The Book of Psalms has within it many songs penned by King David. There are psalms of praise and adoration toward God; psalms of thanksgiving for things God has done; but there are also psalms of that deal with pain, suffering, repentance, and pleas for forgiveness. When one understands the life of David and the hardships and trials he endured, both physical and mental, one can better understand the songs David writes and the emotions so evidently displayed.
One of the first periods of hardship in the life of David comes at a relatively young age. Saul, the first king of Israel, has taken David into his court because of his ability to play the harp (1 Sam. 16:14-23). Yet after David’s defeat of the giant Goliath, Saul becomes envious because of the popularity of David (1 Sam. 18:7-9). Saul’s jealousy continues to grow toward David to the point that Saul begins to plot David’s demise (1 Sam. 19:10-11). From this time until near the time of his death, Saul will make it his mission in life to destroy David and all those who stand with him. David, however, will not allow the feelings of Saul toward him to influence his attitude toward the “Lord’s anointed.” Instead it serves to strengthen David’s faith in God.
Throughout this time of hardship, David does not just curl up and cry because of the situation in which he finds himself. He will, instead, seek to protect and look out for his fellow Israelites, even while being pursued into the mountains by Saul (1 Sam. 21-27). David does not allow Saul to dictate his life, but he seeks to do that which is right and acceptable in the eyes of God.
Though David has no control over the series of events that transpire with Saul, there are other hardships he brings squarely upon himself. One case in point is the sin of adultery which he commits with Bathsheba. The repercussions of this act and the events that follow will haunt David and his family for the rest of his life. In the immediate context of the sin there are two deaths that occur. The first is the intentional murder of Uriah the Hittite in an attempt to remove the problem of Bathsheba’s husband. The second is the death of the child which was conceived in this adulterous relationship. But the consequences for these actions will not end with the immediate results.
When the prophet Nathan tells David of the continuing consequences of his sins; he states, “Now therefore the sword shall never depart from thine house; because thou hast despised me, and hast taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be thy wife” (2 Sam. 12:10). God makes a promise to Davis that will be fulfilled throughout the rest of David’s life. From this time forward, the house of David will suffer from almost every type of sin imaginable. David’s son Amnon rapes his half-sister Tamar (2 Sam. 13). At the conclusion of that same chapter, Tamar’s full-brother Absalom kills Amnon for his deeds. Absalom then tries to usurp the throne of Israel, causing David to flee from Jerusalem (2 Sam. 15). The usurpation will end with the death of Absalom in chapter 18. After Absalom’s demise Adonijah, another of David’s sons seeks to take the throne for himself after David becomes old (2 Kin. 1). Therefore, one can easily see the lasting effects of this one sin in the life of David. His sin with Bathsheba would be the cause of great trial and hardship throughout the remainder of his days upon the earth.
In spite of the troubles David had in his life, whether they were of his own doing or not, David never turned his back on God. He wrote many great and wonderful psalms of praise and honor toward God from which we learn valuable lessons as we seek to serve our Creator today. David’s psalms touch us in so many ways because they can reach into every part of our lives. Whether it is found in the greatest highs of life, or in the lowest depths of pain and despair, the songs penned by David give us hope, help us find words for our feelings, and stretch our hearts out to God. It is because of the trials and hardships of David that he could, by inspiration, give us songs that are able to strengthen and focus our service to God, even in the times of greatest hardship and sadness.