Is it plagiarism to take a Psalm, written by King David, make it personal and then share the credit with him? That’s what I’m doing today.
King David is one of my favourite Bible characters. I love his passion, his desire for truth, his bold honesty with God. If there is one person who has influenced how I speak to God, how I feel in His presence, it is King David.
It used to end with inspiration, rather than moving to influence. I saw David as a Bible story character. In stories you can do anything you want, right? So for David to talk to God boldly… why not? He’s a bold warrior, not to mention a man after God’s own heart. And men like that, they have special rights.
When I got thinking about it, some years back, I came up with a lot more questions than answers. Why was David a man after God’s own heart? A man of blood. A man of murder. A man of lust. The makings of a pretty corrupt leader, if you stay above the surface. What made the little shepherd-boy-turned-king so special to God?
In my questioning, I turned to God. Who better to ask than the One who declared David to be all that and more? I didn’t get any fast answers and instant deep revelations. Instead, God took me back to the story.
I’ve known the stories of David since childhood, and especially loved the story of beautiful Bathsheba, but felt so bad for Urias. I wanted her to be David’s wife. He was the king, after all. I thought maybe if David had waited, Urias would have died and he could have had her the right way.
As I read the stories again, something stood out. David loved justice. But he was a warrior–a man of blood. He loved women. A lot of them. And that was pretty messed up in my opinion. I saw my hero differently. Human. And messed up. In these things I didn’t see how he earned the noble title God gave him.
Try telling your friends that you did what David did, choosing any one of his list of sins–or all of them, which could take a while–and see if they pat you on the back and say, “You are such a noble man of God. I think you must be a man after God’s own heart.” It won’t happen. And I’m not saying it should. So what made David a man after God’s own heart?
In Psalms I saw the heart behind the story. A man crying desperately to God, from places too deep for most of us, especially Christians. Because we’ve learned to hide the struggle, and pretend it doesn’t exist. At least too deep to tell honestly, like he did, in a book for people to read for ages to come.
That is why I love Psalms, and why King David is my hero. He was real. Honest. And I think it is one of the reasons he was a man after God’s own heart. But there was more.
David rose early to meditate. He loved to spend time with God and seemed to constantly turn his thoughts and heart towards Him. It’s like he was crazy about Him, and knew how desperately he needed Him. You read nothing of him worrying if he’s good enough, if he’s dressed right–even when he casts his outer clothing aside to praise God in a dance. David knew that he was acceptable to God because of something deeper than personal effort and attaining.
And David repented quickly when he realized he had sinned. He didn’t always see his sin for what it was right away, but as soon as he did, he repented. In one case, when he was caught in sin, he says, “I have sinned against the God of heaven.” He understood that he was accountable to God and ultimately that is whom he sinned against.
Yearning for God in the Midst of Distresses
Rewritten in my own Words: A Psalm of Trudy and King David
42 Like the deer, panting with thirst, craves for fresh water from a brook,
That is how my soul desires You, O God.
2 My soul aches to have a relationship with You, my living God, as if with unquenchable thirst.
When will I be with you?
3 My tears consume me, day and night, so that I can not even eat,
While people continually mock me and say,
“Where is your God?”
4 When I think about that,
I feel as if my very soul is a puddle on the floor.
I used to go with the crowds;
I went with them to Your house, God,
We were filled with joy and praise,
And celebrated with feasting
5 Why are you downcast, O my soul?
And why are you unsettled within me?
Hope in God! It’s not over! I will praise Him in spite of all things,
And thank Him for looking on me with kindness, to help me.
6 O my God, my soul is depressed and hopeless;
That is why I must remember …
7 Deep calls unto deep at the noise of Your waterfalls;
Your love washes over me in waves and billows
8 The Lord will extend His lovingkindness in the daytime,
And in the night His song shall be with me—
And I will offer it as a prayer to the God of my life.
9 I say to God my Rock,
“Why have You forgotten me?
Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?”
10 As if they can snap me like a twig,
My enemies make a mockery of me,
While they say to me all day long,
“Where is your God?”