David, having stirred up himself by the irritations of his enemies to take hold on God as his God, and so gained comfort in looking upward when, if he looked round about him, nothing appeared but what was discouraging, here looks back with pleasing reflections upon the benefit he had derived from trusting in God and looks forward with pleasing expectations of a very bright and happy issue to which the dark dispensation he was now under would shortly be brought.
I. See with what comfort he looks back upon the communion he had had with God, and the communications of his favour to him, either in some former trouble he had been in, and through God’s goodness got through, or in this hitherto. David had been exercised with many difficulties, often oppressed and brought very low; but still he had found God all-sufficient. He now remembered with pleasure,
1. That his troubles had always brought him to his knees, and that, in all his difficulties and dangers, he had been enabled to acknowledge God and to lift up his heart to him, and his voice too (this will be comfortable reflection when we are in trouble): I cried unto God with my voice. Care and grief do us good and no hurt when they set us a praying, and engage us, not only to speak to God, but to cry to him, as those that are in earnest. And though God understands the language of the heart, when the voice is not heard (1 Sam. 1:13), and values not the hypocritical prayers of those who cause their voice to be heard on high (Isa. 58:4), vox et praeterea nihil—mere sound, yet, when the earnestness of the voice comes from the fervency of the heart, it shall be taken notice of, in the account, that we cried unto God with our voice.
2. That he had always found God ready to answer his prayers: He heard me out of his holy hill, from heaven, the high and holy place, from the ark on Mount Sion, whence he used to give answers to those that sought to him. David had ordered Zadok to carry back the ark into the city when he was flying from Absalom (2 Sam. 15:25), knowing that God was not tied, no, not to the ark of his presence, and that, notwithstanding the distance of place, he could by faith receive answers of peace from the holy hill. No such things can fix a gulf between the communications of God’s grace towards us and the operations of his grace in us, between his favour and our faith. The ark of the covenant was in Mount Zion, and all the answers to our prayers come from the promises of that covenant. Christ was set King upon the holy hill of Zion (Ps. 2:6), and it is through him, whom the Father hears always, that our prayers are heard.
3. That he had always been very safe and very easy under the divine protection (Ps. 3:5): “I laid myself down and slept, composed and quiet; and awaked refreshed, for the Lord sustained me.” (1.) This is applicable to the common mercies of every night, which we ought to give thanks for alone, and with our families, every morning. Many have not where to lay their head (but wander in deserts), or, if they have, dare not lie down for fear of the enemy; but we have laid ourselves down in peace. Many lie down and cannot sleep, but are full of tossings to and fro till the dawning of the day, through pain of body, or anguish of mind, or the continual alarms of fear in the night; but we lie down and sleep in safety, though incapable of doing any thing then for our own preservation. Many lie down and sleep, and never awake again, they sleep the sleep of death, as the first-born of the Egyptians; but we lie down and sleep, and awake again to the light and comfort of another day; and whence is it, but because the Lord has sustained us with sleep as with food? We have been safe under his protection and easy in the arms of his good providence. (2.) It seems here to be meant of the wonderful quietness and calmness of David’s spirit, in the midst of his dangers. Having by prayer committed himself and his cause to God, and being sure of his protection, his heart was fixed, and he was easy. The undutifulness of his son, the disloyalty of his subjects, the treachery of many of his friends, the hazard of his person, the fatigues of his march, and the uncertainty of the event, never deprived him of an hour’s sleep, nor gave any disturbance to his repose; for the Lord, by his grace and the consolations of his Spirit, powerfully sustained him and made him easy. It is a great mercy when we are in trouble to have our minds stayed upon God, so as never either to eat or sleep with trembling and astonishment. (3.) Some of the ancients apply it to the resurrection of Christ. In his sufferings he offered up strong cries, and was heard; and therefore, though he laid down and slept the sleep of death, yet he awaked the third day, for the Lord sustained him, that he should not see corruption.
4. That God had often broken the power and restrained the malice of his enemies, had smitten them upon the cheek-bone (Ps. 3:7), had silenced them and spoiled their speaking, blemished them and put them to shame, smitten them on the cheek reproachfully, had disabled them to do the mischief they intended; for he had broken their teeth. Saul and the Philistines, who were sometimes ready to swallow him up, could not effect what they designed. The teeth that are gnashed or sharpened against God’s people shall be broken. When, at any time, the power of the church’s enemies seems threatening, it is good to remember how often God has broken it; and we are sure that his arm is not shortened. He can stop their mouths and tie their hands.
II. See with what confidence he looks forward to the dangers he had yet in prospect. Having put himself under God’s protection and often found the benefit of it, 1. His fears were all stilled and silenced, Ps. 3:6. With what a holy bravery does he bid defiance to the impotent menaces and attempts of his enemies! “I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people, that either in a foreign invasion or an intestine rebellion set themselves, or encamp, against me round about.” No man seemed less safe (his enemies are numerous, ten thousands; they are spiteful and resolute, “They have set themselves against me; nay, they have prevailed far, and seem to have gained their point; for they are against me round about on every side, thousands against one”), and yet no man was more secure: “I will not be afraid, for all this; they cannot hurt me, and therefore they shall not frighten me; whatever prudent methods I take for my own preservation, I will not disquiet myself, distrust my God, nor doubt of a good issue at last.” When David, in his flight from Absalom, bade Zadok carry back the ark, he spoke doubtfully of the issue of his present troubles, and concluded, like a humble penitent, Here I am; let him do to me what seemeth to him good, 2 Sam. 15:26. But now, like a strong believer, he speaks confidently, and has no fear concerning the event. Note, A cheerful resignation to God is the way to obtain a cheerful satisfaction and confidence in God. 2. His prayers were quickened and encouraged, Ps. 3:7. He believed God was his Saviour, and yet prays; nay, he therefore prays, Arise, O Lord! save me, O my God! Promises of salvation do not supersede, but engage, our petitions for it. He will for this be enquired of. 3. His faith became triumphant. He began the psalm with complaints of the strength and malice of his enemies, but concludes it with exultation in the power and grace of his God, and now sees more with him than against him, Ps. 3:8. Two great truths he here builds his confidence upon and fetches comfort from. (1.) That salvation belongeth unto the Lord; he has power to save, be the danger ever so great; it is his prerogative to save, when all other helps and succours fail; it is his pleasure, it is his property, it is his promise to those that are his, whose salvation is not of themselves, but of the Lord. Therefore all that have the Lord for their God, according to the tenour of the new covenant, are sure of salvation; for he that is their God is the God of salvation. (2.) That his blessing is upon his people; he not only has power to save them, but he has assured them of his kind and gracious intentions towards them. He has, in his word, pronounced a blessing upon his people; and we are bound to believe that that blessing does accordingly rest upon them, though there be not the visible effects of it. Hence we may conclude that God’s people, though they may lie under the reproaches and censures of men, are surely blessed of him, who blesses indeed, and therefore can command a blessing.
In singing this, and praying it over, we must own the satisfaction we have had in depending upon God and committing ourselves to him, and encourage ourselves, and one another to continue still hoping and quietly waiting for the salvation of the Lord.