Individual Laments: Psalm 3

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Read Psalm 3

A psalm of David. When he fled from his son Absalom.

Lord, how many are my foes!
    How many rise up against me!
Many are saying of me,
    “God will not deliver him.”

But you, Lord, are a shield around me,
    my glory, the One who lifts my head high.
I call out to the Lord,
    and he answers me from his holy mountain.

I lie down and sleep;
    I wake again, because the Lord sustains me.
I will not fear though tens of thousands
    assail me on every side.

Arise, Lord!
    Deliver me, my God!
Strike all my enemies on the jaw;
    break the teeth of the wicked.

From the Lord comes deliverance.
    May your blessing be on your people.

Go Deeper

Psalm 3 is a psalm of lament, where the psalmist is lamenting the current state of the world and is pleading with God in the midst of sin, sorrow, danger, persecution, or hardship (or all of the above). Throughout the psalms we see both individual laments (on behalf of a particular person) and communal laments (on behalf of a group of people). This one is an individual lament written by David.

In Psalm 3 we see a transformation take place. David begins by explaining his current circumstances: he has many foes, many are rising up against him, and many are saying that God will not deliver him. From the outside looking in, David has every reason to be terrified—he is totally alone, with no ally in sight, enemies surrounding and encroaching in from all directions. But then something happens. He remembers who he’s talking to. David says “but You… are a shield around me, my glory, the One who lifts my head high.” After remembering who God is and setting his mind on truth, David’s perspective changes. He declares that he will not fear no matter how many thousands go against him. David’s circumstances didn’t necessarily change, but his mindset did. The transformation wasn’t external, but internal.

The process we see David go through in this Psalm is something we see taught and modeled throughout the Bible. Scripture encourages us often to take every thought captive (2 Corinthians 10:5) and to think on whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, and admirable (Philippians 4:8). We’re directed to set our minds on things above. Focusing on truth allows us to view our circumstances here on earth with a Christ-centered perspective. When we do that, while our circumstances may not change, our attitude about them does. 

Maybe we need to take a lesson here from David. What are your foes? Who is rising up against you today? What situation are you in that seems downright impossible? Take it to God. Give your circumstances proper perspective, frame them in the lens of truth, and allow God to remind you of who He is and what He can do. Your situation may not change overnight, but perhaps you’ll be changed in the process. 


  1. Do you struggle to take your thoughts captive? What does that even mean?
  2. What is a circumstance facing you that seems impossible to you right now?
  3. What is a promise in Scripture about God that can reframe your perspective on that situation?

Did You Know?

The phrase “Arise, O LORD” recalls the words of Moses when he used this phrase as Israel broke ground in the wilderness (Numbers 10:35). Arise, O LORD is a military phrase, calling on God to both defend Israel and lead them to victory.

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4 thoughts on “Individual Laments: Psalm 3”

  1. Trouble, stress, anixety and fear.
    BUT GOD, (vs 3-4) But you, O LORD, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head. I cried aloud to the LORD, and he answered me from his holy hill.
    This is the story of what was happening to David in 2 Samuel 15. Reading that and seeing His lament makes this psalm more real. It was what happened to David and how God was there to help him in his time of need BECAUSE David called out to Him. In 2 samuel 15:13-18 David is fleeing but not with family, but with his servants who trusted and belived in him. David wrote several Psalm’s during this time. BUT GOD delievered him and was faithful. Our Mighty God will also be faithful and deliver us from those troubles, stresses, anixietys and fears as we give them over.

    God thank You for Your Word that has the answers to my questions. God You are faithful, and just and this makes me blessed and grateful. God thank You for wisdom of Your Word when I mess up. Thank You that You say there is no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus. That You will supply all my needs. That if I cast my cares on You, You will sustain me. God as I put off the old man and renew my mind according to Your word that You will give me new thoughts to help me to walk in the light of Christ. Even when I am under trial, God, You are for me not against. You give me good gifts that I can trust You and not lean unto my own understanding but acknowledge You and You will direct my path every minute of this day as I give You those thoughts and actions. God thank You for giving me direction and love goggles to be Your light in this dark world today in Jesus name amen.

  2. Ella Snodgrass

    This Psalm was David’s cry to God against his foes, which included one special, specific enemy—his son Absalom. It had to have been one of David’s darkest hours as he experienced his own son turn traitor. More noteworthy than that is what David does in this challenging moment, he trusted God. Submitting both his fear and the outcome to the One who never sleeps nor slumbers but was faithfully watching over him. God heard his cries, and he hears ours. Regardless of the outcome, we can confidently trust in God for peace and protection.

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