This strange, almost enigmatic statement is found at the close of 1 Chronicles. It describes the tumultuous and eventful days of David’s life. Putting aside for a moment the philosophical issues of what exactly “time” is, and of whether we pass through time or time passes through us provokes thought. Adding to its significance, is that this chapter, 1 Chronicles 29, is the first chapter which stresses that God is Head over all things (v11). Thus, the absolute sovereignty of God is vis-a-vis the unpredictability and seeming vagaries of circumstances. David had to endure personal animosity from Saul, exile and isolation in a wilderness, international opposition from the Philistines and other nations while enthroned, family difficulties, palace intrigue, rivalry, and personal failure. At times, the “times that went over him” almost crushed him. The imagery almost pictures a sea of problems overwhelming and buffeting him; a dark cloud passing over and hovering with its chill wind. Some set of circumstances with which to cope!
Few Biblical “heroes” experienced the wide and wild swings in life events that David endured. He went from outcast and pariah to prince of the nation. He went from a band of 300 men to an army of vast proportions. While enthroned and seemingly invincible, a rebellious son almost toppled him from his kingdom. The political pundits of our day would have had endless fodder from his life on which to opine.
Amidst these chaotic and fluctuating events, what was it that preserved David? Did he view himself and his fortunes as being at the whim of fate? Did he resign himself to being a mere victim of circumstances and helpless before the mighty tide of life events?
David is a sterling example of the principle we have been taught from early days: while sovereignty controls our circumstances, faith controls our conduct. What preserved David, what enabled him to actually prosper amidst all the negative events of life, was an unshakeable confidence, trust, and faith in God.
It is to the Psalms that we turn to hear his voice amidst both difficulties and success. “I laid me down and slept; I awaked for the Lord sustained me” (Psa 3:5; when he fled from Absalom). “O Lord my God, in Thee do I put my trust” (Psa 7:1; when cursed by Shimei). “The eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous” (Psa 34:15; when he feared before Abimelech). “As for God, His way is perfect … [He] maketh my way perfect” (Psa 18:30, 32; looking back on life). While the historical books tell us much about David’s secular life, it is to the Psalms that we retreat to become privy to the beatings of his heart and the breathings of his spiritual life.
We are not helpless victims before the wild and untamed circumstances of life. A sovereign God sits above all. His hand is in control of all of the events surrounding us in this world, events that bring fear and despair to many. But our faith can look up and join with David and a host of others who have traveled the same path as he did. We cannot control the circumstances of our lives. But faith can control our response to them, whether for assembly life, family life, or ordering our personal lives for His pleasure.