This Bible study will explore the life and events associated with King David as evidenced in his Psalms. The study is structured around the chronology of David as presented in I Samuel 16 through I Kings 2. Various Psalms will be incorporated into our study. The ultimate purpose of the study is to help us have the kind of courage, faith, and rightful disposition to draw us closer to our God – to help us be men and women "after the heart of God".
Our study will seek to accomplish the following objectives:
- Study and explore the life of David and his relationship with God.
- Based on the account of David, help us understand how our actions and decisions either draw us unto God or take us away from Him.
- Incorporate various Psalms of David to help us understand the thoughts and motivation of David at various points in his life.
Each lesson will summarize a few chapters of the chronology of King David. Each lesson will incorporate links to various Psalms written by David. Our class sessions will focus primarily on the Psalms and the questions contained in this outline. We will do some reading of the related scriptures during class time as well. Obviously, our time will be best utilized if you read the cited passages, reflect on the questions asked, and come to class prepared to discuss.
David was "a man after God's own heart" (Acts 13:22). What an awesome compliment! How is it possible for this to be said of any human being? You might think someone described that way must have lived a flawless life. Yet, we know that David's life was not one of spiritual perfection. He faced many challenges during his life, some common and some extraordinary. Some of these challenges were met with rock-solid resolve. He experienced profound failure on others. Our study will explore these highs and lows of David's life. We will walk with him as he evolved from being an ordinary person to an extraordinary ruler of God's people. Along the way, he battled a giant-sized Goliath, a king that despised his success, his own personal failures, and colossal family problems. Sometimes we find David squarely in the pit of despair. We will see how his courage and faith played a vital role in his life. Unfortunately, David did not always keep his heart close to God. He allowed the temptation to blossom into sin. He learned that his choices carried dreadful consequences. When faced with the overwhelming guilt of his sin, the goodness of David's heart emerged to help him accept his conviction and confess his sins before God. As a consequence of sin, David's family life was anything but peaceful. In fact, death, adversity, treachery, and treason are just a few of the consequences he suffered. Through all of these events, the drama and emotion were captured in a number of his Psalms. It is through the prism of David's Psalms that we will have a look at our own lives. Can it be said that you are "a man after God's own heart"?
Under the leadership of Moses, God led the Israelites away from 400 years of hard servitude and bondage in Egypt. During this time, the Israelites looked to Moses as their leader and guide. God provided the law under which the people were to live. However, the Israelites found themselves in a vicious cycle of sin. The four stages of this cycle include:
During these cycles from sin to salvation, God provided a number of Judges to help Israel in their return to the Lord's service. The last of the Judges was Samuel.
Samuel is sometimes referred to as the "king-maker." Israel had voiced their dissatisfaction with their current system of government. "We want a king – just like every other nation" was their plea. God responded that the Israelites should be careful of what they asked for as they would have their king. Under direction from God, Samuel anointed Saul as the first king of Israel. Saul started off on the right foot but soon found himself in direct and willful violation of God's will. Saul did not obey God – he failed as the Lord's anointed. The kingdom would be stripped from him and his descendants.
God had chosen another to become king and assume the throne. The youngest son of Jesse, a young shepherd, would be the next king of Israel. This shepherd-king was a skilled musician and masterful psalmist.
Psalms – A Brief Introduction
"Speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord" (Ephesians 5:19).
The book of Psalms contains inspired songs, prayer, and poetry from a number of people. David is one of the principal contributors. Although our class will not seek to fully explore and understand all of the Psalms recorded, it is helpful to understand how the book and the individual Psalms are constructed.
The book of Psalms contains thoughts with both historical and prophetic perspectives. Some feature words of praise and honor for God – describing the magnificent attributes of God. Other Psalms contain the prayers of those who suffering and confessing sin. Often, the Psalms are very personal and rich in emotion. Psalms has a way of touching our heart. As you read, you can see the tears and feel the pain as the Psalm was written. Other Psalms invoke a deep sense of victory available through a right relationship with God.
We often classify Psalms as a "book of Poetry." Indeed it is. However, the poetry of Psalms is that of Hebrew poetry. Hebrew poetry is quite different from our western forms of poetry. Western poetry is generally constructed on word rhymes and rhythm. If rhyming was the principle construct of Psalms, translation to English would have been virtually impossible.
Often, the Psalmist would perform his psalm with the aid of a musical instrument, generally a stringed instrument. While we don't find any authority for using a mechanical instrument in our worship service today, we do often sing or cite various psalms.
Hebrew poetry uses concepts called "parallelism". Parallelism involves the interrelationship of various parts of the verse. This helps us understand why ideas and thoughts are phrased in certain ways. There are several varieties of parallelism in Hebrew poetry:
- Synonymous parallelism is where the second clause repeats the first.
- Antithetic parallelism is where the idea contained in the second clause is converse to that in the first clause.
- Climatic parallelism involves the subsequent clauses in a verse amplifying the first clause.
- Constructive parallelism is where the second clause supplements or completes the first.
psalm, noun: a sacred song or poem used in worship; especially : one of the biblical hymns collected in the Book of Psalms [merriam-webster.com]
Many of the psalms mention their authors by name:
- David, king of Israel, authored at least half of the Psalms; 73 of them are ascribed to him. Two others are credited to him in New Testament writings (Acts 4:25-26 and Hebrews 4:7).
- Asaph, a Levite in charge of worship music in the Tabernacle (I Chronicles 15:16-17) or one of his descendants authored at least 12 of the Psalms (Psalms 50 and 73-83).
- The "descendants of Korah", the priest who led a rebellion against Moses in Numbers 16, authored at least 12 Psalms. Psalm 88 lists Heman the Ezrahite (see I Chronicles 6:33) as an author along with them.
- Solomon wrote Psalms 72 and 127.
- Moses penned the oldest Psalm - Psalm 90.
- Ethan wrote at least one - Psalm 89.
- Authors of 34 of the Psalms are simply unknown.
Psalms is a collection of writings that span a period of approximately 900 years. The earliest is believed to have originated during the time of Moses (Psalm 90, written about 1405 BC). Others were written during the time of Israel's return from Babylonian exile (Psalm 126, Psalms 147-150, written approximately 500 BC). In our study, David and his Psalms, we will consider the Psalms written during the lifetime of David or approximately 1063 BC.
Purpose of the Psalms
The purpose of the various Psalms differs somewhat, depending on the author and the occasion of the writing. For example:
- Almost all of the Psalms, in one way or another call the believer's attention to a notable characteristic or attribute of God.
- Some Psalms reflect on the role that God should play in the believer's life.
- Many of the Psalms reflect on God's work in the ancient nation of Israel.
- Several psalms are prayers of confession and beautiful sentiments of repentance.
- Many psalms call on God to punish the wicked and enemies of the author or Israel.