May 15, 2005: “Salvation Belongs to Yahweh” – Psalm 3
Good morning brethren and
sisters. My family is pleased to once again be meeting around the table of our
Lord with you. We bring with us the love and greeting of your brethren and
sisters at N.I.
David wrote in the Psalms,
“Yahweh is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength,
in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high
18:2).” In another
Psalm he writes, “Yahweh is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?
Yahweh is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid (Ps.
David’s perspective and
attitude grows out of his life experiences, born out of seeing God’s hand
actively involved in his life. It equips him to be able to place confidence in
what Yahweh will do in the future, because of His goodness in the past. In
our youth, whether literally or spiritually speaking, it is harder for us to
firmly embrace such a vision. However, it is an important lesson for us to
learn … and to come to embrace…and then to cling to it!!
Psalm 46, which is a
psalm for the sons of Korah, it is recorded:
“God is our refuge and
strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore will not we fear,
though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the
midst of the sea; though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the
mountains shake with the swelling thereof (Ps.
- Very fitting in light of the events in South Asia with the Tsunami…, yet
that Psalm concludes:
- “Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the
heathen, I will be exalted in the earth. Yahweh of hosts is with us; the God
of Jacob is our refuge (Ps.
- What is the lesson that we need to learn? We need to realize that the
enmity that we have learned about since young children…the struggle between
the seed of the serpent and the seed of the woman is real!! It wages within us
every day in a struggle for our very existence! It is oh so real. More
importantly, we need to come to grips with the fact that in our flesh there
lies no good thing…there exists no power of itself… nothing we possess can
bring us victory in this battle. Victory belongs to Yahweh and to Yahweh
alone. We need to, in the words of
Psalm 46, “be
still, and know that I am God.”
another king of Judah who understood this principle. After some turmoil in his
kingdom because of his alliance with Ahab and Jezebel, Jehoshaphat’s reign
goes pretty smoothly. He put his trust in Yahweh. He was learning from his
life experiences. And then a great crisis arose. Judah was invaded in the
south by a huge army. A confederacy of three nations comprised of the
Ammonites, Moabites and Edomites were pouring into the land.
- Jehoshaphat leads the nation in prayer before God. Jehoshaphat recognized
the true source of strength and deliverance…it belonged to Yahweh. In his
prayer, he said, “for we have no might against this great company that
cometh against us; neither know we what to do: but our eyes are upon thee (2
Yahweh responds to such
faithfulness. The Spirit of Yahweh comes upon Jahaziel, a Levite of the sons
of Asaph, in the midst of the gathering and he proclaims Yahweh’s response…
- “Thus saith Yahweh unto you, be not afraid nor dismayed by reason of
this great multitude; for the battle is not yours, but God’s. … Ye shall
not need to fight in this battle: set yourselves, stand ye still, and see the
salvation of the LORD with you, O Judah and Jerusalem: fear not, nor be
dismayed; to morrow go out against them: for Yahweh will be with you (2
- And so it came to pass that next day…salvation belonged to Yahweh and he
delivered Jehoshaphat and all of Judah from the hands of the enemy.
- In another example…we know from the scriptures how the returning exiles
from Babylon had to contend with the Samaritans who did not want to see the
nation of Israel to become strong again. They resisted in their building again
of the Temple. Zerubbabel is addressed directly by the Yahweh angel, who gives
him the key to their success. He said, “This is the word of Yahweh unto
Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit saith Yahweh
of hosts (Zech.
4:6).” There was nothing that Zerubbabel and the people were going to be able
to muster in and of themselves… it belonged to Yahweh. And in the end, He
- The Apostle Paul was in prison and knew his death was imminent, he was
“ready to be offered,” and saw that the “time of my departure is at hand (2
Tim. 4:6).” Yet, he could face it with confidence for he had fought the good
fight. He had kept the faith.
“Henceforth there is laid up
for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall
give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love
his appearing (2
- Because Paul was going to be gone, he had concern for the young man
Timothy. Paul urgently sought to strengthen and prepare Timothy, his beloved
son in the faith, to carry on without him. The younger man was no stranger to
the persecutions experienced by his friend and teacher. Paul reminds him how,
- “But thou hast fully known my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith,
longsuffering, charity, patience, persecutions, afflictions, which came unto
me at Antioch, at Lystra; what persecutions I endured: but out of them all
the Lord delivered me (2
- Here was Paul, a prisoner awaiting death, paradoxically saying that he had
been delivered! He wanted Timothy (and all those who would afterward read his
words) to understand that the life of a disciple of Christ is not easy. Trials
and afflictions will be part of the spiritual journey toward deliverance from
the shackles of mortality. Mercifully, God does not leave His loved ones to
struggle along in fear and weakness… In Paul’s words to Timothy,
- “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of
love, and of a sound mind (2
- A sound mind that is rooted and grounded in the Scriptures of Truth!
- Scriptures such as found in
Psalm 3 that was read
for us this morning. It brings us back to David…a man who, as I quoted in the
Psalms at the beginning, clearly understood that salvation belongs to Yahweh.
This psalm testifies to this. As the title indicates, it is associated with
the time that David fled from Absalom his son. This time period historically
is recorded in 2 Samuel 15-18.
Bro. Cyril Tennant writes
how this psalm “is the psalm of a man whose world is crumbling around him
but whose faith in God is unshaken. Whose enemies, like weeds, grow daily with
natural vigor to mar his landscape, but who accepts the change with humility
as he both sees and bows to the hand of God at work in his life.”
David had sinned grievously, and
although his repentance had been accepted by God and his sins forgiven, the
consequences of his folly remained. It says in
2 Samuel 12:10-12,
“Now therefore the
sword shall never depart from thine house; because thou hast despised me, and
hast taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be thy wife. Thus saith the LORD,
Behold, I will raise up evil against thee out of thine own house, and I will
take thy wives before thine eyes, and give them unto thy neighbor, and he
shall lie with thy wives in the sight of this sun. For thou didst it secretly:
but I will do this thing before all Israel, and before the sun.”
- The sufferings of David seemed to have reached their climax in the
rebellion of his son Absalom, whom he loved greatly, and the treachery of
Ahithophel in whose counsel he had trusted. It was at this time that Absalom
“stole the hearts of the men of Israel (2
Sam. 15:6)” and that David was openly charged with his sin and described as an
outcast from his God (2 Sam. 16:8). It was also at this time that he was
further humiliated by his son, who, in fulfillment of God’s prophecy, went in
unto his father’s concubines in the sight of all the people (2 Sam. 16:22-23).
- When the news of Absalom’s conspiracy reached David, his immediate
reaction was to flee in an attempt to limit the bloodshed. The sword was never
to depart from David’s house, and therefore David attempted to minimize the
judgment of that sword (2
Sam. 15:14). Accompanying a weeping band of followers, David ascended the
Mount of Olives with his head covered. It was one of his darkest hours and the
hearts of all Israelites were revealed, as they took sides in the conflict.
His friends, Ittai the Gittite, Hushai the Archite, and Ziba the servant of
Mephibosheth all proved faithful amidst the cursing of Shimei and the
defection of most of the nation. How tragic it was when David finally crossed
the Jordan and came to Mahanaim (“two camps”) where he was sustained by
Ammonites and Gileadites, people who had little connection with their brethren
The words of
Psalm 3 reveal the
thoughts of David as he reflected upon the events of his flight and present to
us the very feelings of this temporarily shattered monarch. Our needed
perspective is very clear as we contemplate the sufferings of Yahweh’s
anointed and analyze the great strength David was able to draw upon in such
circumstances. There is great depth of emotion in this psalm as David brings
to mind one of the most depressing situations he ever had to face. How many of
us would face the betrayal of a favorite son and still maintain our integrity
before God? There were
many who were telling
David that God no longer was with him. How difficult it would have been to
struggle with those suggestions.
It is a psalm of great hope
and reassurance that though evil may come upon the godly, Yahweh will never
forsake them in the end.
- The psalm begins with an _expression of human inadequacy but continues
with a statement of complete confidence in God’s ability to save. Although
David’s sin was grievous and might have destroyed him utterly, his belief in
God was such that he arose from his wickedness, a new man! Psalms such as this
teach how a sinner can become acceptable to God and how righteousness is not
perfection of character, but an attitude of mind towards God and a belief in
Him as Savior! That is so important brethren and sisters…, righteousness is
not perfection of character, but an attitude of mind towards God and a belief
in Him as Savior!
In this psalm David reveals that
deliverance from physical suffering is of much less importance than the
forgiveness of sin of which all suffering is the consequence, and although
this psalm was born of a real political situation in which real enemies sought
his life, under inspiration David turns the circumstances into an acted
parable in which the enemy becomes sin – his sin, and deliverance becomes
salvation – Yahweh’s salvation. In this, it points forward to our Lord and
Savior, and is fitting to contemplate in light of these emblems before us.
- 1-2 David’s Enemies Increase
Surely it is significant that
the very first word is YAHWEH. When we think about the judgments that had
shackled him to a life of suffering following his transgression with
Bathsheba, it is important to appreciate that his first words were still
towards God. He was full of God, despite the severity of the judgments he had
to bear. There was no bitterness or self-indulgence. There was no scheming to
escape like Jacob. Instead here was a king who was still deeply conscious and
fully aware of the reality of God working in his life to show mercy in a time
when the enemy’s wrath was being felt.
- The problems were indeed daunting. There were “many” who “troubled”
him, “many” who were “rising against him,” many who were discouraging. This is
the sense of the Hebrew structure in verses one and two. It was as though
David saw a mounting tide of affliction sweep towards him as more and more
cast in their lot with Absalom. Similar words to
verse 1 were
spoken at the end of the conflict when Cushi brings tidings of the battle to
David. “Tidings, my lord the king: for Yahweh hath avenged thee this day of
all them that rose up against thee (2 Sam. 18:31).” The rising tide had been
stopped by God.
is in the present tense. Rotherham translates this part: “Multitudes are
saying of my soul (life), ‘No salvation for him in God.’” So disastrous was
the news of the rebellion that great crowds of people were saying that David
could not be saved and that this was the end of his life. Ahithophel had
joined David’s son to throw the weight of his vengeful counsel against David’s
life. Shimei had cursed David arguing that David was being removed from being
king because of his bloodshed against Saul (2 Sam. 16:8). Others had taken up
the cry until there were thousands who were repeating the theme, “there is no
salvation for him in God.”
Can we imagine how David
felt when he heard those words? The weight of his iniquity was already
pressing heavily upon him and to hear people say that God was now making an
end to his life would have been crushing indeed. But the people had to learn
that there was “salvation” in Yahweh. David knew that his sins had been
forgiven and even though he had to bear severe punishment, yet he knew that
since he had been spared, God still had to be interested in his welfare. This
comes out in the next two verses.
- 3-4 Yahweh Hears David’s Plea
3 introduces the triumph of faith over doubt and fear. Many had opposed David.
Many had said that he was doomed, but David saw a wonderful shield encircling
him which no weapon could penetrate. The Hebrew is more correctly rendered
“a shield around me.” Rather than ‘for me.’ This phrase describes an
all-embracing protection far more effective than any shields men could
fabricate. What a wonderful figure this is to describe God’s all-pervading
care. David believed in that protection and these thoughts sustained him in
the most devastating trials.
Yahweh was also
David’s “glory and lifter up of his head.” A king is normally invested
with glory and splendor. The palace and temple in Jerusalem added to that
glory. But that was now taken from David. Humanly speaking he had been
stripped of that glory, but there was something far more precious in its
place. Yahweh was his glory in the sense that He was the source of defense and
salvation when no other could help (Ps.
David left Jerusalem
with his head hung in shame and confusion, but now, after he remembers his
God, he is able “to lift up his head” with the joy of approaching
salvation. He was a man deeply moved by a confidence in God’s help. To be able
to lift up the head in circumstances like this is a wonderful testimony to the
power of a strong conviction which is a very stirring exhortation to us in
times of depression and anxiety.
Verse 4 explains how David drew on this reserve of strength. He cried and
Yahweh heard. If we call, He will answer. If we seek, He will provide. The
answer for David came “out of his holy hill.” This is the
very mountain where the king of all the earth will eventually be enthroned,
despite his enemies (Ps. 2:6). It is also significant that when David reached
the slopes of Olivet overlooking the holy hill of Zion, he heard the news of
Ahithophel’s treachery and cried, “O Yahweh, I pray thee, turn the counsel of
Ahithophel into foolishness (2 Sam. 15:31).” When David reached the summit, it
says “he worshipped God” and immediately afterwards his friend Hushai arrived
(v. 32). Now David saw in this timely arrival of Hushai the answer to his
prayer, and it was Hushai’s counsel that brought the rebellion to finality. In
a very real sense Yahweh’s answer came from Zion.
How wondrous was
Yahweh’s immediate answer to that prayer and how perceptive David was to see
immediately the providential arrival of Hushai as God’s response to his
- 5-6 The Confidence of Faith
Like Jesus in a storm-tossed
vessel, David could “lie down and sleep” with absolute confidence in his
Father’s protection. Even though David knew he was receiving just punishment,
yet he firmly believed that God would still look after him.
The reason why David could
lie down, sleep and awake was because God “sustained” him. The Hebrew
samak means to “to uphold or sustain” and is used in the Psalms (Ps.
37:24; 145:14) to describe Yahweh’s stretching out His hand to prevent the
righteous from falling to the ground. There is a great intimacy about this
figure and David saw in the sustenance he received from friends like Ziba and
Barzillai evidence of his God placing out His hand to uphold and sustain him.
In fact, David had only just passed over Olivet when his retreat was
interrupted by Ziba who had 200 loaves of bread for him (2 Sam. 16:1). To see
this speedy response to his plight was to give him confidence in Yahweh’s
To face myriads of
people who have been surrounding you, clamoring for your life, and to say
calmly “I will not be afraid (v.
6)” is the hallmark of great faith. A quiet assurance in Yahweh’s protection
fears no evil (Ps. 23:4). David saw the enemy “round about” but he also saw
a shield round about (v. 4) to defend him.
- 7-8 A Request to Arise and Save
- “Arise O Yahweh” in
verse 7 was
David’s response to those who were threatening to destroy him. These were the
words spoken when the ark was lifted upon the shoulders and Yahweh entered the
fray (Num. 10:35). Although the ark had been left in Jerusalem, nevertheless
its symbols were readily grasped and used by David in his prayers.
David’s prayer for
salvation is supported by this one thought, that in the past Yahweh has
smitten all his enemies and the ungodly have always been destroyed. Why then
should this crisis be any different?
- It must have been sad for David to parallel the armies of Ahithophel with
those of the ungodly. But the parallel was fitting. God had “smitten
them on the cheek bone” and had “broken their teeth.” To smite anyone on the
cheek was to reproach them (Job
16:10; Lam. 3:30). To break their teeth was to destroy their weapons (Ps.
57:4; Prov. 30:14). Since God had done this in the past, it was accepted in
faith by the king that he would do it once more in the future.
Although the people
had said in
verse 2 that there was no salvation any more for the king, David had shaken
these suggestions off and proclaimed to his subjects that “Salvation
belongeth unto Yahweh.” He adds “Thy blessing is upon thy people.” He did not
say that the blessing was to come upon all people. It was only for “thy”
people, i.e. God’s people. The blessing is the one provided for under the
Abrahamic covenant! Forgiveness of sins on the basis of faith in God’s
promises (Gal. 3:8). David had experienced both salvation and forgiveness,
therefore he could confidently make that point for all to consider.
For Absalom there was
only death and cursing. For the people of God, there would be blessing and
salvation. At the time David fled, it appeared as though the blessing was with
Absalom. But David’s prayer to God, as reflected in this psalm, tells us of
the character of a man over whom faith triumphed in blessing. It also points
forward to the one greater than David, our Lord and Savior.
- As we look to partake of these emblems, it says back in
verse 4, “I cried
unto the LORD with my voice, and he heard me out of his holy hill.” It is
better rendered in the RV, “I cry unto the Lord…” It makes a very important
point in showing that confession is a continuing frame of mind and not just an
act of a moment.
Bro. Cyril Tennant
- “To cry in distress is natural and most people give way to it sooner or
later but to cry unto the Lord in distress, is a comparatively rare thing. The
former is a human reaction to suffering but the latter recognizes the
relationship between suffering and sin. God makes this distinction clear when
speaking of Israel. ‘And they have not cried unto me with their heart, when
they howled upon their beds (Hos.
- Although there is often a direct relationship between a man’s folly and
his suffering, this is not always the case. Nevertheless the principle remains
the same – sorrow and suffering are in the world because of sin, and since we
are sinners we must own our responsibility and recognize that ultimate
deliverance can only come from God. Crying unto the Lord is a continuing state
of contrition in which God continues to answer, as the Apostle Paul writes:
“We ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the
redemption of our body.” This becomes the basis of our fellowship, the
confidence in which we “lay down and sleep” and the hope that we shall awake,
being sustained by the Lord.
- It is really in verse 7
that David draws the distinction between deliverance from physical suffering
and salvation. Deliverance from his enemies has already been granted. But he
stills prays, “Arise, O Yahweh; save me, O my God.” We do well to remind
ourselves that nowhere in the Scriptures are we promised freedom from, or
deliverance out of physical suffering. If such should be granted then with joy
and thanksgiving we should receive it!
But, brethren and
sisters, we are promised and should pray for salvation! This we can do with
confidence since it is our Father’s good pleasure to give to us His kingdom
and through the redeeming work of Jesus, as manifested in these emblems,
prepare us for it.
There is no other way, for
“Salvation belongeth unto Yahweh” and only by His “blessing” shall we secure
Dave Noble, North Industry, Ohio
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