As the King of Israel, David had many enemies (as all world leaders do). But chief among them was Saul, the first king of Israel who resented David because he was the divinely chosen one and it was clear God was with him. Every time David gained a victory, Saul’s insecurity deepened and the bitter cycle of jealousy ensued. Twice Saul tried to stick David to the wall with a spear. Innumerable other times he plotted to kill him, forcing David to flee from city-to-city and cave-to-cave. For ten years, David ran for his life. But out of those deep, dark years grew a living faith that learned to trust in God. In the furnace of suffering, many songs were born. One is called Psalm 18.
David first spoke the words of this song to the Lord in 2 Samuel 22, after giving King Saul a proper burial, along with his son, David’s best friend Jonathan. From David’s song of deliverance we learn much about the powerful protection and faithfulness of God and find four reasons to give Him praise.
Praise God for His Protective Care (vv. 1-3).
David declared his love for the Lord, which was his strong favor and tender intimacy of his heart for God (Steven Lawson, Psalms 1-75). David used 8 military metaphors to picture the protecting love of God toward him.
- My strength – God was David’s source of strength in weakness.
- My rock – God was like a cleft rock, a place to hide for concealment.
- My fortress – God was David’s high place of refuge to run to when in danger.
- My deliverer – God was his savior in the day of evil.
- My rock – The Lord was his strong defense.
- My shield – God was like a piece of heavy armor to deflect the arrows of the enemy.
- The horn of my salvation – The horn of an animal is its’s strength. David’s strength in battle did not come from himself or his military, but from God.
- My stronghold – God was the safe place of care for His servant.
Because God was all this for David, the Lord was “worthy to be praised;” i.e. God was worthy to be praised for all the ways He rescued David in battle
You may be wondering, “Was David passive in the face of attack? Was he always running away or did he ever stand up to defend himself and those under his care?” Verse 34 indicates that David believed God had also prepared him for battle, “He trains my hands for war.” When it comes to war and matters of security, there is an important balance for Christians to maintain. Trusting God does not equal leaving ourselves open to an attack. Trusting God does not mean we do not stand ready to defend ourselves and protect those we love. We trust God, but we do not trust man. Therefore, our faith remains fixed upon God as our ultimate protector while our hands remain ready to act when evil men make it necessary.
Praise God for His Personal Help (vv. 4-6).
In verses 1-3, notice the repetition of the possessive adjective “my.” David’s God did not merely provide protection and help in a generic way, but in a very specific, personal manner. This is further described in verses 4-6. For the believer, God hears our cry in His temple (presence). Therefore, we can call upon Him when we are afraid. He will hear us. He will help us.
Praise God for His Powerful Defense (vv. 7-15).
In the moment of David’s greatest need, the Lord came to his rescue. So dramatic was the Lord’s rescue that David describes it in the poetic language of a storm.
- Verse 7 Earthquake illustrates the Lord’s anger against David’s enemies
- Verse 8 smoke, fire, glowing coals
- Verses 9-10, God flew to the rescue
- Verses 11-14, like a thunderstorm
What’s the point? At your time of deepest need, God will come to your rescue. However, the mode of His rescue is not always what we envision and, therefore, we must continue to trust Him. Though sometimes very painful, His way is always best.
Praise God for His Perfect Rescue (vv. 16-19).
Verse 18 acknowledges a painful reality; that is, in the day of your calamity, opportunistic people become your enemies. There will always be Judases who see your personal trouble as an opportunity to gain personal advantage. But God knows all of this. This was true of David. After the conflict was over, God led him to a “broad place,” a wide place of safety, rest, and healing.
3 PERSONAL TAKEAWAYS FOR EVERY CHRISTIAN
Now, obviously, the words of this Psalm meant a great deal to David and also to the nation of Israel, as they celebrated God’s deliverance and victories in the past. But what does all of this mean for us today?
One of the most significant post-resurrection appearances of Jesus was when He revealed His identity to the two disciples who were walking along the road to Emmaus. During that conversation, the Gospel of Luke tells us that Jesus interpreted for them all things in the Old Testament concerning Himself. Since Jesus Christ is the central figure and theme of the Scriptures, it is proper for us to look for Him in the Old Testament. This includes the Psalms.
So, how is Christ magnified in Psalm 18? And, through Him, how are we helped?
- In Christ, I am set free from my enemies. The world, my sinful flesh, and the devil no longer need to hold me captive (Ephesians 2:1-3).
- God has provided spiritual armor to defend me, but I must stand firm and put it on by faith (Ephesians 6:10-20).
- Since Jesus conquered the devil, His victorious death and resurrection are the grounds for my own personal victory over sin (Hebrews 2:14-15).
Sometime this week, read and meditate on Psalm 18. Then do the same with the New Testament passages mentioned above. Give God praise for His protection and deliverance in Christ.
You may also want to listen to the sermon, Give Thanks to God for His Deliverance.