The heading for Psalm 3 indicates the setting: when David fled from his own son, Absalom. I was immediately struck by how difficult this must have been for David. When your own son is trying to take your life, you know you have a lot of enemies.
Yahweh, how many are my adversaries; many people are rising up against me.Psalm 3:1 (The First Testament)
But David calls on Yahweh to rise up also, to match those who rise up in opposition to him. (Note: this is how Goldingay translates “Selah” in this Psalm, rendering it as “Rise.”) There is something that really resonates with me here, the image of David pleading with God to rise up in his defense.
But you, O Lord, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head.Psalm 3:3 (ESV)
There is a devotional song set to these lyrics; it’s one of my favorites. But I’m reminded that it’s one thing to sing these words on a mission trip or in the confines of the church house. It’s quite another to sing them in the context in which they were originally written: in the midst of one’s enemies.
Rise up, Yahweh, deliver me, my God,
Because you’ve struck all my enemies on the jaw; you’ve smashed the teeth of the faithless.Psalm 3:7 (The First Testament)
I love David’s confidence in God’s willingness to rise against his foes. In fact, that’s the tenor of David’s line in verse 5:
I myself have lain down and slept; I’ve woken up, because Yahweh sustains me.Psalm 3:5 (The First Testament)
David rises to meet each new day confident in God’s mighty deliverance. No doubt he rises this way each morning because he has seen how God always rises up to save him from his enemies. This is the unexpected blessing of adversity. Difficult seasons provide us the opportunity to learn of God’s faithfulness and His provision. If things were always sunshine and buttercups, we’d never know God’s promise to never leave us nor forsake us. We’d never have occasion to see Him rise up in our defense.
Questions for reflection:
- What stands out to you most as you read Psalm 3?
- When have you implored God to “rise up” in the same way David does in Psalm 3?
- Does David come across as demanding in Psalm 3? Or simply confident in God’s deliverance?
- How does Psalm 3 impact your prayer life?