David is described in the Bible as a man after God’s own heart; his love and passion for God was as such that he became the standard that any king after him was measured by. Even more than the stories the Bible tells about him, the Psalms reflect and express his desire for God in such a captivating way. One such Psalm that exalts God and praises His power and faithfulness in an unparalleled way is Psalm 18. Throughout the centuries, many a song has been composed from the words of this Psalm. The words are worth taking a closer look at.
The introduction tells us that David composed this after he had been delivered from all his enemies and from Saul. After spending years in the wilderness, the promise of God to establish David as King had finally been fulfilled. The years of running, hiding, and waiting had finally come to an end. With that context in mind, it is no wonder these words welled up in David’s soul:
1 I love You, Lord, my strength.
2 The Lord is my rock,
my fortress, and my deliverer,
my God, my mountain where I seek refuge,
my shield and the horn of my salvation,
What a magnificent declaration of Who God is! All those years, David had placed his trust in God. He didn’t kill Saul when he had the chance to, he stayed faithful to God, and now God had finally delivered him. Just look at the nouns David uses to describe God: rock, fortress, deliverer, mountain, shield, stronghold. He realized that God was his source of strength, hope, and deliverance. Reading these words make me want to break out in song myself!
Look at what happens when a man of God calls upon God in his distress:
6 I called to the Lord in my distress,
and I cried to my God for help.
From His temple He heard my voice,
and my cry to Him reached His ears.
7 Then the earth shook and quaked;
the foundations of the mountains trembled;
they shook because He burned with anger.
13 The Lord thundered from heaven;
the Most High projected His voice.
14 He shot His arrows and scattered them;
He hurled lightning bolts and routed them.
An awesome display of God terrible power and fierce anger is what we see in response to David’s cry for help. The intensity of God’s response makes me cringe, want to fall down in worship, and leaves me speechless with a renewed fear of God. It also encourages me because it reaffirms that while it may appear that the violent and godless prosper for a time, the Lord will act on behalf of His children and leave no question as to what happens to those who come against the saints of God. God is our defender!
David’s heart is also expressed so exquisitely in this Psalm’s focus on God. David takes none of the credit for what God has done; his total reliance on Him is obvious in every word he speaks. Just look at how many times he uses the word ‘You’ in this passage:
29 With You I can attack a barrier,
and with my God I can leap over a wall.
30 God-His way is perfect;
the word of the Lord is pure.
He is a shield to all who take refuge in Him.
31 For who is God besides Yahweh?
And who is a rock? Only our God.
32 God-He clothes me with strength
and makes my way perfect.
33 He makes my feet like the feet of a deer
and sets me securely on the heights.
34 He trains my hands for war;
my arms can bend a bow of bronze.
35 You have given me the shield of Your salvation;
Your right hand upholds me,
and Your humility exalts me.
36 You widen [a place] beneath me for my steps,
and my ankles do not give way.
This kind of an attitude is what makes up a man after God’s own heart – and I realize that I do well to keep these truths close to my own heart. God is the One who clothes me with strength, He is the One sets me securely on the heights. He trains my hands for war and gives me the shield of salvation; His right hand is what upholds me. In all of this, it is not about my ability, craftiness, insight, or strength in the least – it is all about God! This singular focus on God is of paramount importance in the life of any believer. Like David, we need to look to God for everything we need in the midst of all that life, satan, and our enemies throw at us.
What a fabulous Psalm this is! Words like these build up my faith and lift my spirit tremendously. From my heart wells up a song that wants to shout along with David:
46 The Lord lives-may my rock be praised!
The God of my salvation is exalted.
He truly is amazing, awesome, and worthy to be praised.