In the LORD put I my trust: how say you to my soul, Flee as a bird to your mountain?
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Put I my trust.—Better, as in Psalm 7:1, I find my refuge.
Flee as a bird.—Literally, flee ye a bird. The plural verb, with the singular noun, offers a difficulty which is not obviated by the reading which changes the verb to the singular, since your mountain has the plural suffix. We may supply the sign of comparison, as elsewhere sometimes omitted (Psalm 22:14); “flee ye like a bird;” or we may, with Ewald, take the noun as collective—a flock of birds. The idea of trepidation is conveyed in the original by the verb, which suggests the hurried flap of wings. Dr. Thomson, in The Land and the Book, finds in the habits of the dove an illustration of the passage; and compares Psalm 55:6, “Oh that I had wings as a dove!”Psalm 11:1. In the Lord put I my trust — It is not in fortresses or strong holds that I place my confidence, but only in the Lord, in his power, and love, and faithfulness. How say ye to my soul — Ye, my friends; Flee as a bird to your mountain? — Fly away, as a timorous bird before the fowler, to a place of safety. Thus “the Christian, like David, in perilous times, should make God his fortress, and continue doing his duty in his station; he should not, at the instigation of those about him, like a poor, silly, timorous, inconstant bird, either fly for refuge to the devices of worldly wisdom, or desert his post, and retire into solitude, while he can serve the cause in which he is engaged. Nor, indeed, is there any mountain on earth, out of the reach of care or trouble. Temptations are everywhere, and so is the grace of God.” — Horne.
How say ye to my soul - How say ye to "me" - the soul being put for the person himself. "Why" do you say this to me? how can you give me such counsel, as if I were to run away from danger, and to put no trust in God? He seems to have supposed that such an act of flight would have been construed by his enemies, and by the enemies of religion, as evidence that he had no faith or confidence in God. Such circumstances often occur in the world; and when that would be the "fair" and "natural" construction of one's conduct, the path of duty is plain. We are to remain where we are; we are boldly to face the danger, and commit the whole matter to God.
Flee as a bird to your mountain - This implies that it was supposed there was no longer any safety where he then was. The use of the plural number here - "Flee ye," by a change not uncommon in the Hebrew writings - seems designed to refer to the whole class of persons in those circumstances. The mind turns from his own particular case to that of others in the same circumstances; and the language may be designed to imply that this was the usual counsel given to such persons; that, on the same principle on which they now advised flight in this particular case, they would also advise flight in all similar cases. That is, they would counsel persons to flee to a place of safety when they were in danger of their life from persecution. This is the common counsel of the world; this would be the ordinary teaching of human prudence. The mountains in Palestine were regarded as places of safety, and were the common refuge of those who were in danger. In their caves and fastnesses, and on their heights, those who were in danger found security, for they could there hide themselves, or could more easily defend themselves, than they could in the plains and in the vallies. Hence, they became the place of retreat for robbers and banditti, as well as for the persecuted. The allusion to the bird here does not imply that birds sought a refuge in the mountains, and that he was to resemble them in this respect; but the point of the comparison turns on the rapidity with which this refuge should be sought:" Fly to the mountains as swiftly as a bird flies from danger." Compare Matthew 24:16; Judges 6:2; Hebrews 11:38.
Ps 11:1-7. On title, see Introduction. Alluding to some event in his history, as in 1Sa 23:13, the Psalmist avows his confidence in God, when admonished to flee from his raging persecutors, whose destruction of the usual foundations of safety rendered all his efforts useless. The grounds of his confidence are God's supreme dominion, His watchful care of His people, His hatred to the wicked and judgments on them, and His love for righteousness and the righteous.
1. my soul—me (Ps 3:2).
Flee—literally, "flee ye"; that is, he and his companion.
2 For, lo, the wicked bend their bow, they make ready their arrow upon the string, that they may privily shoot at the upright in heart.
3 If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?
These verses contain an account of a temptation to distrust God, with which David was, upon some unmentioned occasion, greatly exercised. It may be, that in the days when he was in Saul's court, he was advised to flee at a time when this flight would have been charged against him as a breach of duty to the king, or a proof of personal cowardice. His case was like that of Nehemiah, when his enemies, under the garb of friendship, hoped to entrap him by advising him to escape for his life. Had he done so, they could then have found a ground of accusation. Nehemiah bravely replied, "Shall such a man as I flee?" and David, in a like spirit, refuses to retreat, exclaiming, "In the Lord put I my trust: how say ye to my soul, Flee as a bird to your mountain?" When Satan cannot overthrow us by presumption, how craftily will he seek to ruin us by distrust! He will employ our dearest friends to argue us out of our confidence, and he will use such plausible logic, that unless we once for all assert our immovable trust in Jehovah, he will make us like the timid bird which flies to the mountain whenever danger presents itself. How forcibly the case is put! The bow is bent, the arrow is fitted to the string: "Flee, flee, thou defenceless bird, thy safety lies in flight; be gone, for thine enemies will send their shafts into thy heart; haste, haste, for soon wilt thou be destroyed!" David seems to have felt the force of the advice, for it came home to his soul; but yet he would not yield, but would rather dare the danger than exhibit a distrust in the Lord his God. Doubtless, the perils which encompassed David were great and imminent; it was quite true that his enemies were ready to shoot privily at him; it was equally correct that the very foundations of law and justice were destroyed under Saul's unrighteous government: but what were all these things to the man whose trust was in God alone? He could brave the dangers, could escape the enemies, and defy the injustice which surrounded him. His answer to the question, "What can the righteous do?" would be the counter-question, "What cannot they do?" When prayer engages God on our side, and when faith secures the fulfilment of the promise, what cause can there be for flight, smitten a giant before whom the whole hosts of Israel were trembling, and the Lord, who delivered him from the uncircumcised Philistine, could surely deliver him from King Saul and his myrmidons. There is no such word as "impossibility" in the language of faith; that martial grace knows how to fight and conquer, but she knows not how to flee. This Psalm seems to have been composed by David when he was persecuted by Saul, and forced to flee from place to place for safety.
how say ye to my soul, flee as a bird to your mountain? they compare him to a little, fearful, trembling bird, wandering from its nest, moving through fear from place to place, whereas his heart was fixed, trusting in the Lord; and this gave him a disgust: they advise him to flee either "from" his mountain, so Kimchi and Ben Melech interpret it; that is, either from Judea, which was a mountainous country, especially some parts of it; or from Mount Zion, or rather from the mountain in the wilderness of Ziph, or the hill of Hachilah, where David sometimes was, 1 Samuel 23:14; or it may be rendered "to your mountain", as we, so the Targum; that is, to the said place or places where he had sometimes hid himself; and this they said to his "soul", which was very cutting and grieving to him; the word rendered "flee" in the "Cetib", or writing of the text, is in the plural, "flee ye"; but is pointed for, and in the "Keri", or marginal reading, is "flee thou"; the latter agrees with this being said to David's soul, the former with the phrase "your mountain", and both are to be taken into the sense of the words; not as if the one respected David's soul only, and the other both soul and body, as Kimchi and Ben Melech observe; but the one regards David's person, and the other his companions, or the people with him; and contains an advice, both to him and them, to flee for their safety; the reasons follow.<
(a) This is the wicked counsel of his enemies to him and his companions to drive him from the hope of God's promise.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)1. put I my trust] Rather, have I taken refuge (cp. Psalm 7:1): and therefore it would be an act of unbelief as well as cowardice to seek another asylum in the mountain.
to my soul] To me, as one whose very life is in danger. Cp. Psalm 3:2, note.
Flee as a bird] Or, as R.V. marg., flee ye birds. David and his companions are addressed, and exhorted to flee to their obvious or accustomed place of refuge in the mountain. But the pronoun your should probably be omitted, and as inserted. Timorous and defenceless birds supply a graphic figure for the victims of persecution who have no resource but flight. Cp. 1 Samuel 26:20; Lamentations 3:52. The ‘mountain’ or ‘hill-country’ with its caves and strongholds was the natural place of retreat for fugitives. See 1 Samuel 14:22; 1 Samuel 23:14; 1 Samuel 26:1; 1Ma 2:28. Possibly ‘to flee to the mountain’ may have been a proverbial phrase, taken from the narrative of Genesis 19:17 ff., for the last resource in extremity of peril.
On Psalm 11:1There are two readings here: the Qrç, flee thou (fem.): the Kthîbh, flee ye. If flee thou is addressed, as it is natural to suppose, to David’s soul, it must be explained as a bold combination of direct and indirect speech, equivalent to ‘that she should flee as a bird to your mountain,’ i.e. join you in your mountain retreat. Or David and his adherents may be addressed. ‘Flee, O birds (fem. collective), to your mountain!’ The second reading, ‘flee ye, like birds (or, ye birds), to your mountain,’ is simpler. David and his companions are exhorted to seek the mountain which is their natural or accustomed place of refuge. But it must be admitted that the plural ‘flee ye’ is harsh, and that we should expect the poet’s soul to be addressed; while at the same time if the singular ‘flee thou’ is read, the plural ‘your mountain’ can only be explained by the assumption of a bold construction, or an abrupt transition from sing, to plur. And when we find that all the ancient versions give the verb in the singular, and none of them express your, it becomes almost certain that by a very slight change of text we should read ‘Flee (thou) as a bird to the mountain.’ (גודי הר כמו צפור).
1–3. Faith’s indignant repudiation of faint-hearted counsel in the hour of danger.Verse 1. - In the Lord put I my trust; or, in the Lord have I taken refuge (Kay, Cheyne). Before his friends address him on the subject of his danger, David has himself recognized it, and has fled to God for succour. How say ye to my soul, Flee as a bird to your mountain? rather, flee ye, birds, to your mountain. Probably a proverbial expression, used when it was necessary to warn a man that in flight lay his only safety. The singular (צִפור) is used collectively. Psalm 16:1; Psalm 83:2; Psalm 139:17, Psalm 139:23. He is to lift up His hand in order to help and to punish (נשׂא יד, whence comes the imperat. נשׂא equals שׂא, cf. נסה Psalm 4:7, like שׁלח יד Psalm 138:7 and נטה יד Exodus 7:5 elsewhere). Forget not is equivalent to: fulfil the לא שׁכח of Psalm 9:13, put to shame the שׁכח אל of the ungodly, Psalm 10:11! Our translation follows the Kerמ ענוים. That which is complained of in Psalm 10:3, Psalm 10:4 is put in the form of a question to God in Psalm 10:13 : wherefore (על־מה, instead of which we find על־מה in Numbers 22:32; Jeremiah 9:11, because the following words begin with letters of a different class) does it come to pass, i.e., is it permitted to come to pass? On the perf. in this interrogative clause vid., Psalm 11:3. מדּוּע inquires the cause, למּה the aim, and על־מה the motive, or in general the reason: on what ground, since God's holiness can suffer no injury to His honour? On לא תדרשׁ with כּי, the oratio directa instead of obliqua, vid., on Psalm 9:21.
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