Have you ever felt like everyone was out to get you, even your family? That’s what David was experiencing when he wrote Psalm 3. David penned this psalm of lament while fleeing Jerusalem when his son Absalom led an uprising to take the kingship from him and kill him (2 Samuel 13-19)! Well, doesn’t that put it into perspective? It appears David jumps right to the point in desperation by calling out “Lord” in verse 1. He didn’t lead with any “fluff” in his prayer. This was the real deal! He needed help, quickly! Poor David! But, as is often the case, I think there is something much deeper going on here. It’s always good to get the back-story about someone’s situation and learn why they are praying, see “where they are coming from”, and get down to the truth of what actually caused the crisis. David wasn’t innocent in this matter for which he was praying. He brought a lot of this turmoil upon himself with sin and bad choices. While forgiven from his sins of adultery with Bathsheba and murder of her husband Uriah (2 Samuel 11-12), David still faced the bitter consequences brought on by those sins. It took about nine months and the prophet Nathan confronting David with an illustration about a stolen lamb before David would say “I have sinned against the Lord” (2 Samuel 12:13; Psalm 51). The consequences for his unrepentant sins had been growing. Ignoring sin will only make things worse.
Added to the chaos of losing a child after committing adultery and murder, David was also struggling with his son Absalom and never fully sought the right path of reconciliation. Hurt and distant from his father, Absalom developed a conspiracy to undermine his father’s rule as king and gained enough support to become the king. This hate towards his father was probably sparked by the hurt Absalom experienced over his father David’s inaction towards his sister Tamar’s rape by her brother Amnon. So, after a couple years of increasing bitterness and brewing anger, Absalom wrongly takes matters in his own hands and has Amnon killed in cold blood at a party. Absalom flees in fear of what his father David may do to him. Absalom eventually returns to Jerusalem and begins this conspiracy to overthrow his father David and make himself king. Now, David is running from his son in fear of his life! And you thought you had family problems!
This is the point where David writes Psalm 3. It’s amazing when things overwhelm us, we can turn to the Lord and He hears and helps us! It’s also amazing how He was already there ready to hear and help us before we made everything extremely chaotic and worse by our sin and poor choices. That’s God’s grace! Even through all of this, the Lord would not forsake David because of His covenant found in 2 Samuel 7. David may not have been on his throne and at one of his lowest points, but God was still on His throne and still the Almighty! Psalm 3 reveals David’s understanding of how persistent crying out to the Lord, prayer, fasting, and repentance were the paths to reconciliation and help from God. He knew God’s character (vv. 3-4). No matter how bad it got (vv. 1-2), or how big his foes were (v. 6), the Lord could protect David even while he slept (v. 5). David knew the Lord alone was his deliverer (v. 7). He would not take credit for this victory as he knew, “from the Lord comes deliverance” (v. 8a). He didn’t even hold a grudge against his people who revolted with his son Absalom as he asked the Lord to bless them (v. 8b). A man who has been forgiven much forgives much!
2 Samuel 18:19-19:4 tells us David grieved over his son Absalom’s death. David didn’t want him killed, even after all the rebellion and conspiracy. He had experienced the agony of murdering Uriah and wanted nothing to do with it at this point. He instructed his generals to “deal gently” with Absalom (2 Samuel 18:5), but they disobeyed their king’s command. If only they could have reconciled before it got this bad? We know David wanted to go to his son in the middle of all of this (2 Samuel 13:39), but didn’t. Perhaps pride, fear, bitterness, and a host of sins kept this father and son from reconciliation while forgiveness, repentance, and grace could have caused great healing in this family. Let this prayer and lament of Psalm 3 be a lesson for us to seek and give forgiveness, repent of bitterness and anger, lay aside pride, and extend grace to everyone, especially our families before it’s too late.
- When you have been crossed by those close to you, how have you responded?
- When you have been the cause, even partially, in relationships, are you quick to repent and take responsibility towards reconciliation?
- Who do you need to forgive? Who do you need to ask forgiveness from? Make a plan to do that ASAP.
Lord, help me to love my enemies and my neighbors because sometimes they are the same people. I want to be quick to forgive, repent, and extend grace. Thank you for your blessings as I obey your word and walk in your ways. Amen.