We are emotional beings, who at times experience powerful, negative emotions such as fear. Religious people tend to suppress these thoughts and deny that they are in us. More secular people would encourage us to simply let these emotions out as if it would solve the problem. But the Psalmists show us how to deal with these emotions in a helpful way.
Psalm 3:1-8 – A prayer of David, when he fled from Absalom his son
1 O LORD, how many are my foes! Many are rising against me;
2 many are saying of my soul, there is no salvation for him in God.
3 But you, O LORD, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head.
4 I cried aloud to the LORD, and he answered me from his holy hill.
5 I lay down and slept; I woke again, for the LORD sustained me.
6 I will not be afraid of many thousands of people who have set themselves against me all around.
7 Arise, O LORD! Save me, O my God! For you strike all my enemies on the cheek; you break the teeth of the wicked.
8 Salvation belongs to the LORD; your blessing be on your people!
Observation and Reflection
Context: Absalom, David’s 3rd son, imbittered by his father’s passivity at the rape of his sister Tamar, raised an army and political support at Hebron, wanting to overthrow his father’s kingship and rule in his place. (The history is recorded in 2 Samuel 15)
- What is the emotional state of David at the outset of this Psalm? [hint: verses 1-2, and 7]
- What are the two sources of David’s fear mentioned in verses 1-2? [hint: one has to do with his life the other with his identity]
- The mood changes in verse 3. Why and how? [hint: where does he look in v1-2, and then v3]?
- Considering David’s emotional state, how does it help him during this rebellion that God is his (a) shield, (b) glory, and (c) the lifter of his head?
- Considering Psalm 3 as a model prayer on dealing with feelings of fear, anxiety, and being overwhelmed, try to identify how David prayed to God:
Verses 1-2 : eg. David told God of his problem and how he feels
Verse 3 :
Verse 4-6 :
Verse 7-8 :
Personal Reflections and Application
David felt afraid, angry, betrayed and overwhelmed by the revolt against him, lead by his own son Absalom and close friend, Ahithophel his trusted adviser. But more than these enemies, David had to battle the fear that God had abandoned him, like King Saul, because of his sins. The external crisis gave rise to shame and doubt of the legitimacy of his kingship. To deny or suppress these emotions are not helpful, and to submit to feelings and “let it out” are as unhelpful. We need to process them in prayer with God, who has the power to heal our souls and to deliver us from these scary situations.
- Become still and consider your emotional state.
- Identify your greatest fears that have an external source – i.e. job security, safety of kids, your health, etc.
- Identify your greatest insecurity (where you feel unqualified in a position or relationship).
- Now patiently pray through the model of Psalm 3:
- State your troubles to God who cares.
- Declare your faith in who God is to you, in this situation.
- Cry out to God to save you from the situations and the doubts.
- Thank God for how you see his hand in your life.
- Ask God for help (grace) for today.