In Psalm 11 the writer is being threatened by a wicked adversary, and the writer is advised to flee in order to seek a natural place of refuge. We know that there are times to flee opposition, but this situation demanded that the righteous psalmists merely refocus his attention and stand in faith trusting the Lord. It appears the very core (or, called “foundations”) of social order were collapsing, so instead of seeking a natural place of refuge, the psalmist responded with a statement of confidence: “In the Lord I take refuge!”
This situation that involved the righteous being pursued by the wicked is described with a hunting analogy. The hunter is stalking his prey from the cover of dark shadows with an arrow placed on the string of his bent bow. The trouble was from a wicked opponent hiding in a place of concealment with his weapon loaded as he waited to shoot his prey – the righteous man.
The psalmist does not pray to the Lord, but instead refuses to fear the natural opposition by recognizing some basic theology. The Lord is both “in his holy temple” in Jerusalem among men and “the Lord is on his heavenly throne” beyond men. In other words, the Lord is both immanent (present among men and involved in their affairs) and transcendent (outside of time, creation and completely independent of man).
The Lord is described in terms of fire. Presumably, when the psalmists writes, “The Lord examines the righteous man,” he is considering the trials and distresses of life being used by the Lord as a refiner’s fire to purify righteous people. In contrast to this purifying work of fire in the lives of the righteous, this same fire becomes “fiery coals and burning sulfur” that consume the wicked leaving them with nothing but “a scorching wind” that covers what used to be their place of existence.
This psalmist is confident in the Lord because his focus is on the Lord’s truth. This helps the psalmist determine when to take a stand and trust the Lord, and when it is time to simply walk away. Jesus demonstrated this same confidence, but with righteous restraint in Matthew 4:1-7 when he allowed himself face examination and testing for forty days, but refused to even consider Satan’s challenge to jump from the pinnacle of the Temple.