The King James Version of the Bible has the title of the psalm, “To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David”. The 1599 Geneva Bible has it, “To him that excelleth. A Psalm of David”. As you will find in this brief but powerful psalm, David truly did excel in his trust and faith in the Lord. It is believed this psalm was written by David while being pursued by Saul.
1) In the Lord put I my trust: how say ye to my soul, Flee as a bird to your mountain?
This Psalm gives the impression that it starts in mid-conversation. The psalmist states that he puts his trust in the Lord. Although it is explicit that he puts his trust in the Lord, it is implicit that he puts his trust in no one other than Jehovah.
To trust the Lord is to put all (stress all) hope and confidence in Him. More importantly to trust the Lord is to seek Him for all protection and refuge. David knows that, “Blessed are all they that put their trust in him” (Psalms 2:12).
“The Lord shall preserve thee from all evil: he shall preserve thy soul” (Psalm 121:7).
“Because thou hast made the Lord, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation; There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling” (Psalm 91:9-10).
David understands full well the weight and benefit of total trust in the Lord. It is easy to see why David would be puzzled at the request to flee.
“how say ye to my soul” It is significant to highlight that this bidding to flee is aimed at David’s soul.
“And I say unto you my friends, Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear him” (Luke 12:4-5).
“how say ye to my soul, Flee as a bird to your mountain?” The 1599 Geneva Bible notes, “This is the wicked counsel of his enemies to him and his companions to drive him from the hope of God’s promise”.
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.
David’s advisers are warning that his enemies are already aiming for him. But the crux of the verse rests on this phrase, “privily shoot at the upright in heart”. Commonly interpreted to mean “privately” the word “privily” used here comes from the word, “‘ophel “ which means calamity, gloom, darkness, gloom and spiritual unreceptivity.
The sense of this verse is that the wicked and unrighteous are targeting the spirit (heart) of the just (upright). It is their very spirit and soul of the righteous they shoot for with apostasy the ultimate goal.
3) If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?
And what has always been the primary target of the devil? It is Jesus Christ. “For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 3:11).
Jesus Christ is our hope and foundation. It is in Him that we place our face. Christians have received Jesus Christ into our hearts and spirits so it is the Christians that the devil now targets.
Now faith is the substance, our foundation of things hoped for and our hope lays absolute in Christ.
Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. (Ephesians 6: 10,16)
David knows all of these things and is why he said, “In the Lord put I my trust”.
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.
“Thus saith the Lord, The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool” (Isaiah 66:1)
“For he hath looked down from the height of his sanctuary; from heaven did the Lord behold the earth” (Psalm 102:19).
“his eyes behold” or God’s consciousness perceives and understands.
“his eyelids try” is somewhat tricky because the word “`aph`aph “ which is being interpreted here as eyelids also means rays of sunshine. For example from Job 3:9, “Let the stars of the twilight thereof be dark; let it look for light, but have none; neither let it see the dawning of the day”. “`aph`aph “ is used for the dawning of the day.
The omnipresent and omnipotent God whose throne is in heaven; He sees, perceives and knows everything about each and every one of us.
“Doth not he see my ways, and count all my steps?” (Job 31:4)
“For the ways of man are before the eyes of the Lord, and he pondereth all his goings” (Proverbs 5:21).
With the righteous God will test, prove and try all in an effort to refine. But God hates the soul of the unrighteous. Sometimes it is confusing in that the chastisement administered may be the same thing for both the righteous and the unrighteous. But the righteous understand the hand of correction and receive it as such. They will know that chastisement meant as a course correction to get back into the path of righteousness. Righteousness is life and the Lord is making sure we stay on target to achieve it.
The unrighteous rebel and resent the righteous hand of God. The wicked have made a conscious decision to leave God and His ways. It should come as no surprise that they would resist anything that came from God and any attempt to return to the path of life and righteousness.
“O Lord, are not thine eyes upon the truth? thou hast stricken them, but they have not grieved; thou hast consumed them, but they have refused to receive correction: they have made their faces harder than a rock; they have refused to return” (Jeremiah 5:3).
6) Upon the wicked he shall rain snares, fire and brimstone, and an horrible tempest: this shall be the portion of their cup.
Here is their recompose for sin and rebellion. Regardless of what or how the wrath of God affects its vengeance it will always be precisely, equitably and righteously.
“Upon the wicked he shall rain snares, fire and brimstone”. The imagery this immediately conveys is of Sodom and Gomorrah from Genesis 19:24. The word “snares” means not only traps but also calamities. One of the calamities at Sodom and Gomorrah during the rain of fire and brimstone was Lot’s wife.
“But she looked back from behind him and she became a pillar of salt” (Genesis 19:26).
Cataclysmic and horrific events in the Bible have multiple meanings and purposes. It is wrong to think of such things only as a display of God’s displeasure. These events are spiritual principles played out in the physical world and are of such magnitude so as to engrain the message in all of mankind forever.
It is interesting to point out that evidence and proof of the Sodom and Gomorrah event were being documented years later. Flavius Josephus, the first century Pharisee and noted historian writes this,
“God then cast a thunderbolt upon the city, and set it on fire, with its inhabitants; and laid waste the country with the like burning, as I formerly said when I wrote the Jewish War. But Lot’s wife continually turning back to view the city as she went from it, and being too nicely inquisitive what would become of it, although God had forbidden her so to do, was changed into a pillar of salt for I have seen it, and it remains at this day”. Flavius Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews 1.11.4
Editor’s Note: This pillar of salt was, we see here, standing in the days of Josephus, and he had seen it. That it was standing then is also attested by Clement of Rome, contemporary with Josephus; as also that it was so in the next century, is attested by Irenaeus,
“and an horrible tempest” John Gills observes, “the words for “an horrible tempest” signify a burning wind: so that they all serve to convey horrible ideas of the punishment of the wicked in hell. The Targum calls them “showers of vengeance”.
“Ruwach” is the Hebrew word in which “tempest” is derived. But most of the time in the Old Testament “ruwach” is meant to mean “spirit”. Although a horrible wind fits with the rain of fire and brimstone, it is a horrible spirit from God which has brought it all to fruition.
7) For the righteous Lord loveth righteousness; his countenance doth behold the upright.
If there is anything we should all walk away with from this psalm and from the entire Bible is that the righteous Lord loveth righteousness and hates the unrighteous soul. Jehovah is righteousness. We are made in his image with his attributes. God’s essence and presence will be with his own. Righteousness attracts righteousness, it attracts God. Righteousness is an insult and injury to the wicked and unrighteous. This is why “the wicked bend their bow, they make ready their arrow upon the string”. But put your trust in God, he is your strength and your refuge.
Post your comments below about Psalm 11 or the commentary and exposition.