OAKRIDGE BIBLE CHAPEL

Salvation Belongs to the Lord (Psalm 3)

In the middle of the book of 2 Samuel there is a fascinating story where David, the King of Israel, is forced to flee for his life from his son Absalom. But today, rather than look at 2 Samuel, we are going to be reading from Psalm 3. When we read the intro text before the first verse, we see that this short psalm has been noted as “A Psalm of David, when he fled from his son Absalom”.

Now, I’m going to go out on a limb here and assume that the majority of us have not found ourselves in a situation where our own child has staged a multi-year rebellion that involves seeking to supplant our kingdom by poisoning the minds of our people that leads to us having to flee for our lives. However, I would also assume that many of us do know what it is like to have someone close to us betray our trust, or to face opposition from people around us that causes us to doubt or question our standing with them. I’m sure most of us don’t have to look very far to find those who dishonor our Lord by slandering his goodness or his godliness, or who are actively hostile towards him and his plans.

So today we are going to look at Psalm 3, to see David’s response to his situation. Specifically, we’re going to see David appreciating God’s sustenance, hoping for God’s salvation, and trusting in God’s sovereignty.

SERMON MANUSCRIPT

In the middle of the book of 2 Samuel there is a fascinating story where David, the King of Israel, is forced to flee for his life from his son Absalom. You can read the whole story for yourself in 2 Samuel 15—18, but here are some highlights from that event that may help us have a better understanding for today’s message:

Absalom, over the process of several years, earned the trust, favour, and approval of the people. He would stand at the gates and listen to the grievances of the people, criticize his father by telling them that the king had no time for them, and let them know how much better a job he would do if he were in charge. 2 Samuel 15:6b says “Absalom dealt this way with all Israel who came to the king for judgement; so Absalom stole the hearts of the people of Israel.” Through this long, drawn out scheme, many began to question David’s kingship, and wonder whether he still had the Lord’s favour upon him.

Absalom eventually took his chance and announced his coup. Verse 12 tells us “The conspiracy was strong, for the people continually increased with Absalom”. David, and those who remained loyal to him fled from Jerusalem, for they could see the writing on the wall that, by and large, the people were with Absalom (13).

I invite you to turn in your Bibles, not to 2 Samuel, but to Psalm 3. When we read the intro text before the first verse, we see that Psalm 3 has been noted as “A Psalm of David, when he fled from his son Absalom”.

I was going through some old notes recently and I was reminded that one of the first sermons I preached at Oakridge was also on a Psalm connected to a section of historical narrative. I love Psalms like this because it helps paint a more detailed picture of what was going on. It takes some of the guess-work out of establishing the context, because we can actually go and read exactly what was going on when David wrote this Psalm, and then we get sort of the behind-the-scenes commentary of how he was feeling in the midst of it all.

Now, I’m going to go out on a limb here and assume that the majority of us have not found ourselves in a situation where our own child has staged a multi-year rebellion that involves seeking to supplant our kingdom by poisoning the minds of our people that leads to us having to flee for our lives. However, I would also assume that many of us do know what it is like to have someone close to us betray our trust, or to face opposition from people around us that causes us to doubt or question our standing with them. I’m sure most of us don’t have to look very far to find those who dishonor our Lord by slandering his goodness or his godliness, or who are actively hostile towards him and his plans.

So today we are going to look at Psalm 3, to see David’s response to his situation. [Psalm 3]

This short psalm seems to be structured sort of like a good burger: we see some rich, comforting, meaty center verses, surrounded on either side by some punchy, flavourful toppings that pair with the center, and the opening and closing verse are the buns that give it structure and hold it all together.

We’re going to start by looking back at those core, foundational verses, then move our way out to the flavourful realities built upon that meaty center, and finally to the opening and closing verses that surround it all and hold it secure. Specifically, we’re going to see David appreciating God’s sustenance, hoping for God’s salvation, and trusting in God’s sovereignty.

Appreciating God’s Sustenance

David opens this psalm by explaining the situation he finds himself in, which we will look at in more depth a little bit later. But in the middle of the text, we see a shift away from discussing his current circumstances, to instead focus on God’s provision for him in the past. By reflecting on and remembering the ways God has been faithful previously, David demonstrates an appreciation for the sustenance his Lord had provided. Let’s look back at verse 4.

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

Psalm 3:4 NASB

David cried out, and God answered him. While it seems so simple, we know how discouraging it can be when it doesn’t seem like there is anyone listening to us.

Some of you may remember back in 2010 a movie was released, based on a true story about a man named Aron Ralston, who had a boulder fall while hiking that trapped his arm against a canyon wall for 127 hours, the eventual title of the movie. The film takes you deep into the growing sense of dread and sheer desperation inside Aron’s mind as he slowly comes to the realization that no one is coming to rescue him. No one can hear his cries.

With David, it’s the exact opposite scenario. He knows that in the past he called, and God answered. We don’t know exactly what situation David had in mind, but it doesn’t take much to think of times when God came to David’s rescue, giving him strength and protection from Saul, Goliath, and innumerable times on the battlefield. Because of God’s faithfulness in the past, David has every reason to believe that God will answer him again.

But it’s the next verse that really stands out to me, as demonstrating David’s confidence and peace in the Lord, and his appreciation for God’s sustenance.

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

Psalm 3:5 NASB

I don’t know about you, but I think one the most difficult and discouraging things is when you can’t sleep during times of turmoil and stress. You crave that break, that gap in time where you don’t have to be thinking about the things that you are worried about. And when you don’t get it, it’s easy to just feel so defeated. Ironically, it’s often the turmoil and stressors that keep us from sleeping, and that lack of sleep seems to just exponentially increase the anxiety.

Instead, here we have David, who states: “I cried out, God answered, and I slept.” I mean, you could take just those two verses and have a beautiful piece of idyllic poetry. Isn’t that just the dream (pun intended)? But it doesn’t even stop there. He says “I awoke, for the LORD sustains me” which to me, demonstrates how deeply he appreciates God’s sustenance. It speaks to how David viewed every breath, the very fact that he woke up, as a gift and blessing from the Lord.

You get a glimpse at how much someone trusts God when you see how they trust him with the little things, not just the big ones. I remember when I was younger, my mother always used to us the phrase “Lord willing”. She probably still says it, but I particularly remember it from my childhood, because there were times when it sort of scared me. Like “Lord willing, we’re going to go on a trip next week, and Lord willing we’ll get there safely.” I remember being a kid and thinking “Why wouldn’t we get there safely? Is something happening? Are you suggesting this trip isn’t safe? If we even go on it, that is, because it sounds to me like you’re not even sure we’re going on this trip?”

Looking back, I realize this was just my mom’s way of expressing her confidence and dependence on the Lord, no matter what the circumstances, big or small. Because to her, something as simple as going on a trip and getting there safely pointed to God’s provision and care.

It seems to be the same with David. At the center core of this short psalm we see him reflecting on God’s faithfulness, remembering God’s provision, and ultimately appreciating God’s sustenance. And I can’t help but ask myself, in light of this section of scripture, when I’m in a tough situation, facing opposition, fear, discouragement, how often do I take time to remember what God has done? The ways he has demonstrated his faithfulness to me, or to people I know, or even to people like David in the Bible? Do I find comfort in his former provision? Do I grow in appreciation for the ways he has sustained me? Do I even turn to him, or do I just try and handle it on my own? Some good questions for us to ask, perhaps.

Hoping for God’s Salvation

Now that we have the foundation of remembrance established, let’s move out a layer to see how that core inspires David’s hope for God’s salvation. And in this case, we aren’t talking about salvation in the way we more often talk about it in church, believing in Jesus for eternal salvation. Here it’s more about the circumstance. We might use the word “deliverance”.

What we see in verse 3 is a statement about what David knows about God and his character, then down in verses 6 and 7 we see what that knowledge leads to. So let’s start with verse 3.

But You, Lord, are a shield around me,
My glory, and the One who lifts my head.

Psalm 3:3 NASB

It’s important for us to remember who is writing these words, inspired by God. It’s David, the king. The one chosen and anointed by God. Because of what David knows about himself and his role, and the God who put him there in the first place, he is able to say with all sincerity that the Lord is his shield, his protector.

Now, you and I are not David. We haven’t been chosen and anointed by God to be the king. Is it possible that God has, does, and will protect us and be our shield? Absolutely. But God had a specific plan and task in mind for David, and had made specific promises to him, and so of course God was going to shield him until that task and those promises were complete. If someone is intending to harm you, let’s say because you are sharing the gospel of salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, it is very possible that God might protect you. But it’s not a knock against his character or his goodness if he doesn’t, because he hasn’t made the same promises to you and I that he had to David. In fact, in many cases in the New Testament, he warns us that we should expect to suffer on his behalf.

So we just want to be careful of attributing promises and protection offered to a specific person in the Bible to all Christians for all time, because we would quickly see that it’s just not the case that God is going to shield all of his people from harm.

But for David, he is confident that God is his shield. One scholar writes, “The basis for David’s confidence was the Lord’s choice of him as Israel’s king and His lack of choice of Absalom. It was not his knowledge of the future or his military might.” (“Constable’s Notes”, Ps 3:3)

It is this same confidence in God’s anointing that allows David to call God “my glory and the One who lifts my head.” We might think David is saying “when I’m sad, God tells me ‘chin up’”, but really this is more about restoring him to his proper position in the kingdom. Lifting his head to the glory of the throne, the respect of the people. Rather than head-down, leaving Jerusalem in fear and shame, he hopes and believes that God will make things right, and save him from the present circumstance. What’s more, when that happens, it will be purely by God’s power and for God’s glory.

At this point we’ve seen David talking about his past and his present. Let’s shift forward to see how his knowledge of God shapes his hope of salvation in the future. Jump down to verse 6.

I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people
Who have set themselves against me all around.

Psalm 3:6 NASB

Emboldened by his trust in his sustainer, David makes this bold declaration. It’s possible that he actually believed this statement, and was, through God’s strength, released from the captivity to his fear. It’s also possible that his words here are a form of affirmation, reminding himself of a truth he knows, even if he doesn’t feel it in the moment. Trusting in God doesn’t always mean our fears miraculously vanish. But our faith in the truth of the God who cannot lie, the God who sustains and comforts, allows us to face into those fears with a certainty of hope that would otherwise be lacking.

In turn, this declaration leads to his request of God in verse 7.

Arise, Lord; save me, my God!

Psalm 3:7a NASB

Simple and to the point: save me! This is followed up by what could be a poetic imagination of his enemies already being defeated, or simply another reminder that God had defeated his many enemies in the past.

For You have struck all my enemies on the cheek;
You have shattered the teeth of the wicked.

Psalm 3:7b NASB

Either way, I can’t but think about how difficult a situation David is in, given that at this point his “wicked enemies” include his own son and his people. That’s why I lean more in the direction that he was alluding to past defeated enemies here, because although David sought God’s protection and deliverance and ultimately wanted success in this endeavor, we read further on in 2 Samuel 18 that he wanted his son to be spared.

David was placed in an impossible situation; yet inspired by his memories of God’s faithfulness and his understanding of God’s character and plans, he was not afraid to ask God what he wanted, hoping for his saving deliverance.

Now, you might be thinking “of course it was easy for David to hope in God for deliverance, since he knew what God had promised him”. It’s true that David’s situation is not ours. But while we may not have a promise of specific situational deliverance, we have the hope of eternal salvation through faith in Jesus. And that same God who David hoped in is available to us, and wants to hear our requests and petitions.

One thing I think is interesting is the way we end up talking to someone differently depending on how helpful we think they can be for our requests. That’s why the phrase “Let me speak to your manager” exists.

I often wonder what the way I talk to or about God conveys about what I believe about him. Do I talk about God as though I truly believe he is good? Do I talk to him as though I actually believe he hears me and has the power to do something about my prayers? Do I allow my memories of his faithfulness and my knowledge of his character to inspire me to hope for his protection and deliverance in times of fear or suffering? Again, good questions to ask, perhaps.

Trusting in God’s Sovereignty

So, we’ve seen David’s core of appreciating God’s sustenance, we’ve moved out further to his hope for God’s salvation. Let’s take one more step back to the beginning and end of this psalm to see David’s trust in God’s sovereignty. The first couple verses are interesting in that they not only set the situational stage for the psalm, but they also set up for the resolution at the end. Notice how verse 2 is resolved by the first half of verse 8, and verse 1 is resolved by the second half.

Lord, how my enemies have increased!
Many are rising up against me.

Psalm 3:1 NASB

We know from the context that the enemies that are increasing are the Israelites, turning their loyalty from David to Absalom. But the second half of verse 8 ends with “May your blessing be upon your people” (8b)

As God’s anointed, David is trusting that God saving him from this threat would actually bring blessing upon the people; perhaps even the very ones who had turned their back on him. Because turning back to David would represent turning back to God, and we know that for the Israelites, turning to and being obedient to God brought blessings.

But his trust in God’s sovereign plan goes even further in verse 2.

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

Psalm 3:2 NASB

And in response to that:

Salvation belongs to the Lord;

Psalm 3:8a NASB

To me, this reads like a giant, poetic, divinely inspired “So what?” “Many are saying ‘There is no salvation for him in God”? SO WHAT? Salvation belongs to the Lord. I don’t care what they say, I care what God says. Reminds me an awful lot of another story: “David, you shouldn’t go out there. You’re just a little shepherd boy and he is a giant warrior!” SO WHAT? This day the Lord will hand him over to me.

Why do we care so much what our opponents have to say? Why give any time to them if we truly believe that we have the sovereign God on our side?

We did a study with some of the teens in the church this fall about some of the big questions or oppositions that people raise against Christianity, particularly in post-secondary institutions. And one of the things I keep coming back to from that discussion is that “Just because you don’t know the answer doesn’t mean there isn’t one.”

The same is true here. Just because David’s enemies are saying he’s done for doesn’t make it true. Just because they are questioning God’s plan doesn’t mean God’s plan doesn’t exist. Notice too the phrasing. He doesn’t say “My salvation will come from the LORD”, but rather “Salvation belongs to the LORD.” This seems to be his way of saying: “Yes I believe God is my shield and protector, and he’s cared for me in the past, and I want him to help me and protect me now. But at the end of the day, He’s God. It’s up to Him, not me. Salvation belongs to the Lord.”

What a statement of trust in God’s sovereignty, when we’re able to say: “Whatever happens, God is in control.” To say like Esther: “If I perish, I perish”, or like Paul “To live is Christ, and to die is gain.”

I remember a scene from a popular comedy TV show, where one of the characters is trying to win back the woman he loves. On the advice of a co-worker, he gives her an ultimatum. Later in the episode he returns to his co-worker saying “She ignored my ultimatum. Now what?” She replies “Now you move on.” Very dismissively he responds, “Okay fine. I’ve moved on. Now how do I get her back?”

Maybe you relate to this when it comes to trusting in God’s sovereignty or his goodness. “God, I really want you to take away this suffering” we might say. Imagine God responded, just saying: “Trust me.” How many of us would reply back, “Okay, I trust you. Now can take away this suffering?” It’s easy for our minds to think, perhaps even subconsciously, that if I demonstrate enough trust, God will come through for me and give me what I want, or what I think I need. When in reality, growing in trust means believing that God’s way is best, no matter what that means in terms of our current, earthly circumstance.

“If I perish, I perish. To live is Christ, to die is gain.” Easier said than done for sure, yet an important challenge.

Remember, Ask, Trust

The reality of this life is that we are going to face opposition, hardships, and struggles. And while hopefully our own child doesn’t try to kill us, it’s not unreasonable to think that we may find ourselves in a thematically similar situation to David: where it seems like our enemies are increasing, where the world is against us, slandering the word of the Lord and any who would believe it. If, or dare I say “when” we find ourselves in situations like that, hopefully we can respond like David in this Psalm.

To keep it simple, Remember, ask, trust.

First, remember. Think of a time in your life when God has demonstrated his faithfulness, either to you or someone else. Maybe you found a job after praying for a long time, unsure of how you’d pay next month’s rent. Maybe a friend experienced faster-than-expected recovery from an injury or illness. Maybe you turn to a story from the Bible, or perhaps greater than any of those things, simply remember your own salvation. The day you moved from death to life by believing in the person and work of Jesus Christ.

Next, with that memory as your foundation, ask. Petition the Lord for help in your current situation. Ask him like you’re talking to the manager, like you actually believe he has the power to do something.

And finally, the hardest one: trust. Give it over to him, release it from your grasp, and believe that whatever happens, he is good, and he is God. Ask that he would use the situation to help you grow in your trust. Ask that by his spirit you will have the strength to believe, no matter the result.

As we close our time today, we are going to sing. And before we do, I want to read a passage from Isaiah 40, where the words of this song come from, that reminds us of the strength and character of our God who does not change, even in the worst of circumstances.

(Isaiah 40:28–31)



[molongui_author_avatar]

Andrew Longmire

Share it:

Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on email
Email