1 Lord, how are they increased that trouble me! many are they that rise up against me.
The caption of this Psalm, though not Divinely inspired, suggests that it was written by King David when he fled from his son, Absalom. A full account of this can be found in II Samuel, chapters 15 through 18. In essence, Absalom deceived the Israelites and caused David to be run out of the land (II Samuel 15:13-14). David’s own son turned the people against the mighty king. The sixth verse of this Psalm might be hyperbole, but then again perhaps it’s not such a stretch to imagine Absalom having poisoned tens of thousands of hearts against David.
Verses six and seven form the basis for making the claim that this is a Psalm of comfort. Considering his circumstances, how could David possibly sleep well at night and walk without fear during the day? Aren’t feelings of panic and desperation often associated with the onslaught of troubles? Aren’t worry and doubt those insidious thieves that typically rob us of sleep and calm when we’re faced with difficulties? These were not a part of David’s mindset though for he knew that the God of all creation was taking care of him. Even though his enemies had “increased,” were “many” in number and were even mocking him, saying, “There is no help for him in God,” this sweet psalmist of Israel (II Samuel 23:1) enjoyed peace of mind. Though his detractors should gang up in the tens of thousands against him, David would not fear because His trust was in the all powerful God. No matter how many would rise up against him, he knew he would be the victor with his hand in the hand of the Lord.
In verse three, David portrays God as a shield. The American Standard Version translates this phrase, “But thou, Jehovah, art a shield about me,” the word “about” suggesting that God had covered him in protection. In the same verse the writer refers to God as “my glory.” Even though this phrase is variously explained, it seems that since David was honoring God in the context, he was indicating that God was the source of his glory or honor. Being that source, He could be counted on to care for David no matter how severe the attacks that might be aimed at him. Again in verse three, David identified God as “the lifter up of mine head.” This could have referred to God keeping David’s head up in hope rather than down in despair or it could have been a prophecy of David’s return to power in Israel. In either case, the Lord was the one who had the strength to accomplish these tasks. It was his confidence in this Divine strength that prompted David to cry unto the Lord and it was his knowledge of God having heard his cry that led to his restful nights and fear-free days.
Have any of us ever had tens of thousands of people after us? Have we ever been so beset by enemies that we had to run for our lives? Perhaps not, but if we have ever experienced difficulties in our lives, we have at least one time experienced the feeling that practically everything and everyone was against us.
Have you ever made these comments to yourself? “Nothing ever goes my way.” “Nothing ever works out for me.” “It’s not fair.” “This isn’t supposed to be happening to me.” Real or imagined, these feelings hurt and can lead to the worry and doubt mentioned earlier. Is there nothing we can do about our situation? Is there no one who can help us? Yes, there is a shield and “lifter up of the head” who demonstrates His strength to protect just as powerfully as he did in the days of king David.
The last nine verses of the eighth chapter of Romans go hand in hand with the message of God’s protection in the third Psalm. Together these verses form a beautiful segment of inspired Scripture that remind us of the amazing ability of our God to provide the strength we need in times of trouble.
In the context, Paul is writing in regard to suffering being experienced by Christians in Rome. Romans 8:31 asks, “What shall we then say to these things? (the suffering, mg) If God be for us, who can be against us?” Immediately we see the power of God in these two simple questions. No matter how great the challenges of life may become, nothing can capture and enslave us if we are walking with God. None of life’s tribulations can rule our hearts when our hearts are shielded by the Lord.
Reading on, we find Paul reminding Christians of the extent to which God had gone to show his loving care. He had given His only begotten Son. This is called an argument from the greater to the lesser. Since God was willing to send Jesus to die for the sins of mankind, why should we think that He would not take care of and protect us on a daily basis?
Then Paul comes to his magnificent conclusion. Read it, memorize it, internalize it and let these Divinely inspired words lead you through the dark valley of life’s challenges.
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:35-39).
Satan would have us believe that there is no help in God. He would raise tens of thousands of doubts and distresses in our minds. God is our strength and protection against the fiery darts of the devil (Ephesians 6:16). Like David, we too can say in our trials, “the Lord sustained (supported, mg) me.”
Click here to download the entire book, "In the Lap of God - Comfort from the Psalms." The download is free.