Praying the Psalms: Psalm 3

The Psalms are not just songs, but prayers. By studying the Psalms we can learn how to better pray and engage in communion with God. Each Thursday I’ll be posting a commentary and prayer guide for the Psalms to help us learn and practice prayer. We each encounter time of incredible crisis in our lives. There are moments where everything seems to be falling apart and our enemies are all around us. Such an occasion takes place in Psalm 3. It is a Psalm written by David inspired by one of the hardest times of David’s life, the rebellion of his son Absalom. His own son had conspired against him to remove David from leadership. For a season David was on the run, hiding and fleeing from Absalom. As we try to imagine the pain, hurt, and frustration that David experienced we also see within Psalm his confident trust in the Lord.

Commentary

v. 1–2. The Psalm begins with describing the desperation of his current situation. He looks around and see his enemies. He has “many” foes and there are“many” rising against him. The sheer number of those who are against David is overwhelming to him. It seems like everyone has turned on him and everyone has dejected him from his kingship. The Christian is not immune to making enemies. Often times the Christian will be hated by the world. In fact, Jesus has promised us persecution. There are times of the Christian life when many may rise up against us.

David’s enemies where ruthless and saw all that was happening to him as a sign that God had abandoned him. David tells us that they are saying of his soul, “there is no salvation for him in God”. The enemies saw David’s downfall and failures and they concluded that the hand of the Lord had left him.

Christians too might hear the wicked lies of the enemy whispering this phrase into our ear. “God could never save you! There is no salvation for you in God. He has abandoned you!” The great accuser can cause doubt in our hearts of God’s good intention and his ability and willingness to deliver us from the calamity of both our spiritual and physical crises. As we will see, these accusations from his enemies will not derail his faith, but only draws him into greater confidence and pleading with God.

v. 3–6. The psalmist begins to think about his history with God. He begins to think about the ways God has delivered him in the past. Time and time again, God has stuck with him and protected him like a shield. In his darkest moments, God has lifted his head from despair. As he cried aloud in desperation, the Lord answered him.

It is easy for us to get so overwhelmed by the present that we begin to forget God’s faithfulness in the past. Though our present circumstances may be paralyzing, it is vital that we remember how God has delivered us from our previous hardships. My grandfather has a saying that has always stuck with me. He always said, “Never doubt in the dark, what God has revealed in the light”. In other words, though our present circumstances may be bleak, remember what God has shown you about his loving kindness in the past. The darkness of the present hour should not shake our faith. We must remember how he has delivered us. As we do, it gives us great confidence in our crisis moments to trust God as our shield.

David tells us that because of his trust in God, he was able to put his head down and sleep. Anxiety and fear often leads to sleepless nights. Everyone has had moments in their life when they were so burdened with worry and stress that they were unable to fall asleep. As soon as they put their head on the pillow, their mind starts running with worry, hypothetical situations, and anxiety. They are unable to fall asleep. David’s, remembrance of God’s protection led him to be able to truly rest.

There is something humbling about sleeping. No matter how self-sufficient we think we may be, we need sleep. God has designed us to spend a third of our day unconscious and dependent upon him. Sleep is a vulnerable thing, because no matter how much you may think you are in control of your life for a full 1/3 of it you are sleep unaware of all that’s going on in this world. Every human being, whether they desire to or not are forced by the hand of the creator to put their lives and this world into the hands of a sustaining God. To give our hearts and mind to sleep requires us to give our life and problems over to God. As we close our eyes, we only open them again by the grace of God. Even in our sleep the Lord sustains us. David sees God’s sustaining hand on his life and he concludes that he will not be afraid of the many thousands of people who are rising against him. He has a confident trust in his sustaining God to deliver him.

v. 7–8. The last section of this Psalm concludes with is prayer of petition. He calls out to God and says, “Arise, O Lord!”. In confident trust he calls out to God to save him and deliver him from his enemies. He trusts God to handle those rising against him. He is confidently trusting in God to strike his enemies and break the teeth of the wicked.

The final verse concludes with great assurance, “Salvation belongs to the Lord”. Although David’s enemies were convinced there was no salvation for David (v. 2), David understands that salvation is not given by the will of men, but by God himself. David understands that salvation is God’s to give, and he gives it to whom he pleases as they come to him by faith.

We may feel completely undeserved of salvation. We may believe lies that tell us God could never save or deliver us, yet God is gracious and blesses his people. God has made a way to bring salvation to all people through the death of his son Jesus. Jesus is the salvation of God. All who come to place their faith in Jesus Christ–no matter how dark their circumstances or how great their crisis–salvation is given to them by God’s grace. It is those who express their dependent child-like trust in God who receive God’s salvation. This child-like dependency even in calamity is the essence of saving faith. It is a faith David lives out in Psalm 3, and its a faith we should possess as well.

Prayer Guide

  • Bring your hearts concern to God. We can come to him in the middle of our crisis. What crisis are you facing now you need to bring before God?
  • How has God delivered you in the past? Remember those times and praise God for his faithfulness then.
  • Pray in confidence before God asking for his help in your present situation.
  • Thank God that he gives salvation to those who trust him in faith through Jesus Christ.
  • Confess your often lack of trust in God during difficult times.Ask God to give you faith right now in your time of need.

Why Does God Allow Hardship in my Life?

Life is hard.  You know it, and I know it.  It seems like everything will be going so smoothly, and then you get blindsided by an unexpected emergency.  Often it feels like life is just a series of obstacles and problems that we must endure.  Many people in the midst of difficulty, ask the common question, "Why does God allow this to happen to me?"  Plagues of doubt haunt many Christians because of this question.  Part of the reason is that the thought of hardship and suffering as a Christian doesn't even seem possible.  Many have this idea that when you become a Christian, life becomes a nice stroll in the park on a beautiful spring day.  Many follow Christ with the preconceived notion, that God owes them an easy life.  This just simply is not the truth.  No where in the Bible are Christians promised a life of ease without problems or suffering.  In fact, we are guaranteed troubles in this life. (John 16:33) This promise of hardships in this life, leaves many of us scratching our heads.  Our confused logic goes as follows:

1. If God is sovereign and in control of everything, he can prevent suffering and hardship.

2. If God loves me, than he will keep me from hardship.

3.  Therefore, if I experience hardship, God doesn't love me.

Like many lies Satan tells us, they are grounded in truth.  Point number one is absolutely true.  God is powerful enough to do anything, including to prevent suffering in your life.  However, where the logic goes awry and breaks down is at point number two.  The lie satan tells us is that God cannot be loving if he allows us to suffer.  The truth is that God does love us and allows us to suffer for His glory and our own good.  This is in fact the promise of Romans 8:28, "That God works all things together for the good of those who love him and who have been called according to his purpose."  God, in his sovereign orchestration of your life, allows hardship to come into your life for your own maturity and Christ-likeness.

This is why James writes in his letter, "Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness."  So what is the purpose of our suffering?  To make us more like Christ.  Our suffering then is a profound instrument of the grace of God.  It is a good gift, a tool, that develops us into faithful Christ-followers.  This is an incredibly hard truth to see in the middle of suffering.  With our eyes focus solely on the present, we have a hard time seeing how God is using our suffering for our good. However, with time comes wisdom.  Looking back, you will be able to see the finger prints of God's grace in the midst of your suffering.

With the logic of point number 2 proven to be a lie, point number 3 proves to be a lie as well.  Often times, the most loving thing God can do is allow us to suffer.  It is a good gift.  The problem is that we tend to have a different perspective than God on what is good.  Our definition of good is a comfortable, pleasant, easy life.  God's sees our good as doing whatever it takes to transform us by the grace of Christ.  The most loving thing God can do is bring things into our life that are difficult, but through that suffering God ignites a passion in our heart to trust him in the midst of suffering.  Often during those times of crisis, God deepens our faith and maturity in a way the best of times never can.

I'm not sure what hardship you are going through right now, but rest assure, that God is indeed working all things together for your good.  Glorify God in the midst of trails and cling to him as your only hope.  Trust in the truth of God's Word not your emotions.   God is rock who loves us and holds us firm, even in the face of the must horrendous suffering.  For the faithful Christian who lives his life for the glory of God and is dedicated to sharing the Gospel with others, persecution is promised by Jesus. We can take comfort in the sweet words Jesus spoke, "In this world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world" (John 16:33)

Light and Momentary.... What are You Thinking Paul?!?

This past Sunday night I did a lecture at church concerning the issue of evil, pain, and suffering in the world. The fact that these things exist in our world, is one of the main arguments against the existence of God, especially a good loving God that we as Christians claim to follow. During my study on this topic, primarily on what the Christian is supposed to do when suffering occurs in the life of the individual, 2 Corinthians 4 came to my attention. Particularly the last few verses of the chapter.

"Therefore we do not lost heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but on what is unseen is eternal."

-2 Corinthians 4:16-18

This passage of scripture blew me away. In order to understand how bizarre and unbelievable what the apostle Paul is saying here, you have to understand the situation and culture in which he was writing too. In the early church, persecution was a normal thing. To pronounce you were a Christian meant physical abuse, and potentially death. Paul knew the church of Corinth was going under persecution, because he was under it himself, but Paul who saw things from such a Kingdom perspective, realizes that whatever troubles he faces in his ministry, or suffering he incurs, they are "light and momentary". Paul states that even if your life is at risk, even if you lose it, it is insignificant compared to eternity.

So many times we limit ourselves to our own momentary perspective. We fail to see the big picture. Everyone has their cross to bear, everyone will encounter suffering. In fact Jesus promises this in John 16:33 when he said "In this world you will have trouble." Suffering is an inevitable part of being a follower of Christ. In fact if you have never suffered, then there might be a problem. However when we look at things from God's perspective, then we realize how trivial these present pains are, because we are gaining an "eternal glory that far outweighs them all." So if you are suffering for the cause of Christ, please do not lose heart. Fix your eyes on the unseen, the eternal, and as Jesus said even though we face trouble in this world we should be encouraged for He has "overcome the world."(John 16:33)