Love of a poet warrior, Psalm 18:1

Does the term “poet warrior” seem like an oxymoron? We tend to think of poets as anemic ascetics with quivering quills in isolated ivory towers. And we imagine warriors as bulky brutes with swinging swords in swarming bloody battles. But David was a poet and a warrior.

David the poet warrior wrote Psalm 18 as a song of victory after God rescued him from his enemies, including Saul. It is full of metaphors portraying God as a rescuing hero who controls battlefield outcomes as well as natural elements.

The psalm has 50 verses, but this post looks at only the first, which stopped me in my mental tracks.

Psalm 18:1 says, “I love you, O Lord, my strength” (ESV). Until this morning, I’ve always focused immediately on the second part of that verse: God as my strength. Why do I skim over the first phrase of this psalm?

Is it because I often feel so weak? Do I skip the initial “I” because my upbringing and religious background have so ingrained in me the need to be humble and not focus on myself that I go directly to God’s attributes rather than thinking about my own emotions?

Acknowledging weakness in contrast to God’s strength and emphasizing God’s attributes over personal emotions are not bad attitudes. The world could do with a bit more of them. David begins this psalm with a meaningful phrase that has become so used and misused in today’s society that it has become trite almost to the point of invisibility. But we should pause and notice that before David confesses God as his strength, he tenderly expresses his feelings: “I love you.”

Do I love God? Why don’t I tell him that more often? Why don’t I begin more of my prayers the way David begins this one?

David was a poet warrior. He fought the good fight of faith, but he also expressed the wide range of human emotion. He was a man after God’s own heart and his psalms are God-inspired poetry. If he begins this prayer by expressing personal emotion, we can too.

I’m pausing with only this first part of Psalm 18 to challenge you, but especially myself, to make more of an effort to express my love to God. I love you, O Lord!


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