- Psalm 18
Royal Thanksgiving for Victory
To the leader. A Psalm of David the servant of the Lord, who addressed the words of this song to the Lord on the day when the Lord delivered him from the hand of all his enemies, and from the hand of Saul.
This psalm has a long note explaining the background of it. We have been reading psalms of David, praying to God. Now, his prayer was answered and finally he was delivered from the hands of his enemies! This psalm gives us hope that someday we will also praise God for His faithfulness when our prayers are answered.
David used all the military images to praise God:
“I love you, O Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock, my fortress, and my deliverer, my God, my rock in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised, so I shall be saved from my enemies.”
He reflected on the past and the times of suffering with relieved heart:
“The cords of death encompassed me; the torrents of perdition assailed me;
the cords of Sheol entangled me; the snares of death confronted me.
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.”
Once God hears our prayers, things happen. Before David felt God’s deliverance in his life, he first witnessed God’s power and movement as the Creator of the universe.
“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 upon the wings of the wind. He made darkness his covering around him, his canopy thick clouds dark with water. Out of the brightness before him there broke through his clouds hailstones and coals of fire. The Lord also thundered in the heavens, and the Most High uttered his voice. 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.”
Now imagine that such great Creator takes action for one creature like me!
“He reached down from on high, he took me; he drew me out of mighty waters. He delivered 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 delivered me, because he delighted in me.”
Why did the LORD act for me? Why did God answer to my prayer? Because I waited patiently trusting God’s faithfulness the LORD acted for me.
“The Lord rewarded me according to my righteousness; according to the cleanness of my hands he recompensed me. For I have kept the ways of the Lord, and have not wickedly departed from my God. For all his ordinances were before me, and his statutes I did not put away from me. I was blameless before him, and I kept myself from guilt. Therefore the Lord has recompensed me according to my righteousness, according to the cleanness of my hands in his sight.”
In this praise, therefore, David found one principle that works with God:
“With the loyal you show yourself loyal; with the blameless you show yourself blameless; with the pure you show yourself pure; and with the crooked you show yourself perverse. For you deliver a humble people, but the haughty eyes you bring down. It is you who light my lamp; the Lord, my God, lights up my darkness. By you I can crush a troop, and by my God I can leap over a wall. This God—his way is perfect; the promise of the Lord proves true; he is a shield for all who take refuge in him.”
Once we learned this faith principle, we can give all the glory to God. When we have victory, we know that it is God who wins the battle. We are just faithful by-standers who witness God’s power.
“For who is God except the Lord? And who is a rock besides our God?—
the God who girded me with strength, and made my way safe.
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 has supported me; your help has made me great. You gave me 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 until they were consumed. I struck them down, so that they were not able to rise; they fell under my feet. For you girded me with strength for the battle; you made my assailants sink under me. You made my enemies turn their backs to me, and those who hated me I destroyed.”
The ones who do not know this faith principle, they cry and struggle in vain. They do not see who the real power is. That is why I give glory to God!
“They cried for help, but there was no one to save them; they cried to the Lord, but he did not answer them. I beat them fine, like dust before the wind; I cast them out like the mire of the streets. You delivered me from strife with the peoples you made me 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 strongholds. The Lord lives! 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; indeed, you exalted me above my adversaries; you delivered me from the violent. For this I will extol you, O Lord, among the nations, and sing praises to your name. Great triumphs he gives to his king, and shows steadfast love to his anointed, to David and his descendants forever.”
Even though this is praise and a song, it is actually an educational piece. It teaches the worshippers important principles in faith journey:
- Do not take action for your personal revenge.
- Wait patiently trusting God’s justice.
- Examine your own heart first whether you deserve God’s help.
- Once you have faith in your innocence, meditate on God’s power.
- God will do the rest of the work to straighten up the situation.
- Do not take credit for yourself and give God the glory.
- Repeat this process when you face hardship in your life.
This long psalm has its own logic. It is a theology in psalm!