Psalm 37:25, “I have been young and now am old, yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken nor His seed begging bread.” I have been studying in the Psalms and have found some treasure there. David wrote at least eight of his psalms when he was still in his twenties but he says in this 37th one that he is an old man. I don’t know how old because he died when he was 71. But he would have been in his 20s those years when he was fleeing and hiding from Saul to save his life. The eight psalms he wrote while he was young were 34, 52, 54, 56, 57, 59, 63, and 142. When Saul was killed by the Philistines in battle, the tribe of Judah to which David belonged crowned him king of Judah in Hebron and he would have been 30 years old at this time.
In I Samuel 22:1, Jonathan had warned David that his father, Saul, had plans to kill him so he was hiding from Saul and his army in the cave Adullam and there he wrote the 57th Psalm. He said, “My heart is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed; I will sing and give praise.” This was his purpose as a young man and when I read this, it started me on my treasure hunt in his psalms. In Proverbs 4:23, Solomon was teaching his son what he said his father, David, had taught him, “Keep thy heart with all diligence for out of it are the issues of life.” It has been proven that when the pressure is on, you will follow what is in your heart no matter what is in your mind. So, our heart needs to be fixed with the right purposes because out of it will come the things that are going to be the issues of our life forever. The purposes that were fixed in David’s heart as a young man became his testimony and the advice he could give to those that were coming after him.
I have been trying to find some of those things he said his heart was fixed on as a young man that kept him true to God into old age. In Psalm 34, he said, “I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth.” He had a fixed purpose that come what may “at all times” he would have a song in his heart that would bless the Lord – and he would sing it. What was the background of that song? He had gone down into the land of the Philistines when he was fleeing from Saul. There the servants of the king of Gath saw David and knew he had been anointed king of Israel their enemy, so the servants captured him and took him to their king. They said, “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?” David was sore afraid seeing he was in dire straits so he pretended to be crazy and let his spittle run down his beard and made marks on the doors – and the king told his men this is just a mad man and to get him out of there. His own haste had brought him there but he turned to God and said, “I will bless the Lord at all times,” and he wouldn’t let his foolish mistake take away from him what God had given him.
One time in Nebraska I was talking to an old sister worker who was resting, Blanche Hartsock. I asked when it was she went into the work and she told us, “I can’t boast of my progress but I can boast of my leader.” This was also David’s fixed purpose to “boast of the Lord at all times.”
Psalm 34:3, David said, “O magnify the Lord with me and let us exalt His name together.” What do you think of when you think of “the name of the Lord?” You think of his character. When God called Moses up on the mountain to give him the commandments, He declared His name to him saying, “The Lord God, merciful and gracious, long suffering and abundant in mercy and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgressions and sin.” Another time, He told Moses to tell the children of Israel that “Ye shall be holy for I the Lord your God am holy.” This holy God has made it possible that an unholy man can be made right and have fellowship with Him.
Psalm 34:4, “I sought the Lord and He heard me and delivered me from all my sins.” This was the young David talking and also in Psalm 142:5, “I cried unto Thee, O Lord; I said, ‘Thou art my refuge and my portion in the land of the living.’” He could say I cried and He heard me. When a baby cries, the mom and dad hear them and although the words are not distinct, they, and especially the mom, seem to know what the cry means. One time I was listening to a child mumbling and crying in a high chair. I couldn’t understand anything he was saying but he had dropped something on the floor and when I picked it up and handed it to him, he was satisfied and quiet. Without words, he asked for what he wanted and got it. Sometimes people say they don’t know how to pray because they don’t know the language of heaven but we do know how to cry and God knows our language.
Psalm 34:7, David said, “The angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear Him and delivereth them.” I look back on my early years and know that if there had not been an invisible hand keeping me, things wouldn’t have turned out so good.
Psalm 34:12, David proved that he learned in the dark a formula for good days. He says, “What man is he that desireth life and loveth many days that he may see good? Keep thy tongue from evil and thy lips from speaking guile. Depart from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.” We have the same formula to help us make dark days good days.
Ten of those twelve spies that went into Canaan came out saying they had seen the land that it was good but it was inhabited by giants (in reality they weren’t all giants). They said the cities were walled up to heaven (but they really weren’t that high). Their words took the courage out of the hearts of their brethren because they didn’t use the formula of keeping their tongue from evil so they did not have the good days that God intended they should have.
Psalm 34:20, David said, “He keepeth all His bones; not one of them is broken.” In his dark days he received a vision of the Christ also in a dark time giving His life for mankind.
Psalm 4:1, David said, “…Thou hast enlarged me when I was in darkness.” That enlargement was the vision of the Christ who was to come.
Psalm 34:19, “Many are the afflictions of the righteous but the Lord delivered him out of them all. He kept all His bones: not one of them is broken.” David saw this vision of the Christ when he was in darkness and distress and it enlarged him. He saw the perfect righteous one in affliction but he saw the perfect provision of God for him when He was hanging on the cross beside the two thieves and they came to break the bones of their legs. God saw to it that Jesus was already dead when they came so that scripture was fulfilled and Jesus was spared that further suffering. This glimpse of Jesus in His darkness helped enlarge David in his darkness.
Psalm 52 was written during the same experience and it was a day of crisis in David’s life and in the kingdom but he proved that what was fixed in his heart was the rudder that kept him in that day of crisis. In that last verse he said, “I will praise Thee forever because Thou hast done it and I will wait on Thy name for it is good before Thy saints.” In that dark, distressing, critical time he was a servant serving God’s name. He had it fixed that he was concerned about God’s name and not his own.
In Psalm 54:6, he was still running from Saul and still in this crisis but he could say, “I will freely sacrifice unto Thee…” In a time of crisis, if we are not careful, we can become negligent and neglect the daily sacrifice. The 56th chapter is still that same experience but he could say, “What time I am afraid, I will trust in Thee.” It wasn’t that he had no fear, but he trusted God to care for him.
Once I was confused like Job when he said in Job 23:8, “Behold I go forward, but He is not there and backward, but I cannot perceive Him; on the left hand where He doth work, but I cannot behold Him; He hideth Himself on the right hand, that I cannot see Him but He knoweth the way that I take; when He hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.” It can be very confusing when we are looking for Him and can’t find Him. He felt he went backward and forward, to the right and the left and still couldn’t find Him. We can feel the same way sometimes. I really don’t know if it is just in our mind that it is that way but it can be very real. We feel if we need to move more to the right to avoid unrighteousness we will. If we need to move more to the left to avoid self righteousness, we will. Job could say that he would trust even though he didn’t understand.
Back to Psalm 56:8. David said, “Thou tellest my wanderings; put Thou my tears into Thy bottle; are they not in Thy book?” When he wandered, he repented and there were tears of repentance that he wanted the Lord to remember and save for him. I have done some things that I wouldn’t recommend that others do but I would recommend that if they do that, they also do what I did when I wandered, and that is repent.
Psalm 57:1, David is still fleeing for his life from Saul and he told God, “In the shadow of Thy wings will I make my refuge until these calamities be overpast.” At the same time, Saul was looking for his refuge in the shadow of men. In I Samuel 22, he wanted to find David to kill him and was having a pity party when he told his servants, “There is none of you that is sorry for me…” So Doeg the Edomite who was over Saul’s servants told Saul about seeing David going to Ahimelech the priest for food and the sword of Goliath. Then Saul commanded his servants to kill Ahimelech for helping David. When they wouldn’t do it, Doeg killed him and 84 other priests and all the inhabitants of Nob, the city of the priests. Saul’s refuge was in man.
Psalm 59:9, David was still hiding from Saul and he said of God, “Because of His strength will I wait upon Thee; for God is my defense.” He knew he had a strong enemy against him but he also knew he had a strong defense in God. He felt he could not dare try to get ahead of God in defending himself. Saul was king for only two years and God knew that Saul couldn’t wait on Him. But David knew how to wait on God for direction. David never used the sword to do what God had anointed him to do.
There is a saying, “Live and learn and pass it on,” and in the 37th Psalm that is what David the old man was doing. He said, “Fret not thyself because of evildoers.” He proved that there were a lot of things in life that we simply have no power over and it was best to just wait on God to take care of it. In talking with Mary Quinn the other day, she told me she had been thinking about what Jesus told the disciples in John 15, “Let not your heart be troubled; ye believe in God, believe also in Me.” There is something we can do about a troubled heart – Psalm 37:8 – the old man said, “Cease from anger and forsake wrath; fret not thyself in any wise to do evil.” When those things rest in your heart, it really hurts them. Someone said that keeping bitterness in our heart against someone is like taking poison and hoping it will make the other person sick. You can fret yourself to the point that the person you hurt most is yourself. Evil doers will be cut off so don’t take things into your own hands.
“Trust in the Lord and do good” – those words of the old man were the result of the young man’s fixed purpose: “What time I am afraid, I will trust in Thee.” The old man says in Psalm 37:3, “Trust in the Lord and do good and thou shalt dwell in the land and verily thou shalt be fed. Delight thyself in the Lord and He shall give thee the desires of thine heart.”
Psalm 142:3, the young man said, “When my spirit was overwhelmed within me, then Thou knowest my path. In the way wherein I walked, have they privily laid a snare for me.”
In Psalm 37:5, the old man said, “Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in Him and He shall bring it to pass” and verse 23, “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord and he delighteth in His way.”
So, if you were to ask the old man, “How was it in life? Did you always take those steps the Lord ordered for a good man?” He would say, “No, nevertheless (verse 24) though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down for the Lord upholdeth him with His hands.” A person is really handicapped if both his arms are broken. The Lord is not handicapped to help us and David knew he could be held up with both of God’s hands.
Psalm 37:6, “He shall bring forth thy righteousness as a light and thy judgment as the noonday.” So if you asked the old man he would say, “Keep right and if at any time you are not right – get right again.” Nobody can keep the sun from rising and neither can anyone keep God from bringing forth righteousness as the light nor His judgment as the noonday. If we are right, we don’t have to make too much of a fuss about it. But if we are not right, we’d better make all the fuss we can because time will run out.
The young man had a purpose and the old man had a testimony. The future does not belong to the wicked but to the righteous. All we need to be concerned about is keeping right with God.