David and Solomon, Part 4

 

David was a true Renaissance man.  He was a shepherd, a skilled warrior and military leader, a quick change artist, a king, a writer, a poet, a worship leader, and song writer.  He could do almost anything except raise his children.  As a father and husband, King David was an utter disaster.  But there’s no denying the man had a heart  that beat after his God.  Just reading the psalms he wrote confirms this.  He wrote almost half of the 150 psalms in the Old Testament.

We’ll take a look at three of the hymns David wrote.  These hymns are interesting because they were written at different points in his life and they reveal aspects of his character.

2 Samuel 22, God our Rock

2 Samuel 22 is entirely devoted to David’s song of praise.

David sang to the Lord the words of this song when the Lord delivered him from the hand of all his enemies and from the hand of Saul.  (2 Samuel 22:1 | NIV84)

The incident that occasioned this hymn took place shortly after he was established on the throne of Israel.  If 2 Samuel 22 sounds familiar that’s because it is also part of Psalm 8, almost verbatim.  The historical event is found in 1 Samuel 23:24 – 28, and even though it’s a mere five verses long, it obviously meant something to David.

Even though these verses constitute a hymn of praise and deliverance, it is also a theological commentary on the life of David.  Through praise, we learn that David’s victories and successes were due to God’s intervention and enablement.  “Praise” essentially means “confess” – to give public acknowledgement of God’s character and His work.  In David’s writings, there are essentially two categories of praise:  descriptive praise and declarative praise.

Descriptive praise focuses on what God is like.  It focuses on the Person of God – His character and His attributes.

Declarative praise stresses what God has done.  It remembers all the things God did; how He answered prayers; how He intervened in your life.

The song here in 2 Samuel 22 is a the latter.  In it, David declares what God had accomplished in his life.  If you read the hymn carefully, you’ll notice that it’s not about David; it’s about what God did for him.  David was the delivered, but the stress of the song is on the Deliverer.

Verses 1 – 7 teach “God’s Manifold Care.”  David uses a series of stunning metaphors and comparisons.  God is our:  Rock (vs. 2, 3); Fortress (vs. 2); Shield (vs. 3); Horn of salvation (vs. 3); High tower (vs. 3); Savior ( vs. 3); Supreme Object of prayer and praise (vs. 4 – 7).

The “horn of salvation” is a figure borrowed from the concept of animal horns, which were used for both protection and defense.

I call to the Lord, who is worthy of praise,and I am saved from my enemies.  (2 Samuel 22:4 | NIV84)

This verse is like a summary; this was how David viewed God and how David viewed deliverance.  God was his deliverer and that deliverance kicked in when David began to praise God.

Verses 8 – 19 picture in vivid fashion “God’s deliverance.”  The majesty and power of the Omnipotent God were brought to bear on David’s behalf.

“The earth trembled and quaked,the foundations of the heavens shook;they trembled because he was angry.  Smoke rose from his nostrils;consuming fire came from his mouth,burning coals blazed out of it.”  (2 Samuel 22:8-9 | NIV84)

David rightly recognized that God used even the forces of nature to accomplish His will for His child.  Some scholars believe these verses refer to the storm that broke out during a battle with the Syrians, but it seems more likely they refer to all God did for David during his years as a fugitive.  Often the presence of God is related to bad weather and storms (see Exodus 19:16 – 18; 1 Kings 19:11, 12; Job 38:1; Joel 2:10, 11; Nahum 1:3 – 6; Acts 2:2).

Verses 20 – 25 are a contrast between David’s present state with his previous bouts with insecurity.

He brought me out into a spacious place;he rescued me because he delighted in me.  “The Lord has dealt with me according to my righteousness; according to the cleanness of my hands he has rewarded me.  For I have kept the ways of the Lord;I have not done evil by turning from my God.   (2 Samuel 22:20c-22 | NIV84)

What’s interesting here is that as far as David could tell, as he “kept the ways of the Lord,” and as he attempted to live a righteous life, God acted on his behalf.  No matter how badly the modern Christian wishes otherwise, the key to receiving God’s blessing is obedience.

Verses 26 – 30 form a direct hymn of praise to God, and we learn a key piece of information regarding God’s dealing with man.  How God deals with man is conditioned on their response and their attitude toward Him.

To the faithful you show yourself faithful,to the blameless you show yourself blameless, to the pure you show yourself pure,but to the crooked you show yourself shrewd.  You save the humble,but your eyes are on the haughty to bring them low.  (2 Samuel 22:26c-28 | NIV84)

Psalm 17, God our Vindicator

Hear, O Lord, my righteous plea;listen to my cry. Give ear to my prayer–it does not rise from deceitful lips. May my vindication come from you;may your eyes see what is right.  (Psalms 17:1-2 | NIV84)

Vindication was a big deal for David, and it probably is to you, too.  No matter how much faith we have; no matter how much we love God, we long to be proven right in front of other people.  We want those who mock and deride us to see that we were right and they were wrong.  This is one of those psalms that we could pray ourselves during times of stress and anxiety or even danger.

Verses 1 – 5 stress David’s desire for both vindication and justice in view of the threats against his life.  The phrase, “my righteous plea” is a shrill, loud, piercing cry from David’s heart. Here was a man who found no justice at the hands of Saul, but he is confident that God’s eyes “see what is right.”

David was in the right, and he knew it.  His heart was right before God and man and God’s Word was what guided him:

My steps have held to your paths;my feet have not slipped.   (Psalms 17:5 | NIV84)

Verses 6  12 describe the danger that threatened David and his companions.

I call on you, O God, for you will answer me;give ear to me and hear my prayer.  (Psalms 17:6 | NIV84)

Talk about a prayer of faith!  There was absolutely no doubt in David’s mind that God would hear his prayer and answer it.  David had confidence because he knew God intimately.  Delitzsch translated this verse like this:

As such an one I call upon thee, and thou headrest me.

David just knew he was heard.

Show the wonder of your great love,you who save by your right hand those who take refuge in you from their foes.  Keep me as the apple of your eye;hide me in the shadow of your wings… (Psalms 17:7-8 | NIV84)

Years before this, God used a similar expression when He spoke to Israel:

You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself.  (Exodus 19:4 | NIV84)

This is the safest place to be:  in the shadow of His wings.  Of course, God really doesn’t have wings. It’s His presence we’re talking about.  In God’s presence there is peace and safety.  That phrase, “the apple of your eye” also speaks of safety and protection.  The “apple of the eye” is the pupil, and we try to keep our eyes safe at all costs.  We wear sunglasses, we wear protective eye wear when we do certain things that might cause damage to the apple of our eyes.

And David needed protection – he was surrounded by the enemy!

(Keep me) from the wicked who assail me, from my mortal enemies who surround me. (Psalms 17:9 | NIV84)

It’s amazing that David could pray with such confidence.  But he didn’t let his circumstances dictate his faith.  Regardless of what he saw with his eyes, he knew God was there and ready to come and deliver him.  Warren Wiersbe remarks:

If you take care of yourself and walk with integrity, you may be confident that God will deal with those who sin against you. Above all, don’t give birth to sin yourself; rather, pray…

That’s just what David did.

Verses 13 and 14 speak of God’s deliverance:

Rise up, O Lord, confront them, bring them down;rescue me from the wicked by your sword. O Lord, by your hand save me from such men,from men of this world whose reward is in this life.  (Psalms 17:13c-14a | NIV84)

This is still a prayer, but it’s a prayer infused with hope.  But it’s also full of theology.  “Men of this world,” non-believers, are not entitled to divine help for their “reward is in this life.”  David, though, was not a “man of this world.”

Verse 15 serves as a triumphant conclusion to this prayer of faith.

And I–in righteousness I will see your face;when I awake, I will be satisfied with seeing your likeness.  (Psalms 17:15 | NIV84)

Pestered believes David is thinking of his future here – a future in God’s presence in heaven:

This speaks of the beginnings of the apprehension of a full life hereafter.

David walked in God’s presence on earth and he would live eternally in God’s presence in Heaven.

Psalm 19, Our glorious God

Psalm 19 is one of the greatest psalms in the Psalter.  Of this hymn, C.S. Lewis wrote,

I take this to be the greatest poem in the Bible and one of the greatest lyrics in the world.

Verses 1 – 6 speak of the glory of God’s works.

The heavens declare the glory of God;the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech;night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard.  (Psalms 19:1-3a | NIV84)

Nature testifies to God’s glory; all man has to do is look around to see God’s glory.  The Bible never tries to prove the existence of God from the existence of the universe, but it does point to the universe as proof of God’s glory, majesty and wisdom.

For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature–have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.  (Romans 1:20 | NIV84)

Verse three is a tricky verse to understand.  It could mean that the witness of creation is as extensive as the human race or that creation is a silent witness that needs no words to communicate the truth of God’s glory.  Either interpretation points to one inescapable conclusion that Paul nailed:  Man is without excuse.

Verses 7 – 14 are all about God’s Word.  God’s works are great, but God’s Word is greater.  Revealed religion is superior to natural religion.  In all, there are seven statements about God’s Word:

It is perfect:  The law of the Lord is perfect,reviving the soul.  (Psalms 19:7A | NIV84)

The teachings of the God’s Word (the law of the Lord) are perfect in every respect – able to convert the soul and restore the soul.  Only through the Word do we become children of God and through that same Word we are sanctified (1 Peter 1:23; John 17:17).

It is trustworthy:  The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy,making wise the simple.  (Psalms 19:7b | NIV84)

That word “trustworthy” means things like, “definite” “decided,” and “certain.”  The teachings of Scripture make people wise – the Word gives the best spiritual, moral, and ethical guidance possible.

It is right:  The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart.  (Psalms 19:8a | NIV84)

“Right” is another way of saying the Word of God is an exact expression of God’s nature and will.  God’s Word is “right” in that its requirements of man are in harmony with His character.  And living according to the teachings of Scripture gives us joy.

It’s pure:  The commands of the Lord are radiant,giving light to the eyes.  (Psalms 19:8b | NIV84)

The NIV84’s “radiant” also means “pure” or “undiluted.”  God’s Word is pure and it puts purity in the soul.

It’s pure:  The fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever.(Psalms 19:9a | NIV84)

This means the Word is “clean,” it’s not tyrannical or harsh or unreasonable.  It’s wholesome and it “endures.”  In other words, the teachings of Scripture are not passing fads or transient impulses.  They don’t change with time or culture.

It’s sure and righteous:  The ordinances of the Lord are sure and altogether righteous.  (Psalms 19:9b | NIV84)

The teachings of the Bible are the very foundation of life; they can be depended upon and they are righteous.  The Word of God does far more than teach in the abstract.  As we read it, we are compelled to live right.

It is of infinite value:  They are more precious than gold,than much pure gold;they are sweeter than honey,than honey from the comb. By them is your servant warned;in keeping them there is great reward.  (Psalms 19:10c-11 | NIV84)

What the Word is and what it does is beyond value.  You can’t put a price on the Bible; you can’t put a value on how it changes a life.

God is glorious and that glory is revealed in the pages of the His Word.  Billy Graham was spot on when he said this:

Become grounded in the Bible.  As Christians, we have only one authority, one compass:  the Word of God.

 

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