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Psalms 11:1-3

Context
Psalm 11 1 

For the music director; by David.

11:1 In the Lord I have taken shelter. 2 

How can you say to me, 3 

“Flee to a mountain like a bird! 4 

11:2 For look, the wicked 5  prepare 6  their bows, 7 

they put their arrows on the strings,

to shoot in the darkness 8  at the morally upright. 9 

11:3 When the foundations 10  are destroyed,

what can the godly 11  accomplish?” 12 

1 sn Psalm 11. The psalmist rejects the advice to flee from his dangerous enemies. Instead he affirms his confidence in God’s just character and calls down judgment on evildoers.

2 tn The Hebrew perfect verbal form probably refers here to a completed action with continuing results.

3 tn The pronominal suffix attached to נֶפֶשׁ (nefesh) is equivalent to a personal pronoun. See Ps 6:3.

4 tc The MT is corrupt here. The Kethib (consonantal text) reads: “flee [masculine plural!] to your [masculine plural!] mountain, bird.” The Qere (marginal reading) has “flee” in a feminine singular form, agreeing grammatically with the addressee, the feminine noun “bird.” Rather than being a second masculine plural pronominal suffix, the ending כֶם- (-khem) attached to “mountain” is better interpreted as a second feminine singular pronominal suffix followed by an enclitic mem (ם). “Bird” may be taken as vocative (“O bird”) or as an adverbial accusative of manner (“like a bird”). Either way, the psalmist’s advisers compare him to a helpless bird whose only option in the face of danger is to fly away to an inaccessible place.

5 tn In the psalms the “wicked” (רְשָׁעִים, rÿshaim) are typically proud, practical atheists (Ps 10:2, 4, 11) who hate God’s commands, commit sinful deeds, speak lies and slander (Ps 50:16-20), and cheat others (Ps 37:21). They oppose God and threaten his people (Ps 3:8).

6 tn The Hebrew imperfect verbal form depicts the enemies’ hostile action as underway.

7 tn Heb “a bow.”

8 sn In the darkness. The enemies’ attack, the precise form of which is not indicated, is compared here to a night ambush by archers; the psalmist is defenseless against this deadly attack.

9 tn Heb “pure of heart.” The “heart” is here viewed as the seat of one’s moral character and motives. The “pure of heart” are God’s faithful followers who trust in and love the Lord and, as a result, experience his deliverance (see Pss 7:10; 32:11; 36:10; 64:10; 94:15; 97:11).

10 tn The precise meaning of this rare word is uncertain. An Ugaritic cognate is used of the “bottom” or “base” of a cliff or mountain (see G. R. Driver, Canaanite Myths and Legends, 47, 159). The noun appears in postbiblical Hebrew with the meaning “foundation” (see Jastrow 1636 s.v. שָׁת).

11 tn The singular form is used here in a collective or representative sense. Note the plural form “pure [of heart]” in the previous verse.

12 sn The quotation of the advisers’ words (which begins in 11:1c) ends at this point. They advise the psalmist to flee because the enemy is poised to launch a deadly attack. In such a lawless and chaotic situation godly people like the psalmist can accomplish nothing, so they might as well retreat to a safe place.



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