David has come through a lot, and not always to his credit. While he has ruled under God’s authority far better than did Saul, and shown loyalty to God and to his friends he has slipped badly with Bathsheba, sown the seeds of disaster with his many wives, concubines and children and allowed his judgement to be impaired by some of the same loyalty which was also his strength, as with Absalom.
He has depended on wise advisors and courageous prophets, and on loyal military leaders, especially Joab. Now we sense that his reign is drawing to its close, and even his people seem to realise that his strength is beginning to slip away, calling him not to go out to battle any longer.
And near the end of the story of David, mixed in with accounts of vengeance, justice and divine judgement, David sings a song of praise and thanksgiving (although it may be that it comes from earlier in the story, looking at how it is introduced).
The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer, my God my rock, in whom I take refuge. (2 Sam. 22:2-3)
It’s a wonderful song of praise, but it does seem – as I suggested above – to belong to an earlier chapter, before David’s sin. We can compare it to Psalm 51, and see a different and perhaps wiser king behind the words.
Which ring more true, and how does one enrich the other? Perhaps if we can find in our own hearts and put into our own words the balance of the song of thanksgiving and the song of sorrow we will find that both deepen our vision of how God has been at work in our lives.