Psalm 3: The Victory of Faith
Psalm 3: The Victory of Faith
The title of the psalm is ‘A psalm of David, when he fled from Absalom his son.’ The background can be seen in 2 Sam 15:13-17. David was reeling under the twin blows of i. the betrayal by his own son; and ii. the fickleness of the people of Israel. No wonder you find references in his psalms to never trust in man. The situation was so bad that David had to flee from Jerusalem in order to save his life.
The psalm can be divided into 4 parts, for a clear understanding of its theme of faith.
Part 1. Verses 1-2. The environment of faith.
David sees the conspiracy growing all around him. He is surrounded by his adversaries on all sides. He is unable to do a thing. Many were saying, ‘There is no deliverance for him in God.’ This is followed by the word ‘selah’. In this short psalm the frequent use of the word ‘selah’ (a dramatic pause) shows the intensity of emotion that David is feeling.
We have spoken of the ‘environment of faith’. We need to remember that faith comes to light in a dark and difficult situation. A crisis is needed to demonstrate faith. When things are easy and comfortable, there is no need to exercise faith. Faith is born in an apparently hopeless situation. When you are surrounded by problems or attacked by enemies, that is the time to exercise the faith that stands and withstands. The opening lines of this psalm reflect the environment or background of faith.
Part 2. Verses 3-6. The exercise of faith.
Faith begins with the Lord. Faith is always faith in a Person, not faith in things. ‘Have faith in God.’ Jesus said, ‘You believe in God; believe also in Me.’ David looked to the Lord, 3:3. He said, ‘You, O Lord, are a shield about me, You are My glory, You are the One who lifts up my head.’ Faith is first focusing on the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ. ‘Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.’ David opened his mouth and declared that the Lord was His protection – You are my shield! The Lord was His glory – David boasted in the Lord! The Lord was the One who lifted up His head – David sought the resurrection power of the Lord. He was bowed down; he had almost fallen – but he was not giving up; he waited for the power of resurrection. To be lifted up out of this terrible crisis, these dire straits.
After strengthening himself in the Lord, focusing on the Lord, praising Him – David poured out his supplication before the Lord, 3:4. ‘I cried out to the Lord with my voice.’ He poured out his heart to God. And He got the assurance that God would answer him. He enjoyed God’s peace in his heart, 3:5. He lay down and slept; he awoke from sleep, knowing that the Lord was sustaining him. The Lord sustains us before He saves (delivers) us. And even after He saves us, He continues to sustain us. Listen! There is both saving grace and sustaining grace. Underneath are the everlasting arms. I lay down and slept. Sleep is such a great gift of God. Peter slept while he was in prison (Acts 12), even as he waited for his execution. You and I could never have slept, while in Peter’s situation. Peter too could not have slept, chained as he was to two soldiers. But God gives His beloved sleep, Psalm 127:2b.
Prayer leads to peace. Read Phil 4:6-7. Praise and prayer makes the heart bold, 3:6. David declares that he will stand boldly against his enemies. He is not at all afraid now. The prayer of faith removes fear. Can we pray like that? Are we ready to face the enemy the way David did? We wonder how as a youth he got the courage to withstand Goliath? How did he face the lion and the bear when he was a shepherd boy looking after his father’s sheep? Oh, that we had the boldness of faith. Faith must be bold to stand and withstand, and having done all, to stand! (Eph 6:10-11, 13-14.)
In short, we see David’s exercise of faith in these four verses from 3:3-6. Praise> prayer> peace> bold faith. May we also learn the divine principles of the exercise of faith.
Part 3. Verse 7. The emergence of victorious faith.
Arise, O Lord! The word ‘arise’ points to resurrection power! We remember the words of Moses in Numbers 10:35. “Arise, O Lord! And let your enemies be scattered! Let those who hate You flee before You!’ That is militant faith. How did David come to the point when he could say, ‘Arise, Lord’? If we read the latter half of verse 7, we notice the past tense. You have smitten my enemies! You have shattered the wicked! It is already done; it is finished! We need to understand Calvary in the right way. It was on the cross that the Lord won the victory for us. There He crushed the enemy; crushed Satan under His feet. The battle has been won. We are on victory ground. We don’t fight for victory; we fight from victory. We must maintain (hold fast to) the ground of victory. The Cross speaks of victory. Hence we rejoice in the Cross, the Finished Work of the Lord Jesus; we rejoice in the Blood of Jesus, by which Satan was overcome; we rejoice in the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, for He is our Victory. Rev 12.11; 1 Cor 15.57.
So while we may see the Lord as fighting our battles, we must remember that the greatest battle of all, on Calvary’s Cross, was already fought and won. We have won the victory! Christ leads us in triumph, 2 Cor 2:14!
Part 4. Verse 8. The essence of faith.
What is the essence of faith? ‘Salvation belongs to the Lord.’ 3:7. No man can save. Neither can you save yourself. Only the Lord saves. Deliverance is only from the Lord. The Lord Jesus Christ is Saviour, Redeemer, Deliverer – forever! Jonah too, while in the fish’s belly, said: ‘Salvation is from the Lord!’ Jonah in his prayer arrived to this point in the exercise of his faith. (Jon 2:1-3, 7) In Jonah’s prayer, there is supplication, there is faith; but in verse 6 we see the note of resurrection – You have brought up my life from the pit. His prayer ends with the victory of faith. He too says, Salvation is from the Lord!
The whole point about the distressing environment of faith is that only in such troubled conditions is real and living faith born. Faith must be tested and proved, and emerge much stronger, and more steadfast. But the exercise of faith is that we not only become bold in faith and steadfast in heart, but that we taste deliverance. For we must recognize that faith delivers. Faith brings victory. Faith is the victory. The point about the emergence of victorious faith is that we have the assurance that God’s resurrection power is going to be released. In the most hopeless situation, when you think all is lost, everything is gone, and you are on the verge of despair – the power of the Risen Christ is manifested. And you come up from the pit, you are set upon a rock, your head is lifted up above your enemies, and you rejoice in the glorious victory of faith.
From beginning to end, this psalm is the psalm of the exercise, the emergence, the victory of faith. And as we live this life of faith, tested in the most painful trials, we receive the blessing of God. For all our suffering must lead to glory; all our pruning must bring in fruitfulness; all our breaking must surely result in blessing, Psalm 3:8.