Every week, I write a teaching lesson for our team, based on the book of Psalms. Together we learn what the Word teaches on prayer and praise. Check out Psalm 3, it is awesome!
- O Lord, how many are my foes! How many rise up against me!
- Many are saying of me, “God will not deliver him.” Selah.
- But you are a shield around me, O Lord; you bestow glory on me and lift up my head.
- To the Lord I cry aloud, and he answers me from his holy hill. Selah.
- I lie down and sleep; I wake again, because the Lord sustains me.
- I will not fear the tens of thousands drawn up against me on every side.
Psalm 3 was penned by David while he was on the run, fleeing from an army of thousands that were horrifically gathered together by Absalom, his own son. Absalom had rebelled, and stolen the hearts of the men of Israel from David. The story is told in detail in 2 Samuel 15:13-16. It’s incredible to think that this man of God had to leave his own palace in the dead of night, to escape the fury of his own son.
As Psalm 3 is the first prayer in the Psalms, you will see that the language of prayer originates in the midst of trouble — in the midst of humanity recognizing that his only hope is in his God. Understanding and living in the power of this reality is enough to change anyone’s circumstance. Praying with faith and expectation, not worried about how it might appear or sound, praying with passion and truth — these are the prayers you will find have been recorded throughout the Psalms.
At first, David expresses a sense of being overwhelmed at his circumstances. In fact, doesn’t that sound just like the enemy — to blind us with fear and unbelief? Sometimes it feels like troubles travel in packs — just one thing after another. And then on top of it all, to realize his troubles were spearheaded by his darling son. Wow! The fact is when trouble comes from outside, it is much easier to deal with. When it comes from within — from someone close — that is when the sting is almost unbearable.
But at the end of verse two, the mood changes, and there is a definite reason why. The word “Selah” appears before we launch into verse three. This is a musical pause. The precise meaning differs depending upon the teacher, but the closest explanation would be to pause, to rest, observe and meditate carefully before moving on! And once that pause has been honored, we find David with a newfound confidence that God’s shield (which, in the original, signifies much more than a shield, but a protection) will surround a man entirely — a shield above, beneath, around, within and without. Praise God!
The Israelites threw David’s past failings at him saying, “Your God will not deliver you,” but the truth in him rose up to shout down the facts, and his soul began to praise. Praise, just like prayer, changes things! Remember, you have to put on your garment of praise!
Some theologians say that whenever you read the word Selah, you should “Lift up the mood, sing more loudly, pitch the tune to a higher key. There is victory coming, therefore, re-tune your instruments.” How wonderful! In other words, press in, put your seat belt on, get ready to overcome and get ready to affirm your position of faith. Praise that defeatist atmosphere out of your sphere and replace it with the taste of victory.
Then we read that David’s sleep is sweet (the peace of God), for he trusts in the Lord, he is confident that the hand of the Lord is upon him and he will not die, but live! In fact, even though he was driven from his home, he knew he would return triumphant. And by faith, he was confident that God would honor and protect him.
Don’t hang your head in shame for past mistakes. He is the lifter of our heads. Ask God for the grace to see your future glory amidst present troubles. Before you open your mouth to confess how hard life may be, pause, re-tune your instrument and speak the truth over your facts!
Copyright © 2004 Christian Music Planet, used with permission.
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