I’ve had David on the mind lately–David the king, outlaw, poet, shepherd, warrior, murderer, seeker, and worshiper.
What is it, exactly, that made him “a man after God’s own heart?” It couldn’t have been his righteousness…anything he did, for we all know how often David screwed up.
I love the Psalms. It is, I think, the part of the Bible that I turn to more often than any other. I love Ephesians, but there are days when I can read it and get nothing new out of it. It’s the same with Romans, and the Prophets, and even the Gospels which I’ve read and heard hundreds of times through my life. It’s true of a lot of the Bible.
But the Psalms…they’re different. For they aren’t necessarily there so I can “get anything out of them.” When I read, “Oh give thanks to the LORD, for He is good, For His lovingkindness is everlasting. Let the redeemed of the LORD say so, Whom He has redeemed from the hand of the adversary.” …those words aren’t there to teach me anything (though they can anyway). They’re there for me to speak out, to echo from my heart. As are those that are crying out to God for help.
Good and bad, struggle and victory, it’s all there in the Psalms…and I think it’s there, it all it’s variety, to show us the inside of what it means to be a man after God’s own heart.
What do we see of David’s heart? What is it that God liked so much?
In writing out everything that I am seeing, I’m discovering that this is far too long for one post…so I might end up doing a little series.
But today, for Thanksgiving, I’d like to focus on how David always found a way to praise and thank God.
Look at Psalm 69. When David wrote this, he obviously wasn’t feeling so triumphant or victorious (v. 4). He feels worn out and exhausted (v. 3) and as if he’s drowning (v. 2 & 15). He is fully conscious of his sin in the way we are when we’ve just screwed up and we know it (v. 5). He feels totally alone, for no one is offering him sympathy and comfort (v. 20). Have you ever felt that way?
So what is the response of a man after God’s own heart? What does he choose to say and do? How does he respond to God when he feels this way?
Verse 16: “Answer me, O Lord, for Your lovingkindness is good; According to the greatness of Your compassion turn to me, And do not hide Your face from Your servant.”
He relies on God’s greatness and goodness. He doesn’t doubt that it is there, even though he’s going through all this stuff, and He knows that God’s greatness and goodness is the only reason that He can call on God for help.
It’s all about God.
And he therefore says, “I will praise the name of God with song, And magnify Him with thanksgiving. And it will please the Lord…Let heaven and earth praise Him…”
How about when David sins with Bathsheba? What is in his heart when he is finally convicted of His sin?
“Be gracious to me, O God, according to Your lovingkindness; According to the greatness of Your compassion, blot out my transgressions,” and “Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, the God of my salvation; Then my tongue will joyfully sing of Your righteousness. O Lord, open my lips, That my mouth may declare Your praise.” For he knew that, “A broken and contrite spirit, O God, You will not despise.” And therefore God would restore him and forgive him, and therefore God was worthy of praise and adoration.
How about when he’s afraid?
“When I am afraid, I will put my trust in You. In God, whose word I praise…”
I could list hundreds of verses.
But what I want to point out is that, for this man whose heart God loved…it didn’t matter what his circumstances or what was going on. The Psalm may start with struggle, and pain, and anger, and defeat…but it always ends in praise.
David knew that God is enthroned upon our praises (Psalm 22), and that praising Him in every circumstance is surrendering every circumstance to Him, that He may use His power to work His will in it…and that His will was always good, therefore He is worthy to receive the praises that allow Him to work!
It’s the most glorious circle that ever existed…and this man after God’s own heart chose to initiate this unending circle, rather than the vicious circles of condemnation and defeat and powerlessness that are out alternative.
I’d like to challenge anyone who struggles with discouragement and depression and loneliness and emptiness. Take Psalms to your heart. When you feel that way and you can’t find the words to praise God, open to the Psalms and flip through until you find one that echoes what you’re feeling. Let the words of the Psalmist echo your heart, and allow your heart to follow through until it speaks words of praise.
As for me, today, “I will enter His presence with thanksgiving…” (Psalm 95)