Searching online today, I came across a theological blog which had as its banner,
If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do? (Psalm 11:3)
This is a very popular quote. It is commonly used as a claim that the foundations of the country are being destroyed and then what can we (Christians) do? But the quote is out of context and in fact the Psalm is saying the very opposite of that use of the line.
While as quoted it acts as a call to action, the context of the verse gives a quite different message. Verse three continues the quote which starts in verse one: In the LORD I have taken shelter. How can you say to me, “…When the foundations are destroyed, what can the godly accomplish?” (Psalm 11:1-3)
Thus, the statement being used as a call to action for the Church is in context the words of faithless and godless people “advising” a man of God, who’s righteous response is to reject the advice. Indeed, David’s response is along the lines of “How dare you speak like this to me?”
Ultimately, David says there is plenty the righteous can do in any circumstance because their trust is in God (v 1) whose throne is in heaven (v 4), who will judge the wicked (vv 4,5) and punish them (v 6), God who is Himself righteous and loves righteousness (v 7). The one whose faith is in the Lord has a foundation which cannot be threatened.
Given such strong teaching in the Psalm, it does not seem wise to teach the words of the faithless as action words for the Church.
In the LORD I have taken shelter.
How can you say to me,
“Flee to a mountain like a bird! For look, the wicked prepare their bows,
they put their arrows on the strings,
to shoot in the darkness at the morally upright. When the foundations are destroyed,
what can the godly accomplish?” The LORD is in his holy temple;
the LORD’s throne is in heaven.
His eyes watch;
his eyes examine all people. The LORD approves of the godly,
but he hates the wicked and those who love to do violence. May the LORD rain down burning coals and brimstone on the wicked!
A whirlwind is what they deserve! Certainly the LORD is just;
he rewards godly deeds;
the upright will experience his favor.
(Psalm 11:1-7 NET Bible)