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Psalm 3



Morning Prayer of Trust in God
MT Intro
"A Psalm of David, when he fled from Absalom his son"
(cf. I1 Samuel 15-16)
The Lord Helps His Troubled People
Prayer For Deliverance From Personal enemies
(A Lament)
Morning Prayer for Help Morning Prayer of the Upright in Persecution
3:1-2 3:1-2 3:1-2 3:1-2 3:1-2
3:3-6 3:3-4 3:3-4 3:3-4 3:3-4
  3:5-6 3:5-6 3:5-6 3:5-6
3:7-8 3:7-8 3:7 3:7-8 3:7-8

READING CYCLE THREE (see "Guide to Good Bible Reading")


This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects (reading cycle #3). Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Third paragraph

4. Etc.



 1O Lord, how my adversaries have increased!
 Many are rising up against me.
 2Many are saying of my soul,
 "There is no deliverance for him in God."Selah.

3:1-2 The psalmist felt trapped/surrounded by adversaries (BDB 865 III).

1. they have increased (cf. Ps. 3:6)

2. they are rising up

3. they are saying

Notice the threefold use of "many" (BDB 912 I). Even for the righteous God-fearer there are problems (real and imagined) in this fallen world. The Psalms want to give the reader a faith worldview (i.e., the eyes of faith, cf. 2 Kgs. 6:17). The remainder of the psalm describes YHWH's presence and care!

One wonders how these laments work in

1. our day

2. our faith groups

Are those who disagree with us enemies of God? I think it best to use the psalms as words of encouragement to faith/trust in God and not as an attack on all who disagree with me! The true enemies are those who reject our God and His Christ!

3:2 "my soul" This is the Hebrew word nephesh (BDB 659, KB 711-713), which denotes an air-breathing animal (i.e., related to the Hebrew word for breath and spirit). It is used of mankind (cf. Gen. 2:7) and cattle (cf. Gen. 1:24; 2:19).

Humans are both a part of this creation and created in the image and likeness of the Creator (cf. Gen. 1:26-27). We have both a physical component and a spiritual component.

▣ "Selah" Notice this term is placed in the margin, apparently for the choir director, in Ps. 3:2,4,8. The root is not certain. Here are some of the theories.

1. from Persian root for "song"

2. from Hebrew סלל (BDB 699) "to lift up," i.e., a higher pitch

3. from Hebrew נצח (BDB 663) meaning "always," functioning like "amen"

4. from LXX denoting an interlude of instruments

With all these theories it is obvious that moderns do not know what it refers to in the Psalter. It is used over 70 times in the MT and over 90 times in the LXX. See Intro. to Psalms, VIII.

 3But You, O Lord, are a shield about me,
 My glory, and the One who lifts my head.
 4I was crying to the Lord with my voice,
 And He answered me from His holy mountain. Selah.
 5I lay down and slept;
 I awoke, for the Lord sustains me.
 6I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people
 Who have set themselves against me round about.

3:3-6 "O Lord" See SPECIAL TOPIC: NAMES FOR DEITY at Ps. 1:1.

▣ "You. . .are" The psalmist enumerates in powerful imagery the person and work of YHWH for the believer.

1. a shield, Ps. 3:3 — Gen. 15:1; Deut. 33:29; 2 Sam. 22:3; Ps. 28:7; 33:20; 59:11; 84:11; 115:9,10,11; 119:114; 144:2 (also note 1 Pet. 1:5)

2. my glory, Ps. 3:3 — Ps. 62:7

a. honor

b. victory (cf. TEV)

3. lifts my head, Ps. 3:3

a. victory in battle

b. recognition by the judge in court

c. deliverance from death

4. answers my prayers, Ps. 3:4

5. sustains me, Ps. 3:5

6. causes me not to have fear, Ps. 3:6


3:4 "I was crying to the Lord" This prayer for help may be Ps. 3:7a. The consequences of "He answered me" are seen in Ps. 3:7b-8.

▣ "from His holy mountain" This refers to the temple, where in OT imagery, YHWH dwelt between the wings of the Cherubim over the ark of the covenant. This was the place where heaven and earth (the spiritual and physical) met!

3:5 Sleep is possible because of YHWH's presence, peace, and protection (cf. Ps. 4:8; Pro. 3:24). Psalm 3:5a is an idiom for a restful night's sleep! This is possible because of one's faith and trust in YHWH, His presence, His promises, His character!

3:6 This is hyperbolic, idiomatic language. The term "ten thousand" (BDB 914) is an idiom for an innumerable host. The plural (as here) intensifies this (cf. Deut. 33:2,17; 1 Sam. 18:7; Micah 6:7).

 7Arise, O Lord; save me, O my God!
 For You have smitten all my enemies on the cheek;
 You have shattered the teeth of the wicked.
 8Salvation belongs to the Lord;
 Your blessing upon Your people! Selah.

3:7 This verse begins with two imperatives (i.e., prayer requests).

1. arise — BDB 877, KB 1086, Qal imperative used in the sense of entreating YHWH to act, cf. Num. 10:35; Ps. 7:6; 9:19; 10:12; 44:26; 68:1; 74:22; 82:8; 132:8; as enemies "arose," now the palmist calls on YHWH to rise up (i.e., from His throne)!

2. save — BDB 446, KB 448, Hiphil imperative, which in the OT, denotes deliverance from the trials, pains, issues of this life (Ps. 3:8)



▣ "has smitten. . .has shattered" YHWH brings deliverance by forcefully dealing with the psalmist's adversaries.

1. has smitten — BDB 645, KB 697, Hiphil perfect

2. has shattered — BDB 990, KB 1402, Piel perfect

The "cheek" (BDB 534 I) and "teeth" 9BDB 1042 I) are idioms of shame and defeat (cf. 1 Kgs. 22:24; Job 16:10; Ps. 58:6; Micah 5:1). It specifically refers to their hateful words (cf. Ps. 3:2).

3:8 There are no verbs in Ps. 3:8. Often the biblical Hebrew "to be" verb is supplied by the reader.

▣ "Selah" See notes at Psalm 3:2.

3:9 Notice how an individual lament is used to reflect a corporate concern (i.e., "Thy people," of Ps. 3:9; Ps. 25:22; 28:9). YHWH brings salvation/deliverance, not only to individuals who ask but to the nation who asks (i.e., 2 Chr. 7:14).


This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought-provoking, not definitive.

1. Who are the adversaries?

2. Why are they denying YHWH's deliverance?

3. What does the imperative "arise" mean?

What are its possible backgrounds

4. What does "Selah" mean?


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