Psalm 11

Submitted by admin on Mon, 2006-04-17 09:53.

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Both in the Masoretic Text and the Septuagint, this psalm is linked to David. Unlike the Masoretic Text, which may be understood to refer to the “musical director” or “leader,” the Septuagint uses the expression “to the end.” The psalm itself may reflect the circumstances that were developing during the time Absalom continued building up a strong following for himself and progressively diminished support for his father David.

Faced with a serious threat, David confidently looked to YHWH as his dependable refuge. Therefore, to those who advised that he resort to flight, he said, “How can you say to my soul [to me], flee like a bird to your mountain?” The expression “your mountain” may be understood to mean the eminence where, on the basis of the advice given, David would take refuge, making it his mountain. From an elevated location, he would be in a better position to view the movement of those aligned against him and take appropriate action to secure his safety. In urging flight comparable to that of a bird, the advisers evidently were recommending a speedy flight, not delaying.

The gravity of the situation prompted this advice. Wicked or disloyal ones were prepared to use the bow. Concealed by the cover of darkness, they already had the arrow in the bowstring, aimed directly at those (like David) who were upright in heart or in their deep inner selves.

The advisers reasoned that, for the righteous, flight was the only option when the “foundations” are destroyed. These foundations evidently would be law and order, which are essential for a stable society. Faced with a situation where justice and mercy gave way to ruthlessness, disloyalty, and brutality, the righteous could only hope to escape by resorting to flight.

David, however, remained confident that none of the developments had escaped YHWH’s notice. From his holy temple in the heavens, the Most High as Sovereign (as if seated on a throne) had his eyes fixed on the “sons of man.” His penetrating vision would test them, identifying them as the persons they truly were. His testing would reveal who among the many were upright and who were corrupt.

YHWH’s soul or he himself hates violent ones, those who use ruthless, oppressive, or unfair means to attain their objectives. Corrupt persons would not escape his judgments, for their situation would prove to be as if, to block their maneuverability, traps or snares were descending. Their fate would be like that which befell Sodom and Gomorrah, with fire and sulfur raining down upon them. The cup from which they would be made to drink would contain a portion comparable to a scorching wind that withers vegetation.

YHWH is righteous, holding to the highest standard of justice. He loves or deeply appreciates righteous deeds, untainted by partiality or selfishness. Therefore, the righteous are assured of his care and concern. They would behold his face upon seeing the evidence of his approval manifest in his sustaining them during times of distress or shielding them from being victimized by those intent on harming them.


Regarding YHWH, see Psalm 1.

The Septuagint differs in a number of respects from the Masoretic Text. Among the minor variations are “the mountains” (not “your mountain”), “sparrow” (not “bird”), “arrows for the quiver” (not “arrow to the string”), and the “one loving injustice hates his own soul” (not “him who loves violence his soul [YHWH] hates”).

For verse 3, the Septuagint reading is, “For the things you established, they have destroyed. But what did the righteous one do?” This suggests that the ungodly disregarded what YHWH had established for a stable society, thereby putting it out of the way or destroying it. The question regarding the upright one implies that he was helpless, unable to prevent the impious from pursuing their destructive course.

In verse 4, the Masoretic Text does not mention whom YHWH beholds, but the Septuagint says that his eyes look upon the poor.