The temptation to run away "Flee like a bird"
Psalm 11 addresses a common human problem - the temptation to run away from problems - and in particular, to escape in our own particular way to our own "idol": "flee like a bird to your mountain." We all run away in different ways - that's the idea. Some drown their problems with drink, some flee into the arms of a holiday, others run to gluttony.
What "mountain" do you instinctively run to?
By the time David had written this psalm, he had decided he would not run away but that he would make God alone his refuge, "In the Lord I take refuge" and he was prepared to resist any temptation to flee "How then can you say to me?"
But leading up to that moment of resolution was a process, a meditation.
(1) The temptation
The temptation was powerful! Wicked people were firing on the righteous! The very foundations of society were being eroded. Let's run away! It makes perfect sense! A question encapsulated the strength of the problem and the powerlessness of the ordinary believer, "What can the righteous do?" Let's pilgrim father to a new promised land!
Sometimes our circumstances may look, to our own eyes, and here is the point, to our own puny analysis, beyond remedy. And in these circumstances we are tempted to abandon ship and run to our own "mountain" or rather "mountain god".
(2) The truth
What should we do? David stops to think! He does not allow his heart to rule his head. Let's ask ourselves: what is the truth of the matter? Well, first, God is still with his people, "The Lord is in his holy Temple", and secondly, God is still King of the universe, "The Lord is on his heavenly throne", and thirdly, God knows what is going on, "He observes the sons of men". Fourthly, his attitude to the righteous is positive (he examies them- and examine must include love) while his attitude to the wicked is righteous hatred. Fifthly, he will one day punish the wicked and sixthly, God loves justice.
Armed with these truths, how on earth could you run away?!
(3) The resolution
So David resolves to affirm his trust in God alone, and to resist the temptation to run, no matter how powerful the urge, "In the Lord I take refuge." What a wonderful affirmation of trust!
Who will we trust?
In the end, this Psalm asks us who - or what - will we trust in? There are three options:
(a) Will we trust in our MINDS? The powerful arguments put in favour of running away? What if those arguments are flawed? What if, say, there are only three bows bent towards one billion righteous? What if only one foundation out of a thousand is being attacked? Why trust your mind?
(b) Will you trust YOUR MOUNTAIN? Will you run for comfort to food, drink, friends, pleasure? What is your mountain? Your strong substitute for God?
(c) Or will you trust in GOD ALONE? Our hearts are fickle and they stray so easily and so often. We think we trust in God, but in point of fact we are often trusting in something else.
The journey of faith is in large part learning to trust in God and God alone.
"My soul finds rest in God alone." (Psalm 62:1)