We made it to our first Psalm with an author, and we are certain it is David. This may be the last Psalm covered in just one post for a while, the next ones may need to be split up. But I am excited to talk about this Psalm! You see, at this time, David is king. But this crazy thing has happened- his son, Absalom, is trying to kill him so he can be king! (This account is in 2 Samuel) It is important we know this because David is conflicted when he writes this- he loves his son! And every time they clash in battle, David tells his army not to harm Absalom. We might say David was a bit of an optimist as he held out for his son to stop.
“LORD, how are they increased that trouble me! many are they that rise up against me. Many there be which say of my soul, There is no help for him in God. Selah.
But thou, O LORD, art a shield for me; my glory, and the lifter up of mine head.
I cried unto the LORD with my voice, and he heard me out of his holy hill. Selah.
I laid me down and slept; I awaked; for the LORD sustained me.
I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people, that have set themselves against me round about. Arise, O LORD; save me, O my God: for thou hast smitten all mine enemies upon the cheek bone; thou hast broken the teeth of the ungodly.
Salvation belongeth unto the LORD: thy blessing is upon thy people. Selah.” -Psalm 3 (KJV)
The first line makes sense- David cries out in the agony of his heart. He is under attack, both physically and spiritually. And so he begins a plea song. Not only that; but those around him tell him there is no hope for him in God- he is even beyond God’s help. It’s easy to imagine people are seeing or hearing about his circumstances and in the absence of a solution, just tell him the world view of “beyond hope”. His circumstances seemed too awful or desperate, they couldn’t even comfort him. Have you ever been there or known someone else who was there? I have spent a bit of time being a mentor, and all too often I hear people who have been desperately pleading with God for an answer to something: a spouse, healing, a child, etc. The list is long! And these are real things that come from people in desperate situations. From the outside, they may not look as desperate as David, but that inner agony and heartbreak over something is the same. That feeling that makes one cry out for help. Gives the enemy a foothold into some insecurity in your life (like the people telling him he was helpless).
But then David does something we can all learn from-In the third verse, he begins lifting himself up, talking his way to a better outlook. And he starts lifting himself up by reminding himself of how good God is! His shield and the One who lifts up his head. David is assured that God heard him, even. These truths are part of his being. He knows God will protect him, exalt him, and has heard his cries. From the reactions of those around him given his predicament, we can gather that David cried out to God earnestly, he probably even shed some tears. But as he recalls God’s greatness he begins to write a song! He gives thanks that he slept through the night and was sustained- his agony did not consume him, and his enemies did not find him. We often pray before we sleep and when we wake up, but do you thank God each morning you wake up? Sometimes we feel like our situation or desperation should be the end of us. Gladly, this is not a place I find myself often, but I usually get there in times when I have really messed up or tragically embarrassed myself. (I should note that I am not easily embarrassed…I am the type who doesn’t mind making a fool of myself to get some smiles or start relationships. I once was meeting someone for the first time and totally missed their hand for a handshake- who does that?! Just me!? Haha!) But you know what I mean? I usually end up feeling like I should not be permitted to continue with my meager life when I have misspoken and hurt a friend; when I fall short of expectations or don’t fulfill my potential. But what have I really lost? I usually come to the conclusion that, in these moments when I am so down and desperate, that I have forgotten what I have to be thankful for. Including the life given to me each morning, and not limited to my little, snuggly, rescued kitten, my job, dear friends, family, etc!
Perhaps his rest cleared up his head and renewed his spirit, because he finishes out his song with such confidence in the Lord! You know, I think Paul must have been inspired by David’s stories, because Paul’s confidence in Christ could definitely contend with David’s! Well, David woke from his nap, still very much alive, and now he feels unstoppable! He’s unafraid of any army that may rise up against him. He knows God has started something and will see it through to the end. David does plead a bit more. He says, “Arise, O LORD; save me, O my God.” This time not conceding defeat over his soul to what is after him, but in knowledge that the only one who can help him is God. He’s done listening to those that told him he had no help. He knows his Source. And he knows what his Source is capable of. In this chapter, David uses the Hebrew “Yehovah”- that is Jehovah. The Existing One. The One who is eternal. From the beginning and to the end. Who started creation and smites down David’s enemies! Salvation belongs to Jehovah. And He is the One who bestows blessings.
Something else to consider, because we all have struggles, is that David wasn’t just fleeing his son. He was chased out of his kingdom by his son- people saw him as a coward. This would have only been more fuel for the enemy in convincing David he was no good at what God had asked him to do. But guess who else was run out of a city? Jesus was! Not just any city- His hometown! And they actually tried to throw Him off a cliff! (Talk about a bad day!) This is a lesson for us as Christians to be aware that not every battle calls for a sword, but it does call for us to wait patiently and trust in the Lord, for we know from where our strength comes. And David knows all too well how God will smite his enemies down, because they are also God’s enemies, especially those who spoke against David by blaspheming God. I am so glad the One who has existed for all time is the one in charge of my salvation and the bestowing of blessings. What a great reminder of all the reasons we have to accept good from God. He didn’t leave David in his trials, and He hasn’t forgotten you or me through our trials! The next time we feel desperate or lost over something, take a note from David- know your enemy, know your God better, sing praise!