Psalm 3 - HOW CAN I EXPERIENCE PEACE IN TIMES OF PRESSURE?
The door looked like a safe door and we were told to leave it locked all the time we were in our rented unit in Kiev. We don’t have to do that in Australia.
When we were visited by a man from the Ukrainian Mafia and his henchmen dressed as police we should not have opened the door. I admit that I felt a little afraid, but he was not really interested in us. He was the son of the person from whom we had rented and fortunately he was more intent on retrieving a jacket he had left in the house.
A friend once told us of the walls, barbed wire and alarms they had installed around their house in South Africa to remain safe. Even then they kept a gun under the pillow.
I don’t wake up thinking about my enemies. I don’t fear the intrusion of insurgent soldiers bashing down the door and firing their weapons indiscriminately at my family. I don’t know the horror of bombs and terrorism.
Christians can openly worship in Australia without fear of being ridiculed or persecuted. The pressures I face in life have not involved fighting for my life. I have no experience of the kind David faces in this Psalm. I don’t pretend to know how he feels. I hope never to experience such things and I pray for protection for those who do.
Nevertheless, I have a healthy reverence for God and a knowledge that I am in His hands. He is my faithful friend, and what I lack in experience of facing enemies, David has faced head on and can certainly answer the question better than most of us, “How do I continue to have peace in times of pressure?”
It is obvious that the Lord is also a friend to whom David can come when he feels the pressure of those around him who want him defeated and dethroned. Psalm 3 invites us with David to …
1. BE HONEST WITH GOD ABOUT THE PRESSURES AND THE CHALLENGES YOU ARE FACING
“O Lord, I have so many enemies; so many are against me. So many are saying, “God will never rescue him!” Interlude” (Psalm 3:1-2 NLT).
He doesn’t ask “Why, Lord?” He just lays out the facts. It’s good to verbalize what is happening in our lives to God.
Sometimes I meet someone who sees themselves as an atheist, those who don’t believe in God yet when I ask if I can pray for them after my visits they say, “Yes, please do.” I encourage those who feel they have no faith to simply keep the communication lines open with God.
Psalm 3 is mirrored in the New Testament in Hebrews 4:15-16 (NLT) which says that Christ understands our weaknesses, for He faced all of the same testings we do, yet He did not sin. He, of all people, knows what it means to face the enemy, even to the point of death. It says “So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive His mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.”
David told God about his situation and was honest with God. I encourage you to do the same.
Watch King David if you want to know about pressure. When he wrote Psalm 3, he was surrounded by people who wanted to kill him. I have never faced that kind of situation.
In the book of 2 Samuel in the Bible, it tells of a rebellion against David. To be specific, it tells of Absalom’s rebellion against David. What makes it horrible is that Absalom was David’s own son.
What happened to make Absalom hate his father so much?
There are overtones here of the Starwars Trilogy. Luke Skywalker had some issues with his Dad, Darth Vader. Attacking the Death Star in an X-wing is nothing compared to the internal conflicts he faces in the final battle with Darth Vader in Return of the Jedi.
Luke says he’ll never submit to the dark side of the Force, but then again killing your Dad with a Lightsaber is not an easy thing to do.
Quantum leap back to my study. I can’t say I ever wanted to be like my Dad. Unwittingly I made a choice early in my life never to be a son. I didn’t learn from him and avoided him. I look a lot like him now and our relationship was reconciled before he died in an amazing way.
What’s all this got to do with Psalm 3? Wind back the scene to the window of 2 Samuel and you will see that Absalom never reconciles. He was an angry young man and battled all his life with issues to do with his father.
Unlike in the lightsaber episode of Starwars, it was the son, Absalom, who gave way to the “dark side” big time and not the Father, David. David refuses to face his son in battle and seeks to protect him to the end. Yet some think of David as an evil king. Why does David have so many enemies? Is he really that unlikeable?
I spoke to my friend Joyce a while ago who doesn’t know the Bible very well but even she said that she doesn’t like King David. She doesn’t like him because he committed adultery and murder. He seems to get away with it without consequences.
Is this a clue as to why King David has so many enemies? His abuse of leadership earlier in his life? Do they all feel like Joyce? Is he like so many terrorists, kings, presidents, and drug-lords who seem to get away with their sinful behavior?
To really understand why David wrote this Psalm, you have to know the prequel. It is not a pretty story and it is found in the ancient book of 2 Samuel.
2 Samuel reads like a Starwars prequel to Psalm 3. Luke Skywalker had some issues with his Dad, Darth Vader in Return of the Jedi. So does Absalom.
What happened to make Absalom hate his father so much?
2 Samuel tells the story of how Absalom had a beautiful sister whose name was Tamar. When Amnon raped Tamar, King David did nothing. Perhaps that’s when Absalom began to hate his own father and lost his faith in God.
Absalom was not about to sit around and do nothing. Two years later, his simmering rage against Amnon had not been assuaged. So he plotted revenge.
Absalom invited Amnon to a harvest feast and then murdered him. He escaped to live with his grandfather, Talmai, King of Geshur. David does nothing to get him back or hold him to account for his crime.
Why does David let Absalom get away with murder?
Well, perhaps David’s own conscience plays a part in his decision-making. Is he reluctant to act because of his own sin of adultery and murder?
David’s life moves from a soap opera to a murder mystery to a Starwars premake. David had slept with Uriah’s wife, Bathsheba. But worse still, to cover up his sin, he had murdered her husband Uriah by putting him in the thick of battle without support. Perhaps these sins made him inept when it came to disciplining his sons.
David confesses his sins bitterly when confronted by Nathan the prophet, but Nathan prophesies that “The sword shall not depart from your house” and this prophecy was finding fulfillment in the most horrible way.
David suspects nothing when Absalom is eventually allowed to return to Jerusalem. Instead of behaving in humility to his Father, Absalom patiently and relentlessly wins the hearts of the people (2 Samuel 15:13) and stages a rebellion.
WHY DID DAVID WRITE THIS PSALM?
With all this emotion and action spinning around in the background and threatening another episode, Psalm 3 begins to take on a new meaning. It is said that David composes this Psalm when he is forced to leave Jerusalem, fleeing from Absalom’s army, as he passes by the mount of Olives. 2 Samuel 15 recounts how he weeps, with his clothes torn, and with dust on his head as a sign of his grief and shock at such a revolt. Not only his son but many people he trusted have turned against him.
Although David grieves over his son’s rebellion, somehow David finds peace during this terrible situation. This Psalm indicates that he runs FROM Absalom but INTO the arms of God. His defense from Absalom’s huge army is this prayerful Psalm.
“How do I continue to have peace in times of pressure?” David leaves me an example when I am facing circumstances I face as a consequence of my own mistakes in life.
1. BE HONEST WITH GOD ABOUT THE PRESSURES AND THE CHALLENGES YOU ARE FACING but also, like David
2. MAKE A DECISION TO RECOGNISE YOUR DEPENDENCE ON GOD
Terrorists, drug lords and presidents and kings only seem to get away with their sinful behavior.
Consequences and forgiveness are different. The Bible indicates that although we often face the consequences of our own sin against others, God forgives us when we honestly confess our transgressions to Him. But let’s not pretend that this forgiveness did not come at a price. Christ paid for us the supreme cost by dying for us on the Cross. The Cross pays our debt of sin and our relationship with God is restored when we place our trust in what Christ has done.
We may face consequences and pressures that directly result from our sins yet God can give us the peace we need while He deals with the mess we make at times with living. He gives us peace when we are surrounded by circumstances that are far from friendly and absorbs the blows of the enemy.
Some of his friends had joined a terrorist organization and were intent on punishing him because their religion told them that God had abandoned him as an infidel and he didn’t deserve to live. What has changed in our world?
David writes in his journal,
“O Lord, I have so many enemies; so many are against me. So many are saying, “God will never rescue him!” Interlude” (Psalm 3:1-2 NLT).
Many people in Israel justified their own betrayal by saying, “God has left King David because he has sinned so badly.” Your friends and your enemies become obvious in times adversity.
David doesn’t try to defend himself. Firstly, David is honest with God about the pressures he faces and about the ridicule from those he once trusted.
But David finds peace in the midst of turmoil. In the light of his past regrets and present adversity, where does he find the resources for peace?
When others abandon you and question your faith or God’s willingness to help you, what is your response? Like David, you can…
3. REMIND YOURSELF OF WHAT THE BIBLE SAYS ABOUT GOD
What do you know of God? David’s images are those with which he relates strongly.
a. God Is My Shield
Psalm 3:3 says, “But You, O Lord, are a shield around me; You are my glory, the One who holds my head high.”
Nathan prophesied that in 2 Samuel 12:10 (NLT) “From this time on, your family will live by the sword because you have despised Me by taking Uriah’s wife to be your own.” David is under no delusions. God says that he will always have enemies who will be out to destroy him.
The sword may come against him as a consequence of his moral failure but the Lord will be his shield. God is your shield (Psalm 3:3) when all other shields are inadequate.
Apparently, there are two kinds of shields used by Hebrew warriors. According to the POSB commentary, one was a large rectangular shield which the soldier could hide behind and be covered. The other was a small, hand-held shield which was used to fend off arrows and absorb sword strikes. It is the small, hand-held shield that David is speaking of in Psalm 3.
That means that in Psalm 3, David is saying in effect,“The sword will come against me. That is inevitable. But the Lord is my shield. The Lord will not just protect me from being struck by the sword, but will also personally take the blows intended for me. He will personally absorb the impact.”
David knows that this is a spiritual battle that he fights and however inadequate his small round sword may be in the midst of open warfare, God has absorbed the blows of his sins and will shield him from the blows of the evil one. He will face this situation he has brought on himself but will not be robbed of forgiveness.
Isaiah 53 reminds us that the Jesus Christ is our shield. Jesus personally absorbed the blows of sin for us when He died on the Cross.
Isaiah 53:3-12 (NLT) says, “He was despised and rejected— a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief … Yet it was our weaknesses He carried; it was our sorrows that weighed Him down. And we thought His troubles were a punishment from God, a punishment for His own sins! But He was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed … the Lord laid on Him the sins of us all.
David was face to face with a situation he had brought on himself and Nathan warned him that he would have to live by the sword as a consequence, yet God was intercepting each blow of the spiritual battle and he was at peace.
Like a shield, Christ absorbed the painful blows of my sin. He is my shield in the midst of the spiritual battles I face. What about you?
But David also needs an Identity Shield, a service that will provide him with total protection to keep his name and identity safe. He needs lost wallet protection and a $1 million plus insurance policy to cover costs incurred due to loss. For David, it needs to be a mobile service because he is presently on the run. Well, maybe David doesn’t need all those optional extra’s but his identity is certainly being threatened by a malicious source.
Well, maybe King David in Psalm 3 doesn’t need all those optional extra’s but his identity is certainly being threatened by a malicious source.
Absalom, David’s own son, is wanting to take over his father’s identity as King; the lot. If he lived today he’d want his private phone number, social security number, address and credit card information, bank account information and medical insurance. He wants to be King, live in the palace, change the photograph and signature on the official passport and have it all; a whole kingdom; wine, women, wealth and worth.
Absalom’s scam was subtle but effective. He began Phishing for information about David’s kingdom, winning people’s hearts and allegiance. He Shoulder Surfed the crowd with deceitful charm, looking to undermine David’s security codes and Skimmed for information useful in orchestrating a successful rebellion and takeover.
Is David grieving over identity theft when He writes Psalm 3?
In Psalm 3:3 (NLT) David He prays and says to God, “You are my glory, the One who holds my head high.” The glory of being King of Israel had been ripped away from David when he fled from Jerusalem. His cultural identity had been questioned big time. He feels the grief of his loss deeply.
2 Samuel 15:30 (NLT) says “David walked up the road to the Mount of Olives, weeping as he went. His head was covered and his feet were bare as a sign of mourning. And the people who were with him covered their heads and wept as they climbed the hill.”
That doesn’t seem to be much hope. How can he be grieving and then say, “But You, O Lord, are my shield; You are my glory, the One who holds my head high”? (Psalm 3:3).
How can you have peace in times of pressure?
It seems David has peace despite the loss of the trappings of power and the discouragement of having to leave Jerusalem.
3. REMIND YOURSELF OF WHAT YOU KNOW ABOUT GOD
It seems that God is all the glory David needs. There is a spiritual battle to be won and God is his shield. He worships the King of glory and he will reign as King by allowing that glory to flow through him, despite his circumstances. It is enough to have Him in his life. His spiritual identity is untouched.
a. God Is My Shield – He takes the blows in the midst of my spiritual battles.
b. God Is My Identity – I find my identity in Christ. He lifts up my head when I lose perspective.
Absalom may look like him, talk like him and masquerade as him but he does not have the identity found in God of a king; the calling of a king, the anointing of a king, the heart of a king. His own identity is blurred and marred by his sin. God lifts David’s head up high when all seems lost outwardly.
When I am cowered by my regrets, worries, difficult circumstances, opposing voices of culture and individuals who seek to devalue my faith in Christ, I remind myself that God lifts up my head. He not only encourages me but He personifies encouragement in me. He not only forgives me. He is my forgiveness. He not only identifies with me. He is my identity.
Absalom tries to masquerade with David’s identity. David may have temporarily been dethroned but God is still on the throne and sovereign. While God is still on the throne then David is still King. While God is still on the throne of my life, then my identity is found in Him.
When I face the pressures of life and my identity is threatened, the invitation of Psalm 3 is to allow God to be the lifter of my head and I am reminded that He knows who I am better than I know myself. Since my identity is found in Christ I can be at peace.
Ephesians 1:3-5 (NLT) says that God “…has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are UNITED WITH CHRIST.” Philippians 1:20-21 (NIV) says “… For to me, TO LIVE IS CHRIST and to die is gain.” Christ offers us the identity for which we are created.
In Psalm 3, David invites you, through his example, to remind yourself of what the Bible says about God. He is your Shield and your Identity and...
c. God Answers Your Prayers (Psalm 3:4)
Apparently, the American President Abraham Lincoln said, “I have been driven many times upon my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had nowhere else to go. My own wisdom and that of all about me seemed insufficient for that day.”
In Psalms 3:2, 4 (NLT) David says “So many are saying, “God will never rescue him!” Interlude … “I cried out to the Lord, and He answered me from His holy mountain. Interlude”
It seems that David’s enemies, led by his own son and those whom he once trusted, are trying to defame David’s faith and vilify David with denunciations and discouragement and blame, but rather than waste a response on these unrestrained voices of doom, David cries out to the Lord. He is not silenced by the enemy and God is not silenced by their malignant allegations and blasphemous presumptions.
The Ark of the Covenant, where God chose to reveal His presence may still be in Jerusalem’s holy mountain, but David hears heavens voice and experiences the presence of God despite being compelled to flee from his own son’s army into the wilderness. He prays and receives God’s answers while he is running away from those who once gathered with him in supposed worship.
Hebrews 4:14-16 (NLT) says “… So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive His mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.”
1 John 5:13-15 (NLT) says, “… we are confident that He hears us whenever we ask for anything that pleases Him. And since we know He hears us when we make our requests, we also know that He will give us what we ask for.”
d. God Watches Over You (Psalm 3:5)
Psalm 3:5 says “I lay down and slept, yet I woke up in safety, for the Lord was watching over me.”
Grace meets my vulnerability as I sleep. Love dispels my fears with His peace. I may choose to be anxious but it’s better to trust that even Jesus asleep in my boat is enough. His presence is all I need to have peace. His trust in the Father is mine (Mark 4:39). He calms the tumultuous waves.
In Matthew 11:28 (NLT) Jesus says, “Come to Me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.”
Philippians 4:6-7 (NLT) says “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”
e. God Gives You Victory Over Impossible Circumstances (Psalm 3:6-7)
Psalm 3:6-7 says “I am not afraid of ten thousand enemies who surround me on every side. Arise, O Lord! Rescue me, my God! Slap all my enemies in the face! Shatter the teeth of the wicked! Victory comes from You, O Lord. May You bless Your people. Interlude”
This is violent teeth breaking language. Those who know the horrors of war are familiar with such terms. He uses common expressions of his day. I need “Slap the enemy in the face” kind of courage to face my circumstances head on and “Shatter the teeth of the wicked” kind of victory against impossible odds.
Those of us who have never faced war back away from such forceful language and prefer less callous dentistry, but David asks for victory using warrior expressions, terms that describe much less than his enemies desire for him. They don’t only want to slap him on the face and break his teeth.
The New Testament describes our spiritual battle and the champion of our faith. 1 John 5:4-5 (NLT) says “For every child of God defeats this evil world, and we achieve this victory through our faith. And who can win this battle against the world? Only those who believe that Jesus is the Son of God.”
Hebrews 13:5-6 (NLT) says, “… For God has said, “I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.” So we can say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper, so I will have no fear. What can mere people do to me?”
In Mark 9:23 (NLT) Jesus says, “Anything is possible if a person believes.”
Psalm 3 invites me to remind myself of what I know about God.
He is MY SHIELD – taking the brunt of the blows that come against me in life,
He is MY IDENTITY – in Him I find out who I really am,
He is MY FOCUS in times of need – answering my prayers,
He is MY SECURITY – watching over me,
He is MY VICTORY over impossible circumstances,
He is MY BLESSING in life,
He is My PEACE. Peace with God means I can experience peace in whatever circumstances I face.
The invitation of Psalm 3 in the light of the New Testament is to come to know real peace despite pressure as we get to know God personally through Christ.