Psalms 3


David complains, in great distress, of the number of his

enemies, and the reproaches they cast on him, as one forsaken

of God, 1, 2;

is confident, notwithstanding, that God will be his protector,


mentions his prayers and supplications, and how God heard him,

4, 5;

derides the impotent malice of has adversaries, and foretells

their destruction, 6, 7;

and ascribes salvation to God, 8.


This is said to be A Psalm of David, when he fled from Absalom

his son.] See the account, 2Sa 15:1, &c. And David is supposed to

have composed it when obliged to leave Jerusalem, passing by the

mount of Olives, weeping, with his clothes rent, and with dust

upon his head. This Psalm is suitable enough to these

circumstances; and they mutually cast light on each other. If the

inscription be correct, this Psalm is a proof that the Psalms are

not placed in any chronological order.

The word Psalm, mizmor, comes from zamar, to

cut, whether that means to cut into syllables, for the purpose of

its being adapted to musical tones, or whether its being cut on

wood, &c., for the direction of the singers; what we would call a

Psalm in score. This last opinion, however, seems too technical.

Verse 1. Lord, how are they increased that trouble me?] We are

told that the hearts of all Israel went after Absalom, 2Sa 15:13;

and David is astonished to find such a sudden and general revolt.

Not only the common people, but his counsellors also, and many of

his chief captains. How publicly does God take vengeance for the

sins which David committed so privately! In the horrible rebellion

of Absalom we see the adultery of Bath-sheba, and the murder of

Uriah. Now the words of Nathan begin to be fulfilled: "The sword

shall not depart from thy house."

Verse 2. No help for him in God.] These were some of the

reproaches of his enemies, Shimei and others: "He is now down,

and he shall never be able to rise. God alone can save him from

these his enemies; but God has visibly cast him off." These

reproaches deeply affected his heart; and he mentions them with

that note which so frequently occurs in the Psalms, and which

occurs here for the first time, selah. Much has been said on

the meaning of this word; and we have nothing but conjecture to

guide us. The Septuagint always translate it by διαψαλμα

diapsalma, "a pause in the Psalm." The Chaldee sometimes

translates it by lealmin, "for ever." The rest of the

versions leave it unnoticed. It either comes from sal, to raise

or elevate, and may denote a particular elevation in the voices of

the performers, which is very observable in the Jewish singing to

the present day; or it may come from salah, to strew or

spread out, intimating that the subject to which the word is

attached should be spread out, meditated on, and attentively

considered by the reader. Fenwick, Parkhurst, and Dodd, contend

for this meaning; and think "it confirmed by Ps 9:16, where the

word higgaion is put before selah, at the end of the verse." Now

higgaion certainly signifies meditation, or a fit subject for

meditation; and so shows selah to be really a nota bene, attend to

or mind this.

Verse 3. Thou, O Lord, art a shield] As a shield covers and

defends the body from the strokes of an adversary, so wilt thou

cover and defend me from them that rise up against me.

The lifter up of mine head.] Thou wilt restore me to the state

from which my enemies have cast me down. This is the meaning of

the phrase; and this he speaks prophetically. He was satisfied

that the deliverance would take place, hence his confidence in

prayer; so that we find him, with comparative unconcern, laying

himself down in his bed, expecting the sure protection of the


Verse 4. I cried unto the Lord with my voice] He was exposed to

much danger, and therefore he had need of fervour.

He heard me] Notwithstanding my enemies said, and my friends

feared, that there was no help for me in my God; yet he heard me

out of his holy hill. Selah: mark this, and take encouragement

from it. God never forsakes those who trust in him. He never shuts

out the prayer of the distressed.

Verse 5. I laid me down and slept] He who knows that he has God

for his Protector may go quietly and confidently to his bed, not

fearing the violence of the fire, the edge of the sword, the

designs of wicked men, nor the influence of malevolent spirits.

I awaked] Though humanly speaking there was reason to fear I

should have been murdered in my bed, as my most confidential

servants had been corrupted by my rebellious son; yet God, my

shield, protected me. I both slept and awaked; and my life is

still whole in me.

Verse 6. I will not be afraid of ten thousands] Strength and

numbers are nothing against the omnipotence of God. He who has

made God his refuge certainly has no cause to fear.

Verse 7. Arise, O Lord] Though he knew that God had undertaken

his defence, yet he knew that his continued protection depended on

his continual prayer and faith. God never ceases to help as long

as we pray. When our hands hang down, and we restrain prayer

before him, we may then justly fear that our enemies will prevail.

Thou hast smitten] That is, Thou wilt smite. He speaks in full

confidence of God's interference; and knows as surely that he

shall have the victory, as if he had it already. Breaking the jaws

and the teeth are expressions which imply, confounding and

destroying an adversary; treating him with extreme contempt; using

him like a dog, &c.

Verse 8. Salvation belongeth unto the Lord] It is God alone who

saves. He is the fountain whence help and salvation come; and to

him alone the praise of all saved souls is due. His blessing is

upon his people. Those who are saved from the power and the guilt

of sin are his people. His mercy saved them; and it is by his

blessing being continually upon them, that they continue to be

saved. David adds his selah here also: mark this! 1. Salvation

comes from God. 2. Salvation is continued by God. These are great

truths; mark them!


The occasion of this Psalm was Absalom's rebellion. David being

deserted by his subjects, railed on by Shimei, pursued for his

crown and life by his ungracious son, and not finding to whom to

make his moan, betakes himself to his God; and before him he

expostulates his wrong, confesses his faith, and makes his prayer.

There are three strains of this accurate Psalm: I. His

complaint. II. The confession of his confidence. III. His


I. He begins with a sad and bitter complaint, amplified,

1. By the number and multitude of his enemies. They were many,

very many; they were multiplied and increased: "All Israel was

gathered together from Dan to Beer-sheba, as the sand of the sea

for multitude;" 2Sa 17:11.

2. From their malice they came together to do him mischief. They

rose up, not for him, but against him; not to honour, but to

trouble him; not to defend him as they ought, but to take away

his crown and life; 2Sa 17:2.

3. From their insults and sarcasm. It was not Shimei only, but

many, that said it: "Many-say there is no help for him in his


II. The second part of the Psalm sets forth David's confidence:-

1. To their multitude, he opposeth ONE GOD. But THOU, O LORD!

2. To their malicious insurrection, Jehovah; who, he believed,

1. Would be a buckler to receive all the arrows shot against him.

2. His glory, to honour, though they went about to dishonour, him.

3. The lifter up of his head, which they wished to lay low enough.

3. To their vain boast of desertion, There is no help for him in

his God, he opposeth his own experience, "I cried unto the Lord,

and he heard me."

4. By whose protection being sustained and secured, he deposes

all care and fear, all anxiety and distraction. 1. He sleeps with

a quiet mind: "I laid me down and slept, I awoke." 2. He sings a

requiem: "I will not be afraid of ten thousands of the people,

that have set themselves against me round about."

III. In the close, or third part, he petitions and prays,

notwithstanding his security: "Arise, O Lord; save me, O my God!"

To move God to grant his request, he thankfully reminds him of

what he had done before:-

1. "Arise and save me, for thou hast smitten all mine enemies."

Thou art the same God: do then the same work; be as good to thy

servant as ever thou hast been.

2. He inserts an excellent maxim: Salvation belongeth unto the

Lord. As if he had said, It is thy property and prerogative to

save. If thou save not, I expect it from none other.

3. Lastly, as a good king should, in his prayers he remembers

his subjects. He prayed for those who were using him despitefully:

Thy blessing be upon thy people! To the same sense, Coverdale, in

his translation.

Copyright information for Clarke