There have been times when I’ve been overwhelmed by sin to such a degree that I wondered if God’s infinite grace could ever overcome my endless ability to sin or if it could purge the dark depths of my depraved soul. I realize this isn’t a great mindset, but if I’m being honest, these are thoughts I struggle with more often than I’d like to admit. As a result I often lose sleep and more often than not I go into hiding. And on those days that I do venture out, I second guess everything I say and nearly everything other people say. I question the motives behind each of my actions and I long for a time when I won’t fear to look at myself in the mirror knowing the sort of monster lurking behind the eyes peering back at me. It is probably an understatement to say that such an overwhelming tide of emotions can become quite debilitating.
It may seem as though these struggles not connected to Psalm 3, since the psalmist seems to be writing of his external enemies, but I think there is a thread of similarity. Where the psalmist wonders if God’s grace can overcome his external enemies, I wonder if God’s grace can overcome my sin. While he wonders if God will remove the foes and their torments, I wonder if God will give me respite from the constant torment of sin. And we both wonder if the circumstances of our lives are too great for God’s power. But I think the comparison goes beyond mere similarities, I think they are connected. I think the strength one has to confront the external battles is formed in the process of enduring the intense inner battles of faith.
The introduction to Psalm 3 tells us that David wrote this when he was being hunted by his son and the many thousands of soldiers who had once been loyal to him. As I think of that image, I realized that if David had been like me I’m pretty sure he would have been cowering in the corner of a dark cave not being able to sleep for days. But he was not like me, or at least it seems that he wasn’t. While I’ll never know if David had the same inner struggles I do, he didn’t seem to struggle with faith in the same way that I do. I don’t mean saving faith, (though I suppose all faith is somehow wrapped up together), no, I mean faith that eliminates worry. It is a faith that allows the psalmist, in reaction to being pursued, to say “I lay down and slept; for the Lord sustained me.” He had no worries, no questions, no fretting, or cowering. He just slept knowing God would take care of him and deal justly with his enemies.
I try to imagine him running from Absalom and hiding on the far side of the Jordan and the picture that comes to my mind is a lone man in the dark recesses of a dank cave. He is curled up under a heavy cloak and has his head resting gently on a rock. And even though there is no possible way that he is comfortable, his eyes are closed and he is gently snoring. Hours pass, and he doesn’t move. He lies still, snoring quietly in the back of a cold and wet cave while his son and many thousands of men are looking for him so that they might kill him.
When that picture comes to mind I wonder what allows him to sleep soundly in the midst of danger. About the only answer I can arrive at is that he had great faith. But this faith wasn’t just that God was in control of all the external circumstances and any future outcomes, I think his faith went deeper. I think he knew that God had overcome the inner enemies of his sin nature and regardless of the depths of his sinful heart, God’s forgiveness was greater. And from this place of inner peace came the faith to sleep soundly. I like to imagine that there was a time when he had looked into a mirror and instead of seeing his dark sin staring back, he saw grace. He saw the love of God that saved him from the great enemies of death and hell. Thus, because he knew such terrible enemies had been conquered, a few thousand guys running around the countryside looking to destroy him was not much of a challenge for God. It was certainly nothing to lose sleep over.