This is the first lament from Book 1 (psalms 1-41), a book that is loaded with laments (perhaps paralleling the early life of king David when he was mostly on the run?).
It is a psalm of ‘disorientation.’ Because “we do not always experience life as well ordered or well oriented, “disorientation” better describes life at times. The LAMENTS, or songs of disorientation, were written for such times…”
To put it in a different way, “most of us have experienced trouble – to one degree or another, for long or shorter periods of time.. The journey of life may at times take us on some very difficult terrain. ADVERSITY replaces PROSPERITY…CHAOS obliterates ORDER. DOUBT replaces FAITH. God has given us the LAMENTS for times such as these!!!
Psalm 3 is especially significant because it was interpreted Christologically very early in the history of the church. The earliest example seems to be S Clement of Rome (c. 96 AD). The CHRISTIAN CATECHISM, following S. Clement of Rome and S Justin and others, understands it as “the voluntary and harmless sleep of Christ in the tomb and of his resurrection.” Also, like David, Christ is rejected…UNLIKE David…Christ suffers for the sins of others!
In preaching this psalm, I agree with the approach of HAIMO of AUXERRE (c. 790-855) who follows the Origenian/Gregorian mode] and treats Psalm 3 at THREE LEVELS: the story of David and Absalom; the passion of Christ in conflict with Judas; and personal reflections upon our own lives…
ERASMUS is also very useful for reading this psalm. Note his comments on the last part: “Likewise the people of God will also suffer as Christ and his servant David have…BUT in the triumph of Christ’s sufferings, death, and Resurrection, “broken are the teeth of the wicked.” But “Christ is the strong rock, and anyone who is in Christ is a ROCK: broken teeth cannot grind it down.”
Beautiful image. The ‘troubling’ verse (“you break the teeth of the wicked”) could be understood as the breaking of the ‘ultimate teeth” of death, a break that took place through the death and resurrection of Christ.
I am no longer troubled by this verse…I am comforted!
I am posting some of my notes (Spurgeon is always useful). I found especially good the new book on Psalms by Waltke and Houston.
Here we go: NOTES on PSALM 3.