Alexander Maclaren’s The Life of David as Reflected in His Psalms
Part 5 of 5
How old was David when he lost his kingdom? He was in his 60’s at least. His son Absalom had turned the people against him and had taken his throne.
David didn’t really fight back. He fled into the wilderness. He allowed himself to be cursed as he fled. He took it all as a chastisement from God.
But in the wilderness he found himself again. He regained his vision and strength of spirit. The trial that should have broken him, only woke him up.
That’s what it looks like when we read the psalms that were probably written during this time.
David found himself back in the wilderness, running for his life again.
Apparently, he remembered the old days, and the old songs.
He learned again to be grateful just to have made it through another night:
“I lay down and slept; I woke again, for the Lord sustained me. I will not be afraid of many thousands of people who have set themselves against me all around.” (Psalm 3:5)
“In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.” (Psalm 4:8)
Alexander Maclaren put it like this:
“The thirty years since last he had wandered there have confirmed the faith of his earlier songs; and though the ruddy locks of the young chieftain are silvered with grey now, and sins and sorrows have saddened him, yet he can take up again with deeper meaning the tones of his old praise, and let the experience of age seal with its ‘verily’ the hopes of youth.”
Below are three of the psalms Maclaren thought were composed during this time in David’s life.
Psalm 3 (ESV)
A Psalm of David, when he fled from Absalom his son.
O Lord, how many are my foes!
Many are rising against me;
many are saying of my soul,
“There is no salvation for him in God.” Selah
But you, O Lord, are a shield about me,
my glory, and the lifter of my head.
I cried aloud to the Lord,
and he answered me from his holy hill. Selah
I lay down and slept;
I woke again, for the Lord sustained me.
I will not be afraid of many thousands of people
who have set themselves against me all around.
Arise, O Lord!
Save me, O my God!
For you strike all my enemies on the cheek;
you break the teeth of the wicked.
Salvation belongs to the Lord;
your blessing be on your people! Selah
Psalm 4 (ESV)
To the choirmaster: with stringed instruments. A Psalm of David.
Answer me when I call, O God of my righteousness!
You have given me relief when I was in distress.
Be gracious to me and hear my prayer!
O men, how long shall my honor be turned into shame?
How long will you love vain words and seek after lies? Selah
But know that the Lord has set apart the godly for himself;
the Lord hears when I call to him.
Be angry, and do not sin;
ponder in your own hearts on your beds, and be silent. Selah
Offer right sacrifices,
and put your trust in the Lord.
There are many who say, “Who will show us some good?
Lift up the light of your face upon us, O Lord!”
You have put more joy in my heart
than they have when their grain and wine abound.
In peace I will both lie down and sleep;
for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.
Palm 63 (ESV)
A Psalm of David, when he was in the wilderness of Judah.
O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you;
my soul thirsts for you;
my flesh faints for you,
as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary,
beholding your power and glory.
Because your steadfast love is better than life,
my lips will praise you.
So I will bless you as long as I live;
in your name I will lift up my hands.
My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food,
and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips,
when I remember you upon my bed,
and meditate on you in the watches of the night;
for you have been my help,
and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy.
My soul clings to you;
your right hand upholds me.
But those who seek to destroy my life
shall go down into the depths of the earth;
they shall be given over to the power of the sword;
they shall be a portion for jackals.
But the king shall rejoice in God;
all who swear by him shall exult,
for the mouths of liars will be stopped.