Our Common Prayerbook 11

This psalm, Psalm 11 (see after the jump), once again, is a prayer that weaves in and out of theology, plea and reflection — it ponders God as it ponders enemies. John Goldingay sums up what this psalm does in words worth quoting:

“When the foundations collapse, you can (e.g.) flit (like Elijah), seek to rebuild them (like Deuteronomy), preach (like Amos), tell stories to build faith (like Genesis), promise a better future (like Isaiah), or feel overwhelmed (like Ecclesiastes). Or you can just stand tall and look for Yhwh to act, like this psalmist” (1.194).
He begins with his experience: I trust Yhwh, so how can his enemies tell him to flee? But then ponders deeper: what does one do when one’s foundations have collapsed? (v. 3). 
What you can do is begin with God: Yhwh is in his Temple; Yhwh rules from heaven. That Yhwh is watching with all-seeing eyes. He knows all, both those faithful and those faithless. And this Yhwh is against the faithless and he will judge the oppressors and establish justice.
Without some final judgment, there will be and can be no justice.

11:1 In the Lord I have taken shelter.

How can you say to me,

“Flee to a mountain like a bird!

11:2 For look, the wicked prepare their bows,

they put their arrows on the strings,

to shoot in the darkness at the morally upright.

11:3 When the foundations are destroyed,

what can the godly accomplish?”

11:4 The Lord is in his holy temple;

the Lord‘s throne is in heaven.

His eyes watch;

his eyes examine all people.

11:5 The Lord approves of the godly,

but he hates the wicked and those who love to do violence.

11:6 May the Lord rain down burning coals and brimstone on the wicked!

A whirlwind is what they deserve!

11:7 Certainly the Lord is just;

he rewards godly deeds;

the upright will experience his favor.

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  • MatthewS

    Or you can just stand tall and look for Yhwh to act, like this psalmist
    Really enjoyed reading the psalm with that backdrop

  • Scot McKnight


  • Sue G

    Struggling with this psalm today, and I’ve spent a lot of time reading online commentary. My struggle is in v. 5 – I don’t expect David to have seen it otherwise, but doesn’t the example of Jesus (the ‘image of the invisible God’) help us see that God does not ‘hate’ the wicked? I see no New Testament passages showing any such hatred, although wickedness and certainly the example above, of those who love violence, God hates. God will judge the wicked, but isn’t that an example of his mercy? And didn’t God’s judgment on their wickedness fall on Jesus, so that in the end those who do not receive Christ are judged for their refusal to receive his sacrifice? (and am I not one of the wicked, but for Christ?)
    Much of what I’ve read seems to celebrate this idea of God hating the wicked, as though the wicked were someone else other than me.