The story is told of a man that was putting a tin roof on his barn when it started to pour down heavy rain. The tin on the sloped roof became very slick when it was wet and he began to slide down quickly toward a 20’ foot drop. He cried out to God to save him and no sooner than he could speak those words, a nail that he had not finished pounding in, caught the seat of his pants and stopped him from falling right at the edge. When he realized he was safe, he looked up to heaven and said, “Never mind, God! I took care of it.”
The problem isn’t that God doesn’t save us today. The problem is that we aren’t crying out for God to save us. Then when we do pray and he does help we fail to give Him the glory. When He rescues us, we take credit for it and don’t acknowledge or trust in the Lord to be our Savior. (Adapted from Family-Time.net)
Perhaps we can help you with this matter today. As we continue our series in Psalms, I will ask you to open your Bible to Psalm 3.
In our study of Psalm 2, we pointed out that the content was Messianic and applied directly to Jesus and not to David. This study is focusing on a psalm of lament, and the text has a heading in most Bibles that states it is a psalm of David (this is the first psalm to designate authorship) that points us to a time when David was fleeing from his son Absalom.
It is called a “Morning Prayer of Trust in God”. While most of these headings are not a part of the original text, scholars generally agree that the words in this psalm were uttered by David regarding the period of his life that we can read about in II Samuel 15-18, where David with bare feet and his head covered and crying, ascended the Mount of Olives fleeing for his life (II Samuel 15:13).
These words were most likely written down after the event, but are reflective of the feelings that he would have expressed on this occasion. No doubt, at the moment, these thoughts crossed his mind and the emotions were real, yet it is not likely that he took the time to write poetry while on the run.
Thankfully, we get to see the three stages of what I have titled, “Trusting the Lord to Save”. The three points are Prayer, Protection, and Preservation.
While our goal is not to go back and read all of II Samuel 15-18 which led David to write these words, you must know where to find this back story so that you can read it and relate to it. We will highlight some of the specifics that connect to this psalm.
However this applied to David’s life, the psalm has been preserved for us so that we can apply it to our lives when we need it the most. Have you ever faced something that left you fearing for your life? Have you ever been afraid? Did you ever find yourself overwhelmed by a group of people that were set against you? Some of you might have lost sleep last night over something that you are facing today. This is sure to be a word of encouragement for all of us.
David had to endure the greatest type of treason. There were many defectors in the kingdom that David ruled. This time they were headed up by his very own son Absalom in an attempt to take David’s life. This would allow Absalom to rule in his place. To be betrayed by a son would prove to be one of the darkest moments in the life of David. While Absalom is not mentioned in the psalm directly, we must not see this as a reason to doubt the plot behind it. Rather, we should see the absence of Absalom as a way to generalize the psalm for use by every generation facing similar circumstances. We might say that the specifics of the events were left out because the focus is not on our troubles in life but rather our trust in the Lord. Whether a son, or another enemy, David was focused on preserving his life, and leaning on the Lord for salvation.
The only way to be saved is to seek the Lord. The Lord takes the central place in this psalm and we must learn to give him that place in all of our doubts, fears, and troubles, while we seek a place of refuge and deliverance.
David was a man after God’s heart, but we must realize, that the events leading up to the words of this psalm were less than a pursuit of the heart of God. David is approached by Nathan as directed by the Lord in II Samuel 11 & 12, and David is told that he is guilty of adultery with Bathsheba and the staging of the death of Uriah. He deserved to die. Things that David did were evil in the sight of the Lord (II Sam. 11:27; 12:9). As a result, David is informed of the terrible plight of his family members and the threats against his own life from within his house. In II Sam. 12:10-11a, we read,
“Now then, therefore, the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised Me and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife.’ Thus says the Lord, ‘Behold, I will raise up evil against you from your own household.”
In verses 12-13 of that chapter we see David acknowledge his sin and God forgives him. The consequences of sin remained. God states what David will encounter, “indeed, you did it secretly, but I will do this thing before all Israel, and under the sun.’ Then David said to Nathan, ‘I have sinned against the Lord.’ And Nathan said to David, ‘The Lord also has taken away your sin; you shall not die.”
Now consider the list of events that are a direct consequence of his sins. First, the child that was to be born to David and Bathsheba dies after a severe sickness and David mourns. Then Amnon abuses his half-sister, Tamar, violating her sexual purity. Amnon is hated by Absalom for this sin, and after two years is killed by Absalom’s orders through his servants. David mourned greatly yet again. Then Absalom schemes against David to seek his life. David’s heart longed for Absalom as his son but for two full years, he did not see him at all while he lived in Jerusalem. Then David kissed Absalom and welcomed him back home. Soon afterward, David endured the betrayal of Absalom and it will prove to be one of the most challenging events of his earthly existence because it not only came from his son but was directed at him.
Now let's read Psalm 3
"O LORD, how my adversaries have increased! Many are rising up against me. Many are saying of my soul, “There is no deliverance for him in God.” Selah. But You, O LORD, are a shield about me, My glory, and the One who lifts my head. I was crying to the LORD with my voice, And He answered me from His holy mountain. Selah. I lay down and slept; I awoke, for the LORD sustains me. I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people Who have set themselves against me roundabout. Arise, O LORD; save me, O my God! For You have smitten all my enemies on the cheek; You have shattered the teeth of the wicked. Salvation belongs to the LORD; Your blessing be upon Your people! Selah."
TRUSTING IN THE LORD TO SAVE THROUGH PRAYER (vs. 1-2)
O Lord, how my adversaries have increased! Many are rising up against me. Many are saying of my soul, “There is no deliverance for him in God.” Selah.
The enemies of David began to grow from small to great (II Samuel 15:1-6). David expresses to the Lord in prayer that his adversaries have increased! (Psalm 3:1a) All kings have enemies, but it breaks your heart when your son turns on you.
David was once a beloved king in Israel, but now, with the influence of his son Absalom, a rebellion has been formed against him and the uprising is growing rapidly. Absalom has convinced the people that if he were king, then all of their injustices would find true justice. He made promises that he could not keep while pursuing King David’s life (Psalm 3:1b)
Absalom lies to David about a vow and saying that he needed to go offer a sacrifice and worship the Lord, and instead, he continues working on his plan to influence spies to help him kill his father, David. So not only is he a traitor, but he is a liar and tries to use God as an alibi.
In time, the mob formed against David forced him to flee for his life (II Samuel 15:10-15) At the same time David expresses how this angry mob mocked him saying that God would not deliver him. It is one thing to have others against you, but when they mock your faith and tell you that you have been completely abandoned, even by God, it truly makes you feel all alone (Psalm 3:2).
Deep down inside, David knew that God was going to be with him as evidenced by his prayer. He turns to God and is not away from God in his trouble. This is a great example for us. We don’t allow the naysayers to keep us from our strong faith in God. When it seems like God is not moving we call on Him in prayer. We will not receive if we do not ask, and ask in faith.
The people against David doubted that God would help David and they claimed that he was getting what he deserved as a man of bloodshed (II Sam. 16:7-8). While David was a man of war, God was with him even in those battles and he had experienced victory from the hand of the Lord in the past. From the slaying of Goliath to his battles over enemy armies as a king, David was fully aware of the Lord’s ability to lead him to a glorious victory over this band of traders that set out to end his life and kingship, even his son Absalom.
David was the Lord’s anointed King in place of Saul. You should never attempt to harm the appointed king. God’s protection was over the chosen. We need to remember this when we face battles and others begin to plot or scheme against us. God has chosen us and appointed us as children, heirs of the kingdom, and we are to reign with the Lord. God is for us! Who can be against us? What can man do to me? This is a powerful point to write in your heart for the days ahead. God will never leave us or forsake us! One day all the wickedness that we have suffered will be punished and abolished for eternity. Praise the Lord!
This section ends with the word “Selah”. While many have attempted to explain what this word means, the conclusion that has been offered is that it meant “to pause”. This pause was either for further consideration of what was just stated or perhaps for a musical interlude before proceeding with the remainder of the psalm. Take a moment to let what we have studied so far sink deep into your heart. We might use these pauses today as a place to meditate or reflect before continuing.
TRUSTING IN THE LORD TO SAVE THROUGH PROTECTION (vs. 3-4)
But You, O Lord, are a shield about me, My glory, and the One who lifts my head. I was crying to the Lord with my voice, And He answered me from His holy mountain. Selah.
On the mountain of worship David cried out to the Lord with all those who were with him and they were discouraged until they took refuge in Him (II Samuel 15:23, 30-32) David was going to a place of worship and spent time in heartfelt prayer with others that supported him. Let this be a lesson for all of us.
-When you are enduring trouble, be found in worship towards God.
-When you are in need, cry out in prayer to the Lord and ask for help.
-When you are hurting, surround yourself with others that will support you and join you in prayer and worship to overcome the battles you are facing. (II Sam. 15:15, 21)
David was heard by God from his holy mountain (referencing the holy hill of His presence). God responds to those that worship him and offer Him praise. We know that even today, God seeks those that will worship Him in spirit and truth (John 4:24). We are to offer to him acceptable service with reverence and awe. Our prayers rise before the throne and he hears our longings and we have our requests (I John 5:14-15; Is. 65:24)
David’s prayer was heard and God helped David contrary to what others said to him. We are warned that in the last days, there will be mockers that will question God’s promises and attempt to make us believe that He will not fulfill them or hear our urgent prayer requests and move on our behalf (Psalm 37:4-5; 55:22). The Bible promises that God’s ears are open to our cries if we faithfully serve Him. Don’t stop praying and offering worship to God, especially when times get tough. It is easy to give up when we are in the storm, but it is then that we need to have faith (Psalm 50:15; Philippians 4:6; James 5:13; Heb. 4:16).
David didn’t have to fear the sword of Absalom because of the shield of the Lord protecting him (II Samuel 15:13-14). There is a beautiful hymn written about this psalm titled, “Shield About Me” and it quotes these words almost verbatim and it ends in a series of praise to the Lord (hallelujah) for His goodness toward us in times like these. We have nothing to fear when God is our protector and sustainer. He is truly a shield (examples: Psalm 18:2; 28:7; 33:20; 91:2-4; 115:9; Proverbs 30:5).
We are told that God will protect us even today, but we must be willing to take up the shield of faith to extinguish all of the fiery darts of the evil one along with the rest of the armor of God (Eph. 6:16). If we have faith, God promises to be our guardian (II Thess. 3:3).
David didn’t need the glory or praise of men, because of the glory that came from the Lord. The only thing that David could glory in is the mighty hand of God. He is our stronghold in times of trouble and when we are oppressed. (See Psalm 9:9-10)
David didn’t need anyone else to lift him because God was the lifter of his head. God upholds us. He lifts us when we fall. He gives us hope when all seems lost and our heads are hung low. He has a righteous right hand that we can hold each day (Is. 41:10).
Again, this section ends with “Selah”. Take another moment to soak in the message here.
TRUSTING IN THE LORD TO SAVE THROUGH PRESERVATION (vs. 5-8)
I lay down and slept; I awoke, for the Lord sustains me. I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people Who have set themselves against me roundabout. Arise, O Lord; save me, O my God! For You have smitten all my enemies on the cheek; You have shattered the teeth of the wicked. Salvation belongs to the Lord; Your blessing be upon Your people! Selah.
David was able to rest in the goodness of the Lord even while surrounded by enemies. David shared, “I lay down and slept” amid a pursuit for his life by thousands. He had traveled about 21 miles barefooted after fleeing home and he was wiped out emotionally, mentally, physically and he needed to rest (II Sam. 16:14).
Most people in this crisis could not shut their eyes out of fear that while they slept someone would make an easy target of them. David didn’t sit up and nod off being restless. He made a bed and went to sleep (Prov. 3:24).
When God is the one that keeps us in His care, we can rest assured that nothing will harm us. It reminds you of Peter sleeping in prison while chained between two guards and facing death or Jesus sleeping on a ship amid a storm while His disciples were waking him saying, “Don’t you care that we are perishing?” When you have the peace of God in your heart, you can face any situation with a calm spirit, even death. David prayed and trusted that God would hear and reply. This is true faith!
David awoke and was kept by the hand of God (Psalm 4:8). David adds, “I awoke, for the Lord sustains me” in order to show he was preserved by God. As children we used to pray, “Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep, and if I die before I wake, I pray the Lord, my soul, to take.” When David went to sleep he was confident that even if he didn’t wake up physically, the Lord was still in control. There was no doubt in his mind that everything was in His hands, including his very soul.
Every morning is a time to reflect on how God gives us life and a brand new start. When we roll out of bed, we should be thankful for another day to live and make it a point to show gratitude through prayer, and a service of worship, doing all that we can to bring glory to our God who preserves us.
We have talked about how God is faithful and his mercies are new every morning. Not only do we have another day physically, but God renews His love for us and we get a clean slate from the wrongs of yesterday and then we get to do those things that honor Him today.
David was not afraid of any man or army formed against him, for the Lord was with him. David exclaimed, “I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people who have set themselves against me round about” because God would fight the battle for him (II Sam. 17:1-4). David was fierce in battle, not because of his own doing, but God’s doing (II Sam. 17:8-10)
David had killed his ten thousand in the past, but this time he called upon the Lord to arise and save him. This idea of God rising, was common language to ask God to engage in our affairs. His trust was not in his strength but in the Lord and His might. (Eph. 6:10).
We also need to trust in the Lord for our victories and ask Him to come to our aid when we are up against something or someone that feels too big for us to handle. Just as the people were rising against David, he asked the Lord to rise and help. Nothing is too difficult for God! Not only does He understand what load you are carrying, but He wants you to give it to Him.
David asks God to disarm his enemies, “You have smitten all my enemies on the cheek; You have shattered the teeth of the wicked.” In other words, it’s like breaking the jaw and removing the teeth from a wild animal. If it has no teeth and its jaw is disabled, it cannot harm you. God debilitates the efforts of those that rise against us when we serve Him. This would also be a smack to the face of those that mocked God and His ability to save.
It is a sad turn of events for Absalom in this battle. David pleaded that the troops he had assigned in II Sam. 18:1-2, would,
“Deal gently for my sake with the young man Absalom” (II Sam. 18:5).
This is truly the heart of a father speaking even after his son would be so ungrateful as to lead a revolt against David. He wanted his son’s life preserved even after utter betrayal. No wonder he was called a man after God’s heart. After we betray God he wants to save us.
We learn that the battle ensued and David and his men defeated those who sided with Absalom. The results are found in II Samuel 18:6-8,
“Then the people went out into the field against Israel, and the battle took place in the forest of Ephraim. The people of Israel were defeated there before the servants of David, and the slaughter there that day was great, 20,000 men. For the battle there was spread over the whole countryside, and the forest devoured more people that day than the sword devoured.”
God doesn’t lose and will fight for us. The greatest loss of the battle had not yet unfolded. Absalom was still alive but not for long. Starting in II Samuel 18:9, through the end of the chapter, we read,
“Now Absalom happened to meet the servants of David. For, Absalom was riding on his mule, and the mule went under the thick branches of a great oak. And his head caught fast in the oak, so he was left hanging between heaven and earth, while the mule that was under him kept going. When a certain man saw it, he told Joab and said, ‘Behold, I saw Absalom hanging in an oak. Then Joab said to the man who had told him, ‘Now behold, you saw him! Why then did you not strike him there to the ground? And I would have given you ten pieces of silver and a belt.’ The man said to Joab, ‘Even if I should receive a thousand pieces of silver in my hand, I would not put out my hand against the king’s son; for in our hearing the king charged you and Abishai and Ittai, saying, ‘Protect for me the young man Absalom!’ Otherwise, if I had dealt treacherously against his life (and there is nothing hidden from the king), then you yourself would have stood aloof.” Then Joab said, ‘I will not waste time here with you.’ So he took three spears in his hand and thrust them through the heart of Absalom while he was yet alive in the midst of the oak. And ten young men who carried Joab’s armor gathered around and struck Absalom and killed him. Then Joab blew the trumpet, and the people returned from pursuing Israel, for Joab restrained the people. They took Absalom and cast him into a deep pit in the forest and erected over him a very great heap of stones. And all Israel fled, each to his tent. Now Absalom in his lifetime had taken and set up for himself a pillar which is in the King’s Valley, for he said, “I have no son to preserve my name.” So he named the pillar after his own name, and it is called Absalom’s Monument to this day."
Even though David had charged these men to deal gently with Absalom, he ends up dying during this battle at the hands of David’s servants. David goes through intense mourning for his son Absalom, where the text reveals,
“The king covered his face and cried out with a loud voice, “O my son Absalom, O Absalom, my son, my son!” (II Samuel 19:1, 4)
Even though Absalom tried to overthrow David, it is hard for a father to watch a son die. All of Israel turned to weeping as well, knowing that David was mourning. This is where our journey ends in II Samuel.
David knows that God saves and blesses His people despite our difficulties. David concludes this psalm,
“Salvation belongs to the Lord; Your blessing be upon Your people!”
Salvation is being viewed from two angles here. We are saved or delivered from the hand of the enemy, both physically and spiritually. We overcome in this life the trials and hardships, but we also claim victory over the second death in the life to come. We are saved by God from eternal wrath!
What accompanies salvation is a whole list of blessings from the Lord upon us. We see His hand opened to His people every day. Even when David was going through his trouble with the uprising of Absalom, people were coming out with food, words of encouragement, and, support. David was not alone because God was with him, but God also put in his path and his party those that could bless David, while God unfolded his plan to save him.
Again, after Psalm we find Selah calling for one last pause for reflection. We will use this moment to encourage those who would be interested in trusting the Lord for salvation.
I hope that through Psalm 3 and our study of II Samuel (to give context to the lesson) you have been blessed to see how we need to trust in the Lord to save us through prayer, protection, and preservation.
Have you been facing the challenges of life alone without the Lord to help save you? If you are tired of running and need some rest, you can find rest for your souls in coming in obedience to the gospel. The challenges of life on earth won’t disappear, but they are much lighter when you cast them on the Lord because He cares for you.
If you believe in Jesus and are willing to repent of your sins, confessing that Jesus is the Son of God, you can be baptized for the remission of sins and you can begin a new life as a follower of the Lord. Please let me know if you are interested in obeying the Lord and I will try to put you in contact with a church in your area that can help.
Perhaps you are in Christ, but your trust in the Lord has been weak or even nonexistent. Have you entered into some sin that you need forgiveness for? Be like David and acknowledge your transgressions against God and God will also forgive you. He will extend new mercies to you this hour. I want to be an encouragement to you and pray with you. How can I help you in your walk of faith in the Lord?
The Lord is good and wants to bless you! If you have a spiritual need today that I can help you with, please reach out by email or by phone and I will do whatever I can to assist you.