By Christopher Fisher
Act 13:22 And when He had removed him, He raised up for them David as king, to whom also He gave testimony and said, ‘I HAVE FOUND DAVID THE SON OF JESSE, A MAN AFTER MY OWN HEART, WHO WILL DO ALL MY WILL.’
King David was beloved by God. King David was seen as having a clear connection to God and God had a special relationship with David. When King David speaks about God, it would behoove Christians to read and understand what King David is communicating.
King David wrote at least 73 of the 150 Psalms. In the pages of the Psalms are some of the most clearly stated Open Theist claims about how God operates in relation to man.
David praises God for God’s power.
David believed that God was both powerful and could overcome all obstacles. David’s prayers are filled with depictions of a God who can act to overcome adversaries. David does not assume God is a being that controls all things, but instead God is a being that uses His power to overcome competing forces in specific instances.
Psa 18:2 The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; My God, my strength, in whom I will trust; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
Psa 18:3 I will call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised; So shall I be saved from my enemies.
Psa 20:6 Now I know that the LORD saves His anointed; He will answer him from His holy heaven With the saving strength of His right hand.
David calls on God to act.
David calls on God to use God’s power. In David’s trials and tribulations, David prays earnestly to God for God to act, to intervene. David believed God would hear David’s prayers and be stirred to action. David did not believe the future was closed. David believed that his actions changed God’s actions and caused God to act in a way that God would not have otherwise acted. David also shows that he does not believe God is always proactive. God sometimes sits passive until called upon to act:
Psa 5:2 Give heed to the voice of my cry, My King and my God, For to You I will pray.
Psa 7:6 Arise, O LORD, in Your anger; Lift Yourself up because of the rage of my enemies; Rise up for me to the judgment You have commanded!
Psa 22:11 Be not far from Me, For trouble is near; For there is none to help.
Psa 17:1 Attend to my cry; Give ear to my prayer which is not from deceitful lips.
Psa 17:2 Let my vindication come from Your presence; Let Your eyes look on the things that are upright.
David moves God to action.
When God did act, David often attributes it to David’s own prayers. David believed not only that he could “move” God, but that also his prayers changed what would have happened without the prayers. David believed his prayers influenced God, spurred God’s mind and shaped His action.
Psa 66:17 I cried to Him with my mouth, And He was extolled with my tongue.
Psa 66:19 But certainly God has heard me; He has attended to the voice of my prayer.
Psa 66:20 Blessed be God, Who has not turned away my prayer, Nor His mercy from me!
Psa 3:4 I cried to the LORD with my voice, And He heard me from His holy hill. Selah
Psa 6:8 Depart from me, all you workers of iniquity; For the LORD has heard the voice of my weeping.
Psa 6:9 The LORD has heard my supplication; The LORD will receive my prayer.
David believes that God abandons him at times.
At times in David’s life, David felt abandoned by God. David was not under the impression that God had no propensity to be anything other than active, faithful, and true. Abandonment was a real threat, a threat that David strives to avoid. David shapes his prayers to continually ask for God’s faithfulness. When David feels oppressed, he wonders where God is.
Psa 13:1 How long, O LORD? Will You forget me forever? How long will You hide Your face from me?
Psa 13:2 How long shall I take counsel in my soul, Having sorrow in my heart daily? How long will my enemy be exalted over me?
Psa 13:3 Consider and hear me, O LORD my God; Enlighten my eyes, Lest I sleep the sleep of death;
Psa 22:1 My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me? Why are You so far from helping Me, And from the words of My groaning?
Psa 22:2 O My God, I cry in the daytime, but You do not hear; And in the night season, and am not silent.
Psa 55:1 Give ear to my prayer, O God, And do not hide Yourself from my supplication.
Psa 55:2 Attend to me, and hear me; I am restless in my complaint, and moan noisily,
David bargains with God.
In order to convince God to remain faithful, David often bargains with God. David offers to God positive arguments as to why God should preserve him. David’s offer is that if God will protect him, then David will live, praise God, and proselytize for God.
Psa 9:13 Have mercy on me, O LORD! Consider my trouble from those who hate me, You who lift me up from the gates of death,
Psa 9:14 That I may tell of all Your praise In the gates of the daughter of Zion. I will rejoice in Your salvation.
Psa 22:21 Save Me from the lion’s mouth And from the horns of the wild oxen! You have answered Me.
Psa 22:22 I will declare Your name to My brethren; In the midst of the assembly I will praise You.
[An unattributed Psalm] Psa 119:17 Deal bountifully with Your servant, That I may live and keep Your word.
David praises God for remaining faithful.
Because God did act in a manner to save David, David often praises God for remaining faithful. David does not assume that God has no choice but to remain faithful. David believes that God could have abandoned him. Part of the praise for “faithfulness” is to show gratitude, fulfill David’s side of the bargains, and to encourage future faithfulness in God.
Psa 13:5 But I have trusted in Your mercy; My heart shall rejoice in Your salvation.
Psa 55:22 Cast your burden on the LORD, And He shall sustain you; He shall never permit the righteous to be moved.
Psa 56:12 Vows made to You are binding upon me, O God; I will render praises to You,
Psa 56:13 For You have delivered my soul from death. Have You not kept my feet from falling, That I may walk before God In the light of the living?
Psa 57:8 Awake, my glory! Awake, lute and harp! I will awaken the dawn.
Psa 57:9 I will praise You, O Lord, among the peoples; I will sing to You among the nations.
Psa 57:10 For Your mercy reaches unto the heavens, And Your truth unto the clouds.
David believes God tests individuals.
But God may not remain faithful, especially if David or Israel fails God’s tests. Throughout the Psalms and the Bible, God’s blessings are intricately tied to people remaining righteous. If people forsake God, God will, in turn, forsake them. God tests people to learn if they will continue to follow him.
Psa 17:3 You have tested my heart; You have visited me in the night; You have tried me and have found nothing; I have purposed that my mouth shall not transgress.
Psa 26:2 Examine me, O LORD, and prove me; Try my mind and my heart.
Psa 139:23 Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me, and know my anxieties;
Psa 139:24 And see if there is any wicked way in me, And lead me in the way everlasting.
Psa 11:5 The LORD tests the righteous, But the wicked and the one who loves violence His soul hates.
David portrays God as rewarding those who choose to love Him.
David is clear that God blesses those who choose God and curses those who hate God. That is God’s criteria. If someone wants to be a part of God’s people, all the person needs to do is follow God. God does not have a master plan of everyone ever to be His chosen people. People choose God and God chooses those people back.
Psa 15:1 Who may dwell in Your holy hill?
Psa 15:2 He who walks uprightly, And works righteousness, And speaks the truth in his heart;
Psa 15:3 He who does not backbite with his tongue, Nor does evil to his neighbor, Nor does he take up a reproach against his friend;
Psa 15:4 In whose eyes a vile person is despised, But he honors those who fear the LORD; He who swears to his own hurt and does not change;
Psa 15:5 He who does not put out his money at usury, Nor does he take a bribe against the innocent. He who does these things shall never be moved.
Psa 18:24 Therefore the LORD has recompensed me according to my righteousness, According to the cleanness of my hands in His sight.
David portrays God in Heaven.
To David, God watched the world from heaven. God watched and tested man so that God can learn about their actions. David was not under the impression that God had inherent knowledge of all future events. David believed God gathered knowledge through perception.
Psa 11:4 The LORD is in His holy temple, The LORD’s throne is in heaven; His eyes behold, His eyelids test the sons of men.
David explains how God is always with him.
David believed that God had a special relationship with him. This makes sense because God anointed David and worked saving works throughout his life. David praises God for always being faithful and always staying by his side. The purpose of pointing this out was because it was special. If David’s point was that God is physically located everywhere always, it ruins the special meaning for what David is trying to praise God. God is with David (as opposed to others), and this shows David that David has a special relationship with God.
Psa 16:8 I have set the LORD always before me; Because He is at my right hand I shall not be moved.
Psa 139:7 Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence?
Psa 139:8 If I ascend into heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there.
God has deep emotions
Additionally, a consistent theme in the writings of David is God’s strong emotions. God shows strong hate, strong love, pleasure. God is stirred to these emotions due to the actions of man. God reacts in real time.
Psa 30:5 For His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for life; Weeping may endure for a night, But joy comes in the morning.
Psa 51:19 Then You shall be pleased with the sacrifices of righteousness, With burnt offering and whole burnt offering; Then they shall offer bulls on Your altar.
Psa 5:5 The boastful shall not stand in Your sight; You hate all workers of iniquity.
David points out that God gloried in man and gave man power.
God has these strong emotions over man, because man was created by God as a special creature, gloried above even the angels. God gave man power over everything. As such, it truly matters to God what happens to human beings and how they act.
Psa 8:4 What is man that You are mindful of him, And the son of man that You visit him?
Psa 8:5 For You have made him a little lower than the angels, And You have crowned him with glory and honor.
Psa 8:6 You have made him to have dominion over the works of Your hands; You have put all things under his feet,
These are not isolated verses. The themes are strong and constant throughout all the writings of King David and the rest of the Psalms. The Psalms are devastating towards the classical depiction of God. The Psalms portray the living God of the Bible.
King David was not a Closed Theist, but an Open Theist. David believed God was capable, could be influenced to act, and could choose otherwise. David believed God responded to prayers and genuinely changed His thoughts and actions based on those prayers.
To King David: God was not in an eternal now. God was not immutable. God did not have a set future.
To King David: God was present and active. God was emotional and responsive. God was dynamic in history.
King David, a man after God’s own heart, should not have his witness degenerated with Greek philosophy. Christians should not assume King David did not know or describe God as God really is. Christians should use King David as great illustration of a healthy outlook on God coupled with a healthy prayer life.