No one is exempt from crises in life. Either you might have already dealt with it in the past or you are dealing with it right now. If you say to yourself, “I am not experiencing a crisis,” be assured it’s coming.
If the crisis is inevitable in Christian life, how then should one deal with it? What help does the Scripture offer for those experiencing a crisis? While there are several helpful references in the Scripture, one that stood out to me is David’s Psalm 3.
Psalm 3 has three stanzas and each stanza ends with “Selah,” which indicates a pause for reflection. And therefore it is easy to glean three observations from this marvelous Psalm.
1. The Crisis
O LORD, how many are my foes! Many are rising against me; many are saying of my soul, “There is no salvation for him in God” (Psalm 3:1-2).
In these two verses, three times David uses the word, “many.” Not one or two, or a hundred or a thousand. Many thousands of people (v. 6). Moreover, notice the progression of hostility here to a rising and open hostility. His many foes were saying, “There is no salvation for him in God.” There’s nothing worse than to hear someone saying to us, “There is no help for us in God.
David wrote Psalm 3 when he was fleeing from Absalom, his son. We read about this historical setting in 2 Samuel 15 and 16. While David was on the throne, his son Absalom conspired against David by stealing the hearts of the people of Israel. David was forced to flee Jerusalem. In short, Psalm 3 describes David’s familial and national crisis. “Many are my foes” and “many are rising against me” refer to the people with Absalom. One of the people who sided with Absalom was Shimei. Shimei’s cursing of David offers a glimpse of the open hostility that David faced in this crisis.
We may not be facing many thousands of enemies from secret hostility to open hostility as David was. But we do face crises like this in our homes, workplaces, in our neighborhoods, and sometimes sadly in our churches and Christian institutions. Sometimes subtle hostility and other times open and direct hostility.
2. The Character of God
“But you, O LORD, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head. I cried aloud to the Lord and he answered me from his holy hill” (Psalm 3:3-4).
David was not carried away by many foes who were rising against him and saying of him, “There is no salvation for him in God.” Rather, he was carried away or captivated by who God is. In other words, he looked at the crisis, but he did not camp there forever, he quickly turned his attention to God’s character. Here we have something to learn. We respond to a crisis by not looking at the crisis, we respond to a crisis by turning our attention to the character of God.
We respond to a crisis by not looking at the crisis, we respond to a crisis by turning our attention to the character of God.
First, David sees God as his Yahweh. Yahweh is translated in the English Bible as LORD (all caps). It refers to the Great I AM, to the One who is the Sovereign Creator, Sustainer, and Redeemer. David addresses God as Yahweh not once or twice, he addresses God as Yahweh six times in these eight verses. Moreover, in verse 3, David addresses Yahweh confidently with an emphatic pronoun “you,” which reveals, for David, that Yahweh is not one who is far removed from people and their struggles.
Second, David sees God as his shield, as his protector. The shield is a metaphor that describes God’s protection. David places himself under the protection of Yahweh.
Third, David sees God as his glory. “Glory” signifies the Lord’s glorious presence and his mighty power. David places himself under the presence and power of Yahweh.
Fourth, David sees God as the lifter of his head. Can you imagine this? The one who fled Jerusalem and went barefoot up to the Mount of Olives weeping with his head covered, says you, O LORD are the lifter of my head. This is quite a statement.
Finally, David sees God as a prayer-answering God. David remembers how God has answered his prayers in the past. God hears our prayers. At times, he takes away the crisis immediately in answer to our prayers, other times he allows the crisis to linger longer to fulfill its purpose.
3. The Confidence of David
“I lay down and slept; I woke again, for the LORD sustained me. I will not be afraid of many thousands of people who have set themselves against me all around. Arise, O LORD! Save me, O my God! For you strike all my enemies on the cheek; you break the teeth of the wicked. Salvation belongs to the LORD; your blessing be on your people!” (Psalm 3:5-8).
The more David was captivated by the character of God, the more he became confident
during this crisis. And this can be true during our crises as well.
First, David emphatically uses the personal pronoun “I” which may be translated as “as far as I am concerned.” Many thousands of people may rise against me, but as far as I am concerned, I will lie down and sleep. When we go through a crisis, our sleep gets affected. But not for David though. He can lie down and sleep because of his confidence in God.
Second, fearlessness expresses David’s confidence in God. When we go through a crisis, we often experience fear. Fear grips us. But not for David though. He will not be afraid of many thousands of his enemies because of his confidence in God.
Third, David’s prayer expresses his confidence. Many said, “There is no salvation for him in God.” But, here, David prays, “Save me (deliver me), O my God! Notice here, David is not asking God to “Strike all my enemies on the cheek and break the teeth of the wicked.” Instead he says with confidence “for you strike all my enemies on the cheek; you break the teeth of the wicked.” You may wonder how David could use such phrases. You may say to yourself that David is mean. “Striking on the cheek” and “breaking the teeth of the wicked” should not be taken literally. “Striking on the cheek” means humiliating. We may read this statement to mean, “For you humiliate my enemies.” Likewise, “breaking the teeth of the wicked” means taking away the strength. We may read this statement to mean, “For you take away the strength of the wicked.” Finally, David finishes this Psalm with confidence. “Salvation belongs to the LORD.” Deliverance belongs to the Lord. Victory belongs to the Lord.
David went through a crisis. But that crisis did not drive him crazy. He was captivated by the character of God and that led him to have confidence in God. Indeed, the Lord brought victory to David. Absalom was killed in the battle. And David returned to Jerusalem.
Is your crisis freaking you out because you are looking at your crisis? Look at God who is sovereign over your crisis. Salvation, that is, deliverance, belongs to the LORD.