Once again, we can learn from a Psalm.
However, once again, we must also make some adjustments.
Old Covenant to New Covenant adjustments.
We must relate David’s writing to what he was saying in his time in history, his culture, and very importantly his religion. Namely, Old Testament Judaism. Of course, with some Holy Spirit wisdom in it.
Then, and only then, can we really get the most out of what God’s Word, through David, means to us today, in our time in history, our culture, and our religion – Christianity.
Psalm 18 18: Title-50pp — 2Sa 22:1-51 For the director of music. Of David the servant of the LORD. He sang to the LORD the words of this song when the LORD delivered him from the hand of all his enemies and from the hand of Saul. He said: Ps 18:1 I love you, O LORD, my strength. Ps 18:2 The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge. He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. Ps 18:3 I call to the LORD, who is worthy of praise, and I am saved from my enemies. Ps 18:4 The cords of death entangled me; the torrents of destruction overwhelmed me. Ps 18:5 The cords of the grave coiled around me; the snares of death confronted me. Ps 18:6 In my distress I called to the LORD; I cried to my God for help. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came before him, into his ears. Ps 18:7 The earth trembled and quaked, and the foundations of the mountains shook; they trembled because he was angry. Ps 18:8 Smoke rose from his nostrils; consuming fire came from his mouth, burning coals blazed out of it. Ps 18:9 He parted the heavens and came down; dark clouds were under his feet. Ps 18:10 He mounted the cherubim and flew; he soared on the wings of the wind. Ps 18:11 He made darkness his covering, his canopy around him— the dark rain clouds of the sky. Ps 18:12 Out of the brightness of his presence clouds advanced, with hailstones and bolts of lightning. Ps 18:13 The LORD thundered from heaven; the voice of the Most High resounded. Ps 18:14 He shot his arrows and scattered the enemies , great bolts of lightning and routed them. Ps 18:15 The valleys of the sea were exposed and the foundations of the earth laid bare at your rebuke, O LORD, at the blast of breath from your nostrils. Ps 18:16 He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters. Ps 18:17 He rescued me from my powerful enemy, from my foes, who were too strong for me. Ps 18:18 They confronted me in the day of my disaster, but the LORD was my support. Ps 18:19 He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me. Ps 18:20 The LORD has dealt with me according to my righteousness; according to the cleanness of my hands he has rewarded me. Ps 18:21 For I have kept the ways of the LORD; I have not done evil by turning from my God. Ps 18:22 All his laws are before me; I have not turned away from his decrees. Ps 18:23 I have been blameless before him and have kept myself from sin. Ps 18:24 The LORD has rewarded me according to my righteousness, according to the cleanness of my hands in his sight. Ps 18:25 To the faithful you show yourself faithful, to the blameless you show yourself blameless, Ps 18:26 to the pure you show yourself pure, but to the crooked you show yourself shrewd. Ps 18:27 You save the humble but bring low those whose eyes are haughty. Ps 18:28 You, O LORD, keep my lamp burning; my God turns my darkness into light. Ps 18:29 With your help I can advance against a troop; with my God I can scale a wall. Ps 18:30 As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the LORD is flawless. He is a shield for all who take refuge in him. Ps 18:31 For who is God besides the LORD? And who is the Rock except our God? Ps 18:32 It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect. Ps 18:33 He makes my feet like the feet of a deer; he enables me to stand on the heights. Ps 18:34 He trains my hands for battle; my arms can bend a bow of bronze. Ps 18:35 You give me your shield of victory, and your right hand sustains me; you stoop down to make me great. Ps 18:36 You broaden the path beneath me, so that my ankles do not turn. Ps 18:37 I pursued my enemies and overtook them; I did not turn back till they were destroyed. Ps 18:38 I crushed them so that they could not rise; they fell beneath my feet. Ps 18:39 You armed me with strength for battle; you made my adversaries bow at my feet. Ps 18:40 You made my enemies turn their backs in flight, and I destroyed my foes. Ps 18:41 They cried for help, but there was no one to save them— to the LORD, but he did not answer. Ps 18:42 I beat them as fine as dust borne on the wind; I poured them out like mud in the streets. Ps 18:43 You have delivered me from the attacks of the people; you have made me the head of nations; people I did not know are subject to me. Ps 18:44 As soon as they hear me, they obey me; foreigners cringe before me. Ps 18:45 They all lose heart; they come trembling from their strongholds. Ps 18:46 The LORD lives! Praise be to my Rock! Exalted be God my Savior! Ps 18:47 He is the God who avenges me, who subdues nations under me, Ps 18:48 who saves me from my enemies. You exalted me above my foes; from violent men you rescued me. Ps 18:49 Therefore I will praise you among the nations, O LORD; I will sing praises to your name. Ps 18:50 He gives his king great victories; he shows unfailing kindness to his anointed, to David and his descendants forever.
Some background on Psalm 18
This is a very long Psalm. However, after reading it today, my thoughts just went to words in the image at the top: “Know your enemy”.
Before getting into that though, here’s the background.
Psalm 18 is the first long psalm in the Psalter. There are others, of course. Psalm 119 is known for being the longest chapter in the Bible. Yet Psalm 18, with fifty verses, is the longest thus far. Before this the longest was Psalm 9, with twenty verses. Because Psalm 18 is exceptionally long, I will discuss it in two parts, a pattern I will follow more than once from this point forward.
Psalm 18 is a thanksgiving song. It follows naturally upon Psalm 17, which is a lament. Thanksgiving psalms seem to follow laments. In his lament David described himself as being surrounded by callous enemies who were intent on his destruction. They were like lions “hungry for prey” (v. 12). He cried out for deliverance, and at the end of the psalm he is found confidently expecting that God will come to his aid. In Psalm 18 we find David looking back over a lifetime of such saving interventions by God and praising him for them.
At the same time, Psalm 18 is also a kingship psalm. It is a rehearsal of God’s many blessings on the king and his kingdom. This means that it could have been sung, not only by David, but by anyone who had experienced the blessings of David’s rule or the rule of many who later followed him to the throne.
Some of the kingship psalms have elements that look beyond the earthly king to God’s promised Messiah. That is the case here. In fact, we have biblical justification for seeing the psalm this way, since in his letter to the Romans the apostle Paul quotes verse 49 as the first of four prophecies to show that Christ came for the Gentiles as well as for the Jews (Rom. 15:9). Derek Kidner summarizes the situation well when he says, “Although every Davidic king might make this psalm his own, it belonged especially to David whose testimony it was, and to Christ who was his ‘offspring.’ ” 1
God saves us from our enemies
Out of the fifty verses, here are the three for today’s focus:
Ps 18:1 I love you, O LORD, my strength.
Ps 18:2 The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer;
my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge.
He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
Ps 18:3 I call to the LORD, who is worthy of praise,
and I am saved from my enemies.
Why these three when the topic is God saves us?
Remember, many of the Psalms either are, or can be used as, prayers. To that end, here’s why I chose verses 1-3.
- General/high-level statement of our relationship with God.
- More on why the relationship of verse 1 exists.
- Very quickly – a request of God, acknowledgment of God’s position, and acknowledgment the request will be fulfilled.
Here’s a question about the list, especially verse 3. Check it out one more time:
I call to the LORD, who is worthy of praise,
and I am saved from my enemies.
Is that arrogance or confidence? In other words, is David assuming too much because he thinks he’s just plain deserving/entitled to a positive response from God? Or, is it confidence in his own position in relation to God?
Or, in today’s terms, as it applies to us – Do we think we earned that kind of response from God? Or are we confident in our position as Children of God?
The answer should be the second choice – confidence. Although, it’s also good to be sure we’re truly walking living with the Holy Spirit, following Jesus, or else all we have is false confidence. Having said that – I’ll put a link here when I write more about it.
Back to God saves us from our enemies, but who are they?
In Jesus’ time, many people thought the enemy was the Roman government. Or their version of the U.S. IRS – the Jewish tax collectors who made a lucrative living collecting taxes for the Roman government.
These days, two popular enemies are the government (still) and corporations.
The thing about both governments and corporations is that neither one of them does anything. Literally, they do nothing. It’s the people who run them that do things. Or sometimes who fail to do things.
Of course, now you might think our enemies are various people in positions of power.
But even that thought has a problem. Yes, Jesus told us to love our enemies. But think about it. Why are we to love our enemies? Because our goal is/should be to see the light – the light of Jesus – shining in us. And join us as fellow Christians.
And so, in a very real sense, people aren’t the enemy either.
Remember what Paul wrote about our enemy.
The Armor of God
Eph 6:10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.
Eph 6:19 Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.
Yes, ours is a spiritual battle. Our real enemy is spiritual. Those who are involved in the devil’s schemes.
Conclusion – Psalm 18 – God saves us from our enemies, but who are they?
The following verses tell us this. And give some clue as to why we should be confident that God, by way of Jesus’ death on the cross, is our salvation.
11 Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.
Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay
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