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Psalm 11:1

ESV To the choirmaster. Of David. In the LORD I take refuge; how can you say to my soul, “Flee like a bird to your mountain,
NIV For the director of music. Of David. In the LORD I take refuge. How then can you say to me: 'Flee like a bird to your mountain.
NASB In the Lord I take refuge; How can you say to my soul, 'Flee as a bird to your mountain?
CSB I have taken refuge in the Lord. How can you say to me, "Escape to the mountains like a bird!
NLT I trust in the Lord for protection. So why do you say to me, 'Fly like a bird to the mountains for safety!
KJV {To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David.} In the LORD put I my trust: how say ye to my soul, Flee as a bird to your mountain?

What does Psalm 11:1 mean?

It's not entirely clear what prompted David to write this passage. Clearly, there is danger at hand, presenting him with the temptation to run away. The image is not of a tactical retreat, but of panic and self-preservation. It's also not obvious if this is advice David was being given by his royal counselors or merely the tempting of his own heart. In either case, the urge is to react to danger like a startled bird: fleeing to a high place.

Depending on when David wrote these words, it might have been Saul and his forces pursuing him (1 Samuel 18:8–9). It may also have been David's rebellious son, Absalom (2 Samuel 15:10–12). David used common sense to escape danger (1 Samuel 19:11–12; 2 Samuel 15:13–17) in dealing with both of those enemies. However, he did not abandon everything in a moment of abject fear. Whether coming from fellow Israelites or his own human nature, the call to "just run" is a natural response to some kinds of danger.

In contrast, David demonstrated a God-empowered response. He declared, "In the LORD I take refuge." Instead of fleeing to the mountains, he chose to flee to the Lord.

Psalm 121 is a song that pilgrims sang as they traveled to Jerusalem to worship. The group's leader affirmed what David knew; namely, the Lord protects His people. The leader exclaimed, "I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come?" (Psalm 121:1). The answer comes immediately: "My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth" (Psalm 121:2). The Creator is the believer's most secure refuge.
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