Psalm 3 dovetails so nicely with our reading in Acts today. The psalmist, surrounded by numerous foes, turns to God in need, praying, "Arise, O LORD! Deliver me, O my God! Strike all my enemies..." (Ps. 3:7). Protection and safety come only from God; God is "a shield around [him]" (vs. 2) so he "will not fear the tens of thousands drawn up against [him] on every side" (vs. 6). Even his very rest comes from the provident hand of God (see vs. 5).
And how true these sentiments are of Paul! There's a plot afoot, a serious conspiracy to assassinate Paul. Over forty men vow not to eat or drink until Paul lies dead (Acts 23:12-13), and they're not making much of a secret of this blood-oath. Not only are there many men involved, but they inform the religious leaders of this plan. Perhaps it is in this not-so-secret communication that their conspiracy fails. "Loose lips sink ships," and their oath is uncovered by Paul's nephew, who wastes no time in letting Paul - and, subsequently, the commander of the garrison - know. Heavy reinforcements are called in (200 soldiers, plus 70 horsemen, plus another 200 spearmen [see vs. 23]), and under the cover of night (vs. 31), Paul is moved safely onto Caesarea.
Paul has literal shields surrounding him (Ps. 3:3); God "answers [him] from his holy hill" (vs. 4) with a dream that offers encouragement and promises safety (Acts 23:11). Paul's sleep (Ps. 3:5) is guarded not only by the LORD himself, but by soldiers and horsemen and spearmen. I have to wonder if Paul, who was deeply knowledgeable about the Hebrew Scriptures, thought of this psalm as he travelled through the night, surreal though it must have been. Surely he could declare that "from the Lord comes deliverance" (vs. 8).
And I'm reminded of the Lord's Prayer: "Deliver us from the evil one" (Mt. 6:13).
"May your blessing be on your people" (Ps. 3:8), Lord. Amen.
- Sarah Marsh
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