“In estimating the character of David,” it has been written, “it is generally allowed that he is the most gifted and versatile personage in Israelite history … and that in spite of all his human frailties he was a genuinely pious man, an ideal ruler, a lover of righteousness and peace, and the only man of his age who appreciated Israel’s religious destiny … David … founded a dynasty. He established the principle of monarchy. He was patriotic, generous, and kind; a man of strong impulses and firm faith; brave, politic, and forgiving; yet a child of his time. Above everything else David place religion … he was a heinous sinner but a correspondingly sincere penitent. He was the sweet psalmist of Israel … Among the many virtues which David possessed; the one which stands out above all others is his poetical genius. Other shepherd-boys had harps but David alone could play as to make his harp work cures of mind.”[1]

David and Me

I have never been able to read the works of David or the history of his life without crying. Something about David simply moves me. Perhaps, I think, it is his creative genius that draws me to him.  David was a poet. I am also a writer. David dreamed big. So do I. I imagine that at times while sitting out in the fields – all alone save for the sheep – David’s imaginings took him to the heights of Mt. Hermon and on again to the lowest valley of the Arabah. When I was a child my mind was often swept away to places like Ireland (the land of my ancestry) and Switzerland (mainly because I had to write a report on it once).

As an adult, while traveling in Israel – while sitting at the pool formed by the upper waterfall of nahal david in ein gedi or standing spellbound before a velvet-draped sepulcher claimed to house his bones – I am once again reminded of the personage of this great leader, this sweet psalmist, and above all, this man who so earnestly sought after the heart of God. One who seemed to desire, more than anything, to know the One who created him, loved him, met with him in times of praise and prayer, and who would defend him against his vast number of enemies.

David’s songs – or psalms as we like to call them – express such euphoric joy and such devastating angst, it is impossible to read them (or sing them) and not be drawn to the throne of grace and mercy for the sole purpose of crying out, “Be God in my life above all else. Shake every living thing from my life that hinders my relationship with you. You. Are. Everything!

Psalm 139

An excellent example of this is found in psalm 139. Charles Haddon Spurgeon’s treasury of david opens the text of this song with these words:

This psalm is one of the most notable of the sacred hymns. It sings of God’s omniscience and omnipresence, inferring from these the over-throw of the powers of wickedness … The brightness of this Psalm is like a sapphire or Ezekiel’s “awesome crystal” (ezekiel 1:22). It throws out flaming flashes of light, so as to turn night into day and to throw a clear light even to the ends of the sea. It warns against practical atheism, which ignores God’s presence and makes shipwreck of the soul.[2]