A Summary of Jeremiah 30 – 35

Jeremiah 30-35

Jeremiah 30–34:7 | Book of Encouragement

And at this point — having summarized Jeremiah 1-6, 7-20, 21-26, and 27-29 — you need to admit that things are looking pretty bleak. Sin has brought God’s punishment and no one is getting out of this unscathed.

But this is exactly where God nuances his tone a bit. In Jeremiah 30-34:7 God still does recognize his need of judging the sinful rebels in Judah. But he looks beyond that immediate judgement to a time of restoration. And it’s for this reason that these 4-plus chapters are often called in the academic literature on Jeremiah the Book of Consolation or the Book of Encouragement. And within this larger Book of Encouragement there are a few sub-sections.

Jeremiah 30:1-3 | Introduction

Jeremiah 30:1-3 serve as a short introduction to this Book of Encouragement.

Jeremiah 30:4-31 | Concerning Israel & Judah

Following that to the end of chapter 31 we have Encouragements Concerning Israel and Judah. God gives prophecies of future restoration and a new covenant with Israel and Judah in the midst of his current punishment for their sin.

Jeremiah 32 | Jeremiah Redeems a Field

Then in Jeremiah 32 we have a story about Jeremiah Redeeming a Field.

As a continuation of the book of consolation, Jeremiah is told by God to buy a field in Anathoth from his relative – though Jeremiah himself is in prison. God is signifying by this that in the future God will restore Judah to its land and that people will buy fields once again.

This is all in the context of the last year before Jerusalem was taken by Babylon.

Jeremiah 33 | David, Levi, & Jacob Will Never End

Next in Jeremiah 33 God promises that David, Levi, & Jacob Will Never End.

Jeremiah – still imprisoned like he was in the last chapter – receives word from the Lord that God will restore Judah. In particular, he will restore the cities of Judah and preserve sons of David and sons of the Levites to minister to himself.

Also promised – just like in chapter 23 – is the coming of the Righteous Branch of David.

Jeremiah 34:1-7 | Zedekiah Will Not Die

And the last part of this Book of Encouragement is in Jeremiah 34:1-7 where God says that Zedekiah Will Not Die.

In the midst of the great siege of Babylon against Jerusalem, God sends Jeremiah to King Zedekiah to relay a message. The message is that God will not allow Zedekiah to die. Zedekiah will lose to Nebuchadnezzar, but he will live and even have a decent burial.

And that ends the Book of Encouragement.

Jeremiah 34–35 | Promise Keeping

Then in the rest of Jeremiah 34 and to the end of 35 we’re taught The Importance of Keeping Promises. And this breaks into two sub-sections.

Jeremiah 34:8-22 | Jubilee Covenant Violated

First in Jeremiah 34:8-22 we see The Jubilee Covenant Violated.

King Zedekiah and the officials in Jerusalem apparently released their Hebrew servants in keeping with the law of Jubilee. But it seems that when Nebuchadnezzar left briefly they took their servants back by force.

God was not pleased that they broke the covenant they made with their former servants in keeping with Jubilee. So God promises to destroy them.

Jeremiah 35 | Rechabites

And then the second section that teaches the importance of keeping promises – Jeremiah 35 where we see the Rechabites’ Obedience.

In contrast to the broken covenant of Zedekiah’s day just previously related, the Rechabites obeyed a relatively obscure command of their ancestor to not drink wine. They serve as an example to Judah of how to obey.

And yet Judah has not obeyed God like the Rechabites obeyed their ancestor. So God needs to punish Judah. But the Rechabites will always have someone to stand before God as a result of their obedience.

Psalm 16 11 Meaning

Psalm 16 11 Meaning

Psalm 16 11 Meaning: Context

And the end of his meditation in Psalm 16, David expresses that he is satisfied with God because he believed that he would enjoy God forever. Verses 9 through 11.

9 Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth:
my flesh also shall rest in hope.
10 For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell;
neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.
11 Thou wilt shew me the path of life:
in thy presence is fulness of joy;
at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.

What Does Psalm 16 Verse 11 Mean?

So, here Psalm 16 ends with another very difficult section to interpret. And it’s not difficult primarily because of what IT says. It’s difficult because of what the NEW TESTAMENT says ABOUT it. The difficulty comes from trying to reconcile the way that an Old Testament Hebrew would have read this psalm with how the New Testament Jews – Peter and Paul – interpreted it.

Psalm 16 11 Meaning: Is it Speaking of David?

If I were a Hebrew reading this psalm in the Old Testament period, I would think this is David speaking of his belief that he would be with God forever.

Verse 9 starts with David kind of summarizing all the things he’s said about his satisfaction with God. He says “therefore” – because of all these reasons that give me satisfaction with God – I’m rejoicing and glad. And I personally hope that’s your reaction to the things we’ve considered so far – joy and gladness.

David goes on to say that his flesh will “rest in hope” or “dwell securely”. He’s not afraid of the future. Why?

Because God in the future will not abandon his soul in “hell” – or in “Sheol”. This is where dead bodies go – the “grave”. God won’t leave David’s body in the grave.

Neither will God in the future allow David – his holy or godly one – his hasid – to “see corruption” or to see the “Pit” – another reference to where dead bodies go and where they then undergo decay as the body breaks down.

David would seem to be affirming that he isn’t going to be left in the grave or the pit. Well, how would that happen? Because all that we can see and experience suggests that all bodies do die eventually and that they are abandoned to the grave in which they’re placed. Well, God, verse 11 will show David “the path of life”. God is going to make known to David this path. And do you know where that path leads? Next statement – right into God’s presence – where there is an abundance of joy and pleasure. And that will be the case FOREVER.

Do you believe that? Isn’t that one humongous reason to be satisfied with God – even when life is hard here on earth? You are going to be with him forever – where pleasures will be in abundance. Eye has not seen and ear has not heard what God has prepared for his people.

And so, if I were a Hebrew reading this psalm originally, I would think that David is just generally speaking of his confidence that God would raise him from the dead some day to be with the Lord forever. And this would be the crowning reason why David is satisfied with God.

Psalm 16 11 Meaning According to Peter

But then Peter preaches on Pentecost starting in Acts 2:24. He says that the Jews crucified David’s SON – Jesus. But death could not hold its power over him. Why? Well,because of what David says in Psalm 16:9-11 right here! And then Peter says – “listen folks, David’s body is still in the grave. He HAS experienced corruption in the pit. And his body is still there to this day.” So, how do you reconcile the fact that David appears to be saying that his body won’t see decay… and yet, that his body saw decay? Well, Peter says that David was a prophet and he knew that God had promised to seat one of his descendants on his throne forever. And so, according to Peter, David was actually looking ahead to and speaking of Christ’s resurrection.

And that IS what David’s speaking of anyway – resurrection. And eventually David WILL be raised. But even before David’s resurrection – Christ, his descendant would be raised. And Christ’s body would not be like David’s. Christ’s body would not undergo any decay. Why? Because God raised him from the dead before that could happen.

Psalm 16 11 Meaning According to Paul

And now, it’s not only Peter that interprets this psalm as referring to Christ. Paul does it too in Acts 13:34. There Paul is arguing that Jesus was raised from the dead and that the Scripture had predicted that that would happen. He FIRST takes a passage from Isaiah 55 that Paul interprets as God promising to give to Christ the promises that were made to David. So, Christ inherits all the promises that were originally David’s. THEN Paul says that one of those promises is found in Psalm 16 – the second line of verse 10 – that God wouldn’t allow his holy one to undergo decay. Paul says pretty bluntly that indeed David DID undergo decay after he died. But – he says – the one whom God raised up – Jesus – he did not undergo decay.

Psalm 16 11 Meaning: Ultimately Christ, not David

So, PETER says that David spoke of Christ’s resurrection in Psalm 16. PAUL says that Psalm 16 contains a promise to David that Christ rightfully inherited. BOTH are in agreement that the last three verses of Psalm 16 apply directly to Christ and that they couldn’t possibly apply to David in any immediate sense because his body DID experience decay, but Christ’s did NOT.

Psalm 16 11 Meaning: Be Satisfied with Jesus

And so we’re given yet another reason to be satisfied with God. Here it is. He sent Jesus to die for our sins. But he didn’t leave Jesus in the grave. His body didn’t experience decay. He’s alive and because he lives you will live. He’s alive and now he always intercedes for you – praying to the Father for you.

What a satisfying God! I trust we’ll be fully satisfied with him today – and all the more so today on the first day of the week when we remember that God raised his son from the grave, never to experience decay.

Psalm 8 Commentary

Psalm 8

Psalm 8 Commentary: Psalm 8 is a reflective or meditative psalm. That just means, the author wrote it to reflect and meditate on something. In this case, the author is David, and he’s reflecting on nature. And in particular he’s meditating on man’s place in relation to nature.

Psalm 8 Commentary: Structure

Body of Psalm 8

The structure of this psalm includes three parts. The body of the psalm is probably the easiest to see. It basically consists of a meditation in Psalm 8:3-8. The psalmist is considering God’s creation. And in light of that, he’s struck with the smallness of man. And yet at the same time, he’s equally effected by the thought of man’s special place in God’s creation. So, that’s the body of Psalm 8.

Closing Meditation of Psalm 8

The closing meditation is found in the last verse — Psalm 8:9.

Introductory Meditation of Psalm 8

And so that leaves one last part: Psalm 8:1-2. This is where the psalmist introduces his meditation on the excellence of God’s name — or his reputation. And even here in the introduction you see a microcosm of the rest of the psalm.

Psalm 8:1 starts out speaking of God’s establishing his glory above the heavens. So, he’s thinking about creation – the heavens. And then he zooms in on two groups – very young children and God’s enemies. We’ll get into who these two groups are why the psalmist is focusing on them at this point, but briefly now we can at least recognize that the psalmist’s mind is – for lack of a better term – wandering from God’s general universal creation to his specific creation and sustaining of humans.

Do you see how that’s a microcosm of the rest of the psalm? Remember the main section of the psalm? The psalmist’s meditation in Psalm 8:3-8 – where he’s looking at the sky – at God’s vast creation – and then he focuses in on man within that creation. The same general thing is happening in both the introduction and the body of this psalm.

Psalm 8 Commentary: Implied Situation

So, now let’s focus on the implied situation of Psalm 8.

I think it’s nothing more than the psalmist looking up into a cloudless starry sky. Because it’s really the psalmist’s meditation of the heavens that get him pondering man’s place in God’s creation. He speaks of God’s glory ABOVE the heavens. Then he says “When I consider YOUR HEAVENS…” So, he’s considering or looking at the heavens. That’s what he was doing that resulted in him writing this psalm.

And wouldn’t David have had plenty of opportunities to look up at the night sky while he was shepherding his father’s flocks out in the pasture lands surrounding Bethlehem? And of course this was a day when there surely wasn’t much light pollution – you know, the kind you see from your home in the direction of a brighter city – where the light from that other city lights up the sky over your own head. There was – I’m fairly confident in guessing – no such thing back then.

So, anyway, that’s what motivated the psalmist to write Psalm 8 – looking up into a cloudless night sky.

Psalm 8 Commentary: Topic and Theme

Now, on to the topic and theme.

Topic of Psalm 8

While God’s creation is definitely in view all over Psalm 8 – I think the main issue is man’s place in that creation. So, I suppose that would be the topic of the psalm – Man’s Place in Creation.

Theme of Psalm 8

But then David expands on that a bit. He introduces some paradoxical facts about man’s place in creation. Like, somehow what comes out of the mouths of babies – weak as they are – is able to silence grown men. That seems absurd or self-contradictory. But it’s true. Or like the fact that God created vast galaxies and yet – to the psalmist’s amazement – God is concerned with such small creatures as ourselves. And these seemingly contradictory facts cause amazement in the Psalmist – “How majestic is your name!

So the theme of Psalm 8 could be Amazement at Man’s Place in God’s Creation.

Psalm 8 Commentary: In the New Testament

Now, last thing before we get into the details of Psalm 8 – parts of this psalm are referenced several times in the New Testament. And at the end of the message we’ll review those.

But before we do that, we’ll attempt to explain the details of this psalm.

So, let’s start by reading Psalm 8:1-2 – the introduction of Psalm 8.

8:1 For the music director, according to the gittith style; a psalm of David. O LORD, our Lord, how magnificent is your reputation throughout the earth! You reveal your majesty in the heavens above! 2 From the mouths of children and nursing babies you have ordained praise on account of your adversaries, so that you might put an end to the vindictive enemy. (NET)

Psalm 8 Commentary: Superscription

So, we have a superscription that we’ll just deal with quickly. This psalm was used as a song. It’s written to the chief musician. He apparently was the director or supervisor of the music – probably at the Temple. And this psalm or song is to be played upon the Gittith, which is likely some sort of musical instrument. It’s lastly a psalm of David. Literally, it’s “to David”. But this most likely means that it was a psalm that David wrote.

Alright, so that’s the superscription to this psalm.

Psalm 8 Commentary: Introduction

Now for the introduction.

Now, the way that the intro starts sounds a little redundant in English – “Oh Lord, Our Lord.” But it isn’t redundant in Hebrew. Look at that first “Lord”. It’s in all caps. That’s the translation’s editors’ way of translating the Hebrew word that consists of four Hebrew letters. In English it would be: Y, H, W, and H. We’d pronounce it like YAH-WEH. Sometimes it’s translated into English as “Jehovah”. This is the name that God used to reveal himself to Moses at the burning bush. It’s also been said to be his covenant name. The name means something like “I AM” and it testifies to God’s eternal and never-ending existence.

And it’s that God that’s being addressed in this psalm. David is speaking directly to this eternal covenant-keeping God.

Next, David recognizes his relationship with YAHWEH. That’s the second “Lord” we see in this psalm. It’s the word “Adon”. You may have heard the word Adonai. It means “my master”. So, David is recognizing that this YAHWEH who keeps covenant and always has been and always will be – he holds authority over David. He’s David’s “Lord” or “Master”. And not only DAVID’S Master – but do you see the pronoun? “Our” master. But he’s the master of ALL Israel. And really, by extension he’s master of the entire universe and all that’s in it – as we’ll hear through the rest of this psalm.

And so, it’s to this God that David expresses amazement. He says “How excellent is thy name!” in the King James Version. The “how” there isn’t indicating a question – right? The “how” is a note of exclamation and wonderment. It’s amazing to David that God’s name is so excellent.

Let’s think about that statement. What is God’s name? Well, if we’re talking about what God is called, then it would be YAHWEH like we just saw. But that’s not what David’s talking about here. In this context, God’s name is his “reputation” or “renown”. He’s known universally for certain acts and characteristics – or at least he should be to anyone who has eyes to see.

And this reputation – this name of his – is “excellent”. That word is used elsewhere in the Old Testament of the waters that consumed Pharaoh and his army as they chased Israel through the Red Sea after the Exodus. Those waters were mighty, strong, powerful.

This word is used of kings – who are typically known for their strength and power.

Or like a mountain in Psalm 76 – mighty, powerful, unmoveable.

Or like a massive tree – again, unmovable, strong, powerful.

That’s God’s reputation and renown in all the earth. He has a reputation of strength and power and might. That’s what he’s known for.

Well, let’s ask ourselves – is he worthy of such a reputation? The answer to that question starts in the second line of verse 1. He has set his glory above the heavens.

So, in other words, God has put something somewhere. What then has he put or established? It says his glory. There’s a word for God’s glory that’s typically used — KABOD. This word though is different — HOD. This word is what Moses transferred to Joshua when Moses was passing off the scene. It was his authority. It’s also what the Lord gave to King Solomon. Again, authority is in view there. So, God has established his authority.

And he’s done so “above the heavens”. There are a few things that the word “heavens” can represent. We see it used at least two different ways in this very psalm. It’s used later in this psalm as the area in which birds fly – or the atmosphere of the earth. It’s also used of the place where the moon and stars reside. And those are two different realms – wouldn’t you agree? But Psalm 8:1 is speaking of a place BEYOND those two areas. God has established his authority ABOVE those regions. In a place that the human eye cannot even see.

Let me ask you – does God live in outer space? Does he live in the earth’s atmosphere? This statement here in Psalm 8:1 and others throughout the Scripture indicate that there’s a place beyond even the vast and measureless expanse of what we know as the universe. And it’s in this place that’s unseen to the human eye – that’s above the heavens – where God’s authority is established. And you know that if it’s established there, no power anywhere is going to be able to throw it off.

I’d say that earns him a reputation of strength and power and might!

Psalm 8 Commentary: God’s Authority on Earth

And it’s clear that God’s authority and power and might reach down even to this lowly earth from Psalm 8:2.

Now, I’ll say at the outset that this verse is really hard to interpret. Several resources I consulted mentioned Psalm 8:2 and had a note along the lines of “this verse is very difficult to understand”. I read several commentaries. And they had things to say about this verse. So, I read them. But I came away with no greater understanding of what this verse meant. The commentaries tend to discuss the verse but don’t really do a great job of explaining what it means. I just want to let you know what we’re up against.

But, here we go!

God is pictured as doing something in this verse. He’s “ordaining strength” in the King James Version. “Ordaining” is like “establishing”. You could picture it like laying a foundation – firm and established solidly in the ground. It’s not going to move from its present location. That’s the way this word is used elsewhere.

And so, God is “laying” something or “firmly establishing” something unmovable.

What is it? It’s “strength”. Like a strong solid tower to which people go and flee for safety. That’s what God is doing – firmly laying down strength.

How is he doing this? He’s using the most insignificant of human creatures. Babes and sucklings. The youngest and most helpless – the most feeble of human creatures.

And he’s viewed as using a particular part of the bodies of these young children – their mouths. Now, the mouths of babies don’t usually produce anything noteworthy. Maybe some spit-up. Usually things are actually going INTO their mouths – like milk. And at best, what’s coming out of their mouths is babbling or crying.

And yet in some way, that babbling or crying is pictured as something that God uses against his enemies. In particular he uses what comes out of babies’ mouths to cause the enemy and the avenger to “be stilled” or to “cease”. That’s a word related to the Hebrew word “Sabbath” – which speaks of rest and ceasing from labors.

So, this firmly-established strength causes these guys to cease or stop or rest from their opposition to God. Somehow.

So what does this mean? What’s in view here?

I think it’s something like this. God has a reputation for strength and power. He’s sovereign over everything. That authority of his is untouchable – higher than the heavens. And that authority that he wields over his creation from outside of his creation allows for even the smallest most insignificant things – babblings and cryings of babies – to confound and cause to cease the fiercest of his enemies. In other words, God is so powerful, that if he wants to stop his opponents, he could use the unimpressive mouths of the weakest of his human creatures to do so. That’s how strong God is. That’s the extent of his authority. It’s sort of hyperbolic, but I think that’s what it’s saying.

And in case you’re wondering, I’ll remind us that I’ll talk at the end about this verse and how it’s used in the New Testament.

Psalm 8 Commentary: Main Meditation

Now, with the introduction dealt with, let’s go on to the main meditation of this psalm in Psalm 8:3-8.

8:3 When I look up at the heavens, which your fingers made,
and see the moon and the stars, which you set in place,
4 Of what importance is the human race, that you should notice them?
Of what importance is mankind, that you should pay attention to them,
5 and make them a little less than the heavenly beings?
You grant mankind honor and majesty;
6 you appoint them to rule over your creation;
you have placed everything under their authority,
7 including all the sheep and cattle,
as well as the wild animals,
8 the birds in the sky, the fish in the sea
and everything that moves through the currents of the seas.

Psalm 8 Commentary: Verse 3

Now, the psalmist relates what he was doing that led to the writing of this psalm. He was “considering the heavens”. He was simply “looking” up into the heavens. That’s the simple meaning of the word “consider” in the KJV. He was merely looking at the heavens from his low vantage point on the earth.

Now, these heavens are not simply THE heavens. They’re said to be GOD’S heavens. They’re uniquely YAHWEH’s. They belong to him.

Well, why’s that? It’s because they’re pictured as the “works of God’s fingers”. Obviously, God created the heavens. And so it’s as if he fashioned them with his very fingers. God doesn’t have physical fingers of course, but we’re given this very picturesque image of God’s relation to the heavens. He crafted them like an artist would a painting. And isn’t that what it looks like when you peer into space? These pictures that the Hubble Telescope give us – for example – they’re beautiful. Now, I doubt David could see these far-off galaxies and other features out far into space, like we can. But what he could see caused him to marvel at God’s craftsmanship in relation to the heavens.

And then he thinks particularly of the things that God put in those heavens. The moon and the stars. God “ordained” them. This is a different word than we had of what God did through the crying and babbling mouths of babies. This action that God took with the moon and stars isn’t like “laying a foundation”. It’s like “establishing a regular order of things”. From our perspective the moon and the stars appear in regular orderly patterns in our night sky. They’ve been “ordained” in that manner.

Now, I mean, really think about this. Let’s not be unaffected by this psalm. Think about how awesome the moon is. The fact that it’s out there. That it’s just the right distance from earth to affect tides and other things – but not too much. The fact that much of the time it provides light to the earth at night. It was used by ancient cultures to mark months and seasons. Now, for a human, how much work would it take to create the moon? How many dollars would you need to raise to create a moon? What kind of technology or equipment would you need to construct it? Yeah, we can’t make a moon.

Not to mention the stars! Most of them are so far away that you could never even hope to reach one in several lifetimes, even in our modern spacecraft. Stars appear in various areas of the universe, they come in different colors, different chemical makeups. I think they all give off their light by burning. How did that happen? What natural secular explanation can there be for a countless multitude of balls of burning gas all over the universe? Each so unique. Each so far away – and yet we can see many of them. How would you make a star? That’s an absurd question. It can’t be answered. Only God could do it.

This is all very awesome. God surely is very powerful. Truly, his reputation of power and might are well-founded. There’s nothing outside of his strength to accomplish. His creation is truly awesome.

Psalm 8 Commentary: Verse 4

And then the psalmist turns his focus downward. And that’s the direction this psalm takes, after all. We start by thinking of what’s ABOVE the heavens. Then we look AT the heavens. And now the psalmist ponders what’s on the earth – BELOW the heavens. Man, in particular.

In light of the expansive mighty heavens, what is man? Of what significance is this puny creature that we are? The creature that – at its best – is pictured as being brought to nothing by the weak unimpressive mouth of weak unimpressive babies. What is man?

Why is God mindful of us? He remembers us – like he remembered Noah in the ark. He doesn’t forsake us and leave us all to our own in the midst of this overwhelmingly vast creation of his. And he could, couldn’t he? He could leave us all alone. But he doesn’t. He doesn’t forsake us.

So, he remembers man – Enosh, is the word. And he visits “the son of man” – or the Ben Adam – the son of Adam. That’s you and me, the children of Adam – his descendants. God visits us – like he visited Sarah and fulfilled his promise of a child to her. He doesn’t leave us alone. He comes and helps us in our need. He’s constantly reaching out to redeem his fallen creation. And those whom he has redeemed, he’s constantly checking up on and helping and leading and meeting our needs.

Psalm 8 Commentary: Verse 5

But it’s not because we’re so great. No. We’re nothing. We’re helpless in this vast creation.

He’s made man a little lower than the angels. Literally, than “Elohim”. That’s a word for God, but it’s also used of heavenly beings – angels, in particular. So, YAHWEH has created man to be just a little lower than God himself – or at least than his angels.

And you might think – boy, we’re missing out on something. We’re a little LOWER than God. Well, remember – it’s just a LITTLE lower. Which is actually quite a privilege, given how high and exalted YAHWEH truly is.

And it’s even more clear that this statement is meant to express the true privilege that is ours as humans made in God’s image with the next statements that David makes of man. He’s crowned us with glory and honor – or weightiness and fruitfulness. He makes us fruitful and productive in all areas of life – generally-speaking for mankind.

Psalm 8 Commentary: Verse 6

Further, God’s caused us to rule over the works of his hands.

Isn’t that quite a deal? He made it. He did all the hard work – the work we couldn’t possibly do. And now, we rule over it. And this word “works” is the same as in Psalm 8:3. There it was talking about the heavens and all the things in them. But now here, included with those works are what David will talk about in the next several verses.

And it’s very interesting that we’ve gone from hands to feet. The works of God’s HANDS – which we’ll see in the following verses – he’s appointed to be under our FEET. That’s quite a privilege!

Psalm 8 Commentary: Verse 7

Well, what has he put under our feet or under our authority? What has he given mankind the right to manage and control and dispose of in the way he sees fit to do?

Sheep and oxen, to begin with. These are domesticated animals in the first line of Psalm 8:7. And not only the DOMESTICATED ones, but also the WILD ones – the bests of the field. The ones in the open field. The wild untamed beasts. They’re ours as well.

Psalm 8 Commentary: Verse 8

Then Psalm 8:8 – the highest AND lowest of creatures, speaking in regard to altitude. Birds in the high heavens and fish in the low deep sea.

By the way, this guides us in thinking about environmental issues, doesn’t it? And this guidance is from YAHWEH, so it’s completely balanced and correct. Ruling over the works of God’s hands requires us as mankind to not abuse his creation. At the same time, it also flies in the face of the more extreme views of certain people calling themselves environmentalists. We are given divine authority for elevating mankind over other creatures. We’re not to abuse the creation. But at the same time we’re not to elevate the place and importance of anything else in the creation above mankind – those made in God’s image and given dominion over what he himself created.

Psalm 8 Commentary: Verse 9

And the last verse – Psalm 8:9 – is simply the second half of an envelope that encompasses all of Psalm 8:1-9. It’s the conclusion to the matter. YAHWEH, our Master, what a reputation of strength, power, and might you have – and with good reason!

Psalm 8 Commentary: In the New Testament

Now, let me briefly cite the places where this psalm is used in the New Testament.

Matthew 21:16

Jesus references Psalm 8:2 when he comes into Jerusalem and the children are singing to him. The Pharisees tell Jesus that it’s not right for the children to be calling him the Son of David – the coming king. And then Jesus references this verse as justification for what they’re doing. Only, Jesus references the way the Septuagint translates this verse. In the Septuagint, it says that God has “perfected praise” – rather than “ordaining strength” – through the mouth of babies.

Hebrews 2:6-8

Then we have Hebrews 2:6-8. Here, the author of Hebrews is just coming from chapter one where he’s made a big deal of Jesus’s not being an angel – of being better than the angels. Of being “the son”. He then makes an application and exhorts his readers to pay attention to what they’ve heard. And then in Hebrew 2:5 it seems like the author is getting back to his drawing a distinction between Jesus and angels. He says that God hasn’t subjected the world to come to ANGELS. But instead – and then he references Psalm 8:4-6, speaking of the dominion which God gave to man. Only, in Hebrews, it seems like the author is speaking of not this world like Psalm 8 has been pretty obviously discussing. He’s talking about I think the new heavens and the new earth. And it’s not just man in general that’s viewed as having dominion over this new creation. Rather, it is the son of Adam – the second Adam – who will with his human believing brothers and sisters – so to speak – rule over this new creation of God.

Psalm 7 1-17 Commentary

Psalm 7

Psalm 7: The tongue is a fire. It’s the very world of iniquity. With the tongue, men simultaneously bless God and curse those made in his image. The tongue is out of control. Even powerful things like ships and horses can be tamed and directed. But no one can tame the tongue. This is what the book of James in the New Testament teaches us.

And so it’s no surprise that the psalmist is experiencing what’s he’s experiencing in Psalm 7 here. David is being slandered by a particular man. And he needs the Lord to vindicate him – because he’s innocent of the charges.

So, let’s study Psalm 7.

Psalm 7 Genre

Psalm 7 is a lament psalm.

Psalm 7 Structure

This psalm displays the classic structure of a lament psalm. So, let’s find the elements of that structure.

Invocation

I must say that the invocation – which is what we usually see first in lament psalms – it’s not very distinct. The psalmist calls out to God multiple times in Psalm 7. But we don’t really see a separate unit of invocation in this psalm. So, the invocation is there – all throughout the psalm. We just don’t see an extended version of it anywhere in particular.

So, we’ll move on to the next section – which is more noticeable.

Petition

The petition takes up Psalm 7:1-6.

1 <Shiggaion of David, which he sang unto the LORD, concerning the words of Cush the Benjamite.> O LORD my God, in thee do I put my trust: save me from all them that persecute me, and deliver me: 2 Lest he tear my soul like a lion, rending it in pieces, while there is none to deliver. 3 O LORD my God, if I have done this; if there be iniquity in my hands; 4 If I have rewarded evil unto him that was at peace with me; (yea, I have delivered him that without cause is mine enemy:) 5 Let the enemy persecute my soul, and take it; yea, let him tread down my life upon the earth, and lay mine honour in the dust. Selah. 6 Arise, O LORD, in thine anger, lift up thyself because of the rage of mine enemies: and awake for me to the judgment that thou hast commanded.

Notice how David is asking God for help. He’s petitioning the Lord in Psalm 7:1-6.

Confidence

Next, David expresses his confidence in the Lord in Psalm 7:7-13.

7 So shall the congregation of the people compass thee about: for their sakes therefore return thou on high. 8 The LORD shall judge the people: judge me, O LORD, according to my righteousness, and according to mine integrity that is in me. 9 Oh let the wickedness of the wicked come to an end; but establish the just: for the righteous God trieth the hearts and reins. 10 My defence is of God, which saveth the upright in heart. 11 God judgeth the righteous, and God is angry with the wicked every day. 12 If he turn not, he will whet his sword; he hath bent his bow, and made it ready. 13 He hath also prepared for him the instruments of death; he ordaineth his arrows against the persecutors.

David’s confidence in the Lord stems from the fact that God is the righteous judge. And that means both that God will judge and vindicate David AND that he will judge and condemn those who oppose him.

Lament

Next, in Psalm 7:14-16, we have the lament – that part of a lament psalm that gives special attention to the problem at hand. In this case, as we’ve seen before, it’s David’s enemies.

14 Behold, he travaileth with iniquity, and hath conceived mischief, and brought forth falsehood. 15 He made a pit, and digged it, and is fallen into the ditch which he made. 16 His mischief shall return upon his own head, and his violent dealing shall come down upon his own pate.

Praise

And finally in Psalm 7:17 we have the section where the psalmist praises the Lord.

17 I will praise the LORD according to his righteousness: and will sing praise to the name of the LORD most high.

So, those are the five elements of a lament psalm – all found to one extent or another in Psalm 7.

And so now that we’ve been through the structure of the psalm, maybe we can figure out the underlying situation.

Psalm 7 Underlying Situation

We’re told that the situation that brought about the writing of this psalm is when a man named Cush from Benjamin said something.

Do you remember that?

If you don’t remember that, it’s OK. It’s because this man is never mentioned in the Bible. So, that knowledge isn’t a great help to us in recreating the underlying situation of this psalm.

But fortunately we have other data from the psalm itself that can help us. Psalm 7:1 has David pleading for help from the Lord to deliver him from persecutors. Psalm 7:2 tells us that this persecutor – or maybe there are more than one – they threaten to tear David apart like a lion would his prey. Psalm 7:3-5 have David swearing that he didn’t commit several acts of injustice. That makes me wonder whether this Cush fellow was slandering David. And the slander was unjustified, according to David. But the enemies weren’t just calmly slandering David. They were raging. Psalm 7:14-16 give us the idea that these men – including Cush, I suppose – were hatching sin and mischief in their hearts and the result was falsehood against David. And it was falsehood that was akin to a pit dug in the ground and hidden that would cause people to fall into it.

So, that’s the data. I think if we put it all together we have a picture like this. Cush was a man from Benjamin – a tribe from which David’s predecessor and main persecutor Saul hailed. And they showed some animosity toward David. Well, Cush and perhaps some others were slandering David. Now, remember, slander is not just unflattering speech. Slander is speech that is not true. It’s false – lies. So, David in Psalm 7 is experiencing slander. Slander that threatens to destroy David.

Psalm 7 Topic

So, let’s talk about the topic of this psalm. When you’re being slandered, what do you need? You need someone to prove those ugly rumors false. You need someone to step in and set the record straight. You need – here’s what I’d call it in one word – vindication. That’s the topic of this psalm. Vindication.

Psalm 7 Theme

And David knows that the only one who can truly vindicate him is the Lord. And he’s sure that the Lord will vindicate him because he is truly innocent of the charges leveled against him. So, here’s the theme – what the writer says about the topic of vindication – God Will Vindicate the Innocent.

Psalm 7:1-17 Details

Now, with genre, structure, underlying situation, topic, and theme laid out, we’ll deal with Psalm 7 in detail.

Psalm 7:1-6

Let’s start back from the beginning. We’ll deal with the petition in Psalm 7:1-6.

1 <Shiggaion of David, which he sang unto the LORD, concerning the words of Cush the Benjamite.> O LORD my God, in thee do I put my trust: save me from all them that persecute me, and deliver me: 2 Lest he tear my soul like a lion, rending it in pieces, while there is none to deliver. 3 O LORD my God, if I have done this; if there be iniquity in my hands; 4 If I have rewarded evil unto him that was at peace with me; (yea, I have delivered him that without cause is mine enemy:) 5 Let the enemy persecute my soul, and take it; yea, let him tread down my life upon the earth, and lay mine honour in the dust. Selah. 6 Arise, O LORD, in thine anger, lift up thyself because of the rage of mine enemies: and awake for me to the judgment that thou hast commanded.

Psalm 7:1

Let’s look at the superscription to the psalm first. You see that word “Shiggaion”? It occurs only one other place in the Bible – in Habbakuk. And the reference there doesn’t help us understand what this means. It’s some sort of literary or musical term. You probably have a guess at what it is if you’re carrying a study Bible with notes. But it doesn’t affect the way we interpret this psalm, so we’ll say no more.

Again, in the superscription we have the mention of this mysterious Benjamite by the name of Cush. We don’t know who he is, like I said, but I think it’s helpful to note that this psalm was written as a reaction to “the words of” this man. Again, we’re dealing with slander in this poem and the vindication which the innocent need from such slander – such words like Cush’s.

Moving from the superscription to the main part of the psalm, we see David calling out to the Lord. He trusts in the Lord to deliver him from persecution. Yes, slander can be a form of persecution. And David rehearses for the Lord why he needs his deliverance.

Psalm 7:2

Here’s how David pictures the results of this kind of slander. David’s going to be like someone who experiences an attack by a lion.

For some reason, our two boys love watching footage of animals fighting each other – like you’d see on National Geographic. There are no lack of videos on the internet with titles like “Cobra vs. Honey Badger!” “Spider vs. Insect!” You know. And on and on. I try not to allow them to dwell on death, but at the same time I think it’s informative for them to see the effects of the fall and discuss why it is that some animals kill now after Adam sinned. At any rate, we’ve seen video of lions attacking other animals – even other lions. These beasts are incredibly strong. They will clamp their jaws down on whatever part of their pray they can and they’ll – as our psalm says – tear and rend their helpless victim. No mercy. And no one is going to come to the rescue of that poor lifeless creature that is about to become the lion’s food. [e.g., Siegfried Fischbacher]

That’s graphic. And it’s exactly the way the psalmist is picturing the effects of this man’s slander. David will be torn apart – his reputation will be rent – his livelihood and very life could be destroyed by this man’s slander. That is, unless the Lord delivers him. When a lion attacks its prey, there usually isn’t anyone to deliver. But in David’s case, he’s putting his trust in the Lord to deliver him.

Psalm 7:3-5

Well, why could David be confident that God was going to deliver him from this man and his slander? That’s where Psalm 7:3-5 come in.

These verses serve as something like an oath. David here is testifying to his own blamelessness by cataloging ways in which he could sin that would call for God to hand him over to his enemies.

He says in Psalm 7:3 “O Lord my God, if I have done this…” Done what? Well, the things he lists out in the next several sentences. And these things actually could be what Cush is accusing David of. Having iniquity in his hand. Rewarding evil to someone who is at peace with David. If David has done those kind of things, then he’s openly confessing that he’d be worthy of the kind of fate from which he was just asking God for deliverance.

If David is guilty of the sin that his enemies are claiming, then he’s saying they have every right to stomp him down into the dust – to take his life.

But, see, that’s not the case. David hasn’t sinned as his enemies are saying. And both he and the Lord know the truth. And so David is able to admit that if he’s guilty of the sin that he’s being charged with, he’d be worthy of death. But he’s innocent. And he needs the Lord to vindicate him.

Psalm 7:6

And because of the falsehood that the enemy is spreading about David, he asks the Lord in Psalm 7:6 to arise – to lift himself up – to awake.

Even though we know that God doesn’t sleep or slumber, when you’re being slandered and it seems like God isn’t doing anything to defend you, it can seem like he’s asleep. I think it’s so kindly condescending of God to allow for a mere man to beg him to “wake up” as it were. God could have struck that line from Psalm 7. But he doesn’t. He allows the psalmist to express his feelings – and David feels as if God’s inactivity makes him seem like he’s asleep.

Psalm 7:7-13

Well, ultimately, of course, the psalmist understands that God really isn’t asleep. Because in Psalm 7:7-13 we have David’s statement of confidence in the Lord.

7 So shall the congregation of the people compass thee about: for their sakes therefore return thou on high. 8 The LORD shall judge the people: judge me, O LORD, according to my righteousness, and according to mine integrity that is in me. 9 Oh let the wickedness of the wicked come to an end; but establish the just: for the righteous God trieth the hearts and reins. 10 My defence is of God, which saveth the upright in heart. 11 God judgeth the righteous, and God is angry with the wicked every day. 12 If he turn not, he will whet his sword; he hath bent his bow, and made it ready. 13 He hath also prepared for him the instruments of death; he ordaineth his arrows against the persecutors.

Remember – in Psalm 7:6 David asked God to awake and go to judgment. That may have been a mysterious saying. But now in Psalm 7:7-13 David fills out what he meant by that statement.

Psalm 7:7

Here’s what Psalm 7:7 is saying. David is picturing a gathering of all peoples. And they’re surrounding God’s judgment throne. God’s pictured as a king – a high lofty exalted king. His subjects – both those who are loyal and those who are traitors – are waiting for him to return and judge them.

Psalm 7:8

And the Lord will return to judge. Psalm 7:8. The Lord “shall” judge the people. There’s no question about it. It’s going to happen. And you know what? To the innocent – to the righteous man – God’s judgment isn’t a fearful thing. Because when God judges and sets everything straight – it’s going to come out that the innocent was in the right. The innocent will be vindicated.

David asks the Lord to judge him. And the statements of confidence that David makes seem almost arrogant. They sound almost self-righteous. He wants to be judged according to his righteousness? According to his integrity? What is David saying? Is he claiming sinlessness? Is he unaware that we’re all sinners? Is he unaware of what his son Solomon will go on to say in Ecclesiastes – that there’s not a just man on the earth that never sins? David wouldn’t be denying his own statement in one of the psalms of this book that he was conceived in sin!

No, David’s not being unrealistic. In the context, he’s saying – “I’m fine with you judging me, Lord. Because I know that the slander being spread about me is not right. In relation to the things of which I’m being accused, I’m innocent. I’m righteous. I’m a man of integrity.

Psalm 7:9

But – see – God’s judgment doesn’t end so well for the wicked. Psalm 7:9 – when God judges them, their wickedness – the thing they love so much – comes to an end. But again, Psalm 7:9 – at the same time the just – the righteous – the innocent will be established.

Psalm 7:10

Wonder how that happens? The righteous God tries the hearts and reins. God alone knows people’s internal thoughts and even our motives. And if you are righteous and your thoughts and motives are right, he’s not going to let that go unnoticed. And you’ll find God to be just like David experienced in Psalm 7:10 – he’s your defense, your savior who delivers you from evil.

Psalm 7:11

Psalm 7:11 – David again affirms that God will judge the righteous. He’ll render his verdict of innocent and vindicate them. But on the other hand, God is angry every day with wicked men. The idea is that he doesn’t forget the wickedness of those who persecute his people. He’s not a judge just one day a week. He’s constantly watchful over the wicked to make sure judgment is meted out to them.

Psalm 7:12

And the poetic description of God that we have in Psalm 7:12-13 is frightening. You come away from it wondering how the wicked can still disobey the Lord and ignore his threats. Unless the wicked repent and turn from their wickedness to God, the Lord will whet his sword. He’ll sharpen it. Why would an executor of vengeance sharpen a sword? It’s not to display it over his fireplace. It’s so he can use it to kill. God is pictured as having a sharpened sword and being ready to execute the criminal.

Not only does he have a ready sword. But he has a bow, too. He bends it. This can be speaking of taking the unstrung bow and bending it so that the bow could be strung. Or it could be talking about the Lord taking an already-strung bow, putting an arrow on the string, and getting ready to fire.

So, here we have the Lord. He’s judged everyone and declared his verdict. The innocent are vindicated. The wicked are sentenced to death – unless they repent. The unrepentant are faced with a God who has a sharpened sword and a strung bow with arrow ready to shoot. This is pretty serious.

Psalm 7:13

Then Psalm 7:13 broadens the Lord’s arsenal with this mention of these “instruments of death”. That certainly includes the two weapons we’ve already discussed, plus any number of additional deadly weapons. All are at his disposal. And his arrows are ordained for the persecutor. Again, the idea of David being slandered is never far from the flow of this psalm. The persecutor in particular is in view here.

Psalm 7:14-16

And with all that’s been said already about this enemy, you may have thought we’ve addressed the actual lament of this psalm already. But we haven’t yet. But we will now. Psalm 7:14-16.

14 Behold, he travaileth with iniquity, and hath conceived mischief, and brought forth falsehood. 15 He made a pit, and digged it, and is fallen into the ditch which he made. 16 His mischief shall return upon his own head, and his violent dealing shall come down upon his own pate.

Psalm 7:14

Psalm 7:14 uses a really striking metaphor. The psalmist pictures the slanderer in terms of being pregnant and delivering a child. The word “travaileth” can refer to the travail of a woman being in labor. So, the wicked ones are pictured as being pregnant – or filled with – mischief. Laboring with sin. And giving birth to falsehood – or the slander that they were heaping on David. That’s one picture of the sins of these people.

Psalm 7:15-16

The other picture we have of these men who are making David lament is in Psalm 7:15-16. They might dig a pit for people like David to fall into. But ultimately, they’re the ones who will fall into it.

And they might conceive mischief and violence against innocent men like David – but that mischief and violence will return to themselves. God will cause whatever device they contrive to backfire on them.

So, the wicked are slandering innocent David. But God will judge the wicked and vindicate David and deliver him from all their evil schemes.

Psalm 7:17

And that realization causes David to praise the Lord. Psalm 7:17.

17 I will praise the LORD according to his righteousness: and will sing praise to the name of the LORD most high.

And we can praise the Lord for his righteousness today as we meditate on that fact that God Will Vindicate the Innocent.

Psalm 3 Commentary

Psalm 3

Let’s study Psalm 3!

Psalm 3: Genre

First, we’ll talk about the genre of Psalm 3. What kind of poem is it?

Well, it’s what we call a lament Psalm. You could also call it a complaint Psalm. And this kind of Psalm accounts for about 1/3 of the entire book of Psalms. So just about one out of every three Psalms that you encounter is similar to the Psalm that we’re studying today.

Now, I said this is a complaint Psalm. But let’s not get the wrong idea. This Psalm doesn’t simply record the Psalmist griping about something. These Psalms actually present the Psalmist’s strategy for mastering a crisis. So, he’s not whining. He’s actually working toward a solution for his crisis. And we get to listen in while he works through his problem. And so the lament Psalms give us an inspired way to deal with problems and situation that are common to all men.

So – what type of poem are we studying today? Lament/complaint.

Psalm 3: Underlying Situation

Now, most Psalms are a reaction of the poet to some stimulus. In Psalm 3, what is the stimulus? What is driving David to write this lament poem? What’s happening in his life?

Well, look at the first line of the psalm. What does it say? This is “A Psalm of David, when he fled from Absalom his son.”

When you think of David, you might think of him in pastoral settings out in the countryside. Or you picture him in his royal palace kind of taking it easy. But this man’s life was filled with conflict.

Even when he was a relative-nobody he was wrestling bears and lions away from his father’s sheep. He defeated Goliath and won some acclaim among the people and even in King Saul’s sight. But then Saul turns on him and David basically becomes a fugitive for years until Saul dies.

Finally, David becomes king. But he’s still constantly going to war – that’s what kings did in those days. But one time he doesn’t go out to war. He stays behind. And he ends up catching a glimpse of a young woman from his palace. As we all know, he ends up committing adultery with her and then ordering the murder of her husband. God rebukes David for those horrendous crimes. And God promises David that the sword will never depart from his house the rest of his life. He will have war and conflict until he dies.

And that’s where Absalom enters the picture. Absalom has a sister who is violated by one of David’s sons from one of his other wives. Absalom kills that brother and flees. Finally he’s persuaded to come back and live close to David. But David won’t talk to him – for years. So, Absalom eventually gathers a number of people together, wins their hearts, and leads a rebellion against his father David. Absalom and his entourage actually run David out of Jerusalem and are trying to literally kill him. And that’s the situation that called for the writing of this Psalm.

So, this Psalm captures some of the emotion that David felt as he fled for his life from Jerusalem. Can you imagine the embarrassment of being pursued by your own child who’s looking to take your life? Can you imagine the regret and self-hatred that David would have experienced – knowing that his own sin with Bathsheba so many years ago had caused this turn of events? Can you imagine the pain of being betrayed by so many trusted advisers and friends in addition to the people you served as king for so many years? All these emotions and many more I’m sure are in David’s heart as he flees Jerusalem.

So, we’ve discovered and rehearsed the underlying situation that called for the writing of this Psalm. And we’ve looked at what kind of Psalm this is. It’s a lament Psalm.

Psalm 3: Structure

And these lament Psalms have a discernible structure to them. There are actually 5 components to any lament Psalm. So, let’s discover the structure of Psalm 3.

Psalm 3: Invocation

The first component of a lament Psalm is the invocation of God. And we see that in this Psalm 3:1. What’s the first word out of David’s mouth in this Psalm? He says, “Lord”. He immediately invokes the Lord.

So, that’s the first component of the structure of this Psalm.

Psalm 3: Lament

The next component of a lament Psalm is the lament or the complaint itself. And we find that in Psalm 3:1-2 verses.

“LORD, how are they increased that trouble me! many are they that rise up against me. 2 Many there be which say of my soul, There is no help for him in God.”

This is where the poet defines the crisis that he’s experiencing – and that he’s going to try to master with God’s help.

Psalm 3: Confidence

Another component of the structure of a lament Psalm is an expression of confidence in God. We see this in Psalm 3:3-6 where we have these reassuring statements from David regarding his confidence in God.

“But thou, O LORD, art a shield for me; my glory, and the lifter up of mine head. 4 I cried unto the LORD with my voice, and he heard me out of his holy hill. 5 I laid me down and slept; I awaked; for the LORD sustained me. 6 I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people, that have set themselves against me round about.”

David is confident that God will deliver him from his multiplied adversaries.

So, that’s the 3rd component of a lament Psalm – the poet’s expression of confidence in God.

Psalm 3: Petition

Then, comes the petition – where the poet actually asks the Lord for something. We see that in Psalm 3:7. And in this Psalm it consists of a petition to God for him to remedy David’s crisis.

“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.”

By the way, it took 6 verses for David to actually ask God for something.

So that’s the 4th part of the structure of this Psalm.

Psalm 3: Praise

Finally, Psalm 3:8 ends the Psalm with the last component – which is the praising of God.

“Salvation belongeth unto the LORD: thy blessing is upon thy people.”

I think the praise here occurs when David proclaims that it is in the Lord’s power alone to provide deliverance. That’s a glory that belongs to the Lord alone. And so he’s to be praised for it.

So, that’s the structure of this Psalm. 5 parts – invocation, lament, confidence, petition, and praise.

Psalm 3: Topic/Theme

Now, with the genre, underlying situation, and structure established, we’re going to discover the topic and theme of the Psalm.

The topic is what a Psalm is about. The theme is what the author says about that topic.

So, we’re going to try to summarize the content of Psalm 3 in one word (topic). And then we’ll summarize what David says about that topic (theme).

So, let’s read Psalm 3:1-2 again. Because usually the topic of the Psalm appears near its beginning.

“LORD, how are they increased that trouble me! many are they that rise up against me. 2 Many there be which say of my soul, There is no help for him in God.”

So, from Psalm 3:1-2 verses we get the idea that David is facing enemies. And their number isn’t dwindling or remaining steady, even. David is facing multiplied and multiplying enemies.

And what are these enemies claiming? They’re saying that God won’t help David. The word “help” has to do with salvation. Or in this context – deliverance. So, here David’s enemies are saying that God will not deliver David from their plans to kill him. And that happens to be the topic of this Psalm – deliverance. You want to know what Psalm 3 is about in a nutshell? It’s about deliverance. And we’ll see evidence of that throughout the Psalm.

Now, David has something to say regarding God’s delivering him from his multiplied enemies. Psalm 3:7 – he says “Save – or deliver – me, oh my God.” And in Psalm 3:8 he reminds himself that “salvation – the kind that David so desperately needs – belongs to the Lord.” There’s the topic again – salvation or deliverance. And it’s the Lord’s to grant deliverance like what David is looking for. And so, despite multiplied enemies claiming that God will not deliver David from their schemes to kill him – look at what David says in Psalm 3:6. “I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people, that have set themselves against me round about.” Ten thousands – that sounds like multiplied adversaries. And yet, David is not afraid of them. Why? Because he’s confident that the Lord will deliver him.

So, here’s what David says about the topic of Psalm 3. He’s talking about Confidence in God’s deliverance from multiplied adversaries. He’s confident that God will deliver him.

Psalm 3: Commentary

OK, we’ve looked at the genre, underlying situation, topic, theme, and structure of Psalm 3. But now we’re going to dive into the details of this Psalm.

Psalm 3:1-2

We’ll go back to Psalm 3:1-2.

“LORD, how are they increased that trouble me! many are they that rise up against me. 2 Many there be which say of my soul, There is no help for him in God.”

You can sense David’s dismay from the very first verse. “Lord! How many…” he exclaims. He expresses amazement at how many enemies he’s acquired. He was their king, their leader, God’s chosen ruler for them. And now so many of them had turned on him. So, David is shocked.

Now, note once more the concept of increasing opposition. They’re – Psalm 3:1 – “increased”. There are – Psalm 3:1 again – “many” that rise up. And he goes ahead and states it one more time in case we missed it – Psalm 3:2 – “Many” speak discouragingly to him. So, let’s really sympathize with David’s utter dismay. His whole country has turned on him.

And these folks aren’t just sitting around. They’re actively opposing David. They’re troubling David. They’re rising up against him.

Let’s think about that image of rising up. And it is an image. Let me ask you – Were the enemies all previously sitting down, but now they’re standing on their feet – and so that’s what David is truly concerned about? No, David’s not concerned about their physical position. So when he tells us that these people are “rising up” he’s putting a picture in our mind. It’s like he’s imagining this large group of angry enemies physically rising up as one to confront and physically destroy him. It’s a terrifying picture. And it accurately portrays how David feels.

But these enemies aren’t just physically imposing in David’s mind. Their very speech is terrifying to David. They’re claiming that God will not deliver David. Can you think of why they might say this? How many people do you think knew about David’s sin with Bathsheba and against Uriah her husband? Nathan did. In addition, God through Nathan told David “by this deed [David’s sin] thou hast given great occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme” in 2 Samuel 12:14. So then, many people apparently knew of David’s sin. It was public knowledge. And what David was now experiencing was actually chastisement from the Lord for that sin. So, think about it. The very fact that these enemies were attacking and reproaching David was by God’s allowance. Can you see why these folks might think that God won’t deliver David from their plans to kill him? David’s own sin got him in to this mess. Maybe God was going to let David’s enemies finish him off.

And that’s where Psalm 3:2 ends.

I’ll briefly mention “Selah”. As far as I know and anyone can say, this probably calls for a musical interlude. But the fact is that no one definitively knows what it signifies. So I won’t be paying much attention to it in coming lessons.

Psalm 3:3-6

Now, in complete contrast to what these increasing enemies are saying about David, we have Psalm 3:3. God is David’s “shield”, his “glory”, and “the one who lifts up” his head. These sayings are obviously poetic devices. They’re images that put pictures in our minds. God does not physically manifest himself as a shield. His hand didn’t physically and visibly reach down from heaven and lift up David’s head. So let’s talk about what these images mean.

Shield

First, a shield protects from advancing attacks. The KJV has David saying that God is a shield “for me”. The word actually means “round about”. So, picture it – if an enemy attacks David from any direction, he’s not going to get David. Why? Because David’s “shield” is in the way. That’s the Lord – protecting him.

Glory

Next, the word “glory” can also mean “honor”. David is being supremely dishonored by men – his own son in particular. But in contrast, God gives him honor.

Lifter

Lastly, God lifts up David’s head. You surely know what it feels like to have increasing opposition to you – at home, at work, even among God’s people, unfortunately. And does it ever make you just want to hang your head? That’s where David was. But God lifts his head from despair.

And David may or may not know it at this point, but God was going to restore David to his throne in Jerusalem. And by doing that, God would lift David’s head – so to speak – and get rid of his reproach.

Intimate

Now, note one more thing in Psalm 3:3. Notice how intimate David is with the Lord. He personally addresses the Lord. He looks at the increasing enemies and distress in his life. And then he turns to the Lord alone and reminds himself and the Lord of what God really is to him.

Past

Now, Psalm 3:4 brings us back in time a little. David explains how he came to be so confident in the Lord’s protection of him. He cried to the Lord. He didn’t whisper under his breath. This word is actually translated a few times as “scream”. It’s translated many more times as “call” or “cry” as we have it here. David was earnest in communicating with the Lord. He needed to be heard.

And what happened when David directed his prayer to God? God “heard him”. God answered David when he called.

And he did so from his holy hill. That’s probably a reference to Mount Zion or the Temple Mount – even though the Temple hadn’t been built yet.

And do you wonder what God told David? How exactly did God answer David’s cries? Well, we don’t have the response recorded. But whatever it was, it gave David the confidence that we saw in verse 3. It also results in what he testifies about in Psalm 3:5.

Sleep

David says “I laid me down and slept; I awaked; for the LORD sustained me.” Now, if you were being chased like a fugitive, could you imagine trying this? Laying down and sleeping? I think sleeping would have been very hard for David. And the reason it would be so hard is because he would be uncertain as to whether he would indeed awake in the morning. Or would his life have been taken overnight? But when God answered David’s pitiful cries, David gained confidence to sleep. And because God was protecting him, David actually woke up. The enemies didn’t hurt him. And they wouldn’t. Ever. Because God was with him. The Lord “sustained” him, it says. That word “sustained” is something like “propped up” or “supported”. How exactly do you sleep in the midst of gut-wrenching anxiety about your very life? David could because he knew that the Lord was the one who was propping him up and supporting him. David was confident in God’s deliverance.

10,000

And so because of all these considerations, David boldly proclaims in Psalm 3:6 – “I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people, that have set themselves against me round about.” David won’t fear. Even in the face of overwhelming odds – ten thousands of people against just him. He’s confident in God’s deliverance. And that’s how he pictures it. It’s ten thousands of his enemies versus… how many? Just him. Even if those are the odds and that’s what happens, he’s going to remain confident in God’s deliverance.

Psalm 3:7

And so now David – Psalm 3:7 – finally makes petition to the Lord. “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.” So, in contrast to the enemies in Psalm 3:1 who rise up against David – now we have David calling on the Lord to himself rise up – and to save or deliver David from his enemies.

And we have some imagery here again. Did God literally smite David’s enemies on the cheek? Did he break the teeth of the wicked who persecuted David? Do we have that recorded anywhere? We don’t. So, what is David poetically expressing here?

Cheek

First, a slap to the cheek was a sign of contempt. In other words, God thinks little of these enemies. He will not honor them. He honors David as we saw before.

Teeth

And what about the shattering of teeth? Well, in a day and age before dentures – you lose your teeth and you’re rendered fairly incapacitated in certain ways. And that’s just what God was going to do to David’s enemies. They may be many, but their efforts against David would be brought to nothing and they themselves would be despised by the Lord – whom they claimed would not deliver David.

And so David can call upon God to rise up and deliver him – knowing that this is what God does. God has done these kind of things for David before. And he’ll do them in this very distressing situation.

Psalm 3:8

Finally, we come to the end of the Psalm. Psalm 3:8. “Salvation belongeth unto the LORD: thy blessing is upon thy people.” Now, I believe this is where the Psalmist praises God for his deliverance from increasing opposition. Literally – “salvation” – deliverance – “unto the Lord!” This is his domain. No man could give David the deliverance he needed. The Lord alone is able to deliver. It’s in his hands. And so he deserves our praise. And those who are truly his – God’s people – we get “the blessing.” What blessing is he talking about? Well, we get many countless blessings as God’s people. But in particular – we have what this Psalm is talking about – deliverance through our God.

Conclusion

So, that’s Psalm 3. It’s David expressing his confidence in God’s deliverance from increasing opposition.

Now, if David could be confident that God was going to save him from multiplied and multiplying enemies who were intent on his literal physical death – can you and I be confident in that same God to deliver us from our troubles? We can argue from greater to lesser. If God can deliver his people from death, can he deliver from other lesser types of distresses?

We’ve just entered a new year. This message was delivered on the first Sunday of 2015. Look back over the past year. What has God delivered you from? What enemies has he delivered you from? What perils? What dangers? What temptations? Thank him for the deliverance he’s given you in the last year.

And then I would just encourage us to add this kind of prayer to our prayer arsenal. We’ve just been through an entire lesson breaking apart this man’s prayer. We’ve seen him call to the Lord and tell the Lord his bitter complaint. We heard him express his confidence in the Lord. Then we saw him ask the Lord for help. And finally we saw him praise the Lord.

I can tell you from just a little experience that this kind of approach to God helps. When you’re faced with a situation that just won’t quit and is just completely perplexing and disturbing, mimic what David did in Psalm 3. Let me lay out how you could do this, one last time:

Call out to the Lord. He’s the only one who can do anything anyway.

Then lay out your complaint before him. Give him details. Tell him what is so troubling to you. Approach him like a father who cares… because he is a father who cares! I know in our holier moments we wouldn’t dream of complaining to the Lord. But if it’s good enough for David, it’s good enough for us! God actually wants us to bring our complaints to him. So, do it.

Don’t stop there, though. Next, you can express your unwavering confidence in the Lord.

Then offer your request to him. Isn’t the order of this Psalm interesting? You don’t just blurt out your request if you’re following the pattern of this Psalm. It actually takes you a while to get to asking anything if you’re following the pattern of Psalm 3. But do make your request! God actually wants to hear it and wants to answer it according to his will.

And lastly praise the Lord for who he is and what he does.

I’ll just get real personal now and tell you how I’ve prayed recently after the pattern we see in Psalm 3. If there’s one thing that is most troublesome to me, it’s my wife’s health issues. Un-diagnosed weakness is something she struggles with constantly. And I have a few choices. I can sit and stew and get angry at God for letting this happen. That’s immature and just plain wrong. Or I could pretend like it doesn’t bother me, but it does. So, I prayed to the Lord about Lori’s health after the pattern of Psalm 3. And I’m not going to say that it solved all my problems or anything. But it was strangely calming. And I know the Lord heard it and will respond the best way possible.

What’s your single greatest burden? What is the thing that concerns you the most? The thing that makes you want to cry out? The thing you can’t do anything about? Would you consider taking it to the Lord? Invoke him. Complain to him. Express your confidence in him. Make your request to him. And praise him.