Speaking of Life

The King's Songbook

The expansive and marvelous sacrifice of Jesus.

(3.5 minutes)
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Joseph Tkach

Joseph Tkach has been president of Grace Communion International since 1995. He holds a Doctor of Ministry degree from Azusa Pacific University. For more information about him, click here.

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Have you ever imagined what King David would be like if he were alive right now? It’s a fascinating question. Given his charismatic personality and musical gifting, it isn’t hard to imagine him onstage, playing his songs to sold-out crowds. David had the kind of powerful, artistic soul that lent itself to making incredible music, and the record he passed down to us through the Book of Psalms is an incredible testament to that.

How many of us have turned to those pages when we’re feeling lost, confused, or at the end of ourselves? Or perhaps we’ve turned there when we’re simply overjoyed by the grace and blessings of our Heavenly Father. Well, we aren’t the only ones. A “King” from our own era was just as fascinated with David: Elvis Presley.

That’s right, the King of Rock and Roll kept a well-worn copy of the Bible that was filled with notes throughout the Book of Psalms. It’s no secret that Elvis battled many of his own personal and public “demons,” fighting addiction and the many complications of fame. Yet for all of his dark times, he turned to the pages of the Psalms for hope and inspiration. Perhaps that’s why he underlined so many of the verses like this: “It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man. It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in princes” (Psalm 118:8-9 KJV)

At the bottom of the page, he declared, “Trust in the Lord. Not man.” Beneath Psalm 149, he simply reminded himself to, “Sing for the glory of God.” 

While this may surprise those of us familiar with the legends surrounding him, it makes more sense when you think about Elvis the man. These simple reminders anchored him to his own gospel roots. After all, his 3 Grammy wins were all for gospel songs. Who can forget Elvis singing “How Great Thou Art”. I specifically love this line –

“And when I think, that God, His son not sparing; sent him to die, I scarce can take it in”

It’s a wonderful reminder of how expansive and marvelous the sacrifice of Jesus really was. We know that that great act captured Elvis’ imagination. Perhaps his love for the Psalms was born out of a kinship he felt towards the King of Israel who wrote them – a similarly flawed man who also had the weight of the world on his shoulders, and a powerful gift to share. And who recognized the need to live by the daily grace and faithfulness of the living God who rules over all circumstances, even time and space.

Whatever connection Elvis felt to the Psalms, it’s a powerful reminder that the Word of God is for everyone. Rockstars and Kings, addicts and average joe’s. All of us are human beings with many facets to our lives and stories, and all of us need the redemption of Jesus. The Good News our Lord came to share with us is that God’s forgiving love and transforming renewal in spirit is for everyone: Kings or not. 

I’m Greg Williams, Speaking of LIFE.


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