A Psalm of David, when he fled from Absalom his son
“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. But thou, O LORD, art a shield for me; my glory, and the lifter up of mine head. I cried unto the LORD with my voice, and he heard me out of his holy hill. Selah. I laid me down and slept; I awaked; for the LORD sustained me. I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people, that have set themselves against me round about. Arise, O LORD; save me, O my God: for thou hast smitten all mine enemies upon the cheek bone; thou hast broken the teeth of the ungodly. Salvation belongeth unto the LORD: thy blessing is upon thy people. Selah.”
“First two psalms, anonymous, the Book of Acts seems to indicate that Psalm 2 is written by David, many believe the first two psalms are David’s, but they’re called “Orphan Psalms.” As we head into the third and fourth Psalm you’ll notice Psalm 3 says “A Psalm of David,” and then it gives a historical setting to us, “when he fled from Absalom his son.” And when we get down to verse 5 it says “I laid me down and slept; I awakened; for the LORD sustained me.” And into antiquity, this is recognized as a morning Psalm, a psalm where David acknowledged God as he awakened under great difficult circumstances. We’re going to see this word in here three times, “Selah.” You’ll see it at the end of verse 2, at the end of verse 4, at the end of the Psalm, ah, it has the idea of lifting up. Most scholars feel that the music would come to a crescendo at that point in time, and then the singers would be silent, and the words of the song would be left with the listeners and the worshippers, so that they could then think about those things. Most feel, just reading Phillips and Scroggy and what all of these different folks say, in our modern vernacular we would say ‘So what do you think about that?’ when the word Selah comes. ‘Time to think, time to lift your head to heaven, so what do you think about that? God speaking to us.’ Most scholars feel that Psalm 3 and 4 are connected, because Psalm 3 ends with Selah, which means ‘Take a break and then move on,’ and Psalm 4 happens to be an evening song, an evening prayer, something that would be sung or lifted to the Lord right before you went to bed. That one is written to the chief Musician, ah, 55 times in the Book of Psalms we’ll hear that, and it definitely means it was to be part of public worship. So that would be both Psalm 3 and 4 then, if they’re joined at the hip, a morning and an evening prayer. It says “To the chief Musician on Neginoth” there which means “smitings” and scholars will argue, is that the postscript of Psalm 3 or is it the script that leads you into Psalm 4? Because when you read these in the Hebrew you just go from one Psalm to the next, it’s not the break like we have here. And by the way, these historic headings, it’s a Psalm of David again, are in the ancient Hebrew, they go back all the way to the history of the Psalms themselves, and there’s no reason to doubt them. So Psalm 3, the first one specifically written by David, the historic background when he was fleeing from Absalom his son. Going into the next Psalm it’s a Psalm for the chief Musician, which means these two would have been sung in public worship, and the Neginoth, the smitings, the idea is it was played on a stringed instrument, but the stringed instruments were smitten, and the scholars, the ancient Hebrews would say there was smiting in the life of David, like the strings on the harp were smitten, so there’s a background to that, as we move through these two Psalms. Certainly it was a time like that in David’s life. So, this evening, look, most of you are familiar with Psalm 3 from singing Psalm 3. You want to understand the background of that Psalm, and of the next Psalm. Let me read through them, and then we’ll back up and we’ll look at them. It says, “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.” i.e. ‘so what do you think about that?’ “But thou, O LORD, art a shield for me; my glory, and the lifter up of mine head. I cried unto the LORD with my voice, and he heard me out of his holy hill. Selah.” ‘so what do you think about that?’ “I laid me down and slept; I awakened; for the LORD sustained me.” this is a morning prayer, Psalm 3. “I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people, that have set themselves against me round about. Arise, O LORD; save me, O my God: for thou hast smitten all mine enemies upon the cheek bone; thou hast broken the teeth of the ungodly. Salvation belongeth unto the LORD: thy blessing is upon thy people. Selah.” ‘so what do you think about that?’ (Psalm 3:1-8) That’s the morning prayer, now for the evening prayer. “Hear me when I call, O God of my righteousness: thou hast enlarged me when I was in distress; have mercy upon me, and hear my prayer. O ye sons of men, how long will ye turn my glory into shame? how long will ye love vanity, and seek after leasing? Selah.” “leasing,” falsehood, lies. ‘what do you think about that?’ “But know that the LORD hath set apart him that is godly for himself: the LORD will hear when I call unto him. Stand in awe, and sin not: commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still. Selah.” ‘what do you think about that?’ “Offer the sacrifices of righteousness, and put your trust in the LORD. There be many that say, Who will shew us any good? LORD, lift thou up the light of thy countenance upon us. Thou hast put gladness in my heart, more than in the time that their corn and their wine increased. I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for thou, LORD, only makest me dwell in safety.” (Psalm 4:1-8) How will you lay down and sleep this evening? So these were to be learned in the court of the Tabernacle, then in Solomon’s Temple, they were to be part of public worship, they were very pointed. ‘Lord,’ David says, ‘how’ your translation might say, ‘why’ there’s a question. “How are they increased that trouble me!” Here’s how they’re increased, notice, “many are they that rise up against me.” Again, “Many there be that say of my soul, There is no help for him in God. Selah.” David is quite aware of the process of sowing and reaping, he’s in a stage of his life after his sin with Bathsheba, his adultery and killing her husband Uriah, or having him sent to the front of the battle. And in the process of all of that, Nathan the prophet finally said to him, ‘Now therefore the sword shall never depart from thine house, because thou hast despised me, and hast taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be thy wife, thus saith the LORD, I will raise up evil against thee out of thine own house, I will make thy wives, and I will take thy wives before thine eyes, and will give them unto thy neighbour, and he shall lie with thy wives in the sight of the sun.’ And that’s where David had come to at this point in time. This is years after his sin with Bathsheba, we’re not sure how many years. His heart, still broken over those things. He has never been the father that he was before, or the king, he had hamstrung himself in a sense because of his guilt and because of his sin, his grown children knew of his sin with Bathsheba. And Absalom had forced and taken and raped his half-sister Tamar, and David was silent in regards to that. I mean, Amnon and Absalom furious about it, and David just had no, you know, he didn’t have the stomach to address anybody else’s sin because of his own adultery, his own murder, he had gone through these things. He becomes a much deeper Psalmist, the Psalms we love are written as the man learned more of God’s grace than he had ever known, because he had to. He would say at the end of one of his psalms in regards to his sin, ‘Sacrifice and offering thou hast not desired,’ (Psalm 51) in other words, there was no sacrifice for adultery. In the Old Testament if you committed adultery you were stoned to death, it was a capital offense. There was no sacrifice for murder, after killing Uriah he himself should have been put to death. And he said ‘Lord, sacrifice and offering thou hast not desired, but a broken and contrite spirit thou wilt not despise.’ He realized that in genuine brokenness and genuine repentance, that God was still gracious and would receive the sinner. And he was confident in that much at this point in time. But Absalom now has mounted up, it said Absalom set up his little stool outside the gates of the city and to everybody that began to come, he said, ‘Oh David, he doesn’t have time for you, the king’s too busy,’ and he was particularly taking the younger generation. And they began, it says ‘he stole the hearts of all the people,’ and he said to his father, ‘Dad, let me go up to Hebron there, I have some business to do there,’ and his father, you know, blessed him. The last thing David had said to Absalom is ‘Peace be with you my son.’ And Absalom then goes to Hebron, and he takes several hundred men with him, and there he begins his coupe, it says, ‘There he pronounces himself to be king,’ in Hebron where his father had started, and the thousands begin to gather to Absalom. And as David hears about it, David hangs his head, and he says ‘Let’s gather our things, let’s go, I’m not going to bring slaughter to Jerusalem, I’m not going to see the city destroyed,’ and David gathers himself and his men with him, they cover their heads, they’re weeping as the mount the Mount of Olives, like his greater Son would do in his rejection, and he leaves the city brokenhearted. Different characters approach, you read through some of them, he tells Zadok the priest, ‘You go back into the city, I’ve heard that Ahithophel (2nd Samuel 16:15) has sided himself with Absalom, and you can send Zadok’s son Jonathan, and the son of the other priest, to come and let me know what’s going on.’ He sends Hushai back, he says ‘no Hushai, I’d love it if you come with me, but someone has to be there that’s a great counselor, like Ahithophel, you go tell Absalom when he comes into the city, as you have been loyal to me you will be loyal to him, and see if you can overturn the counsel of Ahithophel.’ (cf 2nd Samuel 16:15-23; 17:1-23) David feared Ahithophel more than he feared Absalom his own son. It says the word of Ahithophel was like the oracle of God in those days. The problem was, Ahithophel had a granddaughter named Bathsheba, and his granddaughter’s husband was Uriah, and David had killed Uriah and taken Bathsheba to be his own wife, and Ahithophel was bitter, and he wanted his pound of flesh out of David [can’t say that I would blame him], and he sided with Absalom. So here’s David leaving Jerusalem, weeping, the Ark of the Covenant, they started to take it with him, he says ‘no, put it back, if God’s gracious to me, I’ll come back, I’ll see it again,’ it wasn’t anything about the throne, he’s worried about coming back and seeing the Ark of God, to come back to worship, to come back, it was so much his heart. Joab is with him (2nd Samuel 18), Abishai his brother is with Benia, Abishai having killed 200 men with a spear, these guys are warriors, they’re with David as he’s going, his mighty men are there, but absent, and conspicuously absent is Uriah. And David is aware, and as he’s leaving the city, Shimei, one of Saul’s relatives, stands up on the hills and starts throwing stones at David, and says ‘God hates you David, this is what you deserve, you dog!’ he’s screaming at him, throwing stones at him, ‘There’s no help for you in God,’ and Abishai says, ‘Give me the word, I’ll slice and dice this guy.’ And David said, ‘Let him curse, God has sent him to curse, let him curse his head off, I deserve it, just let him blast off on me, just leave him alone,’ as he’s casting stones, David is just carrying this in his heart (cf. 2nd Samuel 16:5-13). Look, as we read through this Psalm, I want you to understand the context, things are so heavy on David. David was a man of a great heart, David was a man of great passion, pathos and feelings, and David now is being betrayed by his own son. There had been difficult things in his life before, broken, but if you can imagine, put yourself in David’s shoes as you become familiar with this Psalm, you know what betrayal feels like. If you don’t you haven’t been alive for very long. We can be betrayed by a spouse, be betrayed by a best friend, people stab us in the back, they say things. Sometimes we can be so far down, I have been, it can break you way down. But if it was my son Mike or my son Joshua, I can’t imagine. And as they [Absalom and his crowd] came back and took the city of Jerusalem, Absalom went up on the roof and took David’s wives and concubines and had sex with them in front of everyone, just like Nathan had prophecied. And he said to Ahithophel, the wisest counselor, ‘What shall we do?’ He said, ‘Take 12,000,’ 12,000, David says here ‘Though ten thousand camp against me,’ he said ‘Take 12,000 of the top men right now, Green Berets, and go and pursue him and get him before he camps somewhere.’ [Now that was the perfect military advice and strategy to use against David and his mighty warriors. Ahithophel was correct in his counsel.] And Absalom said ‘That sounds like good counsel,’ he says, ‘Hushai, what would your counsel be?’ Hushai says ‘Well that’s a good idea, but the timing’s bad, not right now [the timing was perfect, but Hushai was sent to mess up Ahithophel’s counsel].’ Hushai was a wise man, on David’s behalf, God’s given him wisdom. He said ‘This is what you should do,’ he said, ‘You know David, he’s a warrior, you know Joab, he’s a monster, Abishai kills 200 guys by himself, Benia, he’s got his mighty men. This is what you should do, call together all of Israel here to Jerusalem. And when you have multitudes, then go after him. And then you can sweep the whole land of his mighty men, you can put him in his place, wait until you have such a force, go in with the greatest force,’ and Absalom says, ‘The counsel of Hushai is better than the counsel of Ahithophel,’ and Ahithophel knows immediately that Absalom is going to lose the throne, and he goes home and he sets his house in order and he commits suicide (cf. 2nd Samuel 17:1-23).
“How Are They Increased That Trouble Me!”
But here’s David, “LORD, how are they increased that trouble me! many are they that rise up against me.” (verse 1) ‘I was the darling king of this nation, I’m the first one that pulled all of the land together,’ the amount of acreage and square miles under David was not succeeded except for Solomon, he was the greatest king that Israel had ever seen, he united Jerusalem and Hebron and all of the territories, the people loved David. “how are they increased that trouble me! many are they that rise up against me.” ‘Not a few, many, there be that rise up against me.’ “Many there be which say of my soul, There is no help for him in God.” (verses 1-2) This was very painful to David, it wasn’t a few, it wasn’t like Absalom got some people, like he got an army of 5,000 or something. David is saying ‘Lord, how is this happening? How are they increased, Lord, that trouble me? Many are they that rise up against me, Lord,’ Jehovah he’s talking to, “many there be that say of my soul, There is no help for him in God,” ‘he’s an adulterer, he’s a murderer, many there be.’ David’s sin was in the open, he had repented, he had repented publicly, it was out in the open, and the enemy is using it, he’s got Absalom stirred up. David is a man that had repented, he had come before God, had fallen down and taken the horns of the altar, and should have died there, and he realized the mercy of God. God would challenge Solomon his son and say ‘Your heart is not perfect toward me like the heart of your father David,’ if you could imagine that. God says to Solomon ‘your father David, though he was an adulterer and a murderer, his heart was perfect toward me.’ The idea is, David sinned before his God, repented before his God, he murdered before his God, he committed adultery before his God, he never changed God’s, he blew it, he was human, he made mistakes. Solomon built temples for other gods, he had a thousand, seven hundred wives and three hundred concubines, he built all kinds of pagan temples for them. God said to him, ‘Your heart is not perfect before me, David, yea he blew it, but he blew it before me and repented before me. Yea he did things he shouldn’t have done, but he did them in my presence and he came to me and he begged forgiveness, he was broken with tears, and I forgave him.’ And David is at least assured of that at this point in time. “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.” and he lifts his head, “Selah.” (verses 1-2) ‘What do you think about that?’
David Would Rather Be A Priest Than A King
And I love the beginning of the next verse, “But” in the Bible that usually means “forget everything else we already said, let’s start here.” He says “But thou, O LORD, art a shield for me; my glory, and the lifter up of mine head.” (verse 3) ‘Thou, O LORD, Jehovah, Covenant-keeping God, the God of his Word, you’re a shield for me,’ David was a warrior, he knew the value of a shield. In fact the Hebrew is here “Thou art a shield about me,” like he’s surrounded with shields. David understood that, he’d been in battle a million times, he himself was a warrior. But he knows he’s not just being shielded from physical danger, he’s being shielded from the tongues of all of his accusers also. There’s a great lesson in here for us. Because sometimes we get in a situation, maybe we’ve made a mistake, and Satan would love to condemn us, you know, this is sowing and reaping, and you’re looking around. Maybe he’s remembering the words of Nathan, ‘the sword is not going to depart from your house, somebody’s going to rise out of your own house, take your wives up on the roof.’ Maybe when he’s thinking about the sons of Shimei, he says ‘Let him curse on, let him curse his head off, I deserve it, God sent him to curse me, let it happen.’ He’s a broken man, he says ‘If God shows me favour I’ll come back again, if not, whatever he wants.’ He’s completely relinquished himself into the hands of his God. A lot of humans, a lot of tongues, a lot of people saying a lot of stuff. David says ‘I’ve struggled in my own heart with my sin, now I got all these mouths flapping, saying, ‘There’s no help for him in God,’ Selah. But thou, O LORD, you’re a mighty shield for me, like being surrounded on the battlefield, LORD, you’re a shield for me. Every tongue that rises up against me LORD, you’re a shield for me.’ And he gives something away then, he says, “My glory, and the lifter up of mine head.” Absalom knew nothing about that. Absalom wanted the throne, Absalom wanted the power. David, when he was being driven out of Jerusalem, he said ‘Take the Ark back, don’t let anything happen to that, if God blesses me, he’ll bring me back, and I’ll worship here again.’ That’s what Jerusalem was to David, he would rather be a priest than a king, ‘I will come back and worship again.’ He says of the LORD, he says, “But thou, O LORD, art a shield for me;” ‘you’re my glory, not the throne, not the wealth, not all of this other stuff, LORD you are my glory.’ Absalom knew nothing about that at all. Jesus would say, ‘Whom he forgives the most is the one who ends up loving him the most.’ David, you know, he’s failing with his children, they’re adults now, he had not been the father he should have been. But God raises us for 70 years, some of us for 80 years, he has all of that time to teach us and to instruct us. And at 62 years old I’m still growing in grace and in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. I find in my life I am always a rooky. You know, you get married, Kathy said, “Let’s wait five years before we have kids,” she was pregnant in five months. I still haven’t figured that out. And then you’re just trying to learn how to be a husband, and you’re not any good at that [amen to the first time around. See http://www.HOWMARRIAGEWORKS.com for some essential and very helpful information], and then there’s a bunch of rug-rats running around, you know. And then your wife is like ‘See ya, I need to take care of this,’ and you’re like lower and lower on the Totem Pole. The second one comes, it’s like ‘They’ll die if they don’t get her attention, I’ll live…’ By the time the third one comes, then she comes back and says ‘Look, there’s three of them and two of us, we have to hook back up again, they’re out-numbering us at this point.’ And the next thing you know, they’re Junior High kids, and they ask for again ‘I want Nautica Cologne’ ‘You’re 13 years old, I still use Old Spice, you ain’t getting Nautica Cologne, you don’t need to smell good, in fact you can stink at 13, you’re safer that way.’ And then they want to drive, and in all these stages you’re a rooky, kind of just getting ready, you’re used to one stage and all of a sudden they’re morphing on you, and changing, and then they’re dating and you have to look at these suspicious people that come around. [If I get married to someone who has a kid now, I know what’s coming, and sort of got a better clue as to what to do and how to act now.] And then they want to get married, and then some of them are married, things are going good, you can take a breather, and then grandkids come, then you buy baby-gates again, you thought you were through with all of that, little beds and drawers that lock, and all that stuff starts all over again. And your wife then, she looses her mind and goes back into her second motherhood…And in every stage of life you’re always a rooky. Then you’re talking to your friends about, you know, ‘Do you know a good gastrointestinal guy?’ there is a whole other phase, then your fellowship is, ‘Who knows a good doctor for certain things?’ And then it’s old folks, ‘This is a great place for a retirement home,’ in every phase you’re always a rooky. And here is David, he’s in deeper water than he’s ever been in. He has sinned, his humanity has fallen out into the open, but now his own son desiring to kill him. Now his own nation that he loved, the armies rising up to pursue him. The cry amongst the people is ‘You’re a sinner, you’re an adulterer, there’s not help for him in God,’ and Absalom has convinced the people of that. David, alone now, but you and God are always a majority. ‘Though ten thousand’ David says, ‘God and I are a majority, it doesn’t matter if there’s ten thousand of them,’ this is a man who has a hold of the heart of God. And the next time he’s going to talk about the God of my righteousness, the idea isn’t ‘I have righteousness, and God is the God of that,’ no, it’s passive, ‘God is the one who is the God of the righteousness I have, he’s provided it to me, I don’t deserve it, he’s the God of my righteousness.’ David understands that. He’s had to come to terms with those things, because of his failure and his sin. “But thou, O LORD, art a shield for me;” ‘you’re my glory, nothing else, not the throne,’ “and the lifter up of mine head.” (verse 3) he had hung his head because of his sin, ‘you’re the lifter of my head.’
God Hears Us When We Cry Out To Him In Our Distress
“I cried unto the LORD with my voice, and he heard me out of his holy hill. Selah” (verse 4) Sometimes it’s good to do that. It tells us when they were leaving Jerusalem, and they lifted up their voices out loud in wailing and weeping. “I cried unto the LORD” look what it says, “and he heard me out of his holy hill.” It’s not just Zion, his holy hill is the place of his habitation [the New Jerusalem]. Here’s David, who had failed in so many ways, yet God had placed him back on the throne, God had established his throne, God had made him a promise, after his sin with Bathsheba, that his throne would be established forever, Messianic promises were made to him. This is a man when he signs off, he signs off ‘David, the sweet psalmist of Israel,’ doesn’t say David the King, David the giant-slayer, any of those other things. When he signs off in 2nd Samuel 23, he says ‘I’m David, the sweet psalmist of Israel, the songwriter of the nation.’ And he says, ‘My Rock, the Living One, my Shepherd, he’s the one whose made it so, and he shall be like the light of the morning when the sun rises, even a morning without clouds, like the tender grass,’ it says, ‘gleaming with the rain on it, after the rain when the sun rises.’ And he says, ‘Though I won’t see it,’ the promises about his house, ‘he’ll make it to be so, his Kingdom’s going to come like those glistening mornings.’ And David here, he says, “I cried unto the LORD with my voice, and he heard me out of his holy hill.” ‘You can’t take that away from me, so what do you think about that!?’ he says, i.e. “Selah.”
I’m Not Loosing Sleep Over Ten Thousands That Have Set Themselves Against Me
And now, “I laid me down and slept; I awakened; for the LORD sustained me.” (verse 5) This is a morning song. “I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people, that have set themselves against me round about.” (verse 6) That was a reality, that was what was happening. Absalom wanted to come with 12,000, Hushai said “No, wait till you’ve gathered all of the armies,” there are ten thousands plural that have gathered themselves against David. And he says, ‘Lord, you hear me. People might say other than that, but you hear me, so I laid me down, and I slept. I didn’t need Nyquil because I had my quill,’ when he wrote the psalm, ‘I didn’t need all this stuff,’ it wasn’t in his bed, it wasn’t in his home, he’s out laying under the stars like when he was a shepherd boy, he says ‘I lay me down and slept, I didn’t toss and turn all night, I wasn’t in my comfortable bed, I didn’t have insomnia because there were assassins all around me creeping through the woods, I laid down and slept, and I awoke, another day, Lord, new mercies every morning.’ “For the LORD sustained me.” he says. “I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people, that have set themselves against me round about.” Better man than me. We are moving in that direction, by the way. The truths that you hold from the Scripture, the values that you want to embrace, the morality that you want to hold onto, the hope that you want to have, the exclusivity of Jesus Christ, the necessity of repenting of sin---we’re going to find ourselves with ten thousands of people, if the Lord tarries, encamped around us [in hostility]. I’ll be doing a prison Bible study, from the inside, before this is over. If that’s what the Lord wants, that’s ok, I’m never going to put this down [holding up his Bible], I’m never going to deny my Saviour [applause], it’s never going to happen. “I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people, that have set themselves against me round about.” Verses 7 and 8, he prays, ‘save me, and save them, your people.’ “Arise, O LORD; save me, O my God: for thou hast smitten all mine enemies upon the cheek bone; thou haste broken the teeth of the ungodly. Salvation belongeth unto the LORD: thy blessing is upon thy people. Selah.” Not save Joab, Abishai, Benia, “Arise, O LORD; save me, O my God: for thou hast smitten all mine enemies” he remembers the contest with Goliath, think of his memory, you know. He says “thou hast”, this has been his past, “thou hast smitten all mine enemies upon the cheek bone; thou hast broken the teeth of the ungodly. Salvation belongeth unto the LORD: thy blessing is upon thy people. Selah.” (verses 7-8) ‘What do you think about that?’ It’s a good way to wake up in the morning. Isn’t it? ‘Lord, there are people that are bugging me, yesterday when I went to bed I thought, ‘How can there be this many of them? And they’re all yapping, they’re all saying you don’t love me, you don’t care about me, but I laid down LORD, you are my glory, you’re my glory, LORD, you’re a shield. All those tongues, LORD, I commit my life to you, LORD, you said that no weapon formed against me shall prosper. I have that heritage.’ Great way to wake up in the morning, ‘here I am, LORD, another day, drag these bones out of bed, I can stand up, I’m alive, you’ve preserved me, and I got a feeling this ain’t gonna be a good day, Lord, there’s ten thousands of them out there, LORD, that want me down.’ Like you and I every morning, you wake up, and sin is waiting there to smack you in the face, lust is there, anger is there, selfishness is there, drugs are there, it’s all there. There’s ten thousands camped against us, there every day. ‘But LORD, arise, save me, LORD, you’ve always given me victory, smitten my enemies, salvation LORD is of you. It’s not of works, not of all this other stuff, and you’re blessing LORD is upon your people, and I’m one of them. What do you think about that?’ That’s a good way to wake up each day.
To the chief Musician on Neginoth, A Psalm of David
“Hear me when I call, O God of my righteousness: thou hast enlarged me when I was in distress; have mercy upon me, and hear my prayer. O ye sons of men, how long will ye turn my glory into shame? how long will ye love vanity, and seek after leasing [lying]? Selah. But know that the LORD hath set apart him that is godly for himself: the LORD will hear when I call unto him. Stand in awe, and sin not: commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still. Selah. Offer the sacrifices of righteousness, and put your trust in the LORD. There be many that say, Who will shew us any good? LORD, lift thou up the light of thy countenance upon us. Thou hast put gladness in my heart, more than in the time that their corn and their wine increased. I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for thou, LORD, only makest me dwell in safety.”
When Squeezed Into A Narrow Place, God Broadens The Way For Us
“Now, “to the chief Musician on Neginoth, Smiting,” a song that’s to be played publicly with string instruments, and it’s a Psalm of David. And this is an evening song, look at the last verse, “I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for thou, LORD, only makest me dwell in safety.” (verse 8) So, he arises the next morning, he lives through the next day. There are tens, multiple tens of thousands approaching to come after him. And he says “Hear me” now this is very personal, look at the first verse here, it’s “me” “I” “my” “me” “I” “me” “my” when we’re dealing with God, when the odds are stacked against us, when things are very hurtful, and I see people when they’re hurt, I can’t imagine being this hurt, my son, hunting me, wanting to kill me. His son, taking David’s wives and concubines on the roof and humiliating the king. Just imagine, the closer somebody is to us, the deeper they can hurt us. The closest people to us are the ones that can hurt us the most deeply. [I’ve been used to that, wife of 19 years left me 16 years ago, it still hurts deeply.] Because, to be in love with someone calls for vulnerability, calls for us to leave down those walls, or love can’t be what it’s supposed to be. And when all of the defenses are let down and vulnerability is offered, and someone then treads on that, it’s awful painful. And this is with his own son. When he finds out Absalom is dead he, who was trying to kill him, he’s crying ‘Oh Absalom, Absalom, my son Absalom! Would to God it was I who was dead, O my son Absalom!’ no doubt blaming himself. Then Joab has to finally tell him, ‘Hey, shut up, I know you’re the king and all that, but the nation is rejoicing that you’re alive, you’re not supposed to be screaming and crying over him. He was a godless man and a traitor.’ But you read through the psalm and you realize the depth of the pain, and now here comes another day added on. And how do you then face the next day? Here’s what David tells us about the next day, that leaves him again laying down his head, to an evening prayer. We had the morning prayer, now it’s the evening prayer. “Hear me when I call, O God of my righteousness: thou hast enlarged me when I was in distress; have mercy upon me, and hear my prayer.” (verse 1) So, “Hear me when I call, God of my righteousness” the idea is, he’s not his God because he’s righteous [David that is], but he’s the God that’s provided righteousness, ‘you are the God of my righteousness.’ David has trusted him with the sacrificial system. “Hear me when I call, O God of my righteousness: thou hast enlarged me when I was in distress; have mercy upon me, and hear my prayer. O ye sons of men, how long will ye turn my glory into shame? how long will ye love vanity, and seek after leasing? Selah.” ‘What do you think about that?’ (verses 1-2) He’s stating his condition, and then ‘Selah, what do you think about that?’ He says, ‘LORD, you’re the God of my righteousness, hear me,’ “thou hast enlarged me when I was in distress.” Now what it says is, ‘You broadened my existence when I was in straightness, narrowness.’ The Bible, you know, when you’re in a situation, you know, straight is the gate that leads to eternal life, there’s a straightness, a narrowness, there’s a tightness. We say today ‘Man, I am stressed out!’ because everything is like squeezing down on you. And he says ‘LORD, when I was in those narrow places, when I was squeezed in, you broadened those places, LORD, and let me breath, let me take a deep breath.’ He says, ‘You’re the God of my righteousness, you’ve provided me with righteousness, and thou hast, your past mercies looked like this, this is who’ve you’ve been in my life, thou hast enlarge me, LORD, when I was in distress, when I was in straightness, when I was being squeezed. Have mercy upon me and hear my prayer, LORD, this is what you do, do it again, LORD, I so desperately need it in my life today.’ You know, God is so faithful to us, I think how quickly I can think, ‘This is the time he’s going to drop me, you know, he’s always thrown me up and caught me, like I did with my kids when they were little, but this is the time he’s going to let me hit the floor, I know it,’ or ‘This is the time you’re not going to be who’ve you’ve always been.’ No, no, he says ‘I am the LORD, and I change not.’ Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever. He said, ‘LORD, hear me when I cry unto you LORD, you’re the God that’s provided righteousness for me. And in the past, LORD, your record is that when I get into a narrow place, and I can’t breathe and I’m so stressed out, that you broaden that for me, and you let me breathe and come to life again. So hear me when I cry unto you now, that’s who’ve you’ve been LORD, that’s who I expect you to be in my life.’
The Age We Live In Also Existed Back Then
And then the question that hangs over verse 2 is “O ye sons of men,” is he now speaking in the Spirit about humanity, or is it just David? Well both are probably true. David is speaking it, but it is the LORD speaking it through him. “O ye sons of men, how long will ye turn my glory into shame?” they were doing that certainly with David, God sees his greater Son, Jesus, no doubt through this in some remarkable ways. “O ye sons of men, how long will ye turn my glory into shame?” David had said to the LORD, ‘You are my glory,’ now there’s something here that he sees turning his glory into shame, “how long will ye love vanity,” emptiness, nothing “and seek after leasing?” that’s falsehood or lies, ‘how long are you going to do that?’ We live in a culture that wants to take the glory of the Lord and turn it into shame, we live there. We live in a culture that loves vanity, we love vanity, the Oscars, the Emmy’s, the Grammies, give me a little idol, ‘Oh yea I love the Man upstairs, I got 14 kids outside of marriage, but I love the Man upstairs, I’m on my third girlfriend, I’ve been married twice, that didn’t work, but I love the Man upstairs,’ we love, our culture just kind of loves this. ‘How long will you love vanity, and how long will you steep yourself in falsehood and lies, in emptiness? Think about that, what do you think about that?’
God Has Set Apart Him That Is Godly For Himself
“But know that the LORD hath set apart him that is godly for himself: the LORD will hear when I call unto him.” (verse 3) Now look, he had said it was the LORD that provided his righteousness, he understands what this means, those whose hearts are after God’s. It isn’t that you’re perfect. Oswald Chambers said, “Christian perfection is not perfection of performance, it’s perfection of relationship,” it is not perfection of performance. You have to be careful, because there are some very legalistic sides of the Church, and then there are some very lenient sides of the Church that make excuses for all kinds of sins, there’s a balance in that. He doesn’t want us to sin, he wants us to lead holy lives. He gives us his Holy Spirit, not his cool spirit, not his culturally relevant spirit, the Holy Spirit. But in the final analysis, he has provided our righteousness, we will stand in glory because of the price he paid on the cross. That’s what he’s done. And there is evidently, to anyone whose willing to look, there is a balance. And yet there are those whose hearts are right towards God, we love him because he first loved us it says. And it says “the LORD has set apart him that is godly for himself: the LORD will hear when I call unto him.” (verse 3) David, how encouraging to all of us. Look, we love Peter, the great human of the New Testament, he hacks off ears, he says stuff he shouldn’t say, Paul has to rebuke him before the church for going back under the law [now that’s a misinterpretation of that event found in Acts, Peter was going back into a Jewish cultural discrimination against Gentiles, had nothing to do with the Law]. We love Peter, because if he can get in, we can get in. We love David, because of his great humanness. Because if God can say at the end of his life, ‘this was a man after my own heart,’ then we can think, ‘Lord, I’ve failed, can you say that about me, Lord? I thought you were through with me. I thought you were done with me.’ It’s never an excuse for sin, it’s never license, but it is liberty, that we have been imperfect, and yet God loves us. When he saved us, he knew what he was getting. The day he saved us, he knew. We have failed along the way, and we’ve been surprised, he wasn’t surprised. He’s not in heaven going, ‘I got another lemon, that was a bad year.’ No, he knows, he knows. David says ‘he sets aside him that is godly for himself, the LORD will hear when I call unto him.’ And then he says, “Stand in awe, and sin not: commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still. Selah.” (verse 4) The Hebrew actually says “tremble,” the idea is, look, you’re facing a terrible day, thousands it seems have surrounded you, you don’t have any resources to meet what you’re facing right now in your life---and there are people in this room that are right in that position. Some of you, you’re thinking ‘Well, I liked last week.’ Just get the tape, you’re going to need it. But everybody’s going to be in this place at some point or another. And David’s thinking, ‘Man, this is overwhelming me, I don’t know how I’m going to make it through this, but Lord you will, I’m going to cry unto you Lord, you’re going to hear me when I call,’ and his advice is, ‘Look, tremble, stand in awe, don’t sin. Commune with your own heart on your own bed.’ That’s a great thing to do, you’re going to bed at night, just to lay there, I do it every night, and quietly kind of rehearse the day, and say ‘Here I am, Lord,’ pray for my kids, my grandkids, just quietly, in stillness. He says that. “Stand in awe, and sin not: commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still. Selah.” “and be still,” hold your peace. ‘What do you think about that?’ He’s going to go to bed with 50,000, 60,000, 100,000 soldiers hunting him, and he’s not going to get like a 50 cal. shot to the head and be gone like that, snap! he’s going to be hacked up if they find him, that’s not pleasant. He says ‘stand in awe, don’t sin, reverence God, commune with your own heart on your own bed, and hold your peace, be still. Selah, what do you think about that?’ That’s the way to end a day when your life is hanging in the balance.
Sacrifices Of Righteousness, What Are They?
He says, “Offer the sacrifices of righteousness, and put your trust in the LORD.” (verse 5) Now the sacrifices, they were sin offerings, trespass offerings. It’s not what he’s talking about here. The sacrifices of righteousness were burnt offerings, they were peace offerings, the sacrifices of righteousness. There were sacrifices in the Law for those who had sinned and transgressed, and they were to be offered also. But there were other things, when you came to the LORD, you weren’t in sin, and you wanted to offer a burnt offering, it was just consecration, you were just saying ‘LORD, I’m giving my whole life to you, LORD I just want to give everything I am to you, LORD, as best I can,’ and it says when the smoke of that sacrifice rose up, it was a sweet savour, or a savour of rest before the throne of God. There were the fellowship offerings, just, you’d go and you’d partake as it were the meal with God, in fellowship with him. And it’s saying here “Offer the sacrifices of righteousness, and put your trust in the LORD.” consecrate yourselves, give yourselves constantly afresh to him.
Prosperity Does Not Equal Peace
“There be many that say, Who will shew us any good? LORD, lift thou up the light of thy countenance upon us.” (verse 6) ‘want to show you good, let me tell you how it flows down, Lord, your presence outweighs everything else, your presence.’ I hope that in all of our lives there are times we can remember just the presence of the Lord. And look, I realize his presence every day, my theology is good, I’m washed in the blood, I walk in his grace, I love his Word. Every day I realize his presence. But there are times when there are the experiences of his presence, when it’s subjective, and it stuns us, it staggers us, it bends our knees, brings tears to our eyes. And David is saying here, ‘LORD,’ with people saying ‘how’s anything good going to come of this?’ ‘LORD, lift up your countenance, let it shine upon us, LORD. Let the light of who you are, LORD, come upon us.’ He says “Thou hast put gladness in my heart, more than in the time that their corn and their wine increased.” (verse 7) This is what he says, ‘LORD, you have put gladness, you’ve done this, you’ve caused gladness to be in my heart, and the gladness, the joy, what’s going on inside of me, weighs more than the joy they have in the time of harvest, this time of their grain and the time of their wine, when it’s increased.’ And look, that was in this culture, that was the time, the time of the Feast of Tabernacles, the time of the great ingatherings, the whole nation would rejoice. David is saying ‘I’m out here on the hills, my life is hanging in the balance, my son is hunting me to kill me, my home has been desecrated, everything has fallen apart LORD, but you’re my glory LORD, you’re the lifter of my head, I’m holding onto you. LORD, in the past when I’ve been in tight places, you’re broadened them out, you’ve been gracious to me, I’m going to lay here LORD, I’m going to be still, I’m going to commune with you on my own bed, LORD, I’m going to take my hands off of this, I’m going to hold my peace, LORD, and I’m going to let you do this. And LORD, your presence LORD, when it comes, it brings gladness, it brings joy, MORE than when they are going to celebrate when all their crops and all their wine comes in.’ Prosperity, is what he’s saying here, prosperity does not equal peace. How many people do we see in the world that are wealthy and they’re miserable? How many people do we see that end up in the Betty Ford Clinic, they’re millionaires, and they’re empty? He says, ‘LORD, when push comes to shove,’ and look, his life is hanging here in the balance. We live our lives, we’re moving at a pace, got Iphones and Ipads, and I-me-and-I this, we got television, we got media, we’re running a million miles an hour, we know things that no generation knew before, and so it’s very rare all of a sudden when something happens, and all of a sudden we’re realizing our mortality, our frailty, that life can change and end in a day. And in that context, David says, ‘You know what, LORD, your presence, you’re at the epicenter of all of this, you mean more than all of those things. And in fact, LORD, all the gladness and joy that you bring, that you caused to be in my heart, weighs more than worldly prosperity and all the things that people think if they had they’d be happy. LORD, what you give out outweighs all of that, it outweighs all of that.’ Do you believe that? Do you want to experience that? The way the economy’s going you may get to. And then he says, “I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for thou, LORD, only makest me dwell in safety.” (verse 8) Absalom’s forces are amassing all around him. “I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep” this is a great evening prayer. Why? “for thou, LORD, ONLY makest me to dwell in safety.” “makest me” in the Hebrew is “causes me to dwell in safety.” ‘I’m tired, it’s a crazy day, I wrote a song this morning, it was great, it was a waking up song, and after this crazy day I’ve got a great going-to-bed song I’m going to write here, and get it to the chief musician.’ If you’re in those straights now, you’re going through incredible hurt, the closest people to you have betrayed you, you feel like you can’t live one more day. Read through here, read through here. Ask God to show you what he was showing to David and what God put to the page through David and preserved to give to us this evening. If you had a day today that’s killing you, you feel like you’re getting chased by every problem in the world, that if you stand still you’re going to get suffocated, you feel so stressed out, the Lord needs to open up and give you a wider place to stand. Maybe tonight there is a way for you to say ‘Lord, I’m going to lay down, and I’m going to go to sleep, and you’re going to give me sleep, rest, not just sleep. ‘All the assassins are climbing around in the hills all around me, if you don’t keep me alive I ain’t living anyway, so I might as well snore. You can clog their ears so they don’t hear where the snoring’s coming from, Lord I’m going to saw zzz’s, I’m going to bed, because only you cause me to dwell in safety, you cause it to happen. It’s not my planning, it’s not my mighty men, not all the things that I can muster and garner, LORD, you cause me, you cause me to dwell in safety. I’m laying down, LORD, I’m sawing zzz’s, I’m going to bed.’ Great evening song.
So look, read ahead. I pray the Rapture happens and we don’t get to Psalm 5 and 6. Ah, next Wednesday evening Amir will be here from Israel, and he’ll just kind of give us an update on things going on in the Middle East, unless they happen before that and we’re outa here. But if you’re here I encourage you. Read ahead in the Psalms. I’m going to have the musicians, I’m going to have Rob come. I’m going to do this, how many of you know Psalm 3 as a song? [We in the Sabbath-keeping Churches of God do, we have all the Psalms put to music in our hymnals.] Well the three of us will sing that together tonight [laughter]. They got it, they’re going to put the words up, we’re going to sing it. And just listen, think of this, David bringing this into the Temple and the people of God learning this, and learning the words to it. And I’m going to pray, and I’m going to pray for everybody here that’s just in that place of brokenness tonight. And receive this song as a song from God, the song, the 4th Psalm, the song you sing before you go to bed, it’s an evening Psalm, and Psalm 3 is a morning Psalm. So let’s pray and let’s stand, and let’s worship, let’s lift our hearts before the Lord, and let’s sing through these lyrics, and be lifting our hearts as we do. Let’s sing Psalm 3 and then we’ll sing one other song, just giving ourselves to the Lord this evening. ‘But Father, I know you’ve overheard, and Lord put these things to the page. I can’t imagine, Lord, I can’t imagine the pain, the brokenness in David’s heart, the things that he went through, when every single earthly thing fell away. Even his sons, his home, his wives, every single thing fell away, and he found that he had both hands clutching the hem of your garment, Lord. He would finally say one thing I desire of the LORD, and that will I seek after, to dwell in the house of the LORD, and behold your beauty. Lord, here the man, refined, worn down, throwing up his hands in surrender, singing LORD of your grace when he awakens in the morning, knowing that you alone have sustained him, though there’s ten thousands around him. And singing again, Lord, that you’re the one who causes us to dwell in safety, in spite of ourselves, that we can lay down our heads and sleep Lord. I pray for those here struggling with that Lord. I pray for the most broken person in this room Lord. I pray for the ones under the condemnation of the devil, Lord, that need to get before you, Lord. I pray for the ones with hidden sin Lord, that are choking and suffocating Lord. As David said, ‘my bones cried,’ until he came into the open Lord. I pray Lord for those who are in fear this evening, Lord. These songs you give to them and to us Lord, let them be alive in our hearts, and as we leave here, and we have opportunity to look at these Psalms that we know so well Lord, and we’re still learning, let us hear your voice, not David’s voice, let us hear you speaking to us, Lord. Let us hear your directives and your consolation. But Lord touch every broken heart here this evening, move among us Lord, every one of your sons and daughters here in the spirit of David, all of us Lord, we lift our hearts before you, we ask you to move in our midst. Hear this as we sing this, as we lift it up to you now, Lord we pray in your name, amen.’ [connective expository sermon on Psalm 3:1-8 and Psalm 4:1-8, given by Pastor Joe Focht, Calvary Chapel of Philadelphia, 13500 Philmont Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19116]