The treachery of his son Absalom (2 Sam. 15-18) occasioned David’s writing the Third Psalm. While this psalm has special relevance to a particular time in the life of King David, it also serves as a great inspiration for our faith as we endure the trials and tribulations in our own lives.
David began this psalm highlighting the increase of troubles and the great discouragement that was cast his way:
“Lord, how are they increased that trouble me! many are they that rise up against me. Many there be which say of my soul, There is no help for him in God. Selah” (Ps. 3:1-2; cf. 2 Sam. 15:12; 22:40; 16:18).
The daily struggles we face come from many sources. Like David, we may have trouble in our homes, but we also endure difficulties at work and school. Many find themselves in financial difficulties while others endure deteriorating health. In our darkest times, it seems our troubles increase beyond measure.
Similarly, this life often brings discouragement. The trials of this life can be disheartening, but there are times when discouragement comes from the words of our friends and associates. Embarking on new journeys or setting spiritual goals for personal growth we look to others for strength and encouragement. How discouraging it is when the words we hear only emphasize inadequacies, weaknesses, or past failures. Though our troubles may not be to the extremes of David, we nevertheless endure increased trouble and discouragement in this life from time to time.
The remainder of the psalm reveals how David’s trust in God as his Protector and Deliverer enabled him to overcome troubles and discouragements in his life. Let’s consider this psalm to discover how such a trust in God will also help us to overcome.
David begins by noting three necessary qualities that a deep abiding faith in God provides that will see us through troubles and discouragement: “But thou, O Lord, art a shield for me; my glory, and the lifter up of mine head.” (Ps. 3:3)
David readily acknowledged God as his Protector: “thou, O Lord, are a shield for me” (3a). God declared to the patriarch Abraham, “I am thy shield” (Gen. 15:1). A shield is a defensive weapon for protection. Moses announced to Israel the blessing of having the Lord as a “shield of help” (Deut. 33:29), and Joshua recorded that even though surrounded by enemies, God gave Israel rest and protection (Josh. 21:43-45).
As Christians in the sheepfold of Christ, we have the assurance of the protection of the Good Shepherd (John 10:10-18, 27-29). And though “in this world” we may have “tribulation” we can “be of good cheer” (John 16:33), for our Shepherd ever watches over and guards our souls.
Because of his abiding trust in God, David gloried not in himself but God: “thou, O Lord, art…my glory” (3b). Accomplished men of history are often identified as “the great.” Cyrus the Great of Persia and Alexander the Great of Macedonia were men noted for their military conquests. In true self-aggrandizing fashion, Nebuchadnezzar gloried in himself: Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for the house of the kingdom by the might of my power, and for the honour of my majesty?” (Dan. 4:30) David’s boast was not in his own majesty but the majesty and might of God.
Though a man of considered accomplishment and zeal (Gal. 1:13, 14; Phil 3:4-7), Paul gloried not in himself but in the cross of Christ and the salvation of God (Gal. 6:14). In physical peril, Paul trusted in God and was delivered (2 Cor. 1:8-10). Yet, he readily acknowledged that all suffering in this life was not worthy to be compared to the great deliverance and glory that belongs to all in the life to come who glory and trust in God (Rom. 8:18). Indeed we endure difficulties and discouragements in this life, but glory to God who delivers and protects us.
Though his enemies increased and discouragements were ever present, David’s trust in God caused him to look to God for encouragement: “thou, O Lord, art…the lifter up of mine head” (3c). David was a man who could see the forest in spite of the trees! Many allow the troubles and discouragements of life to become a dark cloud. They are overwhelmed with darkness. All they see is negative. When David was cast down, he looked to God!
Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted in me? hope thou in God: or I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance.” (Ps. 42:5)
As with a sword in my bones, mine enemies reproach me; while they say daily unto me, Where is thy God? Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God. (Ps. 42:10-11)
When facing difficulties do we allow our souls to be cast down, or do we hope in God? When we are discouraged by our enemies, or even by those we count as friends, do we allow our souls to be cast down, or do we praise God for the spiritual health and strength He provides to endure all troubles? Some cannot see the forest for the trees, we sometimes cannot see the blessings and joys of heaven for the troubles. Friend, God never promised a life without trouble, but He has promised His strength to endure those troubles.
Hear the song of David: “thou, O Lord, art a shield for me; my glory, and the lifter up of mine head” (Ps. 3:3). Brethren, let us never fail to acknowledge that God is our Protector. Let us cease glorying in our own strength by seeking to overcome our difficulties through our own means, and let us glory in God for His deliverance. Let us be ever mindful that when our heads are held low because of discouraging circumstances that it is God who can lift us up. Trusting in the Lord we will overcome.