Lord, how many are my foes! How many rise up against me! Many are saying of me, “God will not deliver him.” But you, Lord, are a shield around me, my glory, the One who lifts my head high. I call out to the Lord, and He answers me from His holy mountain. I lie down and sleep; I wake again, because the Lord sustains me. I will not fear though tens of thousands assail me on every side. (Ps. 3:2-6)
In the third psalm David is running from a life and death situation of betrayal, pain, homelessness and suffering. The relationship he has to his own son is so tragically wrong that it has culminated in David being in fear for his life from a member of his own family. Fleeing the danger – and the lifetime of work he has poured his soul into – David reminds us that it is the presence of God which allows us to find rest in wretched times, when sources of power cannot be trusted, family relationships cannot be sustained and the plan for our lives seems to exist in pain. Uniquely it is God, David says, who can paint a portrait of peace when around me are the raging colors of war. David tells us something more profound than we are used to accepting, that where the love of God is the terror of man cannot abide. The sustenance of the soul is not found in the crumbs which fall from the angry table of our culture but the living Bread which rains from the loving abundance of Christ.
It is not the quantity of our foes but the power of our God which ought to define the moments of our fear.
We dread not the number of our detractors but rest deeply in the solace of our Deliverer.
We concern ourselves not with the magnitude of our woes but the majesty of our worship.
We seek in times of dismay not the temporary allegiance of those below but the lasting strength of the One above.
The third psalm is not the rambling of the paranoid nor the incessant shrill of the perpetual victim. It is the honest evaluation of the truly harmed. David really is being chased until death. David really has countless enemies and few friends. David really is living each moment one away from his sudden end. And David really does respond by acknowledging the problem in its enormity and his peace in its genuine appeal. God, David says, really is that powerful. Although others run through the dark to hunt my life, the night does not wash over me in the nightmare of my circumstance but fills me is the repose of my God. I can sleep while others strive because what they are trying to accomplish through rage I already have through faith. While the society in which I dwell – the one pushing me away from itself, effused with hatred for my presence – impugns daily the saving character of the Creator, I am acutely aware of something greater than their accusations. I am aware of God’s grace. I will rest. I will survive. I will be sustained. I will be carried in this moment not because anything or anyone around me suggests it, but because God has ordained it.
Those seething with hate defaming the Savior will soon see the perseverance of the saints, for we are interested not in the alarm raised from the valley but the power emanating from the mount. Man in his collective voice cannot yell over the solitary whisper of God.
Fear not. We may be on the move. But we are not without our Messiah.