CHOOSE YOUR BIBLE VERSION

Psalm chapter 11

New International Version

1 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. 2 For look, the wicked bend their bows; they set their arrows against the strings to shoot from the shadows at the upright in heart.
3 When the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous do?' 4 The LORD is in his holy temple; the LORD is on his heavenly throne. He observes everyone on earth; his eyes examine them. 5 The LORD examines the righteous, but the wicked, those who love violence, he hates with a passion.
6 On the wicked he will rain fiery coals and burning sulfur; a scorching wind will be their lot. 7 For the LORD is righteous, he loves justice; the upright will see his face.
English Standard Version

1 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, 2 for behold, the wicked bend the bow; they have fitted their arrow to the string to shoot in the dark at the upright in heart; 3 if the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?” 4 The LORD is in his holy temple; the LORD’s throne is in heaven; his eyes see, his eyelids test the children of man. 5 The LORD tests the righteous, but his soul hates the wicked and the one who loves violence. 6 Let him rain coals on the wicked; fire and sulfur and a scorching wind shall be the portion of their cup. 7 For the LORD is righteous; he loves righteous deeds; the upright shall behold his face.
King James Version

1 {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? 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?
4 The LORD is in his holy temple, the LORD'S throne is in heaven: his eyes behold, his eyelids try, the children of men. 5 The LORD trieth the righteous: but the wicked and him that loveth violence his soul hateth. 6 Upon the wicked he shall rain snares, fire and brimstone, and an horrible tempest: this shall be the portion of their cup. 7 For the righteous LORD loveth righteousness; his countenance doth behold the upright.
New American Standard Bible

1 For the choir director. A Psalm of David. In the LORD I take refuge; How can you say to my soul, 'Flee as a bird to your mountain; 2 For, behold, the wicked bend the bow, They make ready their arrow upon the string To shoot in darkness at the upright in heart. 3 If the foundations are destroyed, What can the righteous do?' 4 The LORD is in His holy temple; the LORD'S throne is in heaven; His eyes behold, His eyelids test the sons of men. 5 The LORD tests the righteous and the wicked, And the one who loves violence His soul hates. 6 Upon the wicked He will rain snares; Fire and brimstone and burning wind will be the portion of their cup. 7 For the LORD is righteous, He loves righteousness; The upright will behold His face.
New Living Translation

1 For the choir director: A psalm of David. I trust in the LORD for protection. So why do you say to me, 'Fly like a bird to the mountains for safety! 2 The wicked are stringing their bows and fitting their arrows on the bowstrings. They shoot from the shadows at those whose hearts are right. 3 The foundations of law and order have collapsed. What can the righteous do?'
4 But the LORD is in his holy Temple; the LORD still rules from heaven. He watches everyone closely, examining every person on earth. 5 The LORD examines both the righteous and the wicked. He hates those who love violence. 6 He will rain down blazing coals and burning sulfur on the wicked, punishing them with scorching winds. 7 For the righteous LORD loves justice. The virtuous will see his face.
Christian Standard Bible

1 I have taken refuge in the LORD. How can you say to me, "Escape to the mountains like a bird! 2 For look, the wicked string bows; they put their arrows on bowstrings to shoot from the shadows at the upright in heart.
3 When the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?" 4 The LORD is in his holy temple; the LORD--his throne is in heaven. His eyes watch; his gaze examines everyone. 5 The LORD examines the righteous, but he hates the wicked and those who love violence. 6 Let him rain burning coals and sulfur on the wicked; let a scorching wind be the portion in their cup. 7 For the LORD is righteous; he loves righteous deeds. The upright will see his face.

What does Psalm chapter 11 mean?

Psalm 11 does not have a clear context. It's possible that David wrote this while threatened by the forces of king Saul (Psalm 18). Another possibility is that this was part of his reaction to the rebellion of his son, Absalom (Psalm 3). The general theme is that godly people can trust the Lord, so they should stand firm against evil. If God-honoring authority is lost, there is nothing more good people can do.

The opening lines of the psalm are a rhetorical question. Whether through the advice of his counselors, or his own fear, David is being tempted to flee in terror. His response, in essence, is to say, "how could I do that?" David realizes that godly authority—in this case, his role as king—cannot be lost without catastrophic consequences. The third verse of this psalm has been applied to everything from culture, to family, to government, and even to personal faith. If the most crucial, important building blocks are dissolved, there simply is nothing to be done to avoid disaster (Psalm 11:1–3).

Contrasting the urge to run away, David celebrates the fact that God is sovereign and aware of everything. He knows that God cares deeply for His people and for righteousness. The psalm closes with David's prayer for God's judgment to fall on evil people and a hopeful anticipation of one day seeing the face of God (Psalm 11:4–7).