The psalmist expresses this longing to return to God as the source of his life.
In Reflections on the Psalms, C. S. Lewis emphasized the importance of studying the Psalms as poetry, with its unique forms and characteristics. He wrote:
“What must be said … is that the Psalms are poems, and poems intended to be sung: not doctrinal treatises, nor even sermons. … Most emphatically the Psalms must be read as poems; as lyrics, with all the licenses and all the formalities, the hyperboles, the emotional rather than logical connections, which are proper to lyric poetry. They must be read as poems if they are to be understood; no less than French must be read as French or English as English. Otherwise we shall miss what is in them and think we see what is not.”
David’s psalms express a heart devoted to God. His music comforted King Saul, influenced his nation, and continues to change lives today. David is not the only author of the Psalms. In fact, of the 150 Psalms, David is named as the author of only 75. These include Psalms 3—9; 11—32; 34—41; 51—65; 68—70; 86; 101; 103; 108—110; 122; 124; 131; 133; and 138—145.
Among all the saints whose lives are recorded in Holy Scripture, David possesses an experience of the most striking, varied, and instructive character. In his history we meet with trials and temptations that are not found, as a whole, in other saints of ancient times, and as a result he provides us with a shadowy picture of our Lord.
David knew the trials of all ranks and conditions of men.
Kings have their troubles, and David wore a crown. The peasant has his cares, and David handled a shepherd’s crook. The wanderer has many hardships, and David hid in the caves of Engedi. The captain has his difficulties, and David found the sons of Zeruiah too hard for him.
The psalmist also faced trials from his friends; his counselor Ahithophel forsook him: “[He] who ate my bread, has lifted his heel against me.” His worst foes came from his own household: His children were his greatest affliction.
The first psalm of David’s that we find is Psalm 3, written when David fled from his son Absalom. From this title we surmise that David’s psalms are not organized in chronological order but rather by themes.
The temptations of poverty and wealth, of honor and reproach, of health and weakness all tried their power upon him. He had temptations from without to disturb his peace and from within to mar his joy.
David no sooner escaped from one trial than he fell into another, no sooner emerged from one season of despondency and alarm than he was again brought into the lowest depths and all God’s waves and billows rolled over him – This is probably the reason that David’s psalms are so universally the delight of experienced Christians.
Whatever our frame of mind, whether ecstasy or depression, David has exactly described our emotions. He was an able master of the human heart because he had been tutored in the best of all schools-the school of heartfelt, personal experience.
Psalm 84: 9 – 12
O God, look with favor upon the king, our shield!
Show favor to the one you have anointed.
A single day in your courts
is better than a thousand anywhere else!
I would rather be a gatekeeper in the house of my God
than live the good life in the homes of the wicked.
For the Lord God is our sun and our shield.
He gives us grace and glory.
The Lord will withhold no good thing
from those who do what is right.
O Lord of Heaven’s Armies,
what joy for those who trust in you.
David, The Psalmist (Allistair Begg)
CS Lewis As quoted by Ronald Barclay Allen, Praise! A Matter of Life and Breath (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1980), pp. 23-24.