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Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged
Psalms 11

 

 

Verse 1

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

Psalms 11:1-7.-The Psalmist's reply, at representing the persecuted saints, to temporizing friends' counsel to seek safely by flight (Psalms 11:1); the sad facts on which they rest their counsel, the foundations destroyed, the cause of the good seeming hopeless, that of the bad triumphant (Psalms 11:2-3); faith answers, The Lord reigns, and will vindicate the just, and punish the wicked (Psalms 11:4-7).

How say ye to my soul, Flee. "How" expresses wondering disapproval of such a counsel, seeing that however desperate things may look outwardly for the godly, so long as they have "the Lord" Yahweh to "trust" in, there is no cause for despair and flight. In the Lord I put my trust: how then can ye give me such an unbelieving counsel?

To my soul - such a counsel pierced into his inmost being. The flight counseled is not a mere change of place, but a ceasing to stand in defense of the truth-a spiritual yielding to the enemy, as if the cause of God were past recovery. David, so far as the act is concerned, did flee during the persecutions of Saul and Absalom; but he did not flee from his spiritual position of believing confidence in the Lord, in the face of an unbelieving world.

As a bird to your mountain? - (Lamentations 3:52.) Birds escape the dangers to which they are exposed in the open plains, by fleeing to the wooded mountains. In Palestine the mountains ("your mountain") abound in caves (1 Samuel 13:6) a natural hiding-place. So Matthew 24:16. That the address to the Psalmist, and his reply, do not refer to him individually, but as representative of all the godly, appears from the transition from the singular to the plural-How say ye my soul (sing), Flee ye? (so the Khethibh [ nuwduw (Hebrew #5110)], for which the Qeri', in order to avoid the difficulty, substituted the singular [ nuwdiy (Hebrew #5110)]. Moreover "to your mountain," not "to thy mountain," confirms the Kethibh.) The same wish to substitute an easier reading led the Chaldaic, Syraic, Septuagint, and Vulgate to get rid of the plural your, by reading "Flee to THE mountain AS a bird" [ har (Hebrew #2022) k


Verse 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.

For, lo. The argument follows whereon the friends of the godly justify their advice, "Flee" - namely, the preparations which "the wicked" have made against the godly. Compare the counsel of the disciples (John 11:8) and of the Pharisees (Luke 13:31) to Jesus to flee. Also, the unbelieving suggestions of Job's wife (Job 2:9-10). Also, Paul's noble resistance to the entreaties of friends who wished him to shun the dangers before him (Acts 21:13). In addition, see Nehemiah 6:11.

That they may privily shoot at - literally, 'shoot in the dark' (Psalms 10:8-9).

The upright in heart - [ yishreey (Hebrew #3477) leeb (Hebrew #3820)]. 'Uprightness' or 'rectitude' implies reference to a spiritual standard by which actions are tested, whether they be straight or crooked. That rule is God's perfect law. Compare Isaiah 28:17.


Verse 3

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

If the foundations be destroyed - rather [ kiy (Hebrew #3588)], 'For' ... 'are' - i:e., the particular malice of the wicked against the godly (Psalms 11:2) is no marvel, 'For the foundations are destroyed'-namely, truth, godliness, righteousness, which constitute the basis of the social and theocratic fabric. When right is set at nought, society is undermined, and the righteous have no standing place.

What can the righteous do? [ paa`aal (Hebrew #6466)] - literally, "what has the righteous effected?" - i:e., the inability of the righteous to remedy the moral dissolution is a fact proved by sad experience.


Verse 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.

The reply of the righteous.

The Lord (is) in his holy temple - i:e., in heaven. The holiness of His abode shows His will to take cognizance of all that is holy and unholy on earth.

The Lord's throne is in heaven. The majesty of His exalted abode shows His power to do so. Compare Psalms 102:19-20, "From heaven did the Lord behold the earth; to hear the groaning of the prisoner."

His eyes behold, his eyelids try, the children of men. This thought of faith keeps the godly from despair. His piercing glance searches out every act, word, and thought of the ungodly; their seeming impunity is only temporary: at last they must pay the full penalty of their wickedness. The Septuagint and Vulgate read, 'His eyes behold the poor' [`aanaay, which may have slipped out, after the similar word `eeynaayw (Hebrew #5869)]. No Hebrew manuscript supports this.


Verse 5

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

The Lord trieth the righteous - in love; as the contrast to "hateth" in the second clause requires. His testing the righteous by trials is a proof of love (Hebrews 12:6-12), not hatred. His giving up the wicked to impunity for a time, while it gives the opportunity of repentance, is also a mark of judicial displeasure because they have long seared their conscience against His love and His chastisements.


Verse 6

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

Upon the wicked he shall rain snares - a just retribution in kind upon these who laid "snares" for the godly (Psalms 9:15; Psalms 10:9; Psalms 38:12; Psalms 64:5; Job 18:9; Job 22:10; Isaiah 24:17-18; Proverbs 22:5). David had been urged to flee as a "bird" (Psalms 11:1) from the snares of the wicked, but the snares were destined to entangle, not him, but them, so that they cannot escape. "He shall rain snares" implies the multitude of judicial visitations whereby all escape is cut off from the wicked; their first thought when adversity overtakes them is to find an escape. They shall be first entangled in God's snares, precluding escape; and then shall be scathed by the tempest of "fire and brimstone," as God rained upon Sodom and Gomorrha: a type of the ever burning lake of hell (Revelation 14:10; Revelation 21:8), as well as of the similar rain upon Gog, the last invader of the restored Israel (Ezra 38:22 ; cf. Job 18:15). The cities of the plain blasted with fire and brimstone, and sunk in the inland Dead Sea, were continually before the eyes of the covenant people, a standing monument of God's primitive justice, and a type of the doom of the lost. Reference already occurred to them and to Lot, Psalms 11:1, note. 'Every divine act is a real prediction of the future, and under like circumstances must again take place' (Hengstenberg).

And an horrible tempest , [ zil`aapowt (Hebrew #2152), from zaa`ap (Hebrew #2196), be angry] - 'the wrath-wind.' It is translated "horror," Psalms 119:53. Compare Isaiah 30:33, "The pile thereof is fire and much wood; the breath of the Lord, like a stream of brimstone, doth kindle it."


Verse 7

For the righteous LORD loveth righteousness; his countenance doth behold the upright. For the righteous Lord loveth righteousness - (God by His very nature cannot do otherwise than favour the saints and punish sinners.

His countenance doth behold the upright - with approbation. Compare "His eyes behold" (Psalms 11:4; and Psalms 34:15-16). The Hebrew for "His" is plural [ paaneeymow (Hebrew #6440)], a hint of the plurality of persons in 'Elohiym (Hebrew #430). Compare Genesis 1:26, "us ... our ... our."

 


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Bibliography Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Psalms 11:4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/psalms-11.html. 1871-8.

Lectionary Calendar
Sunday, November 17th, 2019
the Week of Proper 28 / Ordinary 33
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