“Inside Out” is a wonderful movie about the exploration of emotions. We enter the world of eleven-year-old Riley, who experiences joy, fear, anger, disgust, and sadness over the prospect of moving to a new city. Along the way, young viewers learn a new vocabulary for expressing their own feelings. Some old ones do, too.
One of the blessings of the psalms is that they give voice to our many emotions. Think of them as a pre-Pixar “Inside Out”. All the “feels” are there as we see them finding expression for everything we are going through on a daily basis. The relevance of these writings is timeless.
Today’s psalm is no exception, as we see David once again fleeing for his life. This time it is his own son Absalom who was the pursuer. Absalom’s successful rebellion has driven David out of Jerusalem. In his distress, David expressed all of those emotions in just the first five verses. We see him cry out loud to God in fear. We see him disgusted with those who claim that God won’t help him. We see his anger against the many who stand against him. We see his sadness that people are talking about him. And finally, we see joy in his ability to feel confidence in his identity as a child of God, who is his shield. Can you relate to any of this? I can.
Psalm 3:1-5 (Common English Bible)
Lord, I have so many enemies!
So many are standing against me.
2 So many are talking about me:
“Even God won’t help him.” Selah
3 But you, Lord, are my shield!
You are my glory!
You are the one who restores me.
4 I cry out loud to the Lord,
and he answers me from his holy mountain. Selah
5 I lie down, sleep, and wake up
because the Lord helps me.
By the way, “Selah” is a device in the psalms that offers a pause. It gives the reader/singer a chance to reflect before moving on. I recently told a group at a woman’s retreat that it is like saying, “Yo!” after a meaningful phrase. But I digress.
This psalm gives us permission to feel all those same things. Joy, sadness, anger, disgust, and fear are just some of the emotions we can run through on a daily basis. How we handle those feelings is an indication of where we are on our walk with Jesus.
David handled his emotions with the confidence of a favored son. Do you know that you are God’s favored as well? And like David, God will answer us when we cry out, whether in silent prayer or by raising our voices and shouting to the heavens.
And don’t miss David’s dismissal of the people who talked behind his back and assumed that because of his past sin record, God would not come to his aid. David responds with a great big “But” and counters that God is his shield, his glory, and is the one who restores him. David knew that he was not defined by his past mistakes, but rather was defined by the future glory that came with his repentance and God’s forgiveness. Do you know that as well, or are you letting your past define your present?
Psalm 3 is a beautiful reminder of God’s continuing presence in our every emotion. It is a clear declaration that God’s mercy is always available to us when we cry out to our mighty God.
Need help? Your Shield stands at the ready.
God’s Glory by Becca Ziegler