I lie down and I fall asleep,
and I will wake up, for the Lord sustains me.
Whereas the Second Psalm focused on the fear of God as a requisite to knowledge and, ultimately, any form of true power (one that is not founded in the Ego, but rather flows through and from God himself), the Third Psalm shows that the fear of the Lord leads to freedom from the fear of man.
The psalmist writes the words above in the midst of an immanent threat to his life—he is being pursued by attackers who will kill him when they find him. And yet, so confident is he in the Lord that he is able to do perform the most vulnerable act—sleep—even though a letting down of all defenses means a potential loss of life. The writer here is not just free from fear, but from all anxiety.
Interestingly, the writer’s security is not merely a defensive one, but it manifests itself in an active faith of the offensive:
Arise, Lord! Save me, my God!
For you strike the cheekbone of all my foes;
you break the teeth of the wicked
We don’t here see death and utter destruction, but we do see a plea for debilitation. The saving of the righteous happens transpires through the punishment of the wicked.
What is striking about this psalm is the writer finds himself in a place of true desperation
How many are my foes!
How many rise against me!
And the reiterate, no one seems to believe he can (or will) be saved:
How many say of me,
There is no salvation for him in God
“It is not God who will (or can) save, but he may save himself, perhaps” they say. But the psalmist rejects this: On the contrary, it is precisely the Lord who allows him to live, who gives him the ability to continue. It is through this knowledge that he does not fear either man (or himself!), but finds rest in the Lord, who watches over all things.