A Psalm of David when he fled from Absalom his son.

This is the first Psalm with such an historical title.  This gives us vital information about the circumstances of the writing of the Psalm.  However, in my Bible it has this Divine title in smaller letters than the man-made one above it, which is not only larger but also in bold!  Thus we place more emphasis on our additions than on God’s original writings.

Although this Psalm no doubt refers to this past historical event, it was placed here after Psalm 2 because it also speaks prophetically of David in the days described in Psalm 2.  He will have been raised from the dead at that time and will be living in Israel as their Prince.  The news of the confederation of these ungodly nations will no doubt upset him greatly, but he will respond as is proclaimed in this Psalm.  This Psalm will no doubt be a great encouragement to the people who will have to go through that troubled time.

1.  LORD, how they have increased who trouble me!

As the ruler of the nation of Israel, both in the past and in that great, future Day, David always had and will have those who trouble him.  These troublemakers had greatly increased at the time of Absalom’s revolt, so much so that David had to flee from Jerusalem.  They will also increase in that future Day, necessitating a similar flight.

Many are they who rise up against me.

There were many Israelites who sided with Absalom in his revolt.  Likewise there will be many who will rise up against David in that future day.

2.  Many are they who say of me,

These are the vile slanderers who in the past and future are always ready to accuse David of corruption.

“There is no help for him in God.”

In the past it was no doubt because of his sinful actions with Bathsheba and Uriah, which caused Ahithophel to turn against him and join the conspiracy.  These men were claiming that God would no longer help him because of his sin, not believing that God had truly forgiven him as He had claimed.  In the future it will be because men with think that the cessation of God’s miraculous Kingdom controls indicates that He is no longer able to help His rulers.  Both times the charges against David are unfounded.

Selah.

This word connects by way of contrast what these men claimed God was doing and what the LORD was actually doing for David.

3.  But You, O LORD, are a shield for me,

This is a metaphor for the LORD’s defense of David.  God was still defending him in spite of what these wicked men claimed.  And in that future day God will yet defend David in spite of the disappearance of His miraculous power controlling the Kingdom.

My glory and the One who lifts up my head.

The LORD was truly David’s glory…the most precious, most important, most special, most significant thing he had.  And He will again be that in that difficult future day.  The head is put for David’s whole person by a figure of speech called Synecdoche wherein a part is put for the whole.  It is God who lifts David up when he is in trouble.

4.  I cried to the LORD with my voice,

David’s extreme distress causes him to cry out to the LORD for help and deliverance.

And He heard me from His holy hill.

His holy hill means his holy government, for this is what hills and mountains stand for symbolically in the Scriptures.  God’s government is still in effect in spite of the fact that its miraculous judgments are not being immediately carried out.  The word for “hearing” in Hebrew indicates not just hearing but also answering, which is what causes the response of David in the next verse.

Selah.

This connects the LORD’s hearing with the calming effect it has on David.

5.  I lay down and slept;

The attention of the LORD to David’s plea was all he needed to calm him from his great distress.  Knowing that God is still with him, he is able to lie down and, yes, even to sleep in the midst of this great calamity.  This sleep was at Mahanaim in the past, as we have recorded in II Samuel 17: 27-29.  There is no way for us to know where this will occur in the future day, of course.

I awoke, for the LORD sustained me.

The God Who gives David his very breath sees to it that he awakes the next day.  This is a comforting thought for all of us who may lie down to sleep in times of trouble.  It may seem like we will never see the next morning, but let us ever remember that the LORD is with us to sustain us whatever may come.

6.  I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people

The revolt against David was large in Absalom’s day, and again will be large in the future time of trouble.  However, David’s trust in the LORD keeps him from fearing even so great a foe.

Who have set themselves against me all around.

This may be figurative as regarding that day in the past, for we never read of Absalom surrounding David.  Yet in the future day it may be literal that the enemy thus surrounds David and his followers.  Nevertheless even this cannot shake David’s confidence in his God.

7.  Arise, O LORD;

Here David calls upon the LORD for his deliverance in the face of so great a foe.

Save me, O my God!

David calls upon God for deliverance as he is surrounded.

For You have struck all my enemies on the cheekbone;

David refers to precedent in pleading his case before God, noting that God has always delivered him from his enemies in the past.  David is assured that God will likewise save him this time from his foes.

You have broken the teeth of the ungodly.

The teeth here are one symbol of their power and strength.  The ungodly are the lawless.  They are those who have taken it upon themselves to break God’s laws now that they are no longer required to keep them or die.  God has powerfully opposed such men in the past, and David calls upon Him to do so again.

8.  Salvation belongs to the LORD.

Surely we cannot read this and not realize that Yahweh (or Jehovah) and Jesus are one and the same person!  Indeed, our great Savior is the only One Who can bring us salvation. He was the only One Who could bring salvation to David in that terrible day in the past, and He will be the only One Who can bring salvation to David in that terrible day in the future.

Your blessing is upon Your people.

In the Companion Bible notes on this verse Bullinger suggests that “Your blessing is” should be “Thy blessing hast been, and will be,” which is very interesting in view of my belief that this Psalm speaks of both past and future events at the same time.  This blessing is gone in our day, as all nations and peoples are now treated by God the same (Ephesians 3:6).  In that day in the past, however, the Israelites had special claim on God’s blessings, as they will in the future Kingdom as well.  David knows that God will save His people even in that day when many rise up against them.

Selah.

This word closely connects this Psalm with the one following it, which has the same subject.

To the Chief Musician.

This Psalm was dedicated to the Chief Musician.  This means that it was meant for public singing rather than David’s own private musings.  Perhaps the singers sang it to encourage the people as they were going into exile from Absalom.

With stringed instruments.

This translation has no value whatsoever.  This is not speaking of instruments that must be struck but rather of the strikings that David’s enemies were planning against him.  These strikings would never come about due to the intervention and aid of the LORD, and it would instead be David’s enemies who would be struck by His wrath.  Let us take an example from David and likewise trust in the LORD in our own times of trouble.

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