Psalm 3 is an affliction psalm, with some vindication thrown in. It’s not one I readily identify with. I don’t have hordes of human adversaries rising up against me (verse 1) nor are multitudes plotting to overthrow me (verse 6). These things were literal for King David when he wrote this psalm, so his plea, “O my God; surely, you will strike all my enemies across the face, you will break the teeth of the wicked,” seems understandable.
But for me, a middle-class mom working part-time from home in a safe neighborhood, it doesn’t seem to fit.
Or does it?
Today, as I read the first verse of Psalm 3, an image rose in my head. I was under attack, not by human enemies but by the many, many things that want to drag and keep my attention off the Lord. Fatigue, materialism, pride, doubt, self-focus, hard-heartedness, security/safety, comfort, control, fear. Some of these enemies were directly in front of me; a few hovered around my head like giant bees; some lurked in the shadows.
In the first chapter of James, sin is described like this kind of enemy; verse 14 speaks of sin enticing me, dragging me away, killing me. In I Peter, Satan is also described as an enemy—specifically, a lion—who longs to devour me, a wily antagonist who uses all those other forces and sins against me in some very creative ways.
Suddenly the image in my head wasn’t so far off from the psalm!
*Lord, how many adversaries I have! How many there are who rise up against me! My selfishness and hard heart keep me from loving You and others. My fear keeps me from believing You are working in and through me. My sin attacks me from all sides. It never gives up.
So it is understandable that Satan tempts me with doubt and says to me, “There is no help for (you) in (your) God.”
But I refuse to believe that lie because you, O Lord, are a shield about me; you are my glory, the one who lifts my head.
This gives me the confidence to call aloud upon the Lord, and You answer me… I lie down and go to sleep; I wake again, because (You) sustain me.
I do not fear the multitudes … who set themselves against me all around. No matter what sin attacks me, whether it is from within or without, I do not have to fear.
Rise up, O LORD; set me free, O my God; surely You will strike all my enemies across the face, you will break the teeth of the wicked. Yes! This is what I need. You tell me to lay aside the sin that so easily ensnares me. You tell me to put it to death, but YOU then provide the power and will and weapons to do that.
Deliverance belongs to the Lord. Your blessing be upon your people. Bless us now, Lord, to stay strong in this battle, covered in Your armor. And thank You for this sure knowledge: we will not have to battle sin for eternity. You will break the teeth of the roaring lion. You will stomp Your heel on the sharp-toothed head of the enemy. You will deliver!
*The italicized phrases are from Psalm 3. Every verse is included.