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Psalms of David and Sins of David

The Psalms of David are widely recognized as being written by a man highly honored of God. However, he was a sinner like anyone else. This is page 2 of a study showing that the prophets were people too. Go to page 1 for the start of the study.

David recognized that God spoke through him in his writings:

"The Spirit of the LORD spake by me, and his word was in my tongue." (2 Sam 23:2)

The New Testament often quotes the psalms of David and recognizes him as a prophet:

"Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day. Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne;" (Acts 2:29-30)

David was a murderer, adulterer etc. and yet God spoke of him very highly. It is very informative in looking at the question of who God is willing to use as a prophet to examine the life of King David. Especially, to recognize his many ups and downs and the fact that the writing of the Psalms of David were interspersed with his sins. It seems to be that God used him in the prophetic role when He could.

Chronology of King David's failings and the writing of the Psalms of David.

This, as best as I can determine so far, is the chronology of the Psalms of David including at what point in his life he committed his major sins that are recorded. There are many lists of the chronology of the Psalms of David and they all vary somewhat as the exact order is impossible to determine. Note that there were other writers of many of the Psalms.

Psalm 23 - superscription to the Psalm: "A Psalm of David." It's easy to see the connection here to David's early years as a shepherd.

Psalm 59 - superscription to the Psalm: "To the chief Musician, Altaschith, Michtam of David; when Saul sent, and they watched the house to kill him."

Psalm 34 - superscription to the Psalm: "A Psalm of David, when he changed his behaviour before Abimelech; who drove him away, and he departed."

Psalm 56 - superscription to the Psalm: "To the chief Musician upon Jonathelemrechokim, Michtam of David, when the Philistines took him in Gath."

Psalm 142 - superscription to the Psalm: "Maschil of David; A Prayer when he was in the cave."

Psalm 57 - superscription to the Psalm: "To the chief Musician, Altaschith, Michtam of David, when he fled from Saul in the cave."

Lying

"Then came David to Nob to Ahimelech the priest: and Ahimelech was afraid at the meeting of David, and said unto him, Why art thou alone, and no man with thee? And David said unto Ahimelech the priest, The king hath commanded me a business, and hath said unto me, Let no man know any thing of the business whereabout I send thee, and what I have commanded thee: and I have appointed my servants to such and such a place. Now therefore what is under thine hand? give me five loaves of bread in mine hand, or what there is present." (1 Sam 21:1-3)

Psalm 52 - superscription to the Psalm: "To the chief Musician, Maschil, A Psalm of David, when Doeg the Edomite came and told Saul, and said unto him, David is come to the house of Ahimelech."

Psalm 27 - superscription to the Psalm: "A Psalm of David." There may be a connection to 1 Sam 22:22

Psalm 31 - superscription to the Psalm: "To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David" This may have been the background of the experience of David in the wilderness of Maon (1 Sam 23:19-26)

Psalm 40 - superscription to the Psalm: "To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David."

Psalm 58 - superscription to the Psalm: "To the chief Musician, Altaschith, Michtam of David."

Psalm 63 - superscription to the Psalm: "A Psalm of David, when he was in the wilderness of Judah." This was while David was a fugitive from the wrath of King Saul.

Psalm 141 - superscription to the Psalm: "A Psalm of David."

Intent to Murder Nabal

"David said unto his men, Gird ye on every man his sword." (1 Sam 25:13)
"kept me this day from coming to shed blood" (1 Sam 25:33)

Polygamy

"And when the servants of David were come to Abigail to Carmel, they spake unto her, saying, David sent us unto thee, to take thee to him to wife. And she arose, and bowed herself on her face to the earth, and said, Behold, let thine handmaid be a servant to wash the feet of the servants of my lord. And Abigail hasted, and arose, and rode upon an ass, with five damsels of hers that went after her; and she went after the messengers of David, and became his wife. David also took Ahinoam of Jezreel; and they were also both of them his wives." (1 Sam 25:40-43)
"And David dwelt with Achish at Gath, he and his men, every man with his household, even David with his two wives, Ahinoam the Jezreelitess, and Abigail the Carmelitess, Nabal's wife." (1 Sam 27:3)
Psalm 54 - superscription to the Psalm: "To the chief Musician on Neginoth, Maschil, A Psalm of David, when the Ziphims came and said to Saul, Doth not David hide himself with us?"
"For strangers are risen up against me, and oppressors seek after my soul ..." (Psa 54:3)

The reference is to when the Ziphites betrayed his location to Saul (1 Sam 26:1).

Lying

"And David and his men went up, and invaded the Geshurites, and the Gezrites, and the Amalekites: for those nations were of old the inhabitants of the land, as thou goest to Shur, even unto the land of Egypt. And David smote the land, and left neither man nor woman alive, and took away the sheep, and the oxen, and the asses, and the camels, and the apparel, and returned, and came to Achish. And Achish said, Whither have ye made a road to day? And David said, Against the south of Judah, and against the south of the Jerahmeelites, and against the south of the Kenites. And David saved neither man nor woman alive, to bring tidings to Gath, saying, Lest they should tell on us, saying, So did David, and so will be his manner all the while he dwelleth in the country of the Philistines. And Achish believed David, saying, He hath made his people Israel utterly to abhor him; therefore he shall be my servant for ever." (1 Sam 27:8-12)

David becomes King

Took Concubines and Wives

The very next verse after "David perceived that the LORD had established him king over Israel" (2 Sam 5:12) says:

"And David took him more concubines and wives out of Jerusalem, after he was come from Hebron: and there were yet sons and daughters born to David." (2 Sam 5:13)
"And David took more wives at Jerusalem: and David begat more sons and daughters." (1 Chr 14:3)

Psalm 30 - superscription to the Psalm: "A Psalm and Song at the dedication of the house of David."

In that psalm, David says:

"... in my prosperity I said, I shall never be moved." (Psa 30:6)

David had just built his own house. This sounds like extreme self-confidence and is reminiscent of King Nebuchadnezzar just before his fall into madness.

"... Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for the house of the kingdom by the might of my power, and for the honour of my majesty?" (Dan 4:30)

Adultery with Bathsheba

"And it came to pass in an eveningtide, that David arose from off his bed, and walked upon the roof of the king's house: and from the roof he saw a woman washing herself; and the woman was very beautiful to look upon. And David sent and enquired after the woman. And one said, Is not this Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite? And David sent messengers, and took her; and she came in unto him, and he lay with her; for she was purified from her uncleanness: and she returned unto her house." (2 Sam 11:2-4)

Conspiracy and Murder of Uriah

"And he wrote in the letter, saying, Set ye Uriah in the forefront of the hottest battle, and retire ye from him, that he may be smitten, and die. And it came to pass, when Joab observed the city, that he assigned Uriah unto a place where he knew that valiant men were. And the men of the city went out, and fought with Joab: and there fell some of the people of the servants of David; and Uriah the Hittite died also." (2 Sam 11:15-17)

Psalm 38 - superscription to the Psalm: "A Psalm of David, to bring to remembrance."

Within the Psalms of David are examples of him mentioning his own sins or their effects in his life:

"There is no soundness in my flesh because of thine anger; neither is there any rest in my bones because of my sin." (Psa 38:3)

Psalm 32 - superscription to the Psalm: "A Psalm of David, Maschil"

"When I kept silence, my bones waxed old through my roaring all the day long." (Psa 32:3)

David did not confess his sin ("when I kept silence") for perhaps a year (his child with Bathsheba had been born - 2 Sam 12:14) and suffered greatly as a result.

Psalm 51 - superscription to the Psalm: "A Psalm of David, when Nathan the prophet came unto him, after he had gone in to Bathsheba." (Introduction to Psalm 51; reference is to 2 Sam 12:1)

"Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me. Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit." (Psa 51:10-12)

Psalm 3 - superscription to the Psalm: "A Psalm of David, when he fled from Absalom his son."

Psalm 63 - superscription to the Psalm: "A Psalm of David, when he was in the wilderness of Judah."

Psalm 37 - superscription to the Psalm: "A Psalm of David."

His taking a census of the people of Judah and Israel (his punishment was a plague which ravaged his kingdom) This is recorded in 2 Sam 24 and also in 1 Chron 21 where it is followed by the account of David making preparations of the building of the temple. The chapter (2 Sam 24) may be out of order but was certainly towards the end of his life.

Psalm 18 - superscription to the Psalm: "To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David, the servant of the LORD, who spake unto the LORD the words of this song in the day that the LORD delivered him from the hand of all his enemies, and from the hand of Saul: And he said,"

This psalm may be a summary written near the end of David's life (much of it appears with variations in 2 Sam 22) recounting the deliverances God gave him during his lifetime. The first verse of 2 Sam 23 starts with "Now these be the last words of David ..."

Note regarding superscriptions to the Psalms of David: In the Hebrew, the superscriptions to the Psalms of David appear as part of the text. They are generally accepted as authentic because, among other reasons, Hebrew lyrics from the earliest times had such superscriptions.  

Go to part 3 for more stories of the prophets and their errors.


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