III. THE HISTORY OF PSALMS 1—16
From Psalm 1 to Psalm 16, there is a history which we need to see. The history begins in Psalm 1 with a man appreciating the law, treasuring the keeping of the law, and highly appraising the keeper of the law. Then in Psalm 2, God came in to declare that Christ was His Anointed. God anointed Him and installed Him to be the King. God also begot Him in His humanity to be the firstborn Son of God. Thus, we all have to take refuge in Him, to believe into Him. We also have to kiss Him, to love Him. This is the second step of the history.
After Psalm 2 was written, David, the appreciator of the law, committed the most "rough and tough" sin. He committed adultery with Uriah’s wife and murdered Uriah (2 Sam. 11). We have seen previously that by that terrible sin, he broke the last five commandments (Exo. 20:13-17). He murdered Uriah, committed fornication, robbed Uriah of his wife, lied to Uriah, and coveted Uriah’s wife.
The title of Psalm 3 says that this psalm was written when David was fleeing from his son Absalom. David fled from his son because his son rebelled against him. This rebellion was the issue of David’s sin of fornication and murder. Because of this sin, God allowed fornication and murder to occur in David’s family among his children. One of David’s sons committed fornication with his daughter, and then Absalom killed the son who did this (2 Sam. 13). Eventually, Absalom rebelled against David (2 Sam. 15).
I would like to add something here for us to see. At the time that David committed his terrible sin, God took away His sustaining hand from David. If God had so desired, He could have arranged the situation so that David would have never seen Uriah’s wife. There was a kind of circumstance that gave David the opportunity to sin. God allowed this to happen to David. We need to consider why God allowed this. David appreciated the law and even appraised himself so highly. Therefore, God took His sustaining hand away from David so that David could be fully exposed, not only to himself but also to all the Lord’s children throughout the generations until today.
David was exposed to the uttermost. I do not believe that any of us have been fully exposed or convicted of our sinfulness. This is because God in His mercy has not exposed us to the extent that He exposed David. It is hard to believe that such a godly servant of God as David could commit such a terrible sin. He conspired to murder one of his soldiers, and then he robbed this one of his wife! Who could believe that such a godly king like David could do this? God allowed that to happen. God kept His preserving, protecting, and sustaining hand away from David for a time. David thought he kept the law, but God arranged an environment to show him that he could not keep the law. An environment was there that fit David’s sinful flesh, allowing his flesh to come out and fully expose him.
David committed this great sin about one thousand years before Christ. Many years later the New Testament still refers to this sin. Even in the genealogy of Christ, Matthew 1:6 says, "David begot Solomon of her who had been the wife of Uriah." What an ugly record! How could someone beget a son of another’s wife? David is exposed even today.
He was exposed, and later he was on the test with Absalom’s rebellion. When Absalom was pursuing him, David prayed the prayers recorded in Psalms 3—7. After considering Psalms 3—7 in the light of God’s New Testament economy, we have seen that these psalms should not be taken as models for our prayer. In them we see David’s sufferings, his desire to be avenged of his adversaries, and his self-righteousness. We do not see any repentance, confession of his fault, or self-condemnation. This is the history of the one who appreciated the law and who was exposed. There is no hint or indication that he was humbled, that he was full of self-denial, or that he was self-condemned. He was on the test during Absalom’s rebellion, and the testing did not bring out anything positive in these psalms.
Then in Psalm 8, God came in to inspire David. This psalm is David’s inspired praise of the excellency of Christ. After Psalm 8, the history goes on with Psalms 9—14, which show us David’s human concept concerning God’s judgment on his enemies and his concept concerning man’s condition before God. Then Psalm 15 speaks of David’s concept of a perfect man according to the law being able to dwell with God for God’s heart’s desire. But in Psalm 16, there is the divine revelation that the only one who can dwell with God for God’s heart’s desire is the God-man, Christ. The God-man Christ in His human living, His death, His resurrection, and His ascension is the centrality and universality of the economy of God, the man who may dwell with God for His heart’s desire and good pleasure. I hope that we can keep in mind the history of these sixteen psalms. Then we can understand their real significance.
(Life-Study of Psalms, Chapter 7, by Witness Lee)