O Lord, how my adversaries have increased! Many are rising up against me. Many are saying of my soul, “There is no deliverance for him in God.” Selah. But You, O Lord, are a shield about me, My glory, and the One who lifts my head. I was crying to the Lord with my voice, And He answered me from His holy mountain. Selah. I lay down and slept; I awoke, for the Lord sustains me. I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people who have set themselves against me round about. Arise, O Lord; save me, O my God! For You have smitten all my enemies on the cheek; You have shattered the teeth of the wicked. Salvation belongs to the Lord; Your blessing be upon Your people! Selah.
The third Psalm is the first offered prayer in this prayer book. It is a conversion of language. Eugene Peterson in Answering God explains that the conversion of language is a change from talking about God to talking to God.
David is in trouble, and he is suffering from
the worst betrayal; that of his own son. His very own flesh and blood. It
was not a sudden attack but a slow, thought-out, well-planned betrayal. Absalom
turned the hearts of the people away from David by usurping his father’s throne
(2 Sam. 15). David, his family, and a few that remain loyal to the anointed
king escape—he must hide from his son Absalom—one that he thought he could
trust. He raised this boy in the palace and offered him the best of
everything, and he is repaid with betrayal.
The language of prayer is forged in the crucible of trouble. Eugene Peterson
David laments his pain to God, illustrating the conversion of language. He is not crying out about God, he is crying out to God. He cries out to God as if God is listening, as if he has a relationship with God. His pain is such that he does not name his enemy—he can’t speak the name of his son, and he can’t bring himself to speak of his son as the enemy. He stutters as he attempts to name him, but he can’t breathe through the pain. He must still cry out to God for help because this unnamed enemy will kill him if he should catch up to the exiled king. His enemy is mocking him, laughing, “There is no help for him in God!” (v.2 NASB).
How many times have we felt this pain in our hearts—our enemies mocking our trust in God? Maybe it is not a physical enemy, perhaps it is a circumstance or situation; the devil wants us to believe we have no hope, forcing us to run into exile for our lives. Maybe your exile is bitterness, depression, discouragement, addiction, and anger. The pain is a cruel darkness. The blade of betrayal and hurt brutally impaled into our broken bodies, leaving our hearts skewered.
David cries out to God, and he is answered. God did not only answer him, but His answer echoed from God’s holy mountain, the place where God’s presence rests. It is hard not to talk about our troubles, we just want to know that someone on the planet knows the pain we are in. We hear the voice of the enemy ringing in our ears “There is no hope!” but the enemy has come to kill, steal, and destroy—and he would see you destroyed if he had his way. But God…though David cries out to God about the enemy he is facing, he does not stay in the place of discouragement that seeks to entrap and defeat him. He turns from the trouble to trust in His mercy and faithfulness as He hears God answering from the mountain. David is not alone. You are not alone. God hears you when you call.
How can you trust God? David turned from the
trouble and remembered the promises God had made to him. God has already proven
Himself faithful to deliver David from his enemies, and David trusts that God
will do it again, even now. David is so confident that the Lord will deliver that
he is able to sleep and wake in peace with God as his shield. David changed his
perspective. His eyes shift off the enemy onto God, and His faithfulness and
the discouragement and pain have to cower in the presence of God Almighty.
David is still in pain, who would not be at the betrayal of a son? Regardless,
he places his trust in El Shaddai—God Almighty. Choosing to trust
changed David’s perspective and his heart and gave him peace.
The entire theology of prayer, that the world and I can be changed and that God is the one to do it. Eugene Peterson