The title of this Psalm best leads to the contents of it. The first and literal sense of this Psalm should seem to refer wholly to David; but, to an enlightened eye, there is much to be seen in it of Christ. Amidst the afflictions here complained of, There is much of the consolations of Jesus, and his great salvation.
By turning to 2Sa 15, which I recommend the Reader to do, we shall there find the part of David's life which refers to this history; and, as an history only, it forms a very interesting one. David was now under the chastening hand of God. And what tended greatly to aggravate it, was the consciousness which he could not but have in his own mind, that it was for sin. God had said concerning his transgression in the case of the murder of Uriah, that the sword should not depart from his house; so that David could not but eye God's hand, in the unnatural usurpation of his son Absalom. 2 Samuel 12:10-12. But Reader, though in the first and general sense of the Psalm, we find David and his trials respecting his son, the subject of it, yet, if we look beyond the King of Israel's history, we shall discern a subject infinitely more important and interesting, in the reference this Psalm hath to the persecution's and afflictions of Jesus. Did not Jesus in the days of his flesh sustain a contradiction of sinners against himself? And was not the Lord of life and glory constrained to the deepest acknowledgements of sorrow, with strong crying and tears, when all his disciples forsook him and fled? Did David at this season when his life was sought for by his son Absalom go up the hill of the Mount of Olives weeping: and will not the Reader recollect how Jesus went forth to the very same spot in the night of his unequalled sorrow, when his life was sought for by his unnatural children, whom he came to seek and redeem? Precious Jesus! how blessed is it to eye thee preeminent in sorrow as also in glory. 2 Samuel 15:30; Hebrews 5:7.
Most probably David referred to the curses of Shimei in what he here saith. See 2 Samuel 16:8. But still yet more striking are these words if considered, as referring to the persecutions of the Lord Jesus. Indeed our adored Lord might well be supposed to speak of the increase of them that troubled him, and which arose up against him. And never surely were taunts so cruelly thrown out as those upon Jesus while hanging on the cross, when they cried out: 'he trusted in God let him deliver him now if he will have him.' Matthew 27:43. Reader! of all soul distresses that certainly is the greatest, when the enemy and our own unbelieving hearts would tempt us to suppose God hath forsaken us. Here the child of God is sadly put to it, when the enemies of our salvation thus reproach. Oh! Lord, suffer not my soul to fall under this heaviest of all sorrows. While Jesus looks on my affliction, and speaks peace, all is well. Let Jesus but smile, I care not who frowns. But if I begin to despond of his favor; if it could be so, that there was really no help for me in my God, then I should be ruined indeed. I detain the Reader one moment longer on this verse, to take notice of the little word that is placed at the end of it, Selah. And as the same word is found very many times in the book of the Psalms, I would here, once for all, offer a short observation upon it. Various have been the opinions of the learned concerning the precise meaning of it. But the most general sentiment determines it to be a note of observation: that where the word Selah occurs, it means, take particular notice of what is said before it. Now supposing this to be the case, how very appropriate are both those verses, if considered as referring to Jesus. Such a thought is sweet, in eyeing Christ in his unequalled troubles? And such a thought in beholding Jesus as our example, for our lesser troubles, is blessed also. It is as much as to say, did the ungodly taunt Jesus himself with being without help in his God; well then may they be supposed to say so concerning his household!
Reader! see what grace can do! And depend upon it, when grace and faith are in lively exercise the more the opposition is made from without, the stronger the comforts will be within. Oh! how blessed is it thus to look to God. Jehovah in Jesus is a shield to defend, a glory to shine upon, and a lifter to bear up. Christ is all and in all. Safety, honor, support, and holy joy! How fully were all these proved in the case of David after the rebellion of Absalom. See 2 Samuel 19:14. And Reader! think how infinitely more so in the instance of our Lord Jesus Christ, in his triumph over death, hell, and the grave. Acts 2:36. Let not the Reader overlook what is said of the Lord's hearing prayer out of his holy hill. The hill of Zion was a type of the gospel church. It is in Jesus that prayer is heard, and from Jesus answers come down. Christ is king of Zion.
Some have thought that what David saith in this verse of laying down and taking rest, hath a much higher meaning than the common sleep of the bed. They have supposed that the words are typical of Jesus laying in the grave, and his glorious resurrection that followed. And certainly it is a beautiful idea, well deserving to be kept in view in this Psalm. For with confidence it had been spoken of the Lord Jesus by the spirit of prophecy, that Jehovah would not leave Christ's soul in hell neither suffer his Holy One to see corruption. Psalms 16:10.
How charming both these verses! Ten thousands opposed to one poor man become a mighty army! But millions against us, when God is on our side, are as nothing. Oh! for faith in the Lord, and in the power of his might. See a beautiful illustration of this doctrine, 2 Kings 6:15-17.
See Reader what a blessed joyful conclusion! What could open more gloomy and discouraging than this Psalm did! What can end more triumphant and joyful! But do not fail to trace the whole to its source. Salvation is of God. Yes! Jesus saith, Mine own arm brought salvation, and of the people there was none with me. Isaiah 63:3-5. Oh! Lord! suffer me never to rob my God of his glory, by mingling anything of my wretchedness with the finished redemption of my Saviour. Lord Jesus do thou have all the praise, for thou alone art able to bear the glory. Zechariah 6:12-13.
CAN I, my soul, read this Psalm of David's distresses in his flight from Absalom, and not behold David's Lord in his agonies and conflicts, the very same spot of the Mount of Olives? Must I not suppose that the Holy Ghost was shadowing forth in the instance of David, as in numberless other cases, in the trials and afflictions of the faithful, in the Old Testament scripture, the outlines of the Lord of his church, to be brought forward in the after ages of the New? And shall not such scenes, which the Lord of life and glory passed through in the days of his flesh, when enduring the contradiction of sinners against himself, endear the Lamb of God to my heart, and animate me in all my exercises, that I may never be weary nor faint in my mind?
Learn, my soul, from what is said of David in this Psalm, what a holy composure, faith in God's love, and dependence upon God's grace, is capable of inducing under the most afflicting circumstances. It should seem that David meditated this Psalm, if he did not immediately write it down, when he was in such a situation of hurry and confusion, as was enough to have discomposed the stoutest mind. And so it would, had not the Lord been his shield, his glory, and the lifter up of his head. Oh I precious Jesus! do I not learn from hence, that the only security and defense against all danger is the leaning upon thee and thy great salvation. Oh! Lord, let the arm of thy strength be under me, and the light of thy countenance shining upon me, and then will I not fear though ten thousands set themselves against me round about.
Reader! behold from the perusal of this sweet and blessed Psalm, what must be your confidence now in your nightly slumbers, and what alone will be your confidence then, when laying down in the long slumber of the grave; even sleeping in Jesus. You need not be afraid in the recurrence of every night to drop asleep, if so be your soul is sustained by its union with Jesus. And a consciousness of the same interest in all that belongs to Jesus, will be the well grounded security, when the body falls asleep in Jesus unto the day of the resurrection. Everything speaks in the language of a covenant God, as the Lord did to the Patriarch: fear not to go down into Egypt, even the Egypt of the grave, for I am with thee. Blessed Jesus! it is thou, that by thy death hast overcome death, and made the grave a sweet chamber of repose, until thou shalt call upon thy members to arise at the great day of everlasting joy. Then thou shalt call and I will answer thee, for thou wilt have a desire to the work of thine hands.
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Psalms 3". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://pro.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29