BIBLE STUDY LESSON # 28...April, 18 , 2010
"David: Psalmist and Sinner"
I was talking with one of my Christian brothers some time back and he related to me a problem that I think is common among many Christians. He said that there were times when he was at church or events when he was with other Christians that he felt so spiritually strong, yet at other times when he was away from other Christians, he would have terrible thoughts and just didn't feel very "Christian" at all. He worried that his Christianity was not real. He felt that as a Christian he should not be having those sinful thoughts and should be able to focus on good things. In Phillippians 4:8-9 we are instructed to control our thoughts and think only good things, however as we all know, this is easier said than done.
Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy--meditate on these things. The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you. Phil 4:8-9 (NKJV)
The problem that my friend described to me is very common among those who are trying to live a Christian life. We all struggle with our flesh and it can become frustrating when we start acting out in ways that are not Christ like. I want to take a look at David, a man who struggled with his flesh as much as anyone I've ever known. At the same time David was also very close to God and wanted to serve and please him.
The life of David is a classic story of a young shepherd boy, often overlooked by those around him. Even so, his dedication to God eventually led him to the throne of Israel. David was a passionate individual, evidenced in various aspects of his life from his days as a young servant to the king (Saul) who he would soothe by playing the harp, to the battlefield where he was a vicious warrior. This passion also manifested itself in his devotion to God. So great was his devotion that when God wanted ďa man after His own heartĒ , He sought out the youngest son of Jesse who spent most of his time alone in the fields.
"But now your kingdom shall not continue. The LORD has sought for Himself a man after His own heart, and the LORD has commanded him to be commander over His people, because you have not kept what the LORD commanded you." I Samuel 13:14 (NKJV)
The David who is known as a sinner is almost a totally different person than the David that wrote so many beautiful Psalms. By reading about his many transgressions one would naturally question his zeal for God. At the same time one can see the love for his Creator time and time again in his heart felt writing that is loved so much. It almost seems as if something isnít quite right in his thinking. If David lived today he would most likely be diagnosed with multiple personality disorder or some other mental illness! This of course is a humanistic point of view and as more is discovered about the life of this complex figure, one can begin to see him from Godís perspective.
When examining the whole person rather than separating it into specific events or actions it is much clearer who David really was. The Psalms he wrote are a reflection of his life experiences, and by looking at his actions, specifically his struggles, in parallel to his writings, one can truly see why he was a man after Godís own heart.
The Shepherd Boy / Psalmist
David began his life as a mere shepherd boy often disregarded by those around him including his own father. His passion for writing and music was most likely birthed in the many lonely hours he spent in the field tending sheep. No doubt much of his time alone was spent meditating and praying to the God he loved so dearly, for even at such a young age when he was shunned by those around him he did not go unnoticed by God. This is a classic example of how unimportant it is to have the favor of man. It is evident that the inspiration for his poetry and music had its beginnings while working alone for countless hours in the fields of his father. Davidís father was a man that was respected and admired by other men, and this gives the background of Davidís character development.
Now David was the son of that Ephrathite of Bethlehem Judah, whose name was Jesse, and who had eight sons. And the man was old, advanced in years, in the days of Saul. I Samuels 17:12
David learned to spend time alone wisely by honing his skills on the harp, expressing himself through his writing, and developing an intimate relationship with God. All of these activities proved to be assets in his life and are reflected in the Psalms. Many of the Psalms reflect Davidís early years as a shepherd and may have even been written while he was tending the flocks. Other writings in his latter years reflect the turmoil in his life, often referring to specific struggles. The true heart of the man can be seen in the way he cries out to God for forgiveness and protection, while some of the more notable Psalms are those that give praise and glory to the God that was not only Davidís first love, but also his best friend.
Charles Spurgeon wrote one of the most notable studies on the Psalms. He noted that ďThe delightful study of the Psalms has yielded me boundless profit and ever-growing pleasure; common gratitude constrains me to communicate to others a portion of the benefit, with the prayer that it may induce them to search further for themselves.Ē
The Psalms are known for the comfort they bring to everyday situations in the lives of those that read them. Inspired by God, they have also been an endless source of inspiration for everyone from songwriters to pastors. It goes without saying that the Psalms have something for everyone.
More was written about David than any other person in the Bible (66 chapters and 59 New Testament references), yet Psalms is one of the most cherished books in the Bible. This may be due in part to peopleís ability to relate to the Psalms more so than Davidís life history, which at times can be very unpleasant. One must keep in mind however that every word in the Bible is the inerrant word of the Living God.
A Life of Sin
When looking at the life of David one has to wonder how a man of God could fall into such wretched sin. David was not only a man of God, but also a man of the people. They could relate to him because of his meager beginnings. He was viewed as a hero after he slew Goliath, and he lead his army into countless victorious battles making him a man that found favor in the hearts of man as well as with God.
How often do we see so many people rise to fame and fortune only to see their whole world come crashing down around them? One can speculate on the reasons forever. Whether it is pride, lust, hate or any number of things, the sin remains the same and has the same consequences. Davidís most notable sin came at a time when he least expected it. It was at a time when David had become comfortable. In fact, rather than going into battle with his army, he had decided to stay behind. The turn of events that followed could have been easily avoided if David had been where he was supposed to be.
Remembering that David loved God with all his heart, it is apparent that he didnít go out looking for sin. What he did was give in to the flesh when he should have turned and ran. The sin of adultery with Bathsheba is probably one of the most famous sins ever committed and unfortunately the sin by which many people judge Davidís life. He didnít have to go looking for sin, it came looking for him and what started with a lustful thought ruined his family, his standing with the people, and, for a time, his relationship with God.
And it came to pass in an eveningtide, that David arose from off his bed, and walked upon the roof of the king's house: and from the roof he saw a woman washing herself; and the woman was very beautiful to look upon. And David sent and enquired after the woman. And one said, Is not this Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite? And David sent messengers, and took her; and she came in unto him, and he lay with her; for she was purified from her uncleanness: and she returned unto her house. And the woman conceived, and sent and told David, and said, I am with child. 2 Sam 11:3-5 (KJV)
David was out on his roof and he saw a beautiful woman bathing. This was not the sin, this was only the temptation. Davidís mistake was that he let the temptation turn into lust and the lust into adultery. David had a love for women, exemplified by the fact that he had seven wives and numerous concubines prior to ever seeing Bathsheba. If one were to speculate as to why David willfully took another manís wife you could say that it was the power of being king and having anything he wanted, or you could argue that he sent his army into battle without him for the sole purpose of such an encounter. However the evidence shows that David was not a man to willfully sin. It shows that he was a man of passion that had an unhealthy love for the opposite sex.
Many tragic incidents occur unexpectedly when people let themselves fall into sin and certainly that is the case with King David. He decides to take a break from war and the next thing you know he is standing on his rooftop gazing at a beautiful woman bathing. Rather than look away, Davidís eyes become fixated on her. So enthralled was he that he began to investigate as to her identity. She is then brought to the palace where David sleeps with her, even though he has discovered she is the wife of Uriah, a warrior who is fighting for the army of Israel. She becomes pregnant and so David calls Uriah home in hopes that he will sleep with his wife and assume the child to be his own. When this does not work, David gives orders to Joab, the commander of the army, who arranges for Uriah to be killed in battle. Just when David thinks he has the problem under control, his sin is discovered and dealt with by Nathan, the prophet of God.
Then the LORD sent Nathan to David. And he came to him, and said to him: "There were two men in one city, one rich and the other poor. "The rich man had exceedingly many flocks and herds. "But the poor man had nothing, except one little ewe lamb which he had bought and nourished; and it grew up together with him and with his children. It ate of his own food and drank from his own cup and lay in his bosom; and it was like a daughter to him. "And a traveler came to the rich man, who refused to take from his own flock and from his own herd to prepare one for the wayfaring man who had come to him; but he took the poor man's lamb and prepared it for the man who had come to him." So David's anger was greatly aroused against the man, and he said to Nathan, "As the LORD lives, the man who has done this shall surely die! "And he shall restore fourfold for the lamb, because he did this thing and because he had no pity." Then Nathan said to David, "You are the man! Thus says the LORD God of Israel: 'I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you from the hand of Saul. 'I gave you your master's house and your master's wives into your keeping, and gave you the house of Israel and Judah. And if that had been too little, I also would have given you much more! 'Why have you despised the commandment of the LORD, to do evil in His sight? You have killed Uriah the Hittite with the sword; you have taken his wife to be your wife, and have killed him with the sword of the people of Ammon. 'Now therefore, the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised Me, and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife.' "Thus says the LORD: 'Behold, I will raise up adversity against you from your own house; and I will take your wives before your eyes and give them to your neighbor, and he shall lie with your wives in the sight of this sun. 'For you did it secretly, but I will do this thing before all Israel, before the sun.' "So David said to Nathan, "I have sinned against the LORD. ' And Nathan said to David, "The LORD also has put away your sin; you shall not die. "However, because by this deed you have given great occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme, the child also who is born to you shall surely die." II Samuel 12:1-14 (NKJV)
This was an encounter that David would never forget. David was first under the impression that Nathan was referring to someone else, but when he found out that it was himself that Nathan was referring to, he immediately confessed his sin.
Although David confessed his sin the ramifications were long and lasting. From this one night of sin with Bathsheba David lost his family, his favor with the kingdom, and never fully regained the prominence that he once had in Israel. It is important to note that many others were hurt by his transgression as well.
There are two important lessons to be learned from Davidís encounter with Bathsheba. First it shows that no matter what your standing is with God or with your community, you can still fall deeply into sin. Secondly it shows in a dramatic way the impact our own sins have on the lives of others.
David was a man of great responsibility being King of Israel and having such a large family to care for. If there is one area of Davidís life that definitely needed improvement, it was that of being a father. As said previously David had many wives and concubines and thus had many children. The bible doesnít tell us the exact number, but we can deduce from his many female companions that he was the father of many.
His inability to be a family man, for lack of a better phrase, was the reason his family fell apart when his sin had been exposed. If he had strong relationships with those that were closest to him, then they could have been a source of support. Instead his own family turned on each other through incest, rape, and murder, and then turned on him actually leading the people against him. In 2 Samuel chapter 13, one can see a picture of dysfunction that is almost beyond comprehension. It is a long chapter, but I encourage you to read it. It tells how David's son rapes his daughter and then is murdered by another son.
This all could have been avoided if only David had taken the time to share with his own family the love of God that he knew. This may be the greatest lesson of all. How often do people take joy in their relationship with the Lord while failing to share it with others, even their own families. As seen in the life of David, the heartache that one often endures watching those closest to them suffer could often be avoided by simply sharing the love that Jesus Christ has shown so freely.
The Window to Davidís Heart
It isnít hard to understand how David the Psalmist and David the sinner appear to be two separate people. In order to really get to know the man, it is important to take a look at his life and then study the Psalms that he wrote while dealing with these issues. When we look at the scriptures in this manner it gives us a window into Davidís heart and we gain a greater understanding of why he was a man after Godís own heart.
We see a sorrowful Psalm written when he was hiding from his enemies in a cave. The Psalm shows the desperation in his heart and how he depended on God as his only refuge.
I cried unto the LORD with my voice; with my voice unto the LORD did I make my supplication. I poured out my complaint before him; I shewed before him my trouble. When my spirit was overwhelmed within me, then thou knewest my path. In the way wherein I walked have they privily laid a snare for me. I looked on my right hand, and beheld, but there was no man that would know me: refuge failed me; no man cared for my soul. I cried unto thee, O LORD: I said, Thou art my refuge and my portion in the land of the living. Attend unto my cry; for I am brought very low: deliver me from my persecutors; for they are stronger than I. Bring my soul out of prison, that I may praise thy name: the righteous shall compass me about; for thou shalt deal bountifully with me.
This shows us the anguish that David was suffering as many people do today when everyone has abandoned them and they feel all alone. Sometimes God is the only refuge as David expressed here. He was a man humbled by his circumstances, yet his faith in God never failed.
This happened long before the incident with Bathsheba, yet it shows that Davidís heart for God was never changing. You may think that after the murder of Uriah, David was living it up with his new wife, but in Psalms 32 we get a different picture.
When I kept silent, my bones grew old Through my groaning all the day long.4 For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me; My vitality was turned into the drought of summer. Psalms 32:3-4 (NKJV)
The days of silence that followed the murder of Uriah were days of torment for David. He was depressed and his health was poor due to the load of guilt he had to bear. We all know that burdens are lifted when our conscience is clear and David was a prime example of that. The only way to ease his pain would be to go before the God he loved with a repentant heart. After Nathan, the profit came to David and David was forced to confess, David did just that as we see in Psalms 51.
Have mercy upon me, O God, According to Your lovingkindness; According to the multitude of Your tender mercies, Blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, And cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my transgressions, And my sin is always before me. Against You, You only, have I sinned, And done this evil in Your sight--That You may be found just when You speak, And blameless when You judge. Psalms 51:1-4 (NKJV)
David clearly shows that through the results of true repentance, the spirit is humbled, as we see in verse 17.
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, A broken and a contrite heart--These, O God, You will not despise. Psalms 51:17 (NKJV)
Davidís continually shows a heart of repentance throughout the Psalms, always glorifying God and taking responsibility for his actions. This shows us clearly where Davidís heart was even though his body often strayed. This should be encouragement for those who struggle with sin in their lives even though they truly love God and want to serve him.
We watch the story of David unfold in such a way that it almost troubles us to think of it at times, yet we are encouraged and lifted up by the words written by David the Psalmist. Many of our lives are much the same, the difference being that millions of people havenít read about our personal mistakes. David loved the Lord with all his heart and even though there were many opportunities for him to blame others, he always took responsibility for his actions and came before God with a heart of true repentance.
Itís not so hard to see David as both Psalmist and sinner when you take a look at your own life. The truth is that there is a little bit of David in everyone, and to be sure everyone could use a heart like his. Psalms 78:70-73 sums up Davidís life for us as God sees it.
He also chose David His servant, And took him from the sheepfolds; From following the ewes that had young He brought him, To shepherd Jacob His people, And Israel His inheritance. So he shepherded them according to the integrity of his heart, And guided them by the skillfulness of his hands. Psalms 78:70-72 (NKJV)
God used David not because of his sin but because of his heart and untold millions have been and still are being touched because David allowed God to use his talents as a poet to write down the words of God himself. Let there be no doubt that even though David was the man who wrote many of the Psalms, it was, is and always will be the word of God and no other.
Our Heavenly Father, I come to you today as a sinner, knowing that I fail you so many times. I thank you for Your Love and willingness to forgive us no matter what the circumstances. I pray that each one who reads this lesson will be blessed and that you will speak to them in a special way. I pray that you will meet the needs of each one, and they will be comforted by your spirit in everything that they do. Let your will be done in our lives and in our families.
In Jesus Name - Amen
I would like to thank each one of you for allowing me to share what God has given me with you. I hope you were blessed.
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