A psalm of David. When he fled from his son Absalom.
1 Lord, how many are my foes!
How many rise up against me!
2 Many are saying of me,
“God will not deliver him.”[b]
3 But you, Lord, are a shield around me,
my glory, the One who lifts my head high.
4 I call out to the Lord,
and he answers me from his holy mountain.
5 I lie down and sleep;
I wake again, because the Lord sustains me.
6 I will not fear though tens of thousands
assail me on every side.
7 Arise, Lord!
Deliver me, my God!
Strike all my enemies on the jaw;
break the teeth of the wicked.
8 From the Lord comes deliverance.
May your blessing be on your people.
As the final notes of the victorious Psalm 2 ring out, we turn to Psalm 3 and find that the music has suddenly changed. Here we find the first psalm of lament. Here we discover David as the suffering king. David wrote these words in the midst of the frightening and sorrowful circumstances of fleeing from his own son, Absolom (you can find the story in 2 Samuel 15:13ff). He is feeling the weight of enemies all around; of being mocked and scorned by others.(v1-2)
Yet, in the midst of a pained and intensely real cry from the heart, can you feel David’s confidence? He’s genuinely suffering… but not despairing. Why? Because he knows who his God is. His God is a shield. His God hears and answers him. His God sustains him. He has faith in a God who will save him. And so, even as his suffering continues, David’s lament turns to praise.
In the Bible, we have an even more sombre yet glorious picture of confidence in the midst of suffering. Our Lord Jesus knew what it was to suffer, more than anyone on earth. Jesus saw enemies rise up from all around him, was abandoned by friend and foe alike, and was scorned and mocked as he walked the road all the way to death on a cross. He is the ultimate suffering king. Yet, amidst his own suffering, and the chaos around him, Jesus has a confidence which is absolutely mesmerising. He knows who his Father is. He knows who he is, and he knows why he has come. And through Jesus’ suffering, the cry for judgment on God’s enemies (v7) is stunningly fulfilled as the world’s greatest enemies – sin and death – are powerfully defeated through Jesus’ death and resurrection.
As people living in the light of the cross, our lament too can turn to praise – even in the midst of our suffering, because Jesus suffered, died and rose again. Because our confidence lies ultimately in a God who delivers us… a God who saves.
Head: What have you learnt about Jesus from Psalm 3? What have you learnt about yourself?
Heart: How do you feel reading these words of both suffering and confidence in Psalm 3, particularly in light of Jesus’ experience on the cross?
Hands: Do you cry out to God in lament and yet confidence and praise in this midst of your suffering, because of your hope in Jesus’ death and resurrection? How can you encourage your brothers and sisters to do the same?
Heavenly Father, I praise you for Jesus, my suffering and victorious King. Thank you that my confidence, hope and joy is found only in him, not in a life free of physical or emotional suffering. I’m sorry for the times when I’m slow to pray… but I thank you that you always hear my voice, and are never far from me. In Jesus’ name. Amen.