Self-Inflicted Opposition – Psalm 3:1-2

Psalm 3:1-2

            English Translation (ESV)                                 Septuagint Translation[1]

A Psalm of David,

A Psalm of David,

When he fled from Absalom his son.

When he was fleeing from the presence of Absalom his son.[2]

1O LORD, how many are my foes!

1Lord, why have those who oppress me increased?

Many are rising against me;

Many are rising up against me,

2many are saying of my soul,

2many are saying of my soul,

there is no salvation for him in God.

“There is no salvation for him in his God.”[3]






Thispsalm starts off by giving us a bit of context.  David wrote this psalm as he fled from his son Absalom (The entire drama with Absalom plays itself out in2 Sam. 15-19).  Absalom’s rebellion happens immediately after David’s adultery with Bathsheba.

David starts out with the lament, “O LORD, how many are my foes!”  The LXX makes the statement into a question, but the meaning remains the same.  The fact of the matter is that David is seeing increased opposition in his life.

The reason for the opposition is described in verse two.  “Many are saying of my soul, there is no salvation for him in God.”  The LXX changes the end of the verse and reads, “in his God.”  The specification does not necessarily point to faithless or heathen enemies, however.  It more than likely points refers to the relationship David has with God.[4]

So what is going on here?  David’s enemies are declaring that his present state of affairs (he is on the run from his enemies) is a result of his sin that has caused a failed relationship with God.  This has given them new boldness in their opposition, and as a result, David is feeling overwhelmed.

Why does this matter for us today?  I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest that the vast majority of us has not slept with another person’s spouse and then sent that person off to die in war to cover up the sin.  We are probably not in danger of losing our kingdom to a rebellious son who wants to make himself ruler in our place.  The situation in which David wrote this psalm is unique to him.

So is there application for the reader today?  Absolutely.  I believe there are two lessons we can take away from the first two verses of Psalm 3.

First, David destroyed his testimony (and his integrity) because of his very public sin.  Just as David as king served as a representative of God to everyone around him, we also represent Jesus Christ with our lives (2 Cor. 5:20).  It should be tremendously distressing to us all that our sin not only effects our relationship with God, but it also effects how others think about God.  This is the reason why “hypocrite” is the first word many of the unchurched think about when they hear the word “Christian”.  As believers in Jesus Christ, we need to be constantly ensuring that our behavior is not driving people away from a relationship with God.

Second, David’s opponents are revealing that they believe David’s actions are what disqualify him from salvation in God.  Works-righteousness is at the root of their attacks against him.  David demonstrates throughout this psalm, however, that he understands that his faith in the Lord is what really matters and that his sin has not disqualified him from eternity.  This needs to be a point of comfort for us in our personal faith and also a focus of our evangelistic efforts.

When we become aware of sin in our lives, whether it is pointed out to us by others or we realize it ourselves, we confess it, we repent of it, and we stand on the promise that God forgives us of our sin and does not hold it against us (1 John 1:9).

We also need to do a better job communicating to those around us that we do not believe ourselves to be perfect.  It’s so easy for us to point out Rom. 3:23 to others who do not understand their own sinfulness, but we fail at times to include ourselves in the phrase, “all have sinned”.  The beauty of salvation lies not in God perfecting our lives here on earth (which is demonstrably false) but in the fact that, “while we were still sinners, Christ died for us,” (Rom. 5:8).  This will not only serve to silence the attacks of those who oppose us because of our failures, but it will also plant a seed of the Gospel in their lives.

[1] I will remind you frequently that the translation of the Septuagint is my own translation and completely dependant on the resources (especially lexicons) that I have available to me.  I am not an advanced Greek student (I’m barely intermediate), so I will run into translation issues from time-to-time that are beyond my level of learning.

[2] In the LXX, the heading of the Psalm is actually verse one.  This is also the case in the original Hebrew text.  Verse one in our English Bibles is verse two in the LXX and Hebrew Bible.

[3] Both the Hebrew and Greek include another word at the end of verse two.  In Hebrew (and transliterated in our English Bibles), the word is selah.  In Greek, the word is diaspalma.  Both are believed to be musical interludes.  Since, as far as I know, the words contain no significance for the interpretation of the psalm, I have excluded them.

[4] Take note of instances likeGen. 27:20, where Jacob refers to God as “the LORD your God

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  1. Shielded, Lifted up, and Heard – Psalm 3:3-4 « ophelimos
  2. Nothing Beats a Good Night’s Sleep – Psalm 3:5-6 « ophelimos
  3. Signed, Sealed, and Delivered I’m Yours – Psalm 3:7-8 « ophelimos
  4. Responding to Psalm 3 « ophelimos

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