Summary: David demonstrates how God's abiding promises allow us to rest in peace no matter what problems we face.
How did you sleep last night? Do you feel refreshed this morning? If not, you may be one of the 60% of Canadians who is not getting the sleep the body and mind need (according to a 2011 CBC poll). What could be the reason for this? Your smart phone or tablet may be the sleep-thief. I just heard about a study that found how some people are actually texting in their sleep. Apparently they can subconsciously hear a text come in and are so programmed to respond to it that they check and answer it even though they’re not actually awake! This interruption prevents the individual from falling into that deep sleep we all need.
Thankfully you can discipline yourself to unplug and mute all gadgets so they don’t keep you up. But is it possible to get the rest you need when you’re faced with real troubles like family, financial, and even health problems? King David found a way to enjoy real peace in spite of real troubles. He will share his secret with you this morning so that you too can always rest in peace no matter what troubles you face.
If you were listening to our Old Testament reading this morning, you know what kind of real troubles threatened when David wrote Psalm 3. David was up against an armed rebellion led by his own son Absalom. Dealing with a kid who breaks curfew or gets sent to the principal often can cause many sleepless nights for a parent, but at least that parent would get to spend those nights in his own bed. The rebellious Absalom, however, forced his aging father to flee the palace and spend his nights on the run – not moving from Holiday Inn to Super 8 but from hole in the ground to secret cave. That was sadly ironic when you consider that the name Absalom means “a father’s peace.” But it wasn’t just Absalom who was after David; many of David’s former advisors had also turned on him and were actively working to kill the king. And still others added to David’s misery. Emboldened by the coup, people like Shimei, a relative of the former king, cursed David and threw stones at him as David fled Jerusalem. It’s no wonder David wrote in our text: “O LORD, how many are my foes! How many rise up against me! 2 Many are saying of me, ‘God will not deliver him’” (Ps. 3:1, 2).
It was especially that last thought which had the greatest potential of robbing David of peace. Had God too abandoned him? David knew that’s what he deserved. After all David had been guilty of turning his back on God when he had committed adultery with Bathsheba and then murdered her husband Uriah. That had been years ago but had God’s justice now finally caught up with him?
Our past sins too often have a way of nipping at our heels like a barnyard dog that just won’t leave us alone. A disregard for God’s direction regarding his gift of sex – that it’s only for those who are married to each other - can lead to a lifetime of heartache as we may have to deal with child custody issues with a manipulative individual. Past substance abuse may weaken the body so that we suffer ailments most people our age don’t have to put up with. Irresponsible spending habits can ruin a credit rating so that it seems we’ll never be able to enjoy a decent home to call our own. Even if your life has been “squeaky clean,” you won’t escape feelings of divine abandonment. A cancer diagnoses, for example, can especially feel like a betrayal. “This is how you repay me God?”
That isn’t how David responded to his trouble. Instead he confessed: “But you are a shield around me, O LORD; you bestow glory on me and lift up my head. 4 To the LORD I cry aloud, and he answers me from his holy hill” (Psalm 3:3, 4). In spite of his past sins and present imperfections David was still confident that God’s love for him had not wavered. How could it? God had promised to always be with him. So while David’s enemies thought he was vulnerable to attack, David pictured God as his shield. David’s enemies were certain that his life would end in shame, but David was confident that God would bestow glory on him and lift him up out of the mess. David’s enemies were sure that God would ignore David’s prayers, but David cried to the Lord and was certain of God’s answer and support. And where would that help come from? “From [God’s] holy hill” (Psalm 3:4). David was thinking of that hill in Jerusalem where the Ark of the Covenant was – that visible picture of God’s abiding presence. Absalom may have thought that he was king of that hill, for that is also where the palace was located which he now occupied, but he was mistaken. God was still firmly enthroned on Mt. Zion and everywhere else for that matter. And this God was David’s protector.