When we read the language of David as he departs from Jerusalem because of the insurrection of his son Absalom, we can see his fears for he says, "Arise and let us flee for we shall not else escape from Absalom". (2 Samuel 15:14) We also see the pathos in his heart in his words, "Behold, my son, which came forth of my bowels, seeketh my life" (2 Samuel 16:11). If, as is believed to be the case, Psalm 41 was written at this time as well, then David was also, at the time of the rebellion, experiencing a physical illness so severe that many did not expect him to survive. The third Psalm pulls back the veil and lets us see into the very recesses of the soul of David in a trial that was no doubt more intense than most of us have ever experienced. Our question as we look at the history and simultaneously at the psalms, "are the perils and the pain the only feelings within the soul of the man who in his life knew so much of getting into the presence of God?" Can we now look at the three stanzas within the psalm as we meditate upon this morning hymn of David, seeking to see the motions within the heart of one who a few hours before had ended the day with God and has now awakened to pray and to praise Him?
The Crisis He Experienced (3:1-2)
David felt that his enemies were many. Added to this was the fact that many had given up on him and were saying that God was no longer going to answer him. They said his only recourse, the God Who had answered him in the past, was no longer his salvation. The troubles with his foes were great but he had also to bear the taunts from his friends. Added to this was the fact that his greatest foe was his son. It was for this son that he had grieved during the five-year period when he had not seen his face. Could the trial be any greater? Would David reach the breaking point where he could take no more? The frailty of his body, the fierceness of his foes, the failure of his friends, and the crisis within his family: Where would he turn?
The Comfort He Enjoyed (3:3-4)
"But " This is the great expression of contrast. All seemed dark to those whose faith had failed or who had forgotten God. Can we turn for a moment from the magnitude of Davids trial to yours and ask if you have forgotten God? Do you feel that God has forgotten you? God reminded Israel that even if, as is unlikely, the nursing mother could forget her sucking child and not have compassion on the son of her womb, yet He would never forget them for He had graven them upon the palms of His hands (Isaiah 49:15-16). David remembers that God is his Shield, his Glory, and the Lifter up of his head. What greater protection could there be? What greater prospect could there be? What greater promise could there be than that God would lift up his head and he would again wear the crown he had been promised? "I cried.. .He heard..." David lived in the enjoyment of answered prayer even before the prayers were answered!
The Confidence He Exhibited (3:5-8)
In the midst of the conflict, David lay down and slept peacefully and confidently. When he awakened, he thanked the God Who had sustained him. Ten thousands of people could not make him afraid when God was with him. Like Martin Luther later, he believed that God and one constituted a majority and was a guarantee of victory. He slept; he was sustained; he was secure. Listen to his supplication! "Arise 0 Jehovah, save me 0 my Elohim." He calls on God as the God of Promises (Jehovah) to arise and upon God as the God of Power (Elohim) to save him. He will not be afraid! Why? - Because salvation belongs to the Lord. David is living in the good of the answer to his prayer before that answer has been realized. "Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen" (Hebrews 11:1).