Looking Back While Looking Ahead
Seeing with a God-Lens
David’s life has been plagued by a steady stream of enemies, but in the end, the Lord has “delivered him from the hand of all his enemies” (2 Sam. 22:1). As David looks back in reflection on his life, he writes not a lament about how many enemies he’s had to face but a praise song for how much deliverance and faithfulness the Lord has shown.
David’s praise is far from mild or timid. He describes God’s deliverances with extreme language: cracking open the earth, devouring with fire, riding on a cherub, shooting lightning like arrows, and so forth (vv. 8–20). Of course, David has in mind events that looked much less apocalyptic than this—like his getting out of Gath by acting crazy (1 Sam. 21:10–15; cf. Psalm 34). But he knows what kind of God it is who works in unseen ways. Thus, his praise for God is lively and lofty.
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Let’s pause here to ask ourselves some questions. When I reflect on my life, do I interpret things through a God-lens, seeing him as the central figure of it all? Do I think primarily in terms of trials, or of God’s deliverance and faithfulness through dark days? When I talk of God and his work, do I do so in vanilla, stale ways? Or do I dare to praise God as David did, with extreme words and great passion? David is once again an instructive example for us (Rom. 15:4).
That said, David’s song is far more than a personal reflection to be imitated. David is no ordinary guy; he is the Lord’s “anointed” (2 Sam. 22:51). Therefore, it is important to step back and consider this within the grand plan of God. The books of Samuel begin and end with songs of praise: Hannah’s in 1 Samuel 2:1–10 and David’s in 2 Samuel 22.
Do I dare to praise God as David did, with extreme words and great passion?
They have a number of similarities, and therefore should be thought of as bookends that help interpret what’s in between. It is their similar endings that are particularly important: Hannah said, “He will give strength to his king and exalt the horn of his anointed” (1 Sam. 2:10); David wrote, “Great salvation he brings to his king, and shows steadfast love to his anointed, to David and his offspring forever” (2 Sam. 22:51). Do you see? What Hannah foreshadowed in her prayer had now come to pass—and more!
And yet, as much as 2 Samuel 22 is a high point in redemptive history, we read on just a bit more and find David doubting God, sinning, and steering the nation into near-judgment (2 Samuel 24). God’s people need more than a David to shepherd them. Praise God, one greater than David has come (see Acts 2:29–36).
This article is by Ryan Kelly and is adapted from Daily Strength: A Devotional for Men edited by Sam Storms.
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