Theology in the unlikely places

Are you sure this verse belongs in this psalm David?


“Those who look to him are radiant and their faces shall never be ashamed” Psalms 34:5

I cannot put myself in King David’s shoes.  His lifestyle was drastically different from mine.  Other than the fact that I worship the same God that he adored during his lifetime, we have very little in common.  I have never been near sheep for more than few minutes, have never drawn sword in a battlefield and was never hunted down by a king and his army.  Escaping death by a slim margin was almost a daily occurrence for him, which again is unimaginable for me.  And so I may never understand the joy that he must have felt when he sang this song after one such narrow escape.  But this verse stands out in the song because its ironic – almost funny.  David did not compose this psalm while he was hailed as a national hero.  He was anything but ‘radiant’.  In fact, he just wiped his own saliva from his beard from acting like a mad man in front of foreign dignitaries in an attempt to save his life.  In an honor driven society such as his, this must have been a new low for him. Or so it seems to me.
But from a slightly different perspective,this man just walked out of an enemy’s palace without a scratch. He didn’t even have to use a single weapon.  And now he is ecstatic for being alive and sings a praise song to God.  Just few verses in, he makes this statement that hits too close to home for me: ‘Those who look to him are radiant’. It’s just a statement of observation. It’s not a magic formula. And in spite of his humiliation in front of King Achish that day, David considers himself radiant and radiant he was, with joy and gratitude.  This radiance seems to be the natural consequence of ‘looking to him’ or in other words, dependence on God.  I used to know how to depend on God as a child when I would even ask him to help me find my lost pencil.  Now however, I can be friends with God through church attendance or personal devotions but when faced with the slightest adversity, I would rather exhaust all my human resources trying to solve it myself than ‘look to him’.  Perhaps, if I would look to God more often with a child-like faith, waiting on him for my next deliverance , opportunity and guidance, in situations big and small, I too will experience that radiance!

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