Some thoughts on King David...

King David was a man after God's own heart. Who couldn't read the Psalms and not love his openness and honesty, his seeking after God? And yet... David was many things we don't admire in a man. He was a polygamist, an adulterer, a murderer...he lied to protect himself, he could have been a better father, and he was a shrewd politician. (Some might find this admirable, others don't.)

He was also a prophet, a poet, a warrior, a defender of the weak, a just king, a devoted friend.

A complex man, was he not?

While I tried to explore that complexity in my novels, I thought I'd take some time to delve into his character using David's own words - most of them recorded in the Psalms where he truly shares his heart. These won't be in order of his life, but taken here and there along this journey. I hope you'll join me...

Psalm 3 (taken from the NIV (c)1984

A psalm of David. When he fled from his son Absalom.

O LORD, how many are my foes! How many rise up against me! Many are saying of me, “God will not deliver him.” Selah But you are a shield around me, O LORD; you bestow glory on me and lift up my head. To the LORD I cry aloud, and he answers me from his holy hill. Selah I lie down and sleep; I wake again, because the LORD sustains me. I will not fear the tens of thousands drawn up against me on every side.

Arise, O LORD! Deliver me, O my God! Strike all my enemies on the jaw; break the teeth of the wicked.

From the LORD comes deliverance. May your blessing be on your people. Selah

This psalm was written during one of the darkest periods of David's life. (Read 2 Samuel chapters 15-18 to get the whole setting.) David's feelings of despair that he recorded here likely started when he got word of Absalom's conspiracy and fled Jerusalem. He walked barefoot up the Mount of Olives, weeping, crying aloud to the Lord, "from his holy hill" for deliverance from his enemies. I cannot help but picture Jesus, on this same mount - this same "holy hill", when He wept over Jerusalem right before his crucifixion. (See Matthew 23:36-38)

I do not believe that David considered Absalom his enemy at this point. What father wants to lay the blame solely at the feet of his son? Well, perhaps some fathers do, but I don't see that in David here. And later, when David weeps over Absalom's death, we see his true heart for the son that was lost.

I think the enemies in this psalm that David wants God to "strike on the jaw and break their teeth" are those who sided with Absalom and fed his conspiracy. Those who had once been close to David, had counseled him and worshiped with him at the house of God, who now betrayed his trust. (As for the language - strike on the jaw and break their teeth - what parent wouldn't want to put a fist to the jaw of someone who so seriously leads their child astray? Some might see it as a little extreme on David's part. I think it's easier to understand if we just walk a moment in his sandals.)

Of course, it is also possible that David had parental blinders on. As he may have wanted to excuse Absalom, he also may have wanted to excuse his own part in Absalom's behavior - his failures as a father. On the other hand, denial does not mean we are without guilt. I suspect David was very aware of  his own sense of guilt during this dark hour.

Throughout this psalm, this prayer, David is reminding and reassuring himself that God does hear him and will answer. He puts his trust in God to deliver him as he knows that only God deserves such trust.