Psalm 18 is a song of victory, written by the poet warrior, David. My last meditational post looked at only David’s first phrase, “I love you, O Lord.” Since the psalm has 50 verses, I’m dividing the remainder into two additional posts. This one covering the first 24 verses, which explode with vivid word pictures describing God as the ultimate hero.
After David confesses his love for God, he calls him his “strength” (Psalm 18:1) Then he packs more metaphors into one pulsing sentence:
The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer,
my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge,
my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold (2, ESV).
David calls God his rock, fortress, deliverer, shield, horn, and stronghold. These strong words depict not only protection, but also power.
When David cries to the one and only praiseworthy God, he is rescued from his foes:
I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised,
and I am saved from my enemies (3, ESV).
The descriptions of David’s distress in the next two verses convey the terror of a trapped or dying man.
The cords of death encompassed me;
the torrents of destruction assailed me;
the cords of Sheol entangled me;
the snares of death confronted me (4-5, ESV).
I don’t know what you envision when reading those verses, but I can almost feel myself gasping for breath while living cords wind themselves around me and pull my thrashing body under water.
Have you ever felt this overwhelmed? Is physical pain paralyzing you? Is vicious persecution strangling you? Is emotional turmoil pulling you under? David calls to the Ultimate Hero:
In my distress I called upon the Lord;
to my God I cried for help.
From his temple he heard my voice,
and my cry to him reached his ears (6, ESV).
God hears. He acts. The earth reels!
Then the earth reeled and rocked;
the foundations also of the mountains trembled
and quaked, because he was angry.
Smoke went up from his nostrils,
and devouring fire from his mouth;
glowing coals flamed forth from him.
He bowed the heavens and came down;
thick darkness was under his feet.
He rode on a cherub and flew;
he came swiftly on the wings of the wind.
He made darkness his covering, his canopy around him,
thick clouds dark with water.
Out of the brightness before him
hailstones and coals of fire broke through his clouds.
The Lord also thundered in the heavens,
and the Most High uttered his voice,
hailstones and coals of fire.
And he sent out his arrows and scattered them;
he flashed forth lightnings and routed them.
Then the channels of the sea were seen,
and the foundations of the world were laid bare
at your rebuke, O Lord,
at the blast of the breath of your nostrils (7-15, ESV).
Earthquakes, volcano eruptions, black clouds, sheer winds, flashing lightning, hammering hail, and surging tsunamis are all natural signs of God’s power.
God rescued David from the overwhelming power of his enemies:
He sent from on high, he took me;
he drew me out of many waters.
He rescued me from my strong enemy
and from those who hated me,
for they were too mighty for me.
They confronted me in the day of my calamity,
but the Lord was my support.
He brought me out into a broad place;
he rescued me, because he delighted in me (16-19, ESV).
God drew David out of the deep. He rescued him from an apparently invincible enemy and an overpowering force. God gently placed David on his feet in an open meadow. Why did the sovereign and mighty God rescue a finite and frail man? Because he delighted in him!
We know from verse one that David loves God and now we see how much God loves David. Why does God love him?
The Lord dealt with me according to my righteousness;
according to the cleanness of my hands he rewarded me.
For I have kept the ways of the Lord,
and have not wickedly departed from my God.
For all his rules were before me,
and his statutes I did not put away from me.
I was blameless before him,
and I kept myself from my guilt.
So the Lord has rewarded me according to my righteousness,
according to the cleanness of my hands in his sight (20-24, ESV).
David was a righteous man. He was righteous, but not sinless. Notice that David says he was blameless before him and God rewarded him according to the cleanness of his hands in God’s sight. God sees David as righteous because he views him through the pure righteousness of Christ. David has done nothing to earn his salvation and he can do nothing to add to Christ’s work. But because Christ has already done everything necessary to accomplish his salvation, David longs to live for God.
This is not mere theoretical faith for David, it involves every aspect of his life. He keeps his hands from wicked actions, he walks in God’s ways, and he bears God’s rules at the forefront of his mind. In his thoughts, words, and deeds, he daily strives to live for God.
Does our faith have feet? Do the deeds people see reflect our deep, secret thoughts? Can we expect rescue if we fail to love others or harbor secret sin?
Do you think you can rescue yourself from the terrors of the deep? Who’s your Ultimate Hero?