Summary: All of us go through adversities, failures, and dilemmas. But we cannot allow our circumstances to dictate to us what we see. We must let our up-look develop our outlook.
When he was 7 years old his family was forced out of their home, and he had to go to work to support them. At the age of 9 his mother died. At the age of 22, he lost his job as a store clerk. He wanted to go to law school, but his education was not good enough. At the age of 23, he went into debt to become a part owner of a small store. His business partner died and he was left to pay the debt off for many years following.
At the age of 28, after four years of courtship, he asked the young lady whom he was romantically involved with to marry him. She said no. Just years earlier he had a romantic relationship that ended at the girl’s death. At 37, after three times of trying, he was elected to congress, only to lose his seat two years later when he ran for reelection.
At 41 his four year old son died. The next year he was rejected as land officer. At 45 he ran for the U.S. Senate and lost. Two years later he was defeated for the nomination of Vice President. At 49 he ran for the Senate again, and lost again. At 51 he was elected to President of the United States, but on his second term he was assassinated.
Who am I referring too? I am referring to Abraham Lincoln. Abraham Lincoln was a man who knew failure. He knew what it was like to be hit with the fiery arrows of life. He knew loneliness and loss, humiliating failures, debilitating disappointments, and agony upon agony. He experienced hopeless circumstances.
The experiences of Abraham Lincoln are universal. We could all draw a map of our life and it would reveal failures, loneliness, lost, disappointments, and agony. We can all look to times in our life were everything seemed hopeless. That is where we find King David. We find him reaping the consequences of bad choices. We find him facing a seemingly hopeless situation. Adversity is evidently very real to him in this psalm.
Psalm 3 is the first Psalm that has the inscription of the author on it. It is called a lament Psalm. It is a cry of despair from a man of God that is facing some adverse circumstances. It is a lament from a man who finds himself in a hopeless situation.
The occasion is not a happy occasion, therefore the prayer he records is a cry for help. Most see Absolam’s revolt as the occasion for this prayer. Absolam was David’s son who desired the throne of his father, so he plotted to over throw it. The revolt was so powerful that David had to flee Jerusalem. David did not pen the psalm in the palace, but he penned it while under the starry sky running for his life.
David knew success, but he also knew sorrow. He also knew hopelessness, and the circumstance that he finds himself in is seemingly one of hopelessness. The circumstance appears to be hopeless. "Lord, how they have increased who trouble me! Many are those who rise up against me. Many are those who say of me, ‘There is not help for him in God."
The first thing we notice about David’s situation is hopeless adversity. When looked up, v. 1 literally reads, "Lord, how many are my foes!" I bring this out because we need to understand the meaning of the Hebrew wore translated "Foe." The Hebrew word is "SAR," and in its simplest meaning it refers to something that is narrow or confining. It can also mean "to bind up" or "to tie."
It is used in some instances to describe a strong emotional feeling experienced by one who is pressed externally by enemies, or internally by wrong decisions or passions. It also describes the personal anguish one encounters by adverse circumstances such as death.
For David, the word describes a distress or anguish that comes from enemies who are crowding him in a narrow place. What makes this distress, this anguish even greater is that those who are his foes, are his foes because they have staged a revolt against him. Notice what he says in the second half of verse one, "Many are they who rise up against me."
Repeatedly he uses the word "many" to describe those who are revolting against him. David was God’s man, but he failed in his walk with God, and therefore the things that are taking place in his life at the time of this Psalm is the consequences of that failure. David wakes up after having to flee Jerusalem and he begins to pen a prayer to God expressing the hopeless adversity he was facing.
Not only was the situation one of seemingly hopeless adversity, it was also one of hopeless abandonment. "Many are they who say of me, ‘There is no help for him in God.’" Those who staged this revolt were saying this about David. In their mind ,David had done things that forfeited his right to expect any help from God, and to expect him to answer his prayers. That word "help" can also mean "salvation" or "deliverance."