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What are we Singing: Reign in Us

  • Eva Marie Everson Contributing Writer
  • 2009 27 Jun
What are we Singing: <i>Reign in Us</i>

“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]

Within this psalm, David pens words like:

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my formed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand. When I awake, I am still with you (139: 13-18)

About these words, Spurgeon wrote (in part): Who can gaze on a model of our anatomy without wonder and awe?

And: you are the owner of my inner parts and passions, not only the indweller and observer but also the acknowledged Lord and possessor of my most secret self.

When it came to understanding David’s knowledge concerning his personal creation, Spurgeon commented: There I lay hidden, covered by You. Before I could know You, or anything else, You cared for me. You hid me as a treasure until You saw fit to bring me to the light.

psalm 51

Undoubtedly the most anguish-filled psalm is the one in which David, broken sinner that he was, lay prostate before God begging not only for the natural life of his newborn son but also for the spiritual life of himself. David, who had risen to such heights as to go from lowly shepherd – the last born son of Jesse – to king of a new dynasty, had fallen victim to his own weak, human ways. David, hailed and revered by thousands, was shamed by his deeds before those who were considered his subjects.

More than at any other time in his life, David desperately needed God. He needed his everlasting mercy, forgiveness, and to be reconnected to the One who knew him best and continued to love him most. David had sought after God’s heart and now God was seeking after David’s, drawing king to Sovereign. David knew that without this one purifying act, he would be lost forever.

The king was stepping off his own throne to lie before God’s. The one who reigned desired to be reigned over.

You do not delight in sacrifice,” David prayed, “or I would bring it;       you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise” (51: 16, 17).

Yet, David’s yearning for God’s mercy hardly ended in broken torment and separation from the Holy One of Israel. David understood that to love God was to both fall before that very throne facedown in moments like these and to stand before it with hands held high, crying out to the Great and Mighty One in praise, worship, and adoration.

“Ábba!” (Daddy) “Let it be that we remain your people forever, forever less of us, forever more of you!”

Reign In Us

Today there are new psalmist writing songs for us to sing in our churches, conferences, retreats, small groups and car radios. One such song is reign in us written by Ben Glover, Jon Neufeld, and Tim Neufeld (Jon and Tim Neufeld are the original members of the Canadian Christian group starfield). A quick search for the lyrics or information about the song brings one to dozens of sites where fans write their own words of adoration. Not so much for the boys in the band (although they get their due) but for the powerful message of this song and how it impacts their individual lives as Christians. As David’s psalms moved generations of believers of the “great and mighty one,” these lyrics both inspire and convict us to walk under the guidance and touch of our Lord and Savior Jesus -- Son of David, Son of God.

Eva Marie Everson is the coauthor of the award-winning reflections of god’s holy land and the recently released things left unspoken. For more information about Eva Marie or to book her to speak at your next event, go to:

[1] The International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia, James Orr, M.A., D. D., General Editor (Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids, MI, 1939, page 797A

[2] Spurgeon, C. H., The Treasury of David; edited and updated by Roy Clarke (Thomas Nelson, Nashville, TN, 1997), p. 1418.

Original publication date: June 27, 2009