Monday, June 9, 2014

King David

King David (c. 1040—970 BC) was described by God himself as a man after his own heart, and so he was selected to replace Saul as king over Israel. As a young man he had taken on the great Philistine warrior Goliath. He was also renown as a harp player, and had been called upon to play music to soothe the madness that tormented King Saul.

His passion for praising Yahweh is demonstrated by the story of David dancing before the Ark of the Covenant as it was brought into Jerusalem (2 Sam. 6). He is credited with having written the majority of poems in the biblical book of Psalms. Most significantly, it was prophesized that the Messiah—through whom the whole world would be blessed—would be a descendant of David. That prophesy was fulfilled in the coming of Jesus Christ.

In his book Reflections on the Psalms, C.S. Lewis said of the following poem (Psalm 19), "I take this to be the greatest poem in the Psalter and one of the greatest lyrics in the world." Here it is presented in the New International Version.

Psalm 19

For the director of music. A psalm of David.

The heavens declare the glory of God;
---the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
---night after night they reveal knowledge.
They have no speech, they use no words;
---no sound is heard from them.
Yet their voice goes out into all the earth,
---their words to the ends of the world.
In the heavens God has pitched a tent for the sun.
---It is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber,
---like a champion rejoicing to run his course.
It rises at one end of the heavens
---and makes its circuit to the other;
---nothing is deprived of its warmth.

The law of the LORD is perfect,
---refreshing the soul.
The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy,
---making wise the simple.
The precepts of the LORD are right,
---giving joy to the heart.
The commands of the LORD are radiant,
---giving light to the eyes.
The fear of the LORD is pure,
---enduring forever.
The decrees of the LORD are firm,
---and all of them are righteous.

They are more precious than gold,
---than much pure gold;
they are sweeter than honey,
---than honey from the honeycomb.
By them your servant is warned;
---in keeping them there is great reward.
But who can discern their own errors?
---Forgive my hidden faults.
Keep your servant also from willful sins;
---may they not rule over me.
Then I will be blameless,
---innocent of great transgression.
May these words of my mouth
---and this meditation of my heart
---be pleasing in your sight,
---LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.

Entry written by D.S. Martin. His new poetry collection, Conspiracy of Light: Poems Inspired by the Legacy of C.S. Lewis, is available from Wipf & Stock as is his earlier award-winning collection, Poiema.