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Psalms 3

Interpretation of Psalm 3


In this essay we will use Psalm: 3 as an example text to interpret a concise theological/biblical thesis statement. We will then examine some common applications for this verse for the Christian today. The method used to interpret this verse will be the four step method known as the Interpretative Journey. This method starts by examining the text in relevance to the time, place and context when written and bridges the gap to a relevant meaning to contemporary society (Carter, Duvall and Hays 2005). When interpreting Psalms one needs to approach the book as a conversation with God the Psalms themselves convey one of three messages Praise, Laments( a cry for help), or Thanksgiving (Carter, Duvall and Hays 2005). Also, as the Psalms were written as songs much of the context is in poetic or figurative language and thus one should consider this when interpreting the verses. Much like contemporary songs such as Bob Dylan’s “knocking on Heaven’s Door (Dylan 1973).” We need not think one is not literally knocking on an actual door but this paints us a picture of one approaching death. However, “Each Psalm is an independent unit isolated from its literary context and thus we must consider the historical context throughout the entire book first (Carter, Duvall and Hays 2005).”

The Biblical Meaning / Historical Setting

The Book of Psalms is divided in a fivefold format and parallels the first five books of the Torah which is called the Pentateuch. These five Books of the Torah also are the first five books of the Bible and depicted the state of humankind from his Blessed state or oneness with God, to his Fall, or the separation as result of sin, and finally depict the process of recovery or reconciliation (NIV 1984, 554). The Book of Psalms is a collection of 150 songs that were composed for worship in The Temple of Jerusalem the first four books or subsections in Psalms conclude with a doxology, word of praise ( Ps 41:13; 72:18-19; 89:52, 106:48), and the fifth book is concluded with a praise song in Psalm 150 (Hindson and Yates 2012). Psalm 3 was composed by David and is a lament as he fled from his son Absalom who led a rebellion against his father and used subterfuge and his power as a Judge to proclaim himself rightful heir to the throne. David fled with his household and servants and was being pursued by Absalom’s troop and was in fear of his life, and that of his followers, when this Psalm was composed. Later despite David’s orders Absalom which was to deal with him gently when Absalom’s hair became entangled in a tree he was executed. Due to David’s sadness at his son’s actions the moral of his army was low and his orders were ignored instead of victory David’s forces returned to Jerusalem in sorrow. The Story of Absalom is recorded in 2 Samuel:  13-19 and the main theme to remember is God does as he sees fit in History (2 Sam: 17:14 NIV 1984). Another theme illustrated is the love of a parent for a child despite what action or behavior is performed by and is a precursor to the parable of The Prodigal Son found in Luke 15:11-32. Like all Psalms in the first 4 books of Psalms this concludes with verse that praises God. The meaning to the Biblical audience of Psalm 3 can thus be summarized as this: It is a prayer to God to protect one from his enemy and provide (sustain) one’s need. It also, asks for deliverance from one’s enemy. At first glance this may seem to be the literal encroaching forces of Absalom but one can also apply this to Sin evil as well. Of mention David mentions God as the shield and one familiar with the New Testament will recall Paul using such a reference in Ephesians 6:16 to the Faith we have in God.

Differences and Similarities

Although the Psalms were written under the Old Covenant (Law) and we as Christians live under the New Covenant the difference are not that great. Although Jesus did not overturn the Law as many claim one may say he modified it to a manner in which it is easier for one to apply in their daily life. In The Great Commandment:  Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. ’All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments (Matt 22: 37-40 NIV 1984).” This Commandment if followed encompasses all the other Ten Commandments. Thus, the Old Covenant serves as a guide for our actions and a determining factor for what is sin. Jesus also reminds us that all of us will fall short and none of us can uphold the law completely by our own accord: “For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven (Matt 5:20 NIV 1984).”  Like the Israelites in David’s time we face the threat of war, and need protection from enemy forces both physical and spiritual.

The Meaning (Crossing the Bridge)

The theological/Biblical Statement can thus be stated simply in the following way. By an action of Faith (the shield) God will protect, and provide for us. God will give us strength to defeat our enemies but we must always thank him and put him above all things.

Examples of Application

The application for this passage is in times of danger whether the force of opposition is a spiritual or physical presence God will provide comfort, strength, and the means to defeat our enemies. We use our Faith, the shield, The Word of God, the sword, the breastplate of righteousness, or Spiritual living, the belt of truth, and the helmet of salvation to protect us and defeat our advisories.  Finally, We need not forget to thank God for what he does in our life. Like David in times of strife one should turn to prayer first as God will provide and meet all needs, protect and strengthen the body, mind, and soul and give us the gifts of Spirit to persevere all circumstances.

In God, Christ and Spirit,

Trent Rindoks


Word Count # 1076


Carter, Terry G, J. Scott Duvall, and J.Daniel Hays. Preaching God’s Word. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2005.

Dylan, Bob. “Knocking on Heaven’s Door.” Pat Gareet & Billy the Kid. 1973.

Hindson, Ed, and Gary Yates. The Essence of the OLd Testament: A Survry. Nashville: B&H Publishing, 2012.

NIV. Swindoll, Charles R. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publish House, 1984.






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