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. Selah
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. Selah
5 I lay down and slept;
I woke again, for the Lord sustained me.
6 I will not be afraid of many thousands of people
who have set themselves against me all around.
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.
8 Salvation belongs to the Lord;
your blessing be on your people! Selah
The traditional text with the psalm points to this being written while David was betrayed and persecuted by his son Absalom. Israel’s uprising against her king points to the persecution of Jesus Christ (John 19:15). Even the accusations of David’s deliverance are mimicked and echoed in the taunts levied against Christ (Matt 27:39-43).
It is with this context of death and destruction in mind that makes the entry out of the “Selah” all that much more beautiful. It is not the “war” concept that calls David to the word “shield” but instead it is a poetic recalling of God’s promises to Abraham (Gen 15:1). Even the use of “glory” in conjunction with “holy hill” points back to the blessing of God’s presence and covenantal relationship with Israel (Exo 24:16).
The beauty of the psalm continues as the refreshing blessing of rest is sustained by the “laying on of hands”, as the Hebrew literally reads. The many foes are no worry to the refreshed David. The assurance of victory is given as salvation is God’s.
Through all of this, David cannot speak against the people of God.