As I study The Psalms this year a question posed by a few writers seemed simple at first but later led to a new understanding of the book. In my own words that question is:
Why is Psalm 1 and 2, Psalm 1 and 2?
Is there a reason for their placement? If so, what is that reason? Or is the Psalms just a collection of Hebrew Songs placed in random order with no reason?
Few would question that each Psalm can stand on its own, but I have been led to believe that there is also a sort of connection between the Psalms that progresses from Psalm 3 to the end. At least this seems to be the case in book one.
The Psalms, as you may know, are made up of five books. The connection idea, in short, is:
First the collection of Psalms in Book 1 starts with Psalm 3 because Psalm 1 and 2 introduces us to a “word picture” that is then played out in Psalm 3-41 in the life of David.
Second, each Psalm is connected to Christ. We can see that in Psalm 3.
Psalm 3 begins with overwhelming opposition.
1 O LORD, how many are my foes!
Many are rising against me;
2 many are saying of my soul,
“There is no salvation for him in God.”
It is hard to overlook the word MANY in these two verses.
Many against me.
Many say God will not save me.
Those that stand in opposition to David seem mountainous to him. The numbers are too great to count. They hate David, they want to kill him and they are bad-talking him. At this moment he feels as if it is him against the world.
This echoes what we read in Psalm 2.
1 Why do the nations rage
and the peoples plot in vain?
2 The kings of the earth set themselves,
and the rulers take counsel together,
against the LORD and against his Anointed, ……
Here too the numbers are great in opposition.
I’m not saying that Psalm Two is declaring David as the ultimate Anointed of God. Yes, Scripture tells us that David was God’s anointed king (1 Samuel 16:13, 2 Samuel 2:4, 5:3). However, Psalm Two is clearly a prophecy of the coming ultimate Anointed King, Jesus Christ. On the other hand, because there is a clear emphasis on humanity in a fallen world in the first book we can also see David in this Psalm as well. In other words, we can also see this “rage of the nations” demonstrated toward David because he too was chosen by God.
In Psalm Three we see the same word picture as foes plot against David. From the superscription, we are certain that Psalm Three is written by David and is about David. However, Psalm Three is also illustrating the truth of Psalm Two’s Anointed One in a personal way through the life of David. Moreover, Psalm Three is showing us the suffering Messiah within Psalms Three itself. As Hawker says of Psalm Three:
“Can I, my soul, read this Psalm of David’s distress in his flight from Absalom, and not behold David’s Lord in his agonies and conflicts, in the very same spot of the Mount of Olives?”
Now all of the comparing back and forth could be hard to follow. I, however, feel that if you will take the time and review this idea you will be blessed.
For now, please consider this. Do we not experience this in our own life because of the fallen world? Calamity or injustice could easily cause Christians to experience fear and uncertainty. Moments of alienation, loneliness and heartache may follow. This can keep us up at night as we worry about how we will make it through this difficulty.
Sleepless nights are no fun. We need sleep to be able to work the next day. We need sleep to have strength in a battle that we are now in. Thankfully, David moves from helplessness to a strong expression of great trust in the Lord God. This is a turning point in the story.
David shows God’s people how to deal with these circumstances. He tells us every believer may bring his situation before God in prayer and cast all his fears on him.
3 But you, O LORD, are a shield about me,
my glory, and the lifter of my head.
4 I cried aloud to the LORD,
and he answered me from his holy hill.
Aren’t you glad that the Lord answers us? What David found and what we all will find is that crying out to God, and knowing that God will hear our prayer gives us serenity in the storm that allows us to lie down in peace, rest and wake to face a new day.
5 I lay down and slept;
I woke again, for the LORD sustained me.
We all have fear, but we need to learn where to place our fear. Both Psalms two and three instruct us where to place our fear. Fearing God ( Psa. 2:11) is better than fearing thousands of men (Psa. 3:6). In the end this godly fear brings believers the victory through the Lord as we also see in both Psalms.
9 You (Christ) shall break them with a rod of iron
and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.”
7 Arise, O LORD!
Save me, O my God!
For you strike all my enemies on the cheek;
you break the teeth of the wicked.
David learns here as well as later in the Psalms that ultimately oppression will cease. God will never withdraw His grace and blessings from his people. God’s people will never be allowed to be overcome by enemies because Jesus Christ, from the line of David, is an eternal King who cannot be without subjects. It is His inheritance.
8 Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage,
and the ends of the earth your possession.
Now a good lesson for us in these two Psalms is this. Since Jesus is the Blessed Man of Psalm 1 and is also the Anointed One of Psalm 2, then Jesus not only is the suffering Messiah but also is the One who strikes the “many” enemies of Psalm 3.
This can happen in any arena packed with our foes as David has prayed. But of course, this is mainly speaking to us of spiritual enemies. But think of it this way. If Christ has dealt with our greatest issue, which is sin and if Christ is our hope and joy, why are we so often worried and anxious?
8 Salvation belongs to the LORD..
The Gospel PostScript