The David in the Psalms

Psalm68v26In researching David’s life, I found the Psalms were commonly referred to as being almost bipolar in nature. There are huge swings between the joys and griefs of his life and this has led some commentators to question David’s mental health. Was the King bipolar?

Most probably not. I have qualifications in the mental health field and I also teach memoir writing and creativity. I spend a lot of time with writers and creative people and David fits in with the crowd as being normal.

Before the advent of social media where the crazy, small detail of every day life was shared, most of what you heard from writers, (whether they were song writers, poets or memoirists,) was pretty typical of what David produced: they wrote about the highs and lows of life. Many of us still do. Why? Because the every day mundane is totally boring, not worth noting and you know what? We’re busy. So was David.

David spent forty years on the thrones of Judah and Isra’el. He was head of a large family, King over a growing, massive geographical area (think about the transport and communication problems), was devoted to his faith (the practices within Judaism are time consuming) and in addition, he was also cramming in everything else that the average person does in that day. There would not have been much time to write, let alone, cover every detail of every facet of his life.

I am blessed that he managed to get the most important Psalms recorded. David’s experience with the Lord in many ways reflects mine and I feel less alone with David’s work around to comfort and encourage me. That is why I am so fond of him.

Other aspects of the Psalms which I found fascinating, were that he wrote some as acrostics. These are Psalms where each new stanza starts with the next letter in the Hebrew alphabet. As a writer I can tell you first hand, that is a lot of work! These are Psalms 9 10, 25, 34, 37 and 119. David comes across as a highly intelligent man with an interest in nature and history. That also comes through in his work.

I have also noticed that as David aged, his writing style changed. “Adonai is my shepherd,” gives way to Psalms with historical content and the songs of ascent, which were written for pilgrims to sing, as they visited the planned temple which Solomon would build in Jerusalem. My work has changed over the years too, so again, I can relate to David.

The Psalms also act as a personal diary of David’s life. As he poured his heart out to his God, we can see how he felt. Many times when I have struggled bewteen the image of a powerful king and a devoted servant of the Lord, the Holy Spirit has prompted me to go back and read the Psalms as they are where David’s heart is truly shown. I see some boasting among his humility and honesty; I see great faith, I see struggles and I see raw grief. In that beautiful gift he has left us, I see a vibrant, motivated, intelligent man of integrity (though it definitely wavers at times as he goes off track); I really like him.


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