The message of Psalms 3:16

Golden Sky.  BlackBerry Q10 camera.  Photo by Chuck Miller.
Golden Sky. BlackBerry Q10 camera. Photo by Chuck Miller.

There are so many powerful, deep, resonant messages in the Bible.  The Good Book has much to teach us.

And one of the most important verses in the Bible is that of Psalms 3:16.

For if the words in the Holy Scripture can guide our lives, can help us understand this world and prepare for the next…

Then you must read Psalms 3:16.

Right now you’re probably dusting off your Bible and flipping through the pages, or you’re going through an online website to find the quotation.

Found it yet?  It’s okay, I’ll wait.

Still looking?  Come on, I gave you the chapter and verse, didn’t I?

What do you mean you haven’t found it yet?

Okay, now you’ve come to the point of my blog for today.

Last week, while reading Deadspin, I came across this article.  A baseball fan received an autographed baseball from St. Louis Cardinals second baseman Kolten Wong.  Wong signed the ball, and then added the Biblical notation “Psalms 3:16” to the autograph.

Photo from

Now someone could have said, “Hey Kolton, you really meant to write “John 3:16”, didn’t you?  Right?  “John 3:16,” “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

Or perhaps you meant Pslams 37:3-16, which also has great reverence.  3Trust in the LORD, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed. 4Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. 5Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass. 6And he shall bring forth thy righteousness as the light, and thy judgment as the noonday. 7Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for him: fret not thyself because of him who prospereth in his way, because of the man who bringeth wicked devices to pass. 8Cease from anger, and forsake wrath: fret not thyself in any wise to do evil. 9For evildoers shall be cut off : but those that wait upon the LORD, they shall inherit the earth. 10For yet a little while, and the wicked shall not be: yea, thou shalt diligently consider his place, and it shall not be. 11But the meek shall inherit the earth; and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace. 12The wicked plotteth against the just, and gnasheth upon him with his teeth. 13The Lord shall laugh at him: for he seeth that his day is coming. 14The wicked have drawn out the sword, and have bent their bow, to cast down the poor and needy, and to slay such as be of upright conversation. 15Their sword shall enter into their own heart, and their bows shall be broken. 16A little that a righteous man hath is better than the riches of many wicked.”


Or perhaps Kolton Wong meant some other Biblical tome, some other phrase.  Something we’re missing.

Because if you’ve already opened your Bible and read through every one of the 150 chapters in the Book of Psalms…

You discover that Chapter 3 of the Book of Psalms only has eight verses.  There is no official 16th verse in the third chapter of Psalms.

Or is there?

I understand if you’re saying to me, “Chuck, the guy obviously made a mistake, where are you going with this line of thinking?”

To understand Psalms 3:16, I need you to experience 4’33.

You won’t need your Bible for this one.

Classical composer John Cage created this three-movement symphonic piece, 4’33, in 1947.  Take a listen.  It sound better in stereo, so crank your speakers up.

“But he didn’t play anything!” you’re saying.  Well, his fingers never touched the piano keys in that performance, but the music generated by the John Cage piece came from the atmospheric sounds in the auditorium, the notion that music can come from any source – the hum of the radiator, the whistling in the tree branches, the rhythm of a audience’s collective heartbeats.

Can I give you another example?  Perhaps you were a fan of the television series The Sopranos.  If so, you certainly remember the significance of this scene.

Yep. Go to 4 minutes and 33 seconds of this clip… and you know what happens to Tony Soprano in the final scene.  It’s so obvious.  What happened to Tony?  Why, isn’t it obvious?  What happened was left up to your own interpretation, your own mind.  You filled in the blanks, you used your own thought to imagine that scene’s ending.  Concepts in the absence of a concept.

And thus I go back to Psalms 3:16.  The verse may not be created with letters and numbers in the Holy Scripture… but what it DOES do is encourage the reader to find texts in the Bible, texts that either encompass what the verse MIGHT mean… or, in flipping through the sacred pages, you might actually find text that will help you through the day, help you through tough times, help you find your faith and help you revitalize your connection with the Lord.

Essentially, Psalms 3:16 is a gateway to reading the Bible, if to try to find that specific verse.  But that verse is a MacGuffin, an object designed to advance the plot.  It’s the Maltese Falcon, it’s the glowing briefcase, it’s the vengeful subject in a Carly Simon song.  It exists to encourage.  It’s there for thought.

You know that old koan about how the Lord works in mysterious ways?

Perhaps that accidental scribble on a baseball was more intuitive than we all imagined.

Because if it encouraged any of us to read the Bible for an extra second…

Then Psalms 3:16 truly accomplished its plan.