Psalm 3 is a hopeful psalm. David starts by noting that great and powerful people have persecuted him, including his own son, Absalom. Then he expresses his hopeful trust that God will deliver him from these travails. Then, in verse 7, he says:

לֹא אִירָא מֵרִבְבוֹת עָם / I will not fear the myriads of people
אֲשֶׁר סָבִיב שָׁתוּ עָלָי.‏ / who drank a round on me.

I guess he bought Absalom's people a round of drinks, and he's therefore not afraid of them. Is that a correct understanding? If so, this doesn't seem to fit in with the psalm's theme of trust in God; an explanation would be appreciated. If not, can someone explain this verse?

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I think your understanding of the posuk is incorrect. Because even someone who trusts in Hashem should do some hishtadlus to save himself. And this is what Dovid Hamelech did - he hid in a vineyard knowing that Absalom was a nazir* and so would not be able to enter there. But he went one step further and had several thousand of his friends surround the vineyard drinking wine so that Absalom would have give the place a wide berth and thus not even get close to him.

Thus the verse means "I will not be afraid because of the tens of thousands of people who are around me, drinking for my sake."

*Avshalom was a נזיר עולם - see Gemara Nazir 4b, three lines from the end of the amud. (A נזיר עולם is a nazir for ever with all the laws of a nazir except that he is allowed to cut his hair periodically).

  • I was under the impression that sake had not been imported into the Levant until at least the early modern era. So wouldn't the people be drinking for David's wine rather than for his sake? – Codes with Hammer Mar 7 '17 at 18:23

David had just gotten Absalom's supporters to sit down for peace talks. He was making head way too, having bought everyone a drink as a show of good faith. But then Lechi, the inept if well-meaning royal dentist, offered everyone a free tooth exam...

!קומה ד', הושיעני אלקי, כי הכית את כל אויבי, לחי

Arise oh Lord, save me my Gd... For you have smitten all of my enemies, Lechi!

After ten thousand botched root canals, and equally many angry, wicked enemies, David had no hope but to trust in Gd. His prayer was answered speedily, though. Right in the middle of his reprimanding Lechi, Gd sent a skilled oral surgeon, named Selah, who sorted everything out, (with the help of plenty of anesthetic):

!שני רשעים שברת! ...לד' הישועה על עמך ברכתך, סלה

You've broken the teeth of these wicked men! With Gd is the salvation. You are a blessing for your nation, Selah!

Psalm 4 showcases the susequently merriment of ten thousand drugged up politicians, and the arrival at a peace agreement before everyone passed out:

.למנצח בנגינות מזמור לדוד... בשלום יחדו אשכבה ואישון

For the Composer, with instrument, a song of David... In peace together I lie down and sleep.


You are correct that this Psalm refers to the time when David bought a round of drinks but it was Saul's troops, not Absolom's. (See midrash ne'elam daf alef amud gimmel)
Shlomo teaches us in Shir Hashirim:

אכלו רעים שתו ושכרו דודים

By implication, if someone is only your friend when they are wined and dined, they will be less friendly when sobered up. At the time that this episode took place, David was a minor warlord in the Judean desert and was so hard up that he couldn't even open up a tab at the seedy Philistine tavern. When he bought that round, he spent his last shekel yet he still trusted in God to provide for him when his turn to buy came around again.

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