Psalm 11


This psalm tells us about how our faith can produce courage, especially when we are being betrayed by those around us. It’s our faith which carries us through all our great trials in life and it’s our faith that brings about our victory over our enemies.

This psalm along with Psalm 3 / Psalm 7 / Psalm 9 / Psalm 14 / Psalm 17, has been called ‘Psalms of Persecution’ by some.

Rhodes, in his commentary, says the following.

‘Psalm 11 is one of the gems of the Psalter classified as affirmations of faith in spite of the danger to himself, in spite of the advice of friends to flee, and in spite of the seeming hopelessness of the cause’.


‘For the director of music. Of David.’

Although the headings aren’t inspired by God, they are important because they give us some understanding of the Psalm and they help us to see why it was written. The headings usually tell us four things.

1. Who wrote them, probably wrote them or possibly wrote them.

2. Information about the historical background to the Psalm. Why it was written.

3. They tell us of the tune the Psalm was written to.

4. How it was used.

This psalm was for the director of music and written by David. Some commentators believe that the ‘director the of music’ is God Himself and others believe that it is a song leader who led choirs or musicians, 1 Chronicles 6:33 / 1 Chronicles 16:17 / 1 Chronicles 25:6.

‘In the LORD I take refuge. How then can you say to me: “Flee like a bird to your mountain. For look, the wicked bend their bows; they set their arrows against the strings to shoot from the shadows at the upright in heart. When the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous do?” Psalm 11:1-3

The background to this same may well be during the final days of David in Saul’s court, 1 Samuel 21-23. By this time, Saul had become a law unto himself, he wanted to kill David and he falsely accused David of trying to take over his reign, 1 Samuel 24:9.

David says God is his refuge but because there was no legal court system in place for David to defend his case, he is advised to ‘flee to the mountain’. The reason he was to flee to the mountain, was simple, people are ready to kill him.

Barnes, in his commentary, says the following.

‘All of these Psalm 11:1-3, except the opening declaration of faith in the Lord, may be regarded as the words of David’s well-meaning, but erroneous advisers.’

In other words, the advice given to David to flee may have been well-intended advice, but it certainly wants God’s advice.

I guess we must remember that the advice we give others may sound good at the time and sound right to us, but it may turn out to be the wrong advice, Job 15:17 / Matthew 16:22-23 / 1 Thessalonians 4:11 / 1 Timothy 5:13.

‘The LORD is in his holy temple; the LORD is on his heavenly throne. He observes everyone on earth; his eyes examine them. The LORD examines the righteous, but the wicked, those who love violence, he hates with a passion. On the wicked he will rain fiery coals and burning sulphur; a scorching wind will be their lot. For the LORD is righteous, he loves justice; the upright will see his face.’ Psalm 11:4-7

The second half of the psalm, tells us about David’s unfailing trust and confidence in God. He knows that God is in His holy temple, remember the temple wasn’t built in David’s lifetime, so this is a reference to heaven, God’s eternal dwelling place.

David knows that the Lord continues to reign over all things, even though justice on earth has been ousted by the unjust. God’s eyes examine everything, he judges all the affairs of man. The righteous are tested in order to prove their faithfulness and because He tests the righteous, this is actually condemnation for the wicked.

The mention of fiery coals and burning sulphur takes our minds back to the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, Genesis 19:24. These words are also used figuratively to speak about the future judgment, Luke 17:29 / Revelation 9:17 / Revelation 14:10 / Revelation 19:20 / Revelation 20:10 / Revelation 21:8.

While the NIV uses the words, ‘a scorching wind will be their lot’, the KJV uses the words, ‘a horrible tempest shall be the portion of their cup’.

Barnes, in his commentary, says the following.

‘This shall be what they shall drink, Isaiah 51:17. The idea is, that the Lord holds out to them a cup for them to drink, a cup containing a deadly mixture. The allusion is to the mode of administering punishment by a poisonous draught, not an infrequent mode of punishment in ancient times. The idea in the whole verse is, that the wicked would be destroyed, and that, therefore, there was nothing ultimately to be apprehended from them. God would protect his own friends and would destroy all those that sought their hurt. In these circumstances, the righteous should confide in him as their protector, and not ‘flee’.’

Because the Lord is righteous, He sees the righteous and because the righteous live according to His will, they see the righteousness of God. David walked righteously before God, therefore, he walked in the love of God, Jude 21.

God’s love is everywhere and nothing can separate us from His love, Romans 5:8, although we are certainly separate ourselves from his love, Luke 15:11-18.

Notice that they will also ‘see His face’, obviously, God doesn’t have a physical face, John 4:24, David is expressing that they will be granted the opportunity to be in the presence of their King, Numbers 6:26 / 2 Kings 25:19 / Esther 1:14 / Psalm 17:15 / Matthew 5:8.

I’m sure that you would have noticed that David speaks God’s Name, that is ‘LORD’, four times throughout this psalm. This tells us that David was absolutely certain that it is only God Himself who has the answers to all of mankind’s problems, doubts, dangers and fears.


David was advised to ‘flee’ from danger, which at first glance appears to be good advice, however as Christians, we shouldn’t flee from anyone, not even the devil himself, James 4:7. We must trust that God will look after us, whatever situation we face, Luke 21:16-18.

When we put our faith in God and not in ourselves, when facing trials and temptations, James 1:2-4, then our faith will be rewarded with a great victory over our enemies, Romans 8:31-39.

Not only that but if we continue to have faith in God until the day we leave this earth, then our faith will be rewarded with eternal life, 2 Timothy 4:7-8.

Go To Psalm 12


"Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, 'Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.'"