O Lord, You alone are my hope.
I’ve trusted You, O LORD, from childhood.
Yes, You have been with me from birth;
from my mother’s womb You have cared for me.
No wonder I am always praising You!
My life is an example to many,
because you have been my strength and protection.
That is why I can never stop praising You;
I declare Your glory all day long.
And now, in my old age, don’t set me aside.
Don’t abandon me when my strength is failing.” Psalm 71:5-9
I would love to be able to say this now, let alone in my later years when my health is failing. This is part of Psalm 71, written when David was elderly and very ill. It still shows his strength of purpose and character, as if he was still the young David, ready to take on the world. If you read the full Psalm, as his health fails, his competition is keen on killing him to take hold of power. Despite the challenges of pain and an aged body, he is determined to remain the victor, sitting securely within God’s will.
“Now that I am old and grey,
do not abandon me, O God.
Let me proclaim Your power to this new generation,
Your mighty miracles to all who come after me.
Your righteousness, O God, reaches to the highest heavens.
You have done such wonderful things.
Who can compare with You, O God?
You have allowed me to suffer much hardship,
but You will restore me to life again
and lift me up from the depths of the earth.
You will restore me to even greater honour
and comfort me once again.” Verses 18-21
One of the most inspiring talks I have heard on David was by an elderly Rabbi, who was encouraging his congregation to “serve with the joy of King David!” He spoke about moving through our spiritual lives with love and a smile on our face; as well as the gratitude which manifested in David’s Psalms. The point to his message was that those in the world with no faith would see that joy, and it would become a witness.
Every so often I think about what he said, and I can see the promise in it. Being able to praise God through hardship, blesses God, helps empower us to move forward and also, shows others the goodness of God in our lives. If we had nothing at all to be happy about, we would not praise. Onlookers can see that.
David had a great deal to be grateful for, and he let nothing stop him from sharing it.
“As for me, I will always have hope;
I will praise You more and more.
My mouth will tell of Your righteous deeds,
of Your saving acts all day long—
though I know not, how to relate them all.” Psalm 71:14-15 (NIV)
You know how it feels to be ill. Your energy is drained, you don’t want to move. How David survived so many foes, battles and long-term health problems, is an incredible testimony of the provision of the Lord. He did not **die until the nation of Israel was secure. From the symptoms described in the books of Samuel and the Psalms, it appears that David suffered from diabetes from mid-life; then he most probably passed away from diabetic heart disease. Both explain the extreme cold he suffered in his last few years, [Ref. 1 Kings 1] and the ups and downs in his health, that the Bible records.
David had the help of a local plant named sharp varthemia (chiliadenus iphionoides) to control his diabetes, but I cannot begin to image living through those conditions with not so much as a paracetamol tablet, let alone insulin and cardiac medication. In addition, as someone who had been a warrior for many years, he would have suffered chronic pain and possibly, some debilitation, from orthopaedic problems caused by the extreme wear and tear of warfare on his body.
The aged David must have been very uncomfortable, yet, he didn’t slow down much. Even when King Solomon had taken the throne, David invested his time in his great passion: preparations for building the temple. Reading through 1 Chronicles, they were extensive and David gave his personal wealth to help fund the building, inspiring others to give as well. [Ref. 1 Chronicles chapters 27 to 29]
“Then David praised the LORD in the presence of the whole assembly:
“O LORD, the God of our ancestor Israel, may You be praised forever and ever! Yours, O LORD, is the greatness, the power, the glory, the victory, and the majesty. Everything in the heavens and on earth is Yours, O LORD, and this is Your kingdom. We adore You as the One who is over all things. Wealth and honour come from You alone, for You rule over everything. Power and might are in Your Hand, and at Your discretion, people are made great and given strength.” 1 Chronicles 29:10-12
The suffering that David went through only served to build his gratitude and enhance his relationship with the Lord, which is something that I find amazing. At times, people who have had hard lives become bitter, both with others and with God, but not David. He was able to look back and see the wonder of how the Lord had brought him through.
Psalm 119:71-71 is believed to be David’s work. In it he says:
“My suffering was good for me,
for it taught me to pay attention to Your decrees.
Your instructions are more valuable to me
than millions in gold and silver.”
Bless the Lord for the work and legacy of his faithful servant, David, the sweet singer of Isra’el. He is a great example of how to meet hardship head on, and still come out rich and fulfilled, no matter what age you are, or what conditions you suffer from. As I know David would say if he were to be writing this, put your trust and hope in the Lord. He will never abandon those who are faithful to Him. Look to Him for help, you’ll never be unloved, unprovided for or forsaken.
**“He (David) reigned over Israel for forty years, seven of them in Hebron and thirty-three in Jerusalem. He died at a ripe old age, having enjoyed long life, wealth, and honour. Then his son Solomon ruled in his place.” 1 Chronicles 29:27-28 Long life, or being full of years, is a sign of the favour of the Lord. Other Biblical heroes who enjoyed the same favour, in those terms, are Abraham, Isaac and Job.
Read more about King David and diabetes: http://articles.faithwriters.com/reprint-article-details.php?article=32037
Except where marked, all verses are from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2007. Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.
This article by Cate Russell-Cole is under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-SA 4.0)
About Cate and the King David Project
Cate Russell-Cole has been a Christian since 1981 and is a qualified Creativity Coach, Author, Editor and Social Worker. She has been actively involved in church life and ministry, since her teenage years. Until early in 2015, Cate coached writers online through her CommuniCATE Resources for Writers blog, with a blog and social media following of over seven thousand people. Her commercial work had to be stopped due to chronic health problems, so instead, she followed her heart and devoted all her time to King David.
Cate lives in Brisbane, Australia with her husband and two cats and habitually writes everything in Australian English.
“From Despair to Deliverance: the King David Project,” is a non-profit ministry, that seeks to make the life of King David easy to understand and relevant, so that believers gain inspiration and comfort from the life of King David.
The King David Project website: http://cateartios.wix.com/kingdavidproject
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