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Prescott Conference 2020: Saturday AM: Summary of David’s life and the psalms that garnished it

PresCon-2-200905
length: 86:04 - taught on Sep, 5 2020
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Class Outline:

Prescott Conference 2020


Class 2: Saturday Morning, September 5, 2020

 

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.

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