Comfort in Trouble

Psalm 3

{A Psalm of David, when he fled from Absalom his son.}

1O LORD, how my adversaries have increased!
Many are rising up against me.

2Many are saying of my soul,
“There is no deliverance for him in God.”

Selah.

3But You, O LORD, are a shield about me,
My glory, and the One who lifts my head.

4I was crying to the LORD with my voice,
And He answered me from His holy mountain.

Selah.

5I lay down and slept;
I awoke, for the LORD sustains me.

6I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people
Who have set themselves against me round about.

7Arise, O LORD; save me, O my God!
For You have smitten all my enemies on the cheek bone;
You have shattered the teeth of the wicked.

8Salvation belongs to the LORD;
Your blessing be upon Your people!

Selah.


Introduction

What trouble is assailing you in life? Job 5:7 tells us that man is born to trouble as sparks from a fire fly into the sky. We can’t escape trouble. And we’re not meant to.

Psalm 3 tells us how to find comfort in the midst of our troubles.

After the chapter number, you’ll see what’s called a superscription. It reads, “A Psalm of David, when he fled from Absalom his son.”

This tells us who wrote this Psalm and why he wrote it.

Who wrote this Psalm? David. Bear slaying, Giant felling, song singing King of Israel. David, who would always have a son on the throne, from whose lineage Judah’s ruling scepter would never depart.

And why did he write Psalm 3? Well, he was in a mess of trouble. He wrote, “when he fled from Absalom his son.”

Who was Absalom? From 1 Chronicles 3:2, we know that Absalom was David’s third son, from his wife Maacah, daughter of Talmai, king of Geshur.

Why was David fleeing from him, his own son?

Well, what does verse 1 say?

“O LORD, how my adversaries have increased! Many are rising up against me.”

David is fleeing from Absalom because his son is heading up a host of adversaries against him. Many, under Absalom’s lead, are rising up against David. Civil War has been unleashed on the land, and David is outnumbered.

Now, how in the world has that come about?

Rape and Rebellion

It’s a long story. Here are the highlights.

Amnon is David’s oldest son, and Absalom’s brother from another mother. Amnon rapes Absalom’s sister, Tamar, his own half-sister.

Side note, don’t name your daughter Tamar, unless you want her life to be devastatingly tragic.

Amnon gets away with the crime. There is no justice. Absalom takes it upon himself to handle things. He murders his brother and flees to the land of his mother.

Justice demands Absalom’s execution. Instead, he’s brought back to Jerusalem after only 3 years in exile.

Absalom proves to be an ungrateful snake. Instead of serving his father humbly the rest of his days, he schemes and plots to win the hearts of the people away from his father and to himself. And he succeeds.

Absalom goes to the southern city of Hebron and calls men to him as king, including David’s counselor, Ahithophel, Bathsheba’s granddad. The conspiracy grows. The numbers grow. And, before long, Absalom has the strength to take Jerusalem.

Word comes to David just in time, and he has to flee with only 600 men.

Absalom takes the city, takes the throne, and rapes David’s concubines on the roof of David’s house.

Abandoned by God?

Many who looked on these events concluded that David’s God had abandoned him in judgment, and passed on His blessing to Absalom.

Verse 2 reads, “Many are saying of my soul, ‘There is no deliverance for him in God.’”

It’s hard to read that and not be reminded of our King. Did not Christ’s adversaries raise the same mockeries against him when He hung on the cross?

And the people stood by, looking on. And even the rulers were sneering at Him, saying, “He saved others; let Him save Himself if this is the Christ of God, His Chosen One.” 36The soldiers also mocked Him, coming up to Him, offering Him sour wine, 37and saying, “If You are the King of the Jews, save Yourself!”

“Look at you! Look at the trouble you’re in! Surely, no man could be so deep in trouble and still be safe in the delivering power of the LORD!”

“Look at you, Christians! You’re so weak and pathetic. You get sick. You get run over. Nobody takes you seriously. The majority opinion is in: you’re nothing. You get arrested and robbed and trampled. You die just like us. Are you not like lambs to the slaughter? God’s not with you. You just want to feel good about your miserable existence! Here’s some opium.”

David, too much trouble on his hands for God to be with him.

Jesus, too much trouble on his hands for God to be with him.

The church, too much trouble.

Is that right?

David says, “No.”

The LORD Reigns in Zion

Look at verses 3-4.

But You, O LORD, are a shield about me,
My glory, and the One who lifts my head.

I was crying to the LORD with my voice,
And He answered me from His holy mountain.

In faith, David knows that, in all his trouble, the LORD is his shield. The LORD is his glory. The LORD is the lifter of his head.

He prays to the LORD in the midst of his trouble. And the LORD hears his prayers from His holy mountain.

When David fled Jerusalem, the holy mountain of the LORD, he insisted that the priests Zadok and Abiathar keep the ark of the covenant in the temple. David is the opposite of Saul. He insists on the supremacy of the glory of his God, even though it meant being away from the ark.

God is not a small god made by human hands, limited by miles in His ability to hear the prayers of His people. Distance is nothing. He hears the prayers of the saints because He is their God and they are His people. In his trouble, David prays. And David’s heard from God’s holy hill.

Absalom thought he sat in power in Zion. But the LORD reigns in Zion. So, though victory was his for the taking, it would slip out of Absalom’s palm, like sound advice slips past a fool’s ear.

Leaning on the Everlasting Arms

David depended on the LORD. He knew the LORD would answer and deliver him. He knew Absalom would be thwarted.

As punishment for David’s crime against Uriah, when he killed him and took Bathsheba, God took the life of David’s baby. He also told David that his son would lay with his concubines.

But God had not said He would remove the throne from David.

So, David looked to God. He trusted God’s Word. He waited for deliverance. And he found comfort.

Again, does this not remind you of our King, who in the height of distress cried to the Father from the cross, “My God, my God, why have You forsaken Me?” While being crushed under the wrath of God in our place, Jesus prayed in faith to His God, quoting Psalm 22, knowing that Psalm 22 begins with a cry of distress and ends with the victorious, delivering answer of the LORD.

Jesus knew deliverance was His. So, He prayed. And He endured.

In trouble, prayer, not despair. For David. For Jesus. And for us.

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”

Because God is David’s shield and glory, because He’s the lifter of his head, because He has not cast David off, but hears his prayers…

Verse 5

“I lay down and slept; I awoke, for the LORD sustains me.”

On the night that should have been the night of his final defeat, David slept. To sleep. In faith. Comforted by God, who hears and delivers. David was not lost to Sheol that night. He awoke, sustained by the LORD.

To go down in sleep and rise again is a type of death and resurrection. Again, this should draw our eyes to the cross. There, Christ went down from the cross in death to the grave. But He was not lost to Sheol. The LORD sustained Him. He preached of victory and salvation to His foes, and on the third day, He awoke in resurrection.

Absalom was not in charge. Nor was Satan. The LORD reigns from His holy hill.

Sleep Well, For Victory’s In Jesus

Knowing who God is to us, and that He hears our prayers, what should we do? We should sleep well, like David, like Jesus. In faith. We should go into every death with confidence, knowing that every death for us is simply the prerequisite for glorious, victorious resurrection.

Verse 6, “I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people who have set themselves against me round about.”

God is for us. Ten thousands of enemies surrounding us? Sounds like they’re right where we want them, eh?

David has found comfort in His God. And he ends his psalm with praise and thanksgiving.

Arise, O LORD; save me, O my God!
For You have smitten all my enemies on the cheek bone;
You have shattered the teeth of the wicked.

The seed of the serpent ever seek to destroy the seed of the woman. Yet Christ is ever the head-crusher, the cheek-bone smiter, the teeth-shatterer.

Salvation belongs to the LORD;
Your blessing be upon Your people!

David was saved. He conquered in his trouble.

So too did Jesus conquer in His trouble.

And so shall we, in Christ, conquer in all our troubles.

But this salvation is none of us. The victory does not belong to us. Salvation belongs to the LORD. Salvation is all of the LORD all of the time. He has smitten our enemies on the cheekbone. He has shattered the teeth of the wicked. He will continue to do so until they are no more.

Enemies conquered, even if they surround us in ten thousands. And we are blessed.

Because salvation belongs to the LORD who hears our cries in the midst of our distress.

With David, we find comfort in this God. With David, we enjoy salvation from this God. With David, we enjoy blessings secured for us by Christ.

Upon waking, David would return to God’s holy hill, he will return to Jerusalem. When we lay down for our last sleep, where shall we be? We will be with Christ. When we awake in our final resurrection, where shall we be? We will be with Christ on his holy hill.

Take comfort. Pray. Sleep. Rise in blessing and sing unto God.

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