Yesterday, I taught the ladies the basics of how to read a Psalm. After discussing what Hebrew poetry is, and what parallelism is, we looked at the various kinds of psalms, and as an example of a lament, we looked at Psalm 3.
This was written by David, according to the heading, during the time when he was fleeing from his son, Absalom (2 Samuel 15 and 16). The lament opens with David presenting his reason for complaint:
Oh Lord, how many are my foes!
Many are rising against me;
many are saying of my soul,
there is no salvation for him in God.
David's problem was enemies. His cry was about the enemies surrounding him. And these enemies were telling him something very specific. They were saying there was no salvation for him in God. They were saying, "Your God is not going to save you."
Of course, as all laments go, the cry is changed to confidence in God, and David shows the reader his confidence:
But you, O Lord, are a shield about me,
my glory and the lifter of my head.
Shields in those days were probably big things. Soldiers use bombs and guns today; they used shields and arrows back then. It was an image David's contemporaries would have understood well.
As I was preparing, I wondered about enemies. I don't know my enemies. I must have some; no one is liked by everyone. I don't know who they are, and they aren't aggressive toward me. I've known women who certainly act as if they are my enemies. But I am not like David, fleeing for my life from my own child. And yet, this psalm is meaningful and a Word from God to me today. Who is my biggest enemy, other than Satan, of course?
Yes, that's right, I am.
How often do I behave like I believe what David's enemies were saying? That God won't help me? How often do I demonstrate that attitude by not seeking Him first in a tough situation, but taking control of it myself? How often do I inwardly think, "I can do this!" or "He doesn't care about this little situation."
I need to have the confidence David does in this psalm. He was so confident that he lay down and slept. I'm sure that we can all remember times when something difficult was keeping us awake at night. Not David; he slept and woke up again in the midst of his predicament because he knew God was going to help him.
I remember a few years ago, during a pretty hard time, having trouble sleeping because of it. One night, as I lay there, eyes open, mind going over time, I looked at my peacefully sleeping husband and wondered, "How can he sleep with all that's going on?" He slept because he doesn't let trouble eat away at him. He slept because he believed what David believed.
I'm aware that there are women who live with physical enemies. Through no fault of their own, they could be in situations where their own spouse or family member are enemies. She could be a woman who is a believer who lives with a family who is hostile to her faith. She could be a woman who is plagued with an employer or co-worker who is hostile. There are situations where the enemies are real. This should be a comfort to them, of course.
Just as often, I think we are our own worst enemies. Our expectations, our pride, our fear; they all contribute to us lacking faith. We don't know God well enough to trust Him. Whatever our enemies are, we can trust God to deliver us. We can cry with David:
Arise, O Lord!
Save me, O my God!
For you strike my enemies on the cheek;
you break the teeth of the wicked.