A Song For Today
We are in a series of messages that we are calling "Soul Music" because that is really what the Psalms are; they are songs for the soul. They speak to the heart. The Third Psalm that we are going to study today is a unique Psalm in the fact that it is the first time the word "Psalm" occurs. The Hebrew word is "mizmor" which means a poem that is to be sung to musical accompaniment. This is the first song that David is recorded as having written. It is a song for today, because I believe this Psalm speaks to where many of us really do live day-in and day-out.
The background of this Psalm is bad news. Have you ever experienced a day or maybe a week or even a month or perhaps even a year when bad news was good news because the next news was always worse news. I heard of a doctor who called a patient one time and said, "John, I've got some bad news and some worse news." The man said, "What is the bad news?" He said, "You only have twenty-four hours to live." The man said, "Well, what is the worst news?" He said, "I tried to call you yesterday."
These were dark days in the life of King David. Not only had his son, Absalom rebelled against him, but he had taken the kingdom away from him and was now pursuing him, trying to kill him.
The walls of David's life were crumbling all around him. The nation as a whole had been deceived into following Absalom and had turned against David. David had gone from being a king to a criminal on the run. He was even being ridiculed as a coward by people along the way.
One morning when the armies of Absalom were closing in on him and when it appeared that all was lost, the Lord gave David this Psalm. This Psalm can easily be divided into three parts because you will notice it is marked by the word "selah". The word "selah" means something like this â€“ "stop and think about what you have just heard." It functions somewhat like a spiritual speed bump to get you to slow down and listen to what God has just said.
Remember that the Psalms were songs that were sung by the people of God. The song that God gave David is a song that God gives to us if you meet any of the following conditions: if you have any problems, you are under any stress, you are having any relational difficulties, you are going through a physical illness, and you are being unjustly criticized. If any of those things are happening to you or have happened to you then stay tuned; if they haven't they will. Then, this song is for you. What God does for David is, first of all, He gives him some bad news. He then gives him some good news and then He gives him the best news. First, the bad news...
I. You Have Foes Who Will Be Against You
If you are a follower of Jesus Christ. If you have determined that God is going to take first place in your life then the world is a battlefield to you. War has been declared and you are public enemy number one. We fail to understand that as far as Christians are concerned the world is enemy territory. Any direction you go in, if you go with God, you are going to meet the enemy.
Listen to verse 1. "O LORD, how my adversaries have increased! Many are rising up against me." (Psalm 3:1, NASB)
A Christian does not have to go looking for trouble. If you are a child of God, trouble will come looking for you. Psalm 119:157 says,
"Many are the afflictions of the righteous." (Psalm 34:19, NKJV)
I know every day when I get up I have at least three enemies that are just waiting for me when I walk outside my door.
I have an enemy around me, an enemy within me, and an enemy beneath me. The Bible calls these enemies the world, the flesh and the devil. The world is my external foe. The flesh is my internal foe and the devil is my eternal foe.
All three of these enemies work 24/7 to try and get you away from God to try to cause you to lose your witness, lose your testimony, and lose your character.
For example, the devil will whisper in your ear, "You can get away with it" even though you know the Bible says, "Be sure your sin will find you out." The world will say, "You are just a product of evolutionary chance and your life has no meaning at all", even though you know the Bible says that "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth" and you too! Your flesh will say, "Eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow you may die" even though you know the Bible says, "Whatever, therefore, you eat or drink do all to the glory of God."
I sometimes am amazed that Christians get amazed when some people don't like them because the are Christians. Jesus said in John 3:19, "This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil." (John 3:19, NASB)
We are light living in darkness and darkness hates light and you have foes who are going to be against you.
Listen to what these enemies were saying about David.
"Many are saying of my soul, 'There is no deliverance for him in God.' Selah." (Psalm 3:2, NASB)
They were not just mocking David; they were mocking God. They were laughing at David's faith and making fun of David's Father.
The word "deliverance" literally means "victory." What they were saying was, "David, we thought you use to sing how great is our God? Where is your great God now?" You are not living a victorious life." That is one of the most shameful statements anybody can ever make about a follower of God. Quite frankly, that is what the world says about many Christians today. Let's be honest, the world does not take the church seriously. Because of that, the world doesn't take God seriously. The reason is the world sees a church that doesn't take God seriously.
I want to give you a thought today about your faith in God that I hope you will never forget. The world cannot see our God, but they can see our faith and they will measure the size of our God by the size of our faith. What we need to do, both in the way we live our lives on Monday and the way we even do church on Sunday is to show the world by our great faith that we serve a great God.
Daniel 11:32 says this, "But the people who know their God shall be strong and carry-out great exploits." (Daniel 11:32, NKJV)
I want people that walk into this church to see a people that know God. I want them to experience what it is like to be around people who see the invisible, who believe the impossible, and want to do the improbable.
The world has their gods and we have our God and we need to show that there is one God and there is no god like our God. I Samuel 2:2 says, "There is no one holy like the LORD; there is no one besides you; there is no Rock like our God." (I Samuel 2:2, NIV)
We need to remember that when our foes are against us.
II. You Have A Father Who Is Always For You
David had made the same fatal error that many Christians often make when they are in the middle of trials and troubles and difficulties. They focus on their foes and focus on their fears and totally forget their Father. Let me tell you what I have learned. When you focus on your foes and your fears, your life will be one day after another of doubt, discouragement, depression, and defeat.
One of the purposes of trials and troubles is to get you to focus on God. Whenever problems and troubles come into our lives, do you know what we tend to do? We use them as microscopes to focus on ourselves when we ought to be using them as telescopes to focus on God.
That is exactly what David began to do in verse 3.
"But You, O LORD, are a shield about me, my glory, and the One who lifts my head." (Psalm 3:3, NASB)
Do you see the word "about"? It literally means "around." David understood in the middle of trouble and trials that God was a shield around him. Did you know that God surrounds His people with His protection and His love? Psalm 34:7 says, "The angel of the LORD encamps all around those who fear Him, and delivers them." (Psalm 34:7, NJKV)
Think about that. Wherever you go the angel of the Lord pitches his tent right beside you.
If you are in trouble, facing problems, difficulties and mountains you don't think you can climb, God is right there with you. We all remember when those three godly men were thrown into the fiery furnace that the Son of God was standing right there with them. When the disciples were in that boat being tossed about in that stormy sea, Jesus came walking to them. When Paul was sitting in that Roman dungeon waiting to die, Jesus was living in him.
Listen to what David says about God in verse 3 again. He says that God is - "My glory and the One who lifts my head." (Psalm 3:3, NASB)
Why did David refer to God as "lifting his head"? Whenever we are discouraged or defeated or depressed, what do we tend to do? We "hang our heads." Troubles were weighing David down. His shoulders were drooping, his spirits were sagging, and his head was hanging.
You might be tempted to say who could blame David under the circumstances. Well, that was the point, David was not under circumstances; he was over them.
Think about this. You can not ever focus on God looking down. That is why your outlook is to be determined by your up look. Jesus was talking to the disciples on one occasion about the great tribulation and He was describing the terrible conditions that would be present during that awful period when God's wrath would be poured on this earth. Listen to what He said to them in Luke 21:28. "But when these things begin to take place, straighten up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near." (Luke 21:28, NASB)
If your head is hanging right now, it is because you have not placed your head in the hand of God. When you are hanging your head, you are looking down, you are not looking up and you are focusing on your foes and not on your Father and that is when you will live in defeat.
Thankfully, David's problems had put him right where he needed to be â€“ on his knees. Now God had David right where He wanted him. When David had focused on his foes, he had forgotten his Father, but when he focused on his Father, he forgot about his foes.
One of the reasons why God allows problems to come into our lives is to force us to pick up the prayer phone, knock us off our feet and get us on our knees so we can pray to Him.
I want to show you something that you would have missed if I didn't point it out to you. In verse 1 and 2 the only time that God is mentioned is by David's enemies, but beginning in verse 3, God mentions David five times. God was there to meet David's needs all the time, but before David could have God's assistance, God demanded David's attention.
When David found God, David found peace for he says in verse 5, "I lay down and slept; I awoke, for the LORD sustains me." (Psalm 3:5, NASB)
David was no long surrounded by the luxury of his palace. He no longer had the love of his people. He no longer commanded the loyalty of his soldiers and yet he said, "I had the best nights sleep I've had in years." He finally had discovered that true security and true serenity is found only in God.
There are some of you who sleep well at night because you've got savings in the bank, a good job and great health. I've got news for you, a thief can steal your savings, a stock-market crash can take away your money, the economy can take away your job, disease can ruin your health, but nobody can take Jesus Christ away from you.
Do you know what is so sad? There are a lot of people in this world, who if they read in the headlines today that God was dead, they would go home and sleep like a baby, but if they got a phone call that they lost their job, they would lose their mind. If you are putting your trust and your happiness and your peace of mind and your security and your faith and your hope in anything or anybody other than Jesus Christ you are headed for a big disappointment.
I don't care how much you have. I don't care how many title deeds your name is on. When you die you are going to leave every bit of it behind, but the God in heaven says, "I will never leave you nor forsake you."
III. You Have A Future That Should Encourage You
I don't know what kind of problems you may be facing or what kind of difficulties you are swimming through or what kind of mountains you are trying to climb. I can tell you that if you know God, your future is as bright as His promises. David realized that with God there was really no way he could lose. When he realized that he went back to being the man that God created him to be and the person that God had called him to be.
First of all, his courage came back. What David says in verse 6 is really kind of weird. "I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people who have set themselves against me round about." (Psalm 3:6, NASB)
You would think anyone with common sense would be afraid of ten thousand people surrounding him, all wanting his scalp, but David said, "Bring them on! I am not afraid of anybody no matter how big he is or any people no matter how numerous they are." How could David say that? Because, David understood that God plus one is a majority in any situation.
Let me let you in on a little secret. If God is on your side it doesn't matter who is not, but if God is not on your side it doesn't matter who is. We don't need to get on the biggest side; we need to get on God's side, because God's side is the best side whether it is the biggest side or not.
Listen to these words in II Samuel 22. "The LORD lives, and blessed be my rock; and exalted be God, the rock of my salvation, the God who executes vengeance for me, and brings down peoples under me, who also brings me out from my enemies; you even lift me above those who rise up against me; you rescue me from the violent man." (II Samuel 22:47-49, NASB)
Not only did David's courage come back, but David's confidence came back. He says in verse 8, "Salvation belongs to the Lord." (Psalm 3:8, NASB)
The word that he uses for salvation in verse 8 is the same word that is used for deliverance in verse 2. You can again translate that word "victory." David finally figured it out. In any situation, victory belongs to the Lord. Now if victory belongs to the Lord, and if as a child of God I belong to the Lord, that means that victory belongs to me.
Any child of God who is living by the Word of God and walking in the will of God and filled with the Spirit of God and committed to the work of God can never ever lose. That is why our confidence should be totally unshaken.
Finally, David's contentment had returned to him. He said, "Your blessing be upon Your people." David finally understood that even in the middle of your deepest, darkest trials God's blessing is always upon you. I don't care how dark the thunder clouds are hanging over your life; they will contain showers of blessing.
Do you understand that as a child of God as long as you are living for Him you are never out from under His blessing? When you get into the middle of a battle you will be victorious? God made David victorious. When Absalom had David in his sight and could have killed him, God causes Absalom to listen to bad advice. Instead of pursuing David and capturing David when he could have, he let him go. When he finally fought his father, David was able to gather strength and was ready for the battle. He defeated his son and Absalom died in the process.
I am a huge baseball fan and I have to tell you my favorite team has always been the Yankees. I've always been amazed at the great players who have come through the team known as the New York Yankees. One of the greatest was Lou Gehrig. Whenever you hear the name Lou Gehrig you automatically think of "Lou Gehrig's Disease." At the very height of his career, Gehrig contracted this disease and had to retire from baseball. On Lou Gehrig day,
July 4, 1939 as he stood before 60,000 fans he gave one of the greatest speeches in the history of sports. Listen to it again.
For the past two weeks you have been reading about a bad break I got. Yet today, I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth. I have been in ballparks for seventeen years and have never received anything but kindness and encouragement from you fans. Look at these grand men. Which of you wouldn't consider it the highlight of his career to associate with them for even one day? Sure I'm lucky... When the New York Giants, a team you would give your right arm to beat and vice-versa, send you a gift that's something! When everybody down to the ground's keepers and those boys in the white coats remember you with trophies that's something! When you have a wonderful mother-in-law who takes sides with you and squabbles against her own daughter that's something! When you have a father and mother who work all their lives so that you can have an education and build your body it is a blessing! When you have a wife who has been a tower of strength and shown more courage than you dreamed existed that is the finest I know.
So, I close in saying that I might have had a tough break, but I have an awful lot to live for!"
Less than two years after Lou Gehrig made that speech he was dead. Even when he faced a foe that would eventually kill him, Lou Gehrig understood the great blessings of life that he enjoyed. The next time you are in one of those difficult times, one of those Lou Gehrig moments, just remember you have a "Song for Today" where you can know that even when the foes are surrounding you and are stacked against you, you have a Father that is always for you and a future that is as bright as His promises that never fail.
1 Mark Attebery, The Samson's Syndrome, pp172-173.