Psalm 11: Staring Down Life’s Difficulties
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?”
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 sulfur;
a scorching wind will be their lot.
For the Lord is righteous,
he loves justice;
the upright will see his face.
– Psalm 11
I guess we’ve all been there and had that ‘If only I could get away from everything’ moment. The moment when everything seems completely on top of you and you wish you could just flap your wings and fly away to somewhere else leaving all your troubles behind. For some of us it happens quite regularly!
It seems that David was having one of those moments. We don’t know the exact circumstances of the writing of this Psalm but David had several moments in his life when fleeing must have seemed like a good idea (and on more than one occasion it was!).
It seems at this point that David’s friends encouraged him to take flight but David understands that faith is not about escape from difficulties but about engagement with them. Times of rest and renewal are necessary in all of our lives (Jesus himself took time away from the crowds) but real faith can never be an escape from life’s problems or from facing up to them, whether in our own life or the world around us.
For David faith isn’t about running from life’s difficulties but looking them straight in the eye with the confidence in God’s overarching sovereignty (v. 4) and the conviction that God’s righteousness and justice will have the final word (vv. 5–7).
Karl Marx famously saw religion as an opiate preventing people from tackling the injustices and evils of the world but for followers of Jesus faith is a stimulant to tackle them!