The Sweet Psalmist of Israel

Israel My Glory In Depth is a new video interview series that explores the author’s motivation in writing their article.
Praise, lament, adoration, supplication—David’s psalms had all these and more.

Imagine an aging, frail King David (1 Ki. 1:1) reflecting back on his life—his mind flooded with moments of joy and sadness, victory and failure, prestige and doubt—in his pursuit of a deep and abiding relationship with the God of Israel. What might he have wanted to say for the record before he died?

Thankfully, we do not have to guess because 2 Samuel 23:1–7 records David’s last words. The first two verses describe succinctly the young, humble shepherd whom God called to become king of Israel:

Thus says David the son of Jesse; thus says the man raised up on high, the anointed of the God of Jacob, and the sweet psalmist of Israel: “The Spirit of the LORD spoke by me, and His word was on my tongue” (vv. 1–2).

The sweet psalmist of Israel was indeed an extraordinarily gifted musician (1 Sam. 16:14–23) and songwriter. Yet, he ascribed no credit to himself for his ability. He gave all credit to the Lord. The awe-inspiring psalms of David, intermingled with the Holy Spirit’s words, reveal the responses of a musical heart that loved Yahweh.

In these songs, we find an oasis we can drink from as we discover more and more the joy of knowing the one and only God, who alone is worthy of our adoration.

About half of the 150 psalms in the Bible are attributed to David, and his heartfelt expressions are as varied as his life experiences. His exploits as a shepherd, musician, warrior, fugitive, and king are especially palpable in his psalms of lament.

In these songs, we find an oasis we can drink from as we discover more and more the joy of knowing the one and only God, who alone is worthy of our adoration.

Though lament constitutes the largest category of Davidic psalms (about 60 percent), all David’s psalms follow a pattern of humble reliance on the God he loved and served throughout his life.

And the way David expressed himself is not only relatable for us today, but it also has much to teach us concerning how we should respond to God in the weighty and sometimes turbulent moments we face in our own lives as we learn to depend on Him.

Safety—Psalm 3
Second Samuel 15—16 records a perilous time in David’s reign. His son Absalom secretly plotted to usurp the kingdom from him. Suddenly, David was faced with fleeing Jerusalem and his rebellious son, who “stole the hearts of the men of Israel” (15:6).

Psalm 3 vividly captures the seriousness and emotion of David’s plight while recognizing God’s power and ability to keep him safe. David did not downplay the danger he was in, the increasing number of his enemies, or their desire to remove him: “LORD, how they have increased who trouble me! Many are they who rise up against me” (Ps. 3:1).

He knew his enemies believed God was not with him (v. 2). However, he also was convinced his only hope was in the One who hears the heartfelt cries of those who call out to Him: “But You, O LORD, are a shield for me, my glory and the One who lifts up my head” (v. 3).

Having complete trust in God, David believed that no matter how bad the odds, he could still sleep soundly, remain safe, and function without fear because “salvation belongs to the LORD” (v. 8). He was in God’s hands.

Mercy—Psalm 51
David’s most well-known sin involved Bathsheba. Psalm 51 reveals his response to the deep conviction he felt when the prophet Nathan confronted him about his adultery and the murder of Bathsheba’s husband, Uriah.

The king did not defend himself, shift the blame to others, or attempt to give God a laundry list of excuses. Rather, he did the opposite. He acknowledged his sin and guilt and began Psalm 51 by pleading for mercy from God “according to [His] unfailing love” and “great compassion” (v. 1, NLT).

David knew he could not cleanse himself from sin by trying to “do better.” He deserved death (2 Sam. 12:13). He had one appeal to make, and that was to acknowledge his sin before the righteous Judge who does not despise “a broken and contrite heart” (Ps. 51:17).

David understood that burnt offerings did not please God if a person’s heart selfishly turned against Him. David also understood his great need for God’s mercy.

Provision—Psalm 23
The most famous of David’s songs of praise is Psalm 23. Perhaps more than any other psalm, it demonstrates David’s deep connection with God.

David began shepherding and playing music when he was young. In this psalm, both roles come into play beautifully. As a shepherd, David knew the endless demands of tending sheep. He understood that without the guidance of a shepherd, the sheep would not survive. They needed food, water, and protection from predators and natural elements. In this stunning psalm, David placed himself in the position of a sheep and extolled God as the great Shepherd of his soul.

David called the Lord—the all-powerful, all-knowing, ever-present, all-sufficient Creator of the Universe—his Provider. What an incredible view he gave us of God, who gladly takes on the role of lowly Shepherd for us.

David knew the sovereign God of Israel would provide so much for him that he would never lack for anything (v. 1). And he believed God alone could give him peace, guidance, physical and spiritual provisions (vv. 2–3), and freedom from fear (vv. 4–5).

He understood God would show him “goodness and mercy” in this life, and he was confident he would “dwell in the house” of the Lord his Shepherd forever (v. 6).

Deliverance—Psalm 18
In 2 Samuel 22, the chapter preceding David’s final words, David sang praises to the Lord for delivering him from his enemies and from the hand of his predecessor, King Saul (v. 1).

Interestingly, the psalm recorded in 2 Samuel 22 corresponds almost word for word to Psalm 18, where David called Yahweh “my rock and my fortress and my deliverer” (Ps. 18:2).

Again, he acknowledged the real danger he was in but knew the One he cried out to for protection transcended his circumstances (vv. 3–6). He is “my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold” (v. 2). In other words, God was David’s everything.

In 2 Samuel 22, as in the second half of Psalm 18, David could hardly contain his jubilation, proclaiming the trustworthiness and protection of God:

As for God, His way is perfect; the word of the LORD is proven; He is a shield to all who trust in Him. For who is God, except the LORD? And who is a rock, except our God? God is my strength and power, and He makes my way perfect. He makes my feet like the feet of deer, and sets me on my high places (vv. 31–34; cf. Ps. 18:30–33).

At the end of the song in 2 Samuel, David gave thanks and sang praises to the name of the Lord “among the Gentiles” (22:50), looking forward in time, knowing that, as God provided for him, God also would provide for “his descendants forevermore” (v. 51). David wanted the entire world to see the greatness of his God and for all to know that God’s plans to establish David’s throne and to bless His people forever will never be thwarted.

As David neared the end of his life, he could truly say his confidence lay not in himself or in his accomplishments but in the greatness of the God who shows mercy and love to sinful humans.

Knowing the Lord was working in and through David for His own glory and purposes brought David so much joy he had to burst into song. David found ultimate comfort in knowing his Shepherd is perfect. Indeed, God is the only One who can be trusted to guide us flawlessly with His “rod and staff” (Ps. 23:4) through all of life’s circumstances.

Photo: Adobe Stock

1 thought on “The Sweet Psalmist of Israel

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Features

Meet AI Jesus

“Welcome, my children! I’m AI Jesus, here to answer your questions 24/7. Whether you’re seeking spiritual guidance, looking for a friend, or simply want...

A Boy Named David

My first encounter with King David came in a Sunday-school kindergarten class. We learned a peppy little song called “Only a Boy Named David"...

The Warrior King

The acronym SERE refers to military training for Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape. It prepares U.S. combatants for wilderness survival, enemy evasion, and...

The Sweet Psalmist of Israel

Imagine an aging, frail King David (1 Ki. 1:1) reflecting back on his life—his mind flooded with moments of joy and sadness...

A King After God’s Own Heart

It’s easy to imagine the men who became America’s Founding Fathers in 1776 hard at work in the small east room...

Analyzing October 7

October 7 is going to be remembered in Israel as a mini Holocaust. Hamas, a terror organization based in Gaza, really fooled Israel...


Subscription Options

1 Year Digital Subscription

  • Free PDF Book Download - "What on Earth is God Doing?" by Renald Showers

  • Free Full-Issue Flipbook & PDF Download of Current Issue

$9.99 every 1 year

1 Year Digital with Archive Access

  • Free PDF Book Download - "What on Earth is God Doing?" by Renald Showers

  • Free Full-Issue Flipbook & PDF Downloads of Current Issue & select Archives

  • Complete Access to our Growing Archive - eventually dating back through our inaugural 1942 issue

$19.99 every 1 year

2 Year Digital Subscription

  • Free PDF Book Download - "What on Earth is God Doing?" by Renald Showers

  • Free Full-Issue Flipbook & PDF Download of Current Issue

$19.99 every 2 years

2 Year Digital with Archive Access

  • Free PDF Book Download - "What on Earth is God Doing?" by Renald Showers

  • Free Full-Issue Flipbook & PDF Downloads of Current Issue & select Archives

  • Complete Access to our Growing Archive - eventually dating back through our inaugural 1942 issue

$39.99 every 2 years

3 Year Digital Subscription

  • Free PDF Book Download - "What on Earth is God Doing?" by Renald Showers

  • Free Full-Issue Flipbook & PDF Download of Current Issue

$29.99 every 3 years

3 Year Digital with Archive Access

  • Free PDF Book Download - "What on Earth is God Doing?" by Renald Showers

  • Free Full-Issue Flipbook & PDF Downloads of Current Issue & select Archives

  • Complete Access to our Growing Archive - eventually dating back through our inaugural 1942 issue

$59.99 every 3 years