When Enemies Abound (Psalm 3)

When Enemies Abound

Psalm 3

All of us face adversity at various points in our lives. These adverse occasions take on various forms. They can be emotional, physical, economical, relational, etc. There are few people in history who have faced graver times of adversity than King David. In Psalm 4, we find David contending with his son Absalom, who has forced his father from the royal city, usurped his power, and sought to end his father’s life with the help of an army of soldiers. In the midst of his adversity, David’s response can serve as an example to us.

First, David reminds himself of who the Lord God is. “…you, LORD, are a shield about me, my glory, the One who lifts my head high (Psalm 3:3).” He affirms the LORD as his defender, his strength, and his hope.

Second, David acts on this knowledge. He calls out to the LORD, knowing that he will be answered (Psalm 3:4). He lies down and sleeps, even though his circumstances are ripe for insomnia (Psalm 3:5). He does not fear, because he knows the Lord will deliverer him (Psalm 3:6).

Lastly, David does something that might surprise contemporary readers. He curses his enemies, “…break the teeth of the wicked (Psalm 3:7).”

Many view God’s vengeance as antithetical to his love. Yet, a truly loving God would never allow evil, wickedness, and those who unrepentantly practice such things to continue forever. His love demands he eventually serve as Judge. Even Jesus said to the religious leaders of his time, “You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell (Matthew 23:33)?” Pastor and biblical scholar John day says, “As far as the finite Christian is able to reflect the character and sentiment of God [to simultaneously love and hate the unbeliever], he or she is called to do so.”

We ought always to lovingly pray for the repentance and salvation of our enemies. However, there are circumstance when we ought to simultaneously pray for their judgment, if they remain recalcitrant. Such prayers are particularly reasonable for the disenfranchised, who have nowhere else to turn. We might think of the woman victimized by rape who needs no “due process” to know her accusation deserves just punishment.

Whatever your adversity, David teaches us that “deliverance belongs to the LORD” (Psalm 3:8). In the heat of the moment, remember who God is, trust in him, and, if necessary, pray he judge your enemy, so that you, in your humanity, need not personally avenge your foe.

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