Day 19 Psalm 139 ... David's Spiritual Secret

In the end, David--lusty, vengeful King David--gained a reputation as a friend of God. For a time in Israel, Jehovah (or Yahweh) was known as "the God of David"; the two were that closely identified. What was David's secret? This majestic psalm, attributed to David's influence, hints at an answer.

Mainly, Psalm 139 reveals the intimacy that existed between David and his God. It's true that he sometimes contemplated running from God. But David concluded that, no matter where he went or what he did, he could never escape God's presence. If God knew his every thought and motive, how could he run away? Throughout his life, David believed, truly believed, that the spiritual world was every bit as real as his physical world of swords and spears and caves and thrones.

The psalms form a record of David's conscious effort to subject his own daily life to the reality of that spiritual world beyond him. Taken together, they show how closely David depended on God. His exploits--killing wild animals bare-handed, felling Goliath, surviving Saul's onslaughts, routing the Philistines--made him a hero in his nation's eyes. But as David himself reflected on those events, and wrote poetry about them, he always found a way to make God the one on center stage. Whatever the phrase "practicing the presence of God" means, David experienced. He intentionally involved God in every detail of his life.

David firmly believed he mattered to God. After one narrow escape he wrote, "[God] rescued me because he delighted in me" (Psalm 18:19). Another time he argued, in so many words (Psalm 30), "What good will it do you if I die, Lord? Who will praise you then?" And this psalm, 139, beautifully expresses David's sense of wonder at God's love and concern.

Reading David's psalms, with all their emotional peaks and valleys, it may even seem that he wrote them as a form of spiritual therapy, a way of talking himself into faith when his spirit and emotions were wavering. Now, centuries later, we can use those very same prayers as steps of faith, a path to lead us from an obsession with ourselves to the actual presence of God.

Point to Ponder: : How do you "practice the presence of God" in your life?