Praising God with David
February 11th, 1987 @ 7:30 PM
PRAISING GOD WITH DAVID
Dr. W. A. Criswell
2-11-87 7:30 p.m.
And welcome as we sit at the feet of one of the pristine, incomparable servants of God. In Acts chapter 13, verse 22, referring to David, the speaker says he was a man after God’s own heart [Acts 13:22]. When you hear a preacher announce a sermon about David, you sort of take it for granted that he is going to speak of Bathsheba, and he will roll under his tongue the sweet morsel of all the lurid details of David’s transgression. It is the same kind of a reaction that you would get if you watched an X-rated movie. The average preacher doubtless would not sit in attendance in a theater showing an X-rated movie, but he will get the same bang and the same thrill and the same response out of speaking concerning David and Bathsheba. Because of that, our recognition of David is an altogether different kind of a substance than the true life of that incomparable, sweet singer of the praises of God.
David was a man after God’s own heart [Acts 13:22], and we shall see that in our study tonight. We are going to look at the man as he really is, not in one of the days of the transgression of his life [2 Samuel 11:1-27]. For one thing to begin with, the culture of those long-ago eras was altogether different from ours. A king was absolute monarch; he could do as he pleased. The subjects were his, the people were his, he was not limited by any law above his own. And what David did but demonstrates the sensitivity of the man’s heart in that instance by which we identify him so constantly and proverbially. But David the inner man is one of the most glorious characters who ever lived, and I hope that God will help me to present that wonderful man, God’s man, in this message tonight.
David is the author of five psalms, spoken of, recorded in the narrative of his life in 2 Samuel and in 1 Chronicles. Then David also was the author of about one-half of the one hundred fifty psalms. He was the author of seventy-three of them. And when we look at these psalms, these songs, we are going to see the man as he really was before God; one after the Lord’s own heart.
First of all, we’re going to look at the five psalms that are recorded in the narrative of his life in 2 Samuel and in 1 Chronicles. First: he was a man of a tender and forgiving spirit. In 2 Samuel, chapter 1, is the first psalm in the narration of his life. And this psalm is a psalm dedicated to the memory of Saul and Jonathan.
It begins in 2 Samuel, chapter 1, verse 17: “And David lamented with this lamentation over Saul and over Jonathan his son” [2 Samuel 1:17]. Now you must remember that Saul hunted down David as you would hunt down an animal—literally—and did it for years and years and years [1 Samuel 19:1, 24:11]. And you are also to remember that in the death of Saul [1 Samuel 31:1-6], we have the occasion for the exaltation of David to the kingdom, to the kingship of Israel. But, in this psalm, in this song, that David composed over the death of Saul and Jonathan, there is not a syllable of gloating. There is not a note of rejoicing over the tragedy that had overtaken Saul in his suicide on Mount Gilboa and in the slaying of the son apparent to his throne, Jonathan. David lamented with this lamentation over Saul, and he says, verse 19, “The beauty of Israel,” talking about Saul who hunted him down like a dog, who sought his life for years. He refers to him as:
The beauty of Israel is slain upon thy high places: how are the mighty fallen! How are the mighty fallen and the weapons of war perished—
then in verse 20—
Do not tell it in the life and in the cities of the enemies, in Gath or Askelon. Do not speak of it in Philistia, lest the enemies rejoice.
[2 Samuel 1:19-20]
Then he calls upon the mountain of Gilboa, where Saul slew himself and Jonathan died, let there be drought and dearth upon those mountains [2 Samuel 1:21]. Then he speaks—verse 23, “Saul and Jonathan were lovely and pleasant in their lives, and in their death they were not divided” [2 Samuel 1:23]. Never, never, a note of gloating over the disaster that had overcome Saul. Yet I repeat, Saul sought his life for a generation [1 Samuel 24:11].
Then he speaks of Jonathan in a beautiful and precious way, “I am distressed for thee, my brother Jonathan: very pleasant hast thou been unto me; thy love to me was wonderful, passing the love of women” [2 Samuel 1:26]. That’s David, that’s David, a beautiful and forgiving heart.
I think about that: if a man had sought my life in every deep, dark, and devious way for thirty years, it would be hard for me not to gloat over his perishing. Not David, not David. Every syllable he’ll say about Saul will be one of tender beauty, and forgiveness, and love, and sweet remembrance. That’s somebody beyond what I can hardly think for. You see, God knew what He was saying when He said, “He is a man after My own heart” [Acts 13:22 : 1 Samuel 13:14].
Again, he was a man of a broken heart; of a sympathizing heart. In the third chapter of 2 Samuel is the second psalm that is found in the narrative of his life. And it’s over Abner. In the third chapter of 2 Samuel, verses 31 through 34 and 38 and 39, Abner was the captain of the host of the army of Saul [2 Samuel 2:8]. As such, he was David’s enemy. When Saul led his forces against David, Abner was the captain who directed the military operations of Saul [1 Samuel 14:50, 20:25]. And he directed all of those efforts to destroy David and his men.
Now Joab, who was the close kinsmen of David, Joab was the captain of the leaders of those who followed David. And after the suicide of Saul and after the death of Jonathan [1 Samuel 31:1-6], why, Joab in a deceitful way slew Abner [2 Samuel 3:27, 30].
Now wouldn’t you have thought that David here would have rejoiced over the slaughter of his enemy, Abner? And wouldn’t you have said that David would have commended Joab for what he had done? This man, Abner, had led the forces against David and had sought his life for scores of years. And now Joab slays Abner [2 Samuel 3:27]. What happens? Let’s look at it. In verse 31, David said to Joab, who slew Abner, and to all the people that were with him—and all those people that were with Joab were on David’s side—he said to them, “Rend your clothes, and gird you with sackcloth, and mourn over Abner! And King David himself followed the bier [2 Samuel 3:31].
“And they buried Abner in Hebron: and the king lifted up his voice, and wept at the grave of Abner” [2 Samuel 3:32]. “And the king lamented over Abner, and said: Abner died as a foolish man dies” [2 Samuel 3:33]. He allowed himself to be tricked by Joab. His hands were not bound, and his feet were not in fetters: as a man falleth before wicked men, so fell Abner [2 Samuel 3:34].
Verse 38: “And the king said unto his servants, Know ye not that there is a prince and a great man fallen this day in Israel? [2 Samuel 3:38]. And I am this day weak, though anointed king” [2 Samuel 3:39]. Can you believe a man like that? This man Abner had been under the command of Saul for all those years seeking his life [1 Samuel 14:50, 20:25]. And when Joab slays him, you would have thought Joab had slain one of David’s own sons. He weeps over it [2 Samuel 3:32]; and because Joab slew Abner [outside] Hebron, nothing could be done about it because Hebron was a city of refuge [1 Chronicles 6:57], and you couldn’t raise up reprisals against Joab [Numbers 35:26-27]. That’s David, the man after God’s own heart [Acts 13:22; 1 Samuel 13:14].
Will you look again at David and his rejoicing heart? Turn to 1 Chronicles, chapters 15 and 16. Here is recorded, in 1 Chronicles chapters 15 and 16, the occasion when David brings from Obed-Edom, the house of Obed-Edom, he brings up the ark to Jerusalem [1 Chronicles 15:25]. He places the ark temporarily in a tent [1 Chronicles 16:1], against the day when they build the beautiful sanctuary, Solomon’s temple. And when David brings up the ark, he prepares a marvelous, marvelous thing in the service of God.
Now look in 1 Chronicles 15:16, And David spake to the chief of the Levites to appoint their brethren to be the singers with instruments of music, psalteries and harps and cymbals, sounding, by liftime up the voice with joy.
Look at verse 19, “So the singers were appointed to sound with cymbals of brass” [1 Chronicles 15:19].
Verse 20, “And with psalteries” [1 Chronicles 15:20].
Verse 21, “and with harps” [1 Chronicles 15:21].
Verse 22, “and the Levites sang. And [Chenaniah] instructed the singing because he was skillful,” Chenaniah [1 Chronicles 15:22].
Then in verse 24, “The priests did blow with the trumpets” [1 Chronicles 15:24].
Verse 28: “Thus all Israel brought up the ark of the covenant of the Lord with shouting, and with sound of the cornet, and with trumpets, and with cymbals, making a noise with psalteries and harps [1 Chronicles 15:28].
now chapter 16, verse 1—
So they brought the ark of God, and set it in the midst of the tent that David had pitched for it [1 Chronicles 16:1].
now verse 7—
Then on that day David delivered first this psalm to thank the Lord into the hand of Asaph and his brethren” [1 Chronicles 16:7].
Then for the rest of that long chapter is the psalm, the song that David prepared, praising God with all of those orchestral instruments, and with all of those singers.
Give thanks unto the Lord, call upon His name,
make known His deeds among the people. Sing unto Him, sing psalms unto Him, tell of all His wondrous works.
Glory ye in His holy name: let the hearts of them rejoice that seek the Lord. Seek the Lord and His strength, seek His face continually. Remember His marvelous works that He has done, His wonders
[1 Chronicles 16:8-12]
and on and on and on it goes.
How God must have been filled with rejoicing over a man like that. And I’m telling you, Denny, you can’t praise the Lord too much. You can’t do it, you can’t do it!
Get all of the trumpets together, and all of the violins, and the cellos, and the oboes, and all of your singers, and everybody, get them and praise the Lord; you can’t do it too much. And that’s why, when God looked upon it, He bowed down His ear to listen to it and said, “This is a man after My own heart” [Acts 13:22].
I want our church—and have every since I have been a pastor, and that’s been sixty years—I want our church to be a church of praise, glorifying God. If I had my way about it, we would do it all day long every Sunday and half of the night on Wednesday; singing praises, using our instruments, using our voices, lifting up our hands in love and our hearts in loving adoration to the Lord Jesus.
That’s David, that’s David, and God looked upon it and rejoiced [Acts 13:22]. We turn back now to 2 Samuel. This will be the fourth psalm, and we don’t have the beginning of time even except to refer to it. The entire chapter is that; 2 Samuel, chapter 22:
And David spake unto the Lord the words of this song, in the day that the Lord had delivered him out of the hand of his enemies, and out of the hand of Saul:
And he said: The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; in Him will I trust; He is my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my high tower, and my refuge, my Savior.
I will call on the Lord, who is worthy to be praised.
[2 Samuel 22:1-4]
And so clear to that chapter, fifty-one verses; this is David in his grateful heart.
Now, we come to the last psalm in the narrative of his life, in 2 Samuel 23, in 2 Samuel 23. I want you to look how the verse begins, 2 Samuel 23:
Now these be the last words of David. David the son of Jesse said, and the man who was raised up on high, the anointed of the God of Jacob, and the sweet psalmist of Israel, said,
[2 Samuel 23:1]
Can you think of words more beautiful than that? Introducing this last psalm in the narrative in the life of this wonderful and incomparable king:
These be the last words of David, the son of Jesse said, the man who was raised up on high, the anointed of the God, the sweet psalmist of Israel.
[2 Samuel 23:1]
This is what he said. Isn’t that a beautiful turn? “The sweet psalmist of Israel,”
what did he say? “The Spirit of the Lord spake by me, and His word was in my tongue” [2 Samuel 23:2]. That is the finest sentence of inspiration in human language. That is God speaking to the human heart and the human voice, “The Spirit of the Lord spake by me, and His word was in my tongue” [2 Samuel 23:2].
The God of Israel said, and then verses 3-7, this is the concerned heart of David [2 Samuel 23:3-7]. This is his last psalm. In verses 3 and 4, he gives us a picture of the coming King Messiah [2 Samuel 23:3-4]. In verse 5, he expresses a concern for his family, and he recognizes their weaknesses [2 Samuel 23:5]. And in verses 6 and 7, he expresses a deep concern over the wickedness of evil men [2 Samuel 23:6-7]. I repeat, just looking at the life of the man and the songs that he sang in the narrative of his story, you can see why God said: “He is a man after My own heart” [Acts 13:22]. God loved David.
Now allow me just for a moment to say a word about the poetry of David; the songs of David in the Psalms. If we had all night long, we couldn’t begin to speak of the beauty of the word of the Lord in the tongue, in the mouth, and in the heart, and in the voice of king David. If you go to a library sometime, you’ll find Spurgeon has a whole volume of books called The Treasury of David. And those series of books, large volumes, are nothing but expositions of these wonderful psalms. Seventy-three of them were written by David. And I speak of about three of them, three groups of them. Thirty-one of them written by David are psalms of prayer. And two of them are especially dear and known to us. The fifty-first Psalm is one of confession [Psalm 51:1-19], and the thirty-second Psalm is one of gratitude for God, thanksgiving [Psalm 32:1-11]. If you would like to know the deep inner soul of this incomparable man of God, read first the fifty-first Psalm and then the thirty-second. Ah, how he could express in inspired tongue his baring of his soul before God. In the fifty-first Psalm:
For Thou desirest not sacrifice: else would I give it; Thou delightest not in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, Thou will not despise.
My dear people, in that one verse—were there none other in the Bible—he did away with the whole thought that in ritual we can find atonement and forgiveness for our sins. All the sacrifices in the world and all of the burnt offerings that could be brought before God, could not in anywise wash away the stain of our transgression. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart [Psalm 51:17].
O God, You don’t overlook, You don’t forget. That is our way of approach into the Holy of Holies, in our hearts, in our souls, in our spirits. And that incomparable thirty-second Psalm:
Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered, atoned for.
Blessed is the man unto whom the Lord imputed not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile.
I will instruct thee, says the Lord, and teach thee in the way which thou shall go: I will guide thee with Mine eye. Be glad in the Lord, and rejoice: shout for joy, all ye that are upright in heart.
[Psalm 32:1-2, 8, 11]
Dear me! Dear me! Coming to God, not through some ritual, not through some man-made offering, but coming to God out of the fullness of our hearts. My dear brother, a kitchen corner is just as fine an altar and just as noble a place of sacrifice as the most gorgeous cathedral or the most marvelous temple ever erected by the human hand, out of the heart.
There are nineteen of the psalms that David wrote that are psalms of praise. Then he wrote psalms of hope, how many. They are interwoven all through the beautiful hymnology:
Psalm 22 speaks of the Messiah who will come to suffer.
Psalm 2, the second Psalm speaks of the Messiah King to be worshiped.
Psalm 45 and Psalm 110 speak of His deity.
Psalm 16 speaks of his hope for a resurrection.
I have to close. I want to close with God’s view of David. In I Kings, chapter 11, verse 4, talking about Solomon now and thereafter the kings of Judah:
It came to pass, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned away his heart after other gods—He had three hundred wives and seven hundred concubines [1 Kings 11:3]—And his heart was not perfect with the Lord his God, as was the heart of David his father. And Solomon did evil in the sight of the Lord, and went not fully after the Lord, as did David his father.
[1 Kings 11:4-5]
And thereafter, everyone of these kings is compared to David, to David, “His heart was not perfect with the Lord his God, as was the heart of David. He went not fully after the Lord, as did David” [1 Kings 11:4]. And over and over and over and again will that be repeated in the story of the kings of Judah: “The man after God’s own heart” [Acts 13:22], and our Savior is “the Son of David.” The last chapter of the Apocalypse, chapter 22:
I am the Root and the Offspring of David, the Bright and the Morning Star.
And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. Let him that heareth say, Come. Let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.
He which testifieth these things saith, Surely, surely I come quickly. Even so, come, blessed Lord Jesus.
[Revelation 22:16-17, 20]
And that invitation was introduced: I am the Root and the Offspring of David. Jesus is David’s greater Son. And David was the man after God’s own heart [Acts 13:22]. It’s meant a lot to me just to reread and rethink the life of this wonderful psalmist and singer of Israel.
And I pray that, in our church and in our convocations and in our services, that we can bring constantly into our praise of God all of these uplifting things that make David so acceptable in the sight of the our wonderful Lord.
We’re going to sing us a song of appeal, and I’ll be standing right here. Somebody to give his heart to the Lord Jesus, a family to come into the fellowship of our dear church, a couple you answering God’s call in your heart; as the Spirit shall press the appeal, answer with your life. “This is God’s time and God’s day for me, pastor, and I’m on the way,” a thousand times welcome, while we stand and while we sing.
PRAISING GOD WITH DAVID
Dr. W. A. Criswell
A tender heart – David forgave his enemies, a man after God’s own heart
A broken heart – lament over Abner
Grateful heart – thankful to God
Poetry of David in the Psalms
1. Psalms of prayer
2. Psalms of prayer
3. Psalms of hope