2016 · David's Life · Scripture

How the Old Testament and New Testament Collide in David’s Life: #PeaceDay

imageIf there is any place within the Bible where the principles of the Old Testament (law) and New Testament (life in the Spirit) dovetail, it’s in the life of King David. Regardless of his powers as the King of Isra’el, David lived much of his life in submission to God and guided by His Spirit. As a result, he was able to partially transcend the limits of the law, and live a life of spiritual wisdom which was a millennia out of the reach of others.

The laws handed down through Moses allowed punishment and retribution for sin. They functioned as scales of justice: if someone did wrong, they were paid back equally. While David often delivered punishment in alignment with the law, he was also able to “let the Spirit renew [his] thoughts and attitudes and put on [a] new nature, created to be like God – truly righteous and holy.” [Ref. Ephesians 4:23-24]

Until I began to study David, I presumed that such an esteemed warrior would rectify issues with any enemy by violence. I was wrong. David never engaged in needless violence which was outside the boundaries of the law (despite temptation to do otherwise as a young man in 1 Samuel 25), and in Psalm 37, David surprised me by saying this:
“Be still in the presence of the LORD,
and wait patiently for him to act.
Don’t worry about evil people who prosper
or fret about their wicked schemes.
Stop being angry!
Turn from your rage!
Do not lose your temper—
it only leads to harm.
For the wicked will be destroyed,
but those who trust in the LORD will possess the land.” Psalm 37:7-9

Even in our time, this is what we would consider an enlightened attitude. For the Old Testament, particularly when people wanted him dead, it’s exceptional and an undeniable mark of the presence of the Holy Spirit.

While the Psalms are not in chronological order, Psalm 35 refers to attempts to usurp his Divinely ordained rule, which is a challenge which repeatedly threatened and worried King David, even into his old age. [Read Psalm 71 for more.]
Psalm 35:7: “I did them no wrong, but they laid a trap for me.
I did them no wrong, but they dug a pit to catch me.”
and verse 11: “Malicious witnesses testify against me.
They accuse me of crimes I know nothing about.”

David, being David, took these problems to the Lord, as other parts of Psalm 35 show.
“O LORD, oppose those who oppose me.
Fight those who fight against me.
Put on your armour, and take up your shield.
Prepare for battle, and come to my aid.
Lift up your spear and javelin
against those who pursue me.
Let me hear you say,
“I will give you victory!”
Bring shame and disgrace on those trying to kill me;
turn them back and humiliate those who want to harm me.
Blow them away like chaff in the wind—
a wind sent by the angel of the LORD.
Make their path dark and slippery,
with the angel of the LORD pursuing them.
I did them no wrong, but they laid a trap for me.
I did them no wrong, but they dug a pit to catch me.
So let sudden ruin come upon them!
Let them be caught in the trap they set for me!
Let them be destroyed in the pit they dug for me.
Then I will rejoice in the LORD.
I will be glad because he rescues me.” Psalm 35:1-9 NLT

Hold on, didn’t I just say that David had adopted a nature that was beyond the limitations of law-based thinking? If I return to the book of Ephesians, verse 5:8b encourages us to “live as people of the light.” We are to live with love, speaking pleasantly and being thankful to to God, and we are to “carefully determine what pleases the Lord.” [Ref. Ephesians 5:10] Requesting that our enemies be shamed and disgraced sounds nothing like that!

imageListen to Psalm 37:3-9 and you will find the Spirit-led part of David, which later took over.
“Trust in the LORD and do good.
Then you will live safely in the land and prosper.
Take delight in the LORD,
and he will give you your heart’s desires.
Commit everything you do to the LORD.
Trust him, and he will help you.
He will make your innocence radiate like the dawn,
and the justice of your cause will shine like the noonday sun.
Be still in the presence of the LORD,
and wait patiently for him to act.
Don’t worry about evil people who prosper
or fret about their wicked schemes.
Stop being angry!
Turn from your rage!
Do not lose your temper—
it only leads to harm.
For the wicked will be destroyed,
but those who trust in the LORD will possess the land.”

That sounds more like, “don’t sin by letting anger control you.” [Ref. Ephesians 4:26] So why does David undulate between Old Testament thinking and being led by the Holy Spirit? The answer is in Psalm 37:25.
“Once I was young, and now I am old.
Yet I have never seen the godly abandoned
or their children begging for bread.”

With age comes experience. That creates wisdom and a desire to live in peace. That would account for part of David’s change in attitude, but there is a second dynamic at work here. David died aged seventy. He’d been blessed with the Presence of the Holy Spirit since he was a teenager, and as the years unfolded, David had spent a great deal of time seeking the Lord, and learning from the Holy Spirit. The Lord’s Heart had been able to sink in and radically modify his behaviour.

I have a great affection for the older David; the ageing father who was concerned about the young Solomon’s ability to rule the nation, who was passionate about teaching the next generation of Hebrews about the Lord, poured his time into preparing for the temple which was to house the Ark of the Covenant and the Presence of God, and who died with an incredible grace, which made the law look inadequate and incomplete. As we observe the United Nations Day of Peace this year, may we also adopt the same attitude that the Holy Spirit developed within David:
“Turn away from evil and do good.
Search for peace, and work to maintain it.” Psalm 34:14


Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. This post does not represent my agreement or disagreement with any action of the United Nations, it simply marks the day, regardless of what year you read the post on (despite the 2016 theme being a mismatch.)

Please note that the graphics used in this post belong to the United Nations and have been made available to the public to promote the day. http://internationaldayofpeace.org and http://www.un.org/peaceday/

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