David was on the run. Absalom’s political conspiracy against his father had reached the level of a full-fledged coup de tat, winning the hearts of much of Israel through promises made and carefully planned demonstrations of authority (2 Sam. 15:1-12). The outlook for the much-revered king was bleak indeed, for “The heats of the men of Israel are with Absalom” (2 Sam. 15:13). What must have been going through David’s mind as he gave the order to leave the capital and flee into the wilderness? He had the loyalty of a close group made up of advisors, servants, and priests (2 Sam. 15:14-29), but he had lost control of the nation at the hands of his own son. As the troop climbed the Mount of Olives, weeping, they received even more bad news. But how did David respond? He worshipped. He was in the midst of a hasty retreat, ultimately ending up in Mahanaim, emotionally drained and physically exhausted. Yet, in this very circumstance, he paused to reflect and pray to God, a prayer recorded as Psalm 3.
This psalm, likely the first in a series during this troubled time in David’s life, begins with David’s expressing his dismay at the number of people who have turned against him (Ps. 3:1-2). However, despite feeling the pang of treason from those so close to him, contrary to the expectations of many today, he did not turn against God or complain to God. Instead, he glorified God, praising Him for His protection and care and thanking Him for listening to his prayer (Ps. 3:3-4). But the next section is the most striking of all. David writes, “I lay down and slept; I awoke, for the LORD sustained me. I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people Who have set themselves against me all around” (Ps. 3:5-6). David had just endured one of the toughest nights in his life–of which there were many. That he could sleep at all would speak to his exhaustion, but it also is a tribute to his faith. He did not know if he would even survive the night, but when he did, He thanked God for it, and His faith grew stronger to note that God can deliver and protect regardless of the opposition. Thus he could end this psalm—still away from Jerusalem and his reign in question—with confidence that the LORD could save him and provide victory because of how He blesses His people (Ps. 3:7-8).
Few, if any, of us will face the kind of treachery and treason, danger and derision, that David faced on that night of retreat. But in whatever problems we face, whatever challenges lie before us, and whatever our enemy may do to attack, we can have confidence that God is with His people. Therefore, be at peace, sleep, and rest. Let the LORD handle those things you cannot control, and go forward with faith rather than fear. This is not idea advice. Many know what it means to have all of life disrupted through a family problem, a health challenge, or an economic hardship. These are worthy of your attention to be sure. But they are also worthy of God’s attention, if we will give them over to Him. He has not promised delivery from every problem that we face, but He has promised that He cares (1 Pet. 5:7) and that He will deliver the faithful in the end (Heb. 2:14-15; Rev. 2:10). It is important to have this kind of faith, and it is just as important to express this kind of faith in prayer (Jas. 5:16).