BOOK ONE Psalms 1–41
In Psalm 11, David has a struggle with a temptation to distrust God. He is tempted to use his own means to ensure safety in a time of danger. It is supposed to have been penned when he began to feel the resentments of Saul’s envy and had had the javelin thrown at him once again. He was advised to run to his own country. “No,” he says, “I trust in God, and so will keep my ground.” This is a good Psalm to meditate on in times of fear when our enemies are daring and threatening.
Psalm 11 – A Psalm of David
In the Lord I put my trust; How can you say to my soul, “Flee as a bird to your mountain”? For look! The wicked bend their bow, They make ready their arrow on the string, That they may shoot secretly at the upright in heart. If the foundations are destroyed, What can the righteous do? The Lord is in His holy temple, The Lord’s throne is in heaven; His eyes behold, His eyelids test the sons of men. The Lord tests the righteous, But the wicked and the one who loves violence His soul hates. Upon the wicked He will rain coals; Fire and brimstone and a burning wind Shall be the portion of their cup. For the Lord is righteous, He loves righteousness; His countenance beholds the upright.
Henry says – Here is David’s fixed resolution to put his confidence in God: In the Lord I put my trust, Ps. 11:1. Those who truly fear God and serve Him are welcome to put their trust and hope in Him, and shall not be made ashamed. Even when they have other things to turn to, yet they dare not, but trust in God only. David was resolved to live and die by his trust in God. A suggestion had been made that he flee from this trouble. Yet he speaks of his resentment of this: “How can you say to my soul, which has God as its rest, Flee as a bird to your mountain, to be safe there out of the reach?”
In the Lord I put my trust
This had probably been serious advice of his friends who saw how much Saul maliciously sought his life. They tempted him not to rely on the anointing he had received. It grieved David to consider this when he had often said, In the Lord I put my trust. Yet these faint-hearted friends backed their advice with, “Observe,” “how the wicked bend their bow, Saul aims at your life. See what enmity there is in the wicked against the upright. What great lengths they take to make trouble: They secretly shoot at them so it may not be avoided nor God Himself punish it.
His friends tried to convince him that he could no longer be useful where he was. “For,” say they, “if the civil state and government be unhinged” (Ps. 75:3; 82:5), “what can you do to put it right? There will be no point in saving a kingdom so terribly shattered. In difficult times many are hindered from doing a service to the public by a spirit of despair and a fear of failure.
When all hopes and joys fail
There arises such a confidence and comfort in God, when all hopes and joys in the natural fail. David makes a complaint of the malice of those who abused him in verse 2: They bend their bow and make their arrows ready. In (Ps. 64:3) we are told that their arrows are bitter words by which they endeavour to discourage any hope in God. David felt this as a sword in his bones. The principles of faith are the foundations on which the righteous build their hopes. It is our duty to hold fast against all temptations, for if we let these go, What can the righteous do? Good people would be undone if they did not have God to go to, to trust to, and a future bliss to hope for.
It is said that the shaking of a tree makes roots go deeper. The attempts of David’s enemies to discourage his confidence in God causes him to cleave so much more closely to Him. That which was shocking to his faith, and has been to many, was the prosperity of wicked people and the distresses of good men. This can cause of an evil thought of, Surely it is vain to serve God. But, in order to stifle and shame all such thoughts, we are called to consider, that there is a God in heaven. The Lord is in His holy temple above. Though He is out of our sight, we are not out of His.
God governs the world
Do not let the enemies of the saints insult them, as if they were at a loss. No they have a God, and they know where to find Him and how to direct their prayer to Him, as their Father in heaven. He is a God in covenant and communion with His people. The Word is close to us and His Spirit is in His saints, those living temples, and the Lord is that Spirit.
This God governs the world. The Lord has His throne in heaven and He has set the dominion of it on the earth (Job 38:33). Having prepared His throne in the heavens, His Kingdom rules over all, Ps. 103:19. Let us by faith see God on this throne, His throne of glory. On His throne of government, giving laws and motions to all creatures. His throne of grace, to which His people may come boldly for mercy and grace. Then we shall see no reason to be discouraged by the pride and power of oppressors. Or of any afflictions that beset us.
We see what men only seem to be
God knows perfectly every man’s true character: His eyes behold, his eye-lids try the children of men. He not only sees them, but sees through them. He not only knows all they say and do, but knows what they think and plan, and how they really stand. We see what men only seem to be, but God knows what they are, as the refiner knows what the value of the gold is when he has tested it. God is said to test with His eyes, and His eye-lids. This may comfort us when we are deceived by men.
If good people be afflicted, it is for their trial and therefore for their good, Ps. 11:5. The Lord tries all the children of men that He may do them good in their latter end, Deut. 8:16. Therefore do not let this shake our foundations nor discourage our hope and trust in God. However oppressors seem to prosper and prevail for a while, they will suffer under the wrath of God. He is a holy God, and therefore hates them, and cannot endure to look upon them. God’s soul hates the wicked, and him who loves violence. For nothing is more contrary to the goodness of His nature.
Those who chose the Lord shall be happy
The fire of God’s wrath will burn certainly and furiously to the lowest hell and the utmost end of eternity. It is this that is meant that it shall be the portion of their cup allotted to them by the Almighty, Job 20:29. This is the cup of trembling which shall be put into their hands. Every man has the portion of his cup assigned to him. Those who choose the Lord for the portion shall be forever happy in their choice (Ps. 16:5). But those who reject His grace shall be made to drink the cup of His fury, Jer. 25:15; Isa. 51:17; Hab. 2:16.
Though honest people may be trampled on, yet God does and will own them. He favours them and smiles on them. This is the reason why God will severely reckon with oppressors, because they oppress those who are dear to Him. Whoever touches them touches the apple of his eye. He loves them and the work of His grace in them. He is a righteous God and as His followers we must love righteousness as He does, that we may keep ourselves always in His love.
Like a tender Father
He is at peace with them and looks graciously upon them and puts gladness into their hearts. Like a tender father He looks upon them with pleasure, and they are pleased and abundantly satisfied with His smiles. They walk in the light of the Lord.
In singing this psalm we must encourage ourselves to trust in God at all times. We must depend on Him to protect our innocence and make us happy. Lets dread His frowns as worse than death and desire His favour more than life.
Adapted from the Matthew Henry Commentary
Trust Me If you believe It is My hand That has saved you and brought you To where you stand Then you must surely believe It is you, I adore That I mean to keep you and save you Yet more. Consider for a moment The despairing man Who is rescued and brought to safety As part of God’s plan. His rescuer does not save him from drowning To place him in other waters deep But rather to place him on dry land Where he can rest and sleep. Learn from this How the Lord can save That He is the Great Rescuer Who waits to do so much more Yet we question at times Whether, we’re a son or a slave. Is the Lord’s hand shortened That is cannot perform and save? May we grow more in Jesus Have no sense of loss “It is finished”, it is completed Is the cry of the cross So trust Me, your Father All things I see For I complete every task Committed to Me. By the late Andrew Feakin [passed away 16th March 2019]
Prayer & Declaration
Father I come to You. May I, like David. Have a fixed resolution to put my confidence in You. May I truly fear You and serve You and so put my trust and hope in You. May I not even dare to put my confidence in anything else, but trust in You only. Let me be resolved to live and die by this trust in You. In difficult times may I not be hindered from Your work by any spirit of despair and fear of failure. May I hold fast against all temptations. Thank You that I have You to go to, to trust in and a future bliss to hope for. I would be undone without You.
In all the shakings of my life may my roots go deeper in You and may I cleave ever closer to You. Though You are out of my sight, I am not out of Yours. Yet You can be found in stillness and I can direct my prayer to You, as my Father in heaven. For You are in covenant and communion with Your people. The Word is close to me and Your Spirit in me as a living temple, and the Lord is that Spirit.
Your throne is in heaven
Even though I see evil prospering in this world, I will remember that You govern the world. Your throne is in heaven and You have dominion over the earth. May I by faith see You on Your throne of glory. May I boldly approach Your throne for mercy and more grace. Then I shall see no reason to be discouraged by the pride and power of oppressors or of any afflictions I suffer. You alone know every man’s true character. You alone know all they think and plan, and how they really stand. I see only what men seem to be. You test all men. Let this be a comfort to me when I am deceived by men.
When I am afflicted help me remember that it is for my trial and my ultimate good. For You try all the children of men that You may do them good in their latter end. So do not let this shake my foundation nor discourage my hope and trust in You. Though on this earth we may be trampled on, yet You own us, favour us and smile on us.
Thank You for Your work of grace in me. You are a righteous God and may I as Your follower always love righteousness and keep myself always in Your love. Thank You for the peace that You give and for the gladness You put in my heart. May I dread Your frowns as worse than death and desire Your favour more than life. May I always walk in Your light. In Jesus Name I pray. Amen.