The first part of Psalm 18 describes God as the ultimate hero who rescues those he loves. The second part of the psalm shows God as our ultimate ally.
This section continues the concept of being blameless, which concluded our meditation on the first section of this psalm. The poet warrior David writes:
With the merciful you show yourself merciful;
with the blameless man you show yourself blameless;
with the purified you show yourself pure;
and with the crooked you make yourself seem tortuous (Psalm 18:25-26, ESV).
God considers believers as blameless and purified; he reveals himself to them as blameless and pure. Those saved through the mercy of God will extend mercy to others, and God daily demonstrates to them more mercy. For the believer, God’s ways are straight. But God makes himself appear to perverse people as twisted and convoluted. He rescues the humble, but brings down the proud:
For you save a humble people,
but the haughty eyes you bring down (27, ESV).
Drawing on his poetical skill and his warrior experience, David describes God’s help and power in image after vivid image.
For it is you who light my lamp;
the Lord my God lightens my darkness.
For by you I can run against a troop,
and by my God I can leap over a wall.
This God—his way is perfect;
the word of the Lord proves true;
he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him (28-30, ESV).
Don’t these words generate in your mind a series of active scenes? I envision a warrior lifting a lantern while pressing forward against his fears in a dark tunnel, running ahead of his soldiers toward an enemy host, and leaping over a stone wall to attack the enemies sheltering behind it.
And as we’ve often seen in the psalms, David compares God to a shield, the most crucial defensive weapon in ancient warfare. God moves between us and the arrows that fly from every direction.
Believers don’t view God’s way as tortuous.; they see it as perfect. Time after time, they’ve seen how God’s word always proves true.
In verse 31, David asks these rhetorical questions:
For who is God, but the Lord?
And who is a rock, except our God?—
He answers his own questions with more battlefield descriptions that credit God with providing complete and decisive victories.
the God who equipped me with strength
and made my way blameless.
He made my feet like the feet of a deer
and set me secure on the heights.
He trains my hands for war,
so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze.
You have given me the shield of your salvation,
and your right hand supported me,
and your gentleness made me great.
You gave a wide place for my steps under me,
and my feet did not slip.
I pursued my enemies and overtook them,
and did not turn back till they were consumed.
I thrust them through, so that they were not able to rise;
they fell under my feet.
For you equipped me with strength for the battle;
you made those who rise against me sink under me.
You made my enemies turn their backs to me,
and those who hated me I destroyed.
They cried for help, but there was none to save;
they cried to the Lord, but he did not answer them.
I beat them fine as dust before the wind;
I cast them out like the mire of the streets.
You delivered me from strife with the people;
you made me the head of the nations;
people whom I had not known served me.
As soon as they heard of me they obeyed me;
foreigners came cringing to me.
Foreigners lost heart
and came trembling out of their fortresses (32-45, ESV).
David extols the God who exalted him.
The Lord lives, and blessed be my rock,
and exalted be the God of my salvation—
the God who gave me vengeance
and subdued peoples under me,
who delivered me from my enemies;
yes, you exalted me above those who rose against me;
you rescued me from the man of violence (46-48, ESV).
For this I will praise you, O Lord, among the nations,
and sing to your name.
Great salvation he brings to his king,
and shows steadfast love to his anointed,
to David and his offspring forever (49-50, ESV).