A Psalm of David, when he fled from Absalom his Son
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
But you, O Lord, are a shield about me,
my glory, and the lifter of my head.
I cried aloud to the Lord,
and he answered me from his holy hill. Selah
I lay down and slept;
I woke again, for the Lord sustained me.
I will not be afraid of many thousands of people
who have set themselves against me all around.
Arise, O Lord!
Save me, O my God!
For you strike all my enemies on the cheek;
you break the teeth of the wicked.
Salvation belongs to the Lord;
your blessing be on your people! Selah
Imagine the sorrow and turmoil David felt as he ran from his son Absalom. He knew full well that he was the cause of the rebellion. He knew that this disaster was brought upon him by God. David had defiled another man’s wife. He had shed innocent blood. All he was going through was because of what he, himself, had done. It was entirely his fault. God, as He had promised, was punishing David. Yet David does not fall into despair. He calls on the Lord. He does not curse God for what God has done but say says, “But you, O Lord, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head.” David remembers the promise of God not only His justice.
David knew the purpose of those who deposed him was to frustrate the decrees of God. But they were fulfilling the purpose of God. God makes use even of the wicked for His purpose.
David was not only dethroned but was betrayed by nearly his entire kingdom. Only a handful of faithful men remained with him. This is an indication of the tremendous faith of David, having encountered such a great loss; he freely makes his appeal to God. It would have been easy for David to think that God had abandoned him. After all he was being justly chastised by God for his actions. David understood that even if the whole world with one voice condemns us and drives us to despair we need to listen to God, rather than listen to those who cry out against us. We ought to cherish the hope of salvation He has promised.
When David addresses God, he does so with confidence. Even in the face of scoffing he knows he can trust the promises of God. Even in the face of evil men and his own sinfulness, David knows he can trust the promises of God. God will not abandon us. He has promised to keep us and not let us fall out of His grace. “And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand.” (John 10:28-29)
Even though David was being pursued by his own son he knew he was not cut off from God’s grace. God’s choice for him to be king remained intact. He compares God to a shield. By this he is acknowledging that God is his defender. He calls out to the Lord, even while the entire kingdom chases and harasses him He cries out loud to the Lord, because the Lord is his defender. Everyone else thought God had abandoned him. They said God had rightly abandoned him. Yet David cries to the Lord.
David was not simply talking to the air as if he was calling to an impersonal or uninterested force or higher power. David called out to a personal God and God answered him. David said God answered him from His holy hill. God did not answer David by giving him a feeling or emotion. God answered him from a place, something objective.
David also remembers God’s past protection and comfort. He says he laid down and slept, past tense. “I woke,” past tense. The Lord sustained him, past tense. Remembering what God had done in the past, he trusts in the Lord for the future; “I will not be afraid,” future tense.
Having stated his condition and his confidence in the Lord, he now makes a petition to the Lord. David asks that God strike down David’s enemies because he was in eminent danger. Then David acknowledges that salvation belongs to the Lord. It is in God’s hands alone.
When things happen that are evil or we may consider unfair, realize God remains in control. Call on the name of the Lord. Sometimes we may be so ashamed of our sin that we are embarrassed approach the throne of grace. Yet, that is exactly what David did. That is exactly what we should do. Remember the promises of God.
My comfort is this, David knew he could call on the name of the Lord even when he was in the wrong. And God kept his promises. We can rest in the mercy of the Lord even though we deserve nothing but wrath. God had promised to justify, sanctify and glorify us. God keeps His promises!