David one day found out that his son, Absalom, had swayed the hearts of the people of Israel away from him. 2 Samuel 15:12 says that “the conspiracy was strong, for the people increased continually with Absalom.” So David was forced to flee from his son. Absalom and the people thought what they were doing was right in the eyes of the LORD. They supposed that they were right in taking away the kingdom from David and giving it to Absalom. The people thought Absalom to be a righteous and just man, for he had sat by the gate to intercept anyone going to King David to obtain judgment. He would flatter the person with talk about how he would listen to them and give them justice if he were king in David’s place (2 Sam 15:1-6). So more and more people were being swayed away from David, the LORD’s anointed, who was a man after God’s own heart. In the wilderness, surveying the situation, David wrote:
1 O LORD, how my adversaries have increased!
Many are rising up against me.
2 Many are saying of my soul,
“There is no deliverance for him in God.”
God’s people are often surrounded by many adversaries who would rise up against them and declare that God does not care for them. Religious apostates seek to strangle the truth as they gain power and influence. Because of their deception, they have a false confidence that God is for them. Saul of Tarsus thought he was fulfilling the will of God by persecuting and killing Christians until he met the Lord on the road to Damascus. It was then that he realized his own delusion and turned from being an enemy of the gospel to a believer and a preacher of that same gospel.
However, David is certain that there is indeed deliverance for him in God:
3 But You, O LORD, are a shield about me,
My glory, and the One who lifts my head.
4 I was crying to the LORD with my voice,
And He answered me from His holy mountain.
God is often depicted as a shield to those who believe in Him and who walk in His ways. Although there was a host of people seeking to harm him, David was confident of God’s protection. Those who worship God and walk in His ways always have God with them, though they lose all. It could be said that David had lost all glory. He was no longer in his palace or on his throne. He no longer was praised by the people. But he recognized that God was his glory. Those who trust God and keep His Word also know that though trials are unavoidable, they pass; and they look to God to give to them as He sees fit. David knew that it would be God who exalted him back to his throne to rule among the people in due time. He was confident in God, because God had heard his plea and had answered from on high. God had not been dethroned. He was still sovereign. And although David felt far away from the presence of God, he was rejoicing that God had heard him and answered.
5 I lay down and slept;
I awoke, for the LORD sustains me.
6 I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people
Who have set themselves against me round about.
God had answered David by preserving him through the night in the midst of his multiplying enemies. He had laid down to sleep, trusting God to keep him safe, and he had woken in the morning and recognized that God had sustained him. Even though this seems like such a small victory in the face of overwhelming odds, David recognized that if he could trust God with one night, he could trust Him with anything. So he confidently asserts that he would not be afraid of even ten thousands of people setting themselves around him in opposition.
With renewed strength, he again cries out to the LORD:
7 Arise, O LORD; save me, O my God!
For You have smitten all my enemies on the cheek;
You have shattered the teeth of the wicked.
8 Salvation belongs to the LORD;
Your blessing be upon Your people!
God desires His people to pray to Him. The first instinct of the believer must be to cry out to God for deliverance from the trials of life. He also desires them to trust that He will indeed deliver them. David expressed his confidence that God would contend with his enemies.
In the last verse. David expresses the main theme of the psalm: salvation belongs to the LORD. Primarily, physical salvation is in view in this context. But it is also true that spiritual salvation is from the LORD. God delivers the repentant from the oppression of sin and the devil, and He delivers them from the afflictions that present themselves to those who believe in Him. He is, first, the redeemer of the soul from sin, and, second, the deliverer of the redeemed from affliction.
Those who fear the Lord and walk in righteousness have always been hated by those who walk in unrighteousness. Because the unrighteous want to shirk the bonds of the sovereign and righteous God, they strike out at those who love Him. This was true of Abel. This was true of David. This was true of all the prophets.
This was true in the life of the Lord Jesus, whose enemies increased and gathered around Him to crucify Him, supposing that God would not deliver Him from their hand. What they did not know is that they were acting according to the plan of God. All of His life, Jesus entrusted Himself to God, for He knew that God’s plan could not be altered or thwarted. Thus, Jesus showed no fear as His enemies multiplied and cried out for Him to be crucified. He entrusted Himself to God, who would lift up His head and exalt Him to His right hand. In this way, salvation belongs to the LORD, and His blessing is upon His people. For they will not be condemned on the day of the LORD, but will be saved through their trust in the atonement of sin provided by Jesus Christ on the cross of Calvary.
How we can rest assured in the finished work of Christ. We can entrust ourselves to God to watch over us and keep us from harm. And most of all, we can trust His promise of salvation from sin and a citizenship in the coming Kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ, who will reign forever and ever, smiting all of His enemies on the cheek and shattering the teeth of the wicked.