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As we open to the 3rd Psalm, I want to take the time to explain that God knows we need this Psalm because the most repeated command in the Bible in the negative sense is fear not. We, as people, are much like sheep, we’re very fearful creatures. David has distressing news coming to him and yet, we’ll see in the psalm, that he is able to just lay down in the presence of all his fears and go to sleep. Think about the last time you heard from the doctor that you had cancer, or you needed some open heart surgery. Maybe you were just fired or were going to be fired the next day. Maybe you had to go in and see the IRS for something that possibly will cost you tens of thousands of dollars. Did you sleep well the night before? Most humans don’t. They can’t sleep because fear robs us of the ability to absolutely relax and trust. This psalm is about David, who learned to sleep when fears were staring him in the face.
It’s a wonderful lesson to learn, but as we open to the 3rd psalm look down at the part before the first verse. If you don’t have a Bible that has the part before the first verse, you should really think about your Bible because that’s the first verse in the Hebrew manuscript. It’s the little superscript that says something like “A Psalm of David when he fled from Absalom, his son.” That’s a part of the Bible and it’s part of all of the Hebrew manuscripts. What we don’t know is whether or not that part was attached to the psalm before, or the psalm that follows. That’s why some versions leave it out. This clearly has to do with the 3rd Psalm because the Bible was written in manuscripts that were just nonstop with no pagination and no Psalm 3 or whatever. They’re just one after another.
This little superscript sometimes floats between songs, but this one it’s dead on and goes there. As you look down at that, there’s some observations we can make by looking at that. Number one, this is the first psalm that’s called a Psalm. The part in your Bible that says Psalm 1, Psalm 2, Psalm 3 isn’t in the Bible they just did that to help you find things. This little superscript is in the Bible. It was inspired by God and it’s a Psalm of David. This is the very first psalm in the Bible called a Psalm. Now the rest are psalms, this one’s the first one that actually is called a Psalm.
Secondly, if you look down at that, this is the first Psalm in the whole Bible attributed to David. It’s the first one that says it’s a Psalm of David. Now there’s going to be 72 more as you go through the 150 psalms, but this is the very first one in the Book of Psalms attributed to David.
Thirdly, this is the first time that we see the usage of the emphasis, a device, that’s the word selah. It’s right at the end of verse 2, it’s right at the end of verse 4, and it’s right at the end of the psalm. This is the first time that we have this selah. It shows up 68 more times in 38 other psalms, but this is the first psalm that has it present.
Finally, if you look at the rest of that little superscript, this is the very first inspired setting for any psalm. That’s why I will spend time this evening looking at the setting. It says in the rest of that superscript “a Psalm of David when he fled from Absalom, his son.” Wow. That divine title, background, setting tells us that this is a message from God for how to deal with fear. That’s why He put this little tag on here, because if we didn’t have that little tag, this psalm would be just like all the other psalms. You wonder what’s going on and why that particular thing is being sung about.
This psalm is a psalm about David fleeing for his life, pursued by his own son in one of the most fearful and sad times in his life. It becomes a rich source of how to learn to sleep when fears are completely surrounding us. That’s why God, I believe put the little tag on the front of it because He knew we’re fearful creatures and we need lessons.
The biblical setting for this psalm is found in 2 Samuel 15. If you haven’t yet, mark that because I’ve alluded to it several times. Grab your pen, pull it out and write somewhere by Psalm 3, especially by that little superscript, write 2 Samuel 15:30-32, because that’s the backdrop for this psalm. If you want to remember this lesson, in fact, if you ever do get a notice from the IRS that they think that you owe on a several hundred thousand dollars of income you don’t think you had. If you ever do get a notice that you have to appear in court for something you didn’t do. If you do get that blood test that says that the doctor needs to talk to you and you can’t sleep, you ought to pull out this 3rd Psalm. Say, I should be able to sleep when fear surrounds me because God gave a lesson through David of what to do the next time fear is just looking me straight in the eye. Sleep is a reflection of trust and I need to learn to trust and know that God is taking care of me.
Now that we have all that, back up to 2 Samuel 15 because I want to read the backdrop before we go into this psalm. If God thought that the setting was so important, that He gives us the very first psalm that is called a Psalm, and the first Psalm of David, and the first psalm that has emphasis, those selahs in it, and He adds to all that, that this is the first Psalm that has an inspired, historic backdrop, then He wants us to remember that historic inspired backdrop. In 2, Samuel 15 verses 30 to 32, this is what needs to be just in Technicolor in front of us as we read the psalm. If you can see it, if you can feel it, if you can get a complete sense of what’s going on around David as he writes this, that every word of the 3rd Psalm is completely impacting our life. We’ll learn the lesson that David learned so that when fear does stare us in the face, we can have the same peace that he had.
2 Samuel 15 verses 30 to 32. Now that you’re there let’s all stand together and standing will help us because it alters our normal pattern. It helps us remember more and it’s also out of respect for God’s word. Let’s listen to the Lord speak to us. 2 Samuel 15:30, “So David went up by the Ascent of the Mount of Olives, and wept as he went up; and he had his head covered and he went barefoot. And all the people who were with him covered their heads and went up, weeping as they went up.” Now that is a very graphic picture. Verse 31, “Then someone told David saying, “Ahithophel is among the conspirators with Absalom.” And David said, “O LORD, I pray, turn the counsel of Ahithophel into foolishness.”” Verse 32, “Now it happened when David had come to the top of the mountain, where he worshiped God-.” That’s really where I believe the psalm was given to his heart. I don’t think he wrote it right there. He couldn’t have. He was barefooted crying, bleary-eyed, surrounded by crying people and all the other stuff we saw last time, but there is where David paused in his tears, surrounded by his fears and he worshiped God. Amazing. What a blessing.
Let’s bow together. Father, I pray that us, who you tell so many times to fear not, to us who your most often repeated negative prohibition recorded in the Bible, is for us to stop fearing. You do not operate in the realm of fear. That’s the devil’s realm. You do not give us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. So, the devil finds access and entry and grounds for defeating and debilitating and totally getting us off course when we are afraid. I pray that like David, when we’re afraid, we’ll trust in You, and we’ll use every one of our fears as a springboard into faith and trust in You. Then maybe the devil will quit sending us so many fears and maybe that we will learn by habit to face our fears and to trust in You, oh God. We ask you to illumine our hearts and make this passage, O Spirit of God, more alive in our hearts and minds and from Your word than we have ever seen it before so that we can deeply learn this lesson. In the name of Jesus, we pray, amen. You may be seated.
As you’re seated, I want you now to think about how we got here. Every passage of scripture cannot be taken in a vacuum. Every passage of scripture has a background to it and the 3rd Psalm and 2 Samuel 15 that we’re reading from are all a part of our examination of the consequences to David’s sin with Bathsheba. This event was one event, but there are many consequences to the one event. Back up to chapter 13 of 2 Samuel because I’m going to summarize each of the chapters leading up to here in about 15 seconds.
First of all, here’s the summary of 2 Samuel 13. David finds out that after five years of relative calm, under the surface trouble has been brewing. Amnon’s raping his half sister Tamar, led her full brother Absalom, to murderously plot against and then kill Amnon, David’s oldest son. That’s the 13th chapter. There’s this little blip in the family life, a little quiet, kept under the carpet, raped by one half-brother of a half- sister and the full brother starts seething. He murders his brother and then five years pass and David thinks, oh, stuff’s calmed down now.
Chapter 14. Absalom flees to his mother’s hometown, the sea of Galilee. He hides there. He stays away a total of five years and then he’s allowed to come home to Jerusalem where he deceitfully appears to care about others. He steals the heart of the nation of Israel by being the king that the people can approach and pour out all their troubles on. That’s the 14th chapter.
Absalom comes back and he’s such a good actor. He says, I’ll be the king David never was. I have time for you. He won’t even let anybody bow. He just reaches down and shows this false humility. Then the true Absalom comes out. Chapter 15.
Absalom moves. He strikes out in treason as a usurper of David’s throne. He gets some key allies to go along with him. David has to flee Jerusalem for his life, and that’s where we find David walking, where we just read in verse 30 of chapter 15. Barefooted and weeping, surrounded by head covered weeping people. That’s the setting of this time.
Psalm 3 is actually part of a pair of psalms. In fact, now we’re going to read it so why don’t you turn with me to the 3rd Psalm where we just were. I wanted you to see the context. The 3rd Psalm is actually one of a pair of psalms that are so full of life application for us because David wrote two psalms from his time of fear and running from Absalom. Even though David is fully restored in his relationship with God, David still has to learn about facing and dealing with the pain and fears that come from personal attacks on your life.
Nothing is more personal than your son attacking you. These lessons are captured by God for us in this Psalm 3 and in another psalm, we’re going to see next time, the 63rd Psalm. Now, Psalm 3 we know is from Absalom, his son’s coming, because it says it in that little superscript. It says, “a Psalm of David when he fled from Absalom.”
The way we know Psalm 63 is from that time period is that in Psalm 63, David is called the king. There he is also running, but he’s running not as David the shepherd boy, not as David the one who was the son-in-law of the king, but he’s called the king. The only time David ran as king is right here. The 63rd psalm also comes from this time period.
In the 3rd Psalm David is on the run for his life. Before we read it, I want you to think about the emotions that are surrounding David. I want you to actually feel what life was like, walking barefoot and weeping for fear for your life, surrounded by every possible disaster that could befall. Think with that, because basically Absalom, after seeking to kill David, causes David to flee from Jerusalem and go into the most defensible position he could find. David, out in the desert, is supposed to rest. That’s where we’re going. That’s why we’re picking up with him running out of the city, going down the hill of Jerusalem, across the Brook of Kidron, up over the Mount of olives, down the other side of the Mount of olives and out into the wilderness. Where those mighty military men found some spots where they could be behind rocks with their bows and arrows and their spears and their swords and their slingshots. They could have David protected in some very protected place and they could be surrounding him and protecting him until they figured out where they could go to find more permanent safety. What we’re going to see is how David worships God even through his tears. Remember he paused at the top of the mountain weeping, but worshiped God. Imagine with me the scene surrounding David that is described in 2 Samuel 15.
First of all, Joab was with David, Joab is the commander in chief. He’d be like Mike Mullen, the Head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, that is flying over to Jordan this week to check out what’s going on over there and with Egypt. Imagine Joab, as the Commander in Chief of all of David’s armies, what was Joab doing? David was walking barefoot and finding this little spot to cry and rest after fleeing his home. Joab was undoubtedly working feverishly in his preparation to protect David. Guards were immediately posted around David as they stopped. Troops were stationed grouping by grouping to fend off any attack. Concentric rings of defenses were planned and prepared so that those 600 seasoned soldiers who marched out with David were arrayed to face any army or any group of enemies that might attack on this first, very vulnerable night. See, they just had the stuff they carried on their backs and in their hands. They were camping in the desert, waiting for Absalom to come out with his armies against them. They did everything they could with the 600 men to get as defensive a position as possible so David could rest after this tumultuous time. Joab was worried that a frontal assault by Absalom’s army would overwhelm his perimeter. He was tense. He was going back and forth to the camp. He considered maybe taking David deeper into the wilderness, or maybe finding another spot. His head was spinning with all those thoughts, but he thought it was time to greet David and check on how he was doing.
As we’ll see, instead of being rattled or despondent, David, in the midst of this horrible time was actually in a time of experiencing God. I think about that. That’s the title of a book by Henry Blackaby, but it’s actually a very good thing to do, not just read about. David was having the ultimate time of experiencing God. Now think about it because it’s what’s going to come out in the psalm. For the first time in hours, Joab got to see David all alone and he immediately sensed something was completely different about David. Gone were his red swollen eyes of the morning, back were those clear, bright eyes he remembered from so many years of fighting alongside this giant of a man.
Joab had been with David, he’s one of the mighty men, he had been with David before he was king. He had been with David through all those hiding in the cave things. Instead of anger and self pity or fear, David was calm, peaceful, and actually visibly joyous. As he began to tell Joab what the Lord had done in his heart, incredulous Joab smiled. He shook his head and hurried off to check the defensive positions once more, which was his job. When Joab returned again, he was struck with an even more amazing sight. He found David kneeling down on the ground in front of a rock, he had a scroll laid out. There was David with pen and ink in hand busily writing, just like Joab remembered from those days in the cave of Adullam.
Those cave times were over a dozen years earlier. Now, how do we know as a dozen years earlier? Because since David left the cave and went off and was marching into battle, and sent away, and Saul died, and then they came and anointed David as king, he had served seven years in Hebron and five more years of this Absalom murder and waiting. Over a dozen years had passed since Joab remembered David and the cave times. He realized it was just like those earlier days when David wrote Psalm 57 and Psalm 142. Just like then, joy. Remember David’s peace in those days of fleeing from King Saul when David had also written Psalm 17 and 54 and 35 and 36 and 53 and 16 and 39. Now his king was at it again, the psalm writing that is.
Once finished, David held up the scroll to the fading light of the evening sky. He read it over quietly saying the words to a tune he just made up, rolled the scroll up, tied a cord around it, tucked it in his cloak. David had written another song. Only it wasn’t just any song, it was a psalm. It’s what we call Psalm 3 and he turned, unrolled his sleeping bag laid down, and before Joab knew it, David was sound asleep on the ground. That’s the setting of this psalm. David, in the very presence of his enemies, in the middle of the camp that could be overrun at any moment, David was sleeping, and Joab marveled again. What a person after God’s own heart David looks like. Joab had witnessed David’s results of experiencing God.
Where we decide to turn in our most desperate moments and how we face what we never wanted or dreamed of ever happening reveals what is really on the inside of us. What came out of David at this excruciating time was a song that was so good God has forever recorded it in Heaven. The fact that in your Bible is this third song, or 3rd Psalm, means that it’s a part of the forever recorded in Heaven scriptures.
When I lived in California, early on in ministry, Bonnie and I were newlyweds, we lived next door to a platinum record person. I don’t know how many records you have sell to have platinum, thousands, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands. When we would visit our neighbor, in his living room were all of his platinum records that he had recorded and sold, however many you have to sell to be platinum. I thought about every time there was an earthquake whether they all fell down and whether he put them all back up, and I thought when someday the brush fires would burn his house, whether he would get replacements. Things are so transient in life for us, but David’s song was better than any of today’s topping the charts or billboards gold or platinum. This is the exact record before us of the song that flowed from David.
With that in mind, follow along in your Bibles. Look at the first verse because we’ve already looked at the superscript and this is what David wrote from his heart at this moment we just thought about. “LORD, how they have increased who trouble me! Many are they who rise up against me. Many are they who say of me, ‘there is no help for him in God.'” Then he wrote the first selah, which means pause and think about it for a moment. Verse 3, “But You, O LORD, are a shield for me, My glory, the One who lifts up my head.” I love that phrase, lifts up my head , because I can’t look up. I’m head down, weeping, covered like he was walking, but while he was doing that, he found the Lord was the one who could lift his head up. He talks about that. “You are my glory”, verse 3, “the One who lifts up my head, I cried to the LORD with my voice.” That’s what he was doing with all that weeping and wailing and crying and all that. He was crying to the Lord with his voice. Verse 4 says, “and he heard me from His holy hill. Selah.” You know what he said? Stop and think about that. I was just walking barefoot, covered head, crying, and I was crying to the Lord, and He heard me.
See, this is so personal. Look at verse 5, “I lay down and slept; I awoke, for the LORD sustained me. I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people who have set themselves against me all around. Arise, O Lord; save me, O my God! For You have struck all my enemies on the cheekbone; You have broken the teeth of the ungodly. Salvation belongs to the Lord. Your blessing is upon Your people.” For the third time he says selah. Stop, think about that. Don’t let it go by. The setting of this psalm is part of God’s word. The line about fleeing from Absalom was written down to emphasize this was a lesson we all need to learn. That’s why actually in Hebrew, if you were taking Hebrew class tonight in seminary, you would find in your manuscript that Psalm 3 has 9 verses. Look at your Bible, how many do you have? You have 8 and a superscript. They have 9 because verse 1 is that superscript. That was a lesson to emphasize, that when fear stalks us, God says, fear not, that’s His reminder to us.
Psalm 3 is set in the context of battles. If you trace through the verses we just read, you’ll find the setting to be mentioned seven different times. Did you notice it? Look back down, look at verse 1. It says David is “facing foes”, that’s what the NIV says. “Adversaries”, that’s what the New American says. “Those who rise up or trouble me” is what the New King James says. You see that in the first verse? Look at verse 3. David says he needs a shield. He said, Lord, You’re a shield. That’s a warfare metaphor. Verse 6, David saw them deployed as an army. He says, “they are set against me”. That’s what the New King James and New American says it. The word set in Hebrew means arrayed and that’s a battlefield, it’s groupings, archers and spearmen. They’re all arrayed out there. This is a battlefield. The NIV says “they’re drawn up against me”. Look at verse 7. David calls them enemies. That’s how the New King James translates it in verse 7. He says “Arise, O LORD.”
That word arise uses the actual formula from Numbers 10 :35. In Numbers 10: 35 when the children of Israel were headed toward the promised land, Numbers tells them what they’re supposed to do when they face their various enemies. This very formula for going into battle is “Arise, O LORD and let your enemies be scattered.” David pulls that out and puts it into his psalm because he sees he’s in a battle. Look at verse 8, David spoke of armies. The word people in this verse is used for an army. It’s actually a Hebrew word, the word peoples, it’s actually armies.
I am finally in verse 8, the seventh metaphor for a battle. David’s sought victory is implied by the word deliverance. That’s what the NIV says and deliverance from the Lord is a war cry. He’s saying, Lord, I want you to deliver me in this battle that I have entered. Seven different ways this psalm talks about a battle, but also Psalm 3 divides up the message God gave to David into three little parts. That’s the selah, it sets each stanza. The word selah means lift up. it’s a musical term, going toward a crescendo. If I was a musical director, I would be moving my hands like this, then my hands move like this, and it is the crescendo. that’s the selah and in a means, crank it up or punctuate that with emphasis. In other words, David is saying, don’t miss this point, that’s why he put selah in. When you see the word selah anywhere you’re reading and all those times that occurs in the Book of Psalms, God wants you to stop and ask yourself, did I catch that? What do you think about that important point? There’s something there. If you see a selah pack up until you see what it is that you’re supposed to see at that point. In verse 2 David says, “many are those who say of me there is no help from him in God. Selah.” It’s like a crescendo. It’s like a boom of the orchestra and it says stop and consider. What do you think about that?
David paused and thought and found that he had a lifetime of definite proof that God cared for him. “Many are they who say there’s no help from him in God.” He says, wait a minute, stop and think about that. I have a whole lifetime of personal experience that God has cared for me and watched over me and provided and protected and he stopped, and he thought about it. He says, there’s many that are saying something that’s not true. That’s why the scriptures say believe the truth don’t believe the lies that the devil gives. Most of our fears are not true. They’re lies. They’re doubts. They’re not true. We’re supposed to meditate on the truth. David did, and the truth is God has cared for him.
In verse 4 David said, “I cried to the LORD with my voice and he heard me from His holy hill.” There’s that word, selah. Crescendo, boom. Stop. Think about this. Think about what? David reflected on the steadfast hope and confident faith that God had rescued him in the past and would continue to do that.
David said, wow, he heard me from His holy hill. He’s rescued me every time in the past. He’s heard me now and even though I don’t see Absalom taken care of, the Lord has become a shield about me. It’s amazing how we can completely go from fear to peace by just believing truth about God and that’s what David does. Then finally in verse 8 David said salvation belongs to the Lord and ends the psalm with selah. He’s saying stop and think about that. Don’t let that one go by you. David reflected on the truth that God alone can save us from all of our deepest trouble and the use of selah makes three clear divisions for the message of this psalm. Let’s look at that.
Number one, the first 2 verses tell us that all of us like David are going to face battlefields, that’s the message of verses 1 and 2. David is reminding us, we’re all going to come into battlefields. Either going to school, it’s going to be like a battle and we’re going to see everybody is bullying and picking on us, or going into the job is going to be like a battlefield. We look and see everybody’s younger than us and we’re going to be the next one cut, or going into some medical facility the people aren’t going to care. Isn’t it amazing that in America, the most prosperous nation in the world, the person that is closest to keeping your life going, the person on the other end of that emergency machine or the other end of that ambulance, is probably paid just above minimum wage. Isn’t then amazing? Have you ever thought about that? Those people, I was just recently in the hospital and had a little something done, and Bonnie looked up at the person doing it. I’m connected to this machine and they’re doing all this, and she says, have you graduated from college? He said, no, I went to the technical school for one year. She said, and you’re running this several hundred thousand dollar machine and it’s all hooked up. My husband’s blood is going through it. He said, mm hmm. I thought, isn’t it amazing that in America we entrust our lives to machines and to people that don’t make the hundreds and hundreds of thousands of dollars the doctors do? They just are normal people with normal education.
If you stop and think about it, you can go into a medical thing and start getting afraid. What if the person testing your blood and dripping it doesn’t really know and they don’t tell you? We can go to school, to work, into the medical, or into the financial field and you wonder if there’s anybody on the other side of that electronic transfer and we can just live in fear. David said, no, we’re all going to face battles. Every one of us will face a variety of battles daily. Whether it’s the workplace, which is largely cutthroat these days as more and more people compete for fewer and fewer jobs with less and less job security. We endure personal attacks and abuse, which is the norm in the workplace. Competition prompts the ungodly use of weapons, such as lying and slander and gossip and misrepresentation and bribes and stealing and falsification and blame shifting, all for them to gain advancement. How many enemies does it take to make your life miserable? Just one, if they’re persistent, right?
David says, we’re all going to go through battles. Our battlefield may not be the workplace, it may be our home. Even though you and I will never face an army led by our son seeking to destroy us and our throne we will someday face personal attacks or slander abuse through the hatred of one of our children. They may betray us for what we stand for. They may even seek to undermine our family unity or discredit and destroy us. I said it on this side in first service and that side and second service, and you know what? There’s no greater joy than our children walking in the truth and there’s no greater pain than when they don’t. No one can seemingly hurt us more than those closest to us. Those we beget, those we marry, those we share our lives with and those that are our very closest friends can hurt us most deeply. That’s what David felt. Some of us may have to deal with personal attacks and slander from a husband or a wife who’s turned against us with no warning. Deserted us, seeks to harm and torment us by breaking the lasting promise made in marriage. Others may face parents who turned against them, abandoned them, are slanderous, abusive against their very own children. Life is hard. Sin is horrible. People seem more willing to harm others easily than ever before and that’s why David said stop and think about that. That’s why at the end of verse 2 he says selah. He says, think about it. Life is like a battlefield. You never know where the next missiles are coming from. The next deadly force is heading your way. That’s what life is like, but he doesn’t stop there. Look at verse 3.
Second. David says we all have to make choices. David was such a godly example because he turns his attention away from his problems and he focused on God. Suddenly everything would be put into proper perspective. That’s why we saw in 2 Samuel 15 that as soon as the first wave of more bad news came to David, and they said Ahithophel has deserted you and he’s joined the enemy, David immediately prayed. That’s why I think that the turning point for David was somewhere walking down the hill of Jerusalem and across the Brook Kidron and up the hill. Somewhere in that period of time, his weeping and crying out to God, he connected because as soon as the second wave, the first wave, was Absalom’s coming, get out of town. There was the crying and walking barefoot and weeping and wailing, but when he gets to the top of the hill and they say it, he’s got the most formidable adviser on Earth, humanly speaking, with him. David said, Lord, another problem and I’m going to put it in your hands.
Like David, we all make choices. For example, because God had been a shield in the past for David, look what he says in verse 3. He says, “LORD, you’re a shield for me.” He told the Lord you are my glory. You’re the one that I want to please. You’re the one worth living for. You’re the one worth praising and honoring. If you look at verse 3, it’s interesting. It’s all caps, “but you, O” and it’s L O R D all in capitals. Did you notice? That’s the way they emphasize the two different Hebrew words for Lord. There’s L little O R D (Lord) and there’s L capital O R D (LORD). This means that David used the name for the Lord, His covenant name, Yahweh. He’s the covenant keeping God. He’s the God who keeps His word. He’s the one who makes promises that are never broken. He says, You, Lord. You, Yahweh or Jehovah, You are the one who keeps your word. You bring to pass the promises You make. You be the shield around me You always promised You’d be, and You always have been.
See, it’s interesting how David draws upon doctrinal truth he had learned about God growing up. He had been taught about the ineffable name of the covenant keeping God. He invokes that name and says, promise keeper of all, be my shield. This exposed the spiritual secret that kept David going strong through his darkest hours. He knew and trusted the Lord. That’s what I mean by experiencing God. It’s just like salvation. Many people in America today miss Heaven by 18 inches. They know all about God, they’ve just never in their heart trusted Him, called upon Him personally. They just know the facts; they’ve never experienced God. That’s the same truth that Paul was talking about. He says, as you’ve received the Lord, you walk in Him. We receive the Lord by going from fact to faith. We walk in Him by going from fact to experiencing it by faith. That’s the secret David experienced. This trust had stayed constant with him long before his rule as king. He reminded himself the Lord can be trusted.
Verse 3 ends with “You’re the one that lifts up my head”, just like in the days when the Amalekites plundered David’s house and stole his property and took his family hostage. That was the darkest day of his life. That’s in 1 Samuel 30. He came home from work and when he got over the top of the hill, he looked down and everything that was important to him, his house, his family, everything he possessed was all gone. The Amalekites had burned and pillaged and stolen everything. David had lost his wives, his children, and every possession. In 1 Samuel 30:6 it says David strengthened himself in the Lord. He didn’t go to a counselor. He didn’t go and buy a book. He didn’t go to a therapy session, just David and God had a little exchange.
In America, we just want to get it over with right away, so we want to grasp after something outside. When we are at the ultimate depths where there is nothing and no one that can comfort us, there’s always One who stands closest. David strengthened himself in the Lord and verse 6 of 1 Samuel 30 says “his God”, he experienced God. I’m not anti-medicine, anti- anything, not anti -psychology, not anti- psychiatry, you can observe stuff, medicine doesn’t stop at the shoulders. It goes up as well as down. I will say this, in America, we have an overdependence upon external substances to solve our problem instead of the internal One that stands by always wanting to help. David strengthened himself in the Lord, his God. When David was in so much grief, he couldn’t even look up; he felt the gentle hand of his loving Lord, look at verse 3, under his chin lifting up. I’ve done that as a dad. I’ve seen the kids have something that was their most treasured Lego creation and they’re bringing it to show dad and they trip and fall. They just burst into total disillusion of emotion. I come down and put my hand on their chin and I say, you know what? It’s okay. We’ll build it again. It’ll be even better.
The Lord put His gentle hand under David’s chin and lifted his head. Only the Lord can encourage us at the depth needed to heal a broken heart. Only the Lord can lift our heads when we’re cast down. David knew that, he sought that, he wanted that, he experienced that so now in his saddest hour, as he’s walking down from Jerusalem and up the mountain, he allows the Lord to lift his chin. As he lays down to sleep, he allows the Lord to be a shield around him. You couldn’t see any of those things. You couldn’t see the Lord’s hand doing that. You couldn’t see the Lord as a shield, but experiencing God took the truth by faith and believed it and held onto it. Sin always beats us down. God always lifts us up. Others may ignore us. God always answers our prayers. In other words, David said, selah. Look at the end of that, selah verse 4, he has heard me from His holy hill. Stop and think about that.
God always lifts. God always answers. That’s why David said, hey, I’m going to be able to go to sleep tonight. Absalom’s still alive. The army is still against me. Ahithophel is still counseling them, but I can go to sleep because the Lord lifted my chin, put a shield around me.
Look at verse 5 and really quickly. I hope we can cover this. This is a theology of sleep. Some of you have never thought about sleep in a theological way. All of us, like David, need to sleep. Verses 5 through 8 discusses that. At the end of one of the most grievous days of his life, David rested in the Lord. He said, “I laid down and slept” verse 5. “I awoke.” Why was he able to sleep and wake up refreshed? Because the Lord sustained me. We should always think of sleep as a gift from God to help prepare us to start over again tomorrow. God wants us refreshed and renewed. It is also a picture of how much we need God. Sleep isn’t just a picture of refreshment renewal and needing God. It’s also a constant reminder to us of how we got saved. That’s why I said a theology of sleep. Most of you have probably never thought about sleep theologically. It’s an amazing truth to think about. It’s wonderful as a picture of how much we need God, of how we receive His salvation. Sleep should decimate any pride we have in our own power and might and humble us to think how weak and needy we really are. Before I go into the theology of sleep it always reminds me of when I was in school. All the students that overslept and came into class late and had to face the ire of the college or the professor. I went to a Bible College, and someone tried to make it spiritual and he says, how come you’re late? And he said, I was with Dr. Sheets at Bedside Baptist the Church of the Inner Spring. They were just going on and on about that and the teacher said, no, what you need is mind over mattress. That’s one way to look at it.
We need to think deeply about why God designed sleep. Number one, sleep is not an accident. It isn’t like we evolved or devolved to the point that now we need to sleep. God designed sleep. God is the designer and promoter of sleep. As believers who look at life through the lens of the scripture we need to sleep. In fact, tonight, the majority of us are going to go to bed after this. A few hours from now you’ll be getting ready or in bed and I want you to remember if nothing else, this moment. God says, sleep causes you to have the signature of God written across your life. Why? Because when God designed something it’s very special, it has a special purpose and God wants us to know about it. Sleep means work has to stop. That’s why people who never sleep and endlessly work are not getting the program God designed. Sleep means a day must end, and our strength has been depleted and we need it renewed. Our minds have become weary. We have to be refreshed. Our bodies have gotten exhausted. We have to be restored. Sleep means we have limitations, and we have to face our limitations on a daily basis. We have to face a limitation. Sleep means that we have dependence that we must acknowledge. We must deny self sufficiency. We are not sufficient in ourselves. We come to a point where we drop unconsciously into indefensible sleep.
That is so humbling if you think about it. One of the clearest reasons for sleep is to remind us of this truth. The truth is, He is God, and we are not. We are helpless, limited and dependent. God doesn’t sleep. How is He described? I am the Lord, thy God, I neither slumber nor sleep. That’s God. We’re not, we slumber. Some of you right now, a couple of you right now. That’s not all. Sleep is also one of the most beautiful reminders of what true saving faith looks like. In a few hours when it’s your time to sleep, think of what you will do. You end activities, you end conversations. You even end your consciousness of life around you as you lay the full weight of your body on an object that can hold you up. Usually, it’s a bed.
I have the cutest pictures. I don’t want to get on rabbit trails, but I just noticed there was this little hose in the drain leaking in the basement. I thought, boy, that’s close to that box we still haven’t opened, I better move that box. I carried the box upstairs and when I opened it, it was all the pictures from 2007 through 2008. On the top was one of our children with their head on something. They had fallen asleep standing up with their head on the counter or table or something. It’s the cutest picture. They’re at church too. It means that they were with me. I’m always staying longer talking with people and someone in the church had taken the picture of them with their head on the table and their little Bible under their arm. They’re wearing cowboy boots and they’re sound asleep, standing up.
Whether it’s a bed or what, we all have an object that holds us up. Continue to think about it. When you lay down you must choose to completely trust something else other than yourself to hold you up when you’re no longer able to take care of yourself. You know what that’s called? Pure faith. Whether you thought about it or not, your couch or your roll away or your Rush Limbaugh’s select comfort air mattress, whatever it is, you are putting your faith completely in that object to hold you because you’re unable to hold yourself up. That’s a picture of faith. Sleep is when we relax fully because we no longer need to take care of ourselves. We are held up by something else and we give into sleep. As one author so beautifully states, throughout the night as you sleep someone else is sustaining you and this is a picture of what it’s like to belong to Christ. Have you ever thought about that? The bed is sustaining us. The bed is protecting. Our covers are keeping us warm, and offer a little comfort and cover, and we trust completely and are absolutely unconscious of what’s going on around us.
That’s a picture of salvation with Christ holding us. We are held by Someone else. When you crawl into your bed tonight pause to remember as you entrust your body to be held securely through the night. Lift your heart in worship to the God who holds your soul in the sweet comfort. Where He said, if you are in Christ in God, nothing can get you. You are hidden with Christ in God. You and I are securely held with Christ in God. That’s what sleep should remind a believer of every time we drift off into sleep, even here in church. Tell the Lord you are also resting your life in Him. Whisper before you fall asleep, that you completely need Him, that you’re going to trust His care. You ask Him to get rid of any pride you may have built up throughout the day. That’s the supreme peace David felt as he laid down in the presence of his enemies and slept in humble dependence on God.
David learned a lesson. He could look fear in the face and go to sleep. Why? Because he knew he was on a battlefield, and he trusted the Lord’s promises. He says, I’m going to lay down and sleep. Just like I trust my soul to your eternal care, my body, You can take care of too. He wants us to trust him too.
Just before we go tonight, we have three minutes left, why don’t you take your hymn books and look at number 43 with me because hymn 43 was written by that one that wrote that other great one I love. Living For Jesus, a life that’s true. Living For Jesus was written first and it was Thomas Obadiah Chisholm’s confession he was going to trust the Lord. He wrote, about seven years later, this one. It’s like the testimony that God can be trusted. The one who said, Jesus, Lord master, I give myself to You. Seven years later said, wow, as I look back, great is thy faithfulness, oh God, my Father. There is no shadow of turning with thee. You change not your compassions, they fail not. As You have been, you forever will be. Great is thy faithfulness. What a good way to end. That’s the capital L O R D, the covenant keeping God that when you go to sleep tonight, say I’ve trusted my soul to You. Can you take care of all the other things too? And drop off like a rock.
Let’s bow before Him in prayer. Father, I thank you that David could sleep in the presence of his fears and his enemies and so can we. You have told us over and over again to fear not. Lord tonight, let us roll our cares upon the Lord for You can sustain us. You are faithful and we worship You now. In the precious name of Jesus, we pray. Amen.