Psalm 3:3 – The Lifter of My Head

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David describes the Lord with three metaphors in Psalm 3:3.  First, The Lord is a Shield.  This is a common metaphor for God In the Psalms, Ps 84:10 describes the king as a shield of protection for God’s people (cf. Ps 7:11, 18:3, 31, 36,119:114). This shield (מָגֵן)is a small, round shield used by a soldier in battle, sometimes called a buckler.    The image may go back to Gen 15:1, the second repetition of the Abrahamic covenant. There Abram was concerned that the Lord would not fulfill his promise give him a son, but the Lord reassures him by describing himself as a shield, protecting Abram until the time was right for him to have a son.  Similar words are used in by Moses in Deut 33:39, the final lines of his testament.   But this shield is more than a defense in front of David, the Lord is a shield on all sides. David is safe from attack from any side since he is within the Lord’s shield.

Second, The Lord is David’s glory.  The noun glory (כָּבוֹד) can be used for a reputation, the thing which gives a person some importance (weight) in society.   John Oswalt commented that “it is an easy step to the concept of a ‘weighty’ person in society, someone who is honorable, impressive, worthy of respect” (TWOT 943g).  If David has any personal glory, it has come from what the Lord has done through him in the past.  All of David’s “street cred” comes from what the Lord has done, not what David has accomplished.

Third, The Lord is the “lifter” of David’s head.  For a sovereign to “lift one’s head” is a sign of acceptance.  A person would not raise their eyes to look at a great king, their eyes and head should be bowed low until the king gives them permission to “lift their head.”  For example, in Genesis 40:13 Joseph interprets the cup-bearer’s dream to mean that in three days time the Pharaoh will “lift up his head” and restore him to his position.  (Although in Genesis 40:13, the verb is נשׂא rather than רום).

Applied to David, this is a metaphor God allowing David to be the king of Israel.  It is not that David deserved it, but that the Lord “lifted his head” and accepted him, establishing his throne in Israel.  Rather that a depressed and humbled king escaping his rebellious son, David will return to Jerusalem with “his head held high.”

This tri-fold description highlights God’s protection of David as well as his restoration to the throne.

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