The Lifter of My Head
I was reading in the Psalms the other day, chapter 3 to be exact. Sometimes when I need a quick pick-me-up or just a solid truth to meditate on for the day, I’ll head to the Psalms because no matter where I go in that book, there is always something so sustaining, life-giving and exquisite there. I love reading the emotions and passion that are behind so many of them. The absolute destitute cries for help and assistance, the pleading for mercy from the Lord, and the complete surrender to God’s goodness and saving grace. There is just a raw honesty there that I love; so human, imperfect and so real. I suppose the song-writer in me senses a strong connection to this book.
Psalm 3 is a familiar one to most, but you know how it is, sometimes we can hear something from the Bible many times, yet never really think about what it means or how it relates to us here and now. This one passage struck me and it caused me to “selah”. (pause and calmly think of that). Verse 3 says “ But You, O Lord, are a shield for me, my glory and the lifter of my head”. Oh yes. I knew this one. I started singing two different songs that I knew right off that contained this exact verse. (You might be humming to them even now as you read this.) As I pondered the meaning of the verse and started really meditating on it, I began to dig into some different commentaries just to get a bigger view of what David was saying here. What I found is so beautiful that I wanted to share it with you.
In this one simple verse we see our Father as a Champion on so many different levels and we get a picture of His grand character. Right off the bat, David calls the Lord his “shield”. I love this. We all know that a shield is meant to guard, defend and to protect something or someone from danger. When I think of a shield I think of Captain America in the Marvel movies. May I have your permission to digress momentarily? Yes, I enjoy the Marvel movies. They are pretty fun entertainment, and I really like how the stories are all woven into one another. I’m always proud of myself when I follow what’s going on and can stay up with who is on what side. Plus, I always want to work out really hard after watching them (Can you say “Black Widow”?), so I guess you could say they inspire fitness, which is always a good thing, right? So, back to Steve Rogers and his shield. That shield did a pretty good job of protecting and defending him when some of the universe’s most malevolent villains were after him. But guess what? That is not the type of shield that David was describing here in verse 3! It’s something so much more! “The word in the original signifies more than a shield; it means a buckler round about, a protection which shall surround a man entirely, a shield above, beneath, around, without and within.” (quote taken from The Treasury of David) So when David called God his shield, he was saying that God was literally his protection round about and that no evil was getting through it! (reminds me of another familiar passage - “no weapon formed against me will prosper…” Well no wonder! With God as our shield He defends and protects us at every possible angle! Hallelujah!
David then calls the Lord his glory. The word glory is a translation of a Hebrew word meaning “weight” or “significance”. The Webster’s Dictionary defines “significance” as “the quality of being worthy of attention.” Wow! Did you get that? David recognized that God was the very quality, the only quality he possessed that made him worth anything. He knew His worth was found in the Father and in nothing and no one else. His security and substance was in the Lord.
In the final words of verse 3, David makes a statement that caused me the most reflection. I know the scriptures that say “encourage yourself in the Lord”, “lift up your heads”, “lift up your eyes”, “look to the heavens”, etc…In all of those passages, we are doing the encouraging, we are doing the lifting, we are doing the looking. And all of those things are true and good and right. But David says plainly here, “You are the lifter of my head”, most definitely stating that the Lord lifts his head.
Let’s think about this for just a moment. Think about yourself or someone you know and recall a time of discouragement, or perhaps a time of great concern or worry. In times of trouble or sorrow, the head is naturally bowed down. The head bowed down signifies a heaviness and an overwhelming load of cares. We’ve all been there and done that. David said in Verse 1 that so many forces were rising up against him and they just kept multiplying! People were taunting him saying God was not going go help him! I think David may have felt a little discouraged and distressed don’t you? And at the beginning of this Psalm, I can almost imagine him speaking those words with his head bowed down, with a sense of lost hope. But then in verse 3 he turns it around and declares the Lord to be his shield, knowing that there is no plan or attack of the enemy that can get through the guard of the Father! He then rejoices in the fact that God is His worth and security! In Barne’s Notes on the Bible, the phrase “lift up the head” is to raise one up, to relieve his distresses and take away his troubles.” David was celebrating the fact that he knew God had already delivered him and had taken away his troubles! Friends! That is how the Father is the lifter of our heads! He has raised us up and has taken away our troubles! That is why, in turn, we can participate in Psalm 121:1-2 by lifting our eyes up, because we know where our help comes from! He has already lifted our heads by delivering us so miraculously! So we don’t have to hang our heads with discouragement, depression, worries, fears or sorrow. He is the lifter of our heads!
If you’ll allow me to close with the Sharon Lewis Translation of Psalm 3:3:
“Lord, You have surrounded me with your protection and you defend me from every evil attack of the enemy. From the top of my head to the tips of my toes I am surrounded by You. You’ve given my life worth and meaning. I am secure in Your love. You have raised me up and have taken away all my troubles.” Selah.