The Secret of Security
Mr. Jerry Clark of Morrison, Tenn., continues to provide us with practical instruction in this the sixth of his series of fifteen articles on Psalms 120-134.
A song of the goings up:
1. The ones trusting in the LORD are as Mount Zion: it shall not be moved; it abides forever.
2. As for Jerusalem, mountains surround her, and the LORD surrounds His people both now and forever.
3. For the sceptre of wickedness shall not rest upon the lot of the righteous, in order that the righteous shall not extend their hands unto iniquity.
4. Do good, O LORD, to the good ones, to the ones upright in their hearts.
5. But the ones turning aside to crooked ways, the LORD will lead away with the doers of vanity.
Peace be upon Israel!
The entire world is searching for security. Even the most casual observer must admit that our society has become a “madhouse” as men betray men in a “dog eat dog” fashion in the desperate scramble for some sort of security. Wealth, power, knowledge, fame — these things are sought not simply as an end in themselves, but primarily as a means to gain security in this life.
And, it must be admitted, this desire for security is both legitimate and understandable. From that moment we are born into this world as tiny infants, we have a genuine need to feel safe, secure and protected.
Christians, too, have a need for security and by this we mean not simply the assurance of eternal salvation (cf. Psa. 121), but also the confidence that God is with us here and now, that He is actively engaged in providing for our needs and protecting us from our enemies. The vital question is this: how can we gain such security?
The Affirmation (125:1-3)
The “secret” of the security which every man seeks is found in a single word in this psalm: it is the word “trust” (v. 1). The Hebrew batach means basically “to flee to for refuge” and implies hope (Psa. 22:9), confidence (Psa. 27:3), and security (Judg. 18:7). As with the New Testament pisteuo, the implication is to have confidence in someone or something because we have been persuaded that the person or thing is true or trustworthy. The idea is simply that our security depends not on ourselves (or on anything we may do to make ourselves secure: cf. Luke 12:16-21) but on the One whom we trust for our security. In other words, the object of our trust —and that only — determines our security, or the lack of it.
This is in direct contrast to the prevailing worldly opinion. The infamous Machiavelli, for example, whose perverted ideas seem to have been accepted as the “standard” for our modern age, remarked long ago that “Only those means of security are good, are certain, are lasting, that depend on yourself and your own vigor” (The Prince, XXIV).
God’s Word, however, plainly teaches that those who trust in “man” in any sense (including ourselves and our own abilities) are “cursed,” while only those who trust in the Lord are blessed (Jer. 17:5-8). The “secret” of security is simple: Where do you seek refuge when “storms” arise or enemies appear? Those who flee to the Lord for refuge are truly secure, but those who depend on “self” are only deluding themselves and are destined for a rude awakening.
Hezekiah learned this lesson in an incident which well illustrates this psalm: when surrounded by enemy forces (the Assyrian army of Sennacherib), Hezekiah discovered that appearances can be deceiving. Looking only at outward circumstances produced nothing but fear. Jerusalem, however, was surrounded by more than just enemies: God’s power and protective hand were omnipresent and Jerusalem was thus totally secure (2 Kings 19:35).
The psalmist amplifies his affirmation by comparing the believer to Mount Zion, just as Mount Zion is doubly secure because of the mountains surrounding her and because of God’s promises that her ultimate safety is assured (see Psa. 48:8; cf. Ex. 32:13), so is the believer doubly secure, in that, the Lord surrounds us now and His promises guarantee the continuance of this same concern and protection forever.
Verse 3 affirms the psalmist’s confidence that the “sceptre of wickedness” shall not rest on the lot of the righteous. C. F. Keil points out that, “Not for a continuance wall the sceptre of heathen tyranny rest upon the holy land. God will not suffer that in order that the righteous may not at length, by virtue of the power which pressure and use exercises over men, also participate in the prevailing ungodly doings”‘ (Keil and Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament: Psalms). It is true that wickedness may be allowed to touch the righteous, but this power cannot rest (i.e., take up permanent abode) there.
The Appeal (125:4-5)
In the last two verses the affirmation of faith bursts forth into an appeal of faith. The psalmist, basing his appeal on facts which he knows to be true, facts relating to God’s own nature, actions and words (vv. 1-3), beseeches the Lord to “do good” to His people.
God’s people are here called by three names: “righteous” (v. 3), “good” (v. 4), and “upright” (v. 4). The first term (tsadiq) is an absolute term and refers to man’s essential standing with God (the redeemed). The last two terms are relative and have reference to man’s standing with men. “Upright” refers to moral rectitude in our dealings with others — whether personal, business or otherwise. “Good” goes beyond what is just to that which is merciful or compassionate (cf. Rom. 5:6-9). Neither is of value without the “right standing” with God which is based on Christ’s sacrifice for our sins.
The security of the redeemed is assured; the enjoyment of these blessings in a practical sense depends not only on salvation but on practical fellowship with God and with other believers, based on faith and manifested by a Christ-like life and attitude toward others (cf. 1 John 1:5-7: the subject is fellowship, not salvation).
The prayer to God to “do good” to His people does not imply a complete absence of trouble, but simply the realization that whatever trouble we encounter is allowed by God, that God is with us in our trials, and that even our problems and pain will ultimately result in our essential “good” (Rom. 8:28).
Many believers today enjoy as little practical security in relation to life as unbelievers: they are worried, bewildered, fearful, unable to be of use to God or others because their hearts are filled with anxiety. How foolish to trust God for the supremely important thing (eternal salvation), but fail to trust Him in regard to such relatively unimportant things as are necessary for the sustenance of physical life (Matt. 6:25-34)!
With everyone searching for security, the believer can affirm by his words and actions that true security depends on the Lord. Such serene confidence in the midst of the prevailing confusion and unrest is a genuine witness to the faithfulness of our Lord.