The 3rd Psalm ~ A Dark Hour
A Dark Hour
The Third Psalm
This is one of many Psalms which are linked with a specific episode in David’s life. This one deals with his flight from Jerusalem when Absalom his son was seeking to kill him and reign as king. “After Psalms 1 and 2, which are foundational psalms – the first stressing the importance of the law of God in one’s life, the second stressing the ultimate triumph of the Messiah – a man’s life in which he must trust in God. Psalm 3, which heads the list, describes a person who is in great physical danger as a new day dawns” (Psalms 1-41, James Montgomery Boice, p. 29).
The Opposition is Real
David has enemies and they are increasing (3:1), which also means that his supporters might be shrinking in number. The opposition is equally active and is pictured as rising up against him. We often see this today when the world senses that someone is vulnerable and all sorts of people come out of the woodwork and pile on. Over the course of one’s life a godly man or woman will make various enemies and now in this Psalm, people who really did not like David over the years feel that the rising tide of sentiment against him means that it is finally safe to publicly speak against him.
Many are Saying
“There is no deliverance for him in God” (3:2). The rumor or popular opinion being spread was that God had forsaken David or that David had lost all right to expect any help from God. In fact, some were saying that David was only getting what he deserved (2 Samuel 16:8 “Behold you are taken in your own evil, for you are a man of bloodshed!”).
A Shield About Me
When David left Jerusalem on this occasion the Holy Spirit had recorded that David “wept as he went, and his head was covered and he walked barefoot” (2 Samuel 15:30). Then Zadok the priest came with the ark of the covenant (15:24); David insisted that he return with it to Jerusalem and then said, “If I find favor in the sight of the Lord, then He will bring me back again and show me both it and His habitation. But if He should say thus, ‘I have no delight in you’, behold here I am, let Him do to me as seems good to Him” (15:25-26).
David was also cursed as he left by Shimei and one of his soldiers desired to execute that man on the spot, David said, “If he curses, and if the Lord has told him, ‘Curse David’, then who shall say, ‘Why have you done so?’” (16:10). Finally David says, “Perhaps the Lord will look on my affliction and return good to me instead of his cursing this day” (16:12).
- It seems that David is aware that he is partly to blame for Absalom’s rebellion. God had clearly warned and foretold that his previous affair with Bathsheba had started a dark and horrible process that would have many repercussions including this one (2 Samuel 12:11-12).
- David’s inaction in reference to Amnon’s evil (13:21), which lead to Amnon’s murder and David’s enstrangement from Absalom, and then further inaction when it comes to his relationship with Absalom. So I can see how David would feel that in part, that he bears some responsibility for a portion of this mess.
- It is clear that David realizes that his only real hope and defense is to be found in God. His cleverness and military savvy cannot save him, only God can. In addition, he is smart enough to realize that the ark is not a good luck charm, and the issue is not over who has the ark, but who is right with God.
“My glory is an expression to ponder: it indicates the honor of serving such a master; perhaps, too, the radiance He imparts (consider 2 Corinthians 3:18 on this point)… certainly the comparative unimportance of earthly esteem, always transient and fickle” (Psalms 1-73, Derek Kidner, p. 54).
- David was a king and was surrounded by citizens, but the population at times swayed with the popular breeze. David had proven his worth as king in many areas but Absalom had won over the people with flattery, a superficial show and ear-tickling promises (2 Samuel 15:6).
- God can lift us up from despondency. The picture in 2 Samuel chapters 15-16 when David leaves is one of a dejected individual, yet as he turns towards God he finds strength. Sin beats us down, God lifts us up. When we focus on God all of a sudden our enemies seem manageable.
I Was Crying
“God’s holy hill was doubly relevant, as the place where God had installed both His king, David himself, and His ark, the symbol of His earthly throne and of His covenant. Not Absalom’s decrees, but the Lord’s, will issue from mount Zion, indeed have been dispatched from there already (literally, ‘I cry… and He has answered’), to determine David’s fortunes” (Kidner, p. 54). God still hears and answers prayer. Compare with Acts 4:23 and Hebrews 12:22ff.
I Lay Down and Slept
Solomon noted that the sleep of the laboring man is enjoyable (Ecclesiastes 5:12). In like manner, after calling out to God, David is able to sleep peacefully. “Now he has awakened with the events of the day firmly in God’s hands. He is saying, ‘I had a good night’s rest, and now I am not afraid to face the terrors of this new day. I will not fear the thousands drawn up against me” (Boice, p. 33).
- One would think that a peaceful nights sleep would be a simple thing, just a matter of biology, but it this verse and real life reveals that sleep is anything but simple. All sorts of things interfere with a person’s ability to rest at night, and we see that constantly played out in our life and in the lives of others that we know. Man attempts to find a solution for a restful night, yet there is no substitute for seeking to live right and having a confidence in one’s Creator. Or, could we say that a clear conscience before God is more desirable than a good mattress?
- “The steadfast of mind You will keep in perfect peace, because he trusts in You” (Isaiah 26:3).
- “And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7).
I Will Not Be Afraid
The ten thousands mentioned in 3:6 remind us of the many in the previous verses. David does not have a line at which he will quit. The opposition could number of the thousands and yet David will continue to trust in God. Though David knows that he is encircled, he also realizes that God has His enemies encircled as well. It is always healthy to see the bigger circle or could we say the bigger circle.
Arise, O Lord, Save Me
I am impressed that David, though a cunning warrior with much experience realizes that only God can save him. “Verse 8 attests to the basic humility behind it, which recognizes that without the Lord there is no solution or success; that is, none worth having” (Kidner, p. 55).
You and Your
Observe that the psalm does not end with “me” and “my”, rather all the emphasis is upon God. It is God’s blessing (not David’s) that David wants to be upon the people. In fact, David is correct, no matter who reigns over Israel, the people belong to God and not to whomever the kind happens to be. “To Thy blessing, which goes as far beyond victory as health and fruitfulness go beyond survival. Without this, even a reunited people will lack the breath of life; with it, they can bless the world” (Kidner, p. 55).
Mark Dunagan | firstname.lastname@example.org
Beaverton Church of Christ | 503-644-9017