Serving the Lord with the Joy of King David: Celebrating Two Years

65974220316e650c77ba74ddff835d21This week the King David Project turns two. Words just won’t describe how great a blessing this project has been to me, so I am not even going to try. Instead, I have posted one of my favourite articles and hope that it will bless you.

Thank you, Lord for Your guidance, Your patience and the honour I have been given in being able to share the beautiful message of Your servant David. May I continue to learn to serve you with his heart.

Floral Name

“O Lord, You alone are my hope.
I’ve trusted You, O LORD, from childhood.
Yes, You have been with me from birth;
from my mother’s womb You have cared for me.
No wonder I am always praising You!
My life is an example to many,
because you have been my strength and protection.
That is why I can never stop praising You;
I declare Your glory all day long.
And now, in my old age, don’t set me aside.
Don’t abandon me when my strength is failing.” Psalm 71:5-9

I would love to be able to say this now, let alone in my later years, when my health is failing. This is part of Psalm 71, written when David was elderly and very ill. It still shows his strength of purpose and character, as if he was still the young David, ready to take on the world. If you read the full Psalm, as his health fails, his competition is keen on killing him to take hold of power. Despite the challenges of pain and an aged body, he is determined to remain the victor, sitting securely within God’s will.

“Now that I am old and grey,
do not abandon me, O God.
Let me proclaim Your power to this new generation,
Your mighty miracles to all who come after me.
Your righteousness, O God, reaches to the highest heavens.
You have done such wonderful things.
Who can compare with You, O God?
You have allowed me to suffer much hardship,
but You will restore me to life again
and lift me up from the depths of the earth.
You will restore me to even greater honour
and comfort me once again.” Verses 18-21

One of the most inspiring talks I have heard on David, was by an elderly Rabbi, who was encouraging his congregation to “serve with the joy of King David!” He spoke about moving through our spiritual lives with love and a smile on our face; as well as the gratitude which manifested in David’s Psalms. The point to his message, was that those in the world with no faith would see that joy, and it would become a witness.

Every so often I think about what he said, and I can see the promise in it. Being able to praise God through hardship, blesses God, helps empower us to move forward and also, shows others the goodness of God in our lives. If we had nothing at all to be happy about, we would not praise. Onlookers can see that.

David had a great deal to be grateful for, and he let nothing stop him from sharing it.
“As for me, I will always have hope;
I will praise You more and more.
My mouth will tell of Your righteous deeds,
of Your saving acts all day long—
though I know not, how to relate them all.” Psalm 71:14-15 (NIV)

Lyrics by Big Daddy Weave

Lyrics by Big Daddy Weave

You know how it feels to be ill. Your energy is drained, you don’t want to move. How David survived so many foes, battles and long-term health problems, is an incredible testimony of the provision of the Lord. He did not **die until the nation of Israel was secure. From the symptoms described in the books of Samuel and the Psalms, it appears that David suffered from diabetes from mid-life; then he most probably passed away from diabetic heart disease. Both explain the extreme cold he suffered in his last few years, [Ref. 1 Kings 1] and the ups and downs in his health, that the Bible records.

David had the help of a local plant named sharp varthemia (chiliadenus iphionoides) to control his diabetes, but I cannot begin to image living through those conditions with not so much as a paracetamol tablet, let alone insulin and cardiac medication. In addition, as someone who had been a warrior for many years, he would have suffered chronic pain and possibly, some debilitation, from orthopaedic problems caused by the extreme wear and tear of warfare on his body.

The aged David must have been very uncomfortable, yet, he didn’t slow down much. Even when King Solomon had taken the throne, David invested his time in his great passion: preparations for building the temple. Reading through 1 Chronicles, they were extensive and David gave his personal wealth to help fund the building, inspiring others to give as well. [Ref. 1 Chronicles chapters 27 to 29]

“Then David praised the LORD in the presence of the whole assembly:
“O LORD, the God of our ancestor Israel, may You be praised forever and ever! Yours, O LORD, is the greatness, the power, the glory, the victory, and the majesty. Everything in the heavens and on earth is Yours, O LORD, and this is Your kingdom. We adore You as the One who is over all things. Wealth and honour come from You alone, for You rule over everything. Power and might are in Your Hand, and at Your discretion people are made great and given strength.” 1 Chronicles 29:10-12

The suffering that David went through, only served to build his gratitude and enhance his relationship with the Lord, which is something that I find amazing. At times, people who have had hard lives become bitter, both with others and with God, but not David. He was able to look back and see the wonder of how the Lord had bought him through.

Psalm 119:71-71, is believed to be David’s work. In it he says:
“My suffering was good for me,
for it taught me to pay attention to Your decrees.
Your instructions are more valuable to me
than millions in gold and silver.”

Bless the Lord for the work and legacy of his faithful servant, David, the sweet singer of Isra’el. He is a great example of how to meet hardship head on, and still come out rich and fulfilled, no matter what age you are, or what conditions you suffer from. As I know David would say if he were to be writing this, put your trust and hope in the Lord. He will never abandon those who are faithful to Him. Look to Him for help, you’ll never be unloved, unprovided for or forsaken.
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Footnotes:
**“He (David) reigned over Israel for forty years, seven of them in Hebron and thirty-three in Jerusalem. He died at a ripe old age, having enjoyed long life, wealth, and honour. Then his son Solomon ruled in his place.” 1 Chronicles 29:27-28 Long life, or being full of years, is a sign of the favour of the Lord. Other Biblical heroes who enjoyed the same favour, in those terms, are Abraham, Isaac and Job.

Read more about King David and diabetes: http://articles.faithwriters.com/reprint-article-details.php?article=32037

Except where marked, all verses are from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2007. Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.


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Creative Commons License
The King David Project by Cate Russell-Cole is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License (CC BY-SA 4.0).
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://cateartios.wixsite.com/kingdavidproject.

Please note that this does NOT apply to any of the images on this site except for the free Psalm images which are marked as free. Most photos are purchased stock photos. It is ILLEGAL for you to take and use them, whether for yourself, commercially or for a non-profit venture such as a church or Bible Study. If you have not bought these photos from the source, the stock photography company has every right to sue you.

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Coping When You’re Persecuted for Your Faith

The album cover's copyright belongs to David Meece, the artist and his record label.

The album cover’s copyright belongs to David Meece, the artist and his record label.

When I was a teenager, David Meece had a popular song titled “Count the Cost.” The chorus lyrics are:

“You’ve gotta count the cost
If you’re going to be a believer,
You’ve got to know that the price
Is the one you can afford.
You’ve gotta count the cost
If you’re going to be a believer,
You’ve got to go all the way
If you really love the Lord…”

I believe that King David would have related to that song very strongly!

One of the things that surprised me when going through the Psalms, was the number of times that King David spoke about being persecuted for his faith. In the midst of the Psalms which speak of persecution by Saul, problems with his children and the threats of other kings, were verses that I had never noticed before.

David didn’t just give the people the gift of the Psalms and how to worship God in holiness, he also taught them the Torah (Word of God) and was persecuted for it. Spiritual leadership is considered to be one of the functions of an Israeli King, which is why kings were so powerful in leading people spiritually astray. David had a huge heart for his people’s spiritual walk, and put up with a lot of fierce payback, for speaking out about God.

Many of the Psalms in which David pleads for God to deal with his enemies justly, don’t only refer to David’s need to keep his throne and be safe. For David, as he was God’s anointed king, for him to be deposed would be for God’s will to be thwarted. For David to lose his throne early, would be for him not to have completed the Lord’s full purpose for his life. Thus it is acceptable that he should call down God’s judgement. An example of this is Psalm 17, a prayer of David.

Psalm 22:6 describes the ridicule David experienced because of his faith:
“But I am a worm and not a man.
I am scorned and despised by all!
Everyone who sees me mocks me.
They sneer and shake their heads, saying,
“Is this the one who relies on the LORD?
Then let the LORD save him!
If the LORD loves him so much,
let the LORD rescue him!” “

Later the Psalm goes on to say:
“O LORD, do not stay far away!
You are my strength; come quickly to my aid!
Save me from the sword;
spare my precious life from these dogs.
Snatch me from the lion’s jaws
and from the horns of these wild oxen.
I will proclaim your name to my brothers and sisters.
I will praise you among your assembled people.
Praise the LORD, all you who fear him!
Honor him, all you descendants of Jacob!
Show him reverence, all you descendants of Israel!”

Being a king is a perilous business. Everyone wants your land, your people as slaves, your livestock, your property and any other wealth you possess. Being a king who has open faith and acts as a spiritual leader, is an even harder task, but David was willing to do it.
“Save me so I can praise you publicly at Jerusalem’s gates, so I can rejoice that you have rescued me.” Psalm 9:14

This is perhaps why, despite his sins, many of us stand up publicly as supporters of King David. We relate to his pain, as in many ways, it describes our own and we are encouraged out of our mess by his words; but we can also see the odds he was up against. The Psalms are full of David crying out to God, needing help which never seemed to come when he felt it was so sorely needed.

People like to cheer on the underdog and David, is often considered to be one. For all his military prowess, he lived a life which was appallingly hard: he dealt with many dangers from enemies, plus his own family; steered the people through famine… and then to have his own people, of his own faith, mock him when he relied on God for assistance? It’s heart breaking. Especially with his testimonies of how many times the Lord had delivered him out of trouble. Any of us in the same position would be left feeling abandoned, misunderstood and deeply hurt.

Yet with David, one thing never changed. He always expected the Lord to deliver him and the Lord did. David died aged seventy from disease. Two years earlier, he’d had the joy of seeing his son, Solomon, take the throne. Despite the odds, He Who has the Greatest Might saved his beloved son from all harm and honoured him as king. That honour continues, even today and into the future. From what other heart could the Messiah come, than from that of such a faithful servant?

Note: Scriptures which include David’s encouragement for others to praise God are many, but include Psalms 29:1-2, 32:11 and 66:1-4, which is considered to be David’s because of the style.


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The King David Project by Cate Russell-Cole is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License (CC BY-SA 4.0).
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://cateartios.wixsite.com/kingdavidproject.

Please note that this does NOT apply to any of the images on this site except for the free Psalm images which are marked as free. Most photos are purchased stock photos. It is ILLEGAL for you to take and use them, whether for yourself, commercially or for a non-profit venture such as a church or Bible Study. If you have not bought these photos from the source, the stock photography company has every right to sue you.

How to Control King-Sized Egos: The Examples of David and Moses

egosquashDespite his heroic feats, David is the opposite of a Hollywood action hero. He is more the anti-hero; the guy who doesn’t rely solely on his own power to be the victor, and walks away humble. If anything, the Lord was his stunt man, director, producer and all the credit went to Him.

David never made the mistake of many kings in that he didn’t turn arrogant or cocky for long. The simple truth is, God never allowed him to. Throughout his entire life, David went through life-threatening trial after trial after trial, and suffered in the face of poorly, if not completely undisguised opposition.

  • Saul wanting him dead out of jealousy, and because he realised David would be the next king. 1 Samuel 18:5-8
  • The guilt of the death of the priests of Nob being on his head, as he’d gone to them when on the run from Saul, then lied. 1 Samuel 22
  • Illness which hit him mid-life bought humiliation. 2 Samuel 21:15 (Probably diabetes.)
  • The challenge of others, such as his son, Absalom, sabotaging his authority and wanting his throne. 2 Samuel 15-18 and Psalms such as Psalm 38:12-15
  • Problems with Isra’el being weary of war and wanting a better deal economically. Psalm 4:6
  • Guilt over his sin with Bathsheba, the murder of Uriah and resulting death of his baby son. 2 Samuel 12
  • Conflicts between his tribe, Judah, and the other northern tribes, who felt he’d favoured Judah, and thus attempted to overthrow him. 2 Samuel 20
  • Gut wrenching mistakes such as the Census, which cost many lives. 2 Samuel 24

That is enough to crush many people and it is guaranteed to produce deep humility. You can win many battles and take many wives to prove your status, but when your life is under threat and you’re dependent on God for deliverance, it’s really hard to get a big head. David never dug himself out of danger. He relied on God, not his ability as a warrior, then he gave the full glory to God.

“I will praise You, LORD, with all my heart;
I will tell of all the marvellous things You have done.
I will be filled with joy because of You.
I will sing praises to Your Name, O Most High.
My enemies retreated;
they staggered and died when You appeared.” Psalm 9:1-3

David’s humility is also seen in repeated requests to have God judge him, in order that he would stay on the right path.
“How can I know all the sins lurking in my heart?
Cleanse me from these hidden faults.
Keep your servant from deliberate sins!
Don’t let them control me.
Then I will be free of guilt
and innocent of great sin.
May the words of my mouth
and the meditation of my heart
be pleasing to you,
O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.” Psalm 19:12-14

Another point to consider is that kings are used to people obeying them. It is easy to become accustomed to bowing and obedience and make the mistake of treating God in the same way: “I ask for help, You give it when I want it.” It is possible that some of the “how long” times which David experienced, were God letting David know that He would not be at the beck and call of a king. God is sovereign and above the reign of mankind. Making David wait would reinforce the correct order and again, keep a royal ego under control.

Moses has a similar story. Despite the status he was given in order to lead Isra’el out of Egypt and into the Promised Land, he was very well grounded. Numbers 12:3 tells us: “Now Moses was a very humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth.” Twice, God offered to wipe out Isra’el’s rebellious tribes, and give the covenant promise to Moses and his descendants. Twice Moses refused, to honour God’s reputation before the whole earth, and to save the nation he loved. [Ref. Exodus 32:9-10 and Numbers 14:11-12]

submissive-faithIn contrast to movies such as The Prince of Egypt, which portray his story, Moses life in Pharaoh’s court appears to me, not to have been easy. He knew he was a Hebrew and was so angered by the treatment of his people, he killed an Egyptian that was mistreating a Hebrew slave and had to flee. Pharaoh didn’t save his precious boy, Moses. He had nowhere to run for preferential treatment.

It is debatable as to whether Moses ever fit into the royal household, or whether he always felt like an outsider. Unless his speech impediment had a physical cause, that kind of insecurity and turmoil could have caused his stuttering; (which oddly, is never mentioned after the Israelites leave Egypt.) He was hesitant to approach Pharaoh to ask for the release of the Hebrew slaves, which also indicates that he knew he would not be treated like a long-lost adopted son. Tough lives develop character and few had it as abundantly as Moses did. Thank God both Moses and David did stay humble. Many millennia later, we are still benefitting from their achievements and example.

So next time life gets you down and appears to be falling apart, take heart. Maybe God is allowing your pain to keep you humble and gentle as well. Neither David or Moses were likely candidates to become the leader of a nation. You never know where the Lord will take you.

“My heart is confident in You, O God;
no wonder I can sing Your praises with all my heart!” Psalm 108:1


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Creative Commons License
The King David Project by Cate Russell-Cole is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License (CC BY-SA 4.0).
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://cateartios.wixsite.com/kingdavidproject.

Please note that this does NOT apply to any of the images on this site except for the free Psalm images which are marked as free. Most photos are purchased stock photos. It is ILLEGAL for you to take and use them, whether for yourself, commercially or for a non-profit venture such as a church or Bible Study. If you have not bought these photos from the source, the stock photography company has every right to sue you.

When the Prayer of Jabez Hasn’t Worked for You

2016-01-14_13-59-30_01When I get to Heaven, I want to meet Jabez and see what he is like, because he sounds like an exceptionally special man, with a beautiful character.

“There was a man named Jabez who was more honourable than any of his brothers. His mother named him Jabez because his birth had been so painful. He was the one who prayed to the God of Israel, “Oh, that You would bless me and expand my territory! Please be with me in all that I do, and keep me from all trouble and pain!” And God granted him his request.” 1 Chronicles 4:9-10

Years ago, friends came to me and said, “you HAVE to read this book! This prayer of Jabez will change your life.” I had stopped reading Christian books earlier, as I found I was depending on them more than on the Word of God, but I did look up the prayer and thought, “wow. I can see why this book is popular.” To be kept from all trouble and pain, know God and be blessed materially, who wouldn’t want that? Then I noticed that a lot of posters and gift items with the prayer of Jabez were appearing in our local Christian book shop. I had to decide, was this prayer a fad, or a really good idea?

For Jabez, this prayer is the best idea he ever had and his prayer inspires me. However, I never prayed the prayer, as it’s not my prayer. It demonstrates a way of praying that could be beneficial… however, and this is where it all falls apart in our lives, as I don’t have the character of Jabez, God could not produce the same results in my life without me becoming a spoiled brat. I know I would lose touch much of my motivation to seek the Lord, because I was so blessed, I didn’t need Him as much. Plus how many critical lessons do we learn from pain, like it or not? An easy life didn’t sound wise to me.

God is a pro-level Father. He would never, ever, give a gift to any of His children that would harm them, or pull them away from Him to any degree. Neither will He do anything that stops us from making our own decisions and often, subsequent mistakes. I am a master of the art of getting myself into trouble and because of free will, there is a limit to what God can halt in my life. Even if God was answering my prayer in the same way He blessed Jabez, my own life choice bloopers could effectively erode away what God was trying to give me.

So what can we learn from Jabez? To be honourable. What does that mean? According to several dictionaries, it means to have high standards, be deserving, be consistently righteous so that you are worthy of praise and it won’t go to your head. It means being a person who is fair, courteous, respectful, lawful, unselfish, actively resisting corruption and sin, and to have integrity. Honour is built on submission to God, obeying the Word of God and showing the fruit of the Spirit to everyone, regardless of whether they are deserving or not. It’s a hard thing to achieve.

So be comforted. The Lord has heard your prayers and done what is best for you. He will be working in the background to bring about His perfect, loving will for your life and if you submit to Him, you’ll thrive. What comes may not look like what Jabez had, but it doesn’t have to. It will be specially, carefully, tailor made FOR YOU by the Father who knows you so well. That is a greater act of love than simply making your life easy.

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For more encouragement, have a look at these articles on the life of King David:

“How Long?” When Answers to Prayer Don’t Seem to Arrive
http://articles.faithwriters.com/reprint-article-details.php?article=33409

When You Can’t Be An Overcomer: Coping With Spiritual Failures
http://articles.faithwriters.com/reprint-article-details.php?article=33052

The Habits That Built King David’s Faith
http://articles.faithwriters.com/reprint-article-details.php?article=33033

The Power of Praying the Psalms
http://articles.faithwriters.com/reprint-article-details.php?article=32076

“But I Will Trust in You…” King David and the Art of Bouncing Back
http://articles.faithwriters.com/reprint-article-details.php?article=32732

Yesterday’s Hero: Ancient Politics or, How to Keep a King Humble (on suffering)
http://articles.faithwriters.com/reprint-article-details.php?article=33449

For all articles, please visit From Despair to Deliverance, the King David Project: http://cateartios.wix.com/kingdavidproject


Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Please note that this does NOT apply to any of the images on this site except for the free Psalm images which are marked as free. Most photos are purchased stock photos. It is ILLEGAL for you to take and use them, whether for yourself, commercially or for a non-profit venture such as a church or Bible Study. If you have not bought these photos from the source, the stock photography company has every right to sue you.

“How Long?” When Answers to Prayer Don’t Seem to Arrive

14465_Psalm_150“O LORD, why do you stand so far away? Why do you hide when I am in trouble?” Psalm 10:1

One morning, as I was sick and faced with a scary, roulette wheel decision on which medication would or wouldn’t work, I felt exactly like David did in Psalm 6. Worn out, scared and hopeless. I prayed for wisdom and no answer came. Feeling desperate I thought, “well, if David didn’t always receive answers when he so desperately needed it, then there’s no hope for me to get one.” I don’t even begin to compare with the honour David has in the Lord’s eyes, but to my surprise, God answered me. A calm voice said, “sometimes I can’t give answers.”I survived the problem without damage and began to explore why God couldn’t answer. The more I thought about it, the simper the answer was… then the more complex it became. “How long” is a God-sized issue with a God-sized answer! There are so many factors which may stop His answering us in the manner we want:

  • God won’t stomp on our free will;
  • His actions are stopping us from being greedy or stupid in some way;
  • the timing is wrong;
  • we need this to grow;
  • there is a better plan in God’s heart, than the rescue we long for;
  • other’s free will’s hijacks or affects us and God can’t override that; or
  • to get to the right answer involves multiple decisions and/or steps, which have to be done in the right way, in the right time. We can’t just jump to a final resultand lastly,
  • we have to learn obedience to the Lord: He doesn’t come when we call, it’s the other way around. (This is probably one of the reasons David had frequent trouble getting answers, he had to learn which King had the highest status and that he had to wait on God, God could not be summoned to him.)

If you were to chart the whole path of any event, particularly those involving more than one person, your brain would spin.There is too much information. Overload and confusion would be imminent. Thankfully, God takes care of all the behind the scenes issues, that we can’t handle. We can’t access the full data which He plans with and we shouldn’t try to.

Putting this issue simply, firstly the Lord has to allow us free will. He aids and comforts us as much as possible, (or as much as He is able to help our stubborn heads and hearts;) but we are meant to stand on our own two feet and grow up. We have to make our own choices and mistakes. So that is one reason why He may abstain from an instant, heroic rescue. If He stepped in too often and gave us every answer, we’d soon complain about losing our rights, being treated like incapable children, or not being given space to grow.

Secondly, behind the scenes are many complex factors that influence His ability to answer. There may be a simple solution, but if we are told it at the wrong time, then it would fail. As I said above, getting to the point where the answer is effective may take multiple decisions, a series of steps, timing, and/or change/s made by other parties (who also have their own free wills.) This is where the complexity really kicks in.

Thirdly, what God is doing can be incredibly obvious, we are just too anxious or biased towards our desires, to see it.

19423_Where_are_youWhen we get stressed, we see only one factor: our need and how long it’s taking to meet it. All the machinations of what’s happening in the background, from all sides… and what God really is doing to effectively deal with it, is safely hidden from us. Please note the word safely.

Life has enough troubles. Bless God that He has set limits on what we have to deal with.

God knows the answers to every problem in an instant; technically, before it even happened. He knows where you need help the most and will be working on the very best possible answer, you just can’t see it. So we stress out, as David did many times.
“O LORD, do not stay far away!
You are my strength; come quickly to my aid!” Psalm 22:19

So next time you feel abandoned by the Lord, remember, what is happening in the background would probably confuse you and create additional headaches. Apparent silence should never be taken to imply indifference. It is a matter of timing, God making the most of the best choices and acting with loving care.

Take your worries to the Lord, ask for His lead in what to do and let Him take control (within the free will boundaries He has set). He’ll move all the pieces into place that He can and do a better job than you expect. Then you will be able to join David in saying, “In panic I cried out, “I am cut off from the LORD!” But You heard my cry for mercy and answered my call for help.” Psalm 31:22

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Additional “How Long” Psalm Moments – You Are Not Alone!

1. “O LORD, how long will You forget me? Forever?
How long will You look the other way?
How long must I struggle with anguish in my soul,
with sorrow in my heart every day?
How long will my enemy have the upper hand?
Turn and answer me, O LORD my God!
Restore the sparkle to my eyes, or I will die.
Don’t let my enemies gloat, saying, “We have defeated him!”
Don’t let them rejoice at my downfall.
But I trust in Your unfailing love.
I will rejoice because You have rescued me.
I will sing to the LORD
because He is good to me.” Psalm 13

2. “How long, O Lord, will You look on and do nothing?
Rescue me from their fierce attacks.
Protect my life from these lions!
Then I will thank You in front of the great assembly.
I will praise You before all the people.
Don’t let my treacherous enemies rejoice over my defeat.
Don’t let those who hate me without cause gloat over my sorrow.
They don’t talk of peace;
they plot against innocent people who mind their own business.
They shout, “Aha! Aha!
With our own eyes we saw him do it!”
O LORD, You know all about this.
Do not stay silent.
Do not abandon me now, O Lord.” Psalm 35:17-22

3. “Have compassion on me, LORD, for I am weak.
Heal me, LORD, for my bones are in agony.
I am sick at heart.
How long, O LORD, until You restore me?
Return, O LORD, and rescue me.
Save me because of Your unfailing love.” Psalm 6:2-3


Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Please note that this does NOT apply to any of the images on this site except for the free Psalm images which are marked as free. Most photos are purchased stock photos. It is ILLEGAL for you to take and use them, whether for yourself, commercially or for a non-profit venture such as a church or Bible Study. If you have not bought these photos from the source, the stock photography company has every right to sue you.

Job and the Winter Period

You know you’re having a bad day when you start relating to Job. When you start sticking up for him, then you’re really stuck in the barren fruitlessness of a winter phase! I have often understood his feelings when he said:

“Oh that I knew where I might find Him, that I might come to His seat!
I would present my case before Him, and fill my mouth with arguments.
I would know the words which He would answer me,
And understand what He would say to me.
Would He contend with me in His great power?
No! But He would take note of me.
There the upright could reason with Him,
And I would be delivered forever from my Judge.”            Job 23:3-7 NKJV

That Scripture sounds very much like me arguing with God. I desperately want to understand what He is saying, but I can’t find the meaning. M. Scott Peck summed it all up for me when he said, “life is difficult.” Christianity can be like marriage, it is for better or for worse, and at times, the worse is a rugged test of our faith. Making sense of life at these times can seem all but completely impossible.

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It has never sounded to me like Job deserved what he got. The death of one member of the family rocks our world for months. The death of all of his children, financial ruin, sickness and disaster from all sides, seems to be overdoing it somewhat. Why did God go that far? Job wasn’t just caught in a chilly winter period; his life had fallen down around him in an avalanche of disaster. It seems God allowed his situation to become extreme to prove a point. That is to Satan of all people; and I won’t even start to speculate on the views of those who actually died in the process. Yet, somehow Job still managed to say:

“Naked I came from my mothers’ womb and naked I shall return,
The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away;
BLESSED BE THE NAME OF THE LORD.”        Job 1:21 NKJV

I would love to be able to admit that I have never charged God with wrong, never put Him on trial. I can’t claim I have never told Him that He didn’t care enough, accused Him of using me as a pawn in a game out of my control, or told Him that He had made a mistake. Many times, I have. I have screamed at God, and in those times, I have received the clearest answers. Sometimes God is silent, He steps back and lets me work it all out in the light of what He has taught me before. The test is whether I act in faith in the end, or remain an accuser. Am I able to say, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him.” (Job 13:15 NKJV) It seems to me that the stronger the pain, the greater the Grace God makes available. When I go over the edge, I always feel guilty that Jesus had to die to cover my ignorant tantrum, but isn’t that love? He has the understanding of acute pain, and how blinding it can be.

I am often not justified in what I say to God. I have often told Him that I would understand and it is His perfect right to strike a bolt of lightning through me for being so bold. However, if the “earnest (heartfelt, continued) prayer of a righteous man makes tremendous power available – dynamic in it’s working,” (James 5:16 Amplified) then perhaps my roar is a prayer for help, and a prayer of faith? To blame God takes a belief in God, and to view Him as being the one withholding the blessing or the answer, takes a firm belief that He is truly a sovereign God that is in the driver’s seat, controlling your life. Now that is a faith that pleases God, and saves outspoken children like me.

Somehow, the faithfulness of God always comes through, and the greater the problem, the greater is God’s comfort. I have often received immediate answers that put me firmly back in my place. Through these answers, I have learnt lessons of how much God cares. Despite what I think of Him at the time, He is working hard in my best interests. For that reason, I will trust Him.


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Serving Through Suffering… With the Joy of King David

serving through suffering“O Lord, You alone are my hope.
I’ve trusted You, O LORD, from childhood.
Yes, You have been with me from birth;
from my mother’s womb You have cared for me.
No wonder I am always praising You!
My life is an example to many,
because you have been my strength and protection.
That is why I can never stop praising You;
I declare Your glory all day long.
And now, in my old age, don’t set me aside.
Don’t abandon me when my strength is failing.”  Psalm 71:5-9

I would love to be able to say this now, let alone in my later years, when my health is failing. This is part of Psalm 71, written when David was elderly and very ill. It still shows his strength of purpose and character, as if he was still the young David, ready to take on the world. If you read the full Psalm, as his health fails, his competition is keen on killing him to take hold of power. Despite the challenges of pain and an aged body, he is determined to remain the victor, sitting securely within God’s will.

“Now that I am old and grey,
do not abandon me, O God.
Let me proclaim Your power to this new generation,
Your mighty miracles to all who come after me.
Your righteousness, O God, reaches to the highest heavens.
You have done such wonderful things.
Who can compare with You, O God?
You have allowed me to suffer much hardship,
but You will restore me to life again
and lift me up from the depths of the earth.
You will restore me to even greater honour
and comfort me once again.” Verses 18-21

One of the most inspiring talks I have heard on David, was by an elderly Rabbi, who was encouraging his congregation to “serve with the joy of King David!” He spoke about moving through our spiritual lives with love and a smile on our face; as well as the gratitude which manifested in David’s Psalms. The point to his message, was that those in the world with no faith would see that joy, and it would become a witness.

Every so often I think about what he said, and I can see the promise in it. Being able to praise God through hardship, blesses God, helps empower us to move forward and also, shows others the goodness of God in our lives. If we had nothing at all to be happy about, we would not praise. Onlookers can see that.

David had a great deal to be grateful for, and he let nothing stop him from sharing it.
“As for me, I will always have hope;
I will praise You more and more.
My mouth will tell of Your righteous deeds,
of Your saving acts all day long—
though I know not, how to relate them all.” Psalm 71:14-15 (NIV)

joyYou know how it feels to be ill. Your energy is drained, you don’t want to move. How David survived so many foes, battles and long-term health problems, is an incredible testimony of the provision of the Lord. He did not **die until the nation of Israel was secure. From the symptoms described in the books of Samuel and the Psalms, it appears that David suffered from diabetes from mid-life; then he most probably passed away from diabetic heart disease. Both explain the extreme cold he suffered in his last few years, [Ref. 1 Kings 1] and the ups and downs in his health, that the Bible records.

David had the help of a local plant named sharp varthemia (chiliadenus iphionoides) to control his diabetes, but I cannot begin to image living through those conditions with not so much as a paracetamol tablet, let alone insulin and cardiac medication. In addition, as someone who had been a warrior for many years, he would have suffered chronic pain and possibly, some debilitation, from orthopaedic problems caused by the extreme wear and tear of warfare on his body.

The aged David must have been very uncomfortable, yet, he didn’t slow down much. Even when King Solomon had taken the throne, David invested his time in his great passion: preparations for building the temple. Reading through 1 Chronicles, they were extensive and David gave his personal wealth to help fund the building, inspiring others to give as well. [Ref. 1 Chronicles chapters 27 to 29]

Then David praised the LORD in the presence of the whole assembly:
“O LORD, the God of our ancestor Israel, may You be praised forever and ever! Yours, O LORD, is the greatness, the power, the glory, the victory, and the majesty. Everything in the heavens and on earth is Yours, O LORD, and this is Your kingdom. We adore You as the One who is over all things. Wealth and honour come from You alone, for You rule over everything. Power and might are in Your Hand, and at Your discretion people are made great and given strength.” 1 Chronicles 29:10-12

The suffering that David went through, only served to build his gratitude and enhance his relationship with the Lord, which is something that I find amazing. At times, people who have had hard lives become bitter, both with others and with God, but not David. He was able to look back and see the wonder of how the Lord had bought him through.

Psalm 119:71-71, is believed to be David’s work. In it he says:
My suffering was good for me,
for it taught me to pay attention to Your decrees.
Your instructions are more valuable to me
than millions in gold and silver.”

Bless the Lord for the work and legacy of his faithful servant, David, the sweet singer of Isra’el. He is a great example of how to meet hardship head on, and still come out rich and fulfilled, no matter what age you are, or what conditions you suffer from. As I know David would say if he were to be writing this, put your trust and hope in the Lord. He will never abandon those who are faithful to Him. Look to Him for help, you’ll never be unloved, unprovided for or forsaken.

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Footnotes:

**“He (David) reigned over Israel for forty years, seven of them in Hebron and thirty-three in Jerusalem. He died at a ripe old age, having enjoyed long life, wealth, and honour. Then his son Solomon ruled in his place.” 1 Chronicles 29:27-28 Long life, or being full of years, is a sign of the favour of the Lord. Other Biblical heroes who enjoyed the same favour, in those terms, are Abraham, Isaac and Job.

Read more about King David and diabetes: http://articles.faithwriters.com/reprint-article-details.php?article=32037


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Except where marked, all verses are from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, Copyright ©1996, 2004, 2007. Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.