved in our lives.

I would also like to point out that both verses we are pondering tell us that Yahweh “tests the righteous”. So what does that mean? Is He sitting up in heaven on His throne throwing exams in our path, then sitting back to grade us? Maybe they are just pass/fail tests? Maybe He grades on a curve saying, “this time Mark did a little better than the others”? Maybe He’s saying, “one more failed test and I’m gonna toast him”? Sounds silly, but I think all too often that’s our perspective of Yahweh. But if we look up the word translated “test” in the Hebrew lexicon we can get a better understanding of these two verses.

According to Logos Bible Software, the word translated “test” has the following glosses: test metals by melting; metaphorically to examine, put to the test, to search out, to prove, to watch. So let’s say for discussion’s sake we determine the correct gloss to be “test metals by melting”. To give some perspective, in the modern-day world there are two general ways to test metal, destructive and non-destructive testing. During destructive testing, a portion of the metal is actually destroyed to see if it measures up to certain criteria. In non-destructive testing, the metal may be stressed to see how it responds but it is not destroyed. So let me ask you, does it make sense that God would destroy the righteous in order to discover if they measure up? 

I would argue no. I would also argue that God is not using non-destructive testing. He does not need to apply any testing to find out what we are made of and I think the verse supports my conclusion. Notice that it says, “He tests the righteous…”. If He already knows a person is righteous then why would Yahweh need to test him? Think back to the gloss, “test metals by melting”. Could it be that Yahweh allows certain trials and tribulations in our lives to refine us, purify us, and make us more Christ-like?

The last comment I would like to make is on the last part of verse five which says, “…But the wicked and the one who loves violence His soul hates”, I cannot imagine being hated by Yahweh’s soul! If you are not a believer in Jesus then God considers you one of the wicked! But good news! You can become one of the righteous by simply putting your faith in Jesus for salvation.

Yahweh truly is worthy of all praise, worship, and adoration!

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