Lately, I’ve been blessed to be an observer and sometimes-participator in overhauling my brother’s house. One of the notable days in this process occurred last week when a team came out and fixed the foundation; after that event, I was able to paint walls and breathe a little sigh of relief that I had at least a little assurance that I wouldn’t come in the next day and see massive cracks all through my work.
Because of the evenings spent observing the house as it evolves, I’ve been meditating on foundations; and I have been surprised at how frequently the Bible mentions them. Perhaps even more striking to me has been how Biblical foundations (especially those relating to God) sometimes incorporated materials that seem highly impractical to our modern view of concrete foundations. Solomon laid the foundation for the temple with “great stones, costly stones, [and] hewed stones” (1 Kings 5:17). John saw each foundation of the New Jerusalem in Revelation 21 decorated with a different semi-precious stone. And, of course, Paul tells us of the most precious spiritual foundation—the bedrock of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 3:11).
Something I read in Psalm 11 deeply resonated with where my heart has been concerning foundations. In the psalm, David is endeavoring to encourage himself in the midst of deep conflicting emotions after Saul has made yet another attempt on his life. He opens with a conversation—possibly a literal one, but I tend to believe that David and I had in common the whole “talking-to-people-in-one’s-head” thing. Someone has counseled him to run and hide, just like a bird escapes the hunter staked out in the open plains when it flies into the mountains. David’s response is one of adamant faith—“How can I truly say that the Lord is my shield and my defense if I cower away?”
It is in the middle of this debate (verse three) in which David says something that doesn’t seem to fit: “If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?” Cue the screeching halt to my blithe understanding of the chapter. ‘I thought we were talking about cowardly birds and hunters, Lord. Not really following here.’
Fortunately, the insight of men so much smarter than I am is archived in concordances readily available on the internet. The significance of verse three lies in the context of the first two verses. David has already outlined that his trust is in God, even in the face of “common sense” which would dictate that he do all things necessary to shield his life. The foundation of his self-preservation was a deep-rooted faith that God does all things well and is indeed able to protect that which is His own. Any efforts that David took to protect himself (in short, to run when God told him to stand firm) would erode the foundation of verbalized faith and result in the destruction of the life he was building upon it.
Truly, God desires a people who will marry their actions to their deeds. Our salvation is most assuredly by grace through faith in Him and not of works, but this does not imply that we are to take a passive approach to the life of faith. Living a life that is “counter-culture” to the ruling ideologies of the day requires that we make proactive, conscious decisions. We choose to seek out the oppressed fight for justice. We choose to find those who are hungry and feed them instead of expecting the hungry to come to us seeking for a handout. We choose not to run in fear from confrontation—to stand for integrity and morality even at the risk of seeming offensive. And we lock into Jesus, the originator and perfector of our faith and the bedrock on which we as living stones seek to build.