March 18: Psalm 3

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March 18: Psalm 3

Foes and deliverance

Common meter 86.86                               New Britain (Amazing Grace), p. 29
St. Anne (O God, our Help), p. 39

O Lord, how are my foes increased! Against me many rise!

How many say, “In vain for help he on his God relies!”

You are my shield and glory, Lord; You lifted up my head.

I cried out, “Lord!” and from His hill to me His answer sped.

I lay down, slept, and woke again; the Lord is keeping me.

I will not fear ten thousand men entrenched surrounding me.

Arise, O Lord! Save me, my God! You punish all my foes.

You smite the face of wicked men. Their teeth break with your blows.

Deliverance is from the Lord, salvation His alone!

O let Your blessing evermore be on Your people shown!

Psalm 1 contrasted the lots of the just and the unjust, and Psalm 2 indicates the battle between the two sides. In Psalm 3, there cries out the just person engaged in that battle: “Lord, how increased are they that trouble me; many are they that rise up against me. Many are they that say of my soul: “There is no help for him in God.” Conflict we have here, and the distress that conflict brings, for fighting battles is one of the major motifs of the Book of Psalms. This is not a prayer book (or hymn book) for the noncombatant, and unless a person is actually engaged in hostilities it is difficult to see how he can pray Psalm 3. This warfare has to do with the themes already inaugurated in the two preceding psalms—God’s wisdom against wickedness in Psalm 1, and the Messiah against ungodly mutiny in Psalm 2. The first tells us that the Psalter’s battle is moral; the second tells us that it is theological. Thus, the many conflicts described in the psalms are engagements of the spirit, struggles of the heart, wrestlings of the mind. The enemies here are real enemies, the adversaries of the soul, those hostile forces spoken of in the very first verse of the Book of Psalms— “the counsel of the ungodly.” The psalms are prayers for those engaged in an ongoing spiritual conflict (Eph. 6:12). No one else need bother even opening the book. And what are our resources in the discord? “You, O Lord, art a shield about me; my glory and the lifter of my head… I will not fear the thousands that confront me round about… Salvation belongs to the Lord, and Your blessing rests upon Your people.” (Reardon, p. 5-6)

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