BOOK ONE Psalms 1–41
This psalm was first given in 2 Sam. 22:1-51. Here it has been revived and renewed. It is a thanksgiving by David to God for all the times he had been delivered. He wanted to preserve them fresh in his own memory and to diffuse the knowledge of them. The piety of it far exceeds the poetry. Holy faith, love, joy, praise and hope are lively and active.
Psalm 18:1-25 – A Psalm of David
I will love You, O Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; My God, my strength, in whom I will trust. My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I will call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised; So shall I be saved from my enemies. The pangs of death surrounded me, And the floods of ungodliness made me afraid.
The sorrows of Sheol surrounded me; The snares of death confronted me. In my distress I called upon the Lord, And cried out to my God. He heard my voice from His temple, And my cry came before Him, even to His ears. Then the earth shook and trembled; The foundations of the hills also quaked and were shaken, Because He was angry. Smoke went up from His nostrils, And devouring fire from His mouth; Coals were kindled by it.
The Lord thundered from heaven
He bowed the heavens also, and came down With darkness under His feet. And He rode upon a cherub, and flew; He flew upon the wings of the wind. He made darkness His secret place; His canopy around Him was dark waters And thick clouds of the skies. From the brightness before Him, His thick clouds passed with hailstones and coals of fire. The Lord thundered from heaven, And the Most High uttered His voice, Hailstones and coals of fire. He sent out His arrows and scattered the foe, Lightnings in abundance, and He vanquished them. Then the channels of the sea were seen, The foundations of the world were uncovered At Your rebuke, O Lord, At the blast of the breath of Your nostrils. He sent from above, He took me and drew me out of many waters.
He delivered me from my strong enemy, From those who hated me, For they were too strong for me. They confronted me in the day of my calamity, But the Lord was my support. He also brought me out into a broad place; He delivered me because He delighted in me. The Lord rewarded me according to my righteousness; According to the cleanness of my hands He has recompensed me. For I have kept the ways of the Lord, And have not wickedly departed from my God. For all His judgments were before me, And I did not put away His statutes from me. I was also blameless before Him, And I kept myself from my iniquity.
Therefore the Lord has recompensed me according to my righteousness, According to the cleanness of my hands in His sight.
He is all that I need
Henry says – David is here called the servant of the Lord, as Moses was. With his scepter, with his sword, and with his pen, he greatly promoted the interests of God’s Kingdom in Israel. It was more honoured to be a servant of the Lord than to be the king of a great kingdom. David triumphs in God and his relation to Him. The first words are, I will love You, O Lord! my strength, which sets the tone for the rest of the Psalm. Love to God is the first and great commandment of the law, because it is the principle of all acceptable praise and obedience. For all the mercies God gives to us, our hearts should be enlarged to love Him more. This He requires and accepts; and we are very ungrateful if we begrudge to return our thanks and love to Him.
Love prayer the better
An interest in the person loved is the lover’s delight. David sings with much pleasure (Ps. 18:2): “The Lord Jehovah is my God; He is my rock, my fortress, all that I need and can desire in my present distress.” “He is my rock, strength and fortress;” David found Him to be so in the greatest dangers and difficulties. He further chose God to be so, depending on Him alone to protect me.” Those who truly love God may triumph in Him as their own, and may with confidence call upon Him, Ps. 18:3.
When we experience deliverance we must not only love God the better, but love prayer the better. To call upon Him as long as we live, especially in times of trouble, with an assurance that we shall be saved. For it is written, Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved, Acts 2:21.
God is a prayer-hearing God
David sets himself to recall and emphasise the deliverances God had worked for him, that he would be activated to turn them into praise. It is good for us to thoroughly consider all the circumstances of a mercy given, which magnifies the power of God and His goodness to us. David now remembered how the forces of his enemies poured in upon him, which he calls the floods of Belial likely to overpower him with their numbers. They surrounded him, encompassed him. They surprised him, and so very nearly seized him. On the outside there were fightings, on the inside were fears and sorrows, Ps. 18:4, 5. His spirit was overwhelmed, and he looked upon himself as a lost man; see (Ps. 116:3 The pains of death surrounded me, And the pangs of Sheol laid hold of me; I found trouble and sorrow).
The more fervent we have been in prayer for deliverance, and the more direct an answer will come and the more obliged we are to be thankful. David’s deliverances were such, Ps. 18:6. David was found a praying man, and God was found a prayer-hearing God. Distress drives us to prayer and God will not be deaf to us. He is a God of pity and He will be the more ready to assist us. The more wonderful God’s appearances are in any deliverance, the greater it is. These were the deliverances worked for David, in which the manifestation of God’s presence and glorious attributes is described, Ps. 18:7-15 Little was apparrant of man, but much of God, in these deliverances.
His designs are secret but kind
He appeared a God of almighty power. For He made the earth shake and tremble, and moved even the foundations of the hills (Ps. 18:7), as of old at Mount Sinai. When the men of the earth were struck with fear, then the earth might be said to tremble. The great men of the earth were put into confusion. God showed His anger and displeasure against the enemies and persecutors of His people: He was angry, Ps. 18:7. His anger smoked and burned. It was fire, it was devouring fire (Ps. 18:8), and coals were kindled by it. Those who by their own sins make themselves as coals (that is, fuel) to this fire will be consumed by it.
He who ordains His arrows against the persecutors sends them when He pleases. They are sure to hit the mark and do execution, for those arrows are lightnings, Ps. 18:14. God showed His readiness to plead His people’s cause and work deliverance for them. He rode upon a cherub and flew, for the preservation of right and the relieving of His distressed servants, Ps. 18:10. No opposition, no obstruction, can be given to Him who rides upon the wings of the wind and upon the heavens, for the help of His people.
God came Himself
God showed His displeasure, in taking notice of David’s case: He bowed the heavens and came down (Ps. 18:9). He did not send an angel, but came Himself, as one afflicted in the afflictions of His people. He wrapped Himself in darkness, and yet commanded light to shine out of darkness for His people, Isa. 45:15. He is a God that hides Himself; for He made darkness His pavilion, Ps. 18:11.
His glory is invisible, His counsels are unsearchable and His proceedings unaccountable. We do not know the way that He takes, even when He is coming towards us in ways of mercy. But, when His designs are secret, they are kind, for, though He hide Himself, he is the God of Israel, the Saviour. And, at His brightness, the thick clouds pass (Ps. 18:12), comfort returns, the situation changes and that which was gloomy and threatening becomes serene and pleasant.
The Lord was his stay
The greater the difficulties are that lie in the way of deliverance, the more glorious that deliverance will be. For the rescuing of David, the waters were to be divided till the very channels were seen. The earth was to be severed till the very foundations of it were discovered, Ps. 18:15. There were waters deep and many, waters from which he needed to be drawn (Ps. 18:16).
His enemies were strong, and they hated him. If he been left to himself, they would have been too strong for him, Ps. 18:17. And they were too quick for him; for they blocked him in the day of his calamity, Ps. 18:18. But, in the midst of his troubles, the Lord was his stay, so that he did not sink. God will not only deliver His people out of their troubles in due time, but He will sustain them and bear them up under their troubles in the meantime.
Triumph in God and trust in Him
David received comfort and God’s favour was the root and fountain of it. It was an introduction to his development, Ps. 18:19. “He brought me out of my dire straits and into a large place, where I had room, not only to turn, but to thrive.” It was a token of God’s favour to him, and that made it doubly sweet: “He delivered me because He delighted in me, not for my merit, but for His own grace and good-will.” We owe our salvation, that great deliverance, to the delight God had in the Son of David, Christ, in whom He has declared Himself to be well pleased.
This Psalm teaches us to triumph in God and trust in Him. We may apply it to Christ the Son of David. The sorrows of death surrounded Him; in His distress He prayed (Heb. 5:7); God made the earth to shake and tremble, and the rocks to split, and brought Him out in His resurrection, into a large place, because He delighted in Him and in His undertaking.
He did not depart from his God
David reflects with comfort and rejoices in the testimony of his conscience that his conversation has been in godly sincerity and not with fleshly wisdom, 2 Cor. 1:12. His deliverances were an evidence of this, which was his great comfort. His deliverances confirmed his innocence before men, and acquitted him from the crimes he was falsely accused of. This he calls rewarding him according to his righteousness (Ps. 18:20, 24). The disagreement between him and his enemies had been decided, according to the justice of his cause and the cleanness of his hands.
He had often appealed to God concerning his innocence. God had given judgment upon the appeal as He always will according to fairness. Ps. 18:21-23 his own heart knows, and is ready to attest that he had kept firmly to his duty. He did not depart either wickedly, nor wilfully from his God. Those who forsake the ways of the Lord do, in effect, depart from their God, and it is a wicked thing. Though we are aware of many false steps that we take, yet if we repent and go on in the way of our duty, it shall not be considered a wicked departure from our God.
Keep our eye on them always
David had kept his eye upon the rule of God’s commands (Ps. 18:22): “All His judgments were before me. He respected them all, despised none, disliked none as being hard, but made it his business to conform to them all. His statutes I did not put away from me, out of my sight, out of my mind, but kept my eye upon them always. He was not like those who quit the ways of the Lord and so do not desire the knowledge of His ways.”
David kept himself from sin and so approved himself upright before God. We need to be in constant care to abstain from that sin, whatever it be, which most easily besets us. We must mortify the habit of it which will be good evidence that we are upright before God. As David’s deliverances proved his integrity, so did the exaltation of Christ clear His. It forever rolled away the reproach that was cast upon Him; and therefore He is said to be justified in the Spirit, 1 Tim. 3:16.
Adapted from the Matthew Henry Commentary
Trust Him to Guide you Lord You give light to my lamp My God brightens the darkness around me Through all life’s endless complications It is You alone we want to see. Countless are the distractions So of your next step you may be unsure Lift your prayers to Him Lean on His promises clear and pure. We must never forget that God is our Protector He has been from the very start. We must trust Him to guide us So open yourselves to His heart. Let Him take the steering wheel of your life Totally trust Him to guide you He will direct your steps so you will receive His blessing your whole life through. By the late Andrew Feakin [passed away 16th March 2019]
Prayer for the Day
Father I come to You. May I, like David, triumph in You and my relation with You. I will love You, O Lord! my strength. May my love to You be my first priority for I know it is the principle of all acceptable praise and obedience. For all the mercies You have given to me, let my heart be enlarged to love and thank You more. The Lord Jehovah is my God; He is my rock, my fortress, all that I need and can desire. I chose to depend on You alone for protection.
May my love to You be sincere, that with confidence I may call upon You. For each and every time You have delivered me, may I not only love You better, but also love prayer more. To call upon You as long as I live, especially in times of trouble, with an assurance that I will be saved. Help me recall and emphasise all the times You have delivered me, that I would be activated to turn them into praise. Let me thoroughly consider all the circumstances of a mercy given that Your power and goodness to me be magnified.
May I be found to be a praying person
May I be found to be a praying person for I know You are a prayer-hearing God. I do not know the way that You take, even when You are coming in ways of mercy. But I trust You for when Your designs are secret, they are kind. Though You hide Yourself, You are the God of Israel, the Saviour. At Your brightness, the thick clouds pass, comfort returns, the situation changes and that which was gloomy and threatening becomes serene and pleasant.
I know that You will not only deliver me out of my trouble in due time, but You sustain me and bear me up under my troubles in the meantime. Like David I will say, You have brought me out of dire straits and into a large place, where I have room, not only to turn, but to thrive.
I know that You always give judgment according to fairness. Though I make many false steps, give me always that spirit of repentance, that I may go on in the way of duty and never depart from You. May I be in constant care to abstain from all sin and be willing to mortify any habit of it. Let me never put Your ways out of my sight or out of my mind, but help me keep my eye upon them always. May I always desire the knowledge of Your ways. In Jesus Name I pray. Amen.
Psalm 18 – Prt 1
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