Imagine the scene with me.
David. King of Israel by God’s own decree. Given God’s promise of great future blessings and the eternal endurance of his kingdom. Known as the man after God’s own heart. The shepherd of Israel.
And now here he is. On the run from his very own son who has claimed the throne for himself, moved into his palace, and is plotting for his quick and sudden death.
This is where we find David in the 3rd Psalm.
Most of his army and advisors have betrayed him. Only a few loyal enough to follow him into the rocky wilderness.
Just days ago, safe and secure on Mount Zion. Now barefoot and weeping up the Mount of Olives.
And word got to him what his enemies were saying back in Jerusalem.
There is no salvation for David in God!
Indeed, for all appearances, that’s what it looked like.
Robbed of his own kingdom, forced to flee from Jerusalem, and now running for his very life, it sure seemed to the casual onlooker that God had turned against him. How could God’s favor and blessing be on someone in such God-forsaken circumstances?
Everything in David’s life seemed to say it.
There is no salvation for him in God.
David could bear the betrayal of a rebellious son. He could bear the unfaithfulness of once loyal subjects. He could bear the life of a fugitive. This wasn’t his first flight from Jerusalem. He was well-verses in escaping the plots of blood-thirsty men.
He could even bear the thought of God’s judgement on his sin in the matter of Bathsheeba and Uriah. As a consequence for this sin, God had promised him he would “raise up against him one out of his own house.” That prophecy was now being fulfilled.
But that there was no help for him in God? That God had completely forsaken him? That God would no longer would show him abundant mercy and steadfast love?
This was the bitter thought that stung his soul more than anything. This was the thought that could shake his confidence and bring him to utter despair.
As his enemy’s accusations got louder, David’s faith grew fiercer. Despite everything that might point to the contrary, David believed that the Lord was not only not against him, but for him as a shield around his life.
But you, O LORD, are a shield about me.
Yes, enemies, threats, and imminent danger surrounded David. But in faith, he lifted his eyes and saw the greater reality that surrounded him, namely the Lord himself. Not to attack him as an enemy, but to defend him from every fear and foe.
But the Lord was not only David’s defense.
My glory, and the lifter of my head.
Losing your kingdom and having to flee your own city is a shameful thing.
David must’ve felt the humiliation of having his own son turn against him. And he surely felt the shame of having to move from life in a palace to life in the wild. David had good reason to hang his head in sorrow and shame for his less-than-glorious circumstances.
But David would not hang his head.
Although in the world’s eye, David had lost his dignity, his honor, and his kingly glory, he found in the Lord a greater glory worth more than everything he had lost. He had lost the glory that comes from man but gained the glory that comes from God- the glory that makes all losses and afflictions seem light and momentary compared to it.
And with the Lord as his glory, David could not only face his suffering and shame, but rejoice in it with his head and heart lifted by the Lord.
I cried aloud to the Lord, and he answered me from his holy hill. Selah.
You can almost hear David reasoning with his enemies and his own soul: “No salvation for me in God, you say? But in all my troubles, I have cried to the Lord and he has always answered me. What makes you think he will forsake me now?”
Faith is a great lawyer for the soul.
I lay down and slept; I woke again, for the LORD sustained me.
I will not be afraid of many thousands of people
who have set themselves against me all around.
David lost his kingdom, but he would lose no sleep.
Completely trusting himself to God’s will, David could close his eyes in the sleep of confidence- the same sleep another king of Israel would know while a storm raged upon the sea of Galilee.
David’s bare confidence in God left no room for fear of any enemy.
If God was for him, who could be against him?
Arise, O LORD! Save me, O my God!
Having strengthened his soul with who God had been for him, David now makes his prayer for God to once again act on his behalf.
Nothing comforted David like knowing God as “my God.” Nothing cheered his soul like knowing the God who made heaven and earth was the God of his cause, his help, and his salvation. While his enemies said that David could no longer call God his own, David claimed even more that God was his God.
And it is his God that David believed would rise to defeat and deliver him from all his enemies.
Salvation belongs to the LORD! Your blessing be upon your people!
They said there was no salvation for him in God. He had almost believed it.
But as David cried out to God, calling on his character and rehearsing his ways, his faith grew and he could end his prayer in the triumphant declaration: “Salvation belongs to the Lord!”
And since the Lord was his Lord, this salvation belonged to David and no enemy could change that. God was the God of his salvation.
As we leave Psalm 3, we find David not wondering about, but rejoicing in the power and grace of God alone to save him. But not only to save him, but to turn everything that seemed like a curse in his life into a blessing on him and the people of God.
Indeed, that is a great salvation that can come only from the Lord.