Psalms 3 Summary - The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges
The third and fourth Psalms are closely connected and should be studied together. The one is a morning hymn, after a night spent safely in the midst of danger (Psa 3:5); the other an evening hymn, when the danger, though less imminent, has not passed away (Psa 4:8). The spirit and the circumstances are the same: there are resemblances of language and of structure. Compare Psa 3:1 (“they that distress me”) with Psa 4:1 (“in distress”); Psa 3:2 with Psa 4:6 (“there be many that say” is an expression peculiar to these two Psalms); Psa 3:3 with Psa 4:2; Psa 3:5 with Psa 4:8; and on the structure of Psalms 4 see below. They are clearly the work of the same author, in the same crisis of his life. That author is in high position (Psa 3:6) and speaks with a tone of authority (Psa 4:2 ff.); he is attacked by enemies, not apparently foreigners (Psa 3:1; Psa 3:6), whose project is profane and unprincipled (Psa 4:2; Psa 4:4-5): his cause is pronounced desperate (Psa 3:2), but with unshaken faith he appeals to the experience of past deliverances, and with absolute confidence casts himself upon Jehovah for protection and deliverance.
We can hardly be wrong in accepting the title which states that the third Psalm was written by David when he fled from Absalom his son, and the third Psalm carries the fourth with it. Of that flight a singularly graphic account is preserved in 2 Samuel 15-18. Read in the light of it, these Psalms gain in point and force and vividness. The peril of his position and the ingratitude of the people must be realised in order to estimate duly the strength of the faith and the generosity of feeling, to which these Psalms give expression. The absence of any reference to Absalom himself is thoroughly natural. Comp. 2Sa 18:33.
It has been suggested that the precise occasion of Psalms 3 was the morning after the first night following upon David’s flight from Jerusalem. That night however was spent in the passage of the Jordan, in consequence of Hushai’s urgent message (2Sa 17:15-22), and we must rather think of the morning after some night later on, perhaps the next, which had been marked by unexpected rest, in contrast to the sudden alarms of the previous night.
The fourth Psalm was written somewhat later, when David had had time to reflect on the true character of the rebellion; perhaps at Mahanaim, which was his head-quarters for some time.
The second Psalm describes the Kingdom of the Lord’s Anointed threatened by enemies from without: the third and fourth tell of a time when it was in danger from intestine foes. All three alike are inspired by the conviction that human schemes are impotent to frustrate the Divine purpose.
The Psalm is divided into four stanzas, each, with the exception of the third, closed by a Selah.
i. The present distress, Psa 3:1-2.
ii. God the source of help and protection, Psa 3:3-4.
iii. Confidence in the midst of danger, Psa 3:5-6.
iv. Prayer for deliverance, and blessing on the people, Psa 3:7-8.
Consult other comments:
The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges
The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges is a biblical commentary set published in parts by Cambridge University Press from 1882 onwards. Anglican bishop John Perowne was the general editor. The first section published was written by theologian Thomas Kelly Cheyne and covered the Book of Micah.
Perowne exercised limited editorial control over the writers of individual commentaries: his aim was "to leave each contributor to the unfettered exercise of his own judgment".