You are currently viewing Psalm 3 | I Will Not Fear
I Will Not Fear!

Psalm 3 | I Will Not Fear

Psalm 3 | I Will Not Fear

Psalm 3

A psalm of David. When he fled from his son Absalom.

1Lord, how many are my foes!

How many rise up against me!

2Many are saying of me,

“God will not deliver him.”

3But you, Lord, are a shield around me,

my glory, the One who lifts my head high.

4I call out to the Lord,

and he answers me from his holy mountain.

5I lie down and sleep;

I wake again, because the Lord sustains me.

6I will not fear though tens of thousands

assail me on every side.

7Arise, Lord!

Deliver me, my God!

Strike all my enemies on the jaw;

break the teeth of the wicked.

8From the Lord comes deliverance.

May your blessing be on your people.

1. Identify The Source Of Your Fear.

  • Fear.
  • Anxiety:

2. Energize Attention To Daily Fear.

  • Follow Your Threat
  • Relocate Your Glory
  • See The Substitute

3. Bring Your His Fears To God In Prayer.

4. Experience Peace.

Today we are going to look at Psalm 3 that helps us to pray through our fears and anxieties. This is David’s response to grievous worry. A Psalm of David, he wrote this Psalm when he fled from his son, Absalom.

This is a Psalm of David generated out of a life experience that he had. It is very clear that he is terrified. There is a whole bunch of people and they want to kill him. So he is afraid.

Fear Is One Of The Primary Human Emotions.

There is something about fear, this is the most primary of human emotion. It is actually one of the first emotions we experience as human beings.

Remember when a baby is formed in the mother’s womb, the baby is so comfortable with the surroundings. Well protected in the womb, very warm, and well-fed. The womb is a perfect environment for a baby to grow. But we all know that after 9 months, the walls that protected the baby begin to collapse and tighten. The place where the baby found the security is no more secure and the baby gets delivered into this world.

What is the first emotion faced by a newborn? The baby cries. The baby is afraid. Fear is actually one of the first emotions we experience as human beings. Fear is one of the first life experiences. It is unknown what is happening, I don’t know if I am safe, whether I will make it, I am not in control, am I in danger, etc.; and the baby cries.

Fear can also be the last emotion that one could experience before your life ends.

Then throughout your lifespan, there are so many other experiences of fear that we deal with.

If I am a follower of Jesus, a part of following and knowing him is cultivating a personal connection with God, learning the language of prayer. We have to learn how to pray through our fears. Do not deny fear because it will destroy you, but not give reign to fear because it will take over your life, and that will destroy you in a different way. We have to learn how to face fear and pray through them. This is precisely what David is doing through Psalm 3. There are about 70 Psalms prayers that are connected to David in the collection of 150 Psalms. In those, there are about 24 Psalms where we have the story where the prayer emerged of out.

We are going to look through David’s situation of fear and how David processed this experience. This is a model prayer for us, a model of processing our fears.

Psalm 3

A psalm of David. When he fled from his son Absalom.

We have the background of this Psalm mentioned. If we read the background of the story, this will give us more understating of the Psalm and the situation here. This whole story is from 2 Samuel 15 and following.

This is was during the ending of David’s career. His son, Absalom kind of formed a resistance army and staged a successful coup against his father.

This whole story talks about how David had to flee his own house. He is running from the city that he established as the capital, Jerusalem. He is running into the hills with a few hundred people. We are told he has an army of about 12000-foot soldiers chasing him through the foothills. He feels very afraid. It is really, really bad. See the fear and the unknown David is experiencing.

See how he begins this Psalm:

Psalm 3

1Lord, how many are my foes!

How many rise up against me!

2Many are saying of me,

“God will not deliver him.”

He prayers through his fear by first identifying the source of his fear. This is a model for prayer. The first thing he does is to bring his fear and its source to God. What does he begin here?

1. Identify The Source Of Your Fear.

The first thing he is doing is drawing attention to all the fears he has.

Look at the repetitive words here: What is concerning him the most right now?

What does he say three times over?

  • I have many foes. 12000 soldiers.
  • Many have risen up against me.
  • Many people are speaking ill of me

He is identifying the source of his fears. He identifies the sources, What is my situation now? Where is my fear coming from? Oh! There are 12000 people who want to kill me. This is the reason he is afraid.

This is a very clear, physical, identifiable source of fear. His life is in danger. Many, many, many.

One of the most significant steps forward in the study of psychology in the 20th century was in the study of fear. Human fear is actually a really complex experience. There are different sources kinds of and kinds of human fear. The most common one was actually given to us by a person called Rollo May.

He is responsible for the concept and the word called “anxiety.” This is such a common word for us now. But he was the one who researched anxiety and found out that anxiety is different from other types of fear. He had some findings that are really important and helpful.

Rollo May – “Fear is an instinctive response to a very and present identifiable source of danger or threat.”

So fear is about when there is an identifiable source of danger or threat and it is an instinct that turns on all your adrenal glands and it floods your body with adrenaline so that you get this burst of energy and this burst of clarity to respond and save your life. When you see that there is a danger coming, your glands are going to spread your body that your get that energy to get you out of the situation because of fear.

Roller May said that it is a positive, constructive emotion because it saves your life when you are in danger.

Kinds of Fear: There are different kinds of fear. The most common and complex one is what we call anxiety. His definition of anxiety was in contrast to fear. Fear is temporary, the flood of intensity and energy. Anxiety is very vague and diffused. The feeling of dread and of weakness and fragility. It has no clear identifiable source. It is just this feeling of dread. Roller May said that anxiety is a feeling of dread of death and how death ultimately in his view renders all of life and relationships and accomplishments totally meaningless. Not only that, he said that anxiety is the wear and tear of 1000 little deaths that we all die every year with its disappointments and failures and hardships that hit our lives and shatter our dream.

So said, what is at stake with anxiety is not our physical wellbeing, it is our very sense of who we are, our identity, the that I am a meaningful person in my store has the meaning of all that gets called into question through these perpetual ongoing descents of weakness and fragility so we call anxiety. So if fear is like a lightning storm that comes through and flashes and it is gone. Anxiety is the gloomy weather that we face. It stays for a couple of weeks and it becomes cloudy and you cannot see sunshine for a couple of days. It is just the whole climate is gloomy. That is anxiety.

I think that is a helpful kind of category what David is getting at here. He has a clearly identifiable threat 12000 people want to kill me but, the propaganda of his enemies is eating away his very sense of himself. His status as king, his status as the father is all falling apart now. Who is he? What meaning does his life have if he is not king? Who is David if God has now abandoned him? This causes fear and anxiety. If fear and anxiety collide it can destroy human beings.

His fear is two-sided here.

  • Fear.
  • Anxiety:

What are his enemies saying? They are saying, God is through with David. What they are saying is not that they don’t believe in God. The enemies are not saying they don’t think God delivers people in general. What they are saying is, “God is through with David. There is no more favor or salvation for David left in God.”

This is a very different kind of attack. It is not just a physical attack on his life, this is an attack on David’s identity and David’s own sense of himself and significance in his status.

Now you need to remember, where did David come from? How did he arrive as a king that could even have such status and now he has to run out of town and be rejected?

David was a no-name shepherd boy. One of the most important prophets of Israel shows up at his dad’s house and says, “God has told me that one of the great kings of Israel is going to emerge out of your house.” David’s dad, Jessie said, “I know, I know this is my first son.” The first son was ready, well-built, and attractive. What was God’s response to the well-built and attractive son? No, not that guy. So they go off through the sons of Jessie and say, “Is that all, is there any other son?” Jessie says, “Yes there is a shepherd boy. He is out there taking care of the sheep.” Samuel says, “Yea, bring that guy.”

That is the story of David. Out of sheer grace and generosity, God elevated him to the highest status in the land. God protects him from Saul and blesses him. David is elevated to be the king of Israel. There is this key turning moment in David’s life where he begins to take all of the gifts that God has given him, his status, the family that he has. He begins to take them for granted. Now he sees those gifts to use for self-advantage instead of using them to serve the people. This takes the form of seeing a woman, he wants her, he forces himself on her. She becomes pregnant and he conspires to kill her husband which he does successfully. From that moment in David’s life, his whole world falls apart. His family falls apart, his Kingdom falls apart, his life falls apart.

What Absalom and the enemies are capitalizing here, the propaganda they are spreading is that God is through with David. He was God’s chosen king, but not anymore. Look at him now, he is fleeing. Look at this exalted king, he is fleeing for his own life from his own son into the woods.

So what is being threatened here is both his life and his identity.

Who is David now, if he is not a successful king and father? He is none of those things anymore? That is what is calling into question.

So, David starts by identifying the source of his fears.

2. Energize Attention To Daily Fear.

Fear sometimes is good, so that we can take adequate measures and flee from danger. Just because David was afraid, he could run away from Jerusalem, his palace, and take refuge in the woods.

Proverbs 22:3 The prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep going and pay the penalty.

This is what David did in his fear. Our fear should energize us and take responsibility as David did. You refocus your attention on today’s responsibilities but give tomorrow’s worry to God.

3. Bring Your Fears To God In Prayer.

He begins praying through his fears by identifying the source of his fears and there is a very clear source, people chasing him and trying to kill him. Then there is this thing: All of a sudden his very sense of his value, and identity and status is in danger.

There are two layers of this prayer.

So how does he pray through his fear and anxiety?

Psalm 3:3-4

3But you, Lord, are a shield around me,

my glory, the One who lifts my head high.

4I call out to the Lord,

and he answers me from his holy mountain.

You can see the tone shifted here. Something really profound took place inside of this very fearful and anxious man.

How does he do that?

First of all, identify the source of the fear.

First of all, he moves his attention from his circumstances onto God and to God’s character. He identifies his source, but then turns his attention to God. He speaks of God in these three images here. We need to meditate on it.

Why would David choose these three metaphors to describe God in this situation?

See what David sees?

a. Follow your threat

First of all, David says that Lord, you are a shield around me.

Think about it for a moment. We usually think of a shield as protection and think of God keeping bad things from happening to us. We think about God protecting and rescuing me out of this situation.

Just think about a shield. If you hold a shield in your left hand, this shield will protect my vital organs and keep me safe in battle. This is a shield around him. But the shield does not prevent bad things from happening to you. You put on a shield because you know that bad things are coming. But the shield protects your vital parts.

So, David sees that 12000 people are coming against him, but he sees that YAHWEH is a shield around him. In other words, the LORD is not going to prevent bad things from happening, but the LORD is going to be right there, so close to him, protecting the most vital part of who he is from being swept away in this onslaught.

David understands that he could die in this battle, but he still affirms that YAHWEH is my shield around him.

Application: When hardships come to us, one of the basic assumptions that we go to is, the LORD has abandoned me. This is a sign that God has abandoned me. This is a sign that God is no longer present with me. So, you have to pray through that. We have a wrong assumption that God’s role is to keep bad things from happening to us. So is so powerful that he will not let anything bad happen to me. We believe that since we are God’s children, God will never let anything bad happen to me so that I am always happy. This kind of belief in God has nothing to do with the Bible. That kind of God does not exist and people get very upset with God with such a view.

This promise of the God of the Bible is that when life is broken, when life is difficult, when we go through the attack of the enemy, God is right there. David says that this season of tragedy might be the closest that God has been to him. This is part of the paradox of suffering in the scripture. The God of the Bible sometimes rescues his people out of very difficult situations, but sometimes God does not. Sometimes sufferings are the tool that God uses to shape the hearts and minds and the character of the people he loves.

So David says, whatever happens, YAHWEH is a shield protecting the most vital part of who I am. I could die, but the Lord is still my shield.

B. Relocate Your Glory

You are my glory

The Hebrew word for glory is “kavod.”

Kavod means heavy, heaviness, significance, honored status.

In the book of Judges 3:14-29; there is a king of Moab called Eglon who oppressed Israel and he is a horribly terrible king and he is called kavod. He is heavy.

The image of heaviness is a metaphor for something that is significant or important or weighty.

When we get together and give glory to God. We mean, “God is the most significant, important thing that there is to know and to be aware of.”

Humans can have glory too

David had kavod. Near the end of his life, we are told in: 1 Chronicle 29:26-28 26David son of Jesse was king over all Israel. 27He ruled over Israel 26 David son of Jesse was king over all Israel. 27 He ruled over Israel forty years—seven in Hebron and thirty-three in Jerusalem. 28He died at a good old age, having enjoyed long life, wealth, and honor (kavod). His son Solomon succeeded him as king.

Kavod is about your honor or status. It is about whatever is your status and position that gives you significance and importance. So for David, he had the rags to riches story. So what defines him as to who he was from the poor shepherd boy to becoming this great king of honor. Now he does not have this kavod any longer.

Any illusion that he was a successful father, that has been shattered. Absalom actually murders one of David’s other sons for raping his sister. So his family is completely fallen apart. He is not a good father.

  • Is he a successful nation builder? Not anymore.
  • Is he a powerful king? Not anymore
  • Does he have a moral integrity as part of his status and honor? Not really.

Why would David have to come to this low point in his life and say, Lord, YAHWEH, you are my kavod?

You are the one who gives me significance, identity, and meaning in life. Clearly, he has to say this because something else had been his kavod. You can see it in the story of his life: His wealth, his power, his status gave him honor. He was his own kavod. His role as king and father. He lost it by his bad life and he has come to this situation. He has misplaced the honor that God gave him.

So praying through his fears, he has realized that he has misplaced his honor or kavod

He has misplaced his glory. Because all of his glory was in the position of a king, all of a sudden when his kingship was called into question, he crumbles. He has anxiety and fear. Who is he if he is not a king?

So he recognizes that God is going to protect some of his vitals, some of his important things about him in the midst of this and he says that the hardships strip the rest of his honor, kavod away and all he has is left is to say, “YAHWEH, You are the only thing that is important and significant about me.”

The fact is your attention is towards me, your care is on me, that is all I need to give me meaning and significance. This is a very powerful confession.

His anxiety is a cloud of smoke, this is a symptom of a fire burning. The fire is his misplaced kavod. So David prays through it, and he identifies that misplaced honor in his things and restores God to be in the place of glory in his life. It is connected to what he says next:

Psalm 3:3b

my glory, the One who lifts my head high.

Lift my head high is to be confident.

He says, “I don’t have any reason to be confident in myself anymore. I took what God gave me and I ruined it for my glory. So he directs his attention away from himself. He says, “You are the one who gives me significance and identity, you are the one through whom I can hold my head high, even though when I see everything around me, I look like a big failure. Everyone knows it and everyone is saying that I am an utter failure. You are my glory, you hold my head high.”

As you process through how could David know something like that? When we are going through failure, we might see this as God’s lack of favor or that God is angry with us. As David is working out and thinking about the consequences of his bad decision, he is really confident that God is with him at that moment. How does he know that? Look at what David says in v4

C. See The Substitute

Psalm 3:4

I call out to the Lord,

and he answers me from his holy mountain.

“Lord, I am praying to you and I just know that you are answering me.” He is very confident. He is running for his life and he is totally morally compromised, failed father, failed king, but how could he be so confident that God is answering him. The answer has nothing to do with him, it has to do with where God is answering him from. Where is that? He answers me from his holy mountain.

What is he talking about? The holy hill or the holy mountain or the mountain of Zion is an expression in the book of Psalms. He is referring to the city of Jerusalem, especially the city that David built as Israel’s capital, and on the highest hill in the city of Jerusalem, David set up the very dwelling place of God, the tabernacle where the temple was later built. So essentially what David is saying here is, “Lord I am here on the run, in the woods. You are the one who gives me confidence. I am praying to you and I know that you will answer me because you will answer me from the temple, from the very spot of your presence in Jerusalem.

What happens in the courtyards of the temple on a regular basis that would allow a sinful, selfish man to look towards God but know that he has been forgiven and shown grace? What happens in the temple that can give him that confidence? That is where the sacrifices were offered. That is where animals were offered as a substitute for people’s sin. So the animal dies in the place of a sinner and the animal bears the guilt. In an essence, the death of the substitute animal covers over the failure and the sin of the one who is praying and looking towards God in the temple. What could give a man like David, a man who has squandered everything that God gave him? He has made horrible decisions? Now, what would give him the confidence that God is for him and God would even stoop to be wanting to be David’s glory once more. David said, “You are answering me from the temple.” He is looking towards the substitute that has covered his sin that gives him confidence that Lord is for him and has forgiven him.

This 3000-year-old prayer is still relevant to us today. We are standing on the other side of the cross. David is praying this prayer looking at the temple, looking at the substitute lamb and he sees God answer him and be gracious to him because of what happens in the tabernacle.

You and I on this side of the cross, believe that Jesus was the ultimate substitute for man’s sins. That His life and death and resurrection on our behalf covered over our sins, as Jesus absorbed onto himself what we deserved and in his resurrection, Jesus provides a covering and a source of new life and grace for those who would turn towards him.

Jesus, the other son of David, was executed by the Romans near that holy hill. This allows us to pray through this prayer as followers of Jesus.

4. Experience Peace.

Psalm 3:5

I lie down and sleep;

I wake again because the Lord sustains me.

He could finally rest and sleep.

He has identified the source of his anxiety and fear.

And he is realigning his priorities again. He has looked to the substitute for what is done for him, which he could not do for himself. Now he knows he rests in God’s mercy and grace.

Psalm 3:5

I lie down and sleep;

I wake again, because the Lord sustains me.

He is not dependent on him anymore. He does not count on his wealth or family or his position, rather he knows that he is in the Lord’s hands and the Lord will sustain him.

Look what David can say in v6

Psalm 3:6

I will not fear though tens of thousands

assail me on every side.

He has reached a place like the Apostle Paul was able to reach. Paul lived a very difficult life because of his commitment to Jesus. In every part of his hardship and suffering, he could see as yet one more act of God’s grace to make him more dependent on Jesus. He died for that commitment. Who knows what went through Paul’s mind during his assassination? I think Paul would have prayed in similar lines. David says that even if a sword goes through his chest and he is dead, he is not going to be afraid of anything because he knows that the LORD is his glory, the Lord’s commitment and love for him is stronger than that. So it puts David in his place of perpetual peace.

This does not cancel out his emotion.

Psalm 3:7-8

7Arise, Lord!

Deliver me, my God!

Strike all my enemies on the jaw;

break the teeth of the wicked.

Look at this language. We say David should not have prayed like this. We find this all over in Psalms, where there is a clear enemy and there is a prayer for justice to happen on the enemies.

David is neither putting his emotions under the carpet nor is in denial of his emotions.

David knows that injustice is taking place against him. He on one occasion had vented out his anger against Nabal in 1 Samuel 25, where he wanted to kill every male from Nabal’s household for dishonoring him. Abigail, Nabal’s wife had to intervene and ask for forgiveness.

Here David could go that route. But here David is not venting out his anger on people. He prays through it. He vents out his anger in the presence of God. There are some things in this world worth being angry about it. So what do we do when we see injustice around us? You pray through it. You bring your emotions to God.

So David commits his enemies over to God’s justice and he asks God to take care of them. David did not lift one finger to defeat Absalom. Absalom had an obsession with his long hair. He made a statue of himself with his long hair. In the middle of the battle, Absalom’s hair gets caught in a tree and leaves him vulnerable for someone to kill him. Through this crazy series of events, Absalom meets his own doom. David did not lift a finger.

David vents his emotions before God that actually allowed him to cope with his anger and just hand it right over to God.

That is what happens in these prayers. God can take your anxiety, God can take your fear. God can take your anger. But don’t let anger or fear or anxiety take you over. You don’t have to suffer alone. You can pray through it.

So David says:

Psalm 3:8

From the Lord comes deliverance.

May your blessing be on your people.

If deliverance has to come, it is not through me, it is from the LORD.

This is a powerful way of dealing with fear and anxiety.

How many of you have a clearly identifiable source of fear and anxiety this morning? How many of you are angry with things that others have done to you? Turn that over to God to find peace?


How many of you are going through dark nights where nothing is working out for you, you don’t know where your life is going? You have a sense of dread and anxiety. Some of you must do some heart checking because it could be that anxiety and fear are coming from misplaced glory in your life. We find our glory, honor, and significance from various things. It can be that relationship, that job, that money, that promotion, etc that can give you that honor and prominence. It can be from your looks or what you are trying to achieve etc. We build our sense of who we are on the things of this world.

There will come a day where like David whatever you build your sense of worth on, may not be there. See those as opportunities to replace your glory in the right location. Some of us need to pray that prayer today.

So wherever Psalm 3 meets you:

Whether we need to confess our misplaced glory

Whether we need to find hope that God will protect you from this danger and he is a shield around you.

Where ever you are at, whatever you may be going through, let us put this Psalm in our situation and pray through it.