The Book of Psalms Chapter Eleven Commentary by
Pastor Ron Beckham
It's Your Choice
Verse 1: "In the Lord I take refuge; How can you say to my soul, 'Flee as a bird to your mountain;'" When trouble comes, what are you likely to do? You have options: You can stand and fight, run away, or do what
David does in this Psalm—pray to the Lord for the help only He can give. Life is dangerous. You can ride in a car or airplane and crash. You might go sailing and sink. Walk around and it's possible for lightning to strike. The good news is that your body is not all that you are. Yes your body is real, and so is your "soul," which can be defined as your mind, will and emotions. There are three parts to a human being: "spirit, soul and body," as seen in 1 Thessalonians 5:23. Two of them are invisible to the eye. The first is like we are a radio or television set, which must be plugged into the electrical grid in order to function. The second relies on the physical brain to work as it was designed. The third one is your body which you are using to read these words. Our "spirit" begins to function (it comes alive) when we trust in Jesus Christ. At that moment, God's Holy Spirit enters us, beginning a process of revealing God to us and restoring His image within us. The Apostle Paul later wrote blessed words to us: "God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying 'Abba, Father'" (Galatians 4:6). The word "Abba,' essentially is "Daddy." Trust in Him and you are His, in a new and beautiful way. "Flee as a bird to your (true) Mountain," who is the Lord Jesus Christ.
Verse 2: "For, behold, the wicked bend the bow, they make ready their arrow upon the string to shoot in darkness at the upright in heart." This Psalm is a song, written by David the King, thousands of years ago. It's like folk tunes or country-western music that tells a story, revealing the heart. This is also a prayer, expressed musically—Did you know that you can sing to God? David did, and the Lord, who is singing love songs to you, loves it when you sing back to Him. There really are "wicked" people out there, and the Lord knows it. When you express your concerns to Him, He hears, and just as He continually responded to David, He responds to you, far more than you know. That smiling person over there may well be plotting your destruction... you don't know about it, but God does, and He reveals the dangers, leading you in prayer while you seek His help. God is infinitely skilled in protecting people like David, along with you and me.
Verse 3: "If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?" The Book of Job is very interesting. The man and his wife lost everything, including their ten children, money, along with sources of revenue, the respect of others and Job's health. It was like the foundations of their lives were destroyed. God is our true foundation, but it's hard to keep that in focus when all you have worked for is gone. Mrs. Job was fed up and shouted at her husband, "Curse God and die" (Job 2:9). Job hung on with fingernails, teeth and faith, and finally, after a long interval, God revealed Himself to Job. Not everything was told to him, but faith is better than mere knowledge. The question for Job and for us is this: What can we do when we seem to lose everything? The answer?—trust the Lord and pray.
Verse 4: "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 entered our planet, taught us, died for our sins and rose from the dead. He then returned to "heaven," also called "His holy temple." Unlike our efforts, which are limited, what He does is infinite. We do know a little. For instance, we can see that our faith is being tested, sometimes in little ways, and other times more unpleasant events are needed to draw us closer to Him. He tests us to see if we are in the faith (2 Corinthians 13:5), and in that verse He invites us to be part of the process. Another very interesting activity of our Lord is that He is praying for all of us, including you and me (Romans 8:34-35). And while we are very limited, He isn't—He who is not in time and space as we are, effectively prays for every one of us, in every time and everywhere, individually yet all at the same time. He is God. Those verses in Romans 8 also show that nothing can separate us from Him—not because we are so skilled, but He who loves us is excellent at keeping us safe in His heavenly "temple"—forever.
Verse 5: "The Lord tests the righteous and the wicked, and the one who loves violence His soul hates." The Lord has made what we call "salvation" to be relatively simple—The Lord did the hard part, dying on the cross in our place, for our sins. Our part is to surrender to Him, but surrender is difficult for many people. As children, we want to be grown-ups; bigger, faster and more intelligent than before. And so, just like children play make-believe, many adults keep fooling themselves that THEY are in control. To do so, many pretend to themselves God does not exist, hoping to keep the illusion of self-control as long as possible. Note carefully here that David understood what we need to know: There are only two kinds of people, 1) The "wicked," which is to say, the faithless, and 2) the "righteous," who cease trying to be righteous in our own strength, and receive the righteousness given by the Lord Jesus Christ. "Violence," both real and imagined, is an outward sign that the person has secretly or overtly chosen to reject the Lord. And the Lord is not pleased when we do.
Verse 6: "Upon the wicked He will rain snares; fire and brimstone and burning wind will be the portion of their cup." Hell is not a pretty place. Whatever the physical setting will be, it will feel like snares are endlessly around the feet, hearts and minds of those who choose to go there. It's amazing that God leaves such a huge choice to each person in the world. You can go to hell simply because you choose to reject the Lord. But think about it: He has given Himself for you, and it's only reasonable for you to give your life to Him in return... Life for life. Jesus described "hell" as a place where "the worm does not die and the fire is not quenched" (Mark 9:48). The Greeks of that time had a very modern understanding of what the human mind is all about, and the phrase Jesus used was precisely the way Greek doctors described psychological torment. At the very least, hell is a place of endless emotional suffering. You may think the Lord traps people into following Him, but that isn't the case. As stated, He has given Himself utterly on your behalf. The free choice was His, and your free choice is right now. You can love Him, receive Him, trust in Him and be with Him forever—or not. It's your choice.
Verse 7: "For the Lord is righteous, He loves righteousness; the upright will behold His face." All human righteousness, without the power and love of God, is just a facade. As God's prophet observed, "All our righteousness is as filthy rags" (Isaiah 64:6). When we receive the Lord into our hearts and lives, His righteousness begins to replace our vain attempts to become like Him in our own strength. By the way, if you read the various Psalms carefully, you will discover that David, who wrote many of these chapters, these songs, understood and believed in eternal life with the Lord after death. There is no time in eternity, but there is time here on earth where life obviously unfolds, one event at a time. David's body is in the grave, but he is beholding the Lord right now. "The upright will behold His face"—that's you, when your heart belongs to the Lord through faith in Him. It's your choice.
Lord, I choose to believe in you. Thank You for living and dying for me, so I might be forgiven. Please forgive me for trying to run my own life. I am Yours, Lord. Lead me in the way everlasting. In Jesus Name. Amen.