When The Bottom Falls Out

Bible Book: Psalms  3 : 1-8
Subject: Suffering; Hardships; Prayer; Trust in God
Series: Psalms - Kirksey

When the bottom falls out, what do you do? Honestly, some people just fall apart. Here, David did not.

The following lines from Percy Bysshe Shelly (1792-1822) might come to mind:

“Most wretched men
Are cradled into poetry by wrong;
They learn in suffering what they teach in song.”

David writes in Psalm 3:1-8, where we read, “Lord, how they have increased who trouble me! Many are they who rise up against me. Many are they who say of me, / ‘There is no help for him in God.’ Selah / But You, O Lord, are a shield for me, / My glory and the One who lifts up my head. I cried to the Lord with my voice, / And He heard me from His holy hill. Selah / I lay down and slept; / I awoke, for the Lord sustained me. I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people / Who have set themselves against me all around. Arise, O Lord; / Save me, O my God! For You have struck all my enemies on the cheekbone; / You have broken the teeth of the ungodly. Salvation belongs to the Lord.
Your blessing is upon Your people. Selah”

Please allow me to point out several things from our passage.

I. First, note the revolt against God’s man.

From Psalm 3:1-2 we read, “Lord, how they have increased who trouble me! Many are they who rise up against me. Many are they who say of me, / ‘There is no help for him in God.’ Selah”

We find the background for Psalm 3 in 2 Samuel 15-17. For the sake of time, we will read several portions from these chapters, namely, 2 Samuel 15:1-14, 30-37; 16:23; and 17:23-29, “After this it happened that Absalom provided himself with chariots and horses, and fifty men to run before him. Now Absalom would rise early and stand beside the way to the gate. So it was, whenever anyone who had a lawsuit came to the king for a decision, that Absalom would call to him and say, ‘What city are you from?” And he would say, ‘Your servant is from such and such a tribe of Israel.’ Then Absalom would say to him, ‘Look, your case is good and right; but there is no deputy of the king to hear you.’ Moreover Absalom would say, ‘Oh, that I were made judge in the land, and everyone who has any suit or cause would come to me; then I would give him justice.’ And so it was, whenever anyone came near to bow down to him, that he would put out his hand and take him and kiss him. In this manner Absalom acted toward all Israel who came to the king for judgment. So Absalom stole the hearts of the men of Israel. Now it came to pass after forty years that Absalom said to the king, ‘Please, let me go to Hebron and pay the vow which I made to the Lord. For your servant took a vow while I dwelt at Geshur in Syria, saying, ‘If the Lord indeed brings me back to Jerusalem, then I will serve the Lord.’ And the king said to him, ‘Go in peace.’ So he arose and went to Hebron. Then Absalom sent spies throughout all the tribes of Israel, saying, ‘As soon as you hear the sound of the trumpet, then you shall say, ‘Absalom reigns in Hebron!’ And with Absalom went two hundred men invited from Jerusalem, and they went along innocently and did not know anything. Then Absalom sent for Ahithophel the Gilonite, David’s counselor, from his city—from Giloh—while he offered sacrifices. And the conspiracy grew strong, for the people with Absalom continually increased in number. Now a messenger came to David, saying, ‘The hearts of the men of Israel are with Absalom.’ So David said to all his servants who were with him at Jerusalem, ‘Arise, and let us flee, or we shall not escape from Absalom. Make haste to depart, lest he overtake us suddenly and bring disaster upon us, and strike the city with the edge of the sword. . . . So David went up by the Ascent of the Mount of Olives, and wept as he went up; and he had his head covered and went barefoot. And all the people who were with him covered their heads and went up, weeping as they went up. Then someone told David, saying, ‘Ahithophel is among the conspirators with Absalom.’ And David said, ‘O Lord, I pray, turn the counsel of Ahithophel into foolishness!’ Now it happened when David had come to the top of the mountain, where he worshiped God—there was Hushai the Archite coming to meet him with his robe torn and dust on his head. David said to him, ‘If you go on with me, then you will become a burden to me. But if you return to the city, and say to Absalom, ‘I will be your servant, O king; as I was your father’s servant previously, so I will now also be your servant,’ then you may defeat the counsel of Ahithophel for me. And do you not have Zadok and Abiathar the priests with you there? Therefore it will be that whatever you hear from the king’s house, you shall tell to Zadok and Abiathar the priests. Indeed they have there with them their two sons, Ahimaaz, Zadok’s son, and Jonathan, Abiathar’s son; and by them you shall send me everything you hear.’ So Hushai, David’s friend, went into the city. And Absalom came into Jerusalem. . . . Now the advice of Ahithophel, which he gave in those days, was as if one had inquired at the oracle of God. So was all the advice of Ahithophel both with David and with Absalom. . . Now when Ahithophel saw that his advice was not followed, he saddled a donkey, and arose and went home to his house, to his city. Then he put his household in order, and hanged himself, and died; and he was buried in his father’s tomb. Then David went to Mahanaim. And Absalom crossed over the Jordan, he and all the men of Israel with him. And Absalom made Amasa captain of the army instead of Joab. This Amasa was the son of a man whose name was Jithra, an Israelite, who had gone in to Abigail the daughter of Nahash, sister of Zeruiah, Joab’s mother. So Israel and Absalom encamped in the land of Gilead. Now it happened, when David had come to Mahanaim, that Shobi the son of Nahash from Rabbah of the people of Ammon, Machir the son of Ammiel from Lo Debar, and Barzillai the Gileadite from Rogelim, brought beds and basins, earthen vessels and wheat, barley and flour, parched grain and beans, lentils and parched seeds, honey and curds, sheep and cheese of the herd, for David and the people who were with him to eat. For they said, ‘The people are hungry and weary and thirsty in the wilderness.’”

Dr. W. A. Criswell (1909-2002) explains, “This is the first of seventy-one occurrences of ‘Selah’ in Psalm (cf. also Hab. 3:3, 9 13), all to be found in the texts of the psalms themselves rather than in the superscriptions.”[1]

Rev. Charles H. Spurgeon (1834-1892) shares the following comment on "Selah" in The Treasury of David, “This is a musical pause; the precise meaning of which is not known. Some think it simply a rest, a pause in the music; others say it means, ‘Lift up the strain—sing more loudly—pitch the tune upon a higher key—there is nobler matter to come, therefore retune your harps.’ Harp-strings soon get out of order and need to be screwed up again to their proper tightness, and certainly our heart-strings are evermore getting out of tune, Let ‘Selah’ teach us to pray

‘O may my heart in tune be found
Like David's harp of solemn sound.’

At least we may learn that wherever we see ‘Selah,’ we should look upon it as a note of observation. Let us read the passage which preceeds and succeeds it with greater earnestness, for surely there is always something excellent where we are required to rest and pause and meditate, or when we are required to lift up our hearts in grateful song. ‘SELAH.’”[2]


II. Second, note the reliance of God’s man.

Noting the tenses of the verbs in these verses we find David’s present expression of faith, his past experience of love, and his prospective expectation of hope. From Psalm 3:3-6 we read, “But You, O Lord, are a shield for me, / My glory and the One who lifts up my head. I cried to the Lord with my voice, / And He heard me from His holy hill. Selah / I lay down and slept; / I awoke, for the Lord sustained me. I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people / Who have set themselves against me all around.”

Dr. Clive Staples Lewis (1898-1963) reportedly stated, "Relying on God has to begin all over again everyday as if nothing had yet been done."

From Genesis 15:1 we read, “After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision, saying, ‘Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward.’”

We read about Jesus in Hebrews 5:7, “Who, in the days of His flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications, with vehement cries and tears to Him who was able to save Him from death, and was heard because of His godly fear.” In Mark 4:38 we read, “But He was in the stern, asleep on a pillow. And they awoke Him and said to Him, ‘Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?’”

Dr. Luke writes in Acts 12:6, “And when Herod was about to bring him out, that night Peter was sleeping, bound with two chains between two soldiers; and the guards before the door were keeping the prison.”

Rev. Charles H. Spurgeon comments, "David was king by divine decree, and we are the Lord's people in the same manner. Let us tell our enemies to their faces that they fight against God and destiny when they strive to overthrow our souls. O beloved, when you are on your knees, the fact of your being set apart as God’s own peculiar treasure should give you courage and inspire you with fervency and faith."[3]

III. Third, note the request from God’s man.

We read in Psalm 3:7-8, “Arise, O Lord; / Save me, O my God! For You have struck all my enemies on the cheekbone; / You have broken the teeth of the ungodly. Salvation belongs to the Lord. Your blessing is upon Your people. Selah”

Dr. Alexander Maclaren (1826-1910) comments, “‘Arise, Jehovah’ is quoted from the ancient invocation (Numbers 10:35), and expresses in strongly anthropomorphic form the desire for some interposition of Divine power. Fearlessness is not so complete that the Psalmist is beyond the need of praying.”[4]

From Numbers 10:35 we read, “So it was, whenever the ark set out, that Moses said: ‘ Rise up, O Lord! Let Your enemies be scattered, And let those who hate You flee before You.’”


Paul the Apostle, shares his plans in 1 Corinthians 16:5-9, “Now I will come to you when I pass through Macedonia (for I am passing through Macedonia). And it may be that I will remain, or even spend the winter with you, that you may send me on my journey, wherever I go. For I do not wish to see you now on the way; but I hope to stay a while with you, if the Lord permits. But I will tarry in Ephesus until Pentecost. For a great and effective door has opened to me, and there are many adversaries.” Please note, after he mentions how “a great and effective door has opened to me,” he states, “and there are many adversaries.” When you are in the will of God expect opposition; and the degree of opposition indicates the degree of opportunity.

Athanasius of Alexandria (296-373) wrote the following in a letter to Marcellinus, “Now, my son, it is necessary for each of the readers of that book to read it in its entirety, for truly the things in it are divinely inspired, but then to take benefits from these, as from the fruits of a garden on which he may cast his gaze when the need arises. For I believe that the whole of human existence, both the dispositions of the soul and the movements of the thoughts, have been measured out and encompassed in those very words of the Psalter. And nothing beyond these is found among men. For whether there was necessity of repentance or confession, or tribulation and trial befell us, or someone was persecuted, or, being plotted against, he was protected . . . or he wants to sing praises and give thanks to the Lord – for any such eventuality he has instruction in the divine Psalms. Let one therefore select things said in them of these circumstances and reciting what has been written as concerning him, and, being affected by the writings, lift them up to the Lord.”[5]

“On the Reading of Old Books,” Dr. Clive Staples Lewis shares, “His epitaph is Athanasius contra mundum, ‘Athanasius against the world’. We are proud that our country has more than once stood against the world. Athanasius did the same. He stood for the Trinitarian doctrine, ‘whole and undefiled’, when it looked as if all the civilized world was slipping back from Christianity into the religion of Arius*— into one of those ‘sensible’ synthetic religions which are so strongly recommended today and which, then as now, included among their devotees many highly cultivated clergymen. It is his glory that he did not move with the times; it is his reward that he now remains when those times, as all times do, have moved away.

*Arius (c. 250-c. 336), a champion of subordinationist teaching about the Person of Christ.”[6]

After a remarkably successful ministry for years, Rev. Charles H. Spurgeon found himself in the midst of The Down Grade Controversy. As he stood resolutely against the liberalism of the “new theology” in England, he shared the following in a sermon on October 30, 1887, “When Athanasius was told that everybody was denying the Deity of Christ, then he said, ‘I, Athanasius, against the world’: Athanasius contra mundum became a proverbial expression.”[7]

After exploring the possibility we have enemies due to some fault of our own, Dr. Joseph Parker (1830-1902) explains, “A second thought arising in this connection is that the very fact of the enemies being all but countless in number may be a tribute to a man’s greatness. Armies are not sent to cut down mushrooms or bulrushes. The very magnitude of the host encamped against a man may say without words how great the man is and mighty, and how worthy of being attacked. To leave some men alone is to withhold from them every moral and intellectual tribute. The numbers of a man’s enemies may be a tribute to the very greatness which they desire to modify or overthrow.”[8]

David models a proper response when the bottom falls out.

[1]The Criswell Study Bible, ed. W. A. Criswell, (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 1979), 642

[2]Charles H. Spurgeon, The Treasury of David, Vol. 1, Psalm 1 to 26, (New York: I. K. Funk & Co., 1882), 25

[3]Charles H. Spurgeon, The Treasury of David, Vol. 1, Psalm 1 to 26, (New York: I. K. Funk & Co., 1882), 38

[4]Alexander Maclaren, The Psalms, Vol. 1, Psalms 1-38, 3rd Edition, (New York: A. C. Armstrong, 1896), 28

[5]“A Letter to Marcellinus,” in Athanasius, ed. Robert C. Gregg, (New York: Paulist, 1980), 126-127

[6]C. S. Lewis, “On the Reading of Old Books,” God in the Dock (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1970), 206

[7]C. H. Spurgeon, “A Sermon for the Time Present,” Sermon Notes, (Zephaniah 3:16-18)

[8]Joseph Parker, The People’s Bible: Discourses upon Holy Scripture, Volume 12, (New York: Funk & Wagnalls Publishers, 1890), 35

By Dr. Franklin L. Kirksey, pastor First Baptist Church of Spanish Fort 30775 Jay Drive Spanish Fort, Alabama 36527

Author of Sound Biblical Preaching: Giving the Bible a Voice Available on Amazon.com and WORDsearchbible.com



fkirksey@bellsouth.net / (251) 626-6210 / © September 22, 2013 All Rights Reserved