Summary: David was often in danger, whether in the court of Saul (1 Sam. 9:1), in the wilderness being chased by Saul (1 Sam. 18:11; 19:10), or during the rebellion of Absalom.

February 25, 2014

Tom Lowe

Psalm 11

Title: The Righteous Lord

To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David.

Psalm 11 (KJV)

1 In the LORD put I my trust: how say ye to my soul, Flee as a bird to your mountain?

2 For, lo, the wicked bend their bow, they make ready their arrow upon the string, that they may privily shoot at the upright in heart.

3 If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?

4 The LORD is in his holy temple, the LORD'S throne is in heaven: his eyes behold, his eyelids try, the children of men.

5 The LORD trieth the righteous: but the wicked and him that loveth violence his soul hateth.

6 Upon the wicked he shall rain snares, fire and brimstone, and an horrible tempest: this shall be the portion of their cup.

7 For the righteous LORD loveth righteousness; his countenance doth behold the upright.


We are not told under what circumstances this psalm was written, but obviously it came out of the persecution and trials in the life of David; however the situation was probably either his persecution by Saul, or the rebellion of his son, Absalom. David was often in danger, whether in the court of Saul (1 Sam. 9:1), in the wilderness being chased by Saul (1 Sam. 18:11; 19:10), or during the rebellion of Absalom. David did flee from Saul’s court and hid in the wilderness for perhaps ten years, and he did abandon Jerusalem to Absalom, and take refuge on the other side of the Jordon, both of which proved to be wise moves. The panic which launched this psalm was not David’s but that of his apparently well-meaning counselors. Their mood is one of extreme anxiety, but David’s is peace. In view of David’s attitude, this psalm can be listed with the psalms of confidence (Ps. 4:16; 23; 27; 62; 125; 131).

His life is in danger, and his timid counsellors attempt to persuade him to flee to a place where he will be safe. The suggestion (v. 1), “Flee as a bird to your mountain” comes from the lips of his friends who are anxious to persuade the king to escape, as he had done before when hunted by Saul, to “the rocks of the wild goats” (1 Sam. 24:2). This view is supported, to some extent, by the expression in verse 3, “If the foundations be destroyed,” which points to a time when lawful authority was undermined. But David’s faith in God is unshakable, and he rejects indignantly their fainthearted, faithless advice, because he is certain that Jehovah, though He tests His servants, does not forsake them. It is the wicked who have good reason to fear God, not the righteous.

Whatever the crisis, the psalm teaches that we must choose between fear (walking by sight) or trust (walking by faith), listening to human counsel or obeying the wisdom that comes from the Lord—“If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him” (James 1:5).


1 In the LORD put I my trust: how say ye to my soul, Flee as a bird to your mountain?

The psalm opens with the devout psalmist’s statement of his basic position, “In the LORD put I my trust.” Some other psalms are prefaced with the same strong affirmation of faith (7:1; 16:1; 31:1; 71:1) or with words of similar meaning, because the basis of their confidence in times of stress is, “The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” (Ps. 27:1).

David’s friends appear to have a timid nature, since they are worried about his safety. They urge him not only to flee to the mountains, which he did, but also to desert God, and to renounce his faith—which he never did. David marveled at this suggestion, because it defied his faith in the Lord. They didn’t seem to have faith that the Lord would see him through—“Many are saying of me, "God will not deliver him" (Ps. 3:2). David’s declaration, “In the LORD put I my trust” (or have put) counteracts their suggestion. The enemies of God (including Satan) have always worked toward turning away the faithful servants of God by creating fearful situations—“The same day there came certain of the Pharisees, saying unto him, Get thee out, and depart hence: for Herod will kill thee” (Luke 13:31).

The advice of David’s friends is the same recommendation you may get from psychologists today. They will tell you that what you need to do is get away from your problems. Go off somewhere—what you need is rest. You wish it was as simple as that; but you can’t run away from yourself. How true that is! People would tell David, “Flee as a bird to your mountain,” but he knew that was not the way to solve his problems, so he did what he had done many times before, he fled to the Lord for safety. The phrase is more accurately translated “as a little bird.” Those who tell you to run away from your problems or from some situation you ought to face are not giving good advice. You should not run away out of fear, and it is wrong to flee from the place of duty, as Nehemiah was invited to do (Neh. 6:10-11). Many who were telling David to run away and get out of the country were afraid for his life, because an enemy was trying to kill him. The leader who flees needlessly from the crisis is only a hireling and not a faithful shepherd—“The hired hand is not the shepherd who owns the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep” (John 10:12-13).

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