1 Lord, how many are my foes!
How many rise up against me!
2 Many are saying of me,
“God will not deliver him.”
3 But you, Lord, are a shield around me,
my glory, the One who lifts my head high.
4 I call out to the Lord,
and he answers me from his holy mountain.
5 I lie down and sleep;
I wake again, because the Lord sustains me.
6 I will not fear though tens of thousands
assail me on every side.
7 Arise, Lord!
Deliver me, my God!
Strike all my enemies on the jaw;
break the teeth of the wicked.
8 From the Lord comes deliverance.
May your blessing be on your people.
(New International Version)
This is the third post, and so the third Psalm, in a series that I’m using to get myself back to the Bible. I’m making no promises of getting through any more of them, except this one right here today. In my desire to get back to the Bible, I am taking just one small step at a time.
Oh, Psalms. What was I thinking getting back to the Bible through the Psalms? I think I was thinking of the beautiful laments and songs of thanksgiving, the unfiltered emotional outcries to God that speak so deeply to our human experience. I was forgetting the violence and warlike language that often overtakes the Old Testament. And the book of Psalms doesn’t start out with soft songs and hymns. No, it starts with withering and wickedness, rods of iron and nations dashed to pieces, striking of jaws and breaking of teeth. It hurts my peacemaker sentiments and hopes for nonviolence.
But from the Lord comes deliverance. That’s what I can focus on here in Psalm 3: Deliverance from evil, deliverance from violence, from hopelessness, from heartache. What we get here is the opportunity to bring it all to God and be delivered. And while we all have our own ideas of deliverance — whether striking your enemies down or rest from life’s weariness — in the end, God will decide just how to deliver us. We don’t always get exactly what we ask for and that is mercy.
What I see in this psalm is desperation and pleading, but reassurance and grace. Challenges are rising up (v. 1), but God lifts your head high (v. 3). As He lifts your head, as you tilt it back and scan your eyes toward the sky, you see the full height of the struggles overwhelming you and you call out. And a voice comes from above: an answer from a holy mountain (v. 4). You are not alone. And this gives you rest and peace, to lie down and sleep (v. 5). God sustains you, and it is He that will rise up to take on the challenges you face, because you can’t do it without Him. Deliverance.
When it all seems too much, listen for the one who will deliver you. I call out. When all you see is obstacles, lift your eyes up to the mountain. I will not fear. When life is piling up against you, thank the Lord for sustaining you through it. I wake again. I don’t know if God will strike down your enemies. I think not because my God is a peacemaker and love personified. But I know there is rescue. There is rescue and redemption. There is mercy and life. May your blessing be on your people.