11 The heavens are yours; the earth also is yours;
the world and all that is in it, you have founded them.
14 Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne;
steadfast love and faithfulness go before you.
Not long ago, a young man texted to me a question. He was conversing with coworkers, and was having difficulty explaining a theological and philosophical concept. His coworkers were posing objections about the fairness of God as it related to God’s sovereignty and the existence of evil in the world. My offered counsel had to do with turning the questions around and viewing them from a position of assuming the truth and goodness of God rather than assuming a skeptical point of view.
That situation came back to my mind as I read through this psalm this morning. In verses 11 and 14 above, we see two truths that some who call themselves Christians and many who are lost simply do not accept. However, if we accept the two verses above as true, all that we proclaim about God and his standards is far easier to establish.
In verse 11, the psalmist declares that the heavens and earth belong to God because God has founded them. God is the Creator of the universe. He made the world along with all that is in the world.
What happens if we begin any major theological or philosophical discussion assuming that verse 11 is true? The first thing that happens is that we will assume that God, as Creator, has the right of ownership over the world and everything (and everyone) in it. God made us. Therefore, God owns us. He has the right to do with us anything he chooses. He has the right to set rules and laws for our lives. He has the right to tell us how to live. God has the right to save us or to judge us as fits his desires.
Consider what kinds of emotional, moral, and theological arguments are turned on their heads the moment you accept the fact that God created us and has the right of ownership over us. At that point, you assume that God, not the news media or a political party, has the right to define marriage. You would also assume that God has the right to declare when life begins and ends. You would also assume that God has the right to save people in ways that do not appeal to a universalistic teacher. God has the right to declare genders to be different, sex outside of marriage to be wrong, and Jesus to be the only way of salvation.
Next, look at verse 14. The beginning of that verse indicate that both righteousness and justice are the foundation of God’s throne. These are his attributes, not our standards. God determines that which is righteous. Righteousness is righteousness because it is that which God approves. God is not subject to an external standard of righteousness. Nor is God subject to an external justice. He is just. He will judge–he must judge in order to be righteous.
Again, how does all this apply to our understanding of God? The moment we define God’s nature as righteous and just, we lose any of our moral ground to question the decisions that God has made or the commands that God has given. If God says something is the way, it indeed is the way, and that is right. If God declares something to be wrong, that thing is wrong by definition, regardless of social convention. If God is just, we have no right to complain about whom he saves or how he saves.
The truth is, one of the reasons that we have such difficulty in dealing with the harder topics in Scripture is that we approach them as though we have a basic moral ability to judge the actions and standards of God. We believe that we can somehow look at what God does and say things like, “That is good,” “That is not right,” or “How dare you.” But the truth is, God is Creator. He owns us. God is just and right. He is never wrong. These are part of his character, and so he is not subject to our judgment or our measure. God is the rule by which good and right is measured, and he is measured by no other rule himself.
What then do we do with this kind of thinking. At this point, we must do one of two things. We either declare God our ourselves to be the final authority over that which is right and wrong, good or evil. If we accept that God is God and we are not, we bow before him, accept his words and ways as perfect, and yield ourselves to him as our Lord. If we reject these things, we declare ourselves and our own wisdom as ultimate, and we, like Adam and Eve before us, decide that we will be our own gods, determining for ourselves good and evil.