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Bible Commentaries

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible
Psalms 3

 

 

Verse 1

1. How are they increased?—The vast and constantly swelling number of the revolters threw the country into the greatest alarm. David three times mentions itin Psalms 3:1-2; Psalms 3:6and calls them myriads, a Hebraism for a vast but unknown number. See 2 Samuel 15:13


Verse 2

2. My soul— “Soul”” ( נפשׁ, nephesh) is here a Hebraism for me, myself; but is used sometimes in the psychological sense for πνευμα, or spirit, the mental ego. The reproachful words of his enemies “there is no help for him in God”had entered into his inmost being. See 2 Samuel 16:7-8; Psalms 71:11; Psalms 62:10. David’s order to Zadok to return the ark to Zion. (2 Samuel 15:24-25,) might have given plausibility to these envenomed words.

Selah—A word occurring seventy-three times in the Psalms, and three times in Habakkuk. As a musical direction it denotes pause, rest, silence, that is, of the voice, to give place to a brief intermediate symphony, or ritornello. It may also be a sign to the reader to pause for meditation upon the import of what is just said. To human eyes David’s cause seemed lost.


Verse 3

3. But thou, O Lord—From the desperate human aspect of things faith turns its eye to God alone.

A shield for me—Or, a shield about me. See Genesis 15:1; Job 1:10. The figure is warlike, and implies David’s sense of his own danger.

My glory—My honour and prosperity.

The lifter up of mine head—To lift up the head not only denotes deliverance from trouble, but also restoration to former dignity, as in Genesis 40:20-21. He had fled from the capital in great humiliation, with his head covered, as a sign of mourning, (see 2 Samuel 15:30;) but God would reverse his sorrow, restore his glory, and so lift up his head.


Verse 4

4. I cried… he heard me—Literally, I will cry, and he will hear me. Although the vauv conversive ( ו) would make the future here a past tense, yet it should be construed as really future, and the preterite form only given for intensity and assurance, as if the answer had already come. The idea is, “I will cry, and he will assuredly hear me.” But see Psalms 3:6.

Out of his holy hill—That is, Zion. The reference to the place whence the answer of prayer should proceed is a recognition of the ordained methods of inquiring of God, and suggests the strong churchly and pious heart of David.


Verse 5

5. I laid me down and slept—This proves it to be a morning song, probably the day after he had left Jerusalem.

Sustained me—See Psalms 37:24


Verse 6

6. I will not be afraid—With the morning comes a clearer assurance. The perils of the night had passed. God had answered his prayer so far as to divide Absalom’s counsellors and defeat Ahithophel. See 2 Samuel 15:31; 2 Samuel 16:15-23. This gave David rest and safety through the night, and was the first visible pledge of the divine answer to his prayers. See Psalms 3:4.

Ten thousands—Myriads, a definite number put for an indefinite; countless multitudes.

Set… against me—Formed in firm line of battle. The term is a military one.


Verse 7

7. Arise, O Lord—The rising, here, is to be taken in the military or hostile sense, as in Psalms 3:1, and Psalms 92:11. The crisis is upon him, and he calls upon Jehovah to take a position openly against his enemies. They had said, “There is no help for him in God,” Psalms 3:2; he had said, “Thou, O Lord, art a shield for me; my glory, and the lifter up of my head,” Psalms 3:3. Everything depended upon some manifest interference of God in behalf of the exiled king.

Thou hast smitten—The perfect tense here either refers to past triumphs in support of present faith, and as an argument for present help, or is what is called the “prophetical perfect,” as indicating the answer which is immediately expected, as if it had been already made. And this latter appears to be the true sense.

Broken the teeth—David’s enemies are here compared to wild beasts, who, with their teeth and strong jaws, tear their prey; but God had now rendered them as powerless as these beasts of prey would be with their jaws broken and their teeth dashed out. See Job 29:17; Psalms 58:6


Verse 8

8. Salvation belongeth unto the Lord—Literally, to Jehovah (is) the salvation. The Hebrew is peculiarly expressive of Jehovah’s sole and sovereign possession and right of disposal of the blessings of the national covenant. No political combinations, no party uprisings of the people, can selfishly engross them.

Thy people—Not the entire Hebrew nation, “for they are not all Israel which are of Israel,” but those true hearted of the nation who abide faithful to the covenant and the spirit of the theocracy. The spiritual application of this beautiful psalm to struggling individual faith in all ages is apparent.

 


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Bibliography Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Psalms 3:4". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/psalms-3.html. 1874-1909.

Lectionary Calendar
Saturday, November 16th, 2019
the Week of Proper 27 / Ordinary 32
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