John T. Willis

Saturday, July 05, 2014

Yahweh Loves Righteous Deeds--Psalm 11

There is no information about the background of Psalm 11. The superscription says simply: "To the leader. Of David." The Hebrew more properly means "For to To David." We know nothing about whether the superscriptions in the Psalter are original or later additions. It is safest to deal with the text of each psalm.

Psalm 11 is very short: it contains only seven verses. The term which stands out through this psalm is "righteous" or "upright," which occurs six times in seven verses (verses 2, 3, 5, 7 [3 times]), which probably indicates this is the intended theme. Psalm 11 naturally falls into two parts.

I. The Hostile Negative Attitude of the Psalmist's Enemies. Psalm 11:1-3.
    a. The psalmist begins with his determination: "In the Lord I take refuge." [NRSV]. Here the Hebrew verb is hasah, which means "trust," thus "In the Lord I put my trust." When faced when serious problems of any type, it is tempting to seek help from others, from counselors, from "common sense," etc. But the best course is to seek help from God. 11:1a.
    b. Immediate the psalmist turns to his enemies. "You" in the question, "How can YOU say to me" is PLURAL, not singular. Hence, the psalmist is confronted with several opponents, who are bring charging against him and trying to tear down his trust and confidence in God. His opponents encourage the psalmist to "Flee like a bird to the mountains." They are diligently trying to distance themselves from the psalmist. Their proof is: "the wicked are like archers, who shoot in the dark at "the upright in heart." Apparently, these opponents assume they are among the "righteous," and want to pit themselves against the wicked. In reality, they themselves are the wicked, the opponents of the psalmist and of God. 11:1b-2.
   c. The wicked continue to reason that if the foundations are destroyed, the righteous can do nothing. Actually this is a bluff to try to discourage the psalmist. The next several verses show that the psalmist will not pay attention to these threats. 11:3.

II. The Psalmist turns to Yahweh for Protection and Guidance. Psalm 11:4-7.
     a. The psalmist declares that Yahweh is in "his holy temple," that is, in "heaven," as the synonymous parallelism shows. Yahweh is the heavenly king sitting on his heavenly throne. From heaven above, Yahweh "beholds" and "examines" humankind. It would be a mistake to identify Yahweh's "eyes" and "gaze" as literal eyes like the eyes of human beings. This is clearly figurative language. Of course, Yahweh sees and knows all things. He is the great precise searcher of hearts. But he is not human like we are. See Psalm 139:1-6. 11:4.
     b. From his heavenly throne, Yahweh "tests" the righteous and the wicked. As he makes his decisions, he HATES THE LOVER OF VIOLENCE. Many people reject the biblical testimony that our God HATES human beings who persist in opposing Yahweh and hurting innocent people. Go to a concordance and see all the references in the Bible which testify that Yahweh HATES certain types of people. See for example Proverbs 6:16-19. There are many others. Note the strong contrast between the statement "Yahweh hates the lover of violence" in verse 5 and "Yahweh loves righteous deeds" in verse 7. 11:5.
    c. Since Yahweh HATES the lover of violence, in his own good time Yahweh will rain coals of fire and sulfur and a scorching wind on the wicked. Many people reject the biblical testimony that Yahweh will punish the wicked eternally. 11:6.
    d. By nature, Yahweh is righteous. From his heart of hearts, Yahweh LOVES RIGHTEOUS DEEDS. The upright will stand before Yahweh accepted and embraced in his heavenly court. 11:7.

Share YOUR experiences and understandings and aspirations and shortcomings and fears with others. Let me hear from YOU.

John Willis


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