Do We Count Our Foes or Claim Our Faith? A Lenten Reflection on Psalm 3


Psalm 3 – 3/5/17  

Psalm 3 begins with this lament:

“O Lord, how many are my foes!

Many are rising against me;

Many are saying to me,

‘There is no help for you in God.’”


That may very well have been true of David when he wrote it, fleeing from his son Absalom–who wanted to replace David as king–and his supporters.  But it’s not particularly true for me; I really don’t have many foes.

If I were to change “foes” to “woes,” however, I can relate a little more easily–

“O Lord, how many are my woes!  Many are rising against me….”

Hmmm…. What are my woes? my worries? I don’t think of myself as a worrier, but if I were to take a really honest look, I would have to admit there are some things that weigh on my soul.  Many of them are relational, having to do with the important people in my life.  With regards to my children, for example–will they grow into caring, responsible adults?  Do they know deep in their souls how much they are, and forever will be, loved?? Can I somehow be doing more in either–or both–of those areas??  And of course, there are also a few wider-reaching, less-personal-but-no-less-real woes having to do with things that are happening in our country and our world.

I may not have many foes, but I do have woes; and while they may not threaten my immediate physical well-being in their “rising [up] against me,” as Absalom and his armies did to David, they can, indeed, threaten my spiritual well-being as they lie in wait, silently growing in strength and perhaps number….

What to do?? The more I allow myself to consider what woes I might have, the more I can come up with; the longer I reflect on them, the stronger they can seem.  If I dwell on these things, I can begin to feel overwhelmed; if I were to brood over them, I could certainly imagine feeling a sense of despair, even hopelessness, wondering if my worries would prevail?

And then I wonder, what about David? Did his foes, many though they were, claim victory? Did his foes, rising up against him as they did, emerge triumphant?  Reading the rest of the psalm, I find no answer to that question.  I’m left hanging, unsure of the outcome in the struggle between David and his son.

What I do find, though, is not despair on David’s part, but confidence!  There is no overwhelming hopelessness, but rather an undeniable sense of strength!  That Absalom has sided against David seems to be far less important than that David has sided with God.

“But you, O Lord, are a shield around me…” (v. 3)

“I cry aloud to the Lord, and he answers me….” (v. 4)

“I lie down and sleep; I wake again, for the Lord sustains me.” (v. 5)

“I am not afraid of ten thousands of people…” (v. 6)

…and finally…

“Deliverance belongs to the Lord;

May your blessing be on your people!” (v. 8)

What happened?

How did David go from frantically counting his foes to fearlessly claiming his faith?

He did just that–he stopped counting his foes and concentrated instead on claiming his faith.  

He shifted his focus from himself and his problems to God and God’s power.

He acknowledged that victory over his foes did not depend entirely on him and his strength, but depended, rather, on his being entirely dependent on God and God’s strength.

It may be that David’s foes were great…but his faith was greater.

God, help me be more like David!



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