Psalms 3-5, It’s About The Story

  We all love a good story.   We watch plays, dramas, and movies all for the enjoyment of a good story.  For me, the best movies are the ones where I get so caught up in the characters and story of the movie that I forget reality.  If only for a moment, I love that feeling where I forget about my own life struggles and identify with the characters and their stories.
When watching a movie, it would seem silly to take a notebook and make a list of the mistakes and flaws of each character.  Yet, that is what we often try to do with the Bible, especially the Old Testament.  We sometimes try to analyze each character, listing their mistakes, and resolving not to make the same mistakes.   I myself have made this mistake many times, especially with King David.  We see his sin and wonder how a man like him became a King after God’s own heart.
I have realized the many problems with this approach.  First, for moral values, we are looking back over 3000 years and making judgments about a time and place based on current perceptions of morality.  Those current perceptions are often based on the teachings of the Kingdom given to us by Christ, but they are also heavily influenced by thousands of years of Church and cultural history. Second, and most importantly, the stories of the Old Testament were not intended to be a list of moral rights and wrongs.  Yes, we can often see right and wrong in the stories, but that is not their purpose.  Their purpose is provide us perspective of God’s redemptive story, so that we may understand our place in that redemption story.
The story behind Psalms 3,4, and 5 is one of those stories.  It is a tragic story.  Absalom is David’s 3rd son.  In this tragedy, David’s first son, Ammon, becomes obsessed with Absalom’s sister (his half-sister) and rapes her.  Going against his father’s wishes, Absalom plots to have his men kill Ammon in revenge.  Absalom than goes into exile, fearing David’s anger.  Davis’ confidant, Joab, sees David’s grief over the loss of both his first son and Absalom, and arranges for Absalom to return to Jerusalem.  Eventually, Absalom and David reconcile.
Their reconciliation is very short lived, however.  Absalom conspires to take over the Kingdom, and in fear of his life David flees Jerusalem.  Psalms 3,4, and 5 are set as he has fled Jerusalem.  They are prayed over a day and a morning.  Psalm 3 is prayed on the first morning.  Psalms 4 is prayed at the end of the day, and Psalms 5 is prayed the next morning.   The setting may be a tent, a cave, or even under the sky.  David has no home, and has lost the Kingdom God has promised to him forever.
In these Psalms we see both fear and hope.  Fear of being abandoned with no one to help, but also hope that the Lord will be his defense.   We see raw emotion, as David cries out to God for help.  But we also see a faith that a righteous God will not forget his chosen one.


About Allen Krell

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