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Bible Commentaries
Psalms 11

Benson's Commentary of the Old and New TestamentsBenson's Commentary


A.M. 2944. B.C. 1060.

This Psalm seems to have been composed by David when he was persecuted by Saul, and forced to flee from place to place for safety; and when his friends advised him, in order that he might avoid the evil designs of his enemies, to shelter himself in the mountains of Judea. In answer to this advice he here expresses his determination to put his trust in God, Psalms 11:1-3 . He professes his faith in the omniscience and overruling power of God, Psalms 11:4 . Assigns the reason why good men are afflicted, Psalms 11:5 . Bears testimony to the punishment coming on the wicked, and to God’s love and care of the righteous, Psalms 11:6 , Psalms 11:7 .

Verse 1

Psalms 11:1. In the Lord put I my trust It is not in fortresses or strong holds that I place my confidence, but only in the Lord, in his power, and love, and faithfulness. How say ye to my soul Ye, my friends; Flee as a bird to your mountain? Fly away, as a timorous bird before the fowler, to a place of safety. Thus “the Christian, like David, in perilous times, should make God his fortress, and continue doing his duty in his station; he should not, at the instigation of those about him, like a poor, silly, timorous, inconstant bird, either fly for refuge to the devices of worldly wisdom, or desert his post, and retire into solitude, while he can serve the cause in which he is engaged. Nor, indeed, is there any mountain on earth, out of the reach of care or trouble. Temptations are everywhere, and so is the grace of God.” Horne.

Verse 2

Psalms 11:2. For, lo, the wicked bend their bow, &c. Many eminent commentators consider these also as the words of David’s friends, representing to him, as a motive for his flight, the extreme danger he was in, which they compare to that of a bird when a fowler, having already fixed his eye upon it, had fitted his arrow to the string, and lying close, was taking aim at it, intending to shoot it. Just so, they signified, Saul and his counsellors had laid their plot on a sudden to destroy David. See Patrick and Dodd.

Verse 3

Psalms 11:3. If the foundations be destroyed, &c. This also is thought to be spoken by the same persons, discouraging David from making any further resistance, by the consideration that the foundations of religion and virtue were subverted, and therefore all was over, and what they urged, could a man, engaged in the most righteous designs, hope to do, when that was the case. Bishop Patrick paraphrases the words thus, “If men have no regard to laws and public decrees, which are the foundation of human society, but will boldly violate all known and standing rules of justice and truth; what can the righteous do? What security can an honest man have? or what should he do, but make haste away from the place where they act so arbitrarily, and are so perfidious?”

Verse 4

Psalms 11:4. The Lord is in his holy temple The psalmist, having, in the first verse, declared that his trust was in Jehovah, and having mentioned the advice of his friends, is supposed to be now proceeding to show the fitness and propriety of his trust, notwithstanding the seeming desperate situation of affairs. His words, considered as being spoken in reply to his friends, may be interpreted as follows: My answer to you is, that the world is not governed by chance, nor can men carry things just as they please; but the Lord, into whose holy palace no unjust counsels can possibly enter, who observes every thing from his temple in the heavens, and whose throne is infinitely above that of the greatest king on earth: He, I say, is the supreme and most righteous ruler of all affairs; and no mischief can be so secretly contrived, no wicked design so artfully dissembled, but it lies open before his eyes, and he sees through it. Nor need he take any pains to discover it, for at the first glance, as we speak, he perfectly discerns how all men are inclined, and looks to the very bottom of their hearts.

Verse 5

Psalms 11:5. The Lord trieth the righteous God may think fit to try the fidelity of him whom he knows to be upright, by many adversities, that he may afterward give him the more illustrious testimonies of his approbation and love, as well as that he may thereby correct the remaining imperfections of his character, may purge away his dross, and more thoroughly refine him for his Master’s use. But the wicked, &c., his soul hateth Whatever success the wicked, and he that delights in doing mischief, may have for the present, it is certain God abhors his conduct, and, unless he repent, he will, without fail, severely punish him for abusing his power to oppression and violent dealing.

Verse 6

Psalms 11:6. Upon the wicked he shall rain snares, &c. The wicked may think themselves very secure, because they are so politic, crafty, and strong; but how can they defend themselves against God, who hath innumerable ways to destroy them, when they least think of it; and can as unexpectedly overthrow all their power as, when the heavens are most serene, a sudden storm of thunder and lightning and tempestuous wind arises and spreads destruction far and near? Dr. Waterland reads the verse thus: Upon the wicked he shall rain snares: fire and brimstone, and a tempestuous wind shall be the portion of their cup. The psalmist alludes to the fire and brimstone which fell upon the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. By snares are meant grievous plagues or calamities, which are called snares, because wicked men are often surprised with them when they least expect it, and because they cannot escape them, or extricate themselves from them; but are held fast and destroyed by them. And God is said to rain them, to denote his sending them plentifully, swiftly, and suddenly, as rain commonly falls from heaven. And a horrible tempest Dreadful judgments, so called in allusion to the destruction of the forementioned cities by these means. But he seems to intend this, not so much of present calamities, as of eternal punishments, to commence at the judgment of the last day. “Then the children of faithful Abraham shall behold a prospect, like that which once presented itself to the eyes of their father; when, rising early in the morning, and looking toward Sodom and Gomorrah, he beheld, and lo, the smoke of the country went up as the smoke of a furnace! Genesis 19:28. Such must be the portion of their cup who have dashed from them the cup of salvation. He, therefore, who enjoys the prosperity of the wicked here, must take with it their torment hereafter; as he who is ambitious of wearing the crown of righteousness in heaven must be content to endure tribulation upon earth.” Horne. The reader will observe, that this expression, the portion of their cup, is a proverbial phrase in Scripture: God’s gifts and dispensations, whether pleasing or painful, consolatory or afflictive, especially the latter, being ordinarily expressed by a cup, poured out and given men to drink.

Verse 7

Psalms 11:7. For the righteous Lord loveth righteousness This is mentioned as the reason why God punishes the wicked so dreadfully. It is because, being righteous, essentially righteous, himself, he cannot but love righteousness, which is his own image stamped on the faithful, by his own Spirit. He therefore must proportionably hate wickedness, and of course show his hatred to it before the whole intelligent creation, by punishing such as live and die in the commission of it. His countenance doth behold the upright Namely, with an eye of approbation and paternal affection, his gracious providence watching continually over and taking care of them.

Bibliographical Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Psalms 11". Benson's Commentary. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/rbc/psalms-11.html. 1857.
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