Coping With Trials
Psalm 3 ESV
O LORD, how many are my foes!
Many are rising against me;
many are saying of my soul,
there is no salvation for him in God. Selah
But you, O LORD, are a shield about me,
my glory, and the lifter of my head.
I cried aloud to the LORD,
and he answered me from his holy hill. Selah
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.
Arise, O LORD!
Save me, O my God!
For you strike all my enemies on the cheek;
you break the teeth of the wicked.
Salvation belongs to the LORD;
your blessing be on your people! Selah
God’s People Can Cope: Psalm 3
David was a great shepherd, a wonderful warrior and an honored king, yet he was as we all are, flesh and blood. David, the man after God’s own heart, a great king, committed a great sin and a sin that according to the letter of the law was punishable by death. God in His mercy did not allow David to die for his sin, but this was a sin that caused the sword never to depart from his family, a sin that would haunt his memory and sweep his soul with grief. No doubt David was aware of these things as he fled from his eldest son in tears. Trouble had come—even from David’s own home. David’s son, Absalom, had usurped power. David and a handful of faithful good men were all that remained of the elite forces of the kingdom. They were weak and could have been easily over powered by the thousands of troops under the control of Absalom. Unknown to David, God, by His providence allowed the usurping Absalom to be influenced by those who believed David would be fiercer than he ever was in any other battle. Absalom decided to delay an attack. It was during this vulnerable time-frame that this Psalm came into existence. David is now facing many who oppose him. This is the darkest hour him. His foes have never been bigger nor have his problems been greater. Yet in this opposition David found the strength to cope—and we can to. God’s people can cope with much opposition.
How do we deal with opposition?
Psalm 3 gives us four keys that unlock the secret of coping with the many things that oppose us.
The first key to coping is…
I. We must anticipate many difficulties. vv. 1-2
Today there is an element of Christianity that proposes that “good” Christians never face trouble, never get ill, and never have setbacks. Yet the lives of Job, Paul, David—even our Lord prove the fact that the more godly we are the more likely we are to have trouble. Our Lord said in John 15:20 “Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A slave is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you…” And Paul wrote to Timothy, “And indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” 2 Timothy 3:12
Also the fact of the harvest is true. We will reap what we sowed—more than we sowed. Part of David’s dilemma is the fact that he had committed sin that spawned some of this mess. “What goes around comes around.” That’s a popular saying here in the south. It is the equivalent of the biblical law of the harvest, “You reap what you sow—usually more than you sow. When this happens to our enemies we call it “just deserts”. When this happens to us we call it “consequences”. Sometimes we are overwhelmed with events and trials that are part of our harvest. Other times these events come as an attack by forces that oppose us because of our relationship with God. Sometimes both of these things happen at the same time. The consequences of our actions can produce enemies of God. David certainly experienced this in his own life.
These difficulties can take the form of…
A. Many foes. (v. 1a)
David was faced with trouble. He had many enemies. “Many” רָבַב (rabab). The word increased in the KJV is the same as the word many found 2 more times in vv. 1-2. David faced trouble and admitted it openly. Many foes!
My son plays a computer game. Sometime he has it set up as friends and foes. Friends are blue and foes are red. Real life it is not always that easy. One may not know who his enemies are.
You may say, “I don’t have any foes. I don’t have any persecution.” Are you of Christ? Are you living godly in Christ? If so 2 Timothy 3:12 promises that you will have trouble. It will find you. Don’t freak out, don’t panic, and don’t be surprised. Cry out to God when foes rise up against you.
B. Many uprisings. (v.1b)
Standing up was at the very least a symbol of equality. Coming into the presence of a king one was expected (according to the customs of the near east) to bow low as a sign of submission to an authority. So an uprising especially against a king meant rebellion. Rising up also painted a visual image of an attack stance.
Expect rebellion from the unsaved. Rebellion against authority is rebellion against God. Also, don’t be guilty of rebelling against God’s ordained authority (Romans 13).Cry out to God when people rebel against you. Lay your case out before Him.
C. Many proclaiming no hope. (v.2)
Many foes lead to many uprisings and many uprisings produce many prophets of doom. This Psalm seems to be building up to this climax. Many people are saying--- not just a few! David is facing what may be the biggest trial of his life. Remember in the 90's when Susan Smith committed the terrible wicked act of drowning her children in a lake in Union, SC? When she went to trial many were saying there is no way she will escape the death penalty. I was one of them. I was a prophet of doom. Turns out I was wrong, but still many said that she was not going to escape. Many said this about David. “God is done with him. It’s over.” “There is no hope for him now!”
How do you respond when the crowd proclaims that God is done blessing you? When you loose a baby and close family says, “Where is God in this? He must not love you very much." We must not be guilty of equating negative circumstances with a lack of blessing. Remember the sure hope we have in Christ. When men cry out doom against us— cry out to God!
The second key to coping is…