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Bible Commentaries

Kingcomments on the Whole Bible

Psalms 3

Psalm 1 describes the features of Christ in the faithful remnant of God’s people, the faithful part that trusts in God and is faithful to His Word. In Psalm 2 we see the Messiah and the firm counsel of God to make Him, the born King, His Son, King over His possession, the ends of the earth. God will surely fulfill that counsel. It is not yet the time to carry it out. Psalm 2 also shows that the Lord Jesus is rejected by His people and the nations when He comes to earth. That situation is still present now.

Christ has no place on earth now. He is now in heaven and is there the object of the hatred of the nations. That time lasts until He returns to earth. He is still the Rejected. As a result, all who belong to Him are also rejected and find themselves in the circumstances described in Psalms 3-7. In those psalms we see the remnant rejected by their own people and by the nations, but in the midst of those circumstances trust in God.

In Psalm 2, the nations still rage and reject God’s authority. Psalms 3-7 show us in David’s experience the suffering and oppression of the faithful remnant. They undergo these because of the hostility of the wicked, until Christ comes as King to redeem them to bring them into His kingdom. We also see in the experiences of David the sufferings of Christ because of righteousness.

Psalm 3 shows the trust that believers have in God while they are in a hopeless condition, surrounded by countless enemies. In this psalm, it is especially about enemies who belong to their own people, even to their own house. Their fellow citizens and housemates will prove to be their bitterest enemies (cf. Mt 10:36).

Psalm 3 can be called “a morning song”, which is derived from Psa 3:5, where David says: “I awoke.” It shows the confidence of the believing remnant that, in the midst of danger, can still sleep peacefully because the LORD keeps them (cf. Acts 12:3-6). In a general sense, this psalm is an encouragement to every believer who is in a hopeless situation. In a special sense, and first of all, it is so for those who are going through the great tribulation, that is, the faithful remnant.

Psalm 3 is the first of fourteen psalms that refer in the heading to an episode in David’s life (Psa 3:1; Psa 7:1; Psa 18:1; Psa 30:1; Psa 34:1; Psa 51:1; Psa 52:1; Psa 54:1; Psa 56:1; Psa 57:1; Psa 59:1; Psa 60:1; Psa 63:1; Psa 142:1). It is also the first psalm in which the word selah occurs.

Verses 1-2

The Seriousness of the Situation


This psalm is “a Psalm of David” (Psa 3:1a). It is the first psalm of a collection of psalms that mention David as the poet in the heading. See under Introduction ‘The writers of Psalms’.

The Holy Spirit also mentions in one sentence the situation David is in when he writes the psalm. He wrote it “when he fled from Absalom his son”. David is a type of the Lord Jesus. We see him here as the rejected king who is persecuted by his son Absalom, who is a type of the antichrist. We find in the psalms that follow the feelings of David and of those who are his faithful followers. We see in these psalms the position of the remnant in the great tribulation because their Messiah has been rejected.

A number of psalms mention in the heading that David wrote them when he is fleeing from Saul when Saul is in power. This psalm is an exception, for David composed it when he himself is in power, but is fleeing from his son Absalom who wants to seize power. The history is described in 2 Samuel 15-16 (2Sam 15:1-37; 2Sam 16:15-23). It is recommended to read those chapters to know the historical background. Absalom is used by God in His governmental ways to bring His judgment on David’s family because of his sin with Bathsheba and Uriah (2Sam 11:3-4; 15-17; 2Sam 12:1-12). Prophetically, the coming of antichrist is the result of the rejection and crucifixion of Christ (cf. Jn 5:43).

There is little that a man suffers from more than when his son rebels against him. We hear the anguish of it in the words of David when he says of his son from whom he is fleeing: “Behold, my son who came out from me seeks my life” (2Sam 16:11a). David does not resist the coup, but flees. In this psalm, he shows us his inner self, what his feelings are while he flees. He makes us share his distress, how it affects him what people say about him and how he goes with it to the LORD. He also tells us that he goes to the LORD with all his needs and finds rest with Him in this tough time.

We can also think of the Lord Jesus when David flees from Absalom. David passes over the brook Kidron when he flees (2Sam 15:23). The Lord Jesus also passes it (Jn 18:1). With Him, however, it is not because He flees, for He walks the way that His Father points out to Him. However, His people also rebel against Him and reject Him.

Prophetically, this psalm will be fulfilled when the faithful remnant of Israel will be persecuted in the future by their earthly brethren, their compatriots, led by the antichrist.

David addresses himself directly to the “LORD” (Psa 3:1b). When the adversaries have increased, God is the first thought of faith. Every believer who wants to serve the Lord faithfully has many adversaries (cf. 1Cor 16:9). Faith turns to Him because it trusts in Him. When in faith we place God between us and what frightens us, things go well. We often become restless because we measure problems by our strengths. When we see that He is concerned with our cause, we can have peace in our hearts.

David faces a large number of opponents (2Sam 15:12-13). The thought of multitude is emphasized in these verses by using the words “increased” and “many” (twice) three times. In Hebrew, “increased” and “many” are the same word. The idea is that there is “much enemy” and that they are rapidly increasing in number. “Rising up” means rapidly increasing (2Sam 15:12).

In addition to the threat posed by the increasing number of enemies, there are also the remarks of the enemy with which they want to rob him of all confidence in God (Psa 3:2). These are not remarks of a few, as in the case of Simei (2Sam 16:7-8), but of “many”. Massively they say that he does not have to count on the help of God. This biting derision deeply affects the believer who is in need. Such a thing has an additional discouraging effect.

Above all, the Lord Jesus has experienced this biting derision when He hung on the cross. They cried out to Him: “HE TRUSTS IN GOD; LET GOD RESCUE [Him] now, IF HE DELIGHTS IN HIM” (Mt 27:43).

From what David says to God, the situation in which he finds himself becomes clear: firstly, there are many adversaries, secondly, they are increasing in number, and thirdly, they are becoming increasingly overconfident, they become from silent opponents to noisy opponents. David does not close his eyes to reality. However, this does not bring him to panic, but to the LORD. He submits the situation to Him.

The word selah at the end of Psa 3:2 – and at the end of Psa 3:4 and Psa 3:8 – is a musical sign and means: pause. To the reader, it means: quiet contemplation. It occurs about 70 times throughout the book of Psalms.

Verses 3-4

The Lord Answers


The word “but” (Psa 3:3) indicates that a contrast with the preceding follows, in which the attitude of the wicked is described. Here David is again a clear type of the Lord Jesus in Whom we also see this contrast. After David has made known his distress with God in the previous verses, he now speaks of his trust in God.

David confesses that the LORD is a shield about him (cf. Gen 15:1; Deu 33:29). God not only protects him, God is his protection. The shield speaks of the LORD’s protection as the great King. He provides this protection by virtue of His covenant with Abraham and Israel.

We can draw a comparison here to “the shield of faith”, with which we “will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil [one]” (Eph 6:16). The words spoken against David are as arrows (Psa 64:3). However, they cannot do their evil work because the shield of faith renders them harmless. There is also a difference: A shield protects only the front of the person, but God protects on all sides.

God is also his “glory”. All the prestige he has received as king comes from Him. This is at the same time the guarantee that God will certainly not forsake him. His head, bowed under reproach and sorrow (2Sam 15:30a), is lifted up by God. It also means that he will be restored to his exalted position of king (cf. Gen 40:13; 2Kgs 25:27). After humiliation comes exaltation (1Pet 5:6).

Trust does not make one indifferent or passive, but calls out to God. We read that David prayed on his flight: “O LORD, I pray, make the counsel of Ahithophel foolishness” (2Sam 15:31). He also attributes the answer to that prayer – for which Hushai was called in by him (2Sam 15:32-34) – to God. Hushai could never have achieved the desired result if God had not directed everything. Trust in God is the assurance that God answers, even though He may use people for that answer.

God answers “from His holy mountain”, which is the mountain over which He has anointed His King (Psa 2:6). When God answers a prayer, it is always because of the majesty and reign of His Son. When our prayers are answered, their purpose is to establish the reign of Christ in our lives.

Verses 5-6

Rest in God


When God has come between us and our problems, there is rest and peace (Psa 3:5). David’s troubled mind has calmed down because he has told God everything and has seen that God is there for him. This allows him to lie down and sleep peacefully. When he awakes after the refreshment of sleep, he is not overcome by distress again, but the LORD is present with His support. During his sleep, the LORD sustained him and he was not assailed. In Hebrew, the verb “sustains” makes it clear that the experience of God’s faithfulness in the night is the basis of his confidence in the future.

The number of enemies has not been reduced (Psa 3:6). The word “ten thousands” in Hebrew is related to the word “many” in Psa 3:1-2. He is aware that they “have set themselves against” him “round about”. Yet he does not become afraid of them again. The circumstances have not changed, he faces that too, but he himself has come to inner peace because he has given everything into the hands of God. Where God is, fear gives way.

Verses 7-8

Salvation and Blessing


After David has given everything into the hands of God and there is no longer any fear of the multitude of enemies, all those enemies have yet to be defeated (Psa 3:8).The victory is yet to be achieved. For that, David does not go into battle himself. Having found rest in God, he also expects salvation from God. He asks God to arise against the enemies surrounding him. The arising of the LORD means that He comes into action to judge (Psa 7:6; Psa 9:19).

Only God can deliver him. Therefore, he calls upon God to arise and (literally) smite the enemies on the cheek and shatter the teeth of the wicked. Smiting the cheek is an act of humiliation (Job 16:10; 1Kgs 22:24; Mic 5:1b). The shattering of the teeth reminds one of the enemies as wild animals. The enemies are disarmed, rendered powerless, just as wild animals are deprived of their tearing power when their teeth are shattered (cf. Psa 58:6).

The enemies have said that David has no deliverance in God (Psa 3:2). Here he says that salvation, rescue, deliverance is from the LORD and from Him alone. We hear the same thing from the mouth of Jonah (Jona 2:9). Salvation is a sure thing and therefore the blessing attached to salvation is also sure. Because salvation comes from the LORD, salvation also goes far beyond just his personal salvation: “Your blessing [be] upon Your people.” The blessing of God that results from God’s salvation extends to the whole people of God.

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Kingcomments on the Whole Bible © 2021 Author: G. de Koning. All rights reserved. Used with the permission of the author
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Bibliographical Information
de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op Psalms 3". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/kng/psalms-3.html. 'Stichting Titus' / 'Stichting Uitgeverij Daniël', Zwolle, Nederland. 2021.