Selah. David takes a moment and thinks seriously about what he has started this song saying. He is singing a type of the blues - at least a country song that commiserates with his audience about how bad it is for him. But he stops singing the words though for an instrumental portion in the song. Selah means to stop and consider what you've just heard. It was usually done with an instrumental moment in the music. Ever stop in the midst of your miserable self-monologues and think about what you've just said? It is something we should do - especially when our misery wants to lead us to helplessness and despair. "Wait a minute!" we should say to ourselves. Stop and think a moment about what you've just said.
"But You, Jehovah, are a shield about me. My glory, and the One Who lift my head." What a radical change from, "no help for you in God" to God being his shield, glory, and head-lifter. Amazing what comes to us when we exercise our right to shut up and listen for a few moments. Astounding what we can learn when we stop and consider the words spoken to us - and even those which we are speaking to ourselves in a rough moment. Are we listening to God - or just focusing on our inner-Eyeore? David, much more than most, had reason to be depressed. He was facing, after all, exile because his son was leading a successful rebellion and overthrow of his kingdom. Yet, stopping and thinking in the presence of God is NEVER a bad idea.
Why did I just use the phrase, "stopping and thinking in the presence of God?" It is because that is what is evident in David's words. He stopped and considered things from the stand point of God. He stopped and considered what was being said about God. Is God no longer his deliverer? Is there no hope of salvation for David? Once he stops and considers these words - he doesn't turn only to what God said - but more importantly - Who God is! That is the answer to His dilemma. Who is God right now? What a great question to ask.YOU - Jehovah! That is the answer to every problem we face and every issue that comes up in our lives.
YOU - Jehovah! That is ultimately where we need to turn when the world, the flesh, the devil tell us that all hope is lost. Turning to ourselves in such moments is like turning to a defaulted bank for funds. The bank is bankrupt - and has nothing. We ourselves, in ourselves, are bankrupt as well. So - our first thought should be this . . . Who are You in all this, God? That is what will help us in this and every other situation that we face. David is reminded of Who God says that He is. You are a shield about me! You are my glory! You are the lifter of my head! You answer prayer! Let's take a quick look at these answers to David's problem.
You, Jehovah are a shield about me. God is a shield and refuge to us. David thinks and remembers the way that God dealt with these situations in the past. Time and time again God surrounded David in times of difficulty and trial like a giant shield. David was protected against the enemy - against Saul when he was crazy - against Goliath - against every foe he had ever faced. This dawned upon him the same way that Elisha's servant was awakened to the protection of God evidenced to him when God opened his eyes to the mountains filled with angels of fire all around him. But then again, that is one of our fundamental problems isn't it. We cannot see Him - so we tend to wonder if He is there. This is not a problem usually for us until the physical problems in our lives get in our face - and we are blinded to the unseen because of the overwhelming presence and demand of the seen. Jehovah was and is a shield to His people and His anointed. But - there are times when though seeing, we are blind to His presence. Regardless of our circumstances though - He is with us - and He is here.
You, Jehovah, are my glory! Though this may seem not a huge issue at first, it is the first issue David sees in refocusing on God - and it is a primary issue for him, and for us as well. Honestly, we probably have not thought about "glory" and how important it is to have the right glory in your life.
Often we freak out in life because someone is messing with our "glory." Let me explain a little more what I mean by this. Our glory is what is of utmost importance in our lives. For many people that is themselves, their stuff, their position, their power, their happiness . . . in short - they glory in themselves. When someone messes with their glory it is serious. But consider for a moment David and this issue of "glory." As a young man he walked into a situation that involved glory. Goliath stood for 40 days and defied Israel to send out anyone to fight him. Everyone except David missed that glory was being addressed. Saul and his entire army were scared and depressed about this situation - but only saw it in reference to their own glory. This looked bad on them - their fighting ability - their standing and position - and honestly - their own selves - because to go out and fight this monster of a man surely meant death to whoever tried it! Stupid Goliath! He's messing with our glory! Then along came David. He heard the taunts, heard the challenge, heard the same insults and came away with a radically different view of things. How dare this uncircumcised Philistine say these things about God! Stupid Goliath! He's messing with God's glory! That is why he knew he could take Goliath. He KNEW he could take out this doofus who was messing with God's glory! He knew it because he was far more concerned with God's glory than his own. Out David waltzes on the battlefield - no armor - no sword - just a sling and five stones (one for Goliath and each of his ugly brothers too - if they dare to act against God's glory!) WOW - what an amazing faith this young man had!
You, Jehovah, are my glory! That is what got David through all this. It is what will get you through your mess too! Your problems and distresses are ultimately NOT ABOUT YOU! God is working through everything He allows so that as you trust Him - look to Him - rely on Him - pray to Him - and fight by His power - you will be to the praise of His glory! Oh God! You are my glory - it is all about You! All this that I am facing - is so that men may see Your glory and what You can do! How did David radically change in these moments? He radically changed the center of this controversy from himself to God. Just a few thoughts. Who did God say that He would build an enduring kingdom through? Who had God said that He forgave when David repented of his sin of adultery, murder by proxy, and deceit? Who did God say that he would protect and keep through all his troubles? And ultimately - Whose glory was MOST affected by Absalom's rebellion, open immorality, and dishonoring of his father and his father's God? Yeah - it wasn't David's glory - it was God's glory.
You, Jehovah, are the lifter of my head! The last of these three statements about God may be the most glorious. "Wait a minute," you may think. "What does 'head-lifting' have to do with being chased through the wilderness by another madman?" The answer to that question is found in the whispers that filled David's head - not by his situation in general. David heard that there was no hope for him in God. That meant that God was through with him - done - finished! He wanted nothing more to do with David. But David, in meditating on that thought, realized that this did not fit Who God had been in his life. You see, David was a mess (much like we all are as well). This was not his first rodeo, so to speak. He had failed multiple times before. His failures at times seemed to go above his head so that he feared drowning in the sea of his own transgressions and sin. As David considered his bleak past, he also considered just Who it was that he met at every turn. It was God - Who often was working even through David's sin. He met God at every failure - even though as he came upon the Lord his head was hanging low in shame and disgrace. But God was not there to cast him to the side, offering him judgment and condemnation void of any hope. God met him with grace and forgiveness - as if someone had paid the ultimate price for his sin. (Little did David know - Someone had paid it as the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.) This was not a God who banished him. This was The God who "lifted his head" out of disgrace into renewed favor and grace. The golden scepter of grace in Jesus Christ had been extended, removing the death sentence he deserved in the presence of the King Who would never welcome such a sinful man. This is Who Jehovah is - the One Who lifts my head - giving me grace - giving me mercy - offering compassion.
No hope for you in God? Far from it saints - but only as you remember Who God is. The answer to your dilemma - indeed to ALL your dilemmas - is found in Who God is. This God, Who maybe even unknown to you allowed these circumstances to come into your life, is not Who you think Him to be. He has not cast you off - thrown you away - or left you behind because of your sins. If He reacted to you apart from mercy - He would have consumed you at the occasion of your first sin! Your God is your shield of protection - only allowing in your life what is needed for your sanctification to be accomplished. Your God is your glory - reminding you to lay down the ridiculous thought that it is or ever was about you and what you want. Your God lifts your head - rather than crushes it due to your sin. He has laid His hand of judgment on His Son at Calvary - and now by faith you receive grace upon grace. Even in the most dire of difficulties this is Who He is. So stop making yourself the center of this situation - your comfort the center of your pursuits - and your glory the purpose of your life. This will lead only to misery in the end. Stop! Consider what you are thinking! And realize the answer is this - Who is God? The sooner we come to this conclusion - the sooner that we can experience the transformation - the same transformation David experienced in Psalm 3.