Psalm 3: Smashing Faces, Lifting Heads

Absalom stole David’s throne and stole from David the hearts of Israel. And David hightailed out of Dodge.

Overnight, David was tossed from his throne and hunted in the wilderness. Now he is pressed against a dark cave, listening in the distance for the sound of approaching hunters, enduring the heart-stopping responses to the smallest sounds, listening for the crack of twigs, holding his breath.

David cried out to God.

I fear too often the god I cry out to is a god of my imagination, fitted with padded boxing gloves, a stick for a sword, and a cap gun to make a lot of noise. He becomes a god who cannot break a sweat, and could never break an enemy.

This is not our God.

Our God is the lifter of heads, holding up the downcast, the discouraged, the fearful, and the hunted. But He is also dressed for battle, at war against sin, and fully aware of every enemy crouching in the bushes waiting to rise.

God is also the smasher of faces.

And as violent as this sounds, it’s under the shield of this God that David finally rests, being hunted but no longer in danger, shielded from the blows of his enemy, released from fear, released from the adrenaline kick that kept him watchful and alert, free from the worry that raced his heart, released from tension, sustained in God, now slowly becoming limp, a powerless body mercifully given over to sleep.

Perhaps because we fail to balance both sides of our God, we lack confidence in Him as our shield. And we don’t sleep well. We respond to the blows of life as if there is no iron shield to protect us, as if we are abandoned in the cave by a God who is too busy, too unconcerned, or simply too incapable to help us.

The god who cannot break his enemies is a god who will not comfort the fear-filled.

Among a thousand worries we are safe in Him. And if this is our God we have no cause for fear. No longer do we need fear over the economy, worry over personal finances, and toss and turn all night in the sleepless tumult of tension, worry, hypotheticals, and the fear of the unknown.

This Psalm teaches me a simple lesson: God is both the One who lifts heads and breaks teeth. A powerful, sustaining, defending God like this can remove all fear. He is strong enough to spread a blanket of sleep over the foxhole of life.

7 thoughts on “Psalm 3: Smashing Faces, Lifting Heads

  1. Good commentary on Ps. 3. Thanks, Tony.

    Are there others that read the psalm, and broke into the old scripture song, “My glory and the lifter of mine head…and he heard me out of his holy hill. Selah”? Including the “Selah”?

    “…Lord; your blessings be on your people” (Ps 3:8 ESV)


  2. I appreciate your fresh and insightful commentary of this psalm. Thank you. For your consideration, I will quote Calvin’s commentary as well:

    …if at any time God makes use of wicked and mischievous men, as scourges to chastise us, it becomes us first diligently to consider the cause, namely, that we suffer nothing which we have not deserved, in order that this reflection may lead us to repentance. But if our enemies, In persecuting us, rather fight against God than against us, let the consideration of their doing so be immediately followed by the confident persuasion of our safety under the protection of him, whose grace, which he hath promised to us, they despise and trample under foot.

    Indeed, it is a a comfort to know that our heavenly Father not only loves us so that he uses the wicked to chastise and discipline us but that he won’t bruise us in such a manner that we will be utterly cast down but lifts our heads heavenward in anticipation of his deliverance.

    Soli Deo Gloria,


    p.s. I have set up a blog hereto read the psalms through the eyes of John Calvin. Pay it a visit from time to time.

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