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Bible Commentaries

Bridgeway Bible Commentary
Psalms 11

 

 


Verses 1-6

Psalms 11-13 Persevere . . . or give in?

There came a time when David became tired of his continual flight from Saul, not just because it was wearying, but because it was cutting him off from the public worship places of God's people (1 Samuel 26:19). His spiritual life was weakened and he gave in to the temptation to leave his own country for the safety of enemy Philistia (1 Samuel 27:1). This is the sort of temptation that David considers in Psalm 11, the temptation to go along with wrongdoing instead of resisting it.

If people act solely according to common sense, their suggestion in such a crisis will probably be to do what creates least hardship. After all (so the argument runs), if there is no law and order in the community, and if people in positions of power have set themselves to do evil, what can a righteous person gain by trying to resist (11:1-3)? David replies that such action really shows a lack of understanding of God's holiness and no respect for his authority. God sees and understands all. He will pour out his wrath on the wicked, but he will comfort the faithful with the security of his presence (4-7).

The theme of Psalms 10 and 11 continues in Psalm 12, and indeed right through to Psalm 17. Ungodly people hold all the positions of power and pay no attention to the opinions of those who walk in God's ways. They maintain their authority and influence only by twisting, ignoring or withholding the truth (12:1-4). But God sees and knows. He promises to protect the godly, and his promises can be trusted (5-6). His people know that their only hope is in him (7-8).

Continual persecution can be hard to bear. It tries the psalmist's patience to the limit, causing him to cry out to God, almost in despair, asking when will God deliver him from his troubles (13:1-2). If he dies, his enemies will think they have won the battle against him (3-4). However, the very act of crying out to God lightens his burden. It reminds him that the one to whom he cries has bound himself to his people with a covenant love, and he will not fail (5-6).

God's steadfast love

Frequently the psalmists rejoice in a characteristic of God that RSV translates as 'steadfast love', GNB translates as 'constant love', and other versions translate as 'loyalty', 'love', 'mercy', 'kindness' and 'loving kindness'. These are all translations of the Hebrew word chesed, which has the meaning of covenant loyalty or faithfulness.

A covenant was an agreement between two parties that carried with it obligations and blessings. Chesed was a particularly strong form of love, which bound a person to be faithful and loyal to the other party in the covenant. In the Psalms the word is used frequently to denote the loyal love and covenant faithfulness that God exercises towards his people through all their trials and joys (e.g Psalms 13:5; Psalms 25:7).

 


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Bibliography Information
Flemming, Donald C. "Commentary on Psalms 11:4". "Brideway Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bbc/psalms-11.html. 2005.

Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, December 1st, 2020
the First Week of Advent
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