Have you ever been “in over your head?” Have you been so overcome by a trial in your life that it felt as though you couldn’t think or move, let alone lead a productive life? Have you ever been distressed?
If you have not faced a trial recently, you will face one soon. James makes the assumption that believers will encounter trials when he says, “Count it all ... ”
David, king of Israel, the man after God’s own heart was in trouble. There is perhaps no grief that brings with it such pain as the grief over a wayward child.
David is in the midst of legitimate distress. How will he react? His reaction is recorded for us in Psalm 3 when in the night of his trial, both literally and figuratively, in beautiful poetic form, David teaches us how to deal with distress.
In Psalm 3 David demonstrates that dealing with distress biblically is essential for a successful Christian life.
Let's take a look at the decisive actions taken by David in Psalm 3 in order to successfully deal with his God-sent trial.
Dealing with distress requires an acceptance of reality.
Very often in our culture, we shy away from admitting it when pain or trial enters into our lives. Trials are a reality! It’s not “masculine” to deny them, or act like they are not there! David spoke of his distress in terms of actual reality.
David's trial was growing (v. 1) - "How are they increased!"
II Sam. 15:12 – “The people increased continually with Absalom.” David was facing a tide of growing, seemingly insurmountable public opinion. Three times in this text, he indicates that “many” people are against him. The cry in v. 1 is almost like a cry of exasperation! The idea that they were “oppressors” – They oppressed his very soul! David doesn’t ignore this reality. He sees it, and he cries out to God.
Perhaps it seems as though the number of your trials are too great. Maybe it seems like this distress is growing at a rate far to rapid to bear. Maybe it is well for you to recall our Savior.
David's trial was active (v. 1) - "Rise up against me."
The text doesn’t indicate a passive position of spectatorship.The text indicates an active position of attack.
David's trial was personal (v. 2) - "Many there be which say . . ."
“Saying of my soul” – calculated words designed to hurt the most inward parts of man. Not just speaking against his actions or family, but against his very soul. Literally – “Nothing of help for him in God.” Clear reference to his sin with Bathsheba – David has done so much wrong that there is nothing that he can do that will cause God to hear him. II Sam. 16:7, Shimei – “Come out, come out, thoue bloody man, and thou man of Belial.
The enemies will not allow David to escape his past sins.One of the Devil’s favorite tricks. Maybe he is playing it with you today – “There is no hope for your soul with God, look at what you have done!” Do you think that if you shook David’s hand in the foyer today, he would have said, “I’m doing fine?” No! David saw his trial for what it was, and accepted the reality of it.
The reality of this trial was that it was growing, active, and personal.
A second action seen in this passage leads us to conclude that . . .
Dealing with distress requires an acknowledgement of hope (v. 3-4)
“But” is a significant word here. David acknowledges the reality of his trial, but this is not where he will dwell. He knows that there is hope. Question: How could David see any hope at all in the midst of a circumstance this bleak?
David's hope was based on present security (v. 3) - "thou art"
Not, “thou wilt be,” or “thou hast been,” but “thou art.” Although things are going pretty badly right now, God is still David’s present security. David states confidently that…
Losing your reputation before man is scary! There is no need to fear when all of your glory comes from God. As long as our glory and honor come from ourselves, we stand on shaky ground – our glory comes from God.
In the midst of trial, David had a hope based on present security
David's hope was based on past experience (v. 4) - "I cried, God heard."
He has the confidence of knowing that God has heard his prayer. Could be rendered: “Whenever I cry aloud, he hears me.” David’s confidence comes from the knowledge that God hears prayer!
David dealt with this trial in his life by accepting the reality of it, and by acknowledging the hope that hung on his knowledge of God. But there is a third action taken by David in this text that is well for us to note.
Dealing with distress requires an announcement of courage (v. 5-6)
Just as any soldier would boldly go to battle based on the strong relationship that he has with his commander, David draws on his knowledge of God to make some eerily bold claims.
There is rest resulting from God's sustenance (v. 5)
One of the most remarkable verses in the Bible. How could you lay down and sleep, David?!? Spurgeon said that this is a sleep of holy confidence, not a sleep of presumption. A habitual action only made possible by an extra measure of sustenance from God. Ps. 127:2 tells us that, "He giveth his beloved sleep” The rest enjoyed by David is predicated solely on his present relationship with God. Does your relationship with God allow you to sleep in times of trial?
There is rest resulting from God's power (v. 6)
David faced seemingly insurmountable odds. The word translated “ten thousands” could actually be translated “myriads.” In other words, David was faced with opposition from countless enemies. David was confident “I will NOT be afraid!” One with God is always the majority. God’s power allows rest that comes from confidence.
Now that we have looked at the first three actions that David takes in order to deal with his distress, let’s consider his final, perhaps most important, action.
Dealing with distress requires an appeal for deliverance (v. 7-8)
What’s left for David to do except to lift up his voice and pray to God on his own behalf?
David's prayer involved recognition of a close relationship (v. 7) - "Arise"
All interpersonal communication is predicated upon a relationship. I wouldn’t speak to my grandma the same way that I would speak to my work associate, etc.
The manner in which David addresses God – Imperative! This reveals an individual with a very close relationship with God. His message is taken from the prayer of Moses in Numbers 10. Is your relationship such that you can approach God at any time?
David's prayer involved recognition of a total triumph (v. 7)
For David as a king, simple refuge from the enemy is not enough. David must have victory. What did this victory that David prayed for involve? Humiliation – “smite on the cheek.” Incapacitation – “shatter the teeth”
It is ok to boldly ask God for victory over your enemies. Just as David was called to kingship, so are we called to kingship (Rev. 22:5). With this in mind, we must not stop short of total victory!
David's prayer involved recognition of God's sovereignty (v. 8)
God alone can save. God’s blessing always accompanies his saving deliverance. David is here speaking of his confidence that God will restore the kingdom to it’s anointed ruler.
It wasn’t always easy for David. In fact, things got a lot worse before they got better. David’s battle raged on for sometime. David’s son, Absalom was killed. David went into some deep mourning.
In the end, however, David stayed strong because of his godly response to dealing with difficulty. What’s your response like?
Are you ready for trials to come?