Quite a complex and extreme emotional journey this one.
Starts in a familiar place, a cry out because David is drowning in enemies. There are a few different metaphors, it seems more pervasive than the fugitive Psalms from before he was King. It seems to be about a later insurrection during his reign.
The most striking images to me were the sense of being under water and when he says he has more enemies than hairs on his head.. I wonder if Jesus was referring back to that image when he talked about the comfort of God knowing that number.
David then moves on to his own sin and culpability. God knows he’s a sinner, and he prays that he won’t be the cause of other people’s shame and disgrace.
The effect of being massively falsely accused by enemies, as well as actually not being a very good person, combines to make him a pathetic figure, even his public signs of distress, his sack cloth and tears are mocked. He’s turned into a figure of fun in drinking songs!
How could one of Israel’s two greatest Kings be so scorned? The next section has his intense plea to God for rescue, setting out the detail of his suffering. It echoes Christ, and was quoted by Christ. He speaks of being given vinegar to quench his thirst, which literally happened to Jesus on the cross.
This psalm prepares us readers for the idea that even ideal Kings have to suffer, the key to recognising the Messiah.
He then vents his anger calling for justice and judgement of those who’ve treated him so unfairly.
It then ends with an intense burst of praise that looks forward to a just Jerusalem, he particularly prays for the poor and needy, who he mentioned as being let down by his own sin earlier. It looks to a state of personal grace beyond the animal sacrifice system.
It’s an intense journey though despair, recrimination, suffering, anger and praise, the dial set to 11 on all of them. Plus these pre-echoes of God’s larger plan.
I reckon I can guess the kind of circumstances.
He often did this shoot the messenger thing, where someone would come and report that they had destroyed an obvious enemy of David, but he would be distraught, particularly if it was a relative or supporter of king Saul who he replaced.
He has a lot of guilt and pain over that. So he’s in extreme emotional mourning over what to any other king would have looked like a victory. That would have made him a figure of fun and emboldened insurrection. I checked online and there is some support for the theory that he was bipolar. Certainly, people do respond negatively to his emotional nature, such as his wife when he wildly danced the Ark into Jerusalem.
I actually resonate rather too well with it, I’m feeling pretty sorry for myself this week, a toxic mixture of inadequacy and feeling put upon, stress and indolence, blowing it and feeling like I can’t win.
It’s passing I think fortunately. I have a feeling of knowing what needs to be done this morning.
I need to fess up to deadlines I’ve missed at work because of my own depression, and ask for yet more time so I can wrap up things at home and enjoy the break we’ve planned for the weekend.
Then, refreshed, I need to blitz it at work next week. And hope I still get a job even though I’m human.
I’ll take my cue from David in this way: its a mess I can’t fully understand or unpack. Lord, you have the strength to help me make it pass, lets get to the simple place!