In Psalm 3 we have an example of a structure and layout of poetry which is common in the Psalms of David. That structure is framed by David’s experience. Here, as elsewhere, David begins the psalm in deep distress. He calls upon God in the exercise of faith. God graciously strengthens His servant, so that by the end of the psalm, David is saying, ‘Salvation belongeth unto the LORD: thy blessing is upon thy people. Selah.’
In this psalm we are reliably informed, by the divinely inspired title, as to the psalmist and the time it was written and the experience to which it refers. So we see from the title that it is, ‘A Psalm of David, when he fled from Absalom his son.’ Thus, we date this from the latter part of David’s life. He has already experience many trials and much of God’s goodness in delivering him out of trouble.
Many years before, he felled the giant Goliath, in a great act of faith and dependence upon God. He has been delivered from the cruel hand of King Saul. But now he is in deep distress, his own son, whom he has so much indulged, has turned against him and raised many in rebellion against their lawful king.
What does David do in such a trial? He makes his complaint to the LORD. He spreads his concerns before God, as Hezekiah after him would the wicked threats of Sennacherib. This is a good example to us. Too often we make complaint to man. Or we fall into a murmuring spirit. But David, for his part, was honest before the Most High and refers his concerns to the Court on high.
One thing that especially seemed to trouble David was the fact that many were saying, “There is no help for him in God.” Matthew Henry in his commentary on this psalm, make a helpful point regarding God’s people. He writes, ‘A child of God startles at the very thought of despairing of help in God; you cannot vex him with any thing so much as if you offer to persuade him that there is no help for him in God.’
Mercifully, is enabled to exercise faith in the Most High. In verse 3 he writes, ‘But thou, O LORD, art a shield for me; my glory, and the lifter up of mine head.’ This is strong confidence in the divine care and protection of God. Doubtless he cried to God in this time of trouble in his life. Matthew Henry again notes, ‘Care and grief do us good and no hurt when they set us praying, and engage us, not only to speak to God, but to cry to him, as those that are in earnest.’
He even sleeps and wakes, and in so doing, acknowledges the hand of the LORD ‘…for the LORD sustained me.’ (v.5) He is so strengthen as to declare that he is not afraid of ten thousands of people. Indeed, at this times it seems that almost all Israel were against him and for Absalom. ‘A cheerful resignation to God is the way to obtain a cheerful satisfaction in God’ writes Matthew Henry.
In his trouble, David knew whom to turn to. He had the confidence of faith in God. When a man stands in need of warmth and goes to the fire he does so (as Thomas Watson notes) not doubting that it shall warm him. So the child of God is to go to the Father of mercy with strong assurance of being heard.
So David, in the finish, is brought to admit that salvation belongs to the LORD and His blessing is upon His people, of which David, was one. Ultimately, David was delivered, even from so sad and dreadful a trial as this.
G B Macdonald