Psalm 3 (Second Sunday after Pentecost, Proper 7—Series C)
“Trusting in God’s Salvation”
Lutheran Church of Our Redeemer, Enfield, CT
June 23, 2019
In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
David was called a man “after [God’s] own heart” (1 Sam. 13:14). At God’s command, the prophet Samuel anointed David to be king over Israel to replace King Saul and his family line (1 Sam. 16). The Lord made a covenant with David, telling David what He will do and make for David—an everlasting house and kingdom: “I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom” (2 Sam. 7:13). The singular offspring of David was the promised Messiah. In Him, the kingdom of David would be established forever.
However, a king cannot have a lineage and a kingdom when he is no longer king. Absalom, David’s son, stole the hearts of the people of Israel, winning their loyalty by deceit. The author of 2 Samuel writes, “And the conspiracy grew strong, and the people with Absalom kept increasing” (2 Sam. 15:12). No longer content to steal just hearts, Absalom conspired to steal the throne. David’s own son and countrymen were against him and so David was forced to flee Jerusalem. We are told, “But David went up the ascent of the Mount of Olives, weeping as he went, barefoot and with his head covered. And all the people who were with him covered their heads, and they went up, weeping as they went” (2 Sam. 15:30 ESV). Then, as David and his servants made their way east to the Jordan River, a man from the house of Saul named Shimei continually cursed David. He threw stones at David and his servants and flung dust on them.
It was during this time that David wrote our text today, the words of Psalm 3.
1O Yahweh, how many are my adversaries! Many are rising against me.
2Many are saying to my soul, “There is no salvation in God for him.”
3But you, O Yahweh, are a shield about me; my glory and the lifter of my head.
4My voice called to Yahweh and he answered me from his holy hill.
5I myself laid down and slept; I awoke, for Yahweh sustains me.
6I will not be afraid of multitudes of people who set themselves against me all around.
7Arise, O Yahweh! Save me, O my God.
For you will smite all my enemies on the cheek; you will break the teeth of the wicked ones.
8Salvation belongs to Yahweh. Your blessing be upon your people.
Can you imagine David’s fear? Rejected by his people and downtrodden. Many adversaries; many rising against him; many saying that God will not even save him. And yet David placed his trust in the Lord. “The many are like this, standing against me,” David said. “But God, you are different. You stand for me and with me, even though I sinned against you.”
You remember David’s grievous sins, don’t you? He lusted and coveted and stole Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah the Hittite, to be his own. He committed adultery with her. She conceived a child. David arranged to have Uriah murdered on the battlefield. Nathan the prophet confronted David about his sin. God’s judgment was David’s punishment, “Why have you despised the word of the LORD, to do what is evil in his sight? You have struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and have taken his wife to be your wife and have killed him with the sword of the Ammonites. Now therefore the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised me and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife” (2 Sam. 12:9-10 ESV). “David said to Nathan, ‘I have sinned against the LORD.’ And Nathan said to David, ‘The LORD also has put away your sin; you shall not die’” (2 Sam. 12:13 ESV).
Cleansed by God’s gracious forgiveness, David stood in a totally different relationship to God and God to him from that which people supposed. Despite of the appearance to the contrary, the Lord’s saving mercy and grace had not been taken away from David. Forgiveness was still his from the hand of God’s blessing. With trust in the mercy and salvation of God, David prayed. Every hour he had reason to fear some overwhelming attack, but Yahweh was the shield covering him and protecting him. David’s kingdom had been taken from him, but Yahweh was his glory, not his kingdom. With covered head and dejected face, David went up the Mount of Olives, but Yahweh was the lifter of his head; He comforted and helped David.
David glorified God in today’s psalm for being a true helper for all His people who call on Him in distress. Like David, we also have trouble in our lives. We might not have many adversaries, but at times, it seems like we have a lot of adversities. We often deal with the consequences of life in a fallen, sin-filled world: diseases, depression, anxiety, fear, and pain. We cope with the death of those we love. We struggle against the temptations thrown at us by the devil, the world, and our own sinful flesh. Like David, we often succumb to temptation. We daily sin much. And like David, we also pray to the God of grace and mercy in whom we find our salvation. In the Lord’s Prayer, we pray in the Fifth Petition, “And forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” This means that “we pray in this petition that our Father in heaven would not look at our sins, or deny our prayer because of them. We are neither worthy of the things for which we pray, nor have we deserved them, but we ask that He would give them all to us by grace” (Small Catechism).
David’s prayer of faith is also our prayer of faith. By the power of the Holy Spirit, we place our faith-filled trust in God’s grace and mercy that He will not deny our prayer because of our sins, that He will not abandon us in our time of need, nor will He withhold His salvation from us. David’s greater son according to the flesh, Jesus, is our guarantee of God’s grace and mercy to us sinners. Gabriel announced to Mary, “And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end” (Lk. 1:31-33 ESV).
It is this Jesus, true God and true Man, who brings salvation from sin, death, and the power of the devil to all people. He took David’s adultery and murder upon Himself and suffered God’s full punishment for those sins. He took your lying, stealing, cursing, sexual immorality, gossiping, and hating upon Himself and, with all your sins, bore them in His own body on the cross to pay for them in full with His holy, precious blood. As St. John writes, “the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 Jn. 1:7 ESV). There is nothing of our sin remaining for which Jesus did not suffer and die. He was punished in our place so that we are declared forgiven of all our sins. Not even the devil himself can accuse us any longer before our heavenly Father, saying, “There is no salvation in God for him or her.” To say that is a lie. Salvation belongs to the Lord our God. By grace through faith in Christ Jesus, full and complete salvation, full and total forgiveness is given to you—His blessing upon His people.
His blessing includes God being your true helper and keeper in the midst of temptation, trial, and trouble. Luther writes in his comments on John 1, “For even though we have attained remission of sin, we still have the old Adam hanging around our necks and therefore sin daily. Sin has not yet been purged from our nature; neither is the devil dead, who provokes our flesh and blood to every evil.” Nevertheless, the Lord is a shield about us. He lifts us up in the arms of His mercy and forgives our every sin for the sake of the merits of Jesus Christ. As the God of our salvation, He bids us to pray “Deliver us from evil,” trusting that our Lord and Savior will “rescue us from every evil of body and soul, possessions and reputation” (Small Catechism).
The devil, the world, and our sinful flesh surround us and attack us and our faith. The consequences of sin in general and our own sins lay siege to us. We are embattled by sickness and trouble in this life. But we are not defeated. In the words of Psalm 3, “My voice called to Yahweh and he answered me from his holy hill. I myself laid down and slept; I awoke, for Yahweh sustains me. I will not be afraid of multitudes of people who set themselves against me all around. Arise, O Yahweh! Save me, O my God. For you will smite all my enemies on the cheek; you will break the teeth of the wicked ones.” Our Lord Jesus, at the cross, stomped on the head of Satan, breaking his teeth for sure! With His sacrificial death, Jesus smacked the world and our flesh into submission. In His resurrection, Jesus defeated death, which now has no power over us. We are people who receive from our God and Savior forgiveness and everlasting life as a gift of His mercy and love. Yes, dear saints, salvation belongs to God and, because of Jesus Christ, it belongs to you too. The blessing of God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit be upon you, His people. Amen.
 Martin Luther, Luther’s Works, Vol. 22: Sermons on the Gospel of St. John: Chapters 1-4, ed. Jaroslav Jan Pelikan, Hilton C. Oswald, and Helmut T. Lehmann, vol. 22 (Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1999), 177.