Devotional Thoughts on the Psalms
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Deliverance is the Lord’s;
Your blessing be upon Your people! Selah. (Ps. 3:9)
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In some respects, we can think of Psalm 3 as the “first” psalm.
Understanding that Psalms 2-12 serve to introduce the book, Psalm 3 is where the narrative begins. What narrative? The story described in Psalm 2 –
- The Lord reigns (despite all appearances).
- We now live in a time when the “nations rage” against the Lord.
- Nevertheless, the Lord will ultimately triumph through his anointed King (Messiah)
- Blessed is the person who takes refuge in the Lord
This message was put together for exiles in Babylon who needed to be encouraged by it.
- The nations had triumphed over them — or so it seemed.
- Their God, the Lord whose palace was the temple in Jerusalem, had been defeated — or so it seemed.
- The king who had ruled over them in the anointed house of David had been vanquished — or so it seemed.
Forcibly removed from the Promised Land, they dwelt as exiles “by the rivers of Babylon,” under the domination of foreign rulers and without opportunity to practice the religion of the covenant they had made with God at Mt. Sinai.
Those who compiled the Book of Psalms realized that the people of Israel needed a narrative to explain their situation and to give them hope. So they started with the story of Israel’s most revered ruler — King David. The first two “books” or divisions in the Book of Psalms are filled with psalms that have headings linking them with David and his story.
And what was David’s story?
- It was the story of an unlikely hero.
- It was the story of one chosen by God even when others appeared more qualified to represent God.
- It was the story of one who suffered before he triumphed.
- It was the story of one whose way to the throne was marked by misunderstanding, persecution, and disappointment.
- It was the story of one who had to learn to wait on God and his timing.
- It was the story of one who even experienced the members of his own household turning against him.
It was the story described in Psalm 3:
- His enemies said: “God will not deliver him.” (3:1)
- Nevertheless, he cried out, “Deliver me, O my God!” (3:8)
- And in the end he proclaimed, “Deliverance is the Lord’s!” (3:9)
This is the narrative of David’s life and the compilers and editors of the Book of Psalms saw it as paradigmatic for the life of Israel. Lament is the native language of God’s people. Until God’s Kingdom comes and his will is done on earth as it is in heaven, the powers arrayed against him rage and resist. This life of conflict and trial characterized the story of David.
It is also the story of the Son of David, who was vindicated by God who raised him from the dead, a death his enemies planned and carried out against him as he continued to trust his Father.
That means it is your story and mine, too, we who are “in Christ.” Paul and Barnabas instructed their churches in ways mostly unheard of today. Acts 14 says, “They strengthened the disciples and urged them to remain firm in the faith. They told them, ‘If we are to enter God’s kingdom, we must pass through many troubles.’”
If you don’t believe that is one of the best ways to “disciple” someone, perhaps it’s time we started taking the Book of Psalms seriously in our lives and churches.