Hardships and Victory in Kingdom Work: Psalm 3: Part I
Oppression: Relationships Matter
Introduction: the two-series: Hardships and Victory in Kingdom Work: Psalm 3 demonstrate the truth that relationships matter. Victory comes as the believer, in this case David, lives the reality of God’s relationship with him. The same principle was perfectly manifested by the greater Daivd, Jesus Christ.
v.1: O Lord, how many are my foes! How many rise up against me!
v.2: Many are saying of me, “God will not deliver him.”
v.3: But you are a shield around me, O Lord.
v.4: To the Lord I cry aloud and he answers me from his holy hill.
As laid out in the introduction to the Psalter (see the section entitled: The Psalter: Structure, Unity, and Use), the Psalter has a redemptive-historical context as well as a personal- historical context. The two are linked. It is in that dual context double that we should understand hardships and victory in kingdom work: Psalm 3. David’s first person terminology (the I-psalms) addresses God directly throughout the Psalter and is to be understood in terms of relationships and within the context of God’s covenantal faithfulness. The I-psalms should be understood as the initial fulfilment of God’s promise to keep His covenant commitment (2 Samuel 7:11-16). These I-psalms are speaking from God’s anointed servant, the messianic king. They help verify David’s prominent role in the Psalter. David was God’s man. He was messianic king. God had promised a kingdom and a king dating back to Abraham (Genesis 12:3-7). David was the initial fulfillment of that promise which pointed to the greater David and His kingdom. Psalm 3 gives clear expression to these principles.
David authored Psalms 3-41 and perhaps Psalms 1 and 2. These first two psalms are foundational. Psalm 1 focuses on the Torah, the law, as the standard for life and for the man of God especially the messianic king who was a picture of the greater David and greater King. It highlights the Law, Lawgiver, and the Lawkeeper. Psalm 2 focuses on the victorious king, the lesser David and ultimately to the greater David, Jesus Christ. Psalm 2 also expresses the futility and consequences of rivaling both the lesser messiah and king and greater Messiah and King. God will have His way as He saves a people for Himself.
To repeat, the theme of book I (Psalms 1-41) is the rise of the Davidic Kingdom and the ensuing confrontation and conflict in opposition to God’s plan. David was God’s man to establish the kingdom of peace and righteousness. In this he mirrored and prophesized the coming of greater David and the greater kingdom and the people’s opposition to it (John 1:9-11; 3:17-21). David was faced with opposition from within Israel especially Saul, his own family, as well as from foreign nations outside of Israel.
A general principle that runs throughout the Psalter is this: as it goes with the king so it goes with each member of the kingdom and the nation. The king’s victories are the peoples’ victories and more importantly God’s victories. Similarly, the king’s enemies are the enemies of the people and the nation and consequently they are God’s enemies. Moreover, the king’s sins had significant national ramifications. David was aware of this connection which enabled him to go to God, to trust Him, and to leave vengeance to the Lord (see 1 Samuel 24 and 26). This series: Hardships and victory in kingdom work: Psalm 3 helps understand David in book I of the Psalter.
Psalm 3 is one of the Psalms that addresses a specific historical event. David was on the run from Absalom one of his sons (2 Samuel 15:13-17:22). He was being sinned against and God’s name was being profaned. David, not Absalom, was God’s man. These facts should not be construed that David as Absalom’s father had not sinned against him. In response to Absalom’s murder of Amnon David failed to reconcile with his son (see 2 Samuel 13-14). David, like Eli, failed to father his son, failed to honor God, failed to love the nation of Israel, and failed to love his son by not disciplining him in the Lord (1 Samuel 3:13-14). Consequences were inevitable and in David’s case reached national proportions.
Throughout the Psalm David spoke in the first person. Psalm 3 is one of the I-psalm mentioned above which describes the various situations in the life of a singular servant of the Lord. It was vitally important that the king develop and maintain a proper vertical reference in his activity as God’s servant and representative. Throughout Psalm 3 David focused on God and spoke in the first person as he responds to God’s providence. David seems to be a solitary figure but he is a confident one. David knows that God takes care of His own. Relationships matter. Therefore he prays with the reality that God is his shield. This is the reality of God’s covenantal promise that God promised through and to Abraham (Genesis 15:1).
His son Absalom was leading a rebellion with a coalition of men against David that was secured from David’s own nation. David cries out to God for himself (verses 1-2) and for God’s people (verses 7-8). Even though the challenge is directed at him personally, David has a deep concern for God’s name and the people of Israel. These latter two facts point to David as a man who imitating Christ’s concern for the Triune God’s honor and His people.
1. God’s providence comes in many ways. Faced with trouble, what did David do? Why?
2. David wore several hats. What were they and how did this knowledge motivate him and to do what?
3. David looked forward to Yahweh’s intervention. Give some reasons. How do you follow in David’s footsteps? How do they follow Christ’s footsteps?
Hardships and Victory in Kingdom Work: Psalm 3: Part II
Victory: Relationships Matter
Psalm 3 is a Psalm of David that focuses on an outworking of his relationship to God and its importance to him. Its theme as given in the title: Hardships and victory in Kingdom work: Psalm 3, highlight the reality that relationships matter. David and his band of men are retreating from Jerusalem. He is faced with a revolt spearheaded by his own son. He and Israel are in trouble, God’s honor, trustworthiness, and goodness are at stake. What does David do?
v.1: O Lord, how many are my foes! How many arise up against me!
v.2: Many are saying of me, “God will not deliver him.”
v.3: But you are a shield around me, O Lord. You restore glory on me and lift up my head.
v.4: To the Lord I cry aloud, and he answers me from his holy hill.
David prays and he prays specifically (Philippians 4:6-9). He knows God is present and is in control. He acknowledged the reality of the situation. David had been on the run much of his life. Graciously and purposefully God had preserved him. David had learned the beauty of and the significance of an ongoing, vital relationship with God. He was the Promise-maker and Promise-keeper par excellence. Why shouldn’t David confidently communicate and pray to Him. As is typical, God’s enemies deny His existence and His power (Psalm 10:11; 14:1; 53:1). They attacked David and God.
David heard and “felt” one thing but he evaluated his situation not by feelings but his knowledge of God and himself as God’s agent in establishing God’s kingdom. David understood the big picture and placed events in the context of God’s overarching plan.
Further, David knew that God knew him. He called out and recited specific truths about God and his relationship to Him. David followed Abraham‘s knowledge of Yahweh as his shield (see Genesis 15:1). After defeating four of the most powerful kings in the world, Yahweh spoke to Abraham in covenantal terms. He told him not to be afraid because He was David’s shield – his protector. The same word is used by Moses in Deuteronomy 33:29 as Moses blessed Israel and encouraged Joshua as they were about to enter the Promised Land. The word signified God’s covenantal faithfulness. David clung to David and His covenantal faithfulness.
v.5: I lie down and sleep; I wake up again because the Lord sustains me.
v.6: I will not fear the tens of thousands drawn up on me from every side.
Verses 5-6 record David’s response to his own faithfulness expressed in his acts of praying and trusting. The lesser messianic king, David, heeded the great Messianic King, Jesus, and His call to the apostles as given in John 14:1. Jesus, aware of the circumstances and the apostles’ response to them, urged and motivated the apostles with the words: Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. The word translated troubled signifies inward agitation, a churning within, and inner-man turmoil. David counseled himself in the same manner that Jesus counseled the apostles in their circumstances. David focused on his God and God’s game plan for Israel and David. David heeded his own counsel and he slept! Amazing! He was a good steward of his thoughts, desires, and actions. He took every thought captive and acted on the God of circumstances and not his feelings or the circumstances (2 Corinthian 10:3-5).
v.7: Arise, O Lord. Deliver me, O my God! Strike all my enemies on the jaw; break the teeth of the wicked.
v.8: From the Lord comes deliverance. May your blessings be on your people.
The final passages carry a confident cry for deliverance. They are a war cry (Numbers 10:33-36). As in 1 Samuel 17, David was engaged in the Lord’s battle against the Lord’s enemies. A proper perspective of God – His presence, power, and plan – enabled David to have a proper perspective of self, others, and God’s providence.
In one sense, David was a free man. He encouraged himself in the Lord. He trusted Yahweh for who He was and His activity – past, present, and future. He prayed for his own deliverance in part because he knew that as the king went so went the nation. He prayed for the people. David knew his God which enabled David to remain faithful. In this way David imitated the greater David. King Christ lived to please His Father. He looked forward to His return to heaven as the exalted Lord of lords and King of kings. For David, he knew his place in God’s plan and labored to please Him. Knowing and doing enabled David to secure for himself, the people, but even greater: God.
1. David was situation with Absalom was agonizing. Perhaps that is why the organizer of the psalter placed Psalm 3 so early in the Psalter. This is David’s first recorded appeal to Yahweh in the Psalter. What do learn and how does the psalm compare with John 14:1-3?
2. How does the Triune God expect you and equip you to apply David’s mindset in your life?
3. God made two promises to David (2 Samuel 7:1-16): a kingdom for David and dwelling place for Himself. How does David’s knowledge of this fact help David use the situation to grow and change?