“Salvation belongs to the LORD; your blessing be on your people!” – Psalm 3:8, ESV
We live in a noisy world. Each day there are hundreds, if not thousands, of distractions vying for our attention. Just watching an hour of television we see there are dozens of companies paying for our eyeballs and hoping that their advertisement is catchy enough to get us to try their product. The average American spends roughly 12 hours a day in front of screen.* This means that we spend the majority of our waking time in front of a screen. There is no wonder why we struggle in relationships, especially with the Lord, in Bible reading, and in prayer. The truth is, however, not much has changed since ancient times. The disctractions may be different, but God’s people have always been tempted to listen to the voices of others over the Lord’s voice. In the midst of a noisy world, we must learn to hear the voice of our Heavenly Father. This is what Psalm 3 is all about.
Psalm 3 is the first psalm attributed to a specific author in the psalter, and is the first psalm attributed to David. It was written while David was on the run from his son Absalom. This story is one of great tragedy. Absalom wanted to overthrow his father David as king. Ultimately it led to Absalom’s death (see 2 Samuel 15-18). It can be hard for us to imagine being pursued by a son as a power grab. We are likely only exposed to these kinds of scenarios in movies or television. Yet for David this was not a source of entertainment, it was reality for him and Kingdom that the Lord had put in his charge. In this psalm we see the depths of human anxiety and despair. Yet we also see the hope found in the promises of God.
The psalm opens with David recognizing the increasing number of his enemies. These enemies were his son Absalom and the people that he had turned against his father. David also hears the noise of these enemies growing ever louder, and what he hears is astonishing, “There is no salvation for him in God” (v. 2). Absalom truly thought that he could over throw his father. He was so arrogant to think that God was on his side, that he taunts his father with the false notion that the Lord had deserted David. Yet notice what David does, he turns his attention to God. Yes, he hears the taunts of his enemies, but he doesn’t believe them. In the midst of the turmoil David puts his faith in the Lord, “But you, O LORD, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head” (v. 3). He knows that he is the Lord’s anointed. When he cries out, he trusts that the Lord will answer him (v. 4) and he can go to sleep confident that the Lord will awaken him in the morning (v. 5). He is certain that salvation is found only in the Lord (v. 8). This is true faith.
How does a psalm that was written thousands of years ago in the midst of deep personal anguish apply to believers today? It is unlikely that anyone reading this article is being driven into hiding because a child is seeking to do you harm. Yet life has thrown much at us all in the past two years. From your vantage point it may seem like you have an ever increasing amount of enemies. You may even be tempted to believe the age old lie, that God cannot help your situation, or that he doesn’t care. Rest assured dear saint, the Lord is your strength and shield. He will hear you when you cry out to him. He alone is your salvation. He has made that way of salvation through another heir of David who would rightly assume his position as king through his obedience to God. This heir is Jesus, who secured our salvation through his death on the cross and resurrection from the dead. He can be trusted. Trust in him.
One of the main takeaways we can glean from this psalm is the Lord hears our prayers and he cares for us. Even in the midst of deep personal stress and anxiety, he wants us to come to him. He is big enough to handle our cries for help. These seasons of life can produce some of the most fruitful spiritual growth, because we are forced to trust in God alone. This is the beauty of the psalter. In this collection of ancient songs, there are examples of every human emotion expressed. The Lord wants us to express each one of them to him as an act of trust in the good seasons and the bad. Psalm 3 should drive us to worship the Lord in thanksgiving that he is big enough and cares about everything we bring to him in prayer. In closing, I am reminded of that old hymn What A Friend We Have In Jesus:
What a friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear! What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer! O what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear, all because we do not carryeverything to God in prayer!
Have we trials and temptations? Is there trouble anywhere? We should never be discouraged; take it to the Lord in prayer! Can we find a friend so faithfulwho will all our sorrows share? Jesus knows our every weakness; take it to the Lord in prayer!
Are we weak and heavy laden, cumbered with a load of care? Precious Savior, still our refuge–take it to the Lord in prayer! Do your friends despise, forsake you? Take it to the Lord in prayer! In his arms he’ll take and shield you; you will find a solace there.
– Joseph M. Schriven (1855).
Zach Kendrick is the editor of Reading For The Glory.
To view more articles in this series, please check out the Ancient Songs page.
To learn more about the good news of Jesus Christ, please click here.