In the LORD I put my trust;
How can you say to my soul, “Flee as a bird to your mountain”? (Psalm 11:1)
Discourage—let’s break the word down. Dis: a prefix meaning, “to take away.” Courage is the state of mind that enables us to encounter difficulties and dangers with firm resolve. So, to discourage is to take away that state of mind. Discouragement is one of the chief weapons in Satan’s arsenal. You may feel disheartened and downcast even now. You are not alone. All of us struggle at times. None are immune from this withering feeling—not even a champion of faith like David could avoid seasons of gloom. In the eleventh Psalm, David describes the discouraging conditions that arose from hearing disheartening communications. Thankfully, we also learn from his example how to deal with discouragement.
Either foes who meant harm, or friends who wanted to help give David bad advice—to flee (v.1-2). It is the natural reaction to potential problems. When we feel hemmed in, we look to fight or take flight. David might have responded either way, but he chose neither—he chose faith. He would run—not to the mountains, but the Master. His refuge would not be in the darkness of a cave, but in the arms of the Creator!
We are not certain of the circumstances of David’s difficulty, but it would fit the period of his life when the young hero was part of King Saul’s court. David’s fame was growing, even as Saul’s was fading. The envious monarch would try to kill David with a javelin several times. For David to flee—as might seem best to do—would be tantamount to an admission of guilt. Even worse, it would convey that God could not be trusted to care for him. There would come a time when David would be directed to abandon his post and hide in the wilderness, but not now. We must commit ourselves likewise to listen to the Word of God and trust in His direction, rather than heed the voices of men who counsel us with earthly wisdom.
Now a second question is posed, “If the foundations are destroyed, What can the righteous do?” (v.3) The foundations of a nation are the moral pillars that enable it to stand as a civil society. When those are undermined, the nation falls. King Saul had abandoned those principles and God had abandoned him. The young nation was in peril from a leader gripped by madness and given to malice—a dark, demonic spirit abiding in him. How much like our discouraging days! What can the righteous do? We can respond with flight—many advocate that—to withdraw into our church culture with isolation. We can react and fight—others advise that—to war against the Christ-less culture with indignation. To respond like David is to choose the way of faith. Our task is to remain faithful—that means full of faith—standing on Christ the Solid Rock. That foundation will never crumble!
Faith chooses to focus on God (v.4a). He resides in His holy temple and rests on His heavenly throne. He is Sovereign over all. His all-seeing eyes take note of all that happens (v.4b). We need to seek His perspective. Pure silver is separated from the dross by the refiner’s fire (v.5-6). This is what God is doing when He permits fiery trials to come our way. God loves righteousness and will watch over His own (v.7). Trust in Him. He cannot fail and we need not falter!