Psalm 3
A Song For The Morning

Authored By Rev. Takao Kiyohiro, Tokyo, Japan

1. In the title of this psalm it says, "Praise. A Psalm Of David. When David Fled From Absalom His Son."  As a story of a parent fleeing from the hand of his child, it isn't a very gentle one.  This psalm was written with the tragic events concerning the royal family of David at the background to it.  For the details, please read parts from Second Samuel chapter fifteen.  Simply put, in it is written the circumstances of the military coup brought on by Absalom, one of David's sons.

2.  Absalom, son of David, steadily advanced his preparations in his main activities and brought himself allies out of the many elements of dissatisfaction in the various tribes of Israel.  Then at last, he announced his enthronement in Heron.  Then shortly thereafter, news of Absalom's rebellion reached Jerusalem where David was.  Then and there David decided to flee the capital.  He said to his retinue, "Let's flee at once.  We won't be able to evade Absalom.  Unless we hurry, Absalom will soon overtake us, bring us harm, and bring this city under the sword," (Second Samuel 15:14).  He probably wanted to avoid having to cross swords with his true son at whatever cost possible and more than that he must have been hurting inside to the point of tears over exposing Jerusalem and its citizens to war.  Thus, in one night David the resplendent king of Israel and his retinue became miserable men on the run.  This is the background to Psalm three.  Keeping these points in mind, I would like for us to keep reading this psalm.

O Lord, How Far?

3.

O Lord, how far
Will those who hurt me increase?
Many stand against me
Many say to me,
"Does the salvation of God lie in him?,"
(verses two and three)

4.  David's heart was in confusion.  Whenever those who were his enemies before had turned their swords on him, he would endure it through.  But now, the ones against him were none other than his own son and the Israelites whom he had never stopped loving.  And to make matters worse, those against him were increasing day by day.  His pain must have seemed like it was swelling to no end.  David began to pour out his grief and groaning before God.  In his confused heart he plead to God.  David was the king of Israel.  But now, with just about everything devastated, we see here the figure of a king who has become like a small child before God.

5.  Then, a voice becomes audible in the ears of David as he laments in prayer, "Does the salvation of God lie in him?"  This wasn't only [the voice of] those against him.  When they looked at David's problems, there were many people, even from among his protectors who followed with him, who thought that he had already been abandoned by God.

6.  For someone in real pain, should there ever be such a severe message as "You have been abandoned by God"?  Might there be some people whose past wounds never act up?  Are there really people who never have memories of their sins come back around to them in such a setting as we see here?  Actually, David himself did not have had an answer back for this at all.  When he thought about himself, he was a helpless man abandoned by God too.  That's what David probably thought.

7.  Going back a few years before, David committed adultery with Bath Shebaa the wife of Uriah, his loyal servant and murdered him in order to cover up the sin he did.  But, that sin was brought into the open through the prophet Nathan.  He expressed his sin before the Lord, "I have sinned against the Lord."  Then, Nathan made this announcement to David, "The Lord will remove your sin.  You will escape the penalty of death," (Second Samuel 12:13).  He was given permission to take part in God's forgiveness and to live again.

8.  But, now the phrase of "Does the salvation of God lie in him?" was piercing his heart.  David's heart shook.  He poured out his shaking heart before God.  It's only the words of his lamenting that are expressed in verse two.  But, we can probably see in them the scars of the anguish that was so immeasurably long for David.

9.  But also, his prayer did not end in anguish.  As long as a person keeps looking to God, lamentations don't end with lamentation.  Like the light of the sun shining in from a crack in the blackest of clouds, David came to see himself being shined upon by the light of the Lord's compassion shining in from beyond.

But, Lord even still!

10.

But, Lord even still!
You are my shield and my glory
You are the one who lifts my head up high.
If I lift my voice to the Lord,
He will answer from his holy mountain.
(verses four and five).

11.  David looked around from the darkness of his problems and looked upon the compassionate face of the Lord.  Then at that time, three things were clearly shown to his heart.

12.  First, the Lord is my shield.  Our enemies might increase.  I might be alone at the end.  I might have to stand up alone.  But, even though all might be lost, even though I might be placed in the worst of situations, he is there like a shield to surround me.  Therefore, he understood that to mean that he has nothing to fear.

13.  Secondly, the Lord is my glory.  David was driven from the capital.  All its glory was stripped away.  He was a wretch.  He saw how the glory of this world was so shifty.  But, now he said.  God himself is my glory, isn't he?  Isn't it the highest honor when God is with me?  The glory lost to David was no longer worth looking back on.

14.  Thirdly, the Lord is the one who lifts up my head.  As he kept sorrowing before the Lord, he came to realize all of a sudden that he wasn't still hanging his head down.  He was lifting his head up.  The one who did that for him was God himself.  Of course, we don't know what all followed next.  Maybe many days of being lost in grief would continue.  He may have had plunged to the bottom of despair and dejection.  But, if [God] were there with him, he'd be all right.  If the one who lifted his head on up would be there, he could keep on living.

15.  David thought of the many days that he spent in Jerusalem.  As king he had gone through much hardship.  It was a painful thing.  At times he would face the hill of Zion and pray to God.  He recalled the truth of the Lord whom he had tasted thus far.  And he had firmly engraved on his heart the saying that the Lord's truth was no different here either, now that he was separated from Jerusalem.

Lord, Please Arise

16.

I laid down and slept
And woke up again.
The Lord sustained me.
Though I was encircled by so many people
I was never afraid.
(Verses six and seven).

17.  David turned it all over to God and was at peace.  He slept.  It was a deep sleep.  He was no longer afraid of anything.  He slept peacefully in the blackest of darkness as he felt at his back the Lord's hand sustaining him.

18.  And then he woke up.  It was a new day.  It was no longer the depressed David of the day before.  There David was brave and standing up to his troubles like a man.  In the morning light he was once again on his knees in prayer.

19.

O Lord, please rise.
O my God, save me.
Strike all the jaws of my enemies
Break the teeth of those who go against God.
(verse eight).

20.  He did not seek with anger and vengeance on his heart for the destruction of his enemies.  He was seeking for the Lord to rise up and save him.  He entrusted into the care of the Lord those who rose up in revolt against him.  He entrusted them into the righteous judgment of the Lord.  He did that because he no longer needed to hate and curse his enemies.  As a result, he had peace within and he also sought in prayer for the blessing of God upon the Israelites.

21.

Salvation is with the Lord.
Oh, that your blessings
Would be upon your people.
(Verse nine).

22.  When he was praying "O Lord, how far will those who hurt me increase?," his thoughts must have been preoccupied with himself.  But, now he is thinking of the many people left behind in Jerusalem, the Israelites still undergoing the chaos of the military coup.  Actually, a person first begins to have peace as they come to care about other people.  Many of the Israelites had become David's enemy now.  But, even still, Israel was the people of God.  That is the beloved people of God, whom we should love.  Therefore, David prays on their behalf.  He prays for their blessing.

23.  [This] personal prayer of lament was transformed into a prayer for all the people.  As we continue to lie amidst our own suffering, we see in this passage the figure of a person already living in the Lord's salvation.

 
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