We know more about King David than any other character in the Bible. Not only do we have a wide range of surprisingly honest stories, spanning from his early teens to frail old age, we also have a stack of poems - lyrics to songs - that are reliably attributed to this remarkable man. So we don’t just know what David did, we know how he thought, and how he felt.
Many of David’s psalms reveal the insecurity of power, and show us a powerful man who was constantly looking over his shoulder for fear of attack. But there are other psalms that reveal David, son of Jesse, to be a deep and passionate thinker, attentive to the most fundamental questions of life.
In Psalm 139 David reflects on the experience of knowing, and being known by, God. "You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from far away. Even before a word is on my tongue, you know it completely.” He further contemplates God's inescapable knowledge: "Where can I flee from your presence? If I take the wings of the morning and settle at the farthest limits of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me.” Then David switches from that wide poetic perspective to one of extreme intimacy: “You knit me together in my mother’s womb. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret. Your eyes beheld my unformed substance.”
There have been many occasions in the history of religion when the all-knowing nature of God has been used to frighten people into submission. But David expresses no fear. For him, the eternal presence of God is like a thick duvet on a cold night. God’s presence is the only place that he feels safe and secure.
Jesus, on occasion, was called ‘Son of David’. This can’t have been because Jesus was a warrior or a politician because he did not model himself on those aspects of his famous ancestor. Jesus was the ‘Son of David’ because he too opened people’s eyes to the gently powerful, merciful love of God. To employ the most famous poetic reflection of the young shepherd turned great king: "God is my shepherd. I will lack nothing."