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(Psalm 3) David's Refuge in time of Rebellion

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An overview of Psalm 3. Psalm is ascribed to David and speaks of His refuge in God against a myriad of enemies. The inscription indicates this was during the coup of Absalom.

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Some of the most horrific sins that are commited are the one’s done by our own family members.
When spousal abuse, child abuse, or parent abuse occurs it can create more than just very serious physical harm.
Often after the wounds heal, there is deep emotional baggage. A person is often emotionally hurt with deep fear that goes on well after our physical wounds have healed.
David experienced some of that deep hurt when his own Son sought to take his throne away and kill him.
Tonight, we will be looking at .
The superscription of this Psalm gives us at least a clue about it’s content.
There is a little bit of disagreement with many of these superscriptions and what they mean.
There is a Hebrew preposition that could mean this is about David or it could be specifying who wrote the Psalm. The debate essentially circles that question.
In either case, I have no reason to doubt that it is about David’s flee from Absalom.
Background:
If you recall the progression of this story it went like this:
- Tamar is raped by Amnon
- Amnon is murdered by Absalom
- Absalom is exiled by David
- David is exiled by Absalom
Why was Absalom pursuing David?
(Bruce Waltke notes on the Psalms, Biblicaltraining.org)
(Bruce Waltke notes on the Psalms, Biblicaltraining.org)
Actual coup occured in .
Note the contrast between David and Absalom:
Absalom sought his own revenge while David sought God's refuge (according to the Psalm).
David is caught by surprise by the betrayal of many of his counselors, soldiers, and the tribes of Israel. He is running for His life being pursued by His own son of which there is no doubt, he desires to kill his father.
is both song and a prayer that describes David’s response to this rebellion.
Like much of David’s spiritual life, not a perfect life, but still a life worthy of considering. This Psalm is a model for what we should do when we are facing a tough situation.
Structure: Basic Stanza (Strophe)
Outline:
1. The threat of Rebellion ()
a. The multitude of the rebellion. (3:1)
b. The over confidence of the Enemy (3:2)
2. The Refuge of God ()
a. Yahweh's Blessing is upon him. (3:3)
b. Yahweh answers his prayer (3:4)
c. Yahweh sustains him (3:5)
d. Yahweh gives him peace. (3:6)
3. The Surety of Victory ()
a. Victory is guaranteed by Yahweh (3:7)
b. Physical salvation is in Yahweh's control (3:8)
Content:

1. The threat of Rebellion ()

We see the threat of rebellion in his description of the:
1. The threat of Rebellion ()

a. The multitude of the rebellion. (3:1)

Psalm 3:1 ESV
O Lord, how many are my foes! Many are rising against me;
Who was chasing
This is meant to describe how great of an enemy is against him. A few have remained loyal to David, but many thousand more are chasing him.
He asks the question, how many have are enemies and how many have arose against David.

b. The over confidence of the Enemy (3:2)

The enemies claim, there is no one to save you from death.
Psalm 3:2 ESV
many are saying of my soul, “There is no salvation for him in God.” Selah
Soul in this passage refers to life. Salvation is referring to the saving of one’s physical life.
The claim, there is not escape from death by your enemies.
What do you if you are a king facing an overwhelming enemy?
a. The multitude of the rebellion. (3:1)
b. The over confidence of the Enemy (3:2)
2. The Refuge of God (Psalm 3:3-6)
a. Yahweh's Blessing is upon him. (3:3)
b. Yahweh answers his prayer (3:4)
c. Yahweh sustains him (3:5)
d. Yahweh gives him peace. (3:6)
3. The Surety of Victory (Psalm 3:7-8)
a. Victory is guaranteed by Yahweh (3:7)
b. Physical salvation is in Yahweh's control (3:8)
So what do you do if your are a king facing an overwhelming enemy?
The same thing we ought to do for our fears and trials in life. Take refuge in God.

2. The Refuge of God ()

We see that the great and mighty king David is different from most kings of his day. While most kings would plot revenge, David sought refuge in God.
We see this first in Yahweh’s blessing upon David.

a. Yahweh's Blessing is upon him. (3:3)

Psalm 3:3 ESV
But you, O Lord, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head.
Shield -
This is the idea of protection.
A soldier in David’s day would carry a shield to battle.
Why? It protects him from spears, swords, and arrows.
In the same way, David is saying God is going to protect him from the literal spears, swords, and arrows of his enemy.
He describes the shield of God being about him on all sides. His enemies may be myriad all around him, but equally God is surrounding him.
Glory -
The word here glory is the idea of the honor of the King.
The word here glory is the idea of the honor of the King.
How has David lost his glory in the human sense?
His son is forced him to flee his Palace. He is a King on the run.
Further, His son has defiled his concubines on the roof.
2 Samuel 16:22 ESV
So they pitched a tent for Absalom on the roof. And Absalom went in to his father’s concubines in the sight of all Israel.
Why the public display?
To humiliate and dishonor is father.
David had much to worry about regarding his honor.
His Honor is at stake, but David acknowledges that his glory comes from God.
Who made him the King with the Glory in the land?
God.
And who holds his glory in His hands?
God.
Therefore, David trusts his honor, even in the midst of dishonor, to God.
“and the lifter of my head”. -
This is a way to say that his success is based on God choosing him to be King.
David started as lowly shepherd boy when God selected him to be the King of Israel.
So God is the one who lifts his head above other men in Israel.
- This acknowledges that he is not the doer of his position. (This speaks of his humility)
- It also acknowledges that the lifting of his head is in God’s hands. (This speaks of his trust in God).
Application:
Each one of us may at times feel the pressure of a myriad struggles.
We are struggling on every side, and the fear is pressing into us.
Perhaps the world says there is no help, and deep down we admit that we can’t see a way out of this.
That which opposes us is greater in number and strength than us.
What do we do?
We should do the same thing we should do when there are no enemies.
We should take refuge in God trusting him to care for us.
That is what David is doing.
He knows his end should be sure.
- He is outnumbered, outflanked, and there spies in his midst.
- Yet, he confesses who really has control of his life, his honor, and his position. God.
Whether it is the struggles on the prayer list tonight, or something unspoken that you are to afraid to mention, or it is a new struggle that takes you by surprise tomorrow.
Let’s take refuge in God.
As we pray tonight, let’s take time to praise God that we can trust him and take refuge in him.
(End of Lesson 1)
-------------------------------------------------------------
Where do you go when there is no hope?
When everyone else says their is nothing to save you.
That question and it’s answer essentially sums up .
This is a Psalm of David written at a time when his own son has betrayed him. His own son seeks to kill him. And in the midst of His son’s rage against him, David answers that questions.
Review:
1. The threat of Rebellion ()
a. The multitude of the rebellion. (3:1)
b. The over confidence of the Enemy (3:2)
Psalm 3:2 ESV
2 many are saying of my soul, “There is no salvation for him in God.” Selah
In human terms, he had no chance. The deck was stacked against him.
2. The Refuge of God ()
Yet, he had one person who changed everything. That was God
2. The Refuge of God ()
a. Yahweh's Blessing is upon him. (3:3)
Psalm 3:3 ESV
3 But you, O Lord, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head.
We pick up the Psalm at this point.
David not only acknowledges that God is the Lord of History, but calls upon him for refuge.

b. Yahweh answers his prayer (3:4)

Psalm 3:4 ESV
4 I cried aloud to the Lord, and he answered me from his holy hill. Selah
When there was no hope, David hoped against hope, by calling upon God for his refuge.
Then in a simple, but bolt he declares God “answered me”.
“His Holy Hill” was probably a reference to the temple.

His holy hill. That is, Zion (see Pss 2:6; 48:1–2). The psalmist recognizes that the LORD dwells in his sanctuary on Mount Zion.

Psalm 48:1–2 ESV
1 Great is the Lord and greatly to be praised in the city of our God! His holy mountain, 2 beautiful in elevation, is the joy of all the earth, Mount Zion, in the far north, the city of the great King.
David moved the Ark (and tabernacle) probably to the place of the modern temple mount, in .
ESV1 David built houses for himself in the city of David. And he prepared a place for the ark of God and pitched a tent for it. 2 Then David said that no one but the Levites may carry the ark of God, for the Lord had chosen them to carry the ark of the Lord and to minister to him forever. 3 And David assembled all Israel at Jerusalem to bring up the ark of the Lord to its place, which he had prepared for it.
Now, v. 4 is probably something you would say after what happens in v. 5.
The answer was the sustainment of life through the night.
To make an extended paraphrase, David said,
I called out to Yahweh who indwells the Holy of Holies in Jerusalem with His glory cloud, and he answered me by sustaining my life.
NOTE: Said as past action even though it chronologically follows the action.
NOTE: Said as past action even though it chronologically follows the action.
1 Chronicles 15:1–3 ESV
1 David built houses for himself in the city of David. And he prepared a place for the ark of God and pitched a tent for it. 2 Then David said that no one but the Levites may carry the ark of God, for the Lord had chosen them to carry the ark of the Lord and to minister to him forever. 3 And David assembled all Israel at Jerusalem to bring up the ark of the Lord to its place, which he had prepared for it.
So David is calling upon God and the one in the Holy of Holies answers him.
NOTE: Said as past action even though it chronologically follows the action.
The explanation of the answer to prayer.

c. Yahweh sustains him (3:5)

We are told in .
Psalm 3:5–6 ESV
5 I lay down and slept; I woke again, for the Lord sustained me. 6 I will not be afraid of many thousands of people who have set themselves against me all around.
Psalm 3:5 ESV
5 I lay down and slept; I woke again, for the Lord sustained me.
This is a man who feared if he even closed his eyes, he would be caught and killed.
ILLUSTRATION:
I remember working with a Vietnam Veteran. One day he was describing some of what he saw in Vietnam, and what probably disturbed him the most was the fear of sleeping.
You would think it would have been the Combat operations. Bullets flying as you charge hill caked in mud, in a hot and sweaty jungle in SE Asia.
Instead, he described how he hated to follow asleep and only got a few hours of sleep a night.
He knew if he was awake, he had a chance, but if he was sleeping you never knew what might happen. Someone could sneak into the camp and kill him without ever being seen.
This was especially in the guerrilla warfare of Vietnam, where often the enemy did sneak behind enemy lines.
That is the kind of danger and fear that David was facing. Yet, he awoke the next morning not because of His great strength, but because Yahweh sustained him.
c. Yahweh sustains him (3:5)
ILLUSTRATION:
I think this says something about God’s providential sustainment in our life.
Why should we have confidence in God?

d. Yahweh gives him peace. (3:6)

Because God has answered his prayer in his weakest moment; he now has confidence in God’s protection.
ILLUSTRATION:
I think this says something about God’s providential sustainment in our life.
Because God has answered his prayer in his weakest moment; he now has confidence in God’s protection.
Why should we have confidence in God?
Because God has carried us through in the past.
Despite the suffering that we may face today, God has been exceedingly in his manifold blessings.
Many of can think of a time when all the odds seemed against us, but something came through that sustained us. And God was providentially behind that.
God’s Past sustainment
David used the past sustainment to be confident in God’s work in his life in the future.
Psalm 3:6 ESV
6 I will not be afraid of many thousands of people who have set themselves against me all around.
Because of God’s blessings and answer to prayer, he now has confidence against his enemy.
He will not be afraid of all the enemy that literally surrounds him.
This leads him also to be sure of the victory and boldly claims so.
Now, before we move to the final stanza, I would like to comment about a particular wrong understanding of v. 5.
Psalm 3:5 ESV
5 I lay down and slept; I woke again, for the Lord sustained me.
Now that we have studied Psalm 3
Now that we have studied , what would you say David is talking about?
He Slept while on the run.
Is there another meaning here?
Now, before we move to the final stanza, I would like to comment about a particular wrong understanding of v. 5
Ps

3. The Surety of Victory ()

David both call’s upon God and boasts of his guaranteed victory.

a. Victory is guaranteed by Yahweh (3:7)

Look how Past sustainment helps David in His walk with the Lord.
Psalm 3:7 ESV
7 Arise, O Lord! Save me, O my God! For you strike all my enemies on the cheek; you break the teeth of the wicked.
In the confidence that God has sustained him, he cries out for God’s help to save him.
In the confidence that God has sustained him, he cries out for God’s help to save him.
Remember,
Psalm 3:2 ESV
2 many are saying of my soul, “There is no salvation for him in God.” Selah
- His enemies said there was no salvation from His murder.
In contrast, look at what he is doing. He is calling for God to save him when there is no hope.
He is calling on God to strike his enemies “cheek” (lit. Jaw bone). To Break the teeth of the wicked.
This is a figure of speech to say that God would defeat his enemies.
This does not mean that God will deliver him the same way he delivered Israel in the Exodus, but is meant that through the Servants of David, God would defeat David’s enemy.
Also note this is written in past tense.

the psalmist is so confident of the outcome that he writes it as if it had happened already.

In other words, when there is no hope, we can be confident there is Hope in God.

b. Physical salvation is in Yahweh's control (3:8)

In his final statement, he praises Yahweh.
Psalm 3:8 ESV
8 Salvation belongs to the Lord; your blessing be on your people! Selah
b. Physical salvation is in Yahweh's control (3:8)
Salvation belongs to the Lord - This is a way of saying God is in control of his history.
- He is the Lord of history and so he is also our refuge against the trials of this life.
- He blesses his people by protecting them against all odds.
CONCLUSION:
Now this verse does not mean we will never face trials.
1 Peter 1:6–7 ESV
6 In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
Part of living in this world and part of waiting for the 2nd coming is that God allows trials to perfect us into His image.
What this verse does say, is that there is a refuge when we are facing a hopeless situation.
How God answers your prayer is something that we have to providentially experience.
But also understand, his answer is always a blessing which is good, just, and right.
Maybe you are facing a trial today. Maybe you face it tomorrow.
Understand, God is a person you can take refuge in. If you are struggling call upon your God and he will answer.

Excursus on : What does really describe?

1. The Normal Reading of the Text.

Psalm 3:5 ESV
5 I lay down and slept; I woke again, for the Lord sustained me.
Now that we have studied , what would you say David is talking about?
He Slept while on the run, facing an unknown enemy. And God sustained him.
Is there another meaning here?
The normal reading of the text, when understood in light of it’s grammar, and it’s historical background, you understand God protected David during the coup.

From the various data which have been accumulated in these introductory paragraphs, it is possible to form a provisional history of the origin and subsequent use of the psalm. The psalm may have originated as a particular prayer during David’s lifetime (see further the Comment on v 1), associated with his flight from Absalom. Subsequently it became a royal psalm for general use, employed by the Davidic kings in times of military crisis. But this particular use was transformed to a general use. The particular military crisis and the need for victory was analogous to the crisis and needs which may face any human being at any time; so the psalm entered the general resources of Israel’s worship as a protective psalm, specifically as a psalm traditionally used during the morning worship

There is a further dimension of the psalm which must be accounted for, namely its relationship to Ps 4, with which it has many close parallels (see Kirkpatrick, The Book of Psalms [Cambridge: University Press, 1906], 13). Ps 3:6 has suggested to many interpreters that the psalm was used regularly in the morning worship of the individual or of Israel; this suggestion has been incorporated within the title given the psalm in this commentary (above). Ps 4:8 has suggested that the fourth psalm was employed during evening worship. Thus the location of these two psalms next to each other in the Psalter would not be accidental; the compiler of the Book of the Psalms (or of a collection within it) has set alongside each other two standard psalms for use in morning and evening worship respectively.

From the various data which have been accumulated in these introductory paragraphs, it is possible to form a provisional history of the origin and subsequent use of the psalm. The psalm may have originated as a particular prayer during David’s lifetime (see further the Comment on v 1), associated with his flight from Absalom. Subsequently it became a royal psalm for general use, employed by the Davidic kings in times of military crisis. But this particular use was transformed to a general use. The particular military crisis and the need for victory was analogous to the crisis and needs which may face any human being at any time; so the psalm entered the general resources of Israel’s worship as a protective psalm, specifically as a psalm traditionally used during the morning worship.

Psalm 3:5 ESV
I lay down and slept; I woke again, for the Lord sustained me.

2. The Spiritual Meaning of the Text.

Yet, many theologian would see far more than that.
They would actually see a reference to Christ in this passage.

a. Bruce Waltke and the Historical understanding:

The Psalms as Christian Worship: A Historical Commentary a. Slept in Crisis and I AM Sustained v. 5 [6]

The Christian catechism, following S. Clement of Rome (Epistle to the Corinthians, 26:2; Apology, I.38.5) and S. Justin (Apology, I. 38.5) and others (see above), understands it as “the voluntary and harmless sleep of Christ in the tomb and of his resurrection.”

(Waltke, Bruce K., James M. Houston, and Erika Moore. The Psalms as Christian Worship: A Historical Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI; Cambridge, U.K.: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2010.)
Waltke, Bruce K., James M. Houston, and Erika Moore. The Psalms as Christian Worship: A Historical Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI; Cambridge, U.K.: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2010.
Clement of Rome (AD 96)
Clement of Rome (AD 96)
Barnabas (AD 125)
Justin (AD 100-165)
Origen (185-254 AD)
Augustine of Hippo (AD 354-430)
There are some major names here who have held that this has something to do with Christ’s resurrection.

b. The ESV Study Bible

The ESV Study Bible makes a number of related comments. Notice what it says.

3:1 Protection from earthly enemies prefigures protection from the ultimate evils of Satan, sin, and death (Heb. 2:14–15). God the Father delivered Christ from his enemies in his resurrection (Acts 3:13–15), and that is the basis for our deliverance (Rom. 4:25).

Prefigures - This is term that essentially means a type, typology.

3:2 Salvation here, as generally in the OT, refers to both physical and spiritual deliverance from danger. The fact that they are saying this of his soul indicates that the enemies are taunting him: his sins are so bad, they imply, that God cannot save him.

The ESV is defining “Salvation” as always referring to spiritual deliverance and physical deliverance.
There is some warrant to understanding Salvation as being physical and spiritual.
New Dictionary of Biblical Theology The Nature of Salvation

In biblical usage, salvation is a comprehensive term denoting all the benefits, physical or spiritual, that are graciously bestowed on humans by God. The use of the Hebrew verb hôšı̂a’ (the hiphil of yš’) and the Greek verb sōzō in reference to both physical and spiritual healing reflects the Bible’s holistic view of salvation, which can be summed up in the Hebrew term šālôm (‘peace’) that refers to personal wholeness and well-being in every sphere. As

But even this dictionary does not see this strictly physical and spiritual (note the “or in the first sentence).
2 Samuel 10:11 ESV
11 And he said, “If the Syrians are too strong for me, then you shall help me, but if the Ammonites are too strong for you, then I will come and help you.
2 Samuel 2:11 ESV
11 And the time that David was king in Hebron over the house of Judah was seven years and six months.
“Help” here is the same word as .
- The actor is a person, not God.
- The assistance speaks of military help.
- There is no Spiritual salvation in view here.
Clearly based on this example, the word can refer to physical salvation alone. It is an error to apply one meaning or the root meaning of a word to all passages.

3:5 Being preserved through the night anticipates the hope of resurrection after the “sleep” of death (13:3; 1 Thess. 4:13–18).

I normally would highly recommend the ESV Study Bible. Yet, where is this understanding found in the text.

3. The Basis for a Spiritual Understanding.

But how does it get to this kind of understanding.
Does t
Perhaps it is something in the NT that makes them think that.
The ESV Study Bible was designed to help you understand the Bible in a deeper way. Created by a diverse team of 95 leading Bible scholars and teachers—from 9 countries, nearly 20 denominations, and 50 seminaries, colleges, and universities—the ESV Study Bible features a wide array of study tools, making it a valuable resource for serious readers, students, and teachers of God’s Word.

a. Is this based on a NT teaching or quotation?

(https://www.crossway.org/bibles/esv-study-bible-none-case/)
There is no illusion or quotation of in the NT.
(Confirmed through Faithlife/Logos Bible Interactive: NT use of OT; no uses noted).

b. The Presuppositions that Establish the Spiritual Understanding.

1) Dogmatism

The term dogmatics generally refers to the churchly task of summarizing and systematizing the teaching of Scripture and tradition into a coherent whole according to the theological categories (such as anthropology, Christology, soteriology) traditionally used throughout much of the history of the church.

(https://www.crossway.org/bibles/esv-study-bible-none-case/)
We all have tradition.
We all have tradition.
2 Timothy 2:2 ESV
2 and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also.
We are brought into a faith that has been passed down. So we all are dogmatics to a certain degree.
To what extent should we adhere to Church tradition is really the question.
Catholicism - The Church (including the history) decides doctrine.
Protestant -
a. Major role.
b. Advisory role.
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