A psalm of David. When he fled from his son Absalom.
1 Lord, how many are my foes!
How many rise up against me!
2 Many are saying of me,
“God will not deliver him.”
3 But you, Lord, are a shield around me,
my glory, the One who lifts my head high.
4 I call out to the Lord,
and he answers me from his holy mountain.
5 I lie down and sleep;
I wake again, because the Lord sustains me.
6 I will not fear though tens of thousands
assail me on every side.
7 Arise, Lord!
Deliver me, my God!
Strike all my enemies on the jaw;
break the teeth of the wicked.
8 From the Lord comes deliverance.
May your blessing be on your people.
Unlike Psalm 1, Psalm 3 has a background story. King David is a Psalmist who has contributed to almost 50% of the book of Psalms. King David usually seen as a warrior has this poetic side in him. In his psalms King David praises God, gives thanks to God, seeks pardon from God, prays to God and sometimes show his bitterness of his soul out as well.
Psalm 3 in particular is an individual lament psalm. The story behind psalm 3 is recorded in 2 Samuel 13-19. In short, this is a story of David’s Son, Absalom, taking the throne of his father. David and his household are in the verge of losing their life and had to flee. David, who was covering his head which symbolizes disgrace as well as walking in barefoot, weeps as he walks to the Mount of Olives. He faced the dark night filled with horror and hopelessness and wakes again in the morning and sings this Psalm. Many commentaries address this psalm as “The morning hymn” or “The morning song”.
Matthew Henry in his commentary divides this Psalm in to 6 parts –
(i) Complains to God of his enemies – Vs. 1&2
(ii) Confides in God and tries to find encouragement in God – Vs. 3
(iii) Reflects on God’s answers to his prayers and God’s experience of goodness to him – Vs. 4 & 5
(iv) Triumphs over his fears – Vs. 6
(v) Triumphs over his enemies whom he prays against – Vs. 7
(vi) Gives God the glory and takes to himself the comfort of the divine blessing and salvation which are sure to all the people of God – Vs. 8
Verses 1, 2
In verses 1 and 2, King David, confesses his fear and insecurity in front of God. It can be seen that David is a man of humility. While great Kings want to boast in their victories and give themselves all their credit, David is a king who remained faithful and humble in front of God. Though he had a fierce image in front of people, he brought his weak side in front of God. This can be seen in vs. 1 and 2 as he says that his foes are overpowering his heart by saying that God, who David claims as his stronghold will not deliver him. So David is asking God if He would confirm that, He is on his side and will protect him.
In verse 3, he is trying to encourage and comfort himself by saying that God is his Shield, glory and one who lifts his head high. Though people say that God will not deliver him and lead him to insecurity, David wants to believe in his trying moments that God is his shield. When there is no visible sign of God’s protection, he wants to believe that God is acting as a shield in invisible ways. He wants to believe that God will restore his glory and lifts his head again and bring him out of this shameful position.
Verse 4, 5
He wants to put his trust in God based on his previous experiences with God. He reflects and reminds himself the prayers that he offered before and the replies that God gave him as he prayed. He reminds himself the goodness of God when he says that he lies down to sleep and he wakes again because the Lord sustains him. Though sleeping and waking seems like nothing to many, David is fully aware of the dangers that could happen as he sleeps unprotected. There might be a possibility that this is the last time he closes his eyes and never see another morning in his life. But God protected him through this night and allowed him to wake up in the morning. He wants to acknowledge God’s protection for him through the night.
In a battle field one of the biggest fears could be watching greatest heroes and warriors falling by one’s side. David who fought many battles, might have faced this fear of falling when others were falling. But here he wants to overcome this fear. He confesses that though tens of thousands may fall, God will be merciful to me and protect me from falling. He wants to believe in this strongly.
Realizing his limitations, David calls upon God in verse 7 to come down and help him to defeat him his enemies by breaking their teeth. He offers a prayer for deliverance from the horror of people surrounding him and trying to defeat him.
Verse 8 is a statement of affirmation from David that, God is the God of deliverance and he is the origin of blessings. This shows that David was completely relying on God – no more and no less.