I have always thought that the life of David is fascinating. He was a man full of conflict and paradox. He was tough, smart, and a fearless warrior. At the same time, he was cunning, devious, passionate, fearful and vulnerable. He was a shepherd, musician, poet, warrior, and king. He was, in other words, human.
In Psalm 34, David gives thanks for God’s protection, for delivering him from his enemies. This Psalm was written while David hid from King Saul among the Philistines. David spent his entire life, it seems, in a cycle of sin, repentance, and forgiveness, followed by sin again. And again. And again. You and I are much the same.
In a passage similar to Psalms 34:4 (2 Timothy 4:18), we find Paul Pouring out his heart just before facing Caesar and execution. He says,
“The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom.”
Both David and Paul were fully human, full of sin, murderers both, yet they are considered great men of God. Why? They fell on their faces daily and repented. When God revealed to them their deceitful hearts, they sought God’s mercy and asked Him to cleanse their hearts and change their lives.
The difference in these passages, one written by David and one written by Paul, is this. David’s plea was answered when God rescued him from a dangerous situation and hid him in the unlikeliest of places. David lived many more years. Paul’s prayer was answered by his immediate execution. In Paul’s mind (and in truth), though, his execution was rescue. He was “taken safely to [God’s] heavenly kingdom,” which had been his hope for years.
Both were delivered, but in very different ways.