Christopher Wooldridge has parsed Psalm 3 (according to the Bible’s Covenant matrix) and has demonstrated that he now has this peculiar but glorious literary art under his belt. He has today been awarded the rank of Grand Master. We have added hyphenations (Chris’ suggestion) and vertical bars to indicate single Hebrew words, a method of expressing the rhythm of the original language. Chris provided some helpful notes and I have added a few more.
Even the title follows the Covenant pattern. It puts David under the sword at Hierarchy and makes Absalom (whose name ironically means “father of peace”) the sword-bearer at Sanctions. David is the exile in the wilderness at the center of the structure. The title prefigures the structure of the actual Psalm.
Stanza 1: TRANSCENDENCE
Note the “rising up” at Ascension and the “many” bearing false witness at Trumpets. At Atonement (Oath/Sanctions), that false curse is expressed. There is no Succession. There is no rest for the wicked who rise up against the righteous. But here it is the righteous one who is cursed. Selah indicates the end of the legal testimony, which is in this case a miscarriage of justice.
Stanza 2: HIERARCHY
Just as the blood covered the doorposts at the first Passover, here the Lord shields the righteous. This time Ascension concerns the victim, although unlike the wicked he is lifted up by God rather than exalting himself. And it is now the voice of the victim, as Abel, crying out as a legal witness at Maturity/Trumpets. Notice that “[You] are a shield for me” reflects an objective covering (the Covenant head) and matching it chiastically is “And He heard me” as the reception of the subjective response, the “Oath” of the faithful (the Covenant body). This time, the legal testimony begins the vindication of the faithful saint.
Stanza 3: ETHICS
Here is David in the wilderness, sustained by heavenly bread. The Tabernacle furniture “thread” shows through a little in this Stanza. “Awoke” corresponds to the altar, where the Israelite renewed Covenant with God. “Sustained” alludes to David and his men eating the Showbread. “Do not be afraid” refers to the saint refusing to fear men, trembling at the Law of God instead, and finding it to be a light to his path. Ten is a common number at Trumpets, where Israel’s troops mustered ten days before Atonement. Here, those troops are set against their true king. At Atonement, David is the Man-to-be-bloodied, a priest-king, a Tabernacle to be torn apart at the center of Israel’s tents (Booths).
Stanza 4: OATH/SANCTIONS
Arise, Yahweh! (Sabbath)
Save-me, my-God. (Passover)
For You-have-struck (Firstfruits: Priesthood)
The-teeth | of-the-ungodly (Atonement)
At Oath/Sanctions, Yahweh comes to judge David’s enemies. Since they are Israelites, they are Covenant-breakers. They have broken their Oath, so he uses shabar, the word which describes the breaking of the tablets at Mount Sinai after Israel’s sin with the golden calf. Since they have broken their Oath, God will strike them in the mouth. At Booths, the righteous are gathered and the wicked are scattered among the nations. Since, architecturally-speaking, the human head pictures the heavenly throne of God, teeth are the wise elders who offer counsel in the heavenly court. In this image, the rottenness of their false witness is shattered, just as the Lord shattered the Egyptians, and the true king is vindicated before God.
Stanza 5: SUCCESSION
The final Stanza presents the true Israel, those who are “Jews indeed,” expressed through the placement of the faithful at the center, fulfilling the Law under God’s watching eyes. Selah indicates the end of the complete process, the vindication of the suffering saint, the Beloved One in whom God is well pleased. Notice that salvation is located in the “head” of the passage, and blessing upon the “body.” Within Israel, this was the priestly king and his people. Beyond Israel, this is the blessing of the heavenly king upon those with circumcised hearts from all nations.