Last time we saw that David had a simple focus in the midst of a very complex life.
As we open to Psalm 19, look with me at the last verse. Here is the cry of David’s heart, right in front of us, and on paper. David simply said, “I want my life to please YOU. Every part, seen or unseen, I want my life to please you.”
14 Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in Your sight, O LORD, my strength and my Redeemer.
There is it, short and sweet, David unabashedly and as a young man laid open his life before the Lord who was watching.
The rest of David’s life from II Samuel 22 onward is another incredibly rich portion of Scripture. David extolled his Master and King in Psalm 18—how to overcome feelings of loneliness in the last days before death.
• Psalm 18 To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of David the servant of the LORD, who spoke to the LORD the words of this song on the day that the LORD delivered him from the hand of all his enemies and from the hand of Saul. And he said:
1. This Psalm could be entitled: Embracing God—A Long Obedience in Seeking the Lord.
2. The words of this Psalm are recorded in God’s Word twice. Once at David’s coronation (probably Psalm 18) and then again at the close of his life (II Samuel 22:2-51)—it was like a way of saying that he wanted to start his career right and end it well for the Lord!
To arrive at whatever destination you are headed, you just need to stay on course. David spent his life aimed at the Lord, and he ended well. Today, you can check on how you are doing at intentionally pointing your life God’s Way. This Psalm explains a checklist for a life that pleases God. Stay with me and see what God desires from your life and mine!
So, we can say that David ended well because his whole life was built around heading towards his eternal home. Each of us needs to soberly ask ourselves: what direction are we intentionally aiming our life?
Psalm 30 is titled that it is for a dedication. The NKJV, KJV, and NAS all translate it as a dedication of the “House of David”. But the ESV and NIV clarify what house is being referred to, by translating this superscript as the: “Dedication of the Temple”.
The Temple was on David’s heart and mind as a boy in Psalm 132, and as a man when he was told that his son would build the Temple, because of all the bloodshed David had experienced. So rather than being crushed to not build the House of the Lord, David prepared for that event with all his might.
As we open to Psalm 71, we have already seen how the whole Psalm is a portrait about how David looked at life through the lens of Scripture.
As we come to the ending of David’s life we are looking at another aspect of His life reflected in this Psalm.
David declares that he is going to speak out about the goodness of God to the end.
David Decided to Talk About God’s Goodness
David has learned to never stop talking about the goodness of God.
As we open to Psalm 18, we are entering the last days of David. No one else in Scripture has more space devoted to their life other than the Lord Himself. David is God’s object lesson to each of us on: how hard life can be, how much we can struggle, how greatly we can fail-and how incredibly God can use us.
As we will see in these 50 verses of David’s longest Psalm, David extolled the Lord as his Master and King.Psalm 18 shows us so clearly how David made it through a very long and difficult life, and then how he went on to overcome feelings of loneliness and uselessness in the waning years of life.
As we open to the inspired postscript to the life of David, we find that the Holy Spirit directed Paul to say amazing truths.
First, in Acts 13:22 Paul writes that David served God’s purpose in his own generation; then in v. 36 of the same chapter, Paul notes that David was the man after God’s own heart. That phrase is perhaps the best know New Testament description for David.
Being after God’s own heart is deep within all of our hopes for this life, but so often we wonder how. The combination of those two truths about David give us an inspired clue of what it takes to be after God’s own heart: to serve God’s purpose = to be after God’s own heart!
As we open to 2 Samuel 23, we are opening to a confession from an elderly David.
The older we get, the harder it is to hide what is really going on inside our hearts and minds. Consequently, we become more and more transparent with our feelings and fears. And God designed it that way. For as the clay pot, the tent we live in, cracks and tears, He wants the treasure of Christ within us to spill out to encourage others in their own unending struggles.
That is why David’s final words spoke of the power of the Holy Spirit within him. God’s grace and power, through His precious Spirit, is our only source of strength to live and die in a way that pleases God.
The 71st Psalm deals with some of the troubles common to living on planet Earth. For troubles are always with us-as Job said almost 5,000 years ago. Either we are just getting through some, in the middle of some, or headed into some.
Life is hard, as Job 5:7 says: (NKJV) “Yet man is born to trouble, As the sparks fly upward”. Those words come from what may be the oldest book of the Bible, written by Job, who lived just after the Flood at the end of the Ice Age.
Consequently, every day is an opportunity to either focus on ourselves-our troubles, problems, misfortunes, woes (and there will always be some)-or to focus on God and His plans, promises, purposes and faithfulness to guide our lives to the very end.
Application is the best part of Bible study.
But, just like a “straight from the garden” meal, there is so much work to do. For food grown or caught, there are many stages to go through. Pick up and clean or wash; cut up and prepare; cook and serve-and then at last: the meal. There is nothing like fresh, homemade meals, in all the world. It is the best; and it is hard!
The same is true for Bible study. The passage must be hunted, the truths must be dug out and stored, then they are prepared into personally applicable truths, then the meal: the personal prayerful application.
As we open to Psalm 3 we can note some details that set this Psalm apart as a very special Psalm to learn from:
First, this is the first of the Psalms, called a Psalm, note the superscript says: A Psalm, and no other Psalm before this one says that.
Secondly, this is the first Psalm attributed to David in the Psalter, note it says: A Psalm of David. There are 72 others after this one ascribed to David, but this is the first.
Third, this is the first time we see the term Selah used in a Psalm. After three occurrences in Psalm 3, Selah shows up 68 more times in 38 other Psalms. This term is a pause for emphasis and reflection upon what has just been stated.
And finally, this is the first inspired setting to any Psalm. Note the rest of the title to Psalm 3 that says: “A Psalm of David when he fled from Absalom his son”. Here we find a message from God to each of us on how to deal with fear. David flees for his life, pursed by his own son. What a fearful and sad time in life. What a rich time to learn from the God who is able to help us in time of need.
As we open to Psalm 3, we are seeing David’s response when bad things happen to him, especially when he is doing nothing wrong. The lesson is that when bad things happened in David’s life he looked for God for understanding.
For us the lesson is that when bad things happen to good people, they are to look to God for understanding.
We start at the last word of the superscript that appears just before the first verse. That one word sets the tone for this period of David’s life we are examining. That one word in Psalm 3 that weighed heaviest on David appears at the end of the attribution line: A Psalm of David when he fled from Absalom his son.
When God describes a person’s life, He usually does so very succinctly and measures whether or not they served Him well. As we open to Acts 13, we are opening to God’s assessment that David lived life deliberately for what pleased God. David sought and followed what God wanted done in life, not what David wanted done. There are only two choices on the shelf of life: doing what pleases me, or what pleases God.
David’s life was summed up by the only One who can look at every moment of our life, from start to finish in one glance, and reduce us down to a statement. For David, that summary statement in mentioned by Paul in his sermon in Acts 13.
Lessons learned in the furnace of affliction often get etched deeply into our hearts and lives.
David learned a lesson in his hard times. That lesson was that life must be lived on purpose for God. Coasting, going along with the flow and living carelessly always leads to wasted life. David wanted to place and keep his trust in the Lord.
Don’t Waste Precious Life; Live Life Deliberately
We have come to the closing years of David’s life. David – whom we know more about than any other human recorded in God’s Word. Because God spends so much time capturing David’s life, seen through the lens of Scripture, we have more truth explained about each era of life we face, than in any other place.
There are four concluding eras, or stages through which David passes on his way to Heaven. Those are what we’ll walk though in the days ahead. First, let’s survey some of the nuggets of truth for each stage. These are:
Truths that Can Anchor our Lives
Life Lesson 1: As we open to Psalm 71, we will see God show us through David’s life: How to get ready for growing old in a godly way. God has truths to anchor us in godliness through the closing days of our lives.
The first observation a student studying God’s Word would make in Psalm 32 is that David is so thankful for his sin being forgiven, that he uses four different Hebrew words to describe the depths God had to go to accomplish his forgiveness in just the first two verses. Note those with me as we open to Psalm 32:
Psalm 32:1-2 Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, Whose sin is covered. 2 Blessed is the man to whom the Lord does not impute iniquity, And in whose spirit there is no deceit. NKJV
That is one happy man to declare the amazing depth of his forgiveness in every way possible.
We have gathered to celebrate the greatest possession we have as fallen and sinful humans. The God of the Universe so loved us that He sent His Son to set us free, wash us and remove the eternally destructive sins we were born with by nature and have practiced by choice. John writes about this incredible gift in the opening verses of Revelation:
Revelation 1:5 (NKJV) “and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth. To Him who loved us and washed [freed, loosed] us from our sins in His own blood”
We are loved, loosed from our sins, and washed. That is the Gospel truth, but sometimes we don’t act like we are. As we open to Psalm 32:1-2, think with me:
In the back of your mind, have you ever wondered whether it’s even possible to be completely forgiven and cleansed of all your sins? What about truly bad ones that have been hidden from nearly everyone who knows you?
Psalm 51 is a roadmap to anyone who has ever gotten away from the Lord; it is a beacon that clearly captures for us the roadway back to God.
David fell so far, so fast, and he didn’t even realize it until the dullness of his soul spread to every inch of his spiritual life. Soon his cold and lonely heart was combined with his tormented soul and trapped in a painfully chastened body. And he stayed at the bottom like that for almost a year.
Does that length of time surprise you? After all, think of whom it was that had fallen so far away from the God he passionately loved and served. For David was a man who was:
Getting out of The Ditch of Sin
LOD-28 110130PM We have entered the final lap of David’s Life: we have watched him as the shepherd boy and giant killer, then as the humble and patient warrior and King, now we join him perhaps 20 years into his career as King. This portion of his life I have called: David’s Sin, God’s Grace […]
As we open to 2 Samuel 15, we have entered the consequence years of David’s life. So even though David is beloved of the Lord, he still has to face the consequences, just like believers in the New Testament, who are also beloved of the Lord, have to face the consequences of our sins.
Every event from 2 Samuel 11 onward reflects in some way the results of those moments, when David was blinded by his sinful desires and acted rebelliously against God’s clear standards. After David sinned in so many ways surrounding his adultery, he tried to hide his sin, and did quite well, for quite a while.
Then, confronted by words from God’s prophet, David repents (a change of mind that leads to a change of behavior); David confesses (saying the same things about his sin that God says); and David forsakes his sin (turning in contrition and disgust from what offends God), and then experiences full, complete and endless forgiveness.
Most spectacular sins are like most flat tires: they are not usually caused by a loud pop of a blow out, rather, they are almost always the result of a slow leak. The long-term effect of small rationalizations, of small disobediences, or small neglects can after time snowball into immensely destructive activity. That is what we see in David’s life:
Beware of the Slow Leaks In Your Spiritual Life
Jesus said that when we are faithful in little things it shows that we will be worthy of great things. Look atLuke 16:10:
He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much.
As we open to 2 Samuel 12, try to think of the searing pain that would come when secret, private sins get exposed for all the world to see. Just imagine what David felt as the truth of what he had done could no longer be hidden. That is the event and those are the emotions that David is feeling in the verses of this chapter.
One of the great deterrents to sin is looking at the consequences. God’s Word records David’s crash through each barrier God put in his way, and the resulting wreck David made of his life and family. For a moment join me in that climactic moment as David faces his sin is a most uncomfortable moment. Please read the first 15 verses of 2 Samuel 12:
All that really matters in life may be reduced to one simple reality–what does God think of what I am doing or have done?
As we open in our Bibles to the last sentence of II Samuel 11:27, and read those words that is exactly the perspective God has of David’s life at that moment.
Only Two Choices: Please God or Self
Our lives can be focused by one simple truth: am I pleasing or displeasing God? All that mattered at that moment and for eternity is what God thought of what David had done. And David did not please the Lord!
Psalm 32 will forever be recorded in Heaven as a song about the day David’s soul was set free from the prison house of guilt and anguish over his un-confessed and un-forsaken sin.
As we open to this Psalm, imagine with me the events surrounding the day that David was finally set free from his emotional bondage. Here are his words that overflowed from the depths of his soul:
1 Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven,
Whose sin is covered.
2 Blessed is the man to whom the LORD does not impute iniquity,
And in whose spirit there is no deceit.
As we open to II Samuel 5, we are continuing our journey through the Life of David. David is one of the monumental personages in the Bible; only God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are discussed more than David in the Word of God. David wrote many words. If you count both his own writing of Psalms, and all of the others writing about his life, David’s mark is on 141 of the 1189 chapters; and on about 3,000 of the 31,103 verses in God’s Word. So among the myriads of words by and about David, one verse seems to capture his lifelong pursuit of God. Listen to Psalm 63:1:
O God, You are my God;
Early will I seek You;
My soul thirsts for You;
My flesh longs for You
In a dry and thirsty land
Where there is no water.
As you open to the 132nd Psalm you are opening to God’s record of the life of David. We are not sure if David wrote this Psalm or if it was written about him, but we do see the powerful message it contains.
This Psalm is one of a set of 15 called the Psalms of Ascents. These were Psalms for pilgrims walking up to Jerusalem for the three feats each year that God asked for them to celebrate: Passover/Unleavened Bread, First Fruits and Tabernacles (Exodus 23). There are also 15 broad steps leading up into the Temple Herod built, which also may have been the place that they Psalms were sung as they ascended into the House of the Lord. Whether both or either of these are the 15 steps or stops used, these Psalms are very much a part of the worship of the Lord.
As we open to Psalm 101, may I remind you of a transformational truth? Your habits are shaping your destiny, one little action at a time.
Habits are the default settings of our soul. When we do not consciously plan our behavior we are taken over by habit. It is easier to operate by habit, also sometimes called our instinct, than it is to consciously choose each act. Therefore perhaps the most powerful part of our lives is that box of mental auto-choices we call our habits. Be sure that you are choosing to reap the result of holy habits, not unholy ones.
David from the Bible was just a man. He had a job, a house, a family, and all the other little details of life. Though he was a King, an inspired Psalm writer, and a man after God’s own heart, he was also 100% normal human.
So as we look at the longest stretch of David’s life, the 40-year career he had as King of Israel, we come to areas that can touch our lives deeply.
Most of us will never face a ten foot tall giant-and kill them with a stone and sling. Most of us will never be famous as musicians, or have spears thrown at us, or hide in caves: but nearly all of us will do a form of monotonous, repetitive work for much of our lives.
As we open to 2 Samuel 11, David has finally made it to the top. Giants are killed, enemies are dead, life on the run is over, and normal life has finally started for David. As we will see, it is precisely when things are going “great” that we face some of the most lethal spiritual pathogens.
We are lulled into thinking we don’t quite need the Lord as much as: when we were sick; or when we were single; or when we were unemployed; or when we were under attack. Most people think wouldn’t it be nice to succeed, to make it, to win the lottery of life and have everything you’ve ever wanted. Actually, if you do a scientific study of those who have “made” it, most wish they hadn’t. Many find that great success often ruins their lives.
As we open to I Corinthians 10:11-13, it is our reminder as we study the Life of David: following God is hard, it is not EASY!
For many years songwriter John W. Peterson (1921-2006) lived in Grand Rapids, Michigan. One song he wrote among the thousand that bear his name is titled: “It’s Not an Easy Road”. David, whose life we are studying, would have heartily agreed with these words:
It’s not an easy road we are traveling to heaven,
For many are the thorns on the way
It’s not an easy road, but the Savior is with us
His presence gives us joy every day.
As we open to I Samuel 23 we are coming to the final stages of David’s life on the run. From the desolate wastelands of Israel’s geography we hear the cries of David’s heart from desert where he now find that added to danger, deprivation, and despair are the twin struggles of betrayal and loneliness.
That is what happened next in David’s life. He has survived a fight with the Philistines. He is surviving daily advances against him by King Saul. But now after those he had risked his life to protect and save from the Philistines, turned against him. David now shows for all the world to see, how does a godly person deal with:
The Loneliness and Pain of Betrayal
As we open to I Samuel 25 we are opening to David getting the opportunity to apply all the wonderful truths he has been learning. Just like the lessons we hear in Sunday School class are wonderful, but seem so different when we are actually out on the street witnessing, or on a missions trip.
So David finds that when God is at work in us it is not theoretical, it is real-time, daily life that the Lord wants to change in us. So to deepen the truths David learned at En Gedi in I Samuel 24, and make them a part of the fabric of David’s life, the Lord allows David to get deeply wounded by Nabal in a business deal (I Samuel 25); and for Saul to start hunting David again (I Samuel 26).
Open with me to I Samuel 18 as walk through a few chapters to get to our passage for this evening. These chapters tonight remind us that:
Our Struggles Frame God’s Faithfulness
The context of these dark and lonely days in David’s life, makes an incredibly beautiful frame around some of the most precious of all of David’s Psalms. His prayers, cries for help, and affirmations of God’s faithfulness: seem even clearer, dearer, and more memorable from those dark and lonely hours in David’s life. David repeats in as many ways as possible that:
We have all heard of people who have gone through complete emotional or mental breakdowns, but few of us have ever actually witnessed one as it happened. The good news is that God recorded the “before, during, and after” of the emotional and physical breakdown David experienced.
This sad but instructive event is captured flawlessly and in amazing detail. As we open to I Samuel 21:13David hit the bottom, overwhelmed by life, sinking into fear, and trapped by his choices, he melts down.
Psalm 13 may be the very deepest of all the pits of life David endured. In this Psalm David is all alone and momentarily felt that even God had left him. Note the exact spot these events take place in the text of I Samuel 21:15-22:2:
1 Samuel 21:15-22:2 Have I need of madmen, that you have brought this fellow to play the madman in my presence? Shall this fellow come into my house?” 22:1a David therefore departed from there and escaped to the cave of Adullam.
As we open to Psalm 40, David feels life’s become like a horrible pit. Probably the closest public event that would mirror David’s life is what the quake-struck residents of Haiti and Chile have felt, going through in the ten plus weeks since the 7.0 quake hit Haiti on 1/12/10 and less than a month ago, the much larger 8.8 quake hit in Chile 2/27/10. Since these twin events:
Millions of lives were disrupted.
Over 200,000 have died.
Nearly 100,000 are still homeless.
Tens of thousands got out of touch with friends and family.
Multiplied thousands are jobless, and have become refugees.
And all of them are unsure about the future.
As we come to I Samuel 22, we find David hiding in a cave, and living on a day to day, just making it mode surrounded by troubles. His experience is mirrored in the lives of multiplied people across the world. When live reduces to being just in a survival mode.
“Survival mode” means knowing that life must go on, but you just couldn’t remember why. These times of just making one day at a time is often when slowly become a vicious swirl of getting up, going to work out of the home or in the home if you’re a mom; and dropping into bed exhausted at the end of the day.
If you’ve ever felt trapped, imprisoned, or helplessly caught by life, then you share the emotions of David in the midst of life in the Cave of Adullam.
Things had gotten so bad that David makes a confession that is packed with meaning to us today. In the form of an urgent prayer offered to God, and captured for us on paper, David explains that his soul is in prison. The setting is so graphic, look at it with me in I Samuel 22.
We are starting a look through the Scriptures at the most written about person in the Bible. Other than God the father, Son, and Spirit, there are more chapters recorded about David’s life than any other Biblical figure.
We know more about David than the New Testament church planting missionary Paul; and more than on the chief apostle Peter; and more than about father Abraham, or Daniel. God has chosen to give us David: examined from more directions, recorded in more situations, and captured in more passages than anyone else.
There are almost three thousand biographical portraits in the Bible. In fact, the Bible is the single greatest source of biographical information from antiquity. There are more different individual from a wider scope of history recorded in God’s Word than any other single source in the world.
Most of the lives recorded in the Bible are only mentioned by name, but some are very clearly examined and analyzed by God. Those deeply explained lives give us great reasons to pause and listen to what God may have to say about them. After all He took the time and went to all the effort to capture these portraits for us and then delivered them to us in a forever settled in Heaven book-the Bible.
As we open to I Samuel 16 think with me what David must have felt: So much has happened so fast. First, “King for a day” in chapter 16 we met a young shepherd boy, minding his sheep when the greatest man in Israel comes and sits in his dad’s house waiting to meet him. There in front of his family, David is anointed the next King of Israel. Back to the sheep he goes, and off to the war go his brothers.
Then “Super Warrior” as we turn to I Samuel 17, and enter one of the greatest chapters of the Bible. Most people have heard of this event. David facing, fearlessly confronting, and miraculously defeating the biggest, strongest, and most feared warrior of the day is astonishing, and so encouraging. The lessons flow from this chapter.
None of us know what will be written across the pages of life tomorrow. So God invites us to cling to Him, since He already knows what lies ahead. We cling to God more and more through His promises, as we see how precarious life can get. If we don’t start a habit of clinging to the promises of God, sooner or later we’ll end up falling apart during times of living fear and desperation like David did.
As we turn to James 4, we will see the spiritual principle David had to learn the hard way. How swiftly David’s life changed from unbelievably good, to incredibly bad. Everything had become a disaster. When we look after a while in I Samuel 21, we will find David is all alone and afraid. David never anticipated the turn of events he was facing. In quick succession: he lost his job, he was separated from his family, he lost his closest friend, he lost all feelings of security, and he was facing great danger. David was feeling the upheavals: