David's Key to Worship

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All of us know at least a little about King David from the Bible, remembering scattered bits and pieces about his life and exploits. We recall his spontaneous enlistment into Saul's army to confront the formidable foe Goliath. We remember him as a shepherd boy, called in from the fields by Samuel the prophet who, in front of David's snubbed siblings, anointed him as the future king of Israel.

David's Key to Worship

David's story has many facets we could explore: as youngest and possibly illegitimate son; the singer and psalmist; a friend "closer than a brother"; his days as an outcast and fugitive; as king of Israel and commander-in-chief; and his unsavory side as an adulterer and murderer. This is how we remember and memorialize David ben Jesse.

However, the Bible begins David's story with this prominent imprint of a prophet's words:

"The LORD said to Samuel,

"The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart." Then the LORD said, "Rise and anoint him; he is the one."

(1 Samuel 16:7,12b NIV

Thus, David launches into the realm of greatness and his life becomes one significant to us as we follow him through the written chapters. God highlights David's life to us not only in his biography but also through the emphasis of the Psalms, the largest book in the Bible. Here we find 150 chapters devoted to demonstrating praise and worship of God, with David as primary author. His biography and his psalms give us backstage passes to David's character.

If we knew what David knew about God, would we worship God the way David did?

The psalms that David penned are brutally honest accounts of his daily walk with God. Nothing sugar-coated with a veneer of religiosity is even remotely evident as we read psalm after psalm of a passionate man in genuine relationship with a holy God. From this storehouse we glean a life lesson as God-followers because God is not afraid of our honesty; He desires truth in the "inward parts."

In David's psalms we can see a pattern, a protocol of how his heart connects with God's. For example, Psalm 5 begins with:

"Give ear to my words, O LORD, consider my sighing. Listen to my cry for help, my King and my God, for to you I pray."

David is under duress and pours out his complaint, his cry to God. He doesn't beat around the bush, nor does he distance himself using lofty language. Instead, we are privy to the conversation of a man pouring out his heart to his closest friend.

The psalm continues in this mood for several verses when suddenly, there is a change in tone with these words:

"...But let all who take refuge in you be glad; let them ever sing for joy. Spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may rejoice in you."

Here is a turning point in which David testifies to the truth of who God is: a refuge to rejoice in, a protector, a name worthy of praise. Again and again David emerges from these "turnarounds of heart" closer to God than ever. It is his defining characteristic.

This process repeats in Psalm 35 when David opens his psalm by petitioning the LORD to battle his antagonist:

"Contend, O LORD, with those who contend with me; fight against those who fight against me. ...O LORD, you have seen this; be not silent. Do not be far from me, O Lord. Awake, and rise to my defense! Contend for me, my God and Lord."

Again, at the end of the psalm, miraculously his heart is calmed as he concludes:

"My tongue will speak of your righteousness and of your praises all day long."

Where does this turnaround come from? In 1 Samuel 30:6 (NAV)}} we read that David "strengthened himself in the Lord." Moreover, in almost all of his psalms, we discover that he consistently employs this same turnaround of heart. This is David's key as a worshipper.

His day may have begun much the same as ours do, with burdens, regrets and conflict; he pours these out to God in candid complaint or depressed sighs. The enemy of his soul is unthreatened by David's apparent downward cycle of despondence; the aggressor is oblivious to the impending decision of a soul passionate and desperate to engage with his only hope: God! David escapes the clutches of the devil repeatedly by retreating to God.

David doggedly disciplined himself to take this course and make a stand. When he was sad, when he was confused, or under attack... at some crucial point he turned his eyes heavenward.

"My soul thirsts for God...when can I go and meet with God?

My tears have been my food day and night... ... Why are you downcast, O my soul? Put your hope in God for I will yet praise Him, my Savior and my God."

Ps 42: 2, 11

In each of these psalms, we see the key to David's heart: he chooses to turn his heart towards God. He used the most precious gift God gave to man -- a free will -- to decide to turn toward God. He chooses to worship God -- as the boy with the sling facing the giant Goliath, as the fallen king facing the enormous sins of adultery and murder -- he was a man intent upon God.

Each time David decides in his heart to turn toward God, to proclaim within his own hearing that God is his only recourse, God's heart responds with an empowering.

"For the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him." 2Chronicles 16:9 NIV

David's heart choice for God is the deciding factor and makes all the difference. God proclaims this about his heart:

"I have found David son of Jesse a man after my own heart;

he will do everything I want him to do."

Acts 13:22 NIV


We would love to hear these same words spoken by the breath of God over our lives! This is the heart of a worshipper: someone who, in the face of the foe, turns his heart to God in spirit and truth.

Worship is a free-will choice to turn our hearts to Jesus as Lord. God delights in a heart that turns toward Him in all circumstances, submitting to His Lordship willingly. It sounds easy, yet we often resist until we are finally at the bottom of the pit with no place else to look but up.

I waited patiently for the Lord; He turned to me and heard my cry.

He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; He set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the LORD.

Psalm 40:1-3 NIV

This choice is what David discovered, disciplined himself in and decided to do countless times during his sojourn here on earth. This was David's key.

"Turn your eyes upon Jesus.

Look full in His wonderful face. And the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace."

(copyright 1922, words and music by Helen Lemmel)


Article "David's Key to Worship" by Belinda van de Loo, YWAM Holland (Heidebeek) email: belinda@ywam.nl Belindaloo