Today’s selected reading continues in the Old Testament poetic book of the Psalms which is a collection of psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs as the authors of the psalms poured out their hearts and souls before the throne of the living God. More specifically, today’s passage is found in chapters sixty-one through sixty-seven. PSALM 3: A PSALM OF DAVID, WHEN HE FLED FROM ABSALOM HIS SON! PSALM 7: SIGGAION OF DAVID, WHICH HE SANG UNTO THE LORD, CONCERNING THE WORDS OF CUSH THE BENJAMITE! PSALM 18: TO THE CHIEF MUSICIAN, A PSALM OF DAVID, THE SERVANT OF THE LORD, WHO SPAKE UNTO THE LORD THE WORDS OF THIS SONG IN THE DAY THAT THE LORD DELIVERED HIM FROM THE HAND OF ALL HIS ENEMIES, AND FROM THE HAND OF SAUL! PSALM 30: A PSALM AND SONG AT THE DEDICATION OF THE HOUSE OF DAVID! PSALM 34: A PSALM OF DAVID, WHEN HE CHANGED HIS BEHAVIOUR BEFORE ABIMELECH: WHO DROVE HIM AWAY, AND HE DEPARTED PSALM 51: TO THE CHIEF MUSICIAN, A PSALM OF DAVID, WHEN NATHAN THE PROPHET CAME UNTO HIM, AFTER HE HAD GONE IN TO BATH-SHEBA! PSALM 52: TO THE CHIEF MUSICIAN, MASCHIL, A PSALM OF DAVID, WHEN DOET THE EDOMITE CAME AND TOLD SAUL, AND SAID UNTO HIM, DAVID IS COME TO THE HOUSE OF AHIMELECH! PSALM 54: TO THE CHIEF MUSICIAN ON BEGINOTH, MASCHIL, A PSALM OF DAVID, WHEN THE ZIPHIMS CAME AND SAID TO SAUL, DOTH NOT DAVID HIDE HIMSELF WITH US! PSALM 56: TO THE CHIEF MUSICIAN UPON JONAH-ELEM-RECHO-KIM, MICHTAM OF DAVID, WHEN THE PHILISTINES TOOK HIM IN GATH! PSALM 57: TO THE CHIEF MUSICIAN, AL-TASCHITH, MICHTAM OF DAVID, WHEN HE FLED FROM SAUL IN THE CAVE! PSALM 59: TO THE CHIEF MUSICIAN, AL-TASCHITH, MICHTAM OF DAVID; WHEN SAUL SENT, AND THEY WATCHED THE HOUSE TO KILL HIM! PSALM 60: TO THE CHIEF MUSICIAN UPON SHUSHAN-EDUTH, MICHTAM OF DAVID, TO TEACH; WHEN HE STROVE WITH ARAM-NAHARAIM AND WITH ARAM-ZOBAH, WHEN JOAB RETURNED, AND SMOTE EDOMITE IN THE VALLEY OF SALT TWELVE-THOUSAND! PSALM 63: A PSALM OF DAVID, WHEN HE WAS IN THE WILDERNESS OF JUDAH! PSALM 142: MASCHIL OF DAVID; A PRAYER WHEN HE WAS IN THE CAVE! WHAT PRAYERS DO YOU PRAY WHEN YOU’RE IN THE MIDST OF CONFLICT? WHAT SONGS DO YOU SING WHEN YOU’RE IN THE MIDST OF A STRUGGLE? HOW DO YOU REACT AND HOW DO YOU RESPOND WHEN YOU’RE IN THE MIDST OF SOMETHING THAT IS OR SEEMS TO BE TOO GREAT FOR YOU TO HANDLE? WHAT WAS IT LIKE WHEN DAVID TURNED OVER THESE PSALMS TO BE SUNG? WHAT WAS IT LIKE FOR DAVID TO TURN OVER THESE PRAYERS TO THE CHIEF MUSICIAN FOR THE WORSHIP OF THE PEOPLE OF GOD? WHAT WAS IT LIKE TO TURN YOUR PRAYER JOURNAL OVER TO THE LEVITES, AND PERHAPS EVEN THE PRIESTS OF THE LORD? WHAT WAS IT LIKE TO TURN OVER THE DEEPEST EXPRESSIONS OF YOUR HEART? IT’S ONE THING TO TURN OVER HYMNS AND SONGS YOU WROTE, HOWEVER, IT’S ANOTHER TO TURN OVER THOSE WORDS YOU PRAYED AND SANG WHEN YOU WERE IN THE MIDST OF IT! THE VERY FACT THAT WE HAVE HEADINGS FOR THESE PSALMS SUGGESTS THAT DAVID ALSO REVEALED THE INSPIRATION FOR THE PSALMS!
A PSALM WHEN YOU’RE FLEEING! A PSALM CONCERNING THE SLANDEROUS WORDS OF ANOTHER! A PSALM WHEN THE LORD HAS DELIVERED YOU OUT OF THE HAND OF ALL YOUR ENEMIES! A PSALM WHEN YOU ENTER INTO THE ENEMY’S TERRITORY (WHEN YOU THINK AND FEEL YOU HAVE TO PRETEND TO BE SOMEONE OR SOMETHING YOU’RE NOT) A PSALM OF REPENTANCE AND CONFESSION BEFORE THE LORD! A PSALM WHEN YOU HAVE BEEN BETRAYED INTO THE HANDS OF AN ENEMY! A PSALM WHEN OTHERS HAVE GIVEN YOU UP TO YOUR ENEMIES! A PSALM WHEN YOU DEPART FROM THE INHERITANCE AND HERITAGE OF THE PEOPLE OF GOD AND ENTER INTO THE TERRITORY OF THE ENEMY! A PSALM WHEN YOU FLEE AND FIND YOURSELF IN A CAVE! A PSALM WHEN MEN LIE IN WAIT TO STRIKE YOU DOWN AND KILL YOU! A PSALM WHEN YOU STRIVE AGAINST YOUR ENEMIES! A PSALM WHEN YOU’RE IN THE WILDERNESS! A PSALM WHEN YOU’RE IN THE CAVE! FLEEING! HIDING! RUNNING! THE CAVE! THE WILDERNESS! THE TERRITORY OF THE ENEMY! The more I read the psalms which David the son of Jesse and king of Israel wrote, the more I can’t help but encounter and come face to face with the fact that there are what I would call core and foundational psalms which he wrote. The reason I reference these psalms as core and foundational psalms is because of the fact that there are psalms which are entirely and altogether different from the rest in that they are more than just psalms, and actually contain stories and narratives which are attached to them. If and as you read the Old Testament book of the Psalms you will come across and encounter a variety of psalms which were written by David during very specific times and seasons within his life. There are certain psalms which are found within the Old Testament book of the Psalms which are more than simply psalms which David wrote, but even before we get into the psalms themselves we are forced to consider something we don’t always think about when reading this poetic book. I am convinced that more often than not when we read the book of the Psalms we read the various psalms in order that we might comfort, in order that we might find encouragement, in order that we might find, and in order that we might find some type of solace in the midst of what we are going through. We read the psalms, and more often than not we do not allow ourselves to come face to face with the meaning and purpose behind the psalms themselves. The book of Psalms is a collection of psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs which would have been the hymnal and hymn book the Jewish people would have sang from the time of David through future generations. More often than not we fail to recognize and understand that the book of Psalms contains very specific psalms—at least in reference to David himself—which are more than just psalms, but are also invitations into the story behind the psalms.
THE INVITATION INTO THE STORY! I have to admit that as I consider these narratives which surround certain psalms found within this Old Testament poetic book, I can’t help but think about and consider the fact that the stories which are directly attached to certain psalms is an invitation to move beyond the psalm itself, and is an invitation to interact with and participate the story. It would be far too easy to read the words which are found within the psalms which David wrote and not truly understand the meaning behind the words. The psalms which David wrote have an entirely different meaning when you discover that the enemy or enemies he is writing about have names and faces. The psalms which David wrote take on an entirely different reality when you consider that the place(s) in which David referenced had a name, and was a very specific and literal place. I would dare say that these core psalms were intended to illicit a response on our part to venture into the narrative beyond the psalm, and to take a journey into the very real experiences David faced within this life. AN INVITATION INTO EXPERIENCE! AN INVITATION INTO EXPERIENCES! What I find so absolutely captivating about the psalms which David wrote is that there are those psalms which do more for us than invite us into his prayer closet and read the words which he prayed before and unto the LORD. There are psalms when we are given more than simply the words and prose of songs and psalms, but are actually given an invitation into the very experiences of David himself. This must be carefully considered and understood, for more often than not it is the experience that fashions and crafts the prayer. It is rarely ever the prayer that fashions and crafts the experience, for it is the experience that brings us into the very presence of the living God and before His throne. What we find when reading these core and foundational psalms is a wonderful and powerful invitation into the personal experiences which David faced as he fled from the murderous hand and threat of Saul. It’s truly something interesting and worth considering that there are psalms when we not only catch a glimpse of the very heart and soul of David, but we also catch a glimpse of what David experienced during those times. It is truly something interesting and worth considering how there are stories behind some of the psalms which David wrote—stories which introduce us to the names and players in the narrative, as well as the location where the story took place. Oh dear brother, dear sister—when we read the book of the psalms, I am absolutely and completely convinced that the psalms themselves are a reflection of the heart and soul of the man, however, it is the stories that are a reflection of the man’s experiences.
A REFLECTION OF THE MAN, A REFLECTION OF THE MAN’S EXPERIENCE(S)! I read the words which are contained within the book of the Psalms and I can’t help but think about and consider the fact that all the psalms which David wrote were glimpses, reflections and revelations of the heart and soul of David. You cannot read the words which are found within the various psalms David wrote and not encounter and come face to face with the heart and soul of the man. With that being said, however, I would like to also to speak to and suggest the tremendous reality that there are psalms that not only provide us with a glimpse of the heart and soul of David, but also provide us with a glimpse of what it was he actually experienced, and what he actually walked through. Sometimes, if we want to truly understand the heart and soul of an individual it is imperative that we understand the experiences of the individual. IT IS THE EXPERIENCES WE WALK THROUGH THAT SHAPE AND DEFINE US, HOWEVER IT IS THE LIVING GOD WHO SUSTAINS AND BRINGS US THROUGH THOSE EXPERIENCES! We have oftentimes heard that it is the experiences we face within this life that shape, define and make us who we are, and while I do believe that is true, I believe it’s only part of the picture and part of the story. I absolutely believe that our experiences help shape and define us, and that more often than not we are a product of the experiences we have faced and the things in this life we have walked through, but we are also a product of how we handled and how we responded during those experiences. If there is one thing the Old Testament book of Psalms teaches and reveals to us, it’s that not only was David shaped and defined by the experiences he walked through, but David was also shaped and defined by how he handled and how he responded during those times. It is true that David was shaped by the experiences he walked through, however, the psalms present us with a beautiful, a vulnerable, an honest, and a transparent glimpse into how David handled and how David responded during those experiences. I sit here today and am completely and utterly convinced that we are shaped by and through our experiences, and not simply by the living God alone. It is true that we are being transformed into the image, the character and likeness of the living God, however, if it was simply about the transformation and not the process then we wouldn’t have the Scripture as we know it. The more you read the Scriptures the more you will discover that the living God didn’t simply miraculously transform those individuals whom He called, but rather, He brought them through a specific set of experiences that would help shape and define them.
I am absolutely convinced that when we speak about our being transformed into the character, into the image, and into the likeness of Jesus the Christ, we must realize and recognize that this isn’t some switch that is turned on within our lives. There isn’t some supernatural and spiritual switch that is turned on within our hearts and lives, and all of a sudden we are suddenly transformed and conformed into the image of Jesus the Christ. If we are truly willing to be honest with ourselves and with the LORD, we must admit that we are shaped and defined by our experiences, and more often than not it is the experiences we face which are the divine tools and instruments used in the hand of God to transform us into the image and likeness of the eternal Christ. When we speak of David we must understand that there was a king within the shepherd, however, in order for that king to break through and break forth, the shepherd would need to turn fugitive and public enemy number one. David was anointed by the prophet Samuel to be the next king over the nation of Israel, however, there would need to be a series of experiences David himself would need to walk through in order for him to be ready to serve as the king over the nation of Israel. What’s more, is there were certain places the LORD needed to bring David in order that He might transform and make him into the man who would be the next king over the nation and kingdom of Israel. As you read the words found within these core psalms you will not only discover the fact that there were specific places the LORD needed to bring David, but there were also specific individuals whom David would have to encounter along the way. There were certain places David would need to enter into and walk through in order for the LORD to prepare him to serve as king over the nation and kingdom of Israel—places he perhaps never thought he would enter and walk through, and places he might otherwise have avoided. Through the book of the Psalms we encounter in very specific places David would have to enter—and not only enter, but also remain and abide for a specific period of time. There are certain psalms that not only have a story connected to them, and not only have a place behind them, but also have a specific time period behind them.
The more you read and the more you consider the words which are found within the book of the Psalms—specifically these “narrative psalms,” and “story psalms”—the more you will encounter the undeniable reality that the LORD not only needed to bring David into and through an experienced, but the living God needed to bring David into and through a specific place. It’s necessary that we recognize and understand the stories and the places connected to the stores which David faced and experienced, for it would be those places which would not only help shape David, but would also help prepare and make him ready. What’s more, is that I would dare suggest that the different places which are mentioned within the book of the Psalms—Gath, the house of Ahimelech, the cave, the wilderness, the stronghold of En-Gedi, and the like—prepared him for the next place. I would dare say that in order to understand this reality of being shaped by our experiences and the places we have faced within our lives, it is absolutely necessary that we recognize that not only do we not and not only can we not choose the places the LORD desires to bring us into, but neither can we dictate, control and manipulate the time we are located within those places. It would be very easy to think that we can somehow manipulate and control those places the LORD desires to bring us into, and it would be very easy to think about and consider ways we can try and avoid those places the LORD desires to bring us into, and yet the truth of the matter is that not only can we not control our entering into those places, and not only can we control how long we are in those places, but so also might we find ourselves entering into those places without warning and without advanced notice. It’s quite astonishing to think about and consider the psalms which David wrote and to consider “the songs from the places”—those words which were prayed and sung in the presence of the LORD from the very heart and soul of David. What’s more, is that it would not only be the place that help fashion and create the song, but it would be the experience itself that would help create the song which would emerge within David’s heart and soul. Oh, it would be far too easy to simply read the words which are found within the book of the Psalms and choose not to interact with the story and narrative behind David and what we walked through, and yet the truth of the matter is that to do so is to miss out on how the experience and the place helped shape David who would be the man after God’s own heart.
EXPERIENCES: PEOPLE AND PLACES! It is something truly worth thinking about and considering that it is not only the places we find ourselves in that help shape us into who and what we are, but it is also the people that enter into our lives, and enter into those stories which help shape and define who we are. We are indeed a product of our experiences—as our experiences shape and define us—however, those experiences can be made up of people, of places, or a combination of both. There are certain psalms where it wasn’t merely a specific place David found himself in, but there were specific people that were directly connected to the place, and directly connected the experienced within David’s life. Oh, I can’t help but wonder if as king David ever revisited those places which he had spent so much time in. I can’t help but wonder if David ever took the psalms which he wrote and brought them back into the places where they were written in order to relive those moments and memories within his life. Is it possible that as king over the nation of Israel David would return to the cave of Adullam with the words he wrote within that cave in order to remind himself of that which the LORD his God had brought him through, and how the LORD had delivered and saved him in the time(s) of trouble? Is it possible that David returned to the wilderness years later as king, and did so with they words he wrote in the midst of that wilderness that he might build himself up in his most holy and most precious faith? Is it possible that David returned to the strongholds of En-Gedi with the words he wrote while hiding there in order that he might remind himself of the words he prayed during those times? I can’t help but see David not only revisiting some of those places he walked through years earlier—and not only returned to those places, but also brought the cries and prayers of those places back. Pause for a moment and consider what it would and could have been like for David to revisit some of the places he walked through, and to do so years later being able to look back over what the LORD had done for him, and what the LORD had done in his life. Stop and think about the what it would have been like for David to return to those places years later with the same words he prayed while in the midst of those places in order that David might remind himself of the faithfulness, of the goodness, of the mercy, of the compassion, and of the grace of the living God. It’s truly something unique and interesting to think about the possibility of David returning to a place that was perhaps incredibly difficult for him to walk through at the time, and yet in returning to those places he would find himself being strengthened and encouraged within his heart and soul before the living God.
THE STORIES HAVE PLACES! THE PLACES HAVE NAMES! SOMETIMES WE HAVE TO UNDERSTAND THE PLACE IN ORDER TO UNDERSTAND THE PERSON! SOMETIMES WE HAVE TO UNDERSTAND THE PLACE IN ORDER TO UNDERSTAND THE WORDS! SOMETIMES WE HAVE TO UNDERSTAND THE PLACE IN ORDER TO UNDERSTAND THE PSALMS AND PRAYERS WITHIN THE PLACE! It’s truly something unique and interesting to think about the fact that we have very specific psalms within this much larger book when we not only find enemies having names, but we also find places having names. What’s more, is that it is these places and these people that help create and craft the experiences which David faced within and during his time running from the murderous hand of Saul. What’s more, is that a majority of these “core psalms” were written during that period of David’s life when he had gone from the hero of Israel after slaying Goliath and striking down the Philistines in battle to being public enemy number one and a fugitive in the land of inheritance. If you look at and examine the narrative behind some of these psalms you will find the account of David running from the murderous hand of Saul who presently sat upon the throne in Israel as king over the nation and kingdom. There are psalms which present us with the very place where David was when and as he wrote the words which we have in the midst of the book of the Psalms. In all reality, I would dare say it’s necessary for us to think about and consider these places and the people directly connected to them, for by understanding the people and the places we are able to understand the prayers and the petitions. PEOPLE AND PLACES, PRAYERS AND PETITION! PEOPLE & PLACES: PRAYERS, PRAISE AND PETITIONS! I would dare say that we cannot truly understand the prayers and petitions which David prayed without also coming face to face with the very real people who thrust him upon the LORD his God, and which thrust him into the loving hands of the God whom he worshipped, walked with and served. If you want to truly understand the words which are found within these psalms it is necessary that you consider the reality that David found himself in very specific places which would help craft the words which he prayed before and in the presence of the living God. David was a man who was a product of his experiences, and we must recognize and understand these experiences, for the experiences were not only what shaped David into the man we read of in the Scripture, but they also shaped the words which he prayed and sang before the LORD. The experiences which David found himself in the midst of didn’t take place in a vacuum and didn’t take place in a bubble, for there were specific people and places that helped create those experiences, and helped create the words which we find before us in the book of the Psalms.
If you want to enter into a deeper understanding of the words which are found within the Old Testament book of the Psalms, it is necessary to first locate and consider these core and foundational psalms, for these core and foundational psalms help to unlock the rest of the psalms which David himself wrote within and throughout his life. These core psalms have certain narratives and certain stories attached to them, and it was these stories which help us to truly understand the words which David penned, sang and prayed before the LORD. Moreover, the words within these psalms are words which help unlock the other psalms which David wrote, for you cannot read the book of the Psalms without noticing overlap and similarities which exist between the psalms. I fully recognize there are psalms which don’t share the same character or nature as the other psalms, however, the more you read the book of the Psalms the more you will understand the experiences David faced within his life. What’s more, is that not only will you understand the experiences which David faced within his life, but you will also come to understand that David undoubtedly found himself in similar experiences, to which he responded by penning a new psalm. I would dare say that each psalm was specific and unique to the experience(s) David found himself in, and although we don’t know all the experiences David experiences, we can understand and know the nature of the experience, the nature of the place, the nature of the enemy, and the nature of what David went through. It’s truly something unique to think about the fact that when we understand what the experience ultimately drove David to, and what the people who entered into his life ultimately drove him to, we can begin to understand the other psalms which David would write within this poetic book. It is truly something when you begin looking at the underlying picture behind these core and foundational psalms which were written by David, for while the psalms themselves help to unlock the rest of the psalms which David wrote, the narratives, the stories, and the experiences which surround the psalm help us to truly unlock the underlying meaning behind the psalms themselves. With that being said, it’s necessary that we consider the narratives and stories behind these psalms in an attempt to truly understand the words which David himself prayed and sang before the LORD. Consider if you will the following words which are found within the Old Testament books of First and Second Samuel concerning these events within the life of David:
1 SAMUEL 19! 1 SAMUEL 21! 1 SAMUEL 22! 1 SAMUEL 23! 1 SAMUEL 24! 2 SAMUEL 8! 2 SAMUEL 12! 2 SAMUEL 15! 2 SAMUEL 22!
“And there was war again: and David went out, and fought with the Philistines, and slew them with a great slaughter; and they fled from him. And the evil spirit from the LORD was upon Saul, as he sat in his house with his javelin in his hand: and David played with his hand. And Saul sought to smite David even to the wall with the javelin; but he slipped away out of Saul’s presence, and he smote the javelin into the wall: and David fled, and escaped that night. Saul also sent messengers unto David’s house, to watch him, and to slay him in the morning: and Michal David’s wife told him, saying, If thous ave not thy life to night, to morrow thou shalt be slain. So Michael let David down through a window: and he went, and fled, and escaped. And Michael took an image, and laid it in the bed, and puta. Pillow of goat’s hair for his bolster, and covered it with a cloth. And when Saul sent messengers to take David, she said, He is sick. And Saul sent the messengers to take David, she said, He is sick. And Saul sent the messengers again to see David, saying, Bring him up to me in the bed, that I may slay him. And when the messengers were come in, behold, there was an image in the bed, with a pillow of goats’ hair for his bolster” (1 Samuel 19:8-16).
AS HE SAT IN HIS HOUSE WITH HIS JAVELIN IN HIS HAND! DAVID PLAYED WITH HIS HAND!
“Then came David to Nob to Ahimelech the priest: and Ahimelech was afraid at the meeting of David, and said unto him, Why art thou alone, and no man with thee? And David said unto Ahimelech the priest, The king hath commanded me a business, and hath said unto me, Let no man know any thing of the business where about I send thee, and what I have commanded thee: and I have appointed my servants to such and such a place. Now therefore what is under thine hand? Give me five loaves of bread in mine hand, or what there is present. And the priest answered David, and said, There is no common bread under mine hand, but there is hallowed bread; if the young men have kept themselves at least from women. And David answered the priest, and said unto him, Of a truth women have been kept from us about these three days, since I came out, and the vessels of the young men are holy, and the bread is in a manner common, yea, though it were sanctified this day in the vessel. So the priest gave him hallowed bread: for there was no bread there but the shewbread, that was taken from before the LORD, to put hot bread in the day when it was taken away. Now a certain man of the servants of Saul was there that day, detained before the LORD; and his name was Doug, and Edomite, the chief East of the herdsmen that belonged to Saul. And David said unto Ahimelech, And is there not here under thine hand spear or sword? For I have neither brought my sword nor my weapons with me, because the king’s business required haste. And the priest said, The sword of Goliath the Philistine, whom thou slewest in the valley of Elah, behold, it is here wrapped in a cloth behind the ephod: if thou wilt take that, take it: for there is no other save that here. And David said, There is none like that; give it me” (1 Samuel 21:1-9).
PARTAKING OF THE SACRED AND LAYING HOLD OF VICTORY! PARTAKING OF THE HOLY AND LAYING HOLD OF TRIUMPH!
“And David arose, and fled that day for fear of Saul, and went to Achish the king of Gath. And the servants of Achish said unto him, Is not this David the king of the land? Did they not sing one to another of him in dances, saying, Saul hath slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands? And David laid up these word in his heart, and was sore afraid of Achish the king of Gath. And he changed his behaviour before them, and feigned himself mad in their hands, and scrabbled on the doors of the gate, and let his spittle fall down upon his beard. Then said Achish unto his servants, Lo, ye see the man is mad: wherefore then have ye brought him to me? Have I need of mad men, that ye have brought this fellow to play the mad man in my presence? Shall this fellow come into my house?” (1 Samuel 21:10-15).
BRINGING THE SWORD OF GOLIATH BACK TO GATH! BRINGING THE SWORD OF THE SLAIN INTO THE TERRITORY OF THE FALLEN!
“David therefore departed thence, and escaped to the cave of Adullam: and went down thither to him. And every one that was in distress, and every one that was in debt, and every one that was discontented, gathered themselves unto him; and he became a captain over them: and there were with him about four hundred men. And David went thence to Mizpeh of Moab: and he said unto the king of Moab, Let my father and my mother, I pray thee, come forth, and be with you, till I know what God will do for me. And he brought them before the king of Moab: and they dwelt with him all the while that David was in the hold. And the prophet Gad said unto David, Abide not in the hold; depart, and get thee into the land of Judah. Then David departed, and came into the forest of Hareth” (1 Samuel 22:1-5).
“When Saul heard that David was discovered, and the men that were with him, (now Saul abode in Gibeah under a tree in Ramah, having his spear in his hand, and all his servants were standing about him;) Then Saul said unto his servants that stood about him, Hear now, ye Benjamites; will the son of Jesse give every one of you fields and vineyards, and make you all captains of thousands, and captains of hundred; that all of you have conspired against me, and there is none that sheweth me that my son hath made a league with the son of Jesse, and there is none of you that is sorry for me, or sheweth unto me that my son hath stirred up my servant against me, to lie in wait, as at this day? Then answered Doeg the Edomite, white was set over the servants of Saul, and said, I saw the son of Jesse coming to Nob, to Ahimelech the son of Ahitub. And he inquired of the LORD for him, and gave him victuals, and gave him the sword of Goliath the Philistine. Then the king sent to call Ahimelech the priest, the son of Ahitub, and all his father’s house, the priests that were in Nob: and they came all of them to the king. And Saul said, Hear now, thou sun of Ahitub. And he answered, Here I am, my lord. And Saul said unto him, Why have ye conspired against me, thou and the son of Jesse, in that thou hast given him bread, and a sword, and hast inquired of God for him, that he should rise against me, to lie in wait, as at this day? Then Ahimelech answered the king, and said, And who is so faithful among all thy servants as David, which is the king’s son in law, and goeth at thy bidding, and is honourable in thine house? Did I then begin to inquire of God for him? Be it far from me: Let not the king impute any thing unto his servant, nor to all the house of my father: for thy servant knew nothing of all this, less or more” (1 Samuel 22:6-15).
“And one of the sons of Ahimelech the son of Ahitub, named Abiathar, escaped, and fled after David. And Abiathar shewed David that Saul had slain the LORD’s priests. And David said unto Abiathar, I knew it that day, when Doeg the Edomite was there, that he would surely tell Saul: I have occasioned the death of all the persons of thy father’s house. Abide thou with me, fear not: for he that seeketh my life seeketh thy life: but with me thou shalt be in safeguard” (1 Samuel 22:20-23).
“…Then David and his men, which a about six hundred, arose and departed out of Keilah, and went whithersoever they could go. And it was told Saul that David was escaped from Keilah; and he forbade to go forth. And David abode in the wilderness in strongholds, and remained in a mountain the wilderness of Ziph. And Saul sought him every day, but God delivered him not into his hand. And David saw that Saul was come out to seek his life: and David was in the wilderness of Ziph in a wood. An Jonathan Saul’s son arose, and went to David into the wood, and strengthened his hand in God. And he said unto him, Fear not: for the hand of Saul my father shall not find thee; and thou shalt be king over Israel, and I shall be next unto thee; and that also Saul my father knoweth. And they two made a covenant before the LORD; and David abode in the wood, and Jonathan went to his house. Then came up the Ziphites to Saul to Gibeah, saying, Doth not David hide himself with us in strong holds in the wood, in the hill of Hachilah, which is on the south of Jeshimon? Now therefore, O king, come down according to all the desire of thy soul to come down; and our part shall be to deliver him into the king’s hand. And Saul said, Blessed be ye of the LORD; for ye have compassion on me. Go, I pray you, prepare yet, and know and see his place where his haunt is, and who hath seen him there: for it is told me that he dealeth very subttilly. See therefore, and take knowledge of all the l irking places where he hideth himself, and come ye against to me with the certainty, and I will go with you: and it shall come to pass, if he be in the land, that I will search him out throughout all the thousands of Judah. And they arose, and went to Ziph before Saul: but David and his men were in the wilderness of Maon, in the plain on the south of Jeshimon. Saul also and his men went to seek him. And they told David: wherefore he came down into a rock, and abode in the wilderness of Maon. And Saul went on this side of the mountain, and David and his men on that side of the mountain: and David made a haste to get away for fear of Saul; for Saul and his men compassed David and his men round about to take them. But there came a messenger unto Saul, saying, Haste thee, and come; for the Philistines have invaded the land. Wherefore Saul returned from pursuing after David, and went against the Philistines: therfore they stalled that place Sela-hammahlekoth” (2 Samuel 23:13-28).
“And David went up from thence, and dwelt in strong holds at En-Gedi. And it came to pass, when Saul was returned from following the Philistines, that it was told him, saying, Behold David is in the wilderness of En-gedi. Then Saul took three thousand chosen men out of all Israel, and went to seek David and his men upon the rocks of the wild goats. And he came to the sheepcotes by the way, where was a cave; and Saul went in to cover his feet: and David and his men remained in the sides of the cave” (! Samuel 23:29-24:3).
FLEEING! CHANGED HIS BEHAVIOR! DRIVEN AWAY! BETRAYED! HIDING! BETRAYED! RUNNING! FLEEING! HIDING IN THE CAVE! WATCHED! CONSPIRED AGAINST! IN THE WILDERNESS! HIDING IN THE CAVE! THE STORY IS WHAT GIVES THE SONG A PLATFORM WITH WHICH TO STAND! THE STORY IS WHAT GIVES THE SONG ITS MEANING, ITS WORTH AND VALUE! THE STORY REVEALS THE SONG! EXPERIENCES MAKE THE SONG, GOD MAKES THE MAN! EXPERIENCE INFLUENCES THE SONG, GOD INFLUENCES THE MAN! The more you read and the more you consider the words which are found within these particular psalms—quite honestly, the words which are found within each and every one of the psalms which David wrote—you will encounter the fact that David was a man who found himself in places he perhaps never thought or imagined he would be in. You cannot read the narratives which are found in the Old Testament book of First Samuel and not encounter the tremendous truth that one trip in from the field where he was tending his father’s sheep would dramatically alter the trajectory of his life as he would be anointed as king over the nation of Israel. Undoubtedly David would not think or even imagine that he would be in the palace or house of the king playing the harp for him in order to bring peace and comfort to a mad and troubled king. More the likely, David didn’t think that a trip to the battlefield with bread and cheese for his brethren would further alter his life as he would hear the taunts and blasphemous words of Goliath the giant from Gath. David would ultimately slay this Philistine giant and would from that day forward remain in the palace of the king, and would remain in the king’s service. What’s more, is that David did not think or even imagine that he would find himself having to run and escape for his life—not once, but twice, as Saul hurled his spear at him in an attempt to pin him to the wall and strike him down. It’s actually quite interesting to read the narrative of David and Saul, for one of the things you will find about Saul was that he had become a man governed and ruled by the spear, while David was a man who—although he was skilled in battle, was also skillful in worship, and skillful in playing the harp. It’s interesting to read of Saul holding the spear in his hand, while David played with his hand. Despite the fact that David played the harp with his hand, and despite the fact that the melodies which David played before and in the presence of Saul brought peace and rest within his heart and soul, he would still attempt to strike David down with the spear that was in his hand. On two separate occasions David would have to not only dodge the spear which Saul would hurl at him, but also flee from the presence of this mad king. It would be the second attempt to strike him down and pin him to the wall with the spear that David would flee the presence of the king—never to return to the palace again.
As you read the words which are found within these core psalms you will find a common theme that flows through them—namely, David running for his life, David fleeing throughout the land of Judah, and even fleeing into the land of Gath and into the territory of the Philistines. Within the headings of these psalms you will not only find David fleeing and running, but you will also find David hiding himself from the murderous threat of Saul the king, as David would be forced to flee for his life. If you read the Old Testament book of First Samuel you will encounter the tremendous reality that not only did David spend a great deal of time fleeing for his life, and not only did he spend a great deal of time hiding, but he had to spend a considerable amount of time simply trying to stay alive as his life would become a series of close encounters and cunning maneuvers to avoid being captured and killed by the king. There is actually something quite remarkable found within the twenty-third chapter of the Old Testament book of First Samuel concerning the divine protection and providence of the living God within the life of David. If you begin reading with and from the seventh verse of the chapter you will find the following words which were written concerning David, and concerning his time as a fugitive on the run from the murderous and mad king of Israel. Consider if you will the following words which are found within this particular chapter starting to read with the seventh verse of the chapter:
“And it was told Saul that David was come to Keilah. And Saul said, God hath delivered him into mine hand; for he is shut in, by entering into a town that hath gates and bars. And Saul called all the people together to war, to go down to Keilah, to besiege David and his men. And David knew that Saul secretly practiced mischief against him; and he said to Abiathar the priest, Bring hither the ephod. Then said David, O LORD God of Israel, thy servant hath certainly heard that Saul seeketh to come to Keilah, to destroy the city for my sake. Will the men of Keilah deliver me up into his hand? Will Saul come down, as thy servant hath heard? O LORD God of Israel, I beseech thee, tell thy servant. And the LORD said, He will come down. Then said David, Will the men of Keilah deliver me and my men into the hand of Saul? And the LORD said, They will eliver thee up. Then David and his men, which were about six hundred, arose and departed out of Keilah, and went whithersoever they could go. And it was told Saul that David was escaped from Keilah; and forbare to go forth. And David abode in the wilderness of Ziph. And Saul sought him every day, but God delivered him not into his hand. And David saw that Saul was come out to seek his life: and David was in the wilderness of Ziph in a wood” (1 Samuel 23:7-15).
There is a truly remarkable and astonishing contrast that is found within this passage of Scripture, for within this passage of Scripture—not only do we find David inquiring of the LORD whether or not the men of Keilah would deliver him up, but we also find the activity of the LORD within the life of David. It’s truly something worth considering when you read the words which are found within this passage of Scripture, for within it you will not only find the activity of the LORD within the life of David, as the LORD would not deliver David into the hand of Saul, but you will also find the voice of the LORD speaking directly unto David, as David would inquire of the LORD whether or not Saul would come up to Keilah, and whether or not the men of Keilah would deliver him up into his hand. What I find to be truly astonishing and remarkable when reading these words is that there is a tremendous contrast between the men of Keilah and the LORD God of Israel whom David worshipped. Within this passage you will find the LORD responding to David’s inquiry and declaring unto him that the men of Keilah would deliver him up into the hand of Saul, however, despite the fact that the men of Keilah would have delivered David up into the hand of Saul king of Israel, there was another who would not deliver David into the hand of the king. It is truly something worth noting and pointing out when reading these words that not only do we find men who would have gladly and happily delivered David into the hand of the king, but you will also find a God who would not deliver David into the hands of his enemies. There were those who would betray David into the hands of the king of Israel, and yet even though there were those who would betray David, there was a God who would defend and deliver David. How absolutely astonishing and remarkable it is to think about and consider the fact that although man would have betrayed David and delivered him into the hand of his enemy, the LORD God of Israel whom David worshipped would not deliver David into the hand of his enemy. Though man would betray, abandon and forsake him, there was a God in Israel who would not allow David to be delivered into the hand of this murderous king. What a beautiful and captivating truth it is when you read the words found within this chapter, as you will not only encounter the awesome reality of the LORD delivering David out of the hand of Saul in Keilah, but you will also find it going a step further, as the LORD would not deliver David into the hand of Saul. This reality is even more interesting when you think about and consider the fact that although it can’t be said the LORD delivered Saul into the hand of David, there were two separate occasions when David had the opportunity to strike Saul down and kill him. There were two distinct opportunities when David could have slain Saul and once and for all rid himself from this endless game of hide and seek and cat and mouse—once in the cave, and once during the night as Saul and his men lie sleeping.
I have to admit that I absolutely love the words which are written and recorded within this particular passage, for you are brought face to face with a clear and utter contrast between those who would have delivered David up into the hands of his enemy, and a living God who would choose not to deliver David into the hand of Saul. This is even more unique and valuable when you consider the words which are written and recorded in the eighteenth chapter of the book of the Psalms when you read in the heading of the psalm how the LORD not only delivered David out of the hands of his enemies, but also how the LORD delivered David out of the hand of Saul. There is an entire psalm that was written concerning the deliverance of David out of the hands of his enemies, and here within this passage—in a passage where we find those who would have delivered David into the hand of his enemy—we find the LORD choosing not to deliver David into the hand of Saul. How absolutely and utterly remarkable and beautiful it is to read the words found within this passage of Scripture, for these words bring us face to face with the amazing and wonderful reality of David was delivered by the hand of the LORD from the hand of his enemy, as David would be spared and saved from the murderous threat of Saul king of Israel. David would be a man who would sometimes escape the murderous hand of Saul by a slim margin, and there were other times when David would seem to have the upper hand against Saul, however, through it all we find it absolutely astonishing to see how through it all the LORD would not deliver David into the hand of Saul. It is something truly worth considering to read these words and to consider how it was written in black and white how “God delivered him not into his hand.” What adds even more weight and meaning to this is when you think about how just before that we read how “Saul sought him [David] every day.” Please don’t miss and lose sight of this truly astonishing reality, for although Saul sought David every day that he might capture and put him to death, the LORD would not deliver him into his hand. Despite the fact that Saul would spend his days seeking after David that he might utterly put him to death, the LORD would not deliver David into his hands, and would choose to deliver him out of his hand absolutely every time. What a beautiful reality it is to not only read the prayers of David asking the LORD to deliver him from his enemies which were stronger than him, but to also read here in this Old Testament passage how the LORD delivered David out of the hand of Saul. It’s something we must recognize and understand, for although there would be those who would indeed and would in fact deliver David into the hands of Saul, there was one whose hands were greater, and one whose purpose(s) were greater, and it was that One who would not deliver David into the hand of Saul, but would continually deliver him out of his hand.
As I sit here this morning, I can’t hep but think about and consider the fact that when you read the book of the Psalms—specifically those which were written by David—you will find and discover that there were specific psalms which were directly influenced by the experiences which David found himself facing. There were certain psalms with stories and narratives attached to them, and it was these experiences within the life of David which completely and utterly impacted, influenced and affected the words of the psalms. What’s more, is that the enemies which David faced—some enemies which did in fact have names—would directly influence David, as there were specific psalms when he would not only call out his enemies in the midst of the psalm, but would also ask the LORD to deliver him out of the hand of his enemies, and to strike them down. What’s more, is that you will find that there were specific psalms which were centered around a specific place David would find himself in—places such as the cave, places such as the wilderness of En-gedi, and places such as the city of Gath in the territory of the Philistines. Upon reading these psalms you will quickly notice and discover the fact that while the psalms themselves were influenced directly by the experiences which David found himself in, the psalms themselves reveal how David was influenced and impacted by the living God. Although it is true that the psalms which we find and read within this compilation and collection of psalms were directly influenced by the experiences of David, as David would pen these words based on what he was going through—David himself would be influenced by the living God. Perhaps one of the most beautiful and captivating realities surrounding these psalms is when you think about the fact that in writing the words contained therein David would be completely and utterly changed and transformed by the living God. What’s more, is that it would seem the more David wrote these psalms, and the more David cried out before and unto the LORD his God, the more David would experience this inner transformation that would not only help make him into the man the LORD desired and needed, but would also prepare him to step into that role as king over the nation and kingdom of Israel. It is absolutely incredible to think about and consider the fact that as you read the words found within the book of the Psalms, you will find the words contained within them as a means of the living God whom David worshipped and served influencing, changing, transforming, and making him into the man he was called, ordained, appointed, and anointed to be.
I sit here today and I find myself thinking about and considering the fact that although the experiences which David found himself in would make the psalms which he would write, it would be the living God whom he worshipped that would make him. I would dare say that with each psalm David wrote the living God whom David worshipped would make and utterly transform him into the man he called and created him to be. It was indeed true the LORD sought after a man after His own heart, and yet it’s something truly worth noting that although the LORD did indeed find a man after His own heart, that man would still need to be broken and transformed. David was chosen by the LORD and anointed as the next king of Israel because he was a man after God’s own heart, however, that did not mean there was not still a great work which needed to be done within his life. Through these psalms with narratives attached to them we find and discover the reality that although the psalms themselves would be made and influenced by the experiences which David found himself in, David himself would be influenced and transformed by the living God through the words he prayed. We dare not, we cannot and must not miss and lose sight of this truly astonishing and remarkable reality, for I am convinced that with each stroke of the pen, and with each impression of ink on the parchment and/or scroll David wrote upon, David himself would be completely and utterly changed and transformed by the living God. I previously wrote about how we are a product of our experiences, and how our experiences helped to shape and make us who we are today, however, I would take that a step further and emphatically and boldly declare that while we might very well be a product of our experiences, there is something much deeper and something much greater that is at work in the midst of those experiences. David was a man who found himself facing situations, circumstances and experiences he never thought he would have to go through, and yet in the midst of it all we find David being delivered out of the hand of his enemies by the hand of One who was greater. Despite the fact there was an earthly hand that sought to utterly and completely destroy David, there was another unseen hand which would work behind the scenes to ensure that David would never be delivered into the hand of his enemy and his adversary. There was another hand that would not only deliver David out of the hand of Saul, but would also deliver David out of the hand of those who would betray him as they sought to deliver David up into the hand of Saul. It’s interesting to think about and consider the fact that not only did David face dangers and threats from Saul king of Israel, but David also faced dangers and threats from those who would seek to betray him into the hand of Saul. As if it weren’t bad enough that David would be sought after by Saul king of Israel, he would also have to worry about the danger of betrayal, as he was constantly worried about who he could trust, and whether or not they would be loyal and true unto him.
Stop for a moment and consider this reality of trust for a moment, for although it was true that the LORD would surround David like a shield with six hundred men who would be completely and utterly loyal and faithful to him, there would be the continual and constant worry that there would be others who would betray him and his men, and would deliver him up into the hand of Saul. This is evidenced when David and his men were in Keilah, as David not only inquired whether or not Saul would come down unto him to seek his life, but also whether or not the men of Keilah would betray him and seek to deliver him into the hands of Saul king of Israel. Within the life of David there is this dichotomy and contrast between David’s confidence and trust in the LORD, and David’s confidence and trust in men. There is not a doubt in my mind that during this time David found himself wondering who he could in fact trust, and who would in fact betray him into the hand his enemy. The psalms were not only written because of Saul who sought to utterly slay and put David to death, but they were also written about enemies who would betray David in an attempt to deliver him into the hand of his enemy. There was a chief enemy and chief adversary within David’s life—namely, Saul king of Israel—however, there would be other enemies along the way who would seek to betray David by revealing his location, and by being willing to deliver David into the hand of this murderous and mad king. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this absolutely tremendous reality, for this reality can and will bring us to a powerful contrast between the confidence and trust David would express toward and have in the LORD his God, and perhaps the lack of trust and confidence David would have in others. There is not a doubt in my mind that when and as you read the words which are found within the psalms—as well as the narrative that is found in the Old Testament book of First Samuel—that although David would place his trust and confidence in the living God, there was still the constant struggle on the earth concerning who he could trust and who would betray him into the hands of his enemies. There would be this constant struggle between the trust David had in the LORD his God, and the trust David would and could have in those whom he would encounter during this time within his life. There would be this constant struggle between the confidence David would have in the LORD his God, and the confidence David would have in those whom he worried and wondered whether or not they would indeed betray him into the hand of Saul who sought to kill him. What is so absolutely captivating about this reality when you take the time to consider it, is that regardless of whether or not David struggled with trust and confidence in men, there was one constant and One whom David never had to worry about whether or not he could or should trust and place his confidence in Him. There was one whom David could indeed trust and rely upon, and one whom David would indeed place his complete and utter trust and confidence in, as he would thrust himself fully and completely on the character and nature of the LORD God of Israel whom he worshipped and served with all his heart.
As I prepare to bring this writing to a close I find it absolutely necessary to call and draw your attention to the words which David prayed within this particular set of psalms—words which expressed his complete and utter dependence upon the living God whom he worshipped. If you take the time to truly read the words contained within these psalms you will find this continued confidence and trust David had in the living and eternal God whom he not only knew, but also believed would deliver him out of the hand of all his enemies. Pause for a moment and think about the great resolve and inner strength would be needed within one’s heart and soul to be able to confidently cry out to the LORD—and not only confidently cry out to the LORD, but also confidently express worship and praise within the same prayer and song. The more you read the psalms of David the more you will encounter the confidence to cry out unto the living God, and the confidence he had in the nature and character of the living God to come to His rescue and to come to His aid. The sixty-first psalm begins and opens with David asking the LORD to hear his cry and to attend unto his prayer, and then David immediately shifts to a declaration that from the ends of the earth he would cry unto him, and would do so when his heart was overwhelmed. Moreover, you will find David asking the LORD to lead him to the rock which was higher than him, for he had been a shelter fro him, and a strong tower from the enemy. Even more than this, you will find David emphatically declare that he would abide in the tabernacle of the LORD for ever, and would trust in the covert of his wings. In the very next psalm you will find David declaring this his soul would wait upon God, for from Him comes his salvation, as the LORD and the LORD alone is his rock and his salvation and his salvation. David goes on to declare that because the LORD is his rock and his salvation He would not be greatly moved—essentially declaring that the LORD would secure his place in the midst of the earth and would not allow him to be overtaken and carried away. The further you enter into this psalm you will again find David boldly declaring the following words: “My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from him. He only is my rock and my salvation: He is my defense; I shall not be moved. In God is my salvation and my glory: the rock of my strength, and my refuge, is in God. Trust in Him at all times; ye people, pour out your heart before him: God is a refuge for us” (Psalm 62:5-8).