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Psalm 3

The LORD delivered David from Absalom’s Conspiracy

Summary

David was conspired against, rebelled against, and fled for his life before Absalom and his army. David knew Yahweh Elohim, both the doctrine about him and in personal relationship. He depended on Yahweh, who was his shield, his glory, and his sustainer. He prayed to, believed, and praised the LORD for the anticipated personal deliverance and national blessing. David’s sentiments preview Paul’s sentiments of almost eleven centuries later in 2 Timothy 1.12, “I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him.”

History

David was God’s anointed king and as such was under God’s protection and command (1 Samuel 16.1,11-13; 2 Samuel 5.1-5; 6.21). Absalom (2 Samuel 15-18), David’s son through Maacah (2 Samuel 3.3) conspired against his father, and gathered many rebels to his side.  David fled from Jerusalem. Eventually David’s army defeated Absalom’s army in the battle in the Forest of Ephraim (2 Samuel 18.6-8). While riding on his mule after the battle, Absalom’s hair was caught in a tree suspending him in the air. Joab found Absalom there, and against David’s command, killed him by plunging three spears into his heart (2 Samuel 18.9-15). The LORD God had delivered David, preserved his kingship, and removed Absalom.

Outline

  1. Psalm 3.1-2. Problem. David’s enemies led by Absalom have increased in numbers, boldness, and ridicule.
  2. Psalm 3.3. Protection.  David expresses his complete confidence in LORD (Yahweh) when he says Yahweh is his shield, glory, and the one who lifts his head.
  3. Psalm 3.4. Prayer. David prayed to Yahweh and He answered.
  4. Psalm 3.5-6. Peace. David had a peaceful sleep because Yahweh supported him.
  5. Psalm 3.7-8. Praise. David concludes a final plea coupled with praise for deliverance and blessing on Yahweh’s people.

Exposition

  1. Psalm 3.1-2. Problem. David’s enemies led by Absalom have increased in numbers, boldness, and ridicule. See 2 Samuel 15.
    1. Psalm 3.1. Absalom and his conspirators want to overthrow David. They have attracted more people to their rebellion (2 Samuel 15).
    2. Psalm 3.2. Now the propaganda. They ridicule the idea that God will protect and deliver ( יְשׁוּעָה yeshuah, deliverance, salvation) David. This is physical deliverance in this context. The ridicule could take two forms: God does not exist which does not fit the context, or that David has fallen out of God’s favor—a prideful claim on the rebels’ part.
    3. The physical and verbal attacks challenge David’s faith, as they would our faith. David is God’s anointed king and the conspirators are challenging God. How does David handle this crisis? How do we handle attacks by other people?
  2. Psalm 3.3. Protection.  David expresses his complete confidence in LORD (Yahweh) when he says Yahweh is his shield, glory, and the one who lifts his head. Note that the LORD is the one who does all of this. He shields, he gives position and responsibility, and encouragement. Notes that Yahweh took David from shepherding (Psalm 78.70) and anointed him (Psalm 89.219-29). David was a man after God’s heart which means like-minded (1 Samuel 13.14; 14.7). David’s main spiritual traits were love for Yahweh and obedience to Yahweh’s will—intermixed with failures and spiritual recovery (Psalm 51.10,17).
    1. Shield about me. מָגֵן a shield, carried by soldier for defense.  This shield is a separation around (בַּ֫עַד) David that protects him. Yahweh is David’s protection, as he is for all believers who trust him. With God as one’s shield, no one else is needed. Shield is used many times in the psalms (e.g. Psalm 7.10; 18.2, 30; 28.7; 33.20; 59.11; 84.11; 115.9–11; 119:.14; 144.2).
    2. My glory. כָּבֹוד The LORD Yahweh provided David with his royal status. David has glory because God has given him glory before people. Without Yahweh Elohim David is just the shepherd boy. That is also true for each of us. God gifts us, sends us, empowers us for whatever and wherever he places us. Paul wrote about this in 1 Corinthians 15.10 and 2 Corinthians 12.9-10
    3. One who lifts my head. To lift up one’s head is to encourage him, and here to give David confidence that God chose him to be king, and therefore he will continue to be king. David will not have the kinship torn from him by a rebellion. God works through his vessel until the task is finished. Philippians 1.21-30 is a New Testament counterpart to this.
  3. Psalm 3.4. Prayer. David prayed to Yahweh and He answered.
    1. This is David’s report. The verb forms can be taken as present tenses or past, but the evidence in context favors past tense—David reports his prayer and God’s answer. The verbs and context give more evidence that David is reporting what has happened. Psalm 3.5 also supports this translation. (Imperfect (as preterite) + preterite imperfect with waw consecutive followed in Psalm 3.5, perfect tense + preterite imperfect with waw consecutive. See Allen Ross, Psalms Vol 1, page 223. Also NET notes on Psalm 3.4. KJV also takes them as past.)
    2. Yahweh answered David’s prayer. Holy Mountain refers to Zion, the Jebusite stronghold that David captured and it became Jerusalem (2 Samuel 5.7; 1 Chronicles 11.5; Psalm 78.68-69; 51.18). David had brought the ark to the Holy Mountain (2 Samuel 6.17). This signified where God met his people.
    3. Prayer from one in trouble. David, though he sinned by actions and attitudes, nevertheless loved Yahweh and trusted him. He knew how to pray and to pray with faith.
  4. Psalm 3.5-6. Peace. David had a peaceful sleep because Yahweh supported him.
    1. Psalm 3.5. David used his time wisely without worry. Sleep restores physical, mental, and emotional well-being. One cannot get restful sleep when worried or on guard. David knew something about the character and faithfulness of the LORD.
    2. Psalm 3.5. Sustain (סָמַךְ samak, support, lean, Gen 27.37; Psalm 145.14. Here qal impf with habitual meaning or preterit, past meaning, is better in the context. Ross page 224). The LORD supported, sustained David throughout the night. David reports what had happened.
    3. Psalm 3.6. David has no fear because the LORD sustains him no matter how large the enemy army is. David knows that the LORD is his shield, his glory, his confidence, and his sustainer.
  5. Psalm 3.7-8. Praise. David concludes a final plea coupled with praise for deliverance and blessing on Yahweh’s people.
    1. Psalm 3.7. The psalmist has described the enemies as rising up against himself in Psalm 3.2. Now David used the same word to ask Yahweh Elohim to rise up against the enemies. Arise (קוּם qum qal) and save (יָשַׁע yasha, hiphil) are both Hebrew imperatives expressing David’s request.
    2. Psalm 3.7. Strike/smitten and break/shattered are perfect tenses indicating David’s confidence that the LORD will do this. This is somewhat like the prophetic perfect, something in the future is so sure that it is written as if it is already done.
    3. Psalm 3.7. Cheek and teeth indicate defeat of the enemy. Probably Yahweh has done this through some type of military battle. The picture may bring up the defeating a wild animal by smashing it in the head (Job 29.17; Psalm 58.6).
    4. Psalm 3.8. David concludes with a joyful and confident proclamation of praise. We have the preposition lamed (L) prefixed to Yahweh which says from Yahweh or by Yahweh. This is the same structure that is in the superscription of this psalm (a psalm of David) and many others. Here deliverance is from or by Yahweh. This refers to physical deliverance in this psalm. The final line proclaims that Yahweh’s blessing (בִּרָכָה beracah) is upon Yahweh’s people, Israel. David shall remain Israel’s king.

So what for us?

  1. This psalm gives us a pattern or what to do when we are attacked by others: recognize the attack or problem, trust the LORD God for who he is what he can do, pray to him, then experience peace because we trust the LORD, and remember to praise him.
  2. Yahweh Elohim is on our side. He is stronger and smarter than any adversary, and the one to whom we should go in any trouble.
  3. Others may say that the LORD cannot or will not help, but deliverance belongs to the LORD.
  4. Can we sleep in time of trouble like David did? We know the same LORD God.
  5. Knowledge, faith, and thankful praise should be our everyday lifestyle.