How often and how deeply David was hurting, almost constantly in varying degrees and through various circumstances. At times it was because of enemies in fast pursuit, breathing down his neck to kill him. At other times, his hurt was from the rage of guilt and misery of conscience hounding him because of grievous sins. His hurting at times was the result of betrayal from either a son, a trusted solider or betrayal from his own heart, which produced the deepest emotional sorrow imaginable.
At the heart of his hurts, one thing set David apart from most of us--he was remarkable in his response to the hurts in his life, remarkable specifically in how much he would become transparent before God in specifically telling the Lord what he was feeling and what he was thinking. He did not hold it inside, letting it boil under the surface, only to explode later. He did not generally let it fester and build like an infected boil that finally has to be lanced. He did not keep it penned up quietly withheld like a damn holding back water, only for the damn to finally break.
No, David let it out. He let it out through the means of expression in prayer. He told God how he felt truly. He told the Lord how he felt fully. The Psalms are often expressions of this particularly. David expressed just exactly how he was hurting. It is amazing just to read each Psalm in search of what David exactly said to God about what he felt when he was really needy. Just a few examples:
I have many enemies- Ps. 3:1
I cried aloud 3:4
I was in distress 4:1
Consider my groaning 5:1
I am languishing 6:2
My bones are troubled 6:2
Soul is greatly troubled 6:3
I’m weary from my groaning 6:6
I flood my bed with tears 6:6
See my affliction 9:13
There's sorrow in my heart all day 13:2
I find no rest 22:2
I am lonely and afflicted 25:16
The troubles of my heart are enlarged 25:17
I cried to you for help 30:2
I plead for mercy 30:8
Rescue me speedily 31:2
You have seen my affliction 31:7
You have seen the distress of my soul 31:7
Look at the openness of expression and the extent of blatant, honest verbal communication there. As it dawns on me how blatantly honest David is with God about how he feels, it reveals a big gap between David and me. I ask myself, "Do I express to the Lord in prayer what I am feeling to the degree David did?" The answer is usually "no, I don't." I wonder why? Why do I not get as transparent and expressively free to be as open as he did?
I then realize that, to the degree that I become like David in this area, to that degree will I make headway in prayer, in freedom, in intimacy with God, and in knowing the joy of the Lord. When I am hurting, do I do what David did? I ought to go there, but only religious inhibitions or unbelief will hinder me from doing so. I must make myself, force myself out of my comfort zone of carnal personality and do this. It's a spiritual discipline. I must grow into doing what David did when hurting, if I too want to become more of a man after God's own heart. That IS how he became a man after God's own heart.
Like William Wallace in Brave Heart, when I am on the torture table of life feeling my own agonies, can I bring myself to scream to Him, "Freedom! Freedom!"
There was another one who later came in the lineage of David, one of whom it was written, "Who in the days of his flesh, offered up prayers and supplications with loud cries and tears to Him, who was able to save him through death." Jesus, our sympathizing Man, also did what his forefather David did--He cried out with all his might when he was hurting.
Oh, to be like David, oh, to be like Thee, blessed Redeemer.
- Mack Tomlinson