Should We Flee?

Written on: March 11, 2024

Article by: Thayer Salisbury

Psalm 11

Psalm 11 was written when the psalmist was being encouraged to abandon his struggle for what was right and flee into the mountains. In the Psalm we hear both the voices of those giving this advice and the voice of the psalmist as he expresses his confidence in God. He refuses to accept the counsel of despair.

We need to hear his voice today. Many religious and social values are under attack. The temptation is to flee, to seek the life of a hermit, to go into survival mode – no longer seeking to influence others for good, no longer seeking to glorify God before the world.

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When we are tempted to say that things are so bad that there is no point in trying to change them, when we are tempted to flee and keep silent, we need to remember that God is truly our refuge.

Satan

We should not flee our task. We should not give up in despair.

Satan is the one trying to get us to despair and run away.

“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?’” (1-3)

Of course, Satan does not normally do this in person. He may work through evil people. But he may also work through well intended advice from friends. He may even work through an internal voice of doubt in our own minds.

This advice has an earthly focus. The wicked are doing this and that. The societal foundations are destroyed. All of that may be true, but we need to shift the focus. The earthly facts may all be against us. But what of the heavenly facts?

The Lord

“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 sulphur 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.” (4-7)

The Lord is still God, and those focused on him are secure. The Lord is here, with his people, in his temple. Yet, he is also in heaven. In other words, he is close enough to care. He is great enough to deliver.

That does not mean that we will face no difficulties. The Lord tests his people (5). The fact that he cares does not mean an absence of trouble for us.

Everyone will be tested. The wicked (especially the violent) will be consumed by the testing (5-6). But all will be tested.

Survival Mode?

During the NATO intervention in Bosnia (1994-2002) a pilot was shot down and survived. He was treated as a hero. What had he done? His mission was not accomplished. He was a hero by modern standards simply because he successfully hid himself from the Serbs for a week. Contrast that with the pilots who took off to defend Midway, 4 June 1942. They began their mission knowing that they did not have enough fuel to return, and that their planes were no match for the enemy they were facing. Thirty went on that mission, only one survived.

Most Christians today are, I fear, in survival mode. The task is not even being attempted. We afraid to run low on fuel. We are afraid of being outgunned. We just want to hide in the mountains. Many do not even seem to remember what our task is.

We are called on to be concerned with more than just our survival. Our task is not our survival but God’s glorification.

God can be counted on to be true to his task. He will deliver us. Because he can be counted on to be true to his task, we must be true to ours.1

1 In case you are wondering, I like the song “Flee as a Bird.” It has a haunting tune and interesting words. But it is not true to this psalm, from which it derives its opening words.