Times of Trouble

Psummer in the Psalms  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  37:56
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This Sunday, we are in the book of Psalms (and Sundays throughout the summer). Some of you will remember that we studied several of the Psalms in 2015.
It was 2015 that I preached on the 2nd Psalm. It seems like it was forever ago that I preached on Psalm 1, but it was just two Sundays ago. So, since we’ve studied Psalm 1 and Psalm 2 together, we’re ready for Psalm 3.
My plan for the last few months was to take the first Psalms in order—just knock out the first 10-15 psalms this summer.
When I realized I’d be preaching this Psalm in the middle of everything with my father, it’s one more evidence of how perfect God’s Word is even in times of trouble, especially in times of trouble.
I decided to entitle this sermon “Times of Trouble” when the most difficult thing I was dealing with was 4th-6th Grade Church Camp.
How fitting my study and meditation upon Psalm 3 has been over the last few weeks. It’s a Psalm that i wasn’t really familiar with prior to my study of it for this sermon.
And over and over again, throughout this journey with my Dad, the Lord has brought to mind verses, phrases, words of this Psalm. It’s perfect.
Times of Trouble.
David is facing some serious stuff as he writes this song, as he sings it to the Lord.
The title of the Psalm tells us what we need to know. It gives us the setting, the situation facing David.
This song comes from one of the worst moments in David’s life; he had to flee from his own son. David’s own son is trying to kill him. 2 Samuel 15-18 tell the story of Absalom and David.
Absalom is conspiring against his father, David, the king of Israel. Absalom wants the throne, and so he works to that end. Before long, we read in 2 Samuel that the hearts of the people of Israel were with Absalom and not God’s chosen king, David.
David knows what his son is capable of, and so he decides to flee. As David leaves, we read that he is walking up the Mount of Olives, he’s weeping as he goes; he covers his head. He walks barefoot.
In other words, David is as low as he can get. His own son wants him dead. Absalom is willing to send twelve thousand men out to find David and attack him.
Things are not going well for David at this point in his life. These are not good days.
These were, for David, times of trouble. Immense trouble. You can rest assured that life was, at this point for David’s, nearing rock-bottom.
Times of trouble.
We need to pause here for station identification and a brief public service announcement: remember, we are not David.
We are not living in the place or time time of David. We are not in his situation, unless some of you have kingdoms I don’t know about. I would be surprised to hear that any of your children are conspiring to dethrone you.
We are not in the same situation as David, but we do serve the same God—the God who is faithful and steadfast, the God to whom we can turn in times of trouble.
Trouble—that could very well be a synonym for life, couldn’t it?
This life is full of trouble—trouble at school (you know who you are), trouble at work, trouble at home, trouble with friends and family. Trouble abroad and trouble right here.
The modern day prophet, Ray LaMontagne says it well:
Trouble, trouble, trouble, trouble
Trouble been doggin' my soul since the day I was born.”
We all face trials of many kinds. We are, as the Bible says, hard pressed on every side. You cannot live this life without facing times of trouble.
Psalm 3 gives us space to deal with the troubles we face; a place to hang our hats and find comfort and confidence in God so that, just like David, we will, by the grace of God, be people of genuine faith in times of trouble.
If you have your Bibles (and I hope you do), please turn with me to Psalm 3. If you are able and willing, please stand for the reading of God’s Holy Word.
Psalm 3 NIV
A psalm of David. When he fled from his son Absalom. 1 Lord, how many are my foes! How many rise up against me! 2 Many are saying of me, “God will not deliver him.” 3 But you, Lord, are a shield around me, my glory, the One who lifts my head high. 4 I call out to the Lord, and he answers me from his holy mountain. 5 I lie down and sleep; I wake again, because the Lord sustains me. 6 I will not fear though tens of thousands assail me on every side. 7 Arise, Lord! Deliver me, my God! Strike all my enemies on the jaw; break the teeth of the wicked. 8 From the Lord comes deliverance. May your blessing be on your people.
May God add His blessing to the reading of His Holy Word!
This, Psalm 3, is the first psalm with a title: “A psalm of David. When he fled from his son Absalom.”
I’m of the belief that songwriter David wrote the music and lyrics to Psalm 3 right in the middle of the trouble he was facing.
Some say, “Well, we don’t know for sure when David wrote this song.” And that’s true enough; I can’t say that I know for a fact David wrote this during the events of 2 Samuel 15-18, but it seems to me like he did. This psalm is very real. It seems very in-the-moment. I think it would read differently if David penned this song after the fact.
Listen to verses 1 & 2:
Psalm 3:1–2 NIV
1 Lord, how many are my foes! How many rise up against me! 2 Many are saying of me, “God will not deliver him.”
David’s got a big problem.
It’s not a flat tire problem or “my hair just won’t do what I want it to do” problem; this is a matter of life and death.
This is David being run out of town by his own son, his son who wants to kill him, his son who has the means to kill him, his son who has the support and favor of a large chunk of David’s kingdom behind him.
Absalom is predator; David is prey. David is on the run.
His foes/enemies are many. So, so many of his own people have risen up against him. Feel the weight of that, the anguish, the despair.
Have you been there? Again, not in this exact situation, but have you been at that place where you felt surrounded on every side, where nothing was going your way, where your friends, even family have betrayed you?
This is the water David’s swimming in, and he probably feels like he’s drowning. This is rough.
All these people are against him. Tens of thousands are against him, and that’s likely no exaggeration.
What’s worse is what the people have to say about David:
Many are saying of me, “God will not deliver him!”
This is the worst thing anyone could say about someone else. The worst reproach that could be made against another person was that God did not come to his rescue.
They’re taunting David for trusting in God.
“God won’t help you, David!”
“God’s not interested in saving you.”
The truth is, David is not deserving of God’s deliverance or salvation. And neither are we.
But God does deliver. He does save. It’s just not dependent on us.
His enemies, his foes, his former friends, even his own family taunt him: “God will not deliver him!” they say.
David knows, however, that his enemies do not, will not have the last word.
His enemies are many; many are rising up against him, taunting him, saying God will not save him. But David knows better. He turns his attention away from his enemies and toward his God.
Psalm 3:3–4 NIV
3 But you, Lord, are a shield around me, my glory, the One who lifts my head high. 4 I call out to the Lord, and he answers me from his holy mountain.
In times of trouble, David knows who God is.
May the same be said of us, church! Instead of giving up or rolling over in times of trouble, our faith in God (in who He is) will steady us and hold us fast.
The you in verse 3—“But you, Lord”—the you is emphatic. It should be underlined or italicized.
“My enemies are doing this and saying this, but no matter. Because YOU, Lord are greater than they.”
David knows who God is; He knows:

In times of trouble, we have a Protecting God.

David doesn’t fear his enemies, for the Lord is a shield around him. A shield stronger than all the forces in the world, a shield large enough to protect from the arrows of a million archers.
David cries out to the God who protects him. Yahweh is a shield around him; David is hemmed in on every side.
I think St. Patrick understood this truth when he wrote this prayer:
“Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me, Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ on my right, Christ on my left, Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down, Christ when I arise.”
We are hemmed in on every side; protected by the protecting God.
David could almost turn to his enemies and say to them, “You want to get to me, you're gonna have to go through Yahweh first.”
God’s the Protector, the One who stands between His people and their enemies and puts an end to all their threats.
Our enemy does not stand a stinking chance. You hear?
David knows the protecting God.

In times of trouble, we have a sufficient God.

It’s easy to gloss over this truth in David’s song. It’s just two words.
Two small words...Do you see them there in verse 3, after David sings about the protecting God, David writes that God is [his] glory.
But you, Lord, are a shield around me, my glory.
David calls Yahweh my glory, a term that carries the ideas of substance and wealth.
David’s kingdom is being taken from him, but Yahweh is his glory.
That is, David is losing his ‘glory’ (apparently to his son, Absalom) and yet he has all the glory he needs in the Lord Himself.
Though our earthly glory fade away, we have all we need (and then some) in the Lord.
He is sufficient; we need nothing beside Him.
David knows this. “You, Lord, are…my glory.”
What about you? If all you have was suddenly taken away, would you still glory in the Lord?
Could you say, “Lord, you are my glory, you are sufficient, you are all I need”?
David knows the sufficient God.

In times of trouble, we have a restoring God

But you, Lord, are a shield around me, my glory, the One who lifts my head high.
This is one of those phrases that I’ve held onto during the last couple of weeks: “You, Lord, are…the One who lifts my head high.”
In Genesis we find this phrase when Joseph helps Pharaoh’s cupbearer and chief baker with the interpretation of their dreams.
Pharaoh lifts the head of the cupbearer (that is, Pharaoh restores the cupbearer to his office in his palace). Pharaoh takes him from a lowly place (the dungeon/prison), and restores him to his previously held position.
So it is here with David. The Lord lifts his head high. This paints such a beautiful picture.
Your head is hanging low, there are tears in your eyes, you are ashamed and embarrassed, you have messed up, you have let people down, you’ve been humiliated; you are dejected and depressed.
You walk into the living room, over to your dad’s chair. He calls you closer. You take a slow step forward and then another until you’re within reach. He takes you by the shoulders and brings you in close. He then takes your head in his hands and lifts it up, higher and higher, until your eyes meet his.
With head lifted high, he tells you, “I love you. You’re okay. Everything is going to be okay.”
It’s that restoring, forgiving, sustaining love that David receives from the Lord. He knows the Lord will restore. He knows the Lord will lift high his low-hanging, tear-soaked face.
David knows the restoring God.

In times of trouble, we have an accessible God.

David calls out to the Lord and, guess what? The Lord answers him. The Lord responds.
David is vocal with his need. David is desperate.
But because David is fleeing his son, Absalom, this means that David is also leaving Jerusalem, leaving the site of the tabernacle of God, putting distance between himself and the holy hill.
David’s prayers still get to the Lord’s holy hill, even when David has no physical access there.
God, you see, is accessible.
His people don’t have to position themselves in a certain place or take a certain physical posture; they merely come to Him by faith in Him, the accessible God.
David knows the accessible God.
“I don’t know what I’m going to do or how this is going to go, but I know my God.”
Think about all the situations in your life you could say that about.
“I don’t know what I’m going to do or how this is going to go, but I do know my God; I know His character—protecting, sufficient, restoring, and accessible.”
And think about the confidence this brings. See the confidence these truths give David (look with me at verses 5 and 6):
Psalm 3:5–6 NIV
5 I lie down and sleep; I wake again, because the Lord sustains me. 6 I will not fear though tens of thousands assail me on every side.
Can you even imagine? While his enemies pursue, while his son attempts a coup, David lies down and takes a siesta; he tips his hat over his eyes, breathes deeply, and he’s out.
How can David do this? Why can he do this?
Because the Lord sustains him.
The emphatic “I” of verse 5 comes after the emphatic “You” of verse 3.
“Because you, Lord, are who you are, I can go ahead and take a snooze.”
The peace David experiences is both immediate and long-term.
He can sleep that first night and all the difficult nights to come, because the Lord is there, sustaining, keeping, holding on to him.
David could almost say something like, “He makes me to lie down in green pastures…”
Notice, his circumstances have not yet changed—and who knows if they will?—but David is not anxious; he is unalarmed.
What does David do at night as Absalom plots his ruin?
He sleeps. No Benadryl. No Tylenol PM. Just a genuine faith and trust in the Lord Yahweh.
David’s confidence is in the Lord. David trusts in Him, trusts that He will take care of the situation in full.
And David trusts God to act, to vindicate him.
Psalm 3:7–8 NIV
7 Arise, Lord! Deliver me, my God! Strike all my enemies on the jaw; break the teeth of the wicked. 8 From the Lord comes deliverance. May your blessing be on your people.
We can see here, as David cries for deliverance, salvation has not yet actually come. Absalom & Company are still on the loose, wanting to spill David’s blood and steal his kingdom.
And yet, David is sure of deliverance.
I’m told these verses, in Hebrew, contain future verbs.
A really good way to translate these verses would be: You will deliver me…You will strike all my enemies on the jaw…You will break the teeth of the wicked.
So certain of rescue is David that He describes it as already having taken place, even though it is yet to come.
It seems a little violent to us, asking God to strike our enemies with a divine right hook and to break their teeth via curb stomp, but don’t miss this: this is David committing vengeance to the Lord, not taking it into his own hands, which is exactly what we are supposed to do.
This is true faith and trust in God.
“Lord, please. You deal with them. You take care of this situation. I know I can’t, but you can and I trust you will deliver me however you see fit.”
David trusts in the Lord’s salvation. In fact, he confesses that salvation is the Lord’s forte—from the Lord comes deliverance.
This is the biblical witness, all the way through. From the belly of the fish, Jonah prayed to the Lord:
Jonah 2:9 NIV
9 But I, with shouts of grateful praise, will sacrifice to you. What I have vowed I will make good. I will say, ‘Salvation comes from the Lord.’ ”
This will be our song when we, gathered together with people from every nation, tribe, people, and language before the throne of God:
Revelation 7:10 NIV
10 And they cried out in a loud voice: “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.”
This deliverance here in Psalm 3, this salvation in Psalm 3 is to be taken very broadly.
This is not just final salvation; this is salvation in total.
Clearly, for David, this deliverance is of the physical variety. Salvation from Absalom is absolutely part of what David is praying for.
God doesn’t just save us in the final sense, but day-by-day, through crises and trials, close calls, major surgeries—ours is a saving God.
Don’t underestimate the salvation and deliverance of God. There is a sense that the Lord saves you again and again in your troubles and dangers.
Have you ever been at work or in traffic and experience a near miss? And once your heartbeat slows a little, you think, “Boy, that was close!” That, friends, is the deliverance, the salvation of God. That’s God looking after you.
Salvation comes from the Lord.
The psalm ends with a benediction: May your blessing be on your people.
It’s as if David is saying, “Lord, it’s not just my emergency, my fear, my enemies; these situations are the lot of your people; let your blessing, your saving help flow to them in their troubles.”
Oh, how we need God to act in order to save us! Oh, how we need His deliverance!
Save us, He will. Deliver us, He will.
You know, it’s no coincidence that the word ‘deliver’ in verse 2 and the word ‘deliverance’ in verse 7 are forms of the Hebrew word “yeshua”.
At just the right time, in the fullness of God’s perfect plan, God’s Son was born to a virgin and was given the name “Yeshua”.
Matthew 1:21 NIV
21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”
Salvation comes from the Lord. This is true.
It is only from Him.
In times of trouble, turn to the Lord—the protecting, sufficient, restoring, accessible, sustaining, saving One.
He will lift your head, even on your worst day.
He will deliver you over and over again, day after day.
He will save you by His blood, based only on His grace.
Put your faith in Jesus—He who has saved you and is saving you, will save you.
In times of trouble, trust the Deliverer.
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