Psalm 11

Psalm 11[a]

Unshakable Confidence in God

1 For the director.[b] Of David.

[c]In the Lord I take refuge.
How can you say to me,
“Flee like a bird to your mountains!
2 For behold, the wicked are bending their bows
as they fit their arrows to the string
so that from the shadows
they can shoot at those who are upright.[d]
3 If the foundations[e] are destroyed,
what can be done by those who are righteous?”
4 [f]The Lord is in his holy temple;
the Lord, whose throne is in heaven.
His eyes are fixed on the world;
his gaze examines everyone.
5 The Lord tests the upright and the wicked;
he detests the lover of violence.
6 Upon the wicked he will rain down
fiery coals and brimstone;[g]
a scorching wind will be their allotted portion.
7 For the Lord is just
and he loves righteous deeds;
the upright will behold his face.[h]

Footnotes

  1. Psalm 11:1 This is a confession of confident trust in the Lord’s righteous rule at a time when one’s wicked adversaries seem to have the upper hand. Friends counsel flight to a mountain refuge to escape trouble, but the innocent psalmist stands fast, for the Lord protects those who seek asylum in his temple.
    In praying this psalm, we should be mindful that although we can rely on God, we are never sure of ourselves. The Spirit of God is quick to help, but the “flesh,” human nature, is weak—so much so that we must ask not to be put to the test (see Mt 26:41) and must flee from it if this is possible and permitted (see Mt 10:23).
  2. Psalm 11:1 For the director: these words are thought to be a musical or liturgical notation.
  3. Psalm 11:1 The psalmist remains confident in the Lord even though he is under attack by the wicked and receives counsel from his advisers to flee.
  4. Psalm 11:2 The wicked are likened to archers setting traps; they are treacherous, furtive, and bent on maligning the upright and making them fall (see Pss 10:7-10; 37:14). Those who are upright: i.e., the righteous who know and love the Lord (see Pss 7:10; 36:11; 73:1).
  5. Psalm 11:3 The psalmist’s advisers are concerned about the collapse of the foundations (i.e., the order of society; see Pss 75:4; 82:5; Ezek 30:4). This order has been established by the Lord at creation and is being maintained by him.
  6. Psalm 11:4 The psalmist relies on God, who is seated on his heavenly throne—a symbol of his royal rule and authority to judge (see Pss 9:8; 47:9)—and totally against those who love violence. At the right time, he will mete out to the wicked the judgment they deserve, and he will deliver the upright and grant them access to himself.
  7. Psalm 11:6 Fiery coals and brimstone: an image of judgment taken from the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah (see Gen 19:24; Deut 29:23; Ezek 38:22). Scorching wind: another image of judgment taken from the hot desert winds that blow over the Middle East and devastate the vegetation (see Isa 21:1; 40:7f; Jer 4:11). Their allotted portion: literally, “the portion of their cup.” The cup that God gives people to drink is a symbol for their destiny (see Ps 16:5; Mt 20:22; 26:39; Rev 14:10).
  8. Psalm 11:7 Behold his face: an expression usually denoting access, especially to the king. Here the expression indicates access to the heavenly King, with reference to his presence at the temple (God’s royal house on earth). It is legitimate for us to see in this text an allusion to ultimate access to the heavenly temple (see Pss 16:11; 17:15; 23:6; 140:14).

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