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Prescott Conference 2020 Notes


AZ 2020 Notes

 

Reference: “The Life of David as Reflected in the Psalms” by Alexander Maclaren, 1888.

 

Summary of David’s life and the psalms that garnished it.

 

First, why did God give us David’s life in so much detail compared to others? God could have recorded anything He wanted in the scripture, but He highlights certain people. David is highlighted and is arguably, of all the OT people, the greatest type of Christ.

 

The things in the OT were written, or recorded, for our instruction.

 

ROM 15:4

For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.

 

David is a type of Christ, and it is Christ who all believers are called to be in image. David was Israel’s greatest king outside of Christ. All believers are called to reign in this life.

 

ROM 5:17

For if by the transgression of the one, death reigned through the one, much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.

 

We are to reign in life through the Person and power of Christ. When David was anointed king by Samuel at a young age (teenager), when he returned to his flocks in the wilderness, he marveled at God’s calling of him.

 

PSA 8:3-6

When I consider Thy heavens, the work of Thy fingers,

The moon and the stars, which Thou hast ordained;

4 What is man, that Thou dost take thought of him?

And the son of man, that Thou dost care for him?

5 Yet Thou hast made him a little lower than God,

And dost crown him with glory and majesty!

6 Thou dost make him to rule over the works of Thy hands;

Thou hast put all things under his feet,

 

David marveled that the God who made the heavens that he considered each night would even think of him, let alone promote him to something so advanced as king. All believers in this age have been promoted or called to reign in life, elected to the level of holiness, made righteous, justified, and given the life of Christ to live. It’s not that God needed help, or needed others to do work, or needed anything at all, and still He called us to glory and majesty.

 

ACT 17:24-28

"The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands; 25 neither is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all life and breath and all things; 26 and He made from one, every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times, and the boundaries of their habitation, 27 that they should seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; 28 for in Him we live and move and exist, as even some of your own poets have said, 'For we also are His offspring.'”

 

So, we are given an account of David’s life in some detail after he was anointed by Samuel.

 

David was anointed king as a young man and long before he could take the throne. All of us are called to reign in life long before we are mature enough to do so.

 

He reigned as king for 40 years, and was anointed many years before his promotion. His weighty sins were committed after he had comfortably sat on that throne for years, and this in another major lesson for the book that will be our own lives, his sin ruined his enjoyment of his position and robbed him of the vigor and energy he once had. He was able only to get some of it back. It is a warning from God to us all.

 

David’s failures are not related to us so that we can condone our own, but simply because failure is a part of being human, even a born-again human.

 

David would learn, as we all have to, that goodness comes from God alone, and that righteous kingdoms can only be established by Him.

 

He would learn that he wasn’t up to the task of walking in righteousness all the time. He would learn that he was weak, and he would also learn that God would strengthen and protect him. David couldn’t be the true king, and neither can any of us, but he could be one who sought the true king with all his heart, and all of us can and must do that.

 

His psalms marvelously reveal his mind and emotions as he experienced certain important periods of his life. The periods we know the least about are his very young and his very old. It’s almost as if they don’t matter as much as the middle of the race. There are no psalms of his childhood and perhaps only one of his old age. There are many from his anointing to his second exile. During these periods he holds nothing back. He doesn’t write his poetry for the impression of others or to sell books. He writes as if he has to. His wisdom, experiences, and the emotions they stirred couldn’t remain within him. They had to be released, and we are blessed to have them. They should be read again and again. They apply to different aspects of life as we walk with God.

 

Early Days:Psa 8, 19, 29, and possibly 23.

 

First we will look at his youth. There are several psalms from this period. They are lofty, filled with references to nature as depicting the splendor of God, the power of God, the blessings from God to man, as well as the importance of God’s Law (Psa 19). All of David’s references to nature have nothing to do with attempting impressive pictures, emotions, or even science; rather they are all used as depicting some aspect of God’s nature.

 

David sees God as majestic, and through his keen eye, he sees God’s Person and work in the natural world around him.

 

He was not from a wealthy family. His family had no regard for him. When Samuel came to anoint him, even in his father’s mind, he was an afterthought. He was the youngest and his brothers had no love for him. Such an environment sours and spoils some, but it is the making of others. He watched his father’s sheep with a deep sense of responsibility.

 

We have only faint incidental traces of his early life up to his anointing by Samuel.

 

David’s story really begins with his consecration to office. It teaches us the point of view from which the scripture regards its greatest names - as nothing, except in so far as they are God’s instruments.

 

Solitude and exposure to nature were fertile soil to his poetic nature, and nurtured that side of his character. The anointing by Samuel bursts in upon his life like a storm. And David returned to his flocks for some time, but now with the knowledge of his anointing and the Holy Spirit upon him mightily. He continues his responsibility as a shepherd, unspoiled. He does not see his task as too menial for someone anointed as he was. He remains vigilant.

 

However, there is a discovery of dormant evils within himself. It is the discovery of every young man, and most especially in the young man who knows the law of God.

 

ROM 7:7-9

What shall we say then? Is the Law sin? May it never be! On the contrary, I would not have come to know sin except through the Law; for I would not have known about coveting if the Law had not said, "You shall not covet." 8 But sin, taking opportunity through the commandment, produced in me coveting of every kind; for apart from the Law sin is dead. 9 And I was once alive apart from the Law; but when the commandment came, sin became alive, and I died;

 

In his youth he was a lad with lofty thoughts and lowly duties. His anointing did not stir up pride in visions of coming greatness. He seems a boy lying in God’s arms, content to be folded in God’s embrace, tranquil in his lowly lot.

 

David is then asked to go to the court of king Saul in order to soothe the dark spirit of the king with his harp. Not long after, he returned to his flocks, but then faced and bested the giant Goliath. He was then made a captain over Saul’s men of war and gained fame in battle among the court and among the people.

 

The transition from a tranquil life among sheep to the harsh world of intrigue, greed, pride, and lust. He cannot remain beholding nature and filling his thoughts with the revelation of God. He cannot remain hidden away from the fallen, sinful, evil world of men with his “few little sheep.” Neither can we hide ourselves away from dark world of sin and evil. We are to be lights in that world as our Lord was.

 

All that David knows of God will have to be tested. This is true of all of us. We cannot remain in a state of knowing, admiring, and being in awe of God’s promises. Those promises have to be tested. It is one thing to admire God’s power and quite another to be forced to depend upon it. It’s one thing to love God’s law, but another to obey commands when it is difficult to do so. It is one thing to know that God will care for you, it is another to put your faith completely in His providence when you have nothing. Will David hold on to his youthful love of God when it seems that he’ll never be king and he seems completely abandoned in the wilderness?

 

The Exile: Psalms 52, 54, 56, 57, and 59 have titles referring to the Sauline persecution. Besides these there are others that have marked characteristics in common (7, 17, 22, 31, 34, 35).

 

The dark soul of Saul became jealous and sought David’s life. David went into exile, moving about in the wilderness and in Philistia for ten long years. Our next section of David’s psalms come from the period of his exile.

 

The imagery of the wilderness continually appears; the prowling wild beasts, the nets and snares, the hunted psalmist like a timid bird among the hills; the protestation of innocence, the passionate invocation of retribution on the wicked, the confidence that their own devices will come down on their heads, the intense yearning of soul after God - are all repeated in these psalms.

 

Saul’s big mistake, emanating from his pride, was to think that the nation of Israel was founded on military pre-eminence rather than faithfulness to God.

 

But Israel was never to rest on the foundation of military pre-eminence. God only is her foundation. If Saul had understood that, then David’s fame as a warrior would not have been a problem for him. The throne wasn’t built upon military prowess, but on faithfulness to God. The only danger to his throne is his own unfaithfulness.

 

Faithfulness to God is freely open to all, regardless of genetics, environment, or any other things that make some men naturally more fit than others.

 

Our lives as believers do not rest on anything other than the grace of God. Health, looks, upbringing, wealth, reputation, nor anything material has anything to do with our lives. We could lose them all and be perfectly content because our foundation is Jesus Christ and He will never, no never, leave or forsake us.

 

Yet then, even knowing this, Christians seem to want to compete with each other on a scale of spiritual growth, claiming to be more spiritually mature than others, and even claiming some natural ability for it above others. This is a subtle trap. The maturity that we are called to is to the measure of the stature that belongs to the fullness of Christ. I would imagine that we are all light-years away from it. If we are, and you claim to be a mile closer to Christ than another, on a scale of 5.9 trillion miles (one light-year) your so-called advantage is far within the margin of measurement error, i.e. on the grand scale of things, you cannot claim advantage, not are you to as advised by scripture.

 

ROM 14:1

Now accept the one who is weak in faith, but not for the purpose of passing judgment on his opinions.

 

ROM 15:1

Now we who are strong ought to bear the weaknesses of those without strength and not just please ourselves.

 

David finds jealousy and hatred in the hearts of men when prior he was usually only surrounded by sheep who only cared for tranquil pastures. He finds uncertain people investing great amounts of effort into hollow things. He finds maligning, slander, and defamation. He finds ungodliness all around him.

 

His faith in the attributes of God, promises of God, and the law of God are all about to be tested.

 

The exile begins with David’s house being surrounded by assassins sent by Saul. He flees successfully (Psa 59). He fled to Samuel at Ramah, and then to Naioth, and then to Nob (Psa 52), and then to Philistia (Psa 56). From Philistia he sojourned in a cave at Adullam (Psa 34 and 27). From there he runs to the hills of Judah (Psa 54) and then to the Jordan valley (Psa 7, 57, 142) where he could have easily killed Saul and ended his running and seized the throne, but he would not touch God’s anointed king. From the Jordan he goes back to Philistia where he settles in a town called Ziklag (Psa 31) and Saul stops pursuing him and David has relative rest for over a year. However, though not pursued, Ziklag is raided while David and his 600 are away. There is little rest in ten long years and almost every day his life is in danger.

 

One of the things that greatly stands out during this time is the contrast between David and Saul. They are unalike in appearance, and more so in spirit. Saul is fearful, moody, depressed, gloomy, angry, recluse, and irresponsible while David is full of life, love, full of joyous energy while he brings sweet clear tones of trustful praise from his harp.

 

Saul is always trying to take control while David lets God control.

 

David seems to accept whatever happens with equanimity, which is the result of a man who has a living trust in God.

 

He makes no effort to alter it. He originates nothing. Prosperity comes unsought, and dangers unfeared. He does not ask for Jonathan’s love, or the people’s favor, or the women’s songs, or the love and marriage of Michal. He receives Saul’s commands and carries them out. Saul flings his javelin and David moves aside. His higher position is taken from him and he serves with his heart in the lower one. When reconciliation is offered, he cheerfully goes back to the palace. If his life is threatened, he goes home.

 

In all of these songs David is oppressed by evil men who malign him, crouch like beasts ready to spring upon him, surround him as lions and dogs. David claims his innocence, not sinless, but conscious of nothing he has done wrong to justify the storm of hatred against him by Saul and his court. Yet in all of these songs God is his strength and his hope Whom he waits on for deliverance. He is sure of retribution upon his enemies, not simply because they are his enemies, but because they oppose God and His law.

 

The scenery and life of the desert, its colors are vivid. His metaphors are creative, natural, and striking. During this time David is in the first flush of manhood, about 25 years-old, fronting perils of which he is fully conscious, with calm strength and an enthusiasm of trust that lifts his spirit above them all, into a region of fellowship with God which no tumult can invade.

 

David finds that he can make beautiful music to God in the midst of tribulation. We must all honestly ask ourselves if we can do the same.

 

EPH 5:18-21

And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; 20 always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father; 21 and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ.

 

The Songs of the King: Psa 18, 101.

 

Rescuing the ark: 15, 24

 

Promise from Nathan: 110

 

Successful wars: 20, 21, 60, likely 68

 

The sudden movement of David to the throne is marked by the sudden death of Saul. The heavy cloud that brooded so long over Saul had finally broken and despair and death rained down upon him.

 

David’s reaction to his death is not, as it would have been to a less devout and less generous heart, a flush of gladness at the thought of an empty throne, but rather a sharp pang of pain. David wrote a beautiful elegy for Saul and Jonathan, forgetting all the struggles and remembering only that good that was once in them.

 

Even though the time has come, David asks for God’s guidance. He doesn’t race impetuously for the empty throne.

 

Though the throne is empty and the time has finally come, and though David had been anointed for the position years before, he still doesn’t run impetuously towards it. He waits, asking the Lord if he should go up the cities of Judah. He fulfills what he wrote years before in the first psalm of the exile: “My strength! Upon Thee I will wait.” PSA 59:6

 

David went to Hebron, reigning over Judah only for 7 years. He would not use the many people who had joined with him to track down and destroy the remnants of those still loyal to Saul. He would not take the kingdom of God by military force, but only by waiting and trusting on God.

 

David then, for the first time in seven years, suits up in armor in order to take Jerusalem, the city of Melchizedek. Establishing Jerusalem as his capital, David reigns for ten-years with unbroken prosperity over a loyal and loving people.

 

This time is marked by three main events: 1) bringing up the ark to the city of David, 2) the promise of Nathan the prophet of the perpetuation of his house forever, 3) the unbroken flow of victories over the surrounding nations. These are abundantly illustrated in the psalms.

 

We must try to imagine what it was like for him to experience a sudden change of fortune, from being on the run as an exile with life in danger to being king, prosperous, safe and loved by the people. How did he handle a promotion that he expected but never sought? The answers are in the grand Psa 18.

 

David looks back to the many times he was sinking in dark waters and all he could do was to cry out to the Lord, and that was enough.

 

He understands now that God appears to man what man is to God.

 

PSA 18:25-26

With the kind Thou dost show Thyself kind;

With the blameless Thou dost show Thyself blameless;

26 With the pure Thou dost show Thyself pure;

And with the crooked Thou dost show Thyself astute.

 

We can be kind, blameless, and pure only by the grace of God. If we take advantage of God’s revealed relationship to us by faith, then we will see Him kind, blameless, and pure. If we are crooked (twisted) then God will show the same to us (astute is a synonym of crooked). It is true, we know by experience, that crooked people see God as crooked. God gives grace to the humble but makes war with the arrogant.

 

David traces all his victories to God alone. At the end of Psa 18, even his title as king is attributed to God. Because of that, he looks forward to a future that is like the past, but more glorious still. The blessings we have received are seeds of what is to come.

 

Now, David is inspired to rule over a kingdom that is virtuous, faithful, blameless, and filled with justice. He writes a manifesto to this effect in Psa 101.

 

Psa 101

 

A Psalm of David.

 

 

1 I will sing of lovingkindness and justice,

To Thee, O Lord, I will sing praises.

2 I will give heed to the blameless way.

When wilt Thou come to me?

I will walk within my house in the integrity of my heart.

3 I will set no worthless thing before my eyes;

I hate the work of those who fall away;

It shall not fasten its grip on me.

4 A perverse heart shall depart from me;

I will know no evil.

5 Whoever secretly slanders his neighbor, him I will destroy;

No one who has a haughty look and an arrogant heart will I endure.

 

6 My eyes shall be upon the faithful of the land, that they may dwell with me;

He who walks in a blameless way is the one who will minister to me.

7 He who practices deceit shall not dwell within my house;

He who speaks falsehood shall not maintain his position before me.

8 Every morning I will destroy all the wicked of the land,

So as to cut off from the city of the Lord all those who do iniquity.

 

Will David be able to maintain a kingdom like this? Only his Son Jesus Christ will be able to do it.

 

David cannot make other men righteous. He won’t be able to maintain the righteousness in himself. Only Christ can be blameless and only Christ can make other men righteous.

 

Yet, at the beginning of his reign we would imagine that David sacked all the officials who were vermin, crooked, perverse, slanderers, proud, crafty plotters, evil-doers. He is fired up with ambition to make his kingdom look just like God’s. Little did he know how difficult it would be to maintain it in Israel and even within himself.

 

Rescuing the ark: Psa 15, 24. Those who abide with God must be like God.

 

The promise from Nathan: Psa 110. In it we find a great advancement in the revelation of the Messiah. He will be a Priest and a King. He will be a conqueror who intercedes and sacrifices for His own.

 

David’s successful wars: David strikes blow after blow with stunning rapidity upon dazed enemies. The lion of the tribe of Judah springs forth upon all points of the compass, smiting Philistia, Edom, Moab, Ammon, Amalek, Damascus, and the Syrians beyond all the way to the Euphrates. The psalms concerning these are war songs of a nation: Psa 20, 21, 60, and probably 68.

 

Tears of the Penitent: Psa 51, 32, 6.

 

Adversity had taught David self-restraint, had braced his soul, had driven him to grasp firmly the hand of God. This was followed by 20 years of prosperity. Gratitude had followed deliverance as did wonderful songs of devotion.

 

Good, mature spiritual men fall low when they relax their girded spiritual life.

 

A good man such as David, especially at his age, seldom falls so low, unless there has been a previous, perhaps even unconscious, relaxation of his girded spiritual life. We can scarcely conceive of such a temptation conquering him unless there was a previous decay of his dedication to God, and likely, the prosperity of his royal life over time dulled his eyes to it. He forgets his longing for righteousness, flings away the joys of divine communion, and commits a series of sins that darken his soul and ends his prosperity, some of which he would never recover. God records this for us because there are many lessons in it. After his pardon from God, David will also record it for us in song, so that we will learn the same lessons in an easier way.

 

Lust, treason, craft, and murder creep into his heart.

 

The one who wrote years prior:

 

PSA 101:2-4

I will give heed to the blameless way.

When wilt Thou come to me?

I will walk within my house in the integrity of my heart.

3 I will set no worthless thing before my eyes;

I hate the work of those who fall away;

It shall not fasten its grip on me.

4 A perverse heart shall depart from me;

I will know no evil.

 

Sometime after he confessed his sin, David wrote two penitent psalms, 51 and 32. Psa 51 seems to be written first, for in it we see the fallen man struggling up out of the horrible pit and miry clay. In Psa 32 we find him standing on a rock with a new song in his mouth and his sin covered.

 

It was about a year between the crime and the message from Nathan the prophet. What sort of year that was, is related to us in the psalms.

 

Nobody buys a little passing pleasure in evil at so dear a rate, or keeps it for so short a time as a good man of God. A lower man is contented with his evil history.

 

To the man who loves God, disgust with his sin fills his soul. Such emotion is not at all necessary for forgiveness, but since God hates sin, the lover of God desires more than anything to be like God to be found pleasing to Him, and he comes to hate sin as well.

 

David learned what we all eventually learn, that the more mature we are the more speedily and sharply does the lesson follow on the heels of sin, that every transgression is a blunder, that we never get the satisfaction which we expect from any sin, or if we do, we get something with it that spoils it all.

 

David hid his sin away and it burned within him like a hot coal or a swelling river slowly increasing its pressure upon a levee ready to break. When confronted by Nathan a year later, David pours out his confession like a dam bursting, and yet confesses with just two words. One almost feels that David was relieved and realized that he should have approached God a year ago.

 

After his confession, in his penitent Psa 51, he cries out to God for favor, for His lovingkindness.

 

David also realized, as he writes in Psa 51, that a ritual sacrifice wouldn’t do. In other words, just grab one of his thousands of animals, give it to the priest as an offering, and consider everything good by that act alone - moving on. Rather, he understands that the animal sacrifice has to be offered, but also that it has to be offered with a contrite heart and a broken spirit (PSA 51:16-17). A heart would only be broken and contrite if it cared deeply for the righteousness of God. The man who can sin against his Lord and dispassionately throw an animal to the priest or absently confess it would not care much for the life of God given to him. 

 

But God would heal that broken heart by grace and mercy. Psa 51 has a plaintive cry for mercy; in Psa 32 there is a burst of praise celebrating the happiness of the pardoned man.

 

Chastisements: Psa 41, 55

 

David was pardoned but the chastisements, the natural fruit of David’s sin, soon started to show themselves, though apparently ten years at least passed before Absalom’s revolt, at which time he was probably a man of sixty.

 

This ten years seems weary and sad. There is the death of the infant that resulted from the adultery. Plus, David’s sin found itself in the fabric of his own children; lust and fratricide decimated his family. A parent can have no sharper pang than the sight of his own sins appearing in his own child.

 

We reap what we sow.

 

2Sa 13 has the whole depressing narrative. Absalom had his brother murdered for the crime of lying with his sister and Absalom fled. After a few years time, Absalom hatched a conspiracy to take the kingdom from his father which conspiracy took about four years to mature. It was successful only because David was likely very sick and he lacked any heart to fight. It was prophesied to him that it would happen, and received it passively knowing that his sin was the catalyst of all of this continued misery, though of course Absalom is responsible for his own bad decisions.

 

While the conspiracy is being planned, Psa 41 and 55 are likely from this period. In them we find a sick David who receives no affection from his people, but rather, is surrounded by false, cold comforters who revel in his weakness. His enemies hid their own rejoicing over his pain and feigned compassion. David's mood is sorrowful and passive, and he calls out to the Lord, not wanting to remain in his sorrow. He is reduced to only a breath, but a breath is enough for God to hear.

 

David’s illness, based on these psalms, but not  recorded in the narratives, would explain Absalom’s success. People came to king David in search of justice for criminal and civil cases and did not find any. Perhaps a sick and sorrowful king could not see them, and Absalom saw an opportunity, promising justice to the people if only he were king.

 

In Psa 55, Absalom becomes a type of Judas Ischariot, as the familiar friend who reproached David and exalted himself above him, just as Judas would do to Jesus.

 

When the rebellion, again, four-years in the making, finally moved upon the city, David’s only thoughts are to flee. He is almost cowardly in his eagerness to escape, and is prepared to give up everything without a blow. The movement alone, weak as it was, was enough to overthrow David’s throne.

 

David is again a fugitive.

 

The Fugitive

 

The psalms of this period are 3, 4, 61, 62, 63, 143, and questionable: 25, 28, 109.

 

Psa 3 and 4 form a pair as a morning and evening hymn. The little band, likely David, his family, and his 600 faithful valiant warriors (who are all as old as David now) are encamped on the road to Mahanaim, a fitting place as it was the place that David’s ancestor Jacob witnessed the angels of God ranked in battle array to which he gave the name Mahanaim, the two camps. David’s company has no roof but the stars and no walls but the arms of God. And perhaps it was the place, perhaps it was the fresh air in being on his horse again and sword in hand, perhaps God healed him (or all of the above), but for the first time in over ten years, David feels life pumping through his veins.

 

A fugitive again, David is greatly revived. God knows how to get us up and going. 

 

And though his energy and vitality returns to some extent, he has no animosity towards his enemies, composed of his fellow countrymen and son, but he rather hopes and desires their peace with God and so peace with himself. He rejoices in the Lord again and finds tranquility.

 

PSA 4:7-8

Thou hast put gladness in my heart,

More than when their grain and new wine abound.

8 In peace I will both lie down and sleep,

For Thou alone, O Lord, dost make me to dwell in safety.

 

He is homeless and in danger, but because of the love of God, a love that he has experienced over forty years, from the peaceful and innocent days of his youth, through the exciting and dangerous days of his exile, through the peaceful and prosperous days of his kingship, through the heartbreaking years of his sin and retribution, and now, after all this, we find a man near the end of his journey, at peace with God knowing that all things are in God’s hands.

 

Though there be a lot of stumbling and even times of falling in the past, a life lived unto God will come to its end without regret, knowing that death isn’t the end, only the end of our infancy.

 

He has no protection other than the night watchmen; no walls, and a small and outnumbered group, yet still he sleeps in peace. He is satisfied with any outcome, even his death at the hands of his foolish son.

 

PSA 3:5-6

I lay down and slept;

I awoke, for the Lord sustains me.

6 I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people

Who have set themselves against me round about.

 

David is older, wiser, and due to his sin, lower - understanding what sins his natural self was capable of. He knows beyond any doubt that God is his Rock, his salvation, his fortress, his glory, and his refuge.

 

Those ruddy locks of the young chieftain who could bend a bow of bronze are now silvery and grey, sins and sorrows have saddened him, and he will experience one more, soon his beloved son Absalom will be dead because of this war. But David knows one thing above all else, something which supersedes his sorrow and regret, that the Lord is alone good and that Lord is his.

 

The Lord alone can rule a righteous kingdom and make other men righteous. David will be a subject in it, despite his past. Who is right and good and holy but the Lord alone?

 

He will defeat the Absalom rebellion and return to Jerusalem as her rightful king where he will reign for another ten years. The psalter does not appear to contain psalms which throw light upon the somewhat clouded closing years of his reign. But one psalm is the work of an old man and fitting to be considered as his last one, 37.

 

Ps 37:3-4

Trust in the Lord, and do good;

Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness.

4 Delight yourself in the Lord;

And He will give you the desires of your heart.

 

Ps 37:25

I have been young, and now I am old;

Yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken,

Or his descendants begging bread.

 

This amazing man, this completely human man, this amazing poet, amazing warrior, and amazing life with God was used by God to speak to the world, and he still is.

 

We will find that promises loved and believed have to be tested, that we have to wait on the Lord for faith takes life as it comes, not as it wants it to come, that prosperity must be watched keenly, that the grace of God can overcome any sin and restore the sinner to one who reigns in life, though he will reap what he sows the sorrows and pain of his sin, and that God will give him rest from all his enemies round about.

 

 

Saturday AM: Youth and Exile

 

We know nothing of David’s childhood beyond what we may imply by imagining a youngest son of several who was unloved by his brothers and unregarded by his father; who was likely ignored, given menial work, and in his teens lived a solitary life as a shepherd in the Judean wilderness. We also discover that through whoever were his teachers, he learned the law and loved it, learned the harp and was exceptional at it, and somehow learned war and was a fine warrior.

 

The ignored, unloved, solitary boy did not let his situation do what it does to those weaker than him, and we can be sure that it was the law of God that taught him to overcome.

 

Psa 8, 19, 29, and likely 23.

 

Psa 19

 

For the choir director. A Psalm of David.

 

 

1 The heavens are telling of the glory of God;

And their expanse is declaring the work of His hands.

2 Day to day pours forth speech,

And night to night reveals knowledge.

3 There is no speech, nor are there words;

Their voice is not heard.

4 Their line has gone out through all the earth,

And their utterances to the end of the world.

In them He has placed a tent for the sun,

5 Which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber;

It rejoices as a strong man to run his course.

6 Its rising is from one end of the heavens,

And its circuit to the other end of them;

And there is nothing hidden from its heat.

 

7 The law of the Lord is perfect, restoring the soul;

The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple.

8 The precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart;

The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes.

9 The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever;

The judgments of the Lord are true; they are righteous altogether.

10 They are more desirable than gold, yes, than much fine gold;

Sweeter also than honey and the drippings of the honeycomb.

11 Moreover, by them Thy servant is warned;

In keeping them there is great reward.

12 Who can discern his errors?

Acquit me of hidden faults.

13 Also keep back Thy servant from presumptuous sins;

Let them not rule over me;

Then I shall be blameless,

And I shall be acquitted of great transgression.

14 Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart

Be acceptable in Thy sight,

O Lord, my rock and my Redeemer.

 

The Law is like the heavens; heating, enlightening, growing, and guiding everyone it touches, sparking reverence and fear in them.

 

There is a sharp transition from the heavens to the law, which then becomes the brighter sun. David’s first psalms are written in his youth, having deep images of nature, but of nature as it is the result of God’s perfect and holy attributes. They are absent of personal references or situations of peril. They rejoice in God’s Person and the revelation of that Person all around him.

 

In Psa 19 David begins with the heavens of the day-time and then the Law is like the heavens which are a tent for the sun which goes out like a bridegroom and touches everything with its heat.

 

Its heat reveals to David that he has hidden faults, vs. 12.

 

The Law doesn’t change our faults, but only reveals them.

 

And so he pleads for pardon and to be held back from presumptuous (zed: proud) sins. David comes to understand, and reveals to us, that we need a God that not only sets His glory in the heavens, not only makes His will known, but also who touches our inner selves, and when we discover the reality of our proud sin, to pardon us.

 

God is all-powerful and holy. He makes His will known. If He doesn’t pardon us we can only be afraid of Him.

 

The companion picture to 19 is 8, though it is a night piece. The confounding bigness of the starry heavens David sees as the greatness and infinite power of God.

 

When David was anointed by Samuel, when we first really meet him, he is not rushed to the throne, but is only allowed to slowly saunter back to his flocks. His head is not swelled with pride. He doesn’t see his election as being worthy of something greater than a shepherd. It is amazing for a boy his age. It certainly must have changed him, but his kingdom would remain filled with subjects that were only sheep. David shows patience and self-control, not usually what graces youth.

 

Psa 8

 

For the choir director; on the Gittith. A Psalm of David.

 

 

8 O Lord, our Lord,

How majestic is Thy name in all the earth,

Who hast displayed Thy splendor above the heavens!

2 From the mouth of infants and nursing babes Thou hast established strength,

Because of Thine adversaries,

To make the enemy and the revengeful cease.

 

3 When I consider Thy heavens, the work of Thy fingers,

The moon and the stars, which Thou hast ordained;

4 What is man, that Thou dost take thought of him?

And the son of man, that Thou dost care for him?

5 Yet Thou hast made him a little lower than God [elohim],

And dost crown him with glory and majesty!

6 Thou dost make him to rule over the works of Thy hands;

Thou hast put all things under his feet,

7 All sheep and oxen,

And also the beasts of the field,

8 The birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea,

Whatever passes through the paths of the seas.

 

9 O Lord, our Lord,

How majestic is Thy name in all the earth!

 

Perhaps David is the infant giving praise to God, imagining that any infant could do so by beholding the majesty of God’s world.

 

We just have to behold Him. To behold Him without fear, without condemnation,

 

And then, when he considers the heavens, the majesty, greatness, and power of God, he wonders, “What is man, that thou should take thought of him?” David was anointed, or crowned with glory and honor, but who is he to receive such an honor? Conclusion: How majestic is Your name in all the earth.”

 

The writer of Hebrews would apply this consideration to Jesus, who for a little while, would be made lower than the angels, but would be crowned with glory and honor, and that, by sufferings. This connection is most important, for although David was crowned and although David desired deep in his heart to establish and rule a kingdom of righteousness, he could not do so.

 

Only the true King, David’s greater Son, would be able to establish perfect peace and righteousness. Only Christ can rule.

 

JOH 15:5

“I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me, and I in him, he bears much fruit; for apart from Me you can do nothing.”

 

Man is nothing, a fallen weak creation, however, in Christ he is everything, but only in Christ. It is when we get our eyes off of him that we get in trouble.

 

In Psa 29 David describes God’s voice as a mighty tempest. God’s tempest is powerful and frightening as well as exhilarating, but it passes without destroying everything, rolling away, faint growls of thunder in the distance, and the sunshine streams out anew from a softened blue sky, filled with the fragrance after the rain over a freshened world.

 

Psa 29: God’s power will save and judge and will refresh some while destroying others and He will awe us with His power.

 

Psa 23

 

I highly recommend you read all of these psalms, for time will not allow us to discuss them all.

 

Such were the thoughts and hopes of the lad who kept his father’s sheep at Bethlehem. He lived a life of lofty thoughts and lowly duties.

 

And still, the anointing by Samuel did not disturb him by stirring up pride in visions of coming greatness.

 

His response to his anointing helps us to determine Psa 131 as David’s, as in the superscription:

 

Psa 131 A Song of Ascents, of David.

O Lord, my heart is not proud, nor my eyes haughty;

Nor do I involve myself in great matters,

Or in things too difficult for me.

2 Surely I have composed and quieted my soul;

Like a weaned child rests against his mother,

My soul is like a weaned child within me.

3 O Israel, hope in the Lord

From this time forth and forever.

 

This is just the beginning. David cannot remain here - beholding nature. Beholding God’s vastness in the evening stars and acknowledging that man is insignificant and who is he that You Lord should crown him king. Beholding the heavens and equating them with God’s law, a tent for the sun touching everything with its heat, instructing, informing, correcting, and finding hidden faults that demand pardon. Beholding the raw power of the thunderstorm and equating it with God’s power and knowing that God has the power to give peace to His people. Beholding sheep and knowing that the Great Shepherd will care for His people and even set a table for them in the midst of their enemies.

 

We cannot remain in a state of knowing and admiring God’s promises with awe. They have to be tested.

 

Will he hold on when it seems that he’ll never be king? Will he conclude in those dark moments of seeming abandonment that he actually was too insignificant to be thought of? Will he still trust in God when his hidden sins are truly revealed in practice? Will the law, acting like the sun, scorch him, overheat him, kill him or will he find pardon in God? When he is surrounded by enemies bent on nothing but murder, will he trust the God of the thunderstorm to deliver him? When he is that lost sheep, will he truly not want or will he want and lust for every need?

 

We cannot remain in a state of only knowing and admiring God’s promises. They have to be tested.

 

The truth must be tested and it will be tested in David for ten long years of exile. It will be exceedingly difficult. He will despair. He will be afraid. He will feel himself fill with rage. All that he trusted of God in his youth will be tested in the days of his young manhood in which there will be few of them in which he could confidently say that his life wasn’t in danger.

 

So it is with us all. The goodness of God, the majesty of God, the truth of His word and the purity of His commands, His forgiveness, His grace, His power to give peace and rest, His gentle leading and loving care, and our smallness in which there is no place for pride will all be tested in real life situations. The results of every situation will be our trust or our sin. And the fact that we fail some and succeed in others is itself another test.

 

The Exile: waiting on God, trusting God, praying, remaining upright, not seeking vengeance while surrounded by lions and dogs.

 

The main themes are trusting and waiting on God while being surrounded by lions. Praying while knowing the promises of God and remaining upright and not seeking vengeance. In contrast to David is Saul. Their contrast is another main theme.

 

Summary: The imagery of the wilderness continually appears; the prowling wild beasts, the nets and snares, the hunted psalmist like a timid bird among the hills; the protestation of innocence, the passionate invocation of retribution on the wicked, the confidence that their own devices will come down on their heads, the intense yearning of soul after God - are all repeated in these psalms.

 

Due to his reputation as a musician, David is invited to Saul’s court in order to soothe the king's dark spirit. David again returns to his flocks and soon after defeats Goliath. He is again invited to Saul’s court, but this time as a warrior. His success and fame as a warrior arouse jealousy in Saul who fears for his own position, and here king Saul gets something very wrong.

 

Israel was never to rest on the foundation of military pre-eminence. God only is her foundation. If Saul had understood that, then David’s fame as a warrior would not have been a problem for him.

 

The throne of Israel wasn’t built upon military prowess, but on faithfulness to God. The only danger to Saul’s throne is his own unfaithfulness. He had no reason to be jealous of David.

 

ZEC 4:6-10

"This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel saying, 'Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,' says the Lord of hosts. 7 'What are you, O great mountain? Before Zerubbabel you will become a plain; and he will bring forth the top stone with shouts of "Grace, grace to it!"'" 8 Also the word of the Lord came to me saying, 9 "The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this house, and his hands will finish it. Then you will know that the Lord of hosts has sent me to you. 10 "For who has despised the day of small things? But these seven will be glad when they see the plumb line in the hand of Zerubbabel —  these are the eyes of the Lord which range to and fro throughout the earth."

 

1SA 13:13-14

And Samuel said to Saul, "You have acted foolishly [not waiting for Samuel as he was instructed to]; you have not kept the commandment of the Lord your God, which He commanded you, for now the Lord would have established your kingdom over Israel forever. 14 But now your kingdom shall not endure. The Lord has sought out for Himself a man after His own heart, and the Lord has appointed him as ruler over His people, because you have not kept what the Lord commanded you."

 

These experiences were additions to David’s life which developed him.

 

He finds jealousy and hatred in the heart of men towards himself who desires first and foremost to follow God. The meditative life of the sheepfold is followed by the crowded court and military camp. He is thrust into the real world. Strenuous work, familiarity with men, constant vicissitude, take the place of placid thought, of calm seclusion, of tranquil days that knew no changes but the alternation of sun and stars, storm and brightness, green pastures and dusty paths. He learned the real world with its hate and effort, its hollow fame and its whispering calumnies. The passage from the visions of youth and solitary resolves of early and uninterrupted piety to the naked realities of a wicked world, and the stern self-control of many godliness, is ever painful and perilous.

 

David seems to accept whatever happens with equanimity, which is the result of a man who has a living trust in God. He makes no effort to alter it. He originates nothing. Prosperity comes unsought, and dangers unfeared. He does not ask for Jonathan’s love, or the people’s favor, or the women’s songs, or the love and marriage of Michal. He receives Saul’s commands and carries them out. Saul flings his javelin and David moves aside. His higher position is taken from him and he serves with his heart in the lower one. When reconciliation is offered, he cheerfully goes back to the palace. If his life is threatened, he goes home.

 

David and Saul are living contrasts, familiar to the scripture in the forms of light and darkness, life and death, love and hate.

 

They are unlike in appearance, and more so in spirit. One gaunt and gloomy faced while the other ruddy, beautiful, full of energy and strength. The one full of joyous energy, the other full of gloom; the one going in and out among the people winning universal love, the other sitting moody and self-absorbed behind his palace walls; the one bringing sweet clear tones of trustful praise from his harp, the other shaking his huge spear in madness; the one ready for action and prosperous in it all, the other paralyzed, shrinking from all work, and leaving the conduct of the war to the servant whom he feared.; the one conscious of the divine presence making him strong and calm, the other writhing in the gripe of his evil spirit, and either foaming in fury, or stiffened into torpor; the one steadily growing in power and favor with God and men, the other sinking in deeper mire, and wrapped about with thickening mists as he moves to his doom. The tragic pathos of these two lives in their fateful antagonism is the embodiment of that awful alternative of life and death, blessing and cursing, which it was the very aim of Judaism to stamp ineffaceably on the conscience.

 

Saul is trying to control. David is letting God control.

 

David’s flight begins a period of which a large number of psalms are referred. We may call them “The Songs of the Outlaw.”

 

Psalms 52, 54, 56, 57, 59 with titles referring to the Sauline persecution.

 

In all, the psalmist is surrounded by enemies.

 

They trample (sha’aph = swallow up or devour)

 

They oppress:

 

One of their weapons is calumny, which seems from frequent references to have much moved David.

 

They seem to him like crouching beasts ready to spring upon harmless prey:

 

They are lions and dogs:

 

David is conscious of nothing which he has done to provide this storm of hatred:

 

The strength of God is his hope:

 

He is sure that retribution will fall upon the enemies:

 

He vows and knows that psalms of deliverance will yet succeed these plaintive cries.

 

He passionately protests his innocence, and the kindliness of his heart to his eager foes (7:3-5; 17:3-4); whom he has helped and sorrowed over in their sickness (35:13-14) - a reference perhaps to his solacing Saul in his sudden attacks with the music of his harp. He dwells on retribution with vehemence (7:11-16; 11:5-7; 31:23; 35:8), and on his own deliverance and confidence.

 

The scenery and life of the desert colors the metaphors which describe his enemies as wild beasts; himself as a poor hunted creature amongst pits and snares; or as a timid bird flying to the safe crags, and God as his Rock. Their strong assertions of innocence accord with the historical indications of Saul’s gratuitous hatred, and appear to distinguish the psalms of this period from those of the Absalom revolt, in which the memory of his great sin was too deep to permit of any such claims.

 

In the psalms of the exile there is a great desire for the enemies’ destruction, whereas David longed for Absalom’s reconciliation and life. They also have a confidence in God, with a ring of joyousness in peril which corresponds with the buoyant faith that went with him through all the desperate adventures and hairbreadth escapes of the Sauline persecution.

 

In the psalms of the exile we find a noble portraiture of a brave, devout soul. We see David in the first flush of manhood, about 25 years-old, fronting perils of which he is fully conscious, with calm strength and an enthusiasm of trust that lifts his spirit above them all, into a region of fellowship with God which no tumult can invade, and which no remembrance of transgression troubled and stained.

 

The first of the Outlaw Songs: Psa 59 - David’s house surrounded by assassins.

 

We get the bare facts from 1Sa 19.

 

The psalm begins abruptly with a passionate cry for help, which is repeated four times, thus bringing most vividly before us the extremity of the danger and the persistency of David’s trust.

 

PSA 59:1-3

 

For the choir director; set to Al-tashheth. A Mikhtam of David, when Saul sent men, and they watched the house in order to kill him.

 

 

Deliver me from my enemies, O my God;

Set me securely on high away from those who rise up against me.

2 Deliver me from those who do iniquity,

And save me from men of bloodshed.

3 For behold, they have set an ambush for my life;

Fierce men launch an attack against me,

Not for my transgression nor for my sin, O Lord,

 

The peculiar tenderness and closeness of his relation to his heavenly Friend, which is so characteristic of David’s psalms, and which they were almost the first to express, breathes through the name by which he invokes help, “My God.”

 

The men surrounding the house are accurately described as “set an ambush for my life” and “launch an attack against me.” They are men “who do iniquity,” “men of bloodshed” and “fierce men.”

 

PSA 59:4

For no guilt of mine, they run and set themselves against me.

Arouse Thyself to help me, and see!

 

David asserts his innocence as he does in all the Outlaw Songs. And then rising above all the encompassing evils, he grasps at the throne of God in a cry:

 

PSA 59:5

Awake to punish all the nations;

 

“Awake to visit the heathen,” (nations) meaning the assaults of all the Gentile nations, but in this case, they are his own people, for not all Israel is Israel.

 

PSA 59:6-17

They return at evening, they howl like a dog,

And go around the city.

7 Behold, they belch forth with their mouth;

Swords are in their lips,

For, they say, "Who hears?"

8 But Thou, O Lord, dost laugh at them;

Thou dost scoff at all the nations.

 

9 Because of his strength I will watch for Thee,

For God is my stronghold.

10 My God in His lovingkindness will meet me;

God will let me look triumphantly upon my foes.

11 Do not slay them, lest my people forget;

Scatter them by Thy power, and bring them down,

O Lord, our shield.

12 On account of the sin of their mouth and the words of their lips,

Let them even be caught in their pride,

And on account of curses and lies which they utter.

13 Destroy them in wrath, destroy them, that they may be no more;

That men may know that God rules in Jacob,

To the ends of the earth.

Selah.

14 And they return at evening, they howl like a dog,

And go around the city.

15 They wander about for food,

And growl if they are not satisfied.

 

16 But as for me, I shall sing of Thy strength;

Yes, I shall joyfully sing of Thy lovingkindness in the morning,

For Thou hast been my stronghold,

And a refuge in the day of my distress.

17 O my strength, I will sing praises to Thee;

For God is my stronghold, the God who shows me lovingkindness.

 

In the darkness of the evening, encompassed by men of blood, he asks God to awaken, meet him, and bring in the morning sun to rise upon David in the Lord’s stronghold and refuge.

 

PSA 112:4

Light arises in the darkness for the upright;

He is gracious and compassionate and righteous.

 

Divine names: God, Lord, God of Hosts, God of Israel.

 

More than one night:

PSA 59:14-15

And they return at evening, they howl like a dog,

And go around the city.

15 They wander about for food,

And growl if they are not satisfied.

 

There is almost a smile on his face as he thinks of their hunting about for him, like hungry hounds sniffing for a meal in the kennels, and growling now in disappointment - while he is safe beyond their reach because God is his stronghold. And the psalm ends with a glad burst of confidence, and a vow of praise. Three times he repeats the vow of praise.

 

His harp was his companion in his flight, and even in the midst of peril the poet’s nature appears which regards all life as materials for song about God’s goodness.

 

PSA 59:9-10

Because of his strength I will watch for Thee,

For God is my stronghold.

10 My God in His lovingkindness will meet me;

God will let me look triumphantly upon my foes.

 

Ps 59:16-17

But as for me, I shall sing of Thy strength;

Yes, I shall joyfully sing of Thy lovingkindness in the morning,

For Thou hast been my stronghold,

And a refuge in the day of my distress.

17 O my strength, I will sing praises to Thee;

For God is my stronghold, the God who shows me lovingkindness.

 

Can we make music to God in our hearts in the midst of tribulation?

 

EPH 5:18-21

And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; 20 always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father; 21 and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ.

 

David at Nob, Doeg: Psa 52.

 

Time constraints will only enable us to look at a few psalms in detail.

 

David flees from his house to Samuel at Ramah and eventually ends up in Nob where the tabernacle had been. Saul pursues and ends up murdering all the priests. Saul has begun to show his dark, paranoid, fearful soul. His contrast to David is striking and a revelation to the world of what two types of men there can be when one believes God and one does not.

 

Hunted from Nob, David with a small company struck across the country in a southwesterly direction, keeping to the safety of the tangled mountains, till, from the western side of the hills of Judah, he looked down upon the green plain of Philistia. Behind him was a mad tyrant, in front the uncircumcized enemies of his country and his God. His condition was desperate, and he had recourse to desperate measures. That nearest Philistine city, some ten miles off, on which he looked down from his height, was Gath; the glen where he had killed its champion was close beside him - every foot of ground was familiar by many a foray and many a fight. It was a dangerous resource to trust himself in Gath, with Goliath’s sword dangling from his belt. But he may have hoped that he was not known by person, alone, and he may have hoped that Saul’s famous commander would be a welcome guest, as a banished man, in the Philistine court. So he made the plunge and took refuge in Goliath’s city.

 

In Gath David is immediately recognized and he fears greatly. His solution, to avoid death, was to pretend madness.

 

1SA 21:12-15

And David took these words to heart, and greatly feared Achish king of Gath. 13 So he disguised his sanity before them, and acted insanely in their hands, and scribbled on the doors of the gate, and let his saliva run down into his beard. 14 Then Achish said to his servants, "Behold, you see the man behaving as a madman. Why do you bring him to me? 15 "Do I lack madmen, that you have brought this one to act the madman in my presence? Shall this one come into my house?"

 

David in Philistia (Gath) very afraid: Psa 56

 

The dull-witted king falls into the trap.

 

And to this we have Psa 56.

 

PSA 56:1-4

 

For the choir director; according to Jonath elem rehokim. A Mikhtam of David, when the Philistines seized him in Gath.

 

To the Precentor, after "The silent dove among the far off," by David, a Michtam.

(from Keil and Delitzsch Commentary)

 

Perhaps appended by the compiler.

 

PSA 55:6-7 [applied to David’s later chastisement for his great sin]

And I said, "Oh, that I had wings like a dove!

I would fly away and be at rest.

7 "Behold, I would wander far away,

I would lodge in the wilderness.

 

56 Be gracious to me, O God, for man has trampled upon me;

Fighting all day long he oppresses me.

2 My foes have trampled upon me all day long,

For they are many who fight proudly against me.

3 When I am afraid, I will put my trust in Thee.

4 In God, whose word I praise,

In God I have put my trust;

I shall not be afraid.

What can mere man do to me?

 

The terrified fugitive, owing his safety to a trick, had an inner trust just strong enough to hold his terror in check, though not to annihilate it.

 

Are we so surprised that lofty and sincere utterances of faith and submission should co-exist with the opposite feeling of fear? Faith, less than perfect, hanging on a thread, may be genuine.

 

Critics want to say that the title to the psalm is incorrect, but they fail to understand that a faith less than perfect, hanging on by a thread, may be genuine. If we cannot raise to the height of unwavering fortitude, God accepts a tremulous trust fighting against mortal terror, and grasping with a feeble hand the word of God, and the memory of all his past deliverances.

 

This psalm sets before us the conflict of fear and faith.

 

It falls into three portions. The first and second are closed by a sort of refrain (vv. 4, 10-11), a similar structure to PSA 57:5, 11; 59:9, 17. In both, extreme danger rises to faith. The repetition is likely a manifestation of how serious the danger really is. Did fear grip him, then he rose to faith in response, vs. 4, only to fear again in vv. 5-7, necessitating the same faith, vv. 10-11?

 

PSA 56:5 All day long they distort my words;

All their thoughts are against me for evil.

6 They attack, they lurk,

They watch my steps,

As they have waited to take my life.

7 Because of wickedness, cast them forth,

In anger put down the peoples, O God!

8 Thou hast taken account of my wanderings;

Put my tears in Thy bottle;

Are they not in Thy book?

9 Then my enemies will turn back in the day when I call;

This I know, that God is for me.

10 In God, whose word I praise,

In the Lord, whose word I praise,

11 In God I have put my trust, I shall not be afraid.

What can man do to me?

 

There is more than trusting a promise of deliverance. David knows the One who promised, “whose word I praise, whose word I praise, put my trust.” “In Elohim, whose word I praise. In Yavah whose word I praise.”

 

David knows the One he trusts. There is a strong sense of communion with God. “This I know, that God is for me.”

 

He turns to God because he is afraid. He is not unlike the disciples awakening God.

 

LUK 8:24-25

And they came to Him and woke Him up, saying, "Master, Master, we are perishing!" And being aroused, He rebuked the wind and the surging waves, and they stopped, and it became calm. 25 And He said to them, "Where is your faith?"

 

“Thou has taken account of my wanderings.” (v. 8) He has not been alone in his weary flights from Gibeah to Ramah, from Ramah to Nob, from Nob to Gath, and from Gath to he knows not. (not yet). God is his constant companion.

 

A waterskin was a necessary part of a traveler’s equipment, the mention of his wanderings suggests the bold and tender metaphor, “Put my tears in Your bottle,” a prayer for the very remembrance of his sorrows, and he immediately declares his confidence, “Are they not in Your book?”

 

PSA 139:13-16

For Thou didst form my inward parts;

Thou didst weave me in my mother's womb.

14 I will give thanks to Thee, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;

Wonderful are Thy works,

And my soul knows it very well.

15 My frame was not hidden from Thee,

When I was made in secret,

And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth.

16 Thine eyes have seen my unformed substance;

And in Thy book they were all written,

The days that were ordained for me,

When as yet there was not one of them.

 

The true office of faithful communion with God is to ask for and appropriate the blessings which in the very act become ours.

 

David knows his cry will scatter his foes, for God is for him. And so once again, for the second time, his feet are firmly planted on the solid ground of faith. Prayer has brought its chiefest blessing - the peace that surpasses understanding. We lose sight of the foe and conquer by faith.

 

PSA 56:12 Thy vows are binding upon me, O God;

I will render thank offerings to Thee.

13 For Thou hast delivered my soul from death,

Indeed my feet from stumbling,

So that I may walk before God

In the light of the living.

 

In the end he already reckons himself safe. He sings with assurance. He sees the purpose of all God’s dealings with him to be that the activities of life may all be conducted in the happy consciousness of God’s eye who is at once Guardian and Judge of His children. How far above his fears and lies has this hero risen by the power of supplication and the music of this psalm.

 

David flees from Gath to Adullam, Psa 27, 34.

 

1SA 22:1-2

So David departed from there and escaped to the cave of Adullam; and when his brothers and all his father's household heard of it, they went down there to him. 2 And everyone who was in distress, and everyone who was in debt, and everyone who was discontented, gathered to him; and he became captain over them. Now there were about four hundred men with him.

 

Belonging to this time are psalms 34 and 27. We will focus on 27 with references to 34.

 

Psa 27 A Psalm of David.

 

1 The Lord is my light and my salvation;

Whom shall I fear?

The Lord is the defense of my life;

Whom shall I dread?

2 When evildoers came upon me to devour my flesh,

My adversaries and my enemies, they stumbled and fell.

3 Though a host encamp against me,

My heart will not fear;

Though war arise against me,

In spite of this I shall be confident.

4 One thing I have asked from the Lord, that I shall seek:

That I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life,

To behold the beauty of the Lord,

And to meditate in His temple.

5 For in the day of trouble He will conceal me in His tabernacle;

In the secret place of His tent He will hide me;

He will lift me up on a rock.

6 And now my head will be lifted up above my enemies around me;

And I will offer in His tent sacrifices with shouts of joy;

I will sing, yes, I will sing praises to the Lord.

7 Hear, O Lord, when I cry with my voice,

And be gracious to me and answer me.

8 When Thou didst say, "Seek My face," my heart said to Thee,

"Thy face, O Lord, I shall seek."

9 Do not hide Thy face from me,

Do not turn Thy servant away in anger;

Thou hast been my help;

Do not abandon me nor forsake me,

O God of my salvation!

10 For my father and my mother have forsaken me,

But the Lord will take me up.

11 Teach me Thy way, O Lord,

And lead me in a level path,

Because of my foes.

12 Do not deliver me over to the desire of my adversaries;

For false witnesses have risen against me,

And such as breathe out violence.

13 I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord

In the land of the living.

14 Wait for the Lord;

Be strong, and let your heart take courage;

Yes, wait for the Lord.

 

One part of this song leads some to consider a later date than Adullam, “That I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life.” But we would not consider David to mean an actual physical house, or the Temple. David did not want to hide himself away in a monastery like Saul was actually doing. David breathes his longing for divine fellowship, which shall be at once vision, and guidance, and hidden life in distress, and stability and victory.

 

In vs. 2 David may be referring to Goliath who “stumble and fell”.

 

David ventured all the way to Moab to secure his parents, 1SA 22:3.

 

JOH 19:27

Then He said to the disciple, "Behold, your mother!"

 

He may have claimed his Moabite ancestry through Ruth (David’s father is her grandson). His brothers were with him in Adullam, likely his parents were too old to live in those conditions. He covertly enters Bethlehem and extracts them to Moab. It is surely most natural to suppose that the psalm is a lyrical echo of that event, and most tragic to himself to conceive of the happy home of his youth at Bethlehem now deserted, his brothers slurking with him among the rocks, and his parents exiles in heathen lands. Tears fill his eyes, but he lifts them to a Father that is never parted from him, and feels that he is no more orphaned nor homeless.

 

PSA 27:10

For my father and my mother have forsaken me,

But the Lord will take me up.

 

1SA 22:1-4

So David departed from there and escaped to the cave of Adullam; and when his brothers and all his father's household heard of it, they went down there to him. 2 And everyone who was in distress, and everyone who was in debt, and everyone who was discontented, gathered to him; and he became captain over them. Now there were about four hundred men with him.

 

3 And David went from there to Mizpah of Moab; and he said to the king of Moab, "Please let my father and my mother come and stay with you until I know what God will do for me." 4 Then he left them with the king of Moab; and they stayed with him all the time that David was in the stronghold.

 

David again becomes a type of the Lord who took care of His mother at the cross.

 

As is Psa 34, also of this time. It ends:

 

PSA 34:19-22

Many are the afflictions of the righteous;

But the Lord delivers him out of them all.

20 He keeps all his bones;

Not one of them is broken.

21 Evil shall slay the wicked;

And those who hate the righteous will be condemned.

22 The Lord redeems the soul of His servants;

And none of those who take refuge in Him will be condemned.

 

Neither were the bones of the Passover lamb to be broken. And in light of Psa 34, David’s protection in the cave, so the Lord was protected until the end.

 

The soldier did not need to break His legs, seeing that He was already dead. His physical death was a turning point in His life, for He was no longer the object of the world’s hostility. From now on, now that He had accomplished His task, He is above all rule and authority.

 

Psa 27 is remarkable for the abrupt transition of feeling which cleaves it into two parts, one (1-6) full of jubilant hope and enthusiastic faith, and two (7-14) a lowly cry for help. We should not be surprised to find such a sharp turn. It is the fluctuation of a devout life, from confidence to conscious weakness. It is only those who are not devout who know nothing of their weaknesses. The usual order in the psalms is that prayer for deliverance precedes praise and triumph, but true communion with God is not bound to any mechanical order. We may be in trouble and calling for help, or we may be in no trouble, thanking God for all He is and does, and then the trouble springs upon us. Regardless of the order of things, there are two things certain: our weakness and God’s strength. And so on our end there is supplication and thanksgiving.

 

David shudders as he thinks what ruin would have befallen him if he had not trusted in God.

 

PSA 27:13

I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord

In the land of the living.

 

As a man looking down into some fearful gulf starts back and covers his eyes, before he has well seen the bottom of the abyss, so David shudders to imagine that he could be one of the many who do not believe.

 

Then rejoicing to remember that even his feeble trust secured God’s deliverance he encourages himself and others.

 

PSA 27:14

Wait for the Lord;

Be strong, and let your heart take courage;

Yes, wait for the Lord.

 

Here is the true and highest type of a troubled soul’s fellowship with God, when the fear and consciousness of weakness is overcome by faith in the ability of God.

 

David time in the rocky caves in time turned out to be joyful through his faith in God.

 

PSA 27:1

The Lord is my light and my salvation;

Whom shall I fear?

The Lord is the defense of my life;

Whom shall I dread?

 

It was in thankfulness for the safe hiding place among the dark caverns of the hills that he celebrated the dwelling soul in God with words colored by his circumstances:

 

PSA 27:5

For in the day of trouble He will conceal me in His tabernacle;

In the secret place of His tent He will hide me;

He will lift me up on a rock.

 

In that safe haven the Lord bid him, “Seek My face” and the response of the humble servant, “Your face Lord, I shall seek.”

 

PSA 27:8

When Thou didst say, "Seek My face," my heart said to Thee,

"Thy face, O Lord, I shall seek."

 

This made it impossible for David not to behold the face of God and in it find the courage and the peace he needed.

 

It was not the absence of fear or reasons for fear that make him steadfast, but the presence of God and faith in Him.

 

A wall of fire:

 

PSA 27:5-6

For in the day of trouble He will conceal me in His tabernacle;

In the secret place of His tent He will hide me;

He will lift me up on a rock.

6 And now my head will be lifted up above my enemies around me;

And I will offer in His tent sacrifices with shouts of joy;

I will sing, yes, I will sing praises to the Lord.

 

PSA 34:7-8

The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him,

And rescues them.

 

8 O taste and see that the Lord is good;

How blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!

 

GEN 32:1-2

Now as Jacob went on his way, the angels of God met him. 2 And Jacob said when he saw them, "This is God's camp." So he named that place Mahanaim. (two camps)

 

David discerns that gathered around his own feeble company of just 400, not all warriors, and their insubstantial weapons there was an encircling host of the warriors of God, through whose impenetrable ranks his foes must pierce before they can catch him.

 

Leaves Adullam to the hills of Judah

 

He abandons Adullam by the advice of the prophet Gad. He took refuge in the forest somewhere in the hills of Judah. He hears of a plundering raid made by the Philistines on one of the unhappy border towns. The marauders swept away the year’s harvest. David and his men decide to strike at them. It was either love for Israel or to show he was not the morbid laggard behind walls and in comfort in Gibeah, or both. They routed the Philistines and recaptured the spoil.

 

1SA 23:5

So David and his men went to Keilah and fought with the Philistines; and he led away their livestock and struck them with a great slaughter. Thus David delivered the inhabitants of Keilah.

 

Saul was not stirred from his moody seclusion by the marauding Philistines, but he was when he discovered that David was found to be in Keilah. The Keilahans sold David out.

 

Though spared by David and their livelihood restored to them, the Keilahans sold David out. They gave up their champion in order to protect their homes from Saul’s army.

 

Every promise has to be tested, therefore, every one of us has to be betrayed as our Lord was.

 

1SA 23:9-14

Now David knew that Saul was plotting evil against him; so he said to Abiathar the priest, "Bring the ephod here." 10 Then David said, "O Lord God of Israel, Thy servant has heard for certain that Saul is seeking to come to Keilah to destroy the city on my account. 11 Will the men of Keilah surrender me into his hand? Will Saul come down just as Thy servant has heard? O Lord God of Israel, I pray, tell Thy servant." And the Lord said, "He will come down." 12 Then David said, "Will the men of Keilah surrender me and my men into the hand of Saul?" And the Lord said, "They will surrender you." 13 Then David and his men, about six hundred, arose and departed from Keilah, and they went wherever they could go. When it was told Saul that David had escaped from Keilah, he gave up the pursuit. 14 And David stayed in the wilderness in the strongholds, and remained in the hill country in the wilderness of Ziph. And Saul sought him every day, but God did not deliver him into his hand.

 

Jonathan found David again and strengthened his heart.

 

1SA 23:15-18

Now David became aware that Saul had come out to seek his life while David was in the wilderness of Ziph at Horesh. 16 And Jonathan, Saul's son, arose and went to David at Horesh, and encouraged him in God. 17 Thus he said to him, "Do not be afraid, because the hand of Saul my father shall not find you, and you will be king over Israel and I will be next to you; and Saul my father knows that also." 18 So the two of them made a covenant before the Lord; and David stayed at Horesh while Jonathan went to his house.

 

Jonathan did not take part in the resistance. He returned to his father, but he knew that God was giving the kingdom to David.

 

David is betrayed yet again, and this time by his own people.

 

1SA 23:19-21

Then Ziphites came up to Saul at Gibeah, saying, "Is David not hiding with us in the strongholds at Horesh, on the hill of Hachilah, which is on the south of Jeshimon? 20 "Now then, O king, come down according to all the desire of your soul to do so; and our part shall be to surrender him into the king's hand." 21 And Saul said, "May you be blessed of the Lord; for you have had compassion on me.

 

Saul keeps making an issue out of people either having compassion for him or not. It is a strange self-pity that he has.

 

1SA 22:8

"For all of you have conspired against me so that there is no one who discloses to me when my son makes a covenant with the son of Jesse, and there is none of you who is sorry for me or discloses to me that my son has stirred up my servant against me to lie in ambush, as it is this day."

 

If you find yourself immersed in self-pity there is something wrong with your spiritual life. The solution is not a change of situation of location, but a thorough self-inventory of your faith in God’s promises.

 

David and his men are almost lost to Saul who is very close (on the other side of the mountain) when the Philistines attack. Saul must turn from David to take care of the threat and David is delivered. God uses the Philistines as a diversion in the eleventh hour, and so God sends the cavalry in plenty of time.

 

Though we think the time is short, God sees plenty of room for Him to act for us and deliver us. Wait on the Lord.

 

At some period in this lowest ebb of David’s fortunes, we have one short and sad psalm - Psa 54

 

Ps 54 For the choir director; on stringed instruments. A Maskil of David, when the Ziphites came and said to Saul, "Is not David hiding himself among us?"

 

1 Save me, O God, by Thy name,

And vindicate me by Thy power.

2 Hear my prayer, O God;

Give ear to the words of my mouth.

3 For strangers have risen against me,

And violent men have sought my life;

They have not set God before them.

Selah.

 

4 Behold,

God is my helper;

The Lord is the sustainer of my soul.

5 He will recompense the evil to my foes;

Destroy them in Thy faithfulness.

 

6 Willingly I will sacrifice to Thee;

I will give thanks to Thy name, O Lord, for it is good.

7 For He has delivered me from all trouble;

And my eye has looked with satisfaction upon my enemies.

 

David doesn’t use many words. Perhaps it is because of the sadness that his own people betrayed him. Jesus doesn’t use many words when He weeps over Jerusalem.

 

LUK 19:41-44

And when He approached, He saw the city and wept over it, 42 saying, "If you had known in this day, even you, the things which make for peace! But now they have been hidden from your eyes. 43 "For the days shall come upon you when your enemies will throw up a bank before you, and surround you, and hem you in on every side, 44 and will level you to the ground and your children within you, and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not recognize the time of your visitation."

 

Yet also, David has grown so much in his trust of God that he doesn’t need many words.

 

It is distrust and not faith that makes us besiege God’s throne with much speaking. There are two notes, a plaintive cry for help and a thanksgiving for deliverance.

 

The Ziphites, men of Judah like himself, he calls strangers. They are not true Israel, ROM 9:6.

 

PSA 54:3

For strangers have risen against me,

 

Here is a devout soul in trouble and the name of the Lord that he has faith in. Contemplation of God has delivered him, “the Lord is my helper.”

 

Flees to Engedi

 

Egedi is a little plain of a mile or so in breadth sloping gently down towards the Dead Sea. Girded by savage cliffs, having a stream flowing down a deep glen, it is filled with luxurious vegetation. David would know of the safety of the gorges and hills as well as its abundant water and vegetation.

 

Saul again discovers David’s whereabouts and converges upon him with 3,000 men. David and his men were hiding in the inner recesses of a cave when it was found that Saul came to the mouth of that very cave to “relieve himself.” His men think it is the day of David’s deliverance, but David does not. Yet his pride is hard to resist and he cuts a piece off of Saul’s robe. He later regretted it.

 

The unhappy Saul breaks down in emotion again. For a moment, a flash in his heart, Saul sees the mad hopelessness of the dark road he is treading in resisting the man that deep down he knows is destined to be king. Yet it is just that - a flash. It is like the flash of truth that presented itself to Pilate as he stood in front of the living Word.

 

Be alert and examine everything.

 

1TH 5:21-22

But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; 22 abstain from every form of evil.

 

David returns to his stronghold in the mountains.

 

Engedi continued ...

 

There are many echoes of this period of Engedi in the psalms. The most audible is 7.

 

Psa 7

 

Psa 7 is irregular, having broken rhythms and abrupt transitions, hence its title “A Shiggaion (from shagah - go astray or wander), that testify to the emotion of David at the time. Its main thoughts are precisely those which he poured out so passionately in his eager appeal to Saul in Engedi.

 

Psa 7 A Shiggaion of David, which he sang to the Lord concerning Cush, a Benjamite.

 

O Lord my God, in Thee I have taken refuge;

Save me from all those who pursue me, and deliver me,

2 Lest he tear my soul like a lion,

Dragging me away, while there is none to deliver.

3 O Lord my God, if I have done this,

If there is injustice in my hands,

4 If I have rewarded evil to my friend,

Or have plundered him who without cause was my adversary,

5 Let the enemy pursue my soul and overtake it;

And let him trample my life down to the ground,

And lay my glory in the dust. Selah.

6 Arise, O Lord, in Thine anger;

Lift up Thyself against the rage of my adversaries,

And arouse Thyself for me;

Thou hast appointed judgment.

7 And let the assembly of the peoples encompass Thee [vindication with all assembled people to witness it];

And over them return Thou on high [judgment throne].

8 The Lord judges the peoples;

Vindicate me, O Lord, according to my righteousness and my integrity that is in me.

9 O let the evil of the wicked come to an end, but establish the righteous;

For the righteous God tries the hearts and minds.

10 My shield is with God,

Who saves the upright in heart.

11 God is a righteous judge,

And a God who has indignation every day [EPH 5:15-16

 Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men, but as wise, 16 making the most of your time, because the days are (surrounded by) evil.].

12 If a man does not repent,

He will sharpen His sword;

He has bent His bow and made it ready.

13 He has also prepared for Himself deadly weapons;

He makes His arrows fiery shafts.

14 Behold, he travails with wickedness,

And he conceives mischief, and brings forth falsehood.

15 He has dug a pit and hollowed it out,

And has fallen into the hole which he made.

16 His mischief will return upon his own head,

And his violence will descend upon his own pate.

17 I will give thanks to the Lord according to His righteousness,

And will sing praise to the name of the Lord Most High.

 

PSA 7:8

The Lord judges the peoples;

Vindicate me, O Lord, according to my righteousness and my integrity that is in me.

 

If God is going to judge the nations, making Him the universal judge of all, He certainly cannot leave His servants’ cause unredressed nor their cry unheard until then.

 

Still, we have to wait on the Lord; wait on His perfect time to deliver us. No matter what we do, we will not change God’s schedule or rush Him. Know that our faith in His promises are being tested.

 

Knowing God’s judgment, David desires to be judged according to his righteousness. But David would in no way think himself innocent. He is referring to his behavior against Saul. To the king he has been righteous, and in that instance, he seeks God’s judgment.

 

Therefore it is righteousness that is the final judgment and not the opinions of men or their ideas of what righteousness is.

 

The language of the psalm is devoid of all personal reference; he has risen to the contemplation of a great law of divine government, and at that elevation the enemies whose calumnies and cruelties have driven him to God fade into insignificance.

 

Also in the Engedi period: Psa 57

 

Psa 57

 

For the choir director; set to Al-tashheth. A Mikhtam of David, when he fled from Saul, in the cave.

 

57 Be gracious to me, O God, be gracious to me,

For my soul takes refuge in Thee;

And in the shadow of Thy wings I will take refuge,

Until destruction passes by.

2 I will cry to God Most High,

To God who accomplishes all things for me.

3 He will send from heaven and save me;

He reproaches him who tramples upon me.

Selah.

God will send forth His lovingkindness and His truth.

4 My soul is among lions;

I must lie among those who breathe forth fire,

Even the sons of men, whose teeth are spears and arrows,

And their tongue a sharp sword.

5 Be exalted above the heavens, O God;

Let Thy glory be above all the earth.

6 They have prepared a net for my steps;

My soul is bowed down;

They dug a pit before me;

They themselves have fallen into the midst of it.

Selah.

7 My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast;

I will sing, yes, I will sing praises!

8 Awake, my glory;

Awake, harp and lyre,

I will awaken the dawn!

9 I will give thanks to Thee, O Lord, among the peoples;

I will sing praises to Thee among the nations.

10 For Thy lovingkindness is great to the heavens,

And Thy truth to the clouds.

11 Be exalted above the heavens, O God;

Let Thy glory be above all the earth.

 

Like Ps 7:1

O Lord my God, in Thee I have taken refuge;

Save me from all those who pursue me, and deliver me,

 

So: Ps 57:1

Be gracious to me, O God, be gracious to me,

For my soul takes refuge in Thee;

And in the shadow of Thy wings I will take refuge,

Until destruction passes by.

 

David likens his secure retreat among the everlasting hills to the safe hiding-place which his spirit found in God his habitation.

 

The “shadow of Thy wings” contains an allusion to God’s care over Israel, especially the Exodus in the wilderness.

 

DEU 32:10-11

"He found him in a desert land,

And in the howling waste of a wilderness;

He encircled him, He cared for him,

He guarded him as the pupil of His eye.

11 "Like an eagle that stirs up its nest,

That hovers over its young,

He spread His wings and caught them,

He carried them on His pinions.

 

RUT 2:11-12

And Boaz answered and said to her, "All that you have done for your mother-in-law after the death of your husband has been fully reported to me, and how you left your father and your mother and the land of your birth, and came to a people that you did not previously know. 12 May the Lord reward your work, and your wages be full from the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to seek refuge."

 

Perhaps David saw the sides of the cave arching above him as a fugitive like a gigantic pair of wings beneath which he nestles warm and dry, while outside the storm rages.

 

He has been through this same situation several times, but past faith doesn’t count for the present. Faith must be renewed in every circumstance.

 

A past trust does not guarantee the present need for it. Past deliverances should make the present confidence easier, but faith must always be renewed.

 

Though the storm clouds remain dark and low:

PSA 57:3

He will send from heaven and save me;

He reproaches him who tramples upon me.

Selah.

God will send forth His lovingkindness and His truth.

 

Yet still, thoughts disturb him.

PSA 57:4

My soul is among lions;

I must lie among those who breathe forth fire,

Even the sons of men, whose teeth are spears and arrows,

And their tongue a sharp sword.

 

Faith and rest followed by a sudden billow of terror, which again is quickly dispelled and the hope, which for a time had been swept away by the flooded imagination, rises again and stands like a bastion against the flood waters.

 

PSA 57:5

Be exalted above the heavens, O God;

Let Thy glory be above all the earth.

 

What a lofty and powerful knowledge to know that your own cause is God’s. David sees God’s name being exalted above the heavens by delivering His servant.

 

David’s safety was God’s honor.

 

And as it turns out, David was a chosen instrument to make known God’s praise all over the world and from David’s time to the end of time. It is now almost exactly 3,000 years since he penned his psalms and we are still drinking them in and being instructed and encouraged by them and God alone being exalted by them.

 

It is a certain self-forgetfulness, that in praying for your own deliverance, you think of it as rather glorifying God over and above how that deliverance will affect you personally.

 

The second part continues the closing strain of the former, and describes the plots of his foes in the familiar metaphor of the pit, into which they fall themselves. The contemplation of this diving Nemesis on evil-doers leads up the grand burst of thanksgiving.

 

PSA 57:6-8

They have prepared a net for my steps;

My soul is bowed down;

They dug a pit before me;

They themselves have fallen into the midst of it.

Selah.

 

7 My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast;

I will sing, yes, I will sing praises!

8 Awake, my glory;

Awake, harp and lyre,

I will awaken the dawn!

 

“Awake, my glory,” David’s glory and confidence in God. Fear shall go to the grave, and awakening shall be my glory with rejoicing (awake harp and lyre), and with so much joy that he will chase away all darkness and awaken the dawn.

 

And still there is more.

 

This hunted solitary not only knows that his deliverance is certain, but he has already the consciousness of a world-wide vocation, and anticipates that the story of his sorrow and his trust, with the music of his psalms, belong to the world, and will flow over the barriers of his own generation and of his own land and into the whole earth.

 

PSA 57:9-11

I will give thanks to Thee, O Lord, among the peoples;

I will sing praises to Thee among the nations.

10 For Thy lovingkindness is great to the heavens,

And Thy truth to the clouds.

11 Be exalted above the heavens, O God;

Let Thy glory be above all the earth.

 

David’s praises will reach all the nations, and they will not exalt David, but the loyal love of God, the truth of God, and glory of God are all great to the heavens, above all the earth because they are higher and deeper than anything of man: unfathomable.

 

Ziklag: Psa 31 - God gives rest after a long “winter.”

 

To this period of comparative security one psalm has been supposed to belong - 31.

 

        

Psa 31

For the choir director. A Psalm of David.

31 In Thee, O Lord , I have taken refuge;

Let me never be ashamed;

In Thy righteousness deliver me.

2 Incline Thine ear to me, rescue me quickly;

Be Thou to me a rock of strength,

A stronghold to save me.

3 For Thou art my rock and my fortress;

For Thy name's sake Thou wilt lead me and guide me.

4 Thou wilt pull me out of the net which they have secretly laid for me;

For Thou art my strength.

5 Into Thy hand I commit my spirit;

Thou hast ransomed me, O Lord, God of truth [again David is a beautiful type of Christ].

 

6 I hate those who regard vain idols;

But I trust in the Lord.

7 I will rejoice and be glad in Thy lovingkindness,

Because Thou hast seen my affliction;

Thou hast known the troubles of my soul,

8 And Thou hast not given me over into the hand of the enemy;

Thou hast set my feet in a large place.

 

9 Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am in distress;

My eye is wasted away from grief, my soul and my body also.

10 For my life is spent with sorrow,

And my years with sighing;

My strength has failed because of my iniquity,

And my body has wasted away.

11 Because of all my adversaries, I have become a reproach,

Especially to my neighbors,

And an object of dread to my acquaintances;

Those who see me in the street flee from me.

12 I am forgotten as a dead man, out of mind,

I am like a broken vessel.

13 For I have heard the slander of many,

Terror is on every side;

While they took counsel together against me,

They schemed to take away my life.

 

14 But as for me, I trust in Thee, O Lord,

I say, "Thou art my God."

15 My times are in Thy hand;

Deliver me from the hand of my enemies, and from those who persecute me.

16 Make Thy face to shine upon Thy servant;

Save me in Thy lovingkindness.

17 Let me not be put to shame, O Lord, for I call upon Thee;

Let the wicked be put to shame, let them be silent in Sheol.

18 Let the lying lips be dumb,

Which speak arrogantly against the righteous

With pride and contempt.

 

19 How great is Thy goodness,

Which Thou hast stored up for those who fear Thee,

Which Thou hast wrought for those who take refuge in Thee,

Before the sons of men!

20 Thou dost hide them in the secret place of Thy presence from the conspiracies of man;

Thou dost keep them secretly in a shelter from the strife of tongues.

21 Blessed be the Lord,

For He has made marvelous His lovingkindness to me in a besieged city.

22 As for me, I said in my alarm,

"I am cut off from before Thine eyes";

Nevertheless Thou didst hear the voice of my supplications

When I cried to Thee.

 

23 O love the Lord, all you His godly ones!

The Lord preserves the faithful,

And fully recompenses the proud doer.

24 Be strong, and let your heart take courage,

All you who hope in the Lord.

 

It has many similarities with the other psalms of his exile: God as his rock; the net his enemies have laid for him, the allusions to their calumnies and slanders; his safe concealment in God, and vs. 24 with the close of Psa 27.

 

PSA 31:24

Be strong, and let your heart take courage,

All you who hope in the Lord.

 

PSA 27:14

Wait for the Lord;

Be strong, and let your heart take courage;

Yes, wait for the Lord.

 

What points Psa 31 to Ziklag is:

 

PSA 31:24

Blessed be the Lord,

For He has made marvelous His lovingkindness to me in a besieged [fortified or strong] city.

 

“Strong city” could refer to the idea of the encompassing shelter of God, which the word is often used for, but in the previous verse David had stated that.

 

PSA 31:20

Thou dost hide them in the secret place of Thy presence from the conspiracies of man;

Thou dost keep them secretly in a shelter from the strife of tongues.

 

For 16 months David didn’t have Saul after him, which corresponds well to his words.

 

We may well believe that to the hunted exile, so long accustomed to a life of constant alarms and hurried flight, the quiet of a settled home was very sweet, and that behind the rude fortifications of the little town in the southern wilderness there seemed security, which made a wonderful contrast to their defenseless lairs and lurking-places among the rocks.

 

Their eyes would lose their watchful restlessness, and it would be possible to lay aside their weapons and gather their homes about them and lead a restful, tranquil, domestic life. It must have felt like a miracle to David.

 

He describes his tremulous despondency which had preceded this marvel of lovingkindness in language which at once recalls the wave of hopelessness which swept across his soul after his final interview with Saul.

 

1SA 27:1

Then David said to himself, "Now I will perish one day by the hand of Saul. There is nothing better for me than to escape into the land of the Philistines. Saul then will despair of searching for me anymore in all the territory of Israel, and I will escape from his hand."

 

PSA 31:22

As for me, I said in my alarm [confusion, distrust, literally means to sway backwards and forwards, hence to be agitated by fear],

"I am cut off from before Thine eyes";

Nevertheless Thou didst hear the voice of my supplications

When I cried to Thee.

 

David possessed the spiritual skill to rise above his individual experience to its true meaning, knowing his life and his story belong to the whole household of God.

 

This was ever David’s manner to rediscover that his own individual experience was eternally tied to the great truths concerning God’s care of His own children. That truth was more precious to him than his own personal safety, and from such welling faith within him, he breaks forth in jubilant invocation. His story belongs to God’s book which contains the stories of all in the household of God, all to God’s good pleasure.

 

The story of every believer is a part of God’s book. They are not our own.

 

PSA 139:16

And in Thy book they were all written,

The days that were ordained for me,

When as yet there was not one of them.

 

And rising, as was ever his manner, from his own individual experience to the great truths concerning God’s care of His children, the discovery of which was to him even more precious and his personal safety, he breaks forth in jubilant invocation, which, as always, is full of his consciousness that his life and his story belong to the whole household of God.

 

PSA 31:23-24

O love the Lord, all you His godly ones!

The Lord preserves the faithful,

And fully recompenses the proud doer.

24 Be strong, and let your heart take courage,

All you who hope in the Lord.

 

Anticipated is the final relation between man and God, brought forth to the church, in one bond of love.

 

It anticipates the final teaching of the NT in bringing all the relations between God and the devout soul down to the one bond of love. “We love Him because He first loved us.”

 

Love from God echoes in our own hearts. Love begets love; love seeks love; love rests in love. Our faith corresponds to His faithfulness, our obedience to His command and our Lord’s surrender, our reverence to His infinite majesty, and our love resembles His, from which it draws its life.

 

PSA 31:21

Blessed be the Lord,

For He has made marvelous His lovingkindness to me in a besieged city.

 

His lovingkindness to us becomes our love to Him, vs. 23, O love the Lord, all you His godly ones!

 

Love to God, resting on consciousness of His love to us, is the true armor.

 

1JO 4:18

There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear

 

The heart filled with God’s love is strong to resist the pressure of outward disasters, while the heart that is empty of it is crushed like a dried-up husk. Life is filled with landmines that all of us are bound to step on, and icebergs that drift rudderless that are bound to crash into us. The heart filled with the love of God knows that God saw the berg coming a very long time ago and that He has joyfully made provision within a grand purpose that the lover of God explicitly trusts in.  

 

Love is also the condition of hope. The patience and expectation of the latter must come from the present fruition of the sweetness of the former.

 

In his changeful, perilous years of exile he had learned that the brightness with which hope glowed on his lonely path depended not on the accident of greater or less external security, but on the energy of the clear flame of love in his heart. His trials were not in vain for he learned that the Lord loved him and that he could “wait on the Lord.”

 

Psalms 11,13,22,25, and 64, may, with varying probability, be considered as belonging to the Sauline persecution. Some critics would add Psa 40 and 69, but on uncertain grounds.

 

[good summary]

The imagery of the wilderness continually appears; the prowling wild beasts, the nets and snares, the hunted psalmist kike a timid bird among the hills; the protestation of innocence, the passionate invocation of retribution on the wicked, the confidence that their own devices will come down on their heads, the intense yearning of soul after God - are all repeated in these psalms.

 

The King: Psa 18, 101.

         Rescue ark: 15, 24

         Nathan’s promise: 110

         Successful wars: 21, 21, 60, 68

 

The sudden movement of David to the throne is marked by the sudden death of Saul. The heavy cloud that brooded so long over the doomed king suddenly broke open on the disastrous field of Gilboa. What a sad end to a man who had once been brave, modest, and kind, full of noble purposes and generous affections - to end by flinging himself on his own bloody sword.

 

Saul’s is the fate of the soul which makes shipwreck of faith and good conscience (1TI 1:19).

 

David writes a beautiful elegy for Saul and Jonathan, forgetting the struggles and remembering only the good that was once in them.

 

David had never thought of Saul standing between him and the throne. The first feeling on his death was not, as it would have been with a less devout and less generous heart, a flush of gladness at the thought of the empty throne, but a sharp pang of pain. And even when he begins to look forward to his own new course, he continues to show the remarkable passiveness which we have already observed.

 

2SA 2:1

Then it came about afterwards that David inquired of the Lord, saying, "Shall I go up to one of the cities of Judah?" And the Lord said to him, "Go up." So David said, "Where shall I go up?" And He said, "To Hebron."

 

He will do nothing until his Shepherd shall lead him. David’s only ambition is God’s will.

 

The throne is empty, he has been anointed for the position years before, the time has come, but still he does not run impetuously towards his destiny until the Lord tells him to. So he fulfills what he wrote years before.

 

PSA 59:6

Because of his strength I will watch for Thee,

For God is my stronghold.

 

[My strength! Upon Thee I will wait.]

 

David goes to Hebron and a constant stream of Israelites come to join his standard. The kingdom had fallen into misery and confusion. Some join David from Benjamin, Manasseh, Gad, and Judah. With such forces, it would have been child’s play to have subdued any scattered troops of the former dynasty, but he made no such attempt.

 

David was not going to win the kingdom by arms.

 

PSA 89:13

Righteousness and justice are the foundation of Thy throne;

Lovingkindness and truth go before Thee.

 

He took to a partial monarchy, allowing his commander to deal with the feeble and lingering opposition to his rule by Saul’s cousin Abner, settling down for the leadership of the men of Judah only, reigning in Hebron for 7 years.

 

After the death of Abner, David is crowned king by the elders of all tribes at Hebron. The first result of his new strength is to take Jerusalem, the old hill-fortress of the Jebusites, the city of Melchizedek, which the tribes of Benjamin and Judah were unable to take though it, though the city was allotted to Benjamin by God. For the first time in seven years David suits up for war.

 

Establishing Jerusalem as his capital, David reigns for some ten years with unbroken prosperity over a loyal and loving people.

 

These years are marked by three principle events - the bringing up of the ark to the city of David, the promise by Nathan of the perpetual dominion of his house, and the unbroken flow of victories over the surrounding nations. (2Sa 5-8) These are abundantly illustrated in the psalms.

 

These are the Songs of the King.

 

How did this man of faith bear his sudden change of fortune? What were his thoughts when at last the dignity which he had ever expected and never sought was his? The answer is in the grand psalm, Psa 18.

 

Psa 18

For the choir director. A Psalm of David the servant of the Lord, who spoke to the Lord the words of this song in the day that the Lord   delivered him from the hand of all his enemies and from the hand of Saul. And he said,

 

1"I love Thee, O Lord, my strength."

2 The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer,

My God, my rock, in whom I take refuge;

My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.

3 I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised,

And I am saved from my enemies [he piles up names for God].

 

4 The cords of death encompassed me,

And the torrents of ungodliness terrified me.

5 The cords of Sheol surrounded me;

The snares of death confronted me.

[Now, David’s many cries for help]

6 In my distress I called upon the Lord,

And cried to my God for help;

He heard my voice out of His temple,

And my cry for help before Him came into His ears.

 

7 Then the earth shook and quaked;

And the foundations of the mountains were trembling

And were shaken, because He was angry.

8 Smoke went up out of His nostrils,

And fire from His mouth devoured;

Coals were kindled by it.

9 He bowed the heavens also, and came down

With thick darkness under His feet.

10 And He rode upon a cherub and flew;

And He sped upon the wings of the wind.

11 He made darkness His hiding place,

His canopy around Him,

Darkness of waters, thick clouds of the skies.

12 From the brightness before Him passed His thick clouds,

Hailstones and coals of fire.

13 The Lord also thundered in the heavens,

And the Most High uttered His voice,

Hailstones and coals of fire.

14 And He sent out His arrows, and scattered them,

And lightning flashes in abundance, and routed them.

15 Then the channels of water appeared,

And the foundations of the world were laid bare

At Thy rebuke, O Lord,

At the blast of the breath of Thy nostrils.

 

16 He sent from on high, He took me;

He drew me out of many waters.

17 He delivered me from my strong enemy,

And from those who hated me, for they were too mighty for me.

18 They confronted me in the day of my calamity,

But the Lord was my stay.

19 He brought me forth also into a broad place;

He rescued me, because He delighted in me.

 

20 The Lord has rewarded me according to my righteousness;

According to the cleanness of my hands He has recompensed me.

21 For I have kept the ways of the Lord,

And have not wickedly departed from my God.

22 For all His ordinances were before me,

And I did not put away His statutes from me.

23 I was also blameless with Him,

And I kept myself from my iniquity.

24 Therefore the Lord has recompensed me according to my righteousness,

According to the cleanness of my hands in His eyes.

 

25 With the kind Thou dost show Thyself kind;

With the blameless Thou dost show Thyself blameless;

26 With the pure Thou dost show Thyself pure;

And with the crooked Thou dost show Thyself astute.

27 For Thou dost save an afflicted people;

But haughty eyes Thou dost abase.

28 For Thou dost light my lamp;

The Lord my God illumines my darkness.

29 For by Thee I can run upon a troop;

And by my God I can leap over a wall.

 

30 As for God,

His way is blameless;

The word of the Lord is tried;

He is a shield to all who take refuge in Him.

31 For who is God, but the Lord?

And who is a rock, except our God,

32 The God who girds me with strength,

And makes my way blameless?

33 He makes my feet like hinds' feet,

And sets me upon my high places.

34 He trains my hands for battle,

So that my arms can bend a bow of bronze.

35 Thou hast also given me the shield of Thy salvation,

And Thy right hand upholds me;

And Thy gentleness makes me great.

36 Thou dost enlarge my steps under me,

And my feet have not slipped.

 

37 I pursued my enemies and overtook them,

And I did not turn back until they were consumed.

38 I shattered them, so that they were not able to rise;

They fell under my feet.

39 For Thou hast girded me with strength for battle;

Thou hast subdued under me those who rose up against me.

40 Thou hast also made my enemies turn their backs to me,

And I destroyed those who hated me.

41 They cried for help, but there was none to save,

Even to the Lord, but He did not answer them.

42 Then I beat them fine as the dust before the wind;

I emptied them out as the mire of the streets.

 

43 Thou hast delivered me from the contentions of the people;

Thou hast placed me as head of the nations;

A people whom I have not known serve me.

44 As soon as they hear, they obey me;

Foreigners submit to me.

45 Foreigners fade away,

And come trembling out of their fortresses.

 

46 The Lord lives, and blessed be my rock;

And exalted be the God of my salvation,

47 The God who executes vengeance for me,

And subdues peoples under me.

48 He delivers me from my enemies;

Surely Thou dost lift me above those who rise up against me;

Thou dost rescue me from the violent man.

49 Therefore I will give thanks to Thee among the nations, O Lord,

And I will sing praises to Thy name.

50 He gives great deliverance to His king,

And shows lovingkindness to His anointed,

To David and his descendants forever.

 

David doesn’t use the common word for love in his opening line. He uses racham which is nowhere else used to express man’s emotions to God. It means compassion, mercy, or pity; which seems out of line from man to God. God uses it when He tells Moses “I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy.” From David to God it likely means, “From my heart do I love Thee.”

 

This is followed by a loving accumulation of divine names.

 

PSA 18:2-3

The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer,

My God, my rock, in whom I take refuge;

My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.

3 I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised,

And I am saved from my enemies.

 

Each name revealing an experience in David’s life where God delivered him. They are what his Shepherd meant to him. He had called upon the God who possessed these names when they were difficult to believe in. But now, on the other side, he sings forth these names while he expertly strums his harp with the confidence and love that could only be felt by a man of God who had been delivered by God through much peril. Rock, fortress, deliverer, rock, refuge, shield, horn of my salvation, stronghold, Lord.

 

David thinks of his surrounded house. Fleeing from Nob where Saul had all the priests murdered. Fleeing to Gath where in great fear he feigned madness. Fleeing to Adullam, the rock fortress of caves. Fleeing to the hills of Judah and then to Engedi on the Jordan where daily Saul tracked him and sought his life. Fleeing to Philistia and Ziklag where he lived in relative peace until his temporary city was invaded and his people taken upon which he raced to successfully win them back. The whole time the Lord was his Rock, fortress, deliverer, refuge, shield, and stronghold.

 

Then David, in fierce imagery, describes God’s response to his many cries for help as an exile.

 

PSA 18:6-15

In my distress I called upon the Lord,

And cried to my God for help;

He heard my voice out of His temple,

And my cry for help before Him came into His ears.

 

7 Then the earth shook and quaked;

And the foundations of the mountains were trembling

And were shaken, because He was angry.

8 Smoke went up out of His nostrils,

And fire from His mouth devoured;

Coals were kindled by it.

9 He bowed the heavens also, and came down

With thick darkness under His feet.

10 And He rode upon a cherub and flew;

And He sped upon the wings of the wind.

11 He made darkness His hiding place,

His canopy around Him,

Darkness of waters, thick clouds of the skies.

12 From the brightness before Him passed His thick clouds,

Hailstones and coals of fire.

13 The Lord also thundered in the heavens,

And the Most High uttered His voice,

Hailstones and coals of fire.

14 And He sent out His arrows, and scattered them,

And lightning flashes in abundance, and routed them.

15 Then the channels of water appeared,

And the foundations of the world were laid bare

At Thy rebuke, O Lord,

At the blast of the breath of Thy nostrils.

 

David was so many times sinking in black waters and all he could do was to cry out. And that is enough.

 

That one loud call for help rises like smoke straight into the palace temple of God where the cry for help entered the Lord’s ears.

 

It is not the prayer of one who doesn’t know God, but from one living in a conscious understanding of being in His presence. In a word it is faith in the knowledge of the one true God who has revealed Himself.

 

The knowledgeable know their own weakness in the face of their foe, but in faith they cry out to God who alone can deliver, and they wait in that faith.

 

In David’s case, he had to wait about ten years while in danger in the wilderness.

 

The cry is a poor, thin, solitary voice, unheard on earth, though shrill enough to rise to heaven; and in response, the answer shakes the heavens.

 

One man in his extremity can put in motion all the magnificence of God.

 

“The wonderful thing about praying is that your leave a world of not being able to do something, and enter God’s realm where everything is possible. He specializes in the impossible. Nothing is too great for His almighty power. Nothing is too small for His love.” [Corrie ten Boom]

 

Overwhelming is the contrast between the cause and effect. The artillery of heaven is released. 

 

Then David proclaims the solemn truth that God appears to man what man is to God.

 

PSA 18:25-26

With the kind Thou dost show Thyself kind;

With the blameless Thou dost show Thyself blameless;

26 With the pure Thou dost show Thyself pure;

And with the crooked Thou dost show Thyself astute.

 

Crooked and astute are synonyms in Hebrew meaning twisted or crooked.

 

We need eyes to see. Our eyes are created to process light. If we are kind, blameless, and pure we will see more of these qualities in God. Of course, it is by His grace that we can be kind (through divine love), blameless (we are called by God to be so), and pure (we are made by the blood of Christ and the cleansing of His word). But if we are crooked, that’s what God will be to us in return. God gives grace to the humble and makes war with the arrogant.

 

The close of the song could not be in reference to Saul, since he did not fight Saul. It has to be a reference to the early years of his monarchy which was characterized by much successful military activity.

 

2SA 7:1

Now it came about when the king lived in his house, and the Lord had given him rest on every side from all his enemies,

 

He traces all his victories to God alone. And because of God’s faithfulness in giving him the weapons for victory, he looks forward to a future like the past, but more glorious still, thereby teaching us how the unchanging faithfulness of our God should encourage us to take all the blessings which we have received as but the earnest of what is yet to come. He concludes that his kingdom will extend far beyond the limits of Israel.

 

PSA 18:43-45

Thou hast delivered me from the contentions of the people;

Thou hast placed me as head of the nations;

A people whom I have not known serve me.

44 As soon as they hear, they obey me;

Foreigners submit to me.

45 Foreigners fade away,

And come trembling out of their fortresses.

 

Still he acknowledges that all his help is from God. He heaps God’s names together again.

 

PSA 18:46-47

The Lord lives, and blessed be my rock;

And exalted be the God of my salvation,

47 The God who executes vengeance for me,

And subdues peoples under me.

 

Lord, rock, God of my salvation, God who executes vengeance and subdues.

 

Even his title as king is attributed to God.

 

PSA 18:48-50

He delivers me from my enemies;

Surely Thou dost lift me above those who rise up against me;

Thou dost rescue me from the violent man.

49 Therefore I will give thanks to Thee among the nations, O Lord,

And I will sing praises to Thy name.

50 He gives great deliverance to His king,

And shows lovingkindness to His anointed,

To David and his descendants forever.

 

David receives a glimpse of an eternal throne to his descendants. David’s Son will sit on the throne forever, becoming Lord and King to Jews and Gentiles.

 

With prophetic eye he looks onward, and sees the throne to which he had been led by a series of miracles enduring forever, and the mercy of God sustaining the dominion of his house through all generations.

 

And what are the purposes for the future of a kingdom that God will perpetuate for all of eternity? We know that it will be David’s Son who will occupy the throne forever.

 

Psa 101 is a sort of manifesto for which David desired for his kingdom.

 

Psa 101

I will sing of lovingkindness and justice,

To Thee, O Lord, I will sing praises.

2 I will give heed to the blameless way.

When wilt Thou come to me?

I will walk within my house in the integrity of my heart.

3 I will set no worthless thing before my eyes;

I hate the work of those who fall away;

It shall not fasten its grip on me.

4 A perverse heart shall depart from me;

I will know no evil.

5 Whoever secretly slanders his neighbor, him I will destroy;

No one who has a haughty look and an arrogant heart will I endure.

 

6 My eyes shall be upon the faithful of the land, that they may dwell with me;

He who walks in a blameless way is the one who will minister to me.

7 He who practices deceit shall not dwell within my house;

He who speaks falsehood shall not maintain his position before me.

8 Every morning I will destroy all the wicked of the land,

So as to cut off from the city of the Lord all those who do iniquity.

 

Psa 101 is a sort of manifesto of the principles David intended should characterize his reign. But will David be able to create and maintain a kingdom like this?

 

As much as he desires it, as a man after God’s heart, he cannot do it. There is only One who can, the Son of David.  

 

David will fail miserably. His kingdom will fracture in civil war, and that, by the rebellion of his own son Absalom. David will violate God’s law and take another man’s wife into the royal bed.

 

David will begin his reign with noble self-restraint, not meaning to make it a region of indulgence, but feeling that there is a law above his will, of which he is only the servant, and knowing that if his people and his public life are what they should be, his own personal domestic life must be pure.

 

We cannot harbor secret, impure lives and expect a pure ‘home’.

 

As for his court and his ministers, he will make a clean sweep of the vermin who swarm and sting, and buzz about the throne. The crooked, the wicked, privy slanderers, proud hearts, crafty plotters, liars, and evil-doers he will not suffer. He is fired with ambition, such as has brightened the beginning of many a reign which has darkened to cruelty and crime, to make his kingdom some faint image of God’s. He did not know how difficult it would be to keep himself and his rule consistently godly for many years. Little did he see of his own sore fall and would himself perform what he vowed to remove.

 

Three things that characterize the first seventeen years of David’s peaceful reign: Rescuing the Ark, Nathan’s prophecy, and his successful wars.

 

Rescuing the Ark: Psa 15, 24

 

Psa 15

 

A Psalm of David.

 

 

15 O Lord, who may abide in Thy tent?

Who may dwell on Thy holy hill?

2 He who walks with integrity, and works righteousness,

And speaks truth in his heart.

3 He does not slander with his tongue,

Nor does evil to his neighbor,

Nor takes up a reproach against his friend;

4 In whose eyes a reprobate is despised,

But who honors those who fear the Lord;

He swears to his own hurt, and does not change;

5 He does not put out his money at interest,

Nor does he take a bribe against the innocent.

He who does these things will never be shaken.

 

Psa 24

 

A Psalm of David.

 

 

24 The earth is the Lord's, and all it contains,

The world, and those who dwell in it.

2 For He has founded it upon the seas,

And established it upon the rivers.

3 Who may ascend into the hill of the Lord?

And who may stand in His holy place?

4 He who has clean hands and a pure heart,

Who has not lifted up his soul to falsehood,

And has not sworn deceitfully.

5 He shall receive a blessing from the Lord

And righteousness from the God of his salvation.

6 This is the generation of those who seek Him,

Who seek Thy face —  even Jacob.

Selah.

 

7 Lift up your heads, O gates,

And be lifted up, O ancient doors,

That the King of glory may come in!

8 Who is the King of glory?

The Lord strong and mighty,

The Lord mighty in battle.

9 Lift up your heads, O gates,

And lift them up, O ancient doors,

That the King of glory may come in!

10 Who is this King of glory?

The Lord of hosts,

He is the King of glory.

 

Those who abide with God must be like God. This is the law of the new covenant as well as the old, but in the new it is a reality.

 

MAT 5:8

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”

 

What man can be pure in heart? None. All have gone astray. There is none righteous, not even one. So the climbing procession must stop. But righteousness and blessing come from Yavah. It is a gift from God to faith in Him. It is not a product of man’s toils. And so, the worshippers are those who seek Him in faith.

 

Then the second part of Psa 24 is for the procession going through the gates that Melchizedek once walked through. The King of glory is to go in and make His home in the newly conquered city. “Who is the King of glory?” is asked to which the crowd responds in loud unison.

 

How vividly the reluctance of an antagonistic world to yield to Israel and Israel’s King, is represented in the repetition of the question - “The Lord strong and mighty, The Lord mighty in battle. The Lord of hosts, He is the king of glory.”

 

The Jebusite fortress laughed at David’s approach.

 

2SA 5:6-10

Now the king and his men went to Jerusalem against the Jebusites, the inhabitants of the land, and they said to David, "You shall not come in here, but the blind and lame shall turn you away"; thinking, "David cannot enter here." 7 Nevertheless, David captured the stronghold of Zion, that is the city of David. 8 And David said on that day, "Whoever would strike the Jebusites, let him reach the lame and the blind, who are hated by David's soul, through the water tunnel." Therefore they say, "The blind or the lame shall not come into the house." 9 So David lived in the stronghold, and called it the city of David. And David built all around from the Millo and inward. 10 And David became greater and greater, for the Lord God of hosts was with him.

 

When Moses sought passage through Edom, they said no. They were forced the long way around and running into two strong Amorite armies, defeated them through the power of God. Crossing the Jordan, Joshua facing and defeating 31 kings. The times of the judges saw God deliver Israel over and over. A selfish proud monarch in Saul brought defeat by the Philistines, but still God delivered through David, conquered God’s city, and placed His ark there on the hill of Zion. The world continues to fight the ways of God and it always loses.

 

Promise from Nathan, Psa 110.

 

The king is firmly established and free from war, and he remembered an ancient word.

 

DEU 12:10-11

When you cross the Jordan and live in the land which the Lord your God is giving you to inherit, and He gives you rest from all your enemies around you so that you live in security, 11 then it shall come about that the place in which the Lord your God shall choose for His name to dwell, there you shall bring all that I command you: your burnt offerings and your sacrifices, your tithes and the contribution of your hand, and all your choice votive offerings which you will vow to the Lord.

 

David desires to build a solid house, a house of cedar, for the Lord.

 

His own ease opens his heart to danger - the trap of repose and luxury. He regards his tranquility not as a season for selfish indolence, but as a call to new forms of service. He might well have found in the many troubles and vicissitudes of his past life an excuse for luxurious repose now. But devout souls will consecrate their leisure as their toil to God, and will serve Him with thankful offerings in peace whom they invoked with earnest cries in battle. Prosperity is harmless only when it is accepted as an opportunity for fresh forms of devotion, not as an occasion for idle self-indulgence.

 

2SA 7:1-2

Now it came about when the king lived in his house, and the Lord had given him rest on every side from all his enemies, 2 that the king said to Nathan the prophet, "See now, I dwell in a house of cedar, but the ark of God dwells within tent curtains."

 

However, David’s generous impulse was outrunning God’s commandment, and he was in danger of forgetting his entire dependence upon God, and fancying that God would be the better for him. So the prophet reminds him that the Lord had never, through all the centuries, asked for a house of cedar, and recalls the past life of David as having been wholly shaped and blessed by Him, while God pointedly inverts the proposal:

 

2SA 7:11

The Lord also declares to you that the Lord will make a house for you.

 

Then follows the prediction of a son of David who should build a house, whose kingdom should be perpetual, whose transgressions should be corrected indeed, but never punished like the unhappy Saul, and that the kingdom and his throne will be forever, 2SA 7:13.

 

The prophecy of the Messiah enters a new stage. He will be a King in the line of David and He will be a Priest according to the order of Melchizedek.  

 

Now for the first time can the Messiah be set forth as the king of Israel; now the width of the promise which at first had embraced the seed of the woman, and then narrowed to the seed of Abraham, and thereafter to the tribe of Judah, is still further defined as to be fulfilled in the line of the house of David through successive Davidic monarchs.

 

David’s psalms often portray his own experience as prophetic precursors to the Messiah, his Son to come. Psa 22 is typical. “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” “A band of evil-doers surround me.”

 

This type of prophetic experience in David has a marvelous application to us. And be sure to know that David is not acting out some script. He is unaware that what he is going through has been decreed by God to be like the Lord Messiah’s life to come. God so decreed, or made it, so that the life of king David would encounter experiences that would make David like his Son Jesus to come. God made it so that it would be recorded. God put a heart of poetry in David and then surrounded him with the right imagery to draw upon and preserved those words for us. There is a profound reason for this.

 

ROM 8:29-30

For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the first-born among many brethren; 30 and whom He predestined, these He also called; and whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.

 

We are to be like Christ. It is the whole point of Christianity. So, if we think to ourselves it is impossible, despite all the promises given to us that it is, and in fact foreknown to be true, we can also look back at David, a man after God’s heart, and see that he was like Christ, and he was that without the great assets that all born-again believers possess through the fulfillment of the new covenant in Christ’s blood. Yet David failed badly, we may say. But isn’t that a comfort, though not an approval of sin? We all fail, yet we can be like Christ through the grace and mercy of God, through faith in His word and strengthened with power through the Spirit in our inner man.

 

Besides the prophetic experiences of David there is the purely revelatory prophetic passages in his psalms that were never his experience or any son of his who wore the crown in Israel.

 

To this type we look to Psa 110.

 

 

 

The clearest instance of distinct prophecy is of the victorious dominion of the personal Messiah is in Psa 110. In Psa 110 David beholds a king whose attributes are not his own. It was “the Spirit of Christ that was in him,” which gives the substance, and transfigures the earthly monarch into a heavenly dominion. Jesus bears witness that it is of David.

 

Psa 110

 

A Psalm of David.

 

 

110 The Lord says to my Lord:

"Sit at My right hand,

Until I make Thine enemies a footstool for Thy feet."

2 The Lord will stretch forth Thy strong scepter from Zion, saying,

"Rule in the midst of Thine enemies."

3 Thy people will volunteer freely in the day of Thy power;

In holy array, from the womb of the dawn,

Thy youth are to Thee as the dew.

 

4 The Lord has sworn and will not change His mind,

"Thou art a priest forever

According to the order of Melchizedek."

5 The Lord is at Thy right hand;

He will shatter kings in the day of His wrath.

6 He will judge among the nations,

He will fill them with corpses,

He will shatter the chief men over a broad country.

7 He will drink from the brook by the wayside;

Therefore He will lift up His head.

 

“The Lord said to my Lord” is an oracle heard by David from heaven.

 

Vv. 1-2: In singular juxtaposition are the throne at God’s right hand and the sceptre - the emblem of sovereignty - issuing from Zion and universal in extent. 

 

It is a monarch too, established in the midst of enemies, sustained in spite of antagonism not only by the power of Yavah, but by the activity of the sovereign’s own rule. Hence, the Sovereign has to be special. He has to be qualified for He is to rule.

 

And still the vision includes more, for the kingdom has to have subjects. They are shown in close union to the Ruler and how inseparable they are from His glories.

 

They are characterized in a three-fold manner.

 

PSA 110:3

Thy people will volunteer freely in the day of Thy power;

In holy array, from the womb of the dawn,

Thy youth are to Thee as the dew.

 

The subjects, vs. 3

They willingly offer.

They are dressed as priests and not warriors.

They are many, together strong, and refreshing the world.

 

They are not mercenaries, nor pressed men. They flock gladly to the standard, like the warriors celebrated of old in Deborah’s chant of victory, who “willingly offered themselves.”

 

It is a glad consecration and grateful self-surrender as the one bond which knits us to the Captain of our salvation who gave Himself for us, to the meek Monarch whose crown is of thorns and His scepter a reed: tokens that His dominion rests on suffering and is wielded in gentleness.

 

Holy array - “In the beauties of holiness.” a common name for the dress of the priests. They are clothed, not in mail and warlike attire, but in “fine linen clean and white,” like armies which a later prophet saw follow the Lord of lords.

 

REV 19:11-16

And I saw heaven opened; and behold, a white horse, and He who sat upon it is called Faithful and True; and in righteousness He judges and wages war. 12 And His eyes are a flame of fire, and upon His head are many diadems; and He has a name written upon Him which no one knows except Himself. 13 And He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood; and His name is called The Word of God. 14 And the armies which are in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, were following Him on white horses. 15 And from His mouth comes a sharp sword, so that with it He may smite the nations; and He will rule them with a rod of iron; and He treads the wine press of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty. 16 And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, "KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS."

 

The Lord is the only One who fights. Those following are soldiers who are priests, their weapons purity and devotion.

 

Around this image gather all ideas of discipline, courage, consecration to a cause, loyalty to a leader.

 

They are like the dew sparkling in infinite goblets on every blade of grass, handing gems on every bit of dead wood, formed in secret silence, reflecting the sunlight, and, though the single drops be small and feeble, yet together refreshing a thirsty world. So, formed by an unseen and mysterious power, one by one insignificant, but in the whole mighty, mirroring God and quickening and beautifying the worn world, the servants of the Priest-King are to be “in the midst of many people like the dew from the Lord.”

 

MIC 5:7

Then the remnant of Jacob

Will be among many peoples

Like dew from the Lord,

 

PSA 110:4-7

The Lord has sworn and will not change His mind,

"Thou art a priest forever

According to the order of Melchizedek."

5 The Lord is at Thy right hand;

He will shatter kings in the day of His wrath.

6 He will judge among the nations,

He will fill them with corpses,

He will shatter the chief men over a broad country.

7 He will drink from the brook by the wayside;

Therefore He will lift up His head.

 

God swears a new thing on the earth, the blending of the royal and priestly offices in the Messiah and the eternal duration of both in Him.

 

This is a distinct advancement in the development of Messianic prophecy. David may be inspired by the taking of the city of Melchizedek along with the installation of the ark on Zion, but it is a stretch that such events would have him deduce this never before heard truth. It exceeds the prophecy of Nathan and moves to the eternal offices in the Messiah of Priest and King. It is a gift to David and to us.

 

ZEC 6:12-13

"Then say to him, 'Thus says the Lord of hosts," Behold, a man whose name is Branch, for He will branch out from where He is; and He will build the temple of the Lord. 13 "Yes, it is He who will build the temple of the Lord, and He who will bear the honor and sit and rule on His throne. Thus, He will be a priest on His throne, and the counsel of peace will be between the two offices."'

 

Then in vs. 5, the Messiah who was waiting at the right hand of God until His enemies be made a footstool: is released to conquer. The day of His array is succeeded by the day of His wrath. He crushes earth’s monarchies. David’s vision is of the earth as one big battlefield filled with corpses.

 

Finally, “He will drink from the brook by the wayside; Therefore He will lift up His head.” If with the majority of modern commentators, we take them as a picturesque embodiment of eager haste in the pursuit, the conqueror “faint, yet pursuing,” and stooping for a moment to drink, and then hurrying on with renewed strength after the fugitives, one can scarcely help feeling that such a close to such a psalm is trivial and liker the artificial play of fancy than the work of the prophetic spirit, to say nothing of the fact that there is nothing about pursuit in the psalm. If we fall back on the older interpretation, which sees in the words a prophecy of the sufferings of the Messiah who tastes death and drinks the cup of sorrows, and therefore is highly exalted, we get a meaning which worthily crowns the psalm, but seems to break somewhat abruptly the sequence of thought, and to force the metaphor if drinking of the brook into somewhat strained parallelism with the very different New Testament images just named.

 

The doubt of the last line does not diminish the preciousness of the psalm as a clear and articulate prophecy.

 

David struggled and suffered, though innocent. He relied on God to ascend the throne. It was a shadow of this eternal Priest-King, David’s Son.

 

David’s personal experiences, his own struggles and sufferings that he had to climb through to reach his throne are only a shadow of this eternal Priest-King whose kingdom will have no end, nor any stain or diminishing of its righteousness. David’s throne will have limitations and imperfections and he himself will be weakened. One mightier than him must establish peace after He crushes all enemies.

 

David’s successful wars

 

The gloomy dazed of defeat and subjugation which had darkened the closing years of Saul’s reign are now over, and blow after blow falls with stunning rapidity on the amazed enemies. The narrative almost pants for breath as it tells with hurry and pride how, south, and east, and north, the “lion of the tribe of Judah” sprang from his fastness, and smote Philistia, Edom, Moab, Ammon, Amalek, Damascus, and the Syrians beyond, even to the Euphrates; and the bounding courage of king and people, and the unity of heart and hand with which they stood shoulder to shoulder in many a bloody field, ring through the psalms of this period.

 

They are war songs of a nation, rooted firm in the history of Israel. They are not a consecration of warfare. Psa 20; 21; 60; and probably 68.

 

 

The Tears of the Penitent, Psa 32, 51, 6

 

Adversity had taught David self-restraint, had braced his soul, had driven him to grasp firmly the hand of God. He had prosperity for nearly 20 years. Gratitude had followed deliverance, and the sunshine after the rain had brought out the fragrance of devotion and the blossoms of glad songs.

 

A good man such as David, especially at his age, seldom falls so low, unless perhaps there has been previous, perhaps unconscious, relaxation of the girded loins.

 

We can scarcely conceive of such a temptation conquering him unless there was a previous decay of his spiritual life, and likely the prosperity of his royal life dulled his eyes to it. Self-indulgence and ease can be mighty dangerous. The narrative tells us that it was the time for kings to go to battle, and this emphasis cannot be randomly placed. David contented himself with sending his troops against Ammon while remaining in the king’s house in Jerusalem. His soldiers are sweltering in the hot sun while David, far behind them, is taking his afternoon siesta in his cool and shaded room. Rather than concern himself with the struggles of his men in battle, he takes a stroll on the palace roof to concern himself with the rooftops of the citizens of Jerusalem. He had fallen to the level of an Eastern despot, and lost his sense of responsibility to his office.

 

The tension of his moral nature has been relaxed. This is presented in sharp contrast to the chivalrous Uriah, in fact, one of David’s mighty men, who, Hittite as he was, was devout, shrinking from ease while his comrades were on the battlefield. David’s letter to Joab is murderous and cynical, which only a hardened conscience could write to purport evil, and put into the very hand of Uriah, whose nobility would not allow him to read. The king’s indifference to the loss of his men so long as Uriah is out of the way.

 

This saint of nearly fifty years of age, bound to God by ties which he rapturously felt and acknowledged, whose words have been the very breath of devotion for every devout heart, forgets his longings after righteousness, flings away the joys of divine communion, darkens his soul, ends his prosperity, brings down upon his head for all his remaining years a cataract of calamities, and makes his name and his religion a target for the barbed sarcasms of each succeeding generation of scoffers.

 

He is not qualified to establish a righteous kingdom forever.

 

Every obligation of his office, as every grace of his character, is trodden under foot by the wild beast roused in his breast. Lust and treason, and craft and murder, are hardly companions for him who had said, “I will walk within my house with a perfect heart. I will set no wicked thing before my eyes.”

 

Part of the story’s lesson is a warning against ease and lust. Another part is how divine love can extract sweet praise from a penitent sinner.

 

And in the latter, the warning still remains, for David and his kingdom suffered terribly because of this one event. Another part, and always a comfort for it is always true, is the forgiveness of God. Penitent psalms, blotted with tears are Psa 51 and 32.

 

Many a believer have followed the footsteps of these psalms through a great and terrible wilderness.

 

Psa 51 seems to have been written first, for in it we see the fallen man struggling up out of the “horrible pit and miry clay;” in 32 he latter stands upon the rock, with a new song in his mouth, even the blessedness of him “whose sin is covered.”

 

The passionate cries of the psalm are the echo of the divine promise - the effort of his faith to grasp and keep the merciful gift of pardon.

 

The consciousness of forgiveness is the basis for prayer for forgiveness.

 

It was about a year between the crime and the message of Nathan. What sort a year it was is related to us in the psalms.

 

Nobody buys a little passing pleasure in evil at so dear a rate, or keeps it for so short a time as a good man. A lower man is contented with his evil history.

 

To the man who loves God, disgust with his sin fills his soul. Such emotion is not at all necessary for forgiveness, but since God hates sin, the lover of God hates it as well.

 

PSA 32:3-4

When I kept silent about my sin, my body wasted away

Through my groaning all day long.

4 For day and night Thy hand was heavy upon me;

My vitality was drained away as with the fever heat of summer.

 

The heavy hand of God all day long and a total loss of the freshness of life, turned to arid plains. Body and mind seem both to be included in this wonderful description, in which obstinate dumbness, constant torture, dread of God, and not one softening drop of penitence fill the dry and dusty heart, while body wastes away, sleepless nights, and burning soul agony.

 

Perhaps Psa 6 is of the same period.

 

PSA 6:1-3

O Lord, do not rebuke me in Thine anger,

Nor chasten me in Thy wrath.

2 Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am pining away;

Heal me, O Lord, for my bones are dismayed.

3 And my soul is greatly dismayed;

But Thou, O Lord —  how long?

 

PSA 6:6-7

I am weary with my sighing;

Every night I make my bed swim,

I dissolve my couch with my tears.

7 My eye has wasted away with grief;

It has become old because of all my adversaries.

 

There was a year of this anguish.

 

PRO 20:17

Bread obtained by falsehood is sweet to a man,

But afterward his mouth will be filled with gravel.

 

David learned what we all eventually learn, and the more mature we are the more speedily and sharply does the lesson follow on the heels of his sin, that every transgression is a blunder, that we never get the satisfaction which we expect from any sin, or if we do, we get something with it that spoils it all. A nauseous drug is added to the exciting, intoxicating drink which temptation offers, and though its flavor is at first disguised by the pleasanter taste of sin, its bitterness is persistent though slow, and clings to the palate long after that has faded utterly.

 

In his troubled conscience he projects to the selfish man in Nathan’s story with anger and harsh rebuke, only to find out that he was the man and so his projection ironically just.

 

The sinful man becomes a stern judge.

 

Nathan shows the way of divine convincing of sin. First the plain charge is pressed home, “You are the man.” Then follows, not reproach but a solemn question built on the tenderness of God’s graciously given benefits.

 

2SA 12:7-9

7 Nathan then said to David, "You are the man! Thus says the Lord God of Israel, 'It is I who anointed you king over Israel and it is I who delivered you from the hand of Saul. 8 'I also gave you your master's house and your master's wives into your care, and I gave you the house of Israel and Judah; and if that had been too little, I would have added to you many more things like these! 9 'Why have you despised the word of the Lord by doing evil in His sight?

 

The contemplation of God’s faithful love, and the all-sufficient gifts which it bestows, makes every transgression irrational as well as ungrateful, and turns remorse, which consumes like the hot wind of the wilderness, into tearful repentance which refreshes the soul.

 

2CO 7:10

For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation; but the sorrow of the world produces death.

 

David’s two words (in Hebrew: chaa-taa-tiy la-Yavah) “I have sinned against the Lord,” make the transition from the sullen misery of the last year to the beginning of a real, though solemn, peace.

 

There is no need for him to be wordy in his confession, for more would have been less. David, after a year of anguish, self-justification, and painful remorse (yet without acknowledgment of fault), must have found great relief in finally coming clean to God.

 

God’s response to David through Nathan is also terse (three words in Hebrew). There is no need for many words, only to know that you are forgiven.

 

2SA 12:13

Then David said to Nathan, "I have sinned against the Lord." And Nathan said to David, "The Lord also has taken away your sin;

 

How full and unconditional the blessing bestowed in these few words. How swift and yet sufficient is God’s answer. The long estrangement is over.

 

While confession and forgiveness heal the breach between God and David, pardon does not remove the consequences of his actions. Yet, he now faces those consequences with God rather than opposed to God.

 

The repentant sinner faces his consequences with God rather than opposed to God. Still he suffers.  

 

Psa 51

For the choir director. A Psalm of David, when Nathan the prophet came to him, after he had gone in to Bathsheba.

 

1 Be gracious to me, O God, according to Thy lovingkindness;

According to the greatness of Thy compassion blot out my transgressions.

2 Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,

And cleanse me from my sin.

3 For I know my transgressions,

And my sin is ever before me.

4 Against Thee, Thee only, I have sinned,

And done what is evil in Thy sight,

So that Thou art justified when Thou dost speak,

And blameless when Thou dost judge.

 

5 Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,

And in sin my mother conceived me.

6 Behold, Thou dost desire truth in the innermost being,

And in the hidden part Thou wilt make me know wisdom.

7 Purify me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;

Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.

8 Make me to hear joy and gladness,

Let the bones which Thou hast broken rejoice.

9 Hide Thy face from my sins,

And blot out all my iniquities.

 

10 Create in me a clean heart, O God,

And renew a steadfast spirit within me.

11 Do not cast me away from Thy presence,

And do not take Thy Holy Spirit from me.

12 Restore to me the joy of Thy salvation,

And sustain me with a willing spirit.

13 Then I will teach transgressors Thy ways,

And sinners will be converted to Thee.

 

14 Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God,

Thou God of my salvation;

Then my tongue will joyfully sing of Thy righteousness.

15 O Lord, open my lips,

That my mouth may declare Thy praise.

16 For Thou dost not delight in sacrifice, otherwise I would give it;

Thou art not pleased with burnt offering.

17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;

A broken and a contrite heart, O God, Thou wilt not despise.

 

18 By Thy favor do good to Zion;

Build the walls of Jerusalem.

19 Then Thou wilt delight in righteous sacrifices,

In burnt offering and whole burnt offering;

Then young bulls will be offered on Thine altar.

 

The psalm begins with a cry for favor, for “Your lovingkindness.”

 

Beginning with God’s mercy, the penitent soul can learn to look next upon its own sin in all its aspects of evil.

 

David loathes his actions with depth and intensity, which is not required for forgiveness, but expresses the heart of the one who loves God’s heart.

 

Iniquity, sin, transgression does not lead us to look at his sins of lust, fraud, treachery, murder individually, but more so knotted together as many forked tongues hissing from one serpent’s mouth. No sin dwells alone; the separate acts have a common root. Disobedience to the standard of his King became a part of David’s will (transgression). This perverted and distorted David’s inner sight of the straight and narrow path (iniquity). And so David’s army went out to war and his own thoughts missed the mark (sin). He slept in leisure while his men suffered in dirt, heat, fatigue, and danger, missing the mark again. He walked up to his roof and had a look around and missed the mark again. This is not a formula. All of it is entangled together. All throughout the NT, the Lord warns us to be alert and sober-minded, for the devil is always prowling about.

 

Sin ever misses the mark; and the epitaph might be written over every sinner who seeks pleasure at the price of righteousness, “You fool!”

 

4 Against Thee, Thee only, I have sinned,

And done what is evil in Thy sight,

 

David’s crimes were against Bathsheba and Uriah, but the depth of the crime only becomes apparent in light of God’s law.

 

David was guilty of crimes against Bathsheba and Uriah, and even Joab whom he made his tool, as well as against his whole subjects; but dark as these were, they assumed their true character only when they were discerned as done against God. We hurt one another, but God is the law of the universe, and so we sin against Him.

 

The cunning of the self-justifying mind will want to use this verse to allow a self-deceptive pardon to the one who injures his fellow. He will say, “I have only sinned against God and not against you,” trying to assuage his conscience. One only need look at the passages where God instructs us how to be to one another to know that such thinking is only a smoke screen trying to hide evil from self, the world, and ultimately from God. “You fool!”

 

David understands that he was born a sinner.

 

ROM 5:19

For as through the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners

 

David then continues to look at his tangled evil, perhaps becoming more aware of his failures in the past, beyond the last year, and following that trail of breadcrumbs he comes to the source - his sin nature.

 

5 Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,

And in sin my mother conceived me.

 

He is evil in nature, therefore he has done evil, but we find not a hint of him removing his own responsibility. The sin is his.  

 

The sin’s foul characteristics declare the inward foulness from which it has flowed - it is himself who is foul.

 

Does he therefore think that he is less to blame? By no means. His acknowledgment of an evil nature is the very deepest of his confessions, and leads not to an alleviation of his guilt, but to a cry to Him who alone can heal the inward wound; and as He can purge away the transgressions, can likewise overcome their source, and give him to feel within that he is healed of that plague.

 

His confession is very short. His examination of himself and God is thorough.  

 

In his confession to Nathan, he uses two words. Nothing else need be said to God. When he reflects upon his fall from his righteous walk before God, he uses many words. He uses many words for his sin and many words for God’s pardon. It is his examination of himself and God, and these should be thorough. But mind, when examining the “self” one can become morbid, too much, or blind, none at all. It is enough to discover the weaknesses of self and then dwell on the solution more so, as David does here.

 

The prayers of Baal’s priests were “from morning till the time of the evening sacrifice,” and all that indicates is the doubt of the supplicant. David’s prayer is thorough, to the point, and ends in faith.

 

David prays that his sins may be blotted out, being conceived as being recorded in heaven against him, or per COL 2:14, canceling the certificate of debt.

 

He prays that God would wash him, meaning the scrubbing and hard rubbing for the removal of stains.

 

7 Purify me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;

Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.

8 Make me to hear joy and gladness,

Let the bones which Thou hast broken rejoice.

9 Hide Thy face from my sins,

And blot out all my iniquities.

 

He also uses a term relating to lepers by praying to be cleansed. He uses a Mosaic symbol in the hyssop brush, which refers to those who have been made unclean by touching something dead, as David touched Uriah.

 

There is also a bold prayer for the restoration of joy and gladness, and this shows something more than the ordinary confidence in the full mercy of God, which would efface all the consequences of his sin.

 

And following upon them are petitions for sanctifying, reiterated and many sided, like those that have preceded. These come in three pairs of clauses.

 

10 Create in me a clean heart, O God,

And renew a steadfast spirit within me.

11 Do not cast me away from Thy presence,

And do not take Thy Holy Spirit from me.

12 Restore to me the joy of Thy salvation,

And sustain me with a willing spirit.

 

Very often Hebrew writing in the Bible has a centered theme and it is surrounded by supporting themes. We have that here. In the middle, the central theme is the Holy Spirit upon David, and on either side we find a “steadfast spirit” and a “willing spirit.” This is done on purpose, showing us the truth that the human spirit can only be renewed and sanctified by the Holy Spirit. This revelation is brought to fruition in the New Testament.

 

David understood that his spiritual nature could only be made to love righteousness and hate iniquity by the power of God “breathing” on it, metaphorically, or by the power of the Holy Spirit influencing it.

 

The steadfast spirit is a right spirit, strong to resist, not swept away by surges of passion, nor shaken by terrors of remorse, but calm, tenacious, and resolved, pressing on in the path of holiness, and immovable with the immobility of those who are rooted in God and goodness. A willing spirit is a free spirit, not in the hippie sense, but one ready for all joyful service of thankfulness, and so penetrated with the love of his God that he will delight to do His will, and carry the law charactered in the spontaneous impulses of his renewed nature.

 

Perhaps David remembered that tragic fate of Saul, to whom as to himself, had been given the same gift of the Holy Spirit of God.

 

1SA 16:14

Now the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the Lord terrorized him.

 

David prays that the joy of his salvation would be restored to him, a joy that he possessed for many years but had for so many months hid from him due to his hiding of his sin. He can look back at his natural buoyancy, his gladness in God, his happy playing on his harp, contemplating and writing songs to God, having the freedom, energy, and creativity that those who walk with God have in abundance. He can easily, now, relate their vanishing to his stupid sins of rebellion and murder and his obstinacy in trying to suppress their affront to the God of all goodness. Who, who has lived long with God, cannot identify with this prayer?

 

He finds in the clarity of his situation that he must warn others. He prays for God to restore to him the free and happy flow of his harp.

 

But he penitently knows that he could not have it without being delivered from his guilt. A man cannot determine open, freely-flowing creativity, and a joyous energetic heart. He cannot make it himself. He will only have it when his life is right with God, meaning that his conscience is clean rather than clogged with guilt.

 

PSA 51:13-15

Then I will teach transgressors Thy ways,

And sinners will be converted to Thee.

 

14 Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God,

Thou God of my salvation;

Then my tongue will joyfully sing of Thy righteousness.

15 O Lord, open my lips,

That my mouth may declare Thy praise.

 

David more than anything wants to proclaim with glowing words the name of the Lord, that men might learn to love and follow God as he once did. He closes his first psalm in exile with the same words.

 

PSA 59:16

But as for me, I shall sing of Thy strength;

Yes, I shall joyfully sing of Thy lovingkindness in the morning,

 

That same desire for joyful singing is starting to overtake him again as his life, his walk, is returning to the Lord.

 

The lowly prayer rises to its close in an understanding that ritual cleansing is not going to restore the joyful song in his heart. The personal level of worshipper and God combine to crown the psalm. An objective animal offering would not do. To have confessed the sin after being confronted by Nathan with God’s full knowledge of it, to have understood that God had delivered him countless times and given him more blessings and gifts than he could have ever imagined and to know that they came to him by the favor of God, by God’s love for him, God’s checed or lovingkindness, and then to simply offer one of his thousands of animals and consider the matter over as if a simple bill had been paid, would not suffice. David understood this.

 

PSA 51:16-17

16 For Thou dost not delight in sacrifice, otherwise I would give it;

Thou art not pleased with burnt offering.

17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;

A broken and a contrite heart, O God, Thou wilt not despise.

 

A heart would only be broken and contrite if it cared deeply for the righteousness of God.

 

The man who can sin against his Lord and dispassionately throw an animal to the priest or absently confess it would not care much for the life of God given to him. It’s not a guilt thing. Feelings have nothing to do with forgiveness. It is the blood of Christ that cleanses. We are forgiven of all sin no matter how we feel. It is simply a testimony to what one loves, for that is what he cares for. David actively broke God’s laws. If that didn’t eventually break his heart then he cares little for those laws and the God to whom they belong.

 

The close of the psalm (in our Bibles) containing a prayer for the building up of Zion we shall leave alone, for it is possible that they were added later on. In any case the stark transition from the intense personal emotions of David to an intercession for Zion is very sudden and we have to stretch to connect them.

 

The other psalm of the penitent is 32. It is evidently of a later period than 51. There is no struggle in it; the prayer has been heard, and this is the beginning of the fulfillment of his vow to show forth God’s praise.

 

PSA 32:8

I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go;

I will counsel you with My eye upon you.

 

Compare 51:13-15.

 

NASB capitalizes “My eye” but is God speaking or the psalmist? There is no clear solution since “My eye upon you,” would fit God much more than David. One solution is that David is relating an oracle spoken to him by God and David is using it with his own experience as instruction.

 

In 51 he began with the plaintive cry for mercy; in 32 with a burst of praise celebrating the happiness of the pardoned penitent. There we heard the sobs of a man in the very agony of abasement; here we have the story of their blessed issue. There we had multiplied synonyms for sin, and for the forgiveness which was desired; here is it the many-sided preciousness of forgiveness possessed which runs over in various yet equivalent phrases. There the highest point to which he could climb was the assurance that a bruised heart was accepted, and the bones broken might still rejoice. Here the very first word is blessedness, and the close summons the righteous to exuberant joy. The one is a psalm of wailing; the other, to use its own words, a “song of deliverance.”

 

He is a happy man in the opening words.

 

PSA 32:1-2

How blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven,

Whose sin is covered!

2 How blessed is the man to whom the Lord does not impute iniquity,

And in whose spirit there is no deceit!

 

The consciousness that his loathed sin, and indeed all sin, is forgiven brings him gladness. God covered his sin as wrapping up something ugly in thick folds.

 

ROM 3:21-28

But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, 22 even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction; 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; 25 whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed; 26 for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. 27 Where then is boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? Of works? No, but by a law of faith. 28 For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law.

 

What a contrast to David’s past impenitent self.

 

PSA 32:3-4

3 When I kept silent about my sin, my body wasted away

Through my groaning all day long.

4 For day and night Thy hand was heavy upon me;

My vitality was drained away as with the fever heat of summer.

Selah

 

The contrast between then and now, the second stanza and the first, is then set to instrumental music alone and to be contemplated in silence as directed by the “selah”. Likely minor chords are played.

 

How sure David is that his experience, sin followed by silent impenitence, and then confessed openly to God and finding that God forgives sin through the sacrifice that He provides, is of priceless value to the world for all time.

 

David’s experience from silence to acknowledgment is of priceless value to the world. His words will draw sinners nearer to God seeking forgiveness and finding it in grace and mercy.

 

His heart is full of praise, and he cannot but go back to his own experience, his own story and warn us as he rejoices in God.

 

PSA 32:9-11

Do not be as the horse or as the mule which have no understanding,

Whose trappings include bit and bridle to hold them in check,

Otherwise they will not come near to you.

10 Many are the sorrows of the wicked;

But he who trusts in the Lord, lovingkindness shall surround him.

11 Be glad in the Lord and rejoice, you righteous ones,

And shout for joy, all you who are upright in heart.

 

Don’t be driven by bridle and whip, but trust in the Lord and be upright in heart.

 

Do any of us escape the bridle and whip? I hope that some do. The more you act like a mule the more you will regret it.

 

We will find that David never recovered his past vigor, and not because of his age alone. Certainly, adultery, lying, conspiracy, and murder are quite injurious to the victims, but the lesson is the same for us all. Do not be as the horse or mule but be upright. In our age that ability comes from knowing Christ through the power and strength of the Holy Spirit within us, through Bible study and striving to live in what we learn. None of us will ever be sinless, but all of us should be striving to be wise.

 

The pardoned man will instruct without severity, but by patient schooling and without harsh authoritarianism.

 

It is true that for some there can be no learning without force, the discipline of sorrow, the bridle in the hard mouth, the whip for the stiff back.

 

The choice for all men is through penitence and forgiveness to rise to the true position of men, capable of receiving and obeying a spiritual guidance, which appeals to the heart, and gently subdues the will, or by stubborn impenitence to fall to the level of brutes, that can only be held in by a halter and driven by a lash. And because of this alternative, therefore the song ends:

 

PSA 32:10-11

Many are the sorrows of the wicked;

But he who trusts in the Lord, lovingkindness shall surround him.

11 Be glad in the Lord and rejoice, you righteous ones,

And shout for joy, all you who are upright in heart.

 

Chastisements, the fruit of David’s sin soon began to show themselves: Psa 41, 39, 55.

 

The chastisements, which were the natural fruit of David’s sin, soon began to show themselves, though apparently ten years at least passed before Absalom’s revolt, at which time he was probably a man of sixty.

 

These ten years seem to be weary and sad. There is no more joyous activity, no more conquering energy, no more consciousness of his people’s love. Disasters thicken around him, and may all be traced to his great sin.

 

Ten years of thickening sadness. David’s sin found itself in the fabric of his children, and lust and fratricide desolated his family and divided his kingdom.

 

A parent can have no sharper pang than the sight of his own sins reappearing in his child. David saw the ghastly reflection of his unbridled passion in his eldest son’s foul crime, and his murderous craft in his second son’s bloody revenge. Whilst all this hell of crime is boiling round him, a strange passiveness seems to have crept over the king, and to have continued till his flight before Absalom. He seems paralyzed by the consciousness of his past sin, for he originates nothing; the narrative is singularly silent about him during this time. He is reluctant to finish the fight with Ammon. He gets angry when he hears of Amnon’s crime, but does nothing. He only weeps when he hears of Absalom’s crime. He weakly longs for Absalom to return from exile, but does nothing until Joab urges him. When his son returns, he refuses to see him.

 

David seems passive, without a will of his own.

 

David’s trusted counselor (Ahithophel) joins the rebellion and when David hears of it, he flees Jerusalem. What a man sows he also reaps.

 

It is not probable that many psalms were written in those days. But 41 and 55 are, with reasonable probability, referred to this period. They give a very touching picture of the old king during the four years in which Absalom’s conspiracy was being hatched.

 

It seems from 41 that the pain and sorrow of his heart had brought on some serious illness, which his enemies gave hypocritical condolences, and used for their own purposes.

 

Perhaps it was from those that David, as a new king, had removed from power or made less powerful. The corrupt do not do well in a righteous kingdom. But now that the king is very ill, they comfort him hypocritically and conceal their inner glee.  

 

PSA 41:3-9

The Lord will sustain him upon his sickbed;

In his illness, Thou dost restore him to health.

 

4 As for me, I said, "O Lord, be gracious to me;

Heal my soul, for I have sinned against Thee."

5 My enemies speak evil against me,

"When will he die, and his name perish?"

6 And when he comes to see me, he speaks falsehood;

His heart gathers wickedness to itself;

When he goes outside, he tells it.

7 All who hate me whisper together against me;

Against me they devise my hurt, saying,

8 "A wicked thing is poured out upon him,

That when he lies down, he will not rise up again."

9 Even my close friend [Ahithophel] in whom I trusted,

Who ate my bread,

Has lifted up his heel against me.

 

The sight of real weakness increases a traitor’s hostility.

 

The sight of the sick king touched no chord of affection, but only increased the traitor’s animosity. The visitors (likely high officials) having watched his pale face for wished-for unfavorable symptoms, these false friends then hurry from the bedside to talk of his hopeless illness.

 

PSA 41:10

But Thou, O Lord, be gracious to me, and raise me up,

That I may repay them.

 

Psa 39 is also the meditation of one in sickness, which he knows to be a divine judgment for his sin.

 

PSA 39:10-11

"Remove Thy plague from me;

Because of the opposition of Thy hand, I am perishing.

11 "With reproofs Thou dost chasten a man for iniquity;

Thou dost consume as a moth what is precious to him;

Surely every man is a mere breath.

 

There is little trace of enemies in it; but his attitude is that of silent submission, while wicked men are disquieted around him - which is precisely the characteristic peculiarity of his conduct at this period. His own sickness and mortality, and man’s fleeting, shadowy life are his themes. He closed his lips in silence and asked God to show him his end. He sees more clearly than ever that all men are mere breath.

 

PSA 39:5

"Behold, Thou hast made my days as handbreadths,

And my lifetime as nothing in Thy sight,

Surely every man at his best is a mere breath.

 

Seeing mankind as mere breath is definitely a by-product of spiritual growth.

 

As a shadow every man moves spectral among shadows. The tumult that fills their lives is madness.

 

PSA 39:6

"Surely every man walks about as a phantom;

Surely they make an uproar for nothing;

He amasses riches, and does not know who will gather them.

 

He sounds a lot like The Preacher of Ecclesiastes. His tones very unlike the joyous music of his earlier utterances. But was his past joy a lie or is this melancholy a lie? So David-like, he will not remain in this deep sorrow without calling out to God in hope.

 

PSA 39:7-11

"And now, Lord, for what do I wait?

My hope is in Thee.

8 "Deliver me from all my transgressions;

Make me not the reproach of the foolish.

9 "I have become dumb, I do not open my mouth,

Because it is Thou who hast done it.

10 "Remove Thy plague from me;

Because of the opposition of Thy hand, I am perishing.

11 "With reproofs Thou dost chasten a man for iniquity;

Thou dost consume as a moth what is precious to him;

Surely every man is a mere breath.

 

The conviction of earth’s vanity is all different when it has cast him upon God’s breast in prayer.

 

The pardoned sinner, who never thereafter forgot his grievous fall, asks for deliverance “from all his transgressions.” He acquiesces to God’s authority, “Because it is Thou who hast done it.”

 

That man is a mere breath returns, but now with hope.

 

PSA 39:12-13

"Hear my prayer, O Lord, and give ear to my cry;

Do not be silent at my tears;

For I am a stranger with Thee,

A sojourner like all my fathers.

13 "Turn Thy gaze away from me [sha’ah - spare me], that I may smile again,

Before I depart and am no more."

 

The mere breath prays and God receives it. The breath is only a stranger and sojourner on the earth, but he can ask the Lord to hear his cry.

 

Is there no connection with God? We need not feel life lonely if God is with us. Jesus told us that believers were sons in the house. Life’s shortness, the breath, need not be sad if its end leads to God’s house for eternity.

 

David feels that he may be at the end, but he is not cast down. “O spare me, that I may recover strength before I go hence, and be no more.”

 

We should observe that this supposition of a protracted illness, which is based upon these psalms, throws light upon the singular passiveness of David during the maturing of Absalom’s conspiracy, and may naturally be supposed to have favored Absalom’s schemes, an essential part of which was to ingratiate himself with suitors who came to the king for judgment but regretted that they received no justice. Perhaps David’s sickness forbid him from seeing many of them or all of them, and to whom Absalom called and promised a hearing and justice if he were only king. Surely the judicial machinery at the time was disorganized and David’s sickness accounts well to it.

 

The 55th psalm gives additional particulars. It is in three parts - a mental distress (vv. 1-8); a vehement supplication against his foes, and indignant recounting of their treachery (vv. 9-16); and a prophecy of the retribution that is to fall on them (vv. 17-23).

 

His heart writhes within, the terrors of death are around him, fear and trembling, and horror has covered him.

 

Perhaps in this song (55), in his knowledge the conspiracy created by his beloved son has come to a head. The state of the city, which is practically in the hands of Absalom, is described with bold imagery.

 

PSA 55:9-11

Confuse, O Lord, divide their tongues,

For I have seen violence and strife in the city.

10 Day and night they go around her upon her walls;

And iniquity and mischief are in her midst.

11 Destruction is in her midst;

Oppression and deceit do not depart from her streets.

 

And the spirit behind it all is one who was once a trusted friend.

 

PSA 55:12-15

For it is not an enemy who reproaches me,

Then I could bear it;

Nor is it one who hates me who has exalted himself against me,

Then I could hide myself from him.

13 But it is you, a man my equal,

My companion and my familiar friend.

14 We who had sweet fellowship together,

Walked in the house of God in the throng.

15 Let death come deceitfully upon them;

Let them go down alive to Sheol,

For evil is in their dwelling, in their midst.

 

Thus Absalom, if we have confidence enough to equate this psalm with his conspiracy, is a type of Judas Ischariot.

 

What does David do? Nothing. His only weapon is prayer.

 

PSA 55:16-19

As for me, I shall call upon God,

And the Lord will save me.

17 Evening and morning and at noon, I will complain and murmur,

And He will hear my voice.

18 He will redeem my soul in peace from the battle which is against me,

For they are many who strive with me.

19 God will hear and answer them-

Even the one who sits enthroned from of old —

 

He wishes he could fly away into the wilderness. Perhaps he did not know that he would recover from his sickness and do just that, and it would actually be the best thing for him.

 

The languor of his disease, love for his worthless son, consciousness of sin, and submission to the chastisement through “one from his own household” (2SA 12:11), which Nathan had foretold, kept him quiet though he saw the plot winding its meshes around him.

 

And in this submission patient confidence is not wanting, though subdued and saddened, which finds expression in the last words of this psalm of the heavy laden:

 

PSA 55:22-23

Cast your burden upon the Lord, and He will sustain you;

He will never allow the righteous to be shaken.

23 But Thou, O God, wilt bring them down to the pit of destruction;

Men of bloodshed and deceit will not live out half their days.

But I will trust in Thee.

 

When the rebellion, four years in the making, finally moved upon the city, David’s only thoughts are to flee. He is almost cowardly in his eagerness to escape, and is prepared to give up everything without a blow. Only a movement was able to overthrow his throne.

 

The priests had taken the ark in flight with David, but he sent it back, almost as if divine presence should not identify with his doubtful cause.

 

2SA 15:25-26

And the king said to Zadok, "Return the ark of God to the city. If I find favor in the sight of the Lord, then He will bring me back again, and show me both it and His habitation. 26 But if He should say thus, 'I have no delight in you,' behold, here I am, let Him do to me as seems good to Him."

 

David has his household and the six-hundred men who had been with him since Gath, likely graying as he was in his sixties. With covered head and naked feet he climbed the slope of Olivet, and turning perhaps at the same bend in the rocky mountain path where his greater Son and the true King of Israel, sat on a colt and wept over the city, the discrowned king and all his followers broke into passionate weeping as they gazed their last on the lost capital, and then turned east to their flight.

 

David in tears, weak, sick, and disgraced looked back upon Jerusalem from the Mt. of Olives likely on the same spot that Jesus on the colt approached the city ten centuries later.

 

Jesus and David wept over Jerusalem. Jesus came to make the righteous kingdom that His ancestor desired but was unable.

 

The fleeing king passed through Benjamin, Saul’s tribe and a dangerous place for a fleeing David, where Shimei cursed him and David’s mighty man moved to cut off the angry man’s head, but to which David ordered peace with the meek answer, “Let him curse, for the Lord has told him.”

 

David crossed the Jordan and camped at Mahanaim, the place where his great ancestor Jacob, in circumstances somewhat analogous to his own, had seen the vision of the “bright-harnessed angels” ranked in battle array for the defense of himself and his own little band, and called the name of the place the “two camps.” Perhaps it was that reminder that made David conclude that he would not yield without a struggle. Absalom and his army were coming to finish him. He girds his sword once more with some of the animation of early days, and the light of trustful valor blazes again in his old eyes.

 

The Songs of the Fugitive, Psa 3, 4, 61, 62, 63, 143; and questionable: 25, 28, 109.

 

From the lowest abyss the stars are seen more clearly. Something happened to David from the time of his sickness in which he thought the end had come to being once again a fugitive in the wilderness. He is far more buoyant when he is an exile once more, and when the masks of plot and trickery are accomplished, and the danger stands clear before him. Like some good ship issuing from the shelter of the pier heads, the first blow of the waves throws her over on her side and makes her quiver like a living thing recoiling from a terror, but she rises above the tossing surges and keeps her course.

 

The people with David are weary and hungry and thirsty in the wilderness.

 

Psa 3 and 4 form a pair; they are a morning and evening hymn.

 

The little band are encamped on their road to Mahanaim, with no roof but the stars, and no walls but the arm of God. In the former the discrowned king sings, as he rises from his nightly bivouac. He pours out first his plaint of the foes, who are described as many, and saying that there is no help for him in God.

 

PSA 3:1-2

O Lord, how my adversaries have increased!

Many are rising up against me.

2 Many are saying of my soul,

"There is no deliverance for him in God."

 

Surely they, Israel under the king’s son, concluded that David’s sin turned heaven away from his cause. But in the midst of this real peril, outnumbered by an enemy with the sole purpose of murdering David alone, the king claims that Yavah is his shield.

 

PSA 3:3-4

But Thou, O Lord, art a shield about me,

My glory, and the One who lifts my head.

4 I was crying to the Lord with my voice,

And He answered me from His holy mountain.

 

With bowed and covered head he had fled from Jerusalem, but Yavah is now the One who lifts up his head. He was an exile from Zion, and had sent back the ark to its home; but though he has to cry to God from beyond the Jordan, the Lord answers “from His holy mountain.”

 

He and his men camped amidst dangers, but one unslumbering Helper mounted guard over the undefended camp.

 

Jacob in this spot, GEN 32:1; Elisha in Dothan, 2KI 6:17 saw the angels of God encamped around them.

 

PSA 3:5-6

I lay down and slept;

I awoke, for the Lord sustains me.

6 I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people

Who have set themselves against me round about.

 

And David, though pursued by his own people, lacks all personal animosity, but to the contrary has intercession for the rebellious subjects of God, “Thy blessing be upon Thy people!.”

 

PSA 3:7-8

Arise, O Lord; save me, O my God!

For Thou hast smitten all my enemies on the cheek;

Thou hast shattered the teeth of the wicked.

8 Salvation belongs to the Lord;

Thy blessing be upon Thy people!

 

He claims victory before the battle, for his spirit is renewed and alive unto the salvation of the Lord.

 

Psa 4 is the night hymn.  

 

Psa 4

1 Answer me when I call, O God of my righteousness!

Thou hast relieved me in my distress;

Be gracious to me and hear my prayer.

 

2 O sons of men, how long will my honor become a reproach?

How long will you love what is worthless and aim at deception?

Selah.

3 But know that the Lord has set apart the godly man for Himself;

The Lord hears when I call to Him.

 

4 Tremble, and do not sin;

Meditate in your heart upon your bed, and be still.

Selah.

5 Offer the sacrifices of righteousness,

And trust in the Lord.

 

6 Many are saying, "Who will show us any good?"

Lift up the light of Thy countenance upon us, O Lord!

7 Thou hast put gladness in my heart,

More than when their grain and new wine abound.

8 In peace I will both lie down and sleep,

For Thou alone, O Lord, dost make me to dwell in safety.

 

It is the expression, in vivid form, of his painful feeling under their slanders; and also of his hopes and desires for them, his son and his people.

 

He hopes that on their beds, alone and only God to watch them, that they might find peace rather than war.

 

The second part (vs. 6) turns to his own group, among whom we may suppose that being outnumbered and on the run with no cover, have faint hearts and were beginning to despond, saying, “Who will show us any good?” His response is that they must look upward and not round about from where the enemy might be approaching.

 

Questions must be turned to prayer, fashioned like that triple priestly benediction of old.

 

NUM 6:24-26

24 The Lord bless you, and keep you;

25 The Lord make His face shine on you,

And be gracious to you;

26 The Lord lift up His countenance on you,

And give you peace.'

 

“Thou has put gladness in my heart,” is David knowing, though knowing he is still under the chastisement for his sin, that God has shown his countenance upon Him. He terribly hurt more people than we know, but neither he nor any of us can hurt God who loves us and loves when we return to Him.

 

David prayed for this during his hour of penitence.

 

PSA 51:8

Make me to hear joy and gladness,

Let the bones which Thou hast broken rejoice.

 

And now he has it. He has nothing material (Thou hast put gladness in my heart, More than when their grain and new wine abound.) but his joy has increased from when he lay in the king’s bed in the palace of Jerusalem.

 

The psalm closes in tranquility. 

 

PSA 4:8

In peace I will both lie down and sleep,

For Thou alone, O Lord, dost make me to dwell in safety.

 

Homeless and in danger, because of the love of God, he will lie down and sleep in peace. His harp had been sleeping for a long time, but that is finally awake.

 

Psa 63 is of this time. Of note in this hymn is his use of the words “my soul” three times. They are connected as first, “my soul thirsts,” then “my soul is satisfied,” and finally “my soul follows hard after Thee.” The soul longs through fruition unto firm trust, which is sustained by the right hand of God.

 

Mahanaim is a dry land and David thirsts for God.

 

PSA 63:1

O God, Thou art my God;

I shall seek Thee earnestly;

My soul thirsts for Thee, my flesh yearns for Thee,

In a dry and weary land where there is no water.

 

He would remember happier days when he was in the same situation, in exile, and the Lord delivered him. The fulness of satisfaction is experienced when God fills the soul.

 

PSA 63:5

My soul is satisfied as with marrow and fatness,

And my mouth offers praises with joyful lips.

 

He is not back in the city. He still has the problem of a greater enemy made up of his own people and commanded by his own son to deal with, yet his soul is satisfied.

 

And again there is reference, as in 3 and 4, to his bed. The little camp had to keep keen look-out for nightly attacks; and it is a very natural connection in these psalms that they have some reference to the perilous hours of darkness.

 

PSA 63:6-8

When I remember Thee on my bed,

I meditate on Thee in the night watches,

7 For Thou hast been my help,

And in the shadow of Thy wings I sing for joy.

8 My soul clings to Thee;

Thy right hand upholds me.

 

Every sound might be an indication of the covert nightly attack of the enemy.

 

Time forbids an examination of Psa 62; 61; and 143, but the same general tone for the period pervades them all.

 

In 62 he pleads with his people:

 

PSA 62:3

How long will you assail a man,

That you may murder him, all of you,

Like a leaning wall, like a tottering fence?

 

Yet still to David, now older and wiser and in some ways much lower by the understanding of what sins his old self were capable of, knows that God is his Rock, his salvation, his fortress, his glory, and his refuge.

 

So many phases of his need and of God’s sufficiency thus gathered together, tell how familiar to the thoughts and real to the experience of the aged fugitive was his security in Yavah. The thirty years since he has last wandered in the wilderness have confirmed the faith of his earlier songs; and though the ruddy locks of the young chieftain are silvered and grey now, and sin and sorrows have saddened him, yet he can take up again with deeper meaning the tones of his old praise, and let the experience of age seal with its “verily” the hopes of youth.

 

What is gone from the songs of his second wandering in the wilderness is his emphatic assertion of his innocence. Pardoned indeed he is, and he knows it. He is cleansed, conscious of God’s favor, and able to rejoice in it; but carrying to the end the remembrance of his sore fall, and feeling it all the more penitently, the more he is sure of God’s forgiveness. Let us remember that there are sins which, once done, leave their traces on memory and conscience, painting indelible forms on the walls of our “chambers of imagery,” and transmitting results which remission and sanctifying do not, on earth at least, wholly obliterate. Let David’s youthful prayer be ours:

 

PSA 19:12-13

Who can discern his errors?

Acquit me of hidden faults.

13 Also keep back Thy servant from presumptuous sins;

Let them not rule over me;

Then I shall be blameless,

And I shall be acquitted of great transgression.

 

He was but 17 or 18 when he wrote that. He is in his 60’s now.

 

David will suppress Absalom’s revolt. He has one last great heartache to endure and that is Absalom’s death in this very short war. He will reign for another ten years. The psalter does not appear to contain psalms which throw light upon the somewhat clouded closing years of his reign. But one psalm, indeed, there is attributed to him, which is, at any rate, the work of an old man - a sweet song into which mellow wisdom has condensed its final lessons.

 

Perhaps his last: Psa 37

 

PSA 37:3-7

Trust in the Lord, and do good;

Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness.

4 Delight yourself in the Lord;

And He will give you the desires of your heart.

5 Commit your way to the Lord,

Trust also in Him, and He will do it.

6 And He will bring forth your righteousness as the light,

And your judgment as the noonday.

7 Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him;

Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way,

Because of the man who carries out wicked schemes.

 

PSA 37:25

I have been young, and now I am old;

Yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken,

 

PSA 37:35-36

I have seen a violent, wicked man

Spreading himself like a luxuriant tree in its native soil.

36 Then he passed away, and lo, he was no more;

I sought for him, but he could not be found.

 

Even on his death bed there are intrigues of those hungry for his throne, plotting, scheming; but we can imagine that David, after this long, his race run, would just say to all Israel and to all of us, “Trust in the Lord, and do good … Delight in Him, trust in Him, commit your way to Him, and He will give you your desires.

 

PSA 37:37

Mark the blameless man, and behold the upright;

For the man of peace will have a posterity.

 

Quit scheming you petty men.

 

Perhaps the last lines he ever wrote:

 

PSA 37:40

He delivers them from the wicked, and saves them,

Because they take refuge in Him.

 

An amazing life, a poet, and sometimes a prophet, God would eulogize him as a “man after His own heart, who would do all My will.” He was certainly after that heart and he certainly would do, or purpose to do all of God’s will, but like all men, he wasn’t fit for the perfection of obedience that only one Man would possess.

 

David desired to be like the Son that he knew would someday come, the “my Lord” that the Lord said to sit at His right hand, but he could not, nor can any of us.

 

David prayed, “O Lord, open Thou my lips,” and David has been speaking to the world ever since, as he has spoken to us these last few days.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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