Skip to comments.Many are the Afflictions of the Righteous (Psalm 34)
Posted on 06/29/2019 6:15:56 PM PDT by pcottraux
Many are the Afflictions of the Righteous
By Philip Cottraux
After being anointed king, David would spend the next ten years on the run from Saul. He and his band of loyal soldiers lived in the wilderness like fugitives, sleeping in caves, never knowing where their next meal was coming from, and on constant watch for Sauls pursuing army.
In a previous blog I wrote about David arriving at the tabernacle hungry and asking the high priest, Ahimelech, for food. A table with bread was located in front of the veil that concealed the holiest of holies. But this show bread was reserved for the priests only, so Ahimelech was apprehensive to let David have any. The penalty for violating the Law could be death.
But David partook of it anyway. So the priest gave him hallowed bread: for there was no bread there but the shewbread, that was taken from before the Lord, to put hot bread in the day when it was taken away (1 Samuel 21:6). I pointed out that David didnt die from this; but in a similar incident of violating the temple years later, King Uzziah was stricken with leprosy and died shortly thereafter. Why was David spared but Uzziah slain?
I think the answer has Messianic implications; the show bread ceremony was a type and shadow of the Last Supper. In the Old Testament, the sacred bread was reserved for the priesthood only; but in the New Testament, Christ, who came through Davids lineage, made the bread of life available to all.
However, I want to follow-up this story by comparing it to what immediately follows. After David left the tabernacle, he sought refuge among the Philistines. Verse 10: And David arose, and fled that day for fear of Saul, and went to Achish the king of Gath. Now, it might seem peculiar why the mortal enemies of Gods people would willingly take David in. It could be that some of Davids men, which came from different cultures, were Philistines themselves. Or its possible that at the time, the Philistines decided they could trust David since they viewed Saul as the real enemy. But whatever the reason, it didnt take long for them to become suspicious of their visitor. And the servants of Achish said unto him, Is not this David the king of the land? Did they not sing one to another of him in dances, saying Saul hath slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands (verse 11)? Be careful of where you go; your reputation might precede you!
David was afraid when he heard about the ruminations. Verse 13: And he changed his behavior before them, and feigned himself mad in their hands, and scrabbled on the doors of the gate, and let his spittle fall down upon his beard. He had to act mad, talking nonsense and letting spittle fall down his beard while he scratched the doors of the gate. Then said Achish unto his servants, Lo, ye see the man is mad: wherefore then have ye brought him to me (verse 14)?
In the tabernacle, David was in Sauls backyard and should have theoretically been in more danger. The Philistines werent looking for him at the time. Yet he was still safer in the tabernacle, because thats where Gods presence was. Gath represents the world; and once he left for a sinful place, even if thats where his enemies couldnt find him, he was actually in more danger than ever.
David had been privileged to be the first non-priest to eat of the show bread, a foreshadowing of His lineage bringing Christ into the world. But in the Philistine city, he suffered humiliation by pretending to be someone he wasnt to survive. Even when your enemies have you surrounded, youll always be safer in Gods presence than if you leave into the world. Without the glory of God, danger has a way of finding you.
David wrote the 34th Psalm in the aftermath of this hard lesson, a wonderful reflection on the attitudes we should have in the face of our most crushing defeats. I will bless the Lord at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth (verse 1). Its important to compare the two situations David had just been in while reading this chapter; the Lord had protected him while in the tabernacle and saved him from the Philistines at Gath. Verses 7-8: This poor man (David) cried, and the Lord heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles. The angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them.
David had every reason to be discouraged. He and his men had been fugitives for years. They were dirty and tired. They were sleeping in caves. They didnt know where their next meal was coming from. And this was the man who had been anointed king! So often David probably cried hopelessly in prayer, every night begging God for a sign when this situation would end. And there was no answer. Day after day, night after night, until the months turned into years. Going to Gath had been a mistake, and the subsequent exile by the Philistines was another devastating blow. Yet still he wrote O fear the Lord, ye his saints: for there is no want to them that fear him. The young lions (Davids soldiers) do lack, and suffer hunger: but they that seek the Lord shall not want (lack) any good thing (verses 9-10).
David was hardly perfect. He would go on to commit adultery and even murder. But others in the Bible were punished more severely for lesser crimes. Perhaps its because despite all his many faults, he always had a repentant heart. After being called out for his sins with Bathsheba, David would write the sorrowful 51st Psalm: Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions (Psalm 51:1). Some of the worst things imaginable would also happen to him. One of his sons would rape his daughter, to be killed by another son for retribution. A son would lead a rebellion to overthrow him. Yet no matter what happened, his outlook on life was always the same: Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the Lord delivered him out of them all (Psalm 34:19).
In the next verse, David inserts something oddly specific when referring to how the righteous will be delivered, hearkening to the commandment not to break the sacrificial lambs bones during Passover: He keepeth all his bones: not one of them is broken (verse 20). This prophecy was fulfilled at Calvary; when the Roman soldiers broke the legs of the malefactors crucified next to Jesus to hurry up their deaths, they found Jesus already dead so skipped Him. When we look closely at the ancestry of the only perfect Man who ever lived, its amazing the idolaters, prostitutes, deceivers, and even occasional murderers who show up. But despite all his imperfections, David was still considered a man after Gods own heart. Acts 13:22: he raised up unto them David to be their king; to whom also he gave their testimony, and said, I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfill all my will.
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David was a merciful, down-to-earth, practical "Can Do" problem-solving man. Like father like son:
1 At that time Jesus went on the sabbath day through the corn; and his disciples were an hungred, and began to pluck the ears of corn, and to eat.
2 But when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto him, Behold, thy disciples do that which is not lawful to do upon the sabbath day.
3 But he said unto them, Have ye not read what David did, when he was an hungred, and they that were with him;
4 How he entered into the house of God, and did eat the shewbread, which was not lawful for him to eat, neither for them which were with him, but only for the priests?
5 Or have ye not read in the law, how that on the sabbath days the priests in the temple profane the sabbath, and are blameless?
6 But I say unto you, That in this place is one greater than the temple.
7 But if ye had known what this meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice, ye would not have condemned the guiltless.
8 For the Son of man is Lord even of the sabbath day.
David was hardly perfect.
1 Kings 15
1 Now in the eighteenth year of king Jeroboam the son of Nebat reigned Abijam over Judah.
2 Three years reigned he in Jerusalem. And his mother's name was Maachah, the daughter of Abishalom.
3 And he walked in all the sins of his father, which he had done before him: and his heart was not perfect with the LORD his God, as the heart of David his father.
4 Nevertheless for David's sake did the LORD his God give him a lamp in Jerusalem, to set up his son after him, and to establish Jerusalem:
5 Because David did that which was right in the eyes of the LORD, and turned not aside from any thing that he commanded him all the days of his life, save only in the matter of Uriah the Hittite.
The matter with Uriah the Hittite was that the cover-up was worse than the crime. The matter involved ulterior motives. It was a devious, insincere, self-serving "CYA" plot 180 degrees out of character for David. Yet as they say, "You can't keep a good man down." David learned his lesson. Perfect.
When we look closely at the ancestry of the only perfect Man who ever lived...
And why is that? Because it's man's definition of perfect that nobody can attain, which is then projected onto God. The serpent *is* subtle like that.
God's the one with His eye out for mercy and compassion and eager for a reason to apply it, whereas man keeps moving the goalposts. For example, a teaching that shows up around here occasionally is that worrying is a sin. Egads, talk about hopeless. Might as well give up and enjoy the chains.
Jesus showed the way, which is how to be perfect according to God's definition of perfect. It's not complicated, but good luck with that. The jig is up on all the lame "hopeless sinner" excuses.
If a lame man is forgiven and told that he can get up and walk, he lost his reason to remain on the ground begging. You'd think he'd rejoice over his restored dignity and be psyched to go out to accompish something productive. Those who have been forgiven much love much, and can't wait to give back. It's the natural result of appreciating a new lease on life.
The sunny side is the side of hope, the side of life, which is the way of the Patriarchs.
Many are the Afflictions of the Righteous
Job is the man famous for his great patience. Job passed the test ("Good job!") because he kept on keeping on when he was given every earthly reason to turn from the way into a paralyzed, hopeless sinner. It might even explain why his name is a visual pun on "job."
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