(Editor’s Note: Christiaan is writing the devotions for today and tomorrow. Hopefully, William will be able to return to writing on Wednesday from the hospital. We’re bringing him his laptop tomorrow, and we should have an update published soon).
But you, O Lord, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head.Psalms 3:3 (ESV)
If you missed last weeks study on Psalm 3:4 please check it out, you’ll learn a lot about the historical and contextual setting for this chapter. In short, David is in hiding from his Absalom (his son who murdered his other son, took the throne, and is hunting David down to murder him). The net is closing around him. As he’s hiding he hears people telling him that no god (neither God or any other deity) will come to rescue him.
Think about it.
David is the King of Israel. He’s been elevated from farm boy to king.. He’s lead the armies of the Lord to fulfill the promise given to Moses. This is the heyday of Israel. It has never been better than it was now and (honestly, probably never will be again until Jesus returns). David has thousands of servants, concubines, and armies so large that by the end of this current situation over twenty thousand people died in a single battle between the armies of israel lead by Absalom and David’s resistance fighters.
But where do we find David?
In a cave.
So reviled and with such little authority that at one point he was recognized and an individual who openly cursed him… like old school “a pox upon you and your family” style cursing.
When I think about where David is at this point versus where he was, I think about that line from A Christmas Story when Ralphie has “soap poisoning” and his dad asks him, “What has brought you to this lowly state?” The answer is that we live in a fallen world. It was completely outside of David’s control. It wasn’t punishment for Bathsheba. It wasn’t because God ceased to have David in his favor. It was because there were people doing evil things.
I think that a lot of times we get put in situations completely outside of our control and it’s up to us to decide how we respond to it. In a previous verse of the day I did I looked at the verse about how there’s a season for everything from Ecclesiastes 3:1 (I seem to like the third chapter in books!) Last time we looked at how David cried out to God and God answered him. But today, we look at what he KNEW about God.
God is his shield around David. But Christiaan, you may ask. How is God a shield around David, if God allowed Absalom to murder his brother, pull of a successful military coop-d’etat, and force God’s chosen king into a cave hiding away from the world? The answer is that we live in a fallen world. But David doesn’t lose faith. He doesn’t lose Hope. He knows that God hears the cries of his people. He knows that God is ultimately in control over the situation. He knows that whatever is happening it’s going through God first.
Maybe that medical condition that brought you into the hospital that you thought was the worst thing that could happen, really ended up saving your life. Because they discovered something infinitely worse than anything you could have imagined.
Maybe that job loss that had you eat through your savings, and put you in what seemed to be a hopelessly impossible financial situation leads you to finding your dream job, that may not fully get you out of the financial straits you found yourself in, but you’re in a significantly better place, and you never realized how toxic and draining your other job was.
Who knows, and most of the time we don’t see the positives until they’ve happened to us. We know that as Paul told us in Romans 8:28 that “God causes everything to work together for the Good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” (NLT) and David’s words reinforce that.
David doesn’t just testify that God is his shield, but also that God is his glory. This word in a transliterated hebrew is kabodi which means, reputation, honor, splendor, distinction – in short, his identity all the things that make him who he is and special. David knows that regardless of what happens to him and what people say about him that ultimately his identity is in God. And regardless if he’s a brilliant military commander (as they say of him in 2nd Samuel – in fact they say he’s worth ten thousand men in battle) if he’s the king of Israel, or if he’s a beleaguered man in a cave hiding from his murderous son… his identity is given to him by God.
The verse finishes at a crescendo of David’s affirmation of God’s role in his life, that God is “the lifter of my head” or in the NLT it says, “the one who holds my head high.” David doesn’t have to be ashamed of these situations that happened. He doesn’t have to sulk in the darkness afraid to be who God created him to be and the role God called him to walk in. The two translations beside each other paint a beautiful picture of our God who lifts our face from being downcast, and then holds it up.
So, may you come to realize that no matter what happens in your life, how scary it is, or how unexpected it is God is your shield, protecting you in some way. May you search for the good things in the midst of the trauma and focus on them. May you find your identity in Christ and not let that shake your confidence in who you were made to be. And finally, may you not struggle against the God whose lifts your head, and helps you to hold you head high!