Psalm 3


This psalm is the first psalm of lament and it’s also the first time the phrase ‘Psalm of David’ is used as a title. The word ‘psalm’ which is the Hebrew word, ‘mizmor’ is used 57 times in reference to different psalms. However, it’s never used actually in the text of the psalms.

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


‘A psalm of David. When he fled from his son Absalom’.

Although the headings aren’t inspired by God, they are important because they give us some understanding of the Psalm and they help us to see why it was written. The headings usually tell us four things.

1. Who wrote them, probably wrote them or possibly wrote them.

2. Information about the historical background to the Psalm. Why it was written.

3. They tell us of the tune the Psalm was written to.

4. How it was used.

When David got news about how Israel were now going to follow Absalom, he once again goes on the run as a fugitive. Although we’re not told why he ran away, it’s possible that he was simply submitting to God’s earlier judgment upon him, 2 Samuel 12:10-12.

The historical setting of this psalm was when David quickly fled from the insurrection of his son Absalom, 2 Samuel 15:13-14. In the psalm we find his heart and feelings being poured out to the Lord.

‘LORD, how many are my foes! How many rise up against me! Many are saying of me, “God will not deliver him.” Psalm 3:1-2

What David does here is what every good Christian should always do when they find themselves in times of trouble. David’s troubles drew Him towards God, unlike many today who withdraw from God in times of trouble.

It’s clear that David is under a great deal of stress, he fears for his life, which is understandable when we think that his very own son, Absalom turned against him in rebellion. Absalom wasn’t the only one who turn against David, hence why he has many foes against him, 2 Samuel 15:13.

When Absalom gained many followers, they all began to deceive themselves into thinking that God won’t help him. They obviously thought that God had rejected David as king of Israel. Shimei is an example of someone who said that God was against David and he thought that David was getting what he deserved, 2 Samuel 16:8.

It’s obvious that David is struggling to deal with the idea that God Himself might actually be against him and if He was then that would mean that God wouldn’t help him.

You may notice at the end of verse two, that some translations have the word, ‘selah’, although no one really knows what this word means, it’s likely it means to pause. It’s a time to stop and reflect upon what has just been said.

We can almost imagine David pausing for a breath as he contemplates what his enemies are doing and saying.

‘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.’ Psalm 3:3-4

David’s thoughts of the possibility that his enemies were right concerning God not helping him are put to rest after pausing for his next breath. David feared for his life, he was under a great deal of stress, but he still trusts God.

Notice he calls God a ‘shield’, this is a metaphor which means that God would protect him from all the attacks of his enemies, Ephesians 6:16.

His enemies could say and think whatever they liked concerning God’s relationship with David, but as far as David is concerned, God was a shield. He was David’s shield and He would protect him.

God was also David’s glory, it’s important to note that David didn’t glory in himself or anything else, it was God who was his glory. It was God who was responsible for lifting David’s head, in other words, God gave him relief from his distress, and God would remove his troubles.

David’s confidence in God is also seen in that He calls out to God for help and God answers his prayer. In other words, God heard his cries concerning his son Absalom who was revolting against him, took over Jerusalem and forced David out of Jerusalem, God delivered him from the hands of his son.

David was fully aware that Absalom wasn’t the one sitting on the holy mountain, that is Jerusalem, it was God Himself who sat on the throne and God would answer his prayer, Jonah 2:7.

You may notice at the end of verse four, some translations have the word, ‘selah’, although no one really knows what this word means, it’s likely it means to pause. It’s a time to stop and reflect upon what has just been said.

We can almost imagine David pausing for a breath as he contemplates God answering his prayers.

‘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.’ Psalm 3:5-6

Despite David being in lots of danger, and probably being afraid to fall asleep in case his enemies attack him whilst he’s sleeping, he continues to trust God and it’s his faith in God that enables him to lie down and sleep in peace, Lamentations 3:22-23 / Luke 8:22-25.

His faith also made it possible for him not to fear men, Ecclesiastes 12:13 / Matthew 10:28. He knew God was his shield, he knew God would sustain him and he knew God would protect him from Absalom and his followers, 2 Samuel 15-16.

His trust in God was so great that he wasn’t afraid of any of his enemies, Isaiah 22:7, regardless of the number of enemies, Romans 8:31.

‘Arise, LORD! Deliver me, my God! Strike all my enemies on the jaw; break the teeth of the wicked. From the LORD comes deliverance. May your blessing be on your people.’ Psalm 3:7-8

The word, ‘arise’ is a military word, which is used to call God to defend His people and lead them to victory, Numbers 10:35. David has full confidence that God will deliver him from the hands of Absalom, Jonah 2:9 / Mark 11:24.

Notice the phrase, ‘break the teeth of the wicked’, this is a metaphor, which speaks of the absolute defeat of the enemy, Psalm 58:6. In other words, David doesn’t just want God to protect him, He wants God to give him the victory.

He also unselfishly thinks of others here, as he asks God to bless His people.

You may notice at the end of verse eight, some translations have the word, ‘selah’, although no-one no one really knows what this word means, it’s likely it means to pause. It’s a time to stop and reflect upon what has just been said.

We can almost imagine David pausing for a breath as he contemplates what God is going to do to his enemies.


If we learn anything from this psalm of David, it’s simply this, he didn’t allow what others thought about him or what they thought God thought about him from trusting in his God, Deuteronomy 31:6 / Hebrews 13:5.

As Christians, it’s important not to take our eyes off the Perfecter and Author of our faith, Hebrews 12:2.

How many Christians struggle to sleep at night because they have so many anxieties going through their mind? David slept well because He cast all of his anxieties unto God, He knew that God cared for him, Matthew 6:25-24 / 1 Peter 5:7.

It’s incredible to think that even though David had many enemies and his own son turned against him and forced him from Jerusalem, he was still thinking of others.

He could have easily thrown himself a pity party, but he didn’t, he trusted God and asked God to bless others, Luke 23:34 / Philippians 2:4.

Go To Psalm 4


"And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him."