Following on from last Thursday’s post – Psalms are about Christ. They tell of the interaction between the LORD, the King through Whom He rules, the righteous who hide in Him and the wicked who rebel.
These interactions are pictured from many angles. But one key perspective is for the King Himself to speak. This most often happens in the Psalms ‘Of David’.
Of course all the kings reigned under the knowledge that they were simply throne-warmers for the King to Whom universal tribute was due. (Gen 49:10) But David was the most idealized of these kings. The Messiah is often spoken of simply as David. (e.g. Ezekiel 34:23f; 37:25). And David himself is aware of his idealized role. Just before his death he said: “The Spirit of the LORD spoke through me; His word was on my tongue.” (2 Sam 23:2) He didn’t speak better than he knew, but he certainly spoke better than he lived. In the Psalms the king most often spoke as The King. The anointed one spoke most often as The Anointed One.
Peter confirms this for us in Acts 2. Even when David spoke in the first person he was speaking the words of Christ (see Acts 2:25). Quoting Psalm 16, Peter makes it clear that David was not describing his own experience. (Paul underlines this in Acts 13:36-37). Rather, David “was a prophet and knew that God had promised him on oath that he would place one of his descendants on his throne. Seeing what was ahead, he spoke of the resurrection of the Christ” (Acts 2:30-31).
Does this mean that such Psalms have no application to David? No of course they do – but such application runs from Christ to David rather than David to Christ. This is the nature of the whole of David’s life – from shepherd boy to rejected ruler, to reigning king to his death, he is a shadow of the Coming King.
This is my understanding anyway. Whether you take the Psalms from David to Christ or Christ to David, I hope we can all agree that the emotions and experiences of ‘The King’ are ultimately taken up and owned by Christ.
All of this is just a precursor to what I really want to discuss… What do we do with the Psalmist’s intense desire for the LORD?
On one level that’s simple – copy it. Be challenged by it. Be inspired by it. Seek it for yourself.
Well, yes, ok. But here’s the question – what do I do when I don’t earnestly desire the LORD? Because maybe once or twice in your life your white hot devotion to God has dipped below the zeal of the Psalmist. What do you do then?
Here’s the first level of my response: When I don’t desire God, first I need to see that Christ does. And He does so for me.
What do I mean?
Well take a favourite Psalm of mine: Psalm 63
Here the Psalmist says:
1 O God, you are my God,
earnestly I seek you;
my soul thirsts for you,
my body longs for you,
in a dry and weary land
where there is no water.
2 I have seen you in the sanctuary
and beheld your power and your glory.
3 Because your love is better than life,
my lips will glorify you.
4 I will praise you as long as I live,
and in your name I will lift up my hands.
Now be honest, doesn’t some part of you go “Really? Have I really beheld His power and glory? Really? Have I in the past and will I in the future praise Him so wholeheartedly? Really? As long as I live? Am I perjuring myself here??”
But friend, read on to the final verse…
11 But the king will rejoice in God
These are the words of the king – the king on whose lips are the words of The King. And He has beheld the power and glory of the LORD in the ultimate sanctuary. He is the ultimate, white-hot Worshipper of God. These words are not a guide to human worship so much as a window onto divine worship.
So what should be our response?
Sit back and be awed by The King’s desire for the LORD. You don’t yet feel such intense passion. Well alright. In the deepest sense you never can match His devotion. But let the King’s worship be enough for you. Don’t despise his devotion like Michal (2 Sam 6:16). Simply allow your King to offer what you cannot summon up yourself. Know that He offers in your place a worship you could never initiate. And if the Praise-Worthy does not elicit your praise, let the Praise-Giver show the way. In ourselves we could never work up the right response. In Christ we see what reckless and joyful abandon to God looks like.
He is like the first Dancer onto the floor, moved by the Music, laughing and clapping and dancing as we never could. The more you watch Him dance, the more your foot starts to tap, then you start clapping. Pretty soon you’ll link arms and join in. The Music itself should get you on the dance floor. But in fact the Music never does – not really. It’s the Dancer who inspires, who links arms and who leads.
Read Psalm 63 again. And add your own Amen. For now that is enough. If these words were simply the prayer diary of an ancient near eastern ruler, your Amen would mean nothing. If these were just passionate words from an inspired and inspiring devotee they could only judge your apathy. But they’re not. This is the worship of The King. Your King. This is Christ your Substitute, your Priest, your Vicarious Worshipper. He bears your name on His heart as He comes before the LORD in joyful abandon. For now just allow Him to offer the praise you cannot find in yourself. In time you’ll join the dance.
For more on Christ offering worship on our behalf, here’s a half hour talk I gave recently.