In my last post, I began with a general introduction to things about the Psalms some of you may or may not have known about. Since the Psalms are an integral part of many-a-believers’ lives, I figured I would devote a few more blog posts to them.
We mentioned before that the order of the Psalms is quite intentional. Contraire to those who claim it is a collection of Ancient Near Eastern songs haphazardly thrown together. The “introduction” to the book, if you will were, as we said, Psalm 1 and 2. These Psalm are quite encouraging and uplifting. However, when you get to Psalm 3, all of the sudden we are surrounded by enemies!? What gives!? First let’s set out a basic translation of Psalm 3 before us.
Psa. 3:1 מִזְמוֹר לְדָוִד בְּבָרְחוֹ מִפְּנֵי אַבְשָׁלוֹם בְּנוֹ׃
A song of David when he fled from before Absalom his son
Psa. 3:2 יְהוָה מָה־רַבּוּ צָרָי רַבִּים קָמִים עָלָי׃
O Yahweh, why have my enemies multiplied? Why do many rise up against me
Psa. 3:3 רַבִּים אֹמְרִים לְנַפְשִׁי אֵין יְשׁוּעָתָה לּוֹ בֵאלֹהִים סֶלָה׃
Many say to me (literally to my soul), “there is no salvation for him in God
Psa. 3:4 וְאַתָּה יְהוָה מָגֵן בַּעֲדִי כְּבוֹדִי וּמֵרִים רֹאשִׁי׃
But you, O Lord are a shield before me, my glory, and the lifter of my head
Psa. 3:5 קוֹלִי אֶל־יְהוָה אֶקְרָא וַיַּעֲנֵנִי מֵהַר קָדְשׁוֹ סֶלָה׃
I will lifted my voice to Yahweh, and He answered me from His holy mountain
Psa. 3:6 אֲנִי שָׁכַבְתִּי וָאִישָׁנָה הֱקִיצוֹתִי כִּי יְהוָה יִסְמְכֵנִי׃
I lay down and I sleep, I wake up because Yahweh supports me
Psa. 3:7 לֹא־אִירָא מֵרִבְבוֹת עָם אֲשֶׁר סָבִיב שָׁתוּ עָלָי׃
I shall not fear from the multitude of people who set themselves against me all around
Psa. 3:8 קוּמָה יְהוָה הוֹשִׁיעֵנִי אֱלֹהַי כִּי־הִכִּיתָ אֶת־כָּל־אֹיְבַי לֶחִי שִׁנֵּי רְשָׁעִים שִׁבַּרְתָּ׃
Arise, O Yahweh and Save me! Because you have struck all my enemies on the cheek. The teeth of sinners you have broken
Psa. 3:9 לַיהוָה הַיְשׁוּעָה עַל־עַמְּךָ בִרְכָתֶךָ סֶּלָה׃
Salvation belongs to Yahweh! May your blessing be upon your people! (Or Your blessing is on your people, this last phrase warrants further study
Thus we return to our question; why place such despondency at the very opening of the book. The answer only becomes apparent if we consider the greater context of what scholars refer to as Book 1 of the Psalms (Psalms 3-41). Most of these Psalms were composed by David. Whoever arranged these Psalms knew that David’s life was directly related to the promise of the coming Messiah. We hear of the Messiah in Psalm 2, but don’t see Him anywhere until Psalm 18:50. Thus, the arrangement of chapter 3 illustrates that not only will God deliver his anointed, David, but this promise to deliver David is directly related to the coming of the savior. 1
So, how does this help us read our Bible? The next time your are reading a handful of Psalms, pay attention to how the incident presented in the Psalm relates to other themes in Scripture such as Kingship, Redemption, and Messiah. Of course we can have personal benefit and consolation from the Psalms. However, they, like any other book, are more concerned with the person and work of Christ. This message of the Gospel can do more for your soul than any single, isolated proposition in Scripture although, again, they have their place. Please email with any questions and don’t forget to subscribe!