Jean’s Gospel: Psalm 3: The Lord Is My Shield! – Part 2
“A Psalm of David, when he fled from Absalom his son.
“1 O Lord, how many are my foes!
Many are rising against me;
2 many are saying of my soul,
‘There is no salvation for him in God.’ Selah”
In Part 1, we read that Christians, following the pattern of David and Jesus, encounter many types of foes in this life, who rise against us in all sorts of ways through violence, derision, disease and through the flesh in temptations to sin. The chief danger from all of them is to separate us from faith in Christ.
“3 But you, O Lord, are a shield about me,
my glory, and the lifter of my head.
4 I cried aloud to the Lord,
and he answered me from his holy hill. Selah”
In the First Commandment, “You shall have no other gods,” the Lord reserves that place in our lives for himself alone, and promises to be our shield, our glory and the lifter of our head.
In Part 1, we examined how Christ acts as our shield, as the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. This week, we continue in verse 3:
“my glory, and the lifter of my head.”
David had “glory” (YLT: “honor”), but not a glory recognized by his enemies. His enemies gloried in their numbers, their physical strength and/or their wealth. Of Absalom it is written: “Now in all Israel there was no one so much to be praised for his handsome appearance as Absalom. From the sole of his foot to the crown of his head there was no blemish in him.” (2 Sam 14:25) In summary, David’s foes gloried in appearances.
Jesus’ enemies gloried in the splendor of the temple. Even Jesus’ disciples were captivated by the glorious temple: “Look, Teacher, what wonderful stones and what wonderful buildings!” (Mark 13:1) By appearances, the temple worship and those who ruled over it were glorious.
However, the glory which comes by appearances or by human counsels or wisdom, which is bestowed by men on other men, is illusory: “Truly no man can ransom another, or give to God the price of his life” (Ps 49:7). So there must be a different and better glory bestowed by God on man that surpasses all human glory, and which is steadfast and trustworthy, because it is founded on the Word of God.
Through the Word of God by the prophets:
- David was anointed king of Israel (1 Sam 16:12);
- David was forgiven his sins against Bathsheba and Uriah (2 Sam 12:13); see, also, Psalm 32:5: “I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,’ and you forgave the iniquity of my sin”; and
- Solomon was given a second name, “Jedidiah” (2 Sam 12:25), which means “beloved of the Lord ”
Therefore, David’s glory came through faith in the Word of God. When caught between the apparent glory of his enemies and the hidden glory that comes through the Word of God, David gloried in God’s Word.
Similarly, even Jesus did not glorify himself (although He had every right to), but as the only begotten Son of the Father who came in the name of His Father (John 5:43) to do the work given Him by the Father (John 5:36), Jesus likewise was glorified by the Father: “If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing. It is my Father who glorifies me, of whom you say, ‘He is our God.’ ” (John 8:54)
As Christians, we too receive glory which comes from God. It is an invisible glory to the world. Our glory does not come from human counsels, earthly riches or power, or on account of our own virtue, but by the grace of God and the righteousness of faith in Christ, as it is written: “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Cor 5:21) Because it comes from God and not from man, our enemies cannot rob us of our glory in Christ.
(Here is the glory of the Christian: To hear and believe your heavenly Father’s announcement that Christ died for your sins and for His sake your Father forgives you all your sins, adopts you into His family and promises you eternal life!)
“my glory, and the lifter of my head.”
Absalom exalted himself (i.e., lifted his head) to kingship. Many people, trusting in appearances, joined him, including David’s trusted counselor, Ahithophel (2 Sam 15:12). Similarly, the Jewish leaders lifted their heads against Jesus. But as it is written in Psalm 2: “He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in derision.” (Ps 2:4)
Thus it is the Lord alone who is the “lifter of [our] head.” As it is written: “even when we were dead in our trespasses, [He] made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Eph 2:5-6). Our Father exalts us in Christ!
“I cried aloud to the Lord, and he answered me from his holy hill. Selah”
David here changes from addressing the Lord in the second person, to addressing us concerning the Lord: that he cried aloud to Him; and that the Lord answered David.
David did not know when the Lord would answer or what that answer might be. David simply kept the First Commandment – You, Lord, are my only God; I now cry to you to be my help. Be a shield about me, my glory and the lifter of my head.
The Lord answered David’s cry in a very particular way. When Absalom, after having entered Jerusalem, had been given two conflicting pieces of advice regarding how to finish off David, the Lord caused Absalom and his men to take the wrong advice: “For the Lord had ordained to defeat the good counsel of Ahithophel, so that the Lord might bring harm upon Absalom.” (2 Sam 17:14)
And Jesus’ cry to the Lord is recorded in Psalm 22. God answered His prayer by raising Jesus from the dead.
We too are privileged to cry aloud to the Lord in our times of need, and He promises to be our God. Jesus has commanded us to pray and has given us the Psalms, the Lord’s Prayer and virtually the whole of Scripture to use as salutary prayer language. Prayer deepens our relationship with God and serves as confirmation that our faith is alive and active. May our Father grant us the Spirit of prayer; in Christ’s name; Amen.
Next week we will pick up Psalm 3 at verse 5 where the Lord’s sustaining care overcomes death. Amen.