It’s can be pretty distressing when your afro-bearing son gains the political support of the Kingdom and decides to kick you (the king) out (it’s the afro that will later be the death of Absalom by the way). This is the plight that we find David in as he pens the 3rd Psalm.
In verses 1-2, David’s enemies do not claim that his God is not real (the idea of doubting God’s existence was most likely not even present); rather, they claim, for some unknown reason, that God no longer favors David. It seems they believe that God now favors his son Absalom, who had been subtly raising a rebellion in the kingdom for quite a while (probably about 40 years).
In one sense we see that David has complete confidence in God throughout psalm 3, however, if God decides not to favor David, he seems to be resolved and content with the outcome either way when you look back in 2 Sam. 15:26. David’s commitment to God choosing, even in light of his own person destruction, is extraordinary.
Still, David is fiercely confident in God and that God will continue to shield him, remain his glory, and the lifter of his head (it seems like a Jewish idiom is present here but I couldn’t find one). Since David seems to be unsure if God is for him or against him (given the contrast of 2 Sam 15 and this Psalm), I wish I knew what David meant by his statement, “I cried to the Lord with my voice, and He heard me from His holy hill.” Did David just have the feeling that God would be on his side, or did he hear a direct revelation (audibly, in a dream, etc) from God that He was on David’s side with this? Either way, his trust in God is further illustrated as he decides to stop running, let his guard down, and sleep knowing that God will protect him against “ten thousands” of pursuers coming from all angles to get him.
Psalm 3 ends by beckoning God to fight on his behalf. The metaphor gives beast-like characteristics to his enemies and tells of a time when David has known God to strike beasts at the source of their strength – their jaw and teeth.
I wonder many times in the Psalms where the line of poetic hyperbole is crossed from the literal description. Was David possibly an incredibly emotional guy (like most musicians are) or were the situations described as intense as the psalmist describes. I do believe, however, that Erwin McManus has correctly stated that we, in our lack of faith, tend find any way possible to remove ourselves from the context with which miracles happen. Maybe, in our culture, safety and money are what we trust in to deliver us from our “bad” situations. In any case the ending is clear that David believes God is the only one who can give him salvation in this desperate situation.