Of Cheeks and Teeth

Psalm 3 
A Psalm of David, when he fled from his son Absalom.

O Lord, how many are my foes!
    Many are rising against me;
many are saying to me,
    “There is no help for you in God.”                      Selah

But you, O Lord, are a shield around me,
    my glory, and the one who lifts up my head.
I cry aloud to the Lord,
    and he answers me from his holy hill.                Selah

I lie down and sleep;
    I wake again, for the Lord sustains me.
I am not afraid of ten thousands of people
    who have set themselves against me all around.

Rise up, O Lord!
    Deliver me, O my God!
For you strike all my enemies on the cheek;
    you break the teeth of the wicked.

Deliverance belongs to the Lord;
    may your blessing be on your people!             Selah

By John Grimm

David’s problem was of his own making.  The fallout from David taking Uriah’s wife as his own was evidenced in David’s own family being torn apart.  Absalom wanting his father’s throne was part of the reason David was fleeing from Absalom.  Now, David must find a way through this situation.

Yes, David had confessed his sin regarding the murder of Uriah and the rape of Uriah’s wife.  Yet, we read David’s foes tell him: “There is no help for you in God.”  David has known otherwise for his whole life.  Whether David’s foe was Saul, Absalom, or others, God delivered David.  This deliverance by God is what David is waiting for now.

How do we know he is waiting for God to act?  Selah.  This term is known as a signal for rest in Jewish poetry.  Notice where David rests.  He rests after hearing the foes speak of the lack of deliverance.  David rests when he cries to the Lord.  He rests in full assurance that God will bring deliverance to him and blessings upon God’s people.

When do we rest?  Do we follow the same pattern?  Or do we wait until we have struck our enemies on the cheek and broken the teeth of the wicked, in our own strength?  Maybe we are afraid that the Lord will not act.  Do we not remember that God has acted for our benefit, previously in our lives?  When it comes to our foes, God can and does provide deliverance for us.  Can we rest while we wait for the Lord to do so?

God, yes, we need a Selah or two in our lives.  You will deliver us from our foes.  We have known you to do so in the past and we trust you to do so now.  We know that you have forgiven us, delivered us from our sins.  We can trust you to deliver us from the sins of our foes.  In the name of Jesus Christ, bless your people through all the means that you find necessary.  Amen.

Death of the Son

By Chuck Griffin
LifeTalk Editor

Psalm 9:1-14

So, right up front, I might as well tell you what I’m doing wrong. I’m taking an obscure, hard-to-translate heading on a psalm and likely stretching it into far more than was intended.

The least controversial way to translate Psalm 9’s heading is, “To the chief musician upon Muth-labben,” which avoids all problems in translating the Hebrew phrase “Muth-labben.”

I studied a little Hebrew in seminary, but let’s just say I never wanted to make a living working in biblical languages. I have enormous respect for those who choose this path. But as best as I can tell, even the experts have trouble agreeing on the translation of this particular psalm title.

I will not bore you with all the possibilities, but my favorite, the one chosen by the New Living Translation, is, “To be sung to the tune, ‘Death of the Son.’ “

That translation begs other questions. Whose son? Being considered a psalm of David, Absalom, perhaps? Again, it’s impossible to answer for sure.

Just for the fun of it, let’s stick with “Death of the Son” as the title and then really Christianize the psalm. We will look at it like people who believe Jesus Christ is somehow present in every page of the Bible, Old Testament or New Testament.

What follows Psalm 9’s heading is unrestrained praise for God. This is the God who fills us with joy!

We also hear of the God who restores us at the judgment, sending our sin-aligned enemies staggering away mortally wounded.

The nations are all rebuked for unholiness. All is set right, and God is understood to be astonishingly loving, the one who shelters and restores the oppressed and hopeless.

Regardless of the psalmist’s intent, I think of the God who came among us in flesh and died for our sins, making resurrection and restoration possible. I think of Jesus Christ, the cross, and a stone rolled away from a tomb.

It’s enough to make me wonder if “Death of the Son” was a joyous tune.

Lord, help us begin our week immersed in the idea that Jesus Christ died for our sins, and in the hope that death brings. Amen.