on Psalms 11 :3
If the foundations be destroyed - If Saul, who is the vicegerent of God, has cast aside his fear, and now regards neither truth nor justice, a righteous man has no security for his life. This is at present thy case; therefore flee! They have utterly destroyed the foundations; (of truth and equity); what can righteousness now effect? Kimchi supposes this refers to the priests who were murdered by Doeg, at the command of Saul. The priests are destroyed, the preservers of knowledge and truth; the Divine worship is overthrown; and what can the righteous man work? These I think to be also the words of David's advisers. To all of which he answers: -
on Psalms 11 :3
If the foundations be destroyed - These are still to be regarded as the words of the psalmist's advisers; or as an argument why he should make his escape. The word "foundations," here, refers to those things on which society rests, or by which social order is sustained - the great principles of truth and righteousness that uphold society, as the foundations on which an edifice rests uphold the building. The reference is to a destruction of those things in a community, when truth is no longer respected; when justice is no longer practiced; when fraud and violence have taken the place of honesty and honor; when error prevails; when a character for integrity and virtue affords no longer any security. This is supposed to be the case in the circumstances referred to in the psalm, when there was no respect paid to truth and justice, and when the righteous, therefore, could find no security. It is under these circumstances the advice is given Psalm 11:1, that the righteous should seek safety in flight.
What can the righteous do? - What source of safety or confidence has he? His trust for his own safety, and for the good of society, has always been in the prevalence of just principles, and he has no other resource. Whatever others may do; whatever reliance they may place on such things, he can have no confidence in fraud, dishonesty, and error - in secret machinations and plans of treachery and deceit. His reliance is, and must be, in the prevalence of just principles; in the observance of law; in the diffusion of truth; in plans and deeds which are honorable and pure. When these no longer prevail, the argument is, there is nothing on which he can repose confidence in executing the plans on which his heart is fixed, and his proper course would be to flee Psalm 11:1. Part of this is true; part not. It is true that all the hope of the righteous is in the prevalence of principles of truth and justice, and that for the success of the objects nearest to his heart, whether of a private or public nature, he has no other resource or hope; but it is not always true, even when injustice, fraud, and error prevail, that he, should withdraw from society and seek his safety in flight, and leave the world to its own course. His presence may be the very thing to counteract this; his duty may be to remain and face the evil, and to endeavor to secure a better state of things. So the psalmist understood in his case.
on Psalms 11 :3
11:3 Foundations - Piety, justice, fidelity, and mercy, which are the pillars or foundations of a state or kingdom. What - The condition of all righteous men will be desperate.