By: Scott Morton
The third Psalm is the first one that actually identifies who the author is. David is the person who is the recorded author of this psalm. He wrote many of the psalms, some of them with his name in the introduction, others with it not included (see Psalm 2).
The introduction also includes the timeframe for when this psalm was written. It was during the time of the rebellion of Absalom and the problems that resulted with this. He had tried to take over the kingdom and David was forced to flee in fear of his life. This would put this during the passage recorded from 2 Samuel 15 to 2 Samuel 18. While there are a lot of things that could apply to just this time, there is also an application for the members of the nation of Israel, particularly with the timeframe of the day of the Lord that is still to come.
LORD, how are they increased that trouble me! many are they that rise up against me.
David starts out this Psalm by pointing out the fact there are a large number of people standing against him at this point. In 2 Samuel 16:15, it is recorded that all of the men of Israel were going with Absalom. This is a large number of people that were against David. This had been increasing as recorded in 2 Samuel 15:12.
The phenomenon that happens is every time a person is following the commands of God, there is an increase in the number of people going against the individual. This is an indication of the work of Satan to oppose what God is doing. For example, Israel was opposed over and over again until God rose up the Apostle Paul. Once this occurred, as God had given him a unique message as the Apostle to the Gentiles (Romans 11:13, Galatians 1:11-12), Satan switches over the opposition to attacking Paul and the ministry of the Body of Christ.
There also is going to be a future event with this opposition. An example of this can be seen in the following verse:
And the brother shall deliver up the brother to death, and the father the child: and the children shall rise up against their parents, and cause them to be put to death.
This verse is dealing with the prophetic program and how this is going to turn out. There will need to be some that will have to endure to the end (Matthew 10:22), but there will also be those that will rise up against the followers of God. This will even include family members, who are not saved into the prophetic program.
Many there be which say of my soul, There is no help for him in God. Selah.
David knew there were many reasons why people would say this. They did not have a favorable opinion of him, which was why it was it was easy for Absalom to lead so many people against David in this rebellion. Their viewpoint would have been that God had turned his back on him and this is why there was no more protection for him. In 2 Samuel 16:8 David is described as being a bloody man. This is because of all the wars he had fought and the people that ended up falling under David's reign. The viewpoint of the individual looking at David would be that the Lord had instructed them not to kill (Exodus 20:13). Since David did not follow what the law had instructed, David was guilty and had to be punished.
Another issue brought up in the verse from 2 Samuel is the house of Saul. Saul had been the king chosen by the people. He had been chosen because he was the biggest, strongest, and best looking. There was no consideration of how he would follow God. Since Saul turned his back on the instructions of God, the kingdom was taken away from him and given to David, a king of God�s choosing. Since the people wanted their king, there would have been some resentments of him and would have increased the number of people ready to go against David. Since their belief was that God had forsaken him, they would have felt there was nobody to deliver him (Psalms 71:11).
It would have been easy for David to have been discouraged by this. He could have felt he was forsaken by God. He could have felt like Psalms 42:3, 6 where the writer is lamenting because he is facing problems and God was not there for him. He could have remembered the problems that were his creation, such as the affair with Bathsheba and the murder of her husband, Uriah. Instead, his focus is on the fact that God had made a covenant with him (2 Samuel 7). There was a promise made unto him and he knew that God would not turn His back on the promises made. David was the chosen king of Israel and God would be the protector of him. This led to the thought process of David in the next verse.
Before we go there, we need to take a look at a word that will occur 73 times in the book of Psalms, the word Selah. There is some differences in opinion on what the meaning of this phrase is, other than the fact that it refers to music. I have enclosed a couple of passages to help you study this out and come to your own conclusion on what this means:
Selah סלה Much has been written on this word, and still its meaning does not appear to be wholly determined. It is rendered in the Targum or Chaldee paraphrase, לצלמין, lealmin, for ever, or to eternity. In the Latin Vulgate, iris omitted, as if it were no part of the text. In the Septuagint it is rendered Διάψαλμα, supposed to refer to some variation or modulation of the voice in singing. Schleusner, Lex. The word occurs seventy-three times in the Psalms, and three times in the book of Habakkuk (Hab_3:3, Hab_3:9, Hab_3:13). It is never translated in our version, but in all these places the original word Selah is retained. It occurs only in poetry, and is supposed to have had some reference to the singing or cantillation of poetry, and to be probably a musical term. In general, also, it indicates a pause in the sense, as well as in the musical performance. Gesenius (Lex.) supposes that the most probable meaning of this musical term or note is silence or pause, and that its use was, in chanting the words of the Psalm, to direct the singer to be silent, to pause a little, while the instruments played an interlude or harmony. Perhaps this is all that can now be known of the meaning of the word, and this is enough to satisfy every reasonable enquiry. It is probable, if this was the use of the term, that it would commonly correspond with the sense of the passage, and be inserted where the sense made a pause suitable; and this will doubtless be found usually to be the fact. But any one acquainted at all with the character of musical notation will perceive at once that we are not to suppose that this would be invariably or necessarily the fact, for the musical pauses by no means always correspond with pauses in the sense. This word, therefore, can furnish very little assistance in determining the meaning of the passages where it is found, Ewald supposes, differing from this view, that it rather indicates that in the places where it occurs the voice is to be raised, sad that it is synonymous with up, higher, loud, or distinct, from סל, sal, סלל salal, to ascend. Those who are disposed to enquire further respecting its meaning, and the uses of musical pauses in general, may be referred to Ugolin, 'Thesau. Antiq. Sacr.,' tom xxii. - Albert Barnes, 1868.
Selah, סּלה is found seventy-three times in the Psalms, generally at the end of a sentence or paragraph; but in Psa_51:19 and Psa_57:3, it stands in the middle of the verse. While most authors have agreed in considering this word as somehow relating to the music, their conjectures about its precise meaning have varied greatly. But at present these two opinions chiefly obtain. Some, including Herder, De Wette, Ewald (Poet Bücher, 1:179), and Delitzsch, derive it from סלה, or סלל, to raise and understand an elevation of the voice or music; others, after Gesenius, in Thesaurus, derive it from סלח, to be still or silent, and understand a pause in the singing. So Rosenmailer, Hengstenberg, and Tholuck. Probably selah was used to direct the singer to be silent, or to pause a little, while the instruments played an interlude (so Sept., διαψαλμα) or symphony. In Psa_9:16, it occurs in the expression higgaion selah, which Gesenius, with much probability, renders instrumental, pause; i.e., let the instruments strike up a symphony, and let the singer pause. By Tholuck and Hengstenberg, however, the two words are rendered meditation, pause; i.e., let the singer meditate while the music stops. - Benjamin Davis, Ph.D., LL.D., article Psalms, in Kitto's Cyclopædia of Biblical Literature.
But thou, O LORD, art a shield for me; my glory, and the lifter up of mine head.
This is David's viewpoint of how he is going to be able to deal with the situation. He is not going to be depressed about the situation, as he knows that God is going to be there for him. He uses the experiences he has had in the past to help him get through this (see Psalms 51 for an example of how David did not handle this as well as he could have). He was strengthened by the fact that he knew God had not abandoned him like the previous verse seemed to say (Psalms 35:3). God is going to be the hope of those that are in the day of evil (Jeremiah 17:17), where they will need to have the viewpoint David is able to express.
There are many different passages that describe how this is viewed. God tells Abraham that He is the shield for him (Genesis 15:1). He is called a shield in other places (Psalms 28:7, 119:114, Deuteronomy 33:29). He is also referred to as the deliverer (Psalms 18:2). The truth of God is also referred to as His shield (Psalms 91:4).
God is also referred to as David's glory. There is a lot of truth to this, as the only glory that can come is from God (Psalms 62:7). Many people try to state there are other things they glory in. While they may feel some sense of glory of these things, it is important to note that they are of a temporary nature. It is only through God that we can glory in the eternal things.
Those that are godly would be set apart for God (Psalms 4:3), which would be the start of this glory. God gives grace and glory and withholds no good thing from those that walk uprightly (in this case, following the Mosaic law-Psalms 84:11). The Scripture clearly shows that Israel has this glory by the following verse:
In the LORD shall all the seed of Israel be justified, and shall glory.
God is the glory of any people He is dealing with, whether it is the nation of Israel in God�s prophetic program, or the Body of Christ during the dispensation of grace. This is why this fact is brought up in other places as well (Luke 2:32). Israel will experience this glory fully when the kingdom is ushered in for them (Revelation 21:11, 23).
The last thing David says of God in this verse is that He is the lifter up of mine head. This refers to the fact that God can get rid of the worries of an individual and can help bring them to the focus they should have on the events going on. It is a sign of God being able to provide protection to His people. This is why Paul states that God is the God of all comfort (2 Corinthians 1:3). God can help an individual to get through any problems they are experiencing in their lives.
It allowed David to see this as a sign of victory (Psalms 27:6), as his head would be lifted up above all of his enemies. David saw his enemies as the problem he was dealing with. Because he knew God was with him, he saw there was nothing to fear. This would tie in with the fact that this first book of Psalms (Psalms 1-41) deals with the concept of God being the redeemer for the nation Israel.
A quick example of this to show what is meant can be found in the book of Genesis. Joseph has been sold into slavery and is currently in the dungeon in Egypt. He there meets a couple of servants of the Pharaoh and sees the problems they have been going through. These two servants each have a dream that Joseph interprets. The baker is going to have his head lifted up by Pharaoh (Genesis 40:13). What happens is the baker is restored to his old position and all of his problems go away that he had while he was in the prison.
I cried unto the LORD with my voice, and he heard me out of his holy hill. Selah.
David knew there was going to be deliverance from his problems. He is asking God for this deliverance, knowing it will be granted unto him. David knew that he would be delivered from all his fears (Psalms 34:4). He states he would cry unto the Lord on a daily basis (Psalms 86:3-4). David demonstrates this when he cries unto God when problems come in order to ask for help (Psalms 142:1-3). He knows he will be strengthened by God in order to be able to get through these things (Psalms 138:3). God hears the supplications and prayers that are offered up to Him (Psalms 116:1-4) and answers these prayers (Psalms 66:17-19).
The nation of Israel will have to understand this concept during the 70th week of Daniel. They will be going through a lot of situations that will be causing problems for them and they will be in need of deliverance. This is why Jesus Christ had given this instruction on prayer during the Sermon on the Mount:
Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:
Jesus was telling them to ask for things and it will be given unto them. There is no condition being place on this. As members of the Body of Christ, we know this is not a prayer promise for us. This is because it is applying directly to the situation Israel will be in during the 70th week of Daniel. James 5:13 states that any that are afflicted need to pray about what is going on. The events of this time are definitely going to be afflictions and they will need to be able to pray and ask for deliverance. Isaiah also records a statement related to being able to do this during this future time (Isaiah 65:24). God has declared that He will be there to help man (Psalms 91:15). God will deliver them during this day of trouble (Psalms 50:15).
David states that God heard the request from His holy hill. This is a reference to the dwelling place of God, something that was covered in the discussion of Psalms 2:6. The place being talked about is Zion (Psalms 132:13-14). This is clearly referred to as being where God is (Psalms 43:3). It is the place where worship will be as well (Psalms 99:9), as the holiness of God is on display.
I laid me down and slept; I awaked; for the LORD sustained me.
David was able to see that no matter what the circumstances and problems he was facing in his life, God was going to be there for him and would help him to be able to deal with these situations. In fact, the word used is sustained. God would provide for David in these situations and this would allow him to be able to exist and even flourish in these situations. David reports that God makes him to dwell in safety (Psalms 4:8), a sign that God was providing an answer to the situation that involved being delivered from the situation and being protected. Psalms also records it is God who holdeth the soul (Psalms 66:9). It is only God who can provide the kind of support David knows he has.
Solomon also made a reference to something like this in Proverbs 3:24. He states there shall be no fear when you lay down. In the context of the chapter, this is referring to someone staying within the wisdom of God. For members of the nation of Israel, who both of these passages are dealing with, this means they need to keep the law and follow the prophetic program that has been given to them.
God states there will be peace in the land and there will be nothing to fear if they kept His statutes (Leviticus 25:18-19, 26:6). This meant the nation Israel was supposed to keep the law and they would be protected. We know from their history that they were not able to do this. This is one of the reasons the five cycles of judgment are pronounced later on in Leviticus 26, as God was able to see in his foreknowledge, that Israel would not be able to keep the law. The peace would start for them once they went into the land and possessed it (Deuteronomy 12:10). The key thing Israel should have been able to understand is that there was a place of refuge for them in God (Proverbs 14:26. 18:10).
I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people, that have set themselves against me round about.
David was able to feel comfortable in the situation he was in. He was able to feel this way no matter what circumstances he was in with this situation. He knew that he had comfort from God in these situations. This allowed him to be able to handle whatever he was going to face and he would not be afraid, even if he had over 10,000 standing against him.
David expressed a similar thought in Psalms 27:3, where there was no fear, even if a host were to go against him or if he were to end up in a war. He knew that God would provide for him. It is clear from the Scripture that this is what ended up happening to him. As a result of the situation he was in with his son, the end result was the death of 20,000 men that had stood against David (2 Samuel 18:7). There was also the promise of having protection and having the enemies being destroyed because Israel was walking correctly (Psalms 118:10-12).
In Psalms 46:2 the idea is there will be no fear even if there are bad circumstances on earth. Israel knew God would provide for them. The promises they had were of an earthly basis, starting with the Abrahamic Covenant (Genesis 12:1-3). God would provide the protection for them, as long as they were walking correctly according to God's program (keeping the law).
As members of the Body of Christ, we know this is not how God is dealing with us today. He is dealing with us based on the spiritual blessings that have been promised to us (Ephesians 1:3). There is no promise of God providing this type of care for us if we keep the law, as the law has been removed from us (Galatians 3:13).
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.
David knows the enemies of him will be smitten. God is going to pour out judgment upon these people, as they are not following the program of God and are going against His people.
This is not the first time the image of the teeth of the ungodly being broken is used in the Scripture. Some examples of this are in Job 4:10-11, 29:17, and Psalms 58:6. The reason behind this is what is recorded in Proverbs 30:14. There is a generation whose teeth are as swords. They are able to use their words to destroy things. This is not hard to picture when you look at how things go today. It doesn't take long for something to be said and for it to start to effect people, no matter if this statement is true.
Salvation belongeth unto the LORD: thy blessing is upon thy people. Selah.
David closes out this Psalm mentioning that salvation belongs unto God. There can be no other salvation for man than that provided by God. He is the one that determines how man can be saved based on the righteous standard of God.
There are many passages in Scripture that discuss this and we will look at a few of them briefly. Psalms 37:39-40 also record this same thought process. Proverbs 21:31 shows that safety is of God. This is because it is God who provides the ability to deal with situations as they arise. Isaiah 43:11 shows there is no Saviour but God. Jeremiah 3:23 states that salvation belonged to Israel. At this time, this is who God was dealing with. The only way a person could be saved was to go through Israel's program and follow the law.
Today, the salvation of God comes through the preaching of Jesus Christ according to the revelation of the mystery. The gospel that saves us today is as follows and it is only belief in this that saves us:
Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand;  By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.  For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;  And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:
But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.
God also provides the blessings unto His people (in the case of this passage it is dealing specifically with Israel). God does bless His people (Psalms 29:11) and this blessing could be applied to all men (Psalms 72:17). The undefiled are blessed in God's eyes (Psalms 119:1).