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As we have seen in Israel’s history, and in that of the rest of the nations of the world, as goes the king, so goes the nation. How like sheep we are! Whatever the reasons for our loyalties, they testify to the powerful influence of leadership over us. And for better or for worse, how a leader leads is determined by his or her deepest convictions.

Our brief overview of David’s life would not be complete without venturing into the Psalms, for David’s psalms reveal his thought and prayer life during his career. It is there we peer through wide-open windows into a soul bared by the righteous gaze of God (Ps. 139). One need only read Psalm 51 in conjunction with 2 Samuel 12:1–15 to appreciate this dimension. Yet despite David’s failures, God had chosen to establish the King of kings on David’s throne. His spiritual life was not merely a private matter. National security was contingent on the prayer life of the king. Conquests were already won when he “inquired of the Lord” (1 Sam 23:2; 30:8).

David’s devotion to the Lord of Hosts was intense and inspiring. Not only did he carry the title of the man after God’s own heart (1 Sam. 13:14), he was a musician and poet known as the “sweet psalmist of Israel” (2 Sam. 23:1). Ezra and Nehemiah remind us that it was by the king’s edict that music became incorporated into temple liturgy (Ezra 3:10, Neh. 12:24). Worship, private and public, was a highest priority on the king’s agenda. Songs of praise were a matter of national policy. He led his flock by way of psalms.

Psalms were often song lyrics that flowed from the prayer life of the composer—a diary of song for corporate participation. By them, praises were shouted; thanksgiving offered; victories celebrated; failure lamented; and hope affirmed. All of these were embroidered within a myriad of human emotions wrought by the Spirit of God. It is no wonder countless souls have found inspiration and comfort reading and praying through them. They bear witness to the timelessness and universality of our human condition.

I am not a king over a nation, but I do have a family entrusted to my care. My battles are of a different sort than David’s, but they are battles still. How often do we set aside times of prayer only to find ourselves scrambling for words? We do not know where to start. Our minds wander. We quit. So goes the cycle. Let us follow David’s lead and flee to the Psalms. The King awaits!

David’s Restraint

When the Mighty Fall

Keep Reading Holy Ordinance: Prayer in the Christian Life

From the April 2003 Issue
Apr 2003 Issue