Threatened but Trusting
1 A psalm of David, when he fled from his son Absalom. 2 How many are my foes, LORD! How many rise against me! 3 How many say of me, 'There is no salvation for him in God'."
All psalms relate to Jesus in some way for Holy Scripture is revealing God to us, of whom Jesus is a perfect image for He is the Son of God, the second Person of the Trinity. Secondly, because the Catholic Church is the Body of Christ, all psalms relate to her also--because she is the visible Christ in this world. Thirdly, because we are baptized by Jesus into the Catholic Church, because we are members of the Body, the psalms also relate to us. Now, Psalm 3 is "a psalm of David, when he fled from his son, Absolom. Hence, we need to identify how this relates to Jesus, the Catholic Church, and Catholics individually. (I say "Catholics" and not "Christians" because all Christians are attached to the Body of Christ, the Catholic Church, in some way, some more tenuous than others.) Catholics, having the fullness truth because they are the Body of Christ, are more vehemently attacked than those who only have partial truth.
"A psalm of David, which he fled from his son Absalom."
Jesus, we know, did not flee from anyone; in what way does this relate to Him? St. Augustine has a great commentary on this psalm as it relates to our Lord, Jesus Christ, upon which I rely heavily. He tells us: "From whose face although it may be understood historically that He fled, when on his departure He withdrew with the rest to the mountain; yet in a spiritual sense, when the Son of God, that is the Power and Wisdom of God, abandoned the mind of Judas; when the Devil wholly occupied him; as it is written, The Devil entered into his heart, John 13:27 may it be well understood that Christ fled from his face; not that Christ gave place to the Devil, but that on Christ's departure the Devil took possession."
Charles Spurgeon, a famous Baptist preacher from England, has a very good commentary on the psalms, The Treasury of David. However, this must be read with Catholic doctrines in mind.
Mr. Spurgeion reminds us that King David crossed over the Kedron, as did our Lord. King David was fleeing from his Son; Jesus was going determinedly into His Passion. St. Augustine gives us understanding when he tells us: "May it be well understood that Christ fled from [Judas'] face; not that Christ gave place to the Devil, but that on Christ's departure the Devil took possession."
In like manner, when we rebel against Christ by rebelling against His Catholic Church, the Church is "fleeing" from us, in that we are no longer in strict communion, no longer adhered to Her teachings. When we commit sin, giving in to the desires and thoughts of the flesh, Christ begins "fleeing" from us; when we commit mortal sin, He has "fled." When we are in disagreement with Church doctrine, the Catholic Church is "fleeing" from us. We have become Absalom.
"Absalom" means "father is peace" or "father's peace." St. Augustine tells us: "Absalom, as some interpret, in the Latin tongue signifies, Patris pax, a father's peace. And it may seem strange, whether in the history of the kings, when Absalom carried on war against his father; or in the history of the New Testament, when Judas was the betrayer of our Lord; how father's peace can be understood. But both in the former place they who read carefully, see that David in that war was at peace with his son, who even with sore grief lamented his death, saying, O Absalom, my son, would God I had died for you! (2 Samuel 18:33) And in the history of the New Testament by that so great and so wonderful forbearance of our Lord; in that He bore so long with him as if good, when He was not ignorant of his thoughts; in that He admitted him to the Supper in which He committed and delivered to His disciples the figure of His Body and Blood; finally, in that He received the kiss of peace at the very time of His betrayal; it is easily understood how Christ showed peace to His betrayer, although he was laid waste by the intestine war of so abominable a device. And therefore is Absalom called father's peace, because his father had the peace, which he had not." When we rebel against Christ by way of rebelling against His Body, this applies to us as well.
"LORD, how are mine adversaries increased! many are they that rise against me." Mr. Spurgeon writes: "If you turn to 2 Samuel 15:12, you will find it written that 'the conspiracy was strong; for the people increased continually with Absalom,' while the troops of David constantly diminished!" Regarding Jesus, St. Augustine states, "So multiplied indeed were they, that one even from the number of His disciples was not wanting, who was added to the number of His persecutors." In like fashion, when groups break away from the Catholic Church, when individuals fall away, fall into disagreement with Her, oh, how Her enemies have increased!
In what way does this relate to us? Does "how many are my foes, how many rise against me" apply to us? We are our own worst enemy. In what way is this true? Most significantly in our thoughts and feelings, our "friends." When our thoughts and feelings fall contrary to the Church, they rapidly increase the more we dwell upon them, the more we harbor them, causing us to drift away from Christ and His Church, causing us to rise up against the One Who loves us.
"How many say of me, 'There is no salvation for him in God?'"
There is good probability that these words were not spoken, but presumed. If Absalom believed that God would come to his father's aid, he would never have conspired nor fought against him. It was for the very reason that he did not believe God would come to David's aid that he did rebel. Those that joined Absalom in his rebellion presumed the same thing. As it relates to Jesus, hear St. Augustine: "It is clear that if they had had any idea that He would rise again, assuredly they would not have slain Him. To this end are those speeches, 'Let Him come down from the cross, if He be the Son of God;' and again, 'He saved others, Himself He cannot save. (Matthew 27:42) Therefore, neither would Judas have betrayed Him, if he had not been of the number of those who despised Christ, saying, 'There is no salvation for Him in His God'."
It is also possible that some of the religious truly believed that Jesus was a blasphemer and, for that reason, should be put to death. Listen to the words of our Lord as related by St. John: "They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the hour cometh, that whosoever killeth you shall think that he offereth service unto God" (Jn 16:2). Therefore, they presumed that there was no salvation for Jesus in God.
How many times do we feel that God is not concerned about us, is not working in our lives? How many times do we feel that there is no real difference between us and those who do not esteem God? These, and thoughts and feelings such as these, are dangerous foes. We live by our thoughts and feelings. I have never had anyone tell me, "There is no salvation for you in God," but, oh, how many times I have felt that, thought that! Decisions that have to be made--I have made many bad ones, although I prayed about them before coming to a conclusion. Our thoughts and feelings are our "sons, daughters, friends." If we feed and water them, let them dwell in us, they will kill us, for they tell us that there is no help for us in God. They will tell us to look around and see: Do you see God working? You just imagine God is working. There is no difference between you and a non-believer.
Mr. Spurgeon explains: "This is a musical pause; the precise meaning of which is not known. Some think it simply a rest, a pause in the music; others say it means, 'Lift up the strain— sing more loudly— pitch the tune upon a higher key— there is nobler matter to come, therefore retune your harps.' Harp-strings soon get out of order and need to be screwed up again to their proper tightness, and certainly our heart-strings are evermore getting out of tune, Let 'Selah' teach us to pray 'O may my heart in tune be found Like David’s harp of solemn sound.' At least we may learn that wherever we see 'Selah,' we should look upon it as a note of observation. Let us read the passage which preceeds and succeeds it with greater earnestness, for surely there is always something excellent where we are required to rest and pause and meditate, or when we are required to lift up our hearts in grateful song. 'SELAH'.” Therefore, I want to stop here, and just relate some of my thoughts.
My mind goes back to King David, and grace and mercy. The first thing that I think of his grave sin of adultery and murder--of which he was forgiven. Then we have the incident with his son, Absalom. In 2 Samuel 14:32, 33, we have Absalom saying to Joab, "...Why did I come back from Geshur? I would be better off if I were still there! Now, let me appear before the king. If I am guilty, let him put me to death." "The king then called Absalom; he came to him and in homage fell on has face to the ground before the king. Then the king kissed Absalom." Absalom was guilty of murdering his brother; nevertheless, he was forgiven. After this comes Absalom's treason. After receiving the king's grace and mercy, Absalom thinks of himself, desiring to build himself up, make a name for himself. Are we any different after Baptism and Confirmation? Do we not often forget God's grace and mercy.
Now, I get the impression that King David does not forget God's grace and mercy after his repentance, for he calls out to the Lord. Nevertheless, look at what happens. On the face of it, God is not coming to the aid of David. His son and "friends" are rising up against him, and he must flee. In the entire incident, we do not see God intervening miraculously, but working subtly, using the wills of men. On the face of it, while David was fleeing, it is easily understood that the nation saw that God was not helping the king. This is true for us also. However, David knew God, knew He was Good, Just, and Mercy. Things are very near rock bottom, but his hope is God: "Take the ark of God back to the city. If I find favor with the LORD, He will bring me back and permit me to see it and its lodging place. But if He should say, 'I am not pleased with you,' I am ready; let Him do to me as He sees fit." David knew that, even if God was not pleased with him, God nevertheless would act in mercy; therefore, he was at peace in his soul. Selah. We do know "the rest of the story."
How many times do those that we love return that love with anger and hatred? Let us keep David in mind. "As David went up the ascent of the Mount of Olives, he wept without ceasing." Think not that he was weeping for himself; he was weeping for Israel. When loved ones attack us, may we weep for mercy for them, as the Catholic Church pleads for mercy for those who hate Her. In the way we show mercy, mercy will be shown to us. As King David did not allow this situation affect his confidence and love of God, although he deservedly should have lost his kingdom, let us not lose confidence and love of God when our thoughts, feelings, and passions attack us. David's desire was that God would find favor with him and permit him to see the ark in its lodging place. God finds favor with us and allows us into His presence--every Catholic Church. "Selah"