No matter what your circumstances may be. It is whom your focus rests upon that matters. I’m sure many of us can relate to King David’s plea for deliverance in Psalm 3. Especially in the American business/political-scape of today people rise against one another just to “get ahead” in life. While David’s situation was more dire then the majority of those we face today; the foundational principle of trust is the same.

O Lord, how many are my foes! Many are rising against me; many are saying of my soul, there is no salvation for him in God. Selah

But you, O Lord, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head. I cried aloud to the Lord, and he answered me from his holy hill. Selah

I lay down and slept; I woke again, for the Lord sustained me. I will not be afraid of many thousands of people who have set themselves against me all around.

Arise, O Lord! Save me, O my God! For you strike all my enemies on the cheek; you break the teeth of the wicked. Salvation belongs to the Lord; your blessing be on your people! Selah

There is little doubt the historical-cultural setting of Psalm 3 is the Rebellion of Absalom, King David’s son (2 Samuel 14-19). At this point in history, David has fled Jerusalem and gone into the wilderness of Israel. This psalm is the personal heartfelt expression of gratitude; for it was God who protected him that first and most dangerous night. Notice in the first two verses, the psalmist presents a picture of those arrayed against him. The people are claiming God has cast him away due to his adultery with Bathsheba (see the prophecy 2 Samuel 12:11-12; and its literal fulfillment 2 Samuel 16:21–Absalom’s public sin was just one of the ripple effects caused by David’s secret sin). It is here we are told to pause; Selah.

Think about what the people are saying: “there is no salvation for him in God.” It is a statement made for us to dwell over. Not the theological sense (can one loose their salvation), but in the practical sense (is one favored). The next statement clearly shows David’s relationship with God is secure. Keil & Delitzsch comment, “But cleansed by penitence he stands in a totally different relationship to God and God to him from that which men suppose.”1 The contrast is evident, David’s adversaries claim he has lost favor with God. The truth is God responded from His holy hill. Once again we are instructed to pause; to reflect; Selah.

Prayers from the heart only come from a firm belief in the almighty. This is how we see David close his heartfelt prayer, focusing on God alone. The deliverance that he requests for himself, he does so for the good of the Lord’s people. Hengstenberg notes David, “shows by these words that his own person lay less upon his heart, than the people committed to him by the Lord.”2 The psalm closes urging us to pause; to reflect; to refocus; Selah.

This focus is additionally seen in the following psalm. While a definitive argument can not be presented for linking these two psalms together. The historical-cultural setting is traditionally viewed as from the time of Absalom’s rebellion (Psalm 4 is often presented as David’s prayer that first night in the wilderness and Psalm 3 the morning after). Wherever one may place this psalm in history, it is evident that David’s prayer is founded on his fellowship with–and the justifying grace of–God.

Answer me when I call, O God of my righteousness! You have given me relief when I was in distress. Be gracious to me and hear my prayer!

O men, how long shall my honor be turned into shame? How long will you love vain words and seek after lies? Selah
But know that the Lord has set apart the godly for himself; the Lord hears when I call to him.

Be angry, and do not sin; ponder in your own hearts on your beds, and be silent. Selah
Offer right sacrifices, and put your trust in the Lord.

There are many who say, “Who will show us some good? Lift up the light of your face upon us, O Lord!” You have put more joy in my heart than they have when their grain and wine abound.

In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.

As in the preceding psalm, when trouble surrounds us we must pause, reflect, and refocus on Him.

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  1. Carl Friedrich Keil and Franz Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament. (Peabody: Hendrickson, 2002), 62.
  2. E. W. Hengstenberg, Commentary on the Psalms, 3 vols. (Eugene: Wipf & Stock, 2005), 1:54.
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