It is interesting that David would ask God to test him. I for one have never asked such a thing, partially because I know if God tested me, most likely it would be a rude awakening for me and partially because I am quite content with the amount of stress my life offers for free without having to ask God for more. Looking into some of the preceding verses to find out what motivated this kind of prayer, these were David’s thoughts (Psalm 139:19-21):
“If only you, God, would slay the wicked!
Away from me, you who are bloodthirsty!
They speak of you with evil intent;
your adversaries misuse your name.
Do I not hate those who hate you, Lord,
and abhor those who are in rebellion against you?“
David’s musical skills had always served him well. He would often pray while plucking his harp. Singing his prayers became his sacred habit. He was a shepherd by trade who had spent his days and nights looking after his sheep ever since he was a little boy – until one day, when he was summoned to play for the king.
To his surprise, his musical skills had been recognized by someone at court. This led to a chain of events that took him away from the sheepfold and moved him closer to the palace – apparently too close for comfort. Against his wishes, David was drawn into politics. Due to his military successes, his popularity grew to the point that Saul, who was elected first king of Israel, became severely jealous and felt the need to protect himself from David whom he thought was about to usurp the throne. David had no such plans whatsoever, but King Saul did not believe him; his intention was to kill him. So David left the palace under the cover of night and went into hiding for several years.
As a political refugee and suspect for treason, I can imagine that self-doubts assailed David in the dark moments of his life and that he asked God repeatedly:
“Am I a man of integrity or am I just like those bloodthirsty men that are trying to kill me? Do I not hate those who hate you, Lord and abhor those who are in rebellion against you? Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me and lead me in the way everlasting.”
David rose to fame as a man after God’s own heart, a shepherd who became the second king of Israel. Obviously, I had no chance to meet him in person and the words I added to King David’s prayer were pure speculation on my part, but what I am learning is this:
It is healthy to question our motives, especially when we are about to make a decision that will affect a lot of people. We are well-advised to seek God when in self-doubt. He is the best source of information when it comes to judging our own thoughts since the Lord knows us like no other. With King David we can pray (Psalm 139:24):
“See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”
Submitting our ways to the Lord is an important thing to do. If we are on the wrong track we should be the first to know.