Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Psalm 3 - The Righteous One's safety amid foes

There is strong evidence for the genuineness of the titles of the Psalms; they occur in all the Hebrew Manuscripts. (Only 33 of the Psalms have no title, they are called Orphan Psalms.) This Psalm was written by David, "when he fled from Absalom his son." The Holy Spirit may have used these circumstances in dAvid's lot, as an appropriate occasion on which to dictate such hymn of hopeful confidence in the Lord.

The connection with Psalm 2, is natural, whether we look at David's situation when he penned it, or to the more general circumstances referred to throughout. When the men of Israel refused David as "King in Zion" (God's chosen type of a greater King), it was natural for him to raise the cry to the Lord, "Lord, how are they increased that trouble me" (compare 2 Sam 15:12.)

It is not unnatural to place this cry next to the closing verses of Psalm 2, a Psalm in which we were told how men despised His call and plotted agianst Jehovah and his Christ. Hengstenberg has remarked: "It is certainly not to be regarded as an accident that Psalms 3 and 4 follow immediately after 1 and 2. They as well as the Psalm 2 are occupied with a revolt against the Lord's anointed.

When in v8 the enemy is spoke of as "smitten on the cheek bone, and his teeth broken" there is the same tone of conscious safety mingled with contempt at their efforts as in the "laugh" of Pslam 2.

It is a Psalm that may be found as suitable and needful in the latter days as when David wrote it. When waves of sorrow and calamity are dashing over the ship of the Church, it may borrow from this Psalm that ground of hope which long ago Jonah borrowed from it in his strange trial  "Salvation is of the Lord," (Jonah 2:8) "affliction and desertion are two very different things, but often confounded by the world" and confounding too "by the fearful imaginations of our own desponding hearts and the suggestions of our adversary" - Horne.

This seems to be a morning hymn (v5). And so Horsley hesitates not to call it "A prayer of Messiah, in the character of a Priest, coming at an early hour to prepare the altar of burnt-offering for the morning sacrifice."

Every member of Christ may use it; and we can easily see how the Head himself could adopt it as his own. We feel as if sympathy were more sure to us, when we know that the Lord Jesus himself  once was in circumstances when such a morning hymn expressed his state and feelings; for now every believer can say, "My Head once used this Psalm; and while I use its strains his human heart will recall the day of his humiliation, when he was comforted by it."

Who more truly than he could say of his foes, "How many!" since it was "the world" that hated him (John 7:7.) On the cross, they upbraided him with the taunt "there is no salvation for him in God" (v2) when they cast in his teeth, "If he will have him" (Matt 27:43); saying it not only of him, but to him? But (as in Psalm 22), he cried unceasingly in the Father's ear the more his foes reviled - "I cry - he hears."

Often he retied to the Mount of Olives, and either amid its olives or at Bethany, "lay down and slept" after enduring the contradiction of sinners all day long; yes, even after such a day as that on which they took up stones to throw at him. He foresaw the ruin of his foes (v7) when the Lord would arise. What a victory! And all the glory of it belonging to the Lord, and all the belssing to his people! (v8)

A believer can take up every clause and sing it all in sympathy with his Head; hated by the same world that hated him; loved and kept by the same Father that lifted up his head; heard and answered and sustained as he was, and entering on with him final victory in teh latter day.

It was fittinng to put the arresting mark, "Selah" at v2 where the foes are spoken of, and v4, where the cry and its answer are declared and at v8 where the final result appears.

Whatever "Selah" means it marks a proper place to pause and ponder (Hengstenberg). Here each Selah stops us at a scene in which there is spread before our eyes sufficient for the time, first the army of foes, as far as the eye can reach. Next, teh one suppliant crying into the ears of the Lord of hosts; and lastly that one suppliant's secure rest, certain of present safety and future triumph. May we not then justly entitle this Psalm, the righteous one's safety amid foes.

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