David begins Psalm 3 by lamenting his many enemies. Even his son, Absalom, had raised an army against him. I find it interesting that the name ABSALOM is made of two words. The first word, AB, means father. The second word SHALOM is very familiar and means peace. Some argue it means “a father’s peace.” David’s son, Absalom, was anything but peace for him. He had won the hearts of the people from his father and raised an Army that drove his father from his home. Then Shimei threw dirt at David when he was fleeing Jerusalem for his life and cursed him. David begins his lament, “ O Lord, how many are my foes! Many are rising against me; many are saying of my soul, ‘There is no salvation for him in God.’ Selah.” Notice the repetition of the word “many.” Many foes, many are rising against David, and many are saying there is no salvation for him. We don’t know how “many” actually, but we know there were a lot of them that opposed David at this time.

David’s enemies are saying pretty much what Jesus’ enemies said while he was hanging on the cross. “If He is the Son of God, Let God save Him.” Insisting that there is no salvation for him from God attacks David’s faith. It’s the argument that God has abandoned him or that there is no God to look to for help. Williams says, “Here is the threat of practical atheism. It bears so many nuances.” The accusation has three affronts. The first attack is that God has abandoned us; the second attack is that we aren’t worth His attention anyway. The third attack concludes that we should give up our faith in Him and turn elsewhere for help.”[1] God was with David when he slew Goliath and defeated the vast Philistine armies. But here, we see that God is not giving David the victory in this incident. Since God abandoned David, it was reasonable that Jerusalem’s people should also abandon him. After his sin with Bathsheba and the murder of Uriah, we can see how David would now believe that he is not worthy of being delivered by God. Since David cannot count on God to deliver him from his enemy and he does not deserve to be saved by God, he should abandon his faith in God. So it is with us at times. God is allowing these terrible things to come into our lives and is not acting to deliver us. We, too, know that we are not sinless and can wallow in our sin, knowing that we don’t deserve to be saved anyway. We are tempted to abandon our faith in God. In verse 3, David begins with “But God….”

Before we look at verse 3, notice how verse 2 ends: “Selah.” Commentators are divided on the meaning of the word “Selah.”  We don’t know what it means, but some suggest it is a Hebrew word that gives musical direction to the singers. Some suggest it’s a blessing meaning “forever.” Others argue that it’s simply the way Hebrew punctuates sentences. But most say, and I agree, that it’s a call for the readers to pause and contemplate the meaning of what was just said. David is overwhelmed by his enemies. They have multiplied against him, and it appears all is lost. He’s being driven from his home, and death has become his imminent future. God is not delivering him; he doesn’t deserve to be delivered, so why have faith in God? Think about that. I’ve been there, haven’t you? Jesus identifies personally with David’s laments. He identifies with ours as well. He cried out from the cross, “Why have you forsaken me.”

[1] Williams, Donald, and Lloyd J. Ogilvie. 1986. Psalms 1–72. Vol. 13. The Preacher’s Commentary Series. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc.