Psalms · Psalms Book 1

Looking for refuge in all the wrong places?

It’s been a while since I’ve written about a Psalm. I left off on Psalm 9-10. And then I had too much practical experience with Psalm 11, and I didn’t know how to write about it. It’s a short Psalm with a story behind it.

Psalm 11 includes “of David” in the title. And from what I’ve read about it, he was being advised to run away to the mountains to protect himself because people were attacking him. Verse 1b-3 relay the advice.

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 11:1b-3 NIV11

David can’t believe that is their advice. “How can you say that to me?!?” David is taking refuge in the Lord, not running away from whatever the attack is. God is his protection. David knows that God is in his holy temple, on his heavenly throne. Because of that, he doesn’t need to be worried about defending himself from those who are attacking him.

What does it mean for the Lord to be on his heavenly throne in his holy temple? It means he observes everyone on earth and examines them. Some versions say he tries them. And at this trial, there are two verdicts: righteous or wicked. The wicked, those who love violence, he hates. On them “he will rain fiery coals and burning sulfur; a scorching wind will be their lot.” (v6)

But the Lord is righteous. He loves justice. And the upright, the righteous, will see his face.

We are in the middle of the Romans series at church. In Romans 3, Paul declares that God demonstrates his righteousness by presenting Christ as a sacrifice of atonement that can be received by faith. Verse 26 says he did this to be just and to be the one who justifies (or declares righteous) those who have faith in Jesus. So if we have received Jesus by faith, we can stand before God in this trial.

David had that faith. He knew that God would protect him. Fleeing to the mountains would be an act of faithlessness on David’s part.

This psalm begins with the phrase, “In the Lord I take refuge.” I did a quick search and found that the word refuge appears 43 times in the book of Psalms. Only one of those times is it not specifically referring to God as our refuge. Over 40 times in one book we are reminded that God is our refuge. He is the one will declare us to be righteous because of our faith in Jesus. We can take refuge in him because of Jesus.

It is easy to say God is our refuge, but I wonder what else we rely on as protection. Is it our job that provides a steady income? Is it our family? Our homes? The government? That the right people have been elected? A court’s decision? A church?

Some of those hit close to home for me. Psalm 11 is a reminder that God is our refuge. Other things (even good things created by God like mountains) can take his place if we aren’t careful. Finding refuge in God is about turning to a person whom we trust. Psalm 11 ends with this idea: “the upright will see his face.” I look in someone’s face when I am listening to them or talking to them. That is what refuge in God looks like – a relationship, a friendship. We can’t substitute other things for that.

I encourage you to ask God to examine you (v4-5) to see where you are finding your refuge. Ask him to help you to turn to Him instead of other things. He is on His heavenly throne which means He can take care of all the things we are running from or that we want to control. It’s a lesson that I am learning right now. I pray that you and I both will find our refuge in Him alone.

May you be blessed by God’s word today.

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