Once more I put pen to paper to bring you words of encouragement. Well, you know what I mean! We have looked briefly at some of the Psalms, written by a number of writers,and compiled into a sort of hymn book sometime after the exile in Babylon.
Today let’s focus on the fact that 73 of the Psalms were written by King David. We are able to catch a glimpse behind the scenes as he writes about his inner emotions after major events in his life. We have already looked at Psalm 51 that he wrote after committing adultery and murder. Then he survived an assassination attempt, lost a crucial battle, and dedicated a new capital city to God. He wasn’t what you would call a saint, but somehow he became known as “a man after God’s own heart”. This same flawed king wrote that hymn of public confession and wrote numerous magnificent songs of praise. What was the secret behind David’s spiritual life?
It’s interesting to read the Psalms that tell us when he wrote them and then look at the historical events that prompted them. In Psalm 56 David gratefully gives God the credit for “delivering his soul from death and his feet from stumbling”. It sounds as though God had operated a miracle to save him. If you look at what actually happened in 1 Samuel 21 you see David as a scared prisoner who behaved like a mad man desperately trying to save his own neck. There was no miracle, just a man cleverly faking insanity to save himself. But the point is, he gave the credit to God, and expresses his thoughts about what happened in this Psalm.
Then look at Psalm 59 “O my strength, I sing praise to you; you, O God, are my fortress, my loving God”. Once again David is giving credit to God for saving his life. Yet in 1 Samuel 19 where we read about what actually happened, we see that David sneaked out through a window while his wife deceived his pursuers by wrapping a statue in goat’s hair. Very clever, but David gives God all the credit in his psalm.
Psalm 57 introduces a tone of weakness and trembling. Was his faith weak when he wrote this? But in 1 Samuel 24 the story shows us a man displaying extraordinary defiant courage. So we can read his psalms and imagine a pious rather timid hermit, and certainly not a giant of strength and valor. The outward events of his life did not determine his inward character that we see reflected in the psalms he wrote. We look at his exploits, killing wild animals barehanded, slaying the giant Goliath, surviving Saul’s attacks, routing the Philistines – what a man! Nevertheless, as he reflected on those events and wrote poems about them, he found a way to put God on centre stage. He involved God in every detail of his life. David believed that he mattered to God. He once wrote “God rescued me because He delighted in me” (Psalm 18:19). When he felt let down he told God. “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Psalm22:1. He certainly believed that the spiritual world, though unseen, was every bit as real as the natural world of swords and spears and caves and thrones. So it is that the Psalms can help us to escape from our obsession with ourselves and lead us to the actual presence of God. That process of letting God in to every detail of our lives is one we need to learn. We must get away from that habit of separating the everyday activities of life from the “religious” part when we pray or go to church. David helps us see that God must be the centre of our lives and relate everything to Him. All of our life can be worship of the God we love.
And we pray, today for:
Colin and Penney
Martin and Lucie