Bible Book List
Matthew Henry's Commentary – Verses 1–3
Verses 1–3

Here is, I. David’s fixed resolution to make God his confidence: In the Lord put I my trust, Ps. 11:1. Those that truly fear God and serve him are welcome to put their trust in him, and shall not be made ashamed of their doing so. And it is the character of the saints, who have taken God for their God, that they make him their hope. Even when they have other things to stay themselves upon, yet they do not, they dare not, stay upon them, but on God only. Gold is not their hope, nor are horses and chariots their confidence, but God only; and therefore, when second causes frown, yet their hopes do not fail them, because the first cause is still the same, is ever so. The psalmist, before he gives an account of the temptation he was in to distrust God, records his resolution to trust in him, as that which he was resolved to live and die by.

II. His resentment of a temptation to the contrary: “How say you to my soul, which has thus returned to God as its rest and reposes in him, Flee as a bird to your mountain, to be safe there out of the reach of the fowler?” This may be taken either,

1. As the serious advice of his timorous friends; so many understand it, and with great probability. Some that were hearty well-wishers to David, when they saw how much Saul was exasperated against him and how maliciously he sought his life, pressed him by all means to flee for the same to some place of shelter, and not to depend too much upon the anointing he had received, which, they thought, was more likely to occasion the loss of his head than to save it. That which grieved him in this motion was not that to flee now would savour of cowardice, and ill become a soldier, but that it would savour of unbelief and would ill become a saint who had so often said, In the Lord put I my trust. Taking it thus, the Ps. 11:2, 3 contain the reason with which these faint-hearted friends of David backed this advice. They would have him flee, (1.) Because he could not be safe where he was, Ps. 11:2. “Observe,” say they, “how the wicked bend their bow; Saul and his instruments aim at thy life, and the uprightness of thy heart will not be thy security.” See what an enmity there is in the wicked against the upright, in the seed of the serpent against the seed of the woman; what pains they take, what preparations they make, to do them a mischief: They privily shoot at them, or, in darkness, that they may not see the evil designed, to avoid it, nor others, to prevent it, no, nor God himself, to punish it. (2.) Because he could be no longer useful where he was. “For,” say they, “if the foundations be destroyed” (as they were by Saul’s mal-administration), “if the civil state and government be unhinged and all out of course” (Ps. 75:3; 82:5), “what canst thou do with thy righteousness to redress the grievances? Alas! it is to no purpose to attempt the saving of a kingdom so wretchedly shattered; whatever the righteous can do signifies nothing.” Abi in cellam, et dic, Miserere mei, Domine—Away to thy cell, and there cry, Pity me, O Lord! Many are hindered from doing the service they might do to the public, in difficult times, by a despair of success.

2. It may be taken as a taunt wherewith his enemies bantered him, upbraiding him with the professions he used to make of confidence in God, and scornfully bidding him try what stead that would stand him in now. “You say, God is your mountain; flee to him now, and see what the better you will be.” Thus they endeavoured to shame the counsel of the poor, saying, There is no help for them in God, Ps. 14:6; Ps. 3:2. The confidence and comfort which the saints have in God, when all the hopes and joys in the creature fail them, are a riddle to a carnal world and are ridiculed accordingly. Taking it thus, the Ps. 11:2, 3 are David’s answer to this sarcasm, in which, (1.) He complains of the malice of those who did thus abuse him (Ps. 11:2): They bend their bow and make ready their arrows; and we are told (Ps. 64:3) what their arrows are, even bitter words, such words as these, by which they endeavour to discourage hope in God, which David felt as a sword in his bones. (2.) He resists the temptation with a gracious abhorrence, Ps. 11:3. He looks upon this suggestion as striking at the foundations which every Israelite builds upon: “If you destroy the foundations, if you take good people off from their hope in God, if you can persuade them that their religion is a cheat and a jest and can banter them out of that, you ruin them, and break their hearts indeed, and make them of all men the most miserable.” The principles of religion are the foundations on which the faith and hope of the righteous are built. These we are concerned, in interest as well as duty, to hold fast against all temptations to infidelity; for, if these be destroyed, if we let these go, What can the righteous do? Good people would be undone if they had not a God to go to, a God to trust to, and a future bliss to hope for.