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.