When he wrote this Psalm, David was under intense pressure from Saul, who sought his life, and hunted him 'as a partridge upon the mountains.' His (fearful Rev. 21:8) friends were alarmed for his safety, and recommended him to flee to some mountain where he had a hiding-place, and thus to conceal himself from the madness of Saul. But David, being strong in faith, spurned the idea of going into hiding, and determined to his trust in God.
"In the LORD I take refuge. How then can you say to me: "Flee like a bird to your mountain."
The first thing out of David's mouth is a confession of faith.
Confessions of the Righteous:
Many Psalms feature the Kingdom principle of confession. Scriptural confession is the Positivity or Negativity of what you say. Examples: Romans 10:9-10, Matthew 12:34-37, Proverbs 18:21
The bible teaches that we are to say what the Word of God Says about our situation.
So in this context, it's noteworthy that in a time of temptation (trouble)the first thing David SAYS is "I take refuge in God." which is a positive statement of faith (Turn to Mark 11:23 sometimes controversial).
What does the Word say about trusting God?
See Psalms 7:1, 16:1, 18:2, 18:30, 20:7, 25:2, 36:7, 40:3, 52:8, 56:4, 56:11, 62:8, 71:5, 73:28, 91:2, 141:8. (18 in Psalms; 36 Bible) What does the Word say about trusting in the Lord? See Psalms 4:5,31:6,37:3,40:3,73:28,115:10,115:11,118:8,118:9,125:1. (10 in Psalms; 19 Bible)
When David confesses trust, i.e. faith in God he's in line with the Word of God.
A positive [+] confession is a statement of faith in agreement with the Word.
A negative [-] confession is a statement of unbelief contrary to the Word.
David's Confidence: Confidence in the power and goodness of God are absolutely essential to the life of a godly man or woman. Confidence is the by-product of the faith, much as fire is the result of an initial spark.
There were those in David's own camp (the Righteous) who were saying to him that he should run to his mountain. (Jerusalem; i.e. Mount Zion?). The psalmist rejects the advice to run, even though it looked like the Righteous had no foundation to stand on.
David's situation reminds us of Nehemiah, when his enemies, under the banner of friendship, hoped to snare him by advising him to escape for his life. Had he done so, they could then have found a reason of accusation. Nehemiah bravely replied, "Shall such a man as I flee?"
David, with similar spirit, refuses to run, confessing, "In the Lord put I my trust: how say ye to my soul, Flee as a bird to your mountain?" When a bird is in danger, it never tries to fight on the ground. Instead it quickly flies to a safe place out of harm's way.
One of the enemy's infamous tactics is to create distrust of God, doubt of God, and fear of God, in the mind of the believer! Remember the deceiver's word to Eve? If he can't get to your head directly (mind games), he'll employ those closest to us to argue us out of our confidence with plausible logic (more mind games).
We must exercise the FORCE OF FAITH to stand our ground, which is the Word of God (no matter what it looks like!) We walk by faith, not by sight.
Verse 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."
The argument of fear is strong. The bow is bent, the arrow is fitted to the string! Danger is imminent! There's a sense of despair in the speech of the Fearful. David had to have felt the force of their arguments. To stand firm and courageous would be to offer a target to the Wicked. Surely it would be wiser to flee from the arrows shot in the dark than to stand and face them.
"To shoot in the darkness" suggests a sneak attack. The implication here is fear of the unknown; fear of what might happen (How bad might it get?).
Despite his human feelings, David by an exercise of his (will) chose to dare the danger than exhibit (statement in deed) a distrust in the Lord his God.
The heart is the seat of moral character and motives. The "pure of heart" are God's faithful followers who trust in and love the Lord and, as a result, experience his deliverance (Psalm 7:10; 32:11; 36:10; 64:10; 94:15; 97:11).
Verse 3: "When the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous do?" This may be a reference to the fact that the foundations of law and justice were bent during Saul's reign. What can the righteous do against a system that is against them?
David would counter with "What cannot the righteous do?" With faith securing the fulfillment of the Word, what reason is there for flight? With a sling and a stone, David killed a giant before whom all of Israel trembled.
The same Lord, who delivered him from the uncircumcised Philistine, would surely deliver him from King Saul. There's no such word as "impossible" in the language of faith.
"The LORD is in his holy temple; the LORD is on his heavenly throne. He observes the sons of men; his eyes examine them. The LORD examines the righteous, but the wicked and those who love violence his soul hates. On the wicked he will rain fiery coals and burning sulfur; a scorching wind will be their lot."
It's striking that during this statement of confidence David never speaks to God directly. He only spoke about God to the Fearful. David never prays to God for deliverance, but did say to the Faithful, his desire for the outcome of the Wicked.
We see here the principle of confession; which raises the question: Are verses 4-7 a prayer? What say ye?
God is not blind. "His eyes are beholding, and His eyelids are examining the sons of men." The Hebrew word bachan, speaks of the refining process for silver and gold (Jeremiah 6:27-30; 9:7; Psalm 7:9). The word implies continual examination of the sons of men to see whether they are righteous or wicked. Because God is examining and testing men, He knows who is on His side and who's not.
This truth is David's rock of assurance that God is against the Wicked. God examines everyone including the Righteous, but it's with the Wicked and those who love violence that God hates. When the Wicked are observed and tried by God, the result is far different than when He tries the Righteous.
Knowing this, David expresses his desire that God pour out on the wicked, snares, fire, burning sulfur, and a scorching wind. Snares are a picture of difficulties and troubles.
Fire and burning sulfur would destroy David's enemies in the same way fire and burning sulfur destroyed Sodom and Gomorra. Scorching wind may reference scirocco winds which blow through Israel during the seasonal changes from spring to summer, and from summer to fall, bringing in oppressive heat from the desert.
The effects are devastating, turning vegetation into parched, withered plants overnight. This hot wind is known in Israel today as hamsin (Arabic) or sharab (Hebrew). This scorching wind is what the Wicked deserve. Their judgment is compared to an allotted portion of a beverage that is poured into someone's drinking cup. This same imagery is used in other Scriptures also (Psalm 16:5; 23:5; Isaiah 51:17; Jeremiah 25:15). The portion that the Wicked would receive would be that which was due them.
David's belief is rooted in God's character. God is righteous. He loves righteous deeds. David is righteous (Positional Righteousness Eph. 2:6, Romans 3:22, 25-26; 4:3, 5-6, 9, 11). Thus God sides with him against the wicked and lovers of violence. God's character will not allow the Righteous to be destroyed by the Wicked.