Open your Bibles to Psalm 3. This is our third Sunday walking through the book of Psalms. For those who are visiting, we are currently in a series entitled “A Summer of Psalms.” Up to this point we have covered Psalm 1 and 2, and today we are going to unpack Psalm 3. With that said, let us read our text, pray, and then examine the Word of God together.
- Psalm 3 – “A Psalm of David, when he fled from Absalom his son. 1O Lord, how many are my foes! Many are rising against me; 2many are saying of my soul, there is no salvation for him in God. Selah 3But you, O Lord, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head. 4I cried aloud to the Lord, and he answered me from his holy hill. Selah 5I lay down and slept; I woke again, for the Lord sustained me. 6I will not be afraid of many thousands of people who have set themselves against me all around. 7Arise, O Lord! Save me, O my God! For you strike all my enemies on the cheek; you break the teeth of the wicked. 8Salvation belongs to the Lord; your blessing be on your people! Selah”
Background of David and Absalom
The circumstances of surrounding David and Absalom are found in 2 Samuel. Perhaps the first place we should begin is by recognizing that King David was a great King, but he was also a great sinner. It appears that the main struggle for David was sexual immorality. Many of us are most likely familiar with his adultery with Bathsheba, but unfortunately this was just the tip of the iceberg. It is not entirely clear how many wives and concubines David had. In 2 Samuel 5:13 it merely says, “And David took more concubines and wives from Jerusalem, after he came from Hebron, and more sons and daughters were born to David.”
One of these wives was named Maakah. She was a daughter of Talmai, King of Geshur. From this marriage came David’s third son, Absalom. Also from this marriage came a daughter named Tamar. Now stay with me, David’s first son was Amnon. Amnon came from David’s marriage with Ahimoam of Jezreel. This is where the sexual immorality of David starts to have its generational effect. In 2 Samuel 13 we are told that Amnon, David's first son, lusted after his half-sister, Tamar. His lust was so great that he tricked her into believing that he was sick and when he had her all to himself he forced himself on her. 2 Samuel 13:14 says, “being stronger than she, he violated her and lay with her.” So like his father, David, he was not able to control his sinful urges. Immediately after Amnon lay with her, his lust turned to hate. Verse 15 says, “Then Amnon hated her with very great hatred, so that the hatred with which he hated her was greater than the love with which he had loved her.”
A short time later, Tamar’s full brother, Absalom, found out what Amnon had done, and he hated him for it. His hate against Amnon burned in his heart for two years until, the sin that was crouching at his door overcame him, and eventually Absalom seized an opportunity and ordered his servants to kill Amnon. So as Cain killed Abel, we see Absaolom kill Amnon. The murder of his brother caused Absalom to flea to his Grandfather’s home, Talmai King of Geshur, and he remained there for three years.
Eventually Absalom returned to Jerusalem, not to seek forgiveness, but to instead seek the throne of his father, David. This may be a good time to talk about Absalom’s appearance. We are told in 2 Samuel 14 that Absalom was extremely handsome.
- 2 Samuel 14:25-26 – “Now in all Israel was no one as handsome as Absalom, so highly praised; from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head there was no defect in him..”
- Isaiah 14:13 - “You said in your heart, ‘I will ascend to heaven; above the stars of God I will set my throne on high; I will sit on the mount of assembly in the far reaches of the north; 14I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.’
Because the majority of Israel seem to have sided with Absalom, David was forced to flee Israel with the remnant of those who were faithful to him. This journey out of Jerusalem was of great sorrow.
- 2 Samuel 15:30 – “But David went up the ascent of the Mount of Olives, weeping as he went, barefoot and with his head covered. And all the people who were with him covered their heads, and they went up, weeping as they went.
Foes and Faith
Out of this difficult circumstances the Holy Spirit inspired David to write Psalm 3, and hopefully this context gives more weight to the first two versus that we see in Psalm 3:
- Psalm 3:1-2 – “O Lord, how many are my foes! Many are rising against me; 2many are saying of my soul, there is no salvation for him in God. Selah”
Most likely we have not experienced the depth of David's circumstance, but I am guessing almost all of us have had trials that have allowed seeds of doubt to be planted. Perhaps it is a cheating spouse, perhaps cancer, perhaps financial struggles, perhaps a broken home. In the midst of our difficulties, we start to focus on the mountain that stands before us and it begins to block out our sight of God. Each day it feels like fiery arrows are being shot one after another at us, and we begin to wonder if God has forgotten about us, or even if there is a God. The battleground goes from being waged in our circumstances to being waged in our hearts, and the fight becomes ultimately a fight of faith. This is what was happening with David, as those around him spoke lies into his life.
One thing we can rest assured, you are not alone, for this is the life of a Christian. To be a follower of Christ does not mean that we are immune to diseases, free from financial burdens, or that everyone likes you. The preaching of Joel Osteen, and the health and wealth prosperity Gospel is a false teaching. When you read the Bible, this is abundantly clear. When you are God's chosen, like David was, life becomes harder. Prior to salvation the world loved you, for you were one of them. However, the minute you turned from the world and followed Christ, the current of this sinful world started to work against you. You started to swim upstream. On top of this, you know have enemies.
- Proverbs 29:10 - “Bloodthirsty men hate one who is blameless and seek the life of the upright.
- Matthew 10:22 - “you will be hated by all for my name’s sake.”
- 1 John 3:13 - “Do not be surprised, brothers, that the world hates you.”
Cry Aloud to Yahweh
We are to do exactly what David did. Verse 4, “I cried aloud to the Lord.” The Hebrew word for the LORD when in all caps is the word Yahweh. This word comes from Moses's interaction with God at the burning bush when God declares himself to be the “I Am.” Yahweh who has no beginning and new end. Yahweh who is so great that he cannot be defined except by his own essence. Yahweh who created the heavens and the earth. Yahweh who flooded the world. Yahweh who struck down the Egyptians. Yahweh who we learned in Psalm 2 anointed David as King over Israel. In the midst of David's weeping on his walk to the Mount of Olives, he took his eyes off the circumstances and placed them on the Sovereign Lord.
I cannot help but see the similarity that exists between these events in Psalm 3 and Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane on the night of his arrest. Just think about the parallels. Christ is the rightful heir to the throne, however Satan, a creature, created through Christ had rebelled, seeking the throne for himself. Eventually the opportunity arrived and Satan entered in Judas, who then betrayed Jesus. Judas then leaves to amass a small army of foes to arrest Jesus, and what does Jesus do?
- Luke 22:39 - “And he came out and went, as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives, and the disciples followed him. 40And when he came to the place, he said to them, “Pray that you may not enter into temptation.” 41And he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, 42saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” 43And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him.44And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.”
In the midst of their circumstances, what did David and Jesus do? They prayed. In the difficulty of the moment they sought the strength that was from above, and Yahweh who lives in Heaven, on his holy Hill, heard their cry and answered. He had not forgotten about them. He had not turned his back. He answered their prayer, but how.
How did God answer? Did he reign down fire from Heaven? Did he reduce the number of foes? Did he allow the cup to pass? Did he change their circumstances? No. For David, God shielded him and sustained him.
- Psalm 3:3 - “But you oh Lord are a shield about me.”
- Psalm 3:5 - “I woke again for the Lord sustained me.”
- Ephesians 6:16 - “In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one;
The Fight of Faith
We have an enemy that is crouching at our door. When trials and tribulations come, as they always do, the battle over our heart begins. And this the is real battle. Satan desires to sift you and cause you to shrivel underneath your circumstances and drop your head and doubt the power and strength of God. Satan wants to destroy your peace, cause sleepless nights, and steal your joy. And when he does, we are not called to just weep, but to fight. We must fight the fight of faith, and this fight takes place first and foremost on our knees. We must utilize that armor that God has provided and cry out to him for a larger shield of faith so as to protect us from Satan's fiery arrows. Do not be a victim of your circumstances, but instead be victorious through the Grace of God.
- Romans 8:37-39 - “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”