When faced with a dangerous presence, humans often respond in one of two ways: fight or flight. When we feel threatened, we either stand our ground and fight to the bitter end, or we run away in fear. If I am being honest with my own weaknesses, I am often tempted to avoid controversy rather than stare it down. While this might be an admirable quality when trying to avoid unnecessary strife, it can be an excuse for cowardice in moments that really matter. Right now, in our country, many of us feel threatened by a variety of things: a deadly pandemic, an extension of government power, civil unrest, etc. Should we fight or take flight? Maybe neither.
In Psalm 11, we find David being faced with a fight or flight situation: “The wicked bend the bow; they have fitted their arrow to the string to shoot in the dark at the upright in heart” (v. 2). This isn’t simply a personal threat, but a danger that threatens to undo the entire kingdom (v. 3). In view of such, David sees the advice of some unnamed individual as repugnant: “How can you say to my soul, ‘Flee like a bird to your mountain’” (v. 1). They are instructing David to run and hide in the mountain to escape the coming destruction. David indignantly responds, “How can you say that? I can’t abandon my post. I have the responsibility to stand. I can’t back down right when my kingdom needs me.” In many ways, it is such an admirable quality.
Yet David knew that such an enemy couldn’t be handled by his own prowess as a warrior; instead, he took refuge in the Lord (v. 1). He realized that God uses such difficult times to test the righteous and reject the wicked (v. 4-5), and David wanted to be sure he passed the test. This test is given to every person of faith in whatever generation they reside. It comes in various forms, but it finds us, nevertheless.
The test is simply this: how will we respond to outside pressures and threats from wicked men? Will we flee to the mountain and abandon the people we love? Or, will we fight tooth and nail to get back at the people we despise? Responding in either of these ways would result in an abysmal failure for the person of faith. How then do we respond to such a test? By taking a stand on righteousness, refusing to move an inch, and trusting in the justice of God (v. 6-7). We don’t flee from the battle, nor wage our own war; rather, we trust in the Almighty to fight for us as we remain faithful to His will.