In junior high school, I was playing in a basketball game during the lunch break. I stole the ball from Arthur several times. He whipped the ball at me from about five or six feet away without warning. It bounced off my knee and struck him in the face. That pictures God’s judgment. The arrows of the wicked will return aflame to pierce their hearts.
Psalm 11 describes how the wicked treat the righteous in every age. The righteous are like an uncomfortable splinter in the self-will of the wicked. The wicked have at least four splinter removal strategies. They make fun of believers. They attempt to win them over to their way of thinking. They pretend they’re all hypocrites. They persecute and kill them. David’s advisors implied that the righteous are powerless against these onslaughts. They begged him to retreat and keep on retreating.
But David knew appearance wasn’t always reality. True refuge for Him was in God, not in the mountains. He needed no other hiding place. That didn’t mean the arrows of the wicked would never strike him. He wasn’t immune from suffering, sorrow, and pain. The truth is deeper. The center of God’s will was his refuge and safety. It’s ours too. Even if the arrows strike us. Nevertheless, we remain safe and secure as God’s children.
Refuge means ultimate safety, not comfort. It’s deliverance through, not always deliverance from. Jesus learned obedience by the things he suffered (Hebrews 5:8). Given that, why should we expect prosperity and comfort? Enemy arrows teach us more fully that only obeying God is worth living and dying for.
David saw the ultimate reality. He realized that God knows every good and evil human action. He tests the wicked and the righteous. He knows the righteous possess inner steel that will abide all testing (Job 23:10). Their reward is seeing His face.
By contrast, God’s testing of the wicked reveals that they love what He hates (violence). In the Old Testament violence referred to extreme wickedness. Because of it, God brought the flood (Genesis 6:11, 13).
The wicked face sudden and final judgment characterized by precise retribution. God judges by a ricochet. Fiery coals and burning sulfur remind us of Sodom’s sudden and final judgment. Repeatedly in the Old Testament, God fits the punishment to the crime. Repeatedly we read, “Because you have… I have… (1 Samuel 15:23).” On Judgment Day, if not before, every arrow the wicked shot will return aflame to pierce their hearts.
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