Songs of praise have been a very important part of the worship experience of the people of Israel. The psalms were sung with instrumental accompaniment. King David was a skillful poet and musician, and he composed a great number of psalms included in the Bible. In these songs he expressed his authentic faith in God and a wide range of feelings that all of us can experience. King David instituted the singing of psalms when the children of Israel assembled at the sanctuary in Jerusalem. David’s psalms give voice to a whole range of human emotions, from despair and sorrow over a sinful conduct to joyful praise to God, who is compassionate and full of mercy.
When God chose him to be king over Israel, prophet Samuel wrote of David that he was a man after God’s own heart (see 1 Samuel 13:13-15). But David had changed much since his youth, when he had chosen to rely completely on God in all aspects of his life. Although David won many victories on the battlefield, his greatest battles were the conflicts over his own selfi sh desires and ambitions. Yet in spite of David’s many shortcomings and character flaws, he was a man who loved God and repented with deep sorrow over his sins. His psalms often express his heartfelt sorrow and prayer for forgiveness.
Psalm 51 is a prayer of confession that David wrote after Nathan the prophet shared with him God’s message of rebuke. This psalm is a powerful illustration of the sinner’s cry for God’s forgiveness and restoration: “Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin” (verses 1, 2). In addition to forgiveness, David prayed for a pure heart so that he might remain in God’s presence and experience the blessing of His Holy Spirit: “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me” (verse 12). With the assurance of God’s forgiveness, David wrote: “My sacrifi ce, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise” (verse 17).
King David was one of those people who knew the importance of worshipping God with all his heart. He knew God as a personal friend “who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion” (Psalm 103:3, 4). David knew the Lord as “compassionate and gracious” and “slow to anger” (verse 8).
”Psalm 103 has been described as one of the most exuberant of the psalms. It is the spontaneous expression of a heart full of praise to God for His grace and compassion. In it David praises God for blessings in his own life, tells of the loving-kindness God exercises toward His children generally, shows man’s dependence upon the mercy of God, and invites the whole creation to worship God” (The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 3, p. 861).
David describes God’s great love for us in visual terms: “For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us” (verses 11, 12). What a beautiful picture of God! Much like the infi nite vastness that exists between heaven and earth, God’s love for us is immeasurable and has no end.
Psalm 107 presents another beautiful description of God’s miraculous power to save those who come to Him for help:
“Some went out on the sea in ships; they were merchants on the mighty waters. They saw the works of the Lord his wonderful deeds in the deep. For he spoke and stirred up a tempest that lifted high the waves” (verses 23-25).
“Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble, and he brought them out of their distress. He stilled the storm to a whisper; the waves of the sea were hushed. They were glad when it grew calm, and he guided them to their desired haven” (verses 28-30).
How comforting it is to know that our loving God is with us when we feel overwhelmed with troubles. He off ers us peace and calms the storms in our lives!
Worshipping God involves acknowledging who He is and what He has done for us. Prayer and song are important elements of worship. “Prayer is the opening of the heart to God as to a friend” (Ellen G. White, Steps to Christ, p. 93). “Prayer is the key in the hand of faith to unlock heaven’s storehouse, where are treasured the boundless resources of Omnipotence” (Steps to Christ, pp. 94, 95). Let’s praise God in our songs and prayers, for He has done great things for us. We can trust that God will answer when we pray in harmony with His will (John 15:7).