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Psalm 3

Grace and peace to you both!

Today we will be looking at Psalm 3; the first Psalm, according to the subscript, that was penned by David when he was being hunted by his own son Absalom for his position as king of Israel. Absalom was able to conspire against his father not only because of his own cleverness and pride but also because of his father’s laxness in rising him. The pain expressed in this Psalm, though not self-inflicted, does have its origins in the laziness of David himself. The application here is obvious: the pain of poor (ungodly, or lazy) parenting is painful for both the child- in their own wayward sin [see the Prodigal Son parable] as well as the parents; we are thus to continue honoring our father and mother (Exodus 20:12) and, in time, forgive their missteps and overcorrects and be grateful that they loved us to discipline as at all.

One brief note about the Psalms before we begin to look at verse 1 that will help us grow more in them. It is unclear whether or not the Psalm titles are part of the original Psalms or not. Personally, I think it stands to good and proper reason that they were titled by the Hebrews at least at some time in their history so that they could better know and memorize their Bibles. Similar to how we ourselves title our hymns and spiritual songs. But, moreover, it is of particular note-worthiness to know that the subscript (“A Psalm of David, when he fled from Absalom his son.”- Psalm 3) is widely considered to be a part of the inspired text. Again, whether it was written by the original author or was added later by the Hebrews themselves is unclear. And this is the only book in scripture that this is true for; the subscript/sub-titles of the rest of the canon were added later so that the book would be easier to read and study. Thus, do not gloss over the subscript of the Psalms for it was written for your benefit. Now that we have established that David is on the run from his own son when he was conspiring for the throne (2 Samuel 15-18) let us see how David handled his predicament (3:1-2), how he had peace in it (3:3-6) and how he prayed (3:7-8).

David’s Predicament 3:1-2

“O LORD, how many are my foes! Many are rising against me; 2 many are saying of my soul, “There is no salvation for him in God.” Selah”- (Psalm 3:1-2 ESV).

Our lives, like David’s, are full of opponents and obstacles. We must learn from David to not panic but pray when facing our own foes. Panic never did anyone any good; while prayer-the recognition of the sovereignty of God over our lives and all that happens in them- has benefited many peoples. In the face of “many” foes, or opponents, look to the Master.

When we see the many foes rising against us we can be reminded that there is the one that rose for us while we were still against Him. Moreover, He rose for us with a great many more foes than his forefather David had. His own family was set against Him, His closest friends forsook Him with one brutally betraying Him, His own countrymen hated Him, and foreign occupiers beat Him. Many said in their hearts, “there is no salvation for Him in God”, what one said out loud, “He trusts in God; let God deliver Him now, if He desires Him” (Matthew 27:43). Truly, they said and thought that there was salvation for Him in God; truthfully, there is no other place whereby salvation can be found. Surely, there is a great salvation from Him in God.

David’s Peace 3:3-6

“But you, O Lord, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head. 4 I cried aloud to the Lord, and he answered me from his holy hill. Selah”. (Psalm 3:3-4). Notice that David contrasts the subjective theology of the world and the objective reality of who God is. That is, notice what the world says about God vs. what David believes and knows to be true about God. David knows well from His own life that God fights for His people and is with them in their battles (1 Samuel 17) as while as from Israel’s history when God triumphantly delivered Israel from the Egyptians (Exodus 15). The world may say that there is no salvation in God (3:2) but we know first from His word, then in experience that this is not the case. For the Lord is our shield, our defense, our advocate even now. He defends us from the flaming arrows of the evil one (Ephesians 6), He defends us from the accusations of the evil one and moreover advocates for us when we sin as well so that we would not be lost by Him.

Continuing on with 3:3, I think it somewhat odd to think of God as “my glory” but that is what the text says. I always try to relate glory back to Him; for there is glory in none other. However, what greater glory, or honor could be given to us than to have God as our shield and salvation. If we are to have any honor let it be the honor of being a Christian, a child of the Lord God. And in this, He is also the “lifter of [our] head”. That is when we are sad, or downcast, God lifts us up or encourages us. Our encouragement, or courage in this Christian life should not come from ourselves and our own efforts. Consider your Christian life thus far for a moment and see just how your concise will condemn you and how hypocritical you truly are in your thoughts, words, and deeds. Our encouragement should not and does not come from us and our own efforts but rather thinking on our place in Christ and by what means we attained it. That is, we are encouraged by meditating on the fact that we are children of God by the birth, life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Christ Jesus. In considering the One who lifted His head and breathed His last, our own head is lifted up as well.

We can also take encouragement by remembering what the Lord has done in our lives as David does in 3:4 FOR, “He answered me...”. Crying to the Lord leads to an answer from the Lord. David’s foes led/forced Him to be closer to the Lord in prayer. In this, God works all things together for our good. Suffering in this life (in time) produces in us a greater and greater satisfaction and confidence in God. Suffering and attacks from our enemies, though still an evil thing, becomes a blessing when God finally answers our cries.

“I lay down and slept; I woke again, for the Lord sustained me. 6 I will not be afraid of many thousands of people who have set themselves against me all around.” (3:5-6). Sleep is quite a comfort and blessing in this life. I suppose it is an amazing thing to sleep while being hunted like an animal but all the more amazing to awake to a new day-not having been killed in your sleep. Sleep is given to us to remind us that we are not God, we are not Spirit, infinite, nor eternal. It is the Lord who sustains all things; including us. No one is promised tomorrow (James 4:13-14) and the Lord sustains us all. Thus, there is an invisible “therefore” at the end of 3:5 to start off the fearless strength of 3:6. It is because we are sustained by God and that He was gracious enough to grant us a new day that we continue on in the fight of faith.

The gracious providence of God gave David this fearless strength that sustained him in his fight against his “many” (3:1, 2, 6) foes; thus it should do the same to us as well. We are here and alive by God’s gracious providence; let us continue to live in gratitude of the life we have been given and make it a point to use every day that we are given wisely in accord with His word and work hard for our neighbor in love.

David’s Prayer 3:7-8

“Arise, O Lord! Save me, O my God! For you strike all my enemies on the cheek; you break the teeth of the wicked. 8 Salvation belongs to the Lord; your blessing be on your people! Selah” (3:7-8). David may have been surrounded on all sides but there was One who filled Him with strength and courage. When we see our own many foes (friends, family, co-workers; or in a spiritual sense: our own indwelling sin) we should not look at them and fear but rather remember that God is with us to draw strength for the fight from this. David began the Psalm in fear and ended it in strength, power, and might. God as his Savior did not cause him to relax or be lazy but moved him towards faithful prayer. As it should us as well.

Do remember that there is no power in prayer but in the God to whom we pray; for He is strong and mighty to save be the danger ever-present or great for when all our efforts of self-righteousness fail God will not for it is His promised to us. Our Father is stronger than our foes; He will not fail His children when they call upon Him. Moreover, He is not only our Savior but has promised and reminded us frequently in this Psalm and the life of David that He will do so and that is a true blessing on His people. One that we believe and rest upon with our whole hearts. Salvation is promised in His word, salvation is provided in His Son, and salvation is proven in His word through our own lives. Let us continue to hold fast to this gift of salvation to the final day when we will no longer need the eyes of faith to see that all this is true; when “Your Kingdom come…” is finally and fully answered and we are fully, finally delivered from all the sin and misery of this world into a heavenly, everlasting Kingdom with our Savior.

Discussion questions and a quick comment:

Sorry, this took so long to write and post guys. The work just doesn’t stop. Thank you for your continued patience. Anyhow, next time (10/1) we will be looking at Creation (thanks Dennis for recommending that topic by the way). Keep an eye on the Telegram chat; I will definitely be sending some mild but memes and other recommended channels to follow so you guys can make full use of the app. Now onto the discussion questions:

1. How do you typically confront the foes of your life? Are you like David in submitting to God in prayer or do you try to handle it on your own?

2. When trouble surrounds you, how can you rest by faith in Christ our Savior? (To put it another way) How will He help you endure to the end?

3. When distressed, what passages of Scripture do you turn to for strength/comfort, etc?

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