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Coffman Commentaries on the Old and New Testament

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PSALM 3

A MORNING PRAYER OF CONFIDENCE

(A PSALM OF DAVID, WHEN HE FLED FROM ABSALOM HIS SON)

Ps. 3:1-2

Jehovah, how are mine adversaries increased!

Many are they that rise up against me.

Many there are that say of my soul,

There is no help for him in God. (Selah)"

The ancient superscriptions found at the beginning of many of the Psalms is included here in parenthesis; and although certain critics have questioned the accuracy of these, as Rawlinson noted, "They have done so without sufficient reason."F1

There are no less than seventy-three of the Psalms which in their superscriptions have the particular Hebrew words which mean "from David" or "concerning David."F2


 
Verses 1, 2
Jehovah, how are mine adversaries increased! Many are they that rise up against me. Many there are that say of my soul, There is no help for him in God. [Selah
This word appears several times in many of the Psalms; but, This word is of very obscure meaning.F3 It is supposed to have marked certain pauses, or rests, when the Psalms were sung, or occasionally to have indicated certain special points of emphasis.

The glorious teaching of these first two verses lies in the fact that, "Trouble drove David to God in prayer, and not away from God in disbelief."F4

When disaster threatens and everything seems to have gone wrong, it is never a time for falling into a spirit of bitterness and infidelity, but a time for prayer and a casting of ourselves upon the mercy of God.

No help for him in God. Perhaps the bitterest part of David's trial during the rebellion of Absalom was the opinion of many people, openly expressed, that God had rejected David.

But thou, O Jehovah, art a shield about me;

My glory, and the lifter up of my head.

I cry unto Jehovah with my voice,

And he answereth me out of his holy hill. (Selah)"

The Psalmist here expressed confidence that the Lord had indeed heard his cry and answered his prayer from "his holy hill," this, from Jerusalem where God had recorded his name and where, in time, the temple would be built. There is a marked similarity here to the prayer of Jonah who also mentioned God's answer as coming from the temple (Jonah 2:7).

I laid me down and slept;

I awaked; for Jehovah sustaineth me.

I will not be afraid of ten thousands of the people.

That have set themselves against me round about."

This mention of lying down to sleep and awakening are the basis for naming this Psalm "A Morning Prayer." This appears to me to be a rather insufficient grounds for such a name; but still we do not object to it. It has been used as a morning reading by countless people in all ages.


 
Verses 5, 6
I laid me down and slept; I awaked; For Jehovah sustaineth me. I will not be afraid of ten thousands of the people That have set themselves against me round about.
According to Kay, this is a military expression, as used in Isa. 22:7.F5 The background of this Psalm is given in 2 Sam. 15--16.

Before leaving these verses, it is appropriate to remember that no one knows when he goes to sleep, whether or not he shall ever awaken, and that only the blessing of God enables the sleeper to wake up. As a Medical doctor stated it, "No one ever draws his first breath without God's blessing; and it is also true of every other breath throughout life"!

Arise, O Jehovah; save me, O my God:

For thou hast smitten all mine enemies upon the cheek bone

Thou hast broken the teeth of the wicked.

Salvation belongeth unto Jehovah:

Thy blessing upon thy people. (Selah)"


 
Verses 7, 8
Arise, O Jehovah; Save me, O my God: For thou hast smitten all mine enemies upon the cheek bone; Thou hast broken the teeth of the wicked. Salvation belongeth unto Jehovah: Thy blessing be upon thy people. [Selah
Some scholars suppose that David here recalled prior occasions in his life when God had given him mighty victories over his foes; but our own opinion is that the use of the past perfect tense here is prophetic, in which David prophesied his victory over Absalom and spoke of it as so certain of fulfillment that it was appropriate to use the past tense in speaking of it.

Smitten upon the cheek bone. thou hast broken the teeth…
Many scholars have observed that, The enemies alike of David and of God are represented here as wild beasts, whose weapons are their jaws and teeth. Let God break these, and they are harmless.F6

Salvation belongeth unto Jehovah…
When Jonah cried to God from the fish's belly, his triumphant cry was, Salvation is of Jehovah! (Jonah 2:9).

Thy blessing be upon thy people…
The Psalmist here rose above his own selfish interests in seeking God's help, linking it with the blessing of God upon all of his people.


Footnotes for Psalms 3
1: G. Rawlinson, The Pulpit Commentary, Vol. 8 (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1950), p. 17.
2: Mitchell Dahood, S. J., The Anchor Bible, Psalms I (Garden City, New York, 1966), p. 15.
3: Robert Jamieson, Commentary on the Whole Bible by Jamieson, Fausset and Brown (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House), p. 347.
4: Leslie S. McCaw, The New Bible Commentary, Revised (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1970), p. 453.
5: Ibid., p. 18.
6: Ibid.

Copyright Statement
James Burton Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.

Bibliography Information
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Psalm 3". "Coffman Commentaries on the Old and New Testament". <http://classic.studylight.org/com/bcc/view.cgi?book=ps&chapter=003>. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.  

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