As we continue our discussion about the link between hearts of gratitude and authentic worship, I want to focus our attention on the first of three persons in the Scriptures who typify the “heart of gratitude”.
David’s Heart of Gratitude
There are two particular instances in David’s life that I want to highlight. First, the threat to his life from Saul and the second is the threat to his life from his own son Absalom.
David & Saul
Even though David knew he had done nothing to deserve the full onslaught of Saul’s envy and jealousy, even to the point of wanting him dead, his heart continued to be towards God. He continued to give God the praise and worship He deserved. He could have become upset, and wondered why, in essence, the Lord who had sent a prophet to anoint him King was now turning his back on him; allowing him to be pursued by Saul with the sole aim of killing him. We see his heart of gratitude coming out in his authentic worship to God in the midst of his adversity in the following verses:
I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth. 2 My soul shall make its boast in the Lord; The humble shall hear of it and be glad. 3 Oh, magnify the Lord with me,
And let us exalt His name together. 4 I sought the Lord, and He heard me, And delivered me from all my fears. 5 They looked to Him and were radiant, And their faces were not ashamed.
6 This poor man cried out, and the Lord heard him, And saved him out of all his troubles. (Psa. 34:1-6)
This was written in the midst of Saul’s pursuit. If you have the time, it would be worthwhile reading the entire Psalm. Psalms 57 & 59, written during the same time, serve to emphasize even further David’s authentic worship from a heart of gratitude. How do we know he was grateful? Remember, I shared last time that the opposite of gratitude is entitlement. When one feels entitled, the response is bitter complaining in the face of being treated unjustly. Complaints rather than worship. Only one with a grateful heart could continue to worship in the midst of such hostility and injustice.
Deliver me from my enemies, O my God; Defend me from those who rise up against me.
2 Deliver me from the workers of iniquity, And save me from bloodthirsty men. 3 For look, they lie in wait for my life; The mighty gather against me, Not for my transgression nor for my sin, O Lord. 4 They run and prepare themselves through no fault of mine. Awake to help me, and behold! 5 You therefore, O Lord God of hosts, the God of Israel, Awake to punish all the nations;
Do not be merciful to any wicked transgressors. Selah (Psa. 59:1-5)
Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me! For my soul trusts in You; And in the shadow of Your wings I will make my refuge, Until these calamities have passed by. 2 I will cry out to God Most High, To God who performs all things for me. 3 He shall send from heaven and save me;
He reproaches the one who would swallow me up. [Selah] God shall send forth His mercy and His truth. 4 My soul is among lions; I lie among the sons of men Who are set on fire, Whose teeth are spears and arrows, And their tongue a sharp sword. 5 Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; Let Your glory be above all the earth. 6 They have prepared a net for my steps;
My soul is bowed down; They have dug a pit before me; Into the midst of it they themselves have fallen. [Selah] 7 My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast; I will sing and give praise.
8 Awake, my glory! Awake, lute and harp! I will awaken the dawn. 9 I will praise You, O Lord, among the peoples; I will sing to You among the nations. 10 For Your mercy reaches unto the heavens, And Your truth unto the clouds. 11 Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; Let Your glory be above all the earth. (Psa. 57)
In verse 4 of Psalms 59, David is reiterating that his life is under threat through no fault that could be attributed to him. Despite this, David says his heart remains steadfast to sing and give praise to God, to exalt His name. He could have become bitter towards the Lord as many Christians do, unfortunately, when adversity hits. Here, David is the epitome of a heart of gratitude. Many of us wait until after God’s deliverance to give praise, worship and thanksgiving to God. What a difference it would make to the journey through adversity and how we come out on the other side if we could dig deep and, no matter what, determine that come what may, “as for me and my house we will praise the Lord” (Josh. 24:15b). Let’s look at one last verse written by David during Saul’s pursuit to drive the point home before we switch our focus to Absalom.
But I am like a green olive tree in the house of God; I trust in the mercy of God forever and ever.
9 I will praise You forever, Because You have done it; And in the presence of Your saints I will wait on Your name, for it is good. (Psa. 52:8-9)
David and Absalom
David’s own son, Absalom, treacherously plots and takes action to turn the people to him and away from King David, his father. One of the greatest, if not the greatest of hurts, is the treachery of a child towards a parent. Whatever it is – envy, jealousy, greed, power, pride, bitterness – that is in the heart of a child to reach this stage to turn on his own father has to go very deep. It had to be like a sword in David’s heart when he learned of the betrayal of his son. For fear of his life, David flees and ends up having to send an army out against his own son. Read 2 Samuel, chapters 15 -17 for the details.
Psalms 23 was written by David during this time of deep hurt and anguish. In the midst of great grief, David was able to acknowledge the goodness of God. David could have railed against God, pointing out to him that he had been a good King and did not deserve this treachery from his own son. To make matters worse, we see during his journey to save his life, in 2 Samuel 16:5-13, Shimei of the House of Saul came and cursed David, throwing stones and dirt at him. When the men who were with David sought to retaliate against Shimei David’s response tells us about David’s understanding of God and the recognition that nothing happens by chance with God. David knew there was something to be learned from this test.
11 And David said to Abishai and all his servants, “See how my son who came from my own body seeks my life. How much more now may this Benjamite? Let him alone, and let him curse; for so the Lord has ordered him. 12 It may be that the Lord will look on my affliction, and that the Lord will repay me with good for his cursing this day.” 13 And as David and his men went along the road, Shimei went along the hillside opposite him and cursed as he went, threw stones at him and kicked up dust. (2 Sam. 16:5-13)
Another aspect of David’s attitude I want us to note is his plea to the men who were going out to fight against Absalom and his army, to deal mercifully and gently with his son. Here is another example of the kind of perspective we need to have when others come against us to persecute us. Like Jesus’ words on the cross “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do”, we must recognize that we fight not against flesh and blood but against principalities and powers, against rulers of darkness and spiritual wickedness in high places. We must seek to take the high road and even as we seek for God’s intervention to deliver and save we also have a heart for those who are being used to bring us into hard testing for the maturing of our souls. Our hearts must remain tender towards God and towards others in the midst of our trouble. This is a heart of gratitude!!