Theme: The Psalmist’s Confidence in God
In this week’s studies we learn how David overcame his adversaries by committing himself into the Lord’s protection.
Scripture: Psalm 3:1-8
Much happens in this psalm in the space between the first two stanzas, marked out by selah. The first stanza is an expression of the crisis that has come into the psalmist’s life because of the enemies who have risen up against him. The second stanza is a quiet expression of his confidence in God. What has produced this abrupt but obvious change? The answer is that he has turned his attention from his enemies to God.
When a believer gazes too long at his enemies, the force arrayed against him seems to grow in size until it appears overwhelming. But when we he turns his thoughts to God, God gains in stature and his enemies shrink to manageable proportions.
This principle was illustrated by the difference between the ten and two spies when they were first sent into Canaan at the time of the Jewish conquest. Ten of the spies were overwhelmed with the strength and stature of the Canaanites, especially the descendants of Anak who were giants. They said, “We can’t attack those people; they are stronger than se are…All the people we saw there are of great size. We saw the Nephilim there (the descendants of Anak come from the Nephilim). We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them” (Num. 14:31-33).
The other two spies, Caleb and Joshua, said, “We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it” (v. 30). What was the difference? Had they seen different things? No. The land was the same. Both groups had seen the giants. But the ten looked only at the giants and forgot about God, with the result that they seemed in their own eyes to shrink to the size of grasshoppers. The two kept their eyes on God, and for them it was the giants who appeared small.
So also with David. As soon as David turned his thoughts to God he was reminded of how strong God is, while his foes, even the formidable armies then flocking to the side of his rebellious son, seemed manageable. He tells us three things about God. First, God was a “shield” around him. God had been a shield for him on earlier occasions; he would prove himself to be so again. Second, God “lifts up” his head, even when severely cast down. Sin beats us down, but God always lifts us up. We can expect God to do that for us, even if we do not see him doing it right now. Third, God answers the psalmist when he cries aloud to him. God always answers, though not always at once and not always as we wish. Spurgeon wrote, “We need not fear a frowning world while we rejoice in a prayer-hearing God.”8
If you are not fully aware of what you have in God–a shield against foes, one who lifts up your drooping head, a responder to prayer–this is a good time to think about it. Selah!
Why did Caleb and Joshua respond differently than the other spies who were sent into Canaan?
What three things does David learn about God from his experience?
Application: In what sense is God a shield for you? How have you seen the Lord at work in this way?
8C. H. Spurgeon, The Treasury of David, vol, la, Psalms 1-26 (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1968), p. 24.