The Word Made Fresh
(For the worship leader. Of David.)
1The LORD is my shelter.
Don’t tell me to fly to the hills like a bird.
2The wicked have fitted the arrow to the bow
and have bent the bow under cover of darkness
to shoot at good-hearted people.
3They are the foundation of society.
If they are destroyed what hope do the righteous have?
4The LORD always abides in the sacred temple of the LORD,
but the LORD’s throne is in heaven.
God sees and keeps watch over us humans.
5The LORD judges those who are righteous and those who are evil,
and hates all who love to do violence.
6God will send fire and burning sulfur on the wicked;
a hot wind is what they deserve.
7For the LORD is righteous.
The LORD loves those who do good things.
They will see God’s face.
Superscription: this is the 8th psalm ascribed to David.
1-3: The setting is again an imagined situation in which enemies are threatening. The immediate reaction is to flee to the mountains – we are reminded of many of the stories of David fleeing from Saul or even from his own son Absalom. The fear is that the damage is already so great (“the foundations are destroyed”) that no defense can succeed.
4-7: When we are frightened the immediate impulse is to fight, flee, or freeze – that is the pure animal survival instinct with which our brains are programmed for our own protection. There are other ways to respond, however, and this psalm is a good illustration. There is always a good chance that the perceived threat is not as terrible as it first appears. The psalmist takes a deep breath and sees that there is in fact another power at work against which the present foes cannot stand. Flee to the mountains? Wait a minute! The LORD is in charge here! God knows what is happening, and God is not going to allow the wicked to have their way. So, I will not flee, but I will trust that God will reveal the resources that can defend me.
There is a good lesson here: whenever we feel threatened by some circumstance our reaction is to escape – by running from it or fighting against it. Those are never the only two options! We can also place our circumstance in the hands of God and trust God to protect us or see us safely through.