Posted by: lepages | September 4, 2011

Living secure when under attack!

Life can sometimes be tough. How do we respond at those times? The following notes from my preach on Psalm 3 pick up on some of those themes. You can listen to the sermon as preached on the 24th June 2011 here.

Living secure when under attack
Psalm 3

What’s your family situation like?

Is it like the family situation of those who have dedicated their child to God in our worship today? – 2 loving parents surrounded by an extended family, seeking to love you and bring you up well?

Or is your situation more akin, as sadly so many family situations are, to a situation of all out war, with conflict between different parts of the family, perhaps ostracism of some members of the family to others?

We’re going to read for our Bible reading today from Psalm 3 p

It’s headed, ‘A psalm of David. When he fled from his son Absalom.’

To understand and enter into what David writes, and perhaps to help you identify with it in your own situations, whether good, bad or indifferent, it might be helpful to be aware of a bit of the situation David found himself in.

David was a king of the nation of Israel. He was the youngest of 8 brothers… and didn’t always get the best regard from his family… sometimes its like that for the youngest siblings in families…

David’s family as an adult was at best, a dysfunctional family.

Maybe it was a result of his own immoral behaviour…. he had had an affair with another man’s wife and got her pregnant…. he’d arranged for her husband’s murder. Not surprising that his sons developed some bad behaviour traits… which included rape and violence….

Now, I don’t know how much any of us relate to any of these things, but maybe some of us do… and this psalm… through David’s experience… speaks to us about how we can be secure in God, even when under attack…. from outside…. and from within…

David at this point in his life, as he wrote this psalm, this piece of poetry, set to music, was fleeing from one of his sons.

His son desired to take over the kingship of the nation. He’d set out to effectively set up a coup and announce to the nation that he Absalom had become King. He had over several years curried the favour of the people with nice sounding words and positive promises. And now as David hears news of what is happening he chooses to flee his palace, with his closest allies and go to an area of safety, rather than face a potential uprising against him.

In Libya, this week, it has been reported that the rebel popular uprising against Colonel Gaddaffi has now made contact with senior figures in government and the military so that if the tide turns in their favour, they will turn over and side with the populace.

This was the kind of situation David felt he faced…. except that his son was a leader who had been preparing for this time, currying the favour of the people for several years… it would be equivalent to the rebels in Libya making an agreement with Colonel Gaddaffi’s son….

As King David does this, he stores his thoughts in writing….
READ Psalm 3

When you understand the context, it helps to make sense of the psalm, but it also helps us relate what’s written to our own lives.

I suspect there are phrases in this psalm which all of us can relate to in some way or another.
Maybe not in a literal, physical way, but certainly in a metaphorical way!

So David starts off, v1
‘O LORD, how many are my foes! How many rise up against me!’

There are times in life when life sometimes feels overwhelming.
It may not be that we feel surrounded by physical enemies, but maybe we feel surrounded by pressures that we feel we can’t take any more…..

It can be physical pain and suffering and we cry out ‘Lord I can’t cope any more.’
It can be the pressures of employment, or lack of employment.
It can be the pressures of family life, when things go awry with our children, rebellious teenage years, with babies or young children leading to sleepless nights… or at the other end of the scale with aged parents.

There are times in life for most of us when we feel overwhelmed.

And its okay for us to come to God and tell him that’s how we feel.
The psalms are full of people doing that.
If God has seen fit to allow such cries to be included in his word – even when those cries are sometimes highly questionable – then it seems to me, that he’s saying to you – it’s okay for you to come and lay it all out before him.

David moves from his physical fears, ‘how many are my foes!’ to his psychological fears v2
Many are saying of me, ‘God will not deliver him.’

Our psychological fears, the negative things said about us or said to us are often the things which limit and control us most, holding us back from fully being all that God made us to be.

Do you ever have negative thoughts which run through your mind?
Negative thoughts which hold you back from doing things?
Negative thoughts which tell you you can’t do this or achieve this?
Negative thoughts that tell you, you will fail?
Negative thoughts which tell you that God will not deliver you?

And you reach the conclusion…. so what’s the point anyway.

We then have an interesting word in the psalm – a word which occurs 3 times in this psalm and lots of times in other psalms. The word ‘Selah’ 😦 or ‘Selah’ :-).(You probably really need to listen to this to get the different intonations I put on this!)

The footnote at the bottom of our Bible page tells us the word is ‘a word of uncertain meaning, occurring frequently in the psalms; possibly a musical term.’

Some commentators, based on other customs of the time period, believe that it was a call for a rousing musical interlude, perhaps concluding with a clash of cymbals that would lift the spirits – because it usually marks a transition in the text from a period of negative perspective or introspection to a period of positive statement, or a moving on in positive ways of thinking.
I don’t know whether we can have a quick drum roll and clash of cymbals to move on to the next part of the psalm??!!!
Thank you Brian!!

And so King David goes from this negative thinking ‘how many are my foes! How many rise up against me!’ ‘God will not deliver him.’ to these incredible words in v3,4

‘But you are a shield around me, O LORD; you bestow glory on me and lift up my head. To the LORD I cry aloud, and he answers me from his holy hill.’

He lifts his eyes from his problems to the One who is able to be the answer to his problems.

What about you?
Have you done that?
Lifted your eyes from the tough things you are facing, to the One who is able to meet your need?

Or are you just staying lost in your fears?

King David says, ‘you are a shield around me, O LORD;’

It’s interesting, he doesn’t say ‘you put a shield around me’ – he says ‘you are a shield around me’

This is not about God putting protection around his people, it’s about him being our protection!
In the New Testament it says of Christians that we are ‘clothed with Christ’ – he doesn’t just put something in front of us to protect us, he clothes us with himself. The word ‘Christian’ means ‘Christ like ones’. And we are not called Christians, Christ like ones, because we have worked hard to become like Jesus, we are called Christians, Christ like ones, because we have been clothed with Christ! If you haven’t had that experience in your life, come to that place, where you’ve given your life to Christ and received his gift of new life I’d love to talk with you about it after the service.

How does it make you feel to know that you are clothed with Christ??!!
To know that your protection is that you are clothed with Jesus.
For anybody, or anything to get to you now they have to go through God himself.
That’s why we have our title for today ‘Living secure when under attack.’

In one of the letters in the New Testament it talks of putting on the full armour of God.
The fullest part of the armour of God is knowing that we are in Christ, that we are clothed with Christ.

Having reminded himself that God is there to protect him, he reminds himself that God is the Glorious One, who lifts up his head (see the footnote) – the latest translations of NIV have dropped the idea that it is God bestowing glory on the King and have focused on the glory of God.

God wants to lift our heads, he wants to lift your head to see his glory, to know that he is the all powerful one who is able to meet your need.

Where are you looking at the present?
Looking at your troubles?
Lift your head to God and gaze upon him.
Know that he is greater than your problems.

Doing that doesn’t mean that you ignore your problems, or suppress them, but it gives you a different perspective as you come to cry out to God over your situations.

Note that in v4 King David doesn’t offer a humble gentle prayer.

‘Oh Lord, please help me….’

He says ‘I cry aloud’

‘God, you know my situation. You know the fear I’m living in. You’ve got to come and do something. Sort this situation. Please Lord!!’

And then he writes v4
‘and he answers me from his holy hill…’

He doesn’t say how God answers him – and in the accounts in 2 Samuel of what happened at this time, it might be difficult to say – well that’s what God’s answer to prayer was.

Maybe it was a giving of peace in the midst of a situation of turmoil; maybe it was the bringing alongside of others to support and work with David; maybe it was through God’s working his purposes out. But you get the impression this psalm wasn’t written after everything was sorted, but in the midst of the problems – so maybe the answer was God’s assurance that he was in control and would work things out in accordance with his will and purpose.

In the midst of his fear and circumstances, he is, v5, able to ‘lie down and sleep’ and wake again, because the Lord sustains him.

Sometimes that is what we need – to rest in the knowledge that we are secure in the Lord, even when we are under attack, and then we can lie down and sleep. Sleep has a wonderful habit of restoring us.

Lord, give sleep to your people. To those who battle with sleep. Grant them your favour. Give them security in you and enable them to rest well and sleep, and be restored.

Then David is able to say he wakes again, because the Lord sustains him.

Sometimes we lose sight of the simple things.
The remarkable truth is that you are alive and are here this morning!
There’s no human reason why you should be.
Every day that we have is a remarkable gift from God!
For our incredibly complex bodies to keep functioning. For the atoms which make us up, which are continually in a place of movement and flux, to stay together, to stay grouped as they do to form us into who we are is incredible! For the whole of the created order to keep functioning is a mind blowing act of God’s sustaining power.

If God is able to preserve my life, provide the air I need to breathe, when it could all just go – phh – like that – then I don’t need to fear the thousands drawn up against me on every side. V6

So, with your fears, with your struggles, with whatever the child we have dedicated has to face in the years of her life ahead, she need not fear/you need not fear if as she gets older she chooses to follow Jesus Christ and be clothed with him/ if you have chosen to follow Jesus Christ and be clothed with him.

The Bible is incredibly honest.
It doesn’t do rosy picture painting, it doesn’t gloss over people’s failures and pretend they were perfect when they’re not…. and so it includes the reality of not only David’s fear, but also of his anger.

‘Arise O LORD! Deliver me, O my God! Strike all my enemies on the jaw; break the teeth of the wicked.’

Now, I’m not sure that that is a very Christian prayer!
But it’s certainly a very honest prayer!
Wipe them out Lord! Smash them up!

Why is it in scripture?
Not to say that those are just and righteous things to desire from God, but to let us know that its okay to come to God as we feel – to express our real emotions to God. That doesn’t mean that he’ll grant our wild cries of desperation or frustration or hatred at another – but sometimes its as we express those things to God, that he is able to then lift up our heads and help us gaze on him, and get our security from him, rather than being lost in our fears and the tough situations we face.

So, if there’s stuff going on in your life, can I encourage you to cry out to God about it?
Be honest with him about it!
Tell him your heartfelt desires and get those emotions out of your system so that they do not control and restrict your life any longer.

Sometimes its helpful to have others come and stand with us in prayer, and sometimes God will minister his grace to us through them.
So if you’re sitting with things, ask a member of the prayer team to come and stand with you in prayer after the service – and don’t be afraid of being honest as you come before God. If you need to cry out to God, rather than talk in ‘hushed prayer tones’, then that’s okay, you go for it!

In our worship, if God stirs you to cry out to him over something then you go for it.

David concludes his psalm with a great affirmation, v8
‘From the LORD comes deliverance. May your blessing be on your people.’

Look to the Lord for deliverance in your situation.
Prayer of blessing.


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