Psalm 3: Arise, O Lord!
A Psalm of David, when he fled from Absalom his son.
O Lord, how many are my foes!
Many are rising against me;
Many are saying of my soul,
"There is no salvation for him in God."
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.
I lay down and slept;
I woke again, for the Lord sustained me.
I will not be afraid of many thousands of people
Who have set themselves against me all around.
Arise, O Lord! Save me, O my God!
For you strike all my enemies on the cheek;
You break the teeth of the wicked.
Salvation belongs to the Lord;
Your blessing be on your people!
Psalms 3:1-8 (ESV)
David was engaged to Saul's elder daughter, Merab (1 Samuel 18:17)Saul broke the engagement, giving Merab to another man (1 Samuel 18:19) David wed Saul's other daughter, Michal (1 Samuel 18:27) Saul turned against David and gave Michal to another man (1 Samuel 25:44).
David wed two women: Abigail the widow of Nabal of Carmel, and Ahinoam of Jezreel (1 Samuel 25:43).
During the long war with the house of Saul, David wed four more women and fathered six sons :
- Amnon of Ahinoam
- Chileab of Abigail
- Absalom of Maacah
- Adonijah of Haggith
- Shepthatiah of Abital
- Ithream of Eglah
2 Samuel 3:2 (ESV)
David yet considered Michal his wife, demanding her return as part of peace talks with the house of Saul (2 Samuel 3:13-14). The surrender of the house of Saul led all Israel to anoint David king. David took more concubines and more wives, fathering more sons and daughters:
2 Samuel 5:14
Secure in his kingdom, David took Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah, and lay with her, later arranging to have Uriah killed in battle, allowing David to wed Bathsheba. Their first child died. Bathsheba later bore to David a son, Solomon Jedidiah (2 Samuel 11-12).
Meanwhile, David's eldest son, Amnon, took his step-sister, Tamar, by force and raped her. Making an evil act more wicked. Amnon refused to honor Tamar as wife, casting her out without apology or assistance. Tamar's brother, Absalom, took Tamar into his home, outwardly at peace with Amnon, but inwardly hating him and planning vengeance.
Two years later Absalom's hatred for Amnon erupted in deceit and death. Drawn by an invitation to a celebration party, Amnon was violently murdered by Absalom's servants. David was overwhelmed by grief and anger, and Absalom fled for his life. For three years father and son remained enemies (2 Samuel 13).
David heart was filled with anger and grief over Amnon, ending any hint of love for Absalom. Yet the people of Israel regarded Absalom as David's heir, a prince of the kingdom, and they wanted Absalom's place in David's court restored. David finally relented, allowing Absalom to return to Jerusalem without prosecution for the murder. For three years David refused to see his son, and Absalom lived apart in his own house. The estrangement between David and Absalom never healed, despite a public ceremony of forgiveness that included Absalom bowing before the king, and the king kissing Absalom (2 Samuel 14).
Absalom became politically active, gaining a reputation in the nation as a strong leader. After four years of greasing palms, secret handshakes behind closed doors, and staged public events, Absalom felt he had enough support to challenge the David for the throne.
Absalom used to rise early and stand beside the way of the gate. And when any man had a dispute to come before the king for judgment, Absalom would call to him and say, "From what city are you?" And when he said, "Your servant is of such and such a tribe in Israel," Absalom would say to him, "See, your claims are good and right, but there is no man designated by the king to hear you." Then Absalom would say, "Oh that I were judge in the land! Then every man with a dispute or cause might come to me, and I would give him justice." And whenever a man came near to pay homage to him, he would put out his hand and take hold of him and kiss him. Thus Absalom did to all of Israel who came to the king for judgment. So Absalom stole the hearts of the men of Israel. 2 Samuel 15:2-6 (ESV)
A messenger came to David, saying, "The hearts of the men of Israel have gone after Absalom." Then David said to all his servants who were with him at Jerusalem, "Arise, and let us flee, or else there will be no escape for us from Absalom. Go quickly, lest he overtake us quickly and bring down ruin on us and strike the city with the edge of the sword." 2 Samuel 15:13-14 (ESV)
David fled Jerusalem with his family and close servants, all who would have reason to fear violent revenge from Absalom the Usurper. David's heart was broken with disappointment and weak with fear. From this shameful defeat David would later write the words of Psalm 3.