Psalm 18

Psalm 18

Jasmine Wallis


Intro/ Background

The title: To the chief musician, A psalm of David, the servant of the LORD, who spoke to the LORD the words of this song in the day that the LORD delivered him from the hand of all his enemies.

 Titles are helpful, in this case the title tells us the who (David),  so we know that it wasn’t Mosses or Solomon, or any of the other writers of Ps; and the why (to give thanks for God’s deliverance.  The Ps itself is almost identical to Samuel 2: 22, and the timeframe is after David’s escape from Saul and his being crowned king. (which Compass Kids studied last terms), but before he sinned by taking Bathsheba and killing her husband Uriah to cover up his adultery. The Samuel-version gets a musical makeover and becomes a psalm for Israel. Psalms is musical poetry, but more importantly it’s gritty and real because it reflects the raw experiences of its various writers, A warts and all, tell all of the highs and lows of being a follower of God.

Ps 18 is David writing with audible relief that his time being chased through the desert by Saul is over, God has prevailed and given David the victory and hence it’s a musical memoir of all that David experienced and his resounding summary:  Now I see in hindsight that All along God had it under control, so watch this space what might He have in store for the future?!

Now I don’t know so much about musical poetry like Psalms, but I do know about books and movies: There’s a rule with writing a best seller or Hollywood Blockbuster called the “3 act plot outline”:

  1. introduction (set up); introduce the characters, get the audience’s pay in
  2. confrontation: something bad happens to one of the characters
  3. resolution, climax, situation gets resolved

also known as introduce a character, put her up a tree; get her down.

Interestingly, David, throws the 3 act plot outline out the window, because in the introduction there’s a spoiler alert: David triumphs in God

Structure to Ps 18

  1. Introduction: Spoiler alert: David triumphs in God
  2. Confrontation: Outnumbered and outgunned:

III. Resolution: God saves David and David gives God the glory and elaborates on the victories God gave him

How would you bring to life your story if I ask you to look back and recall your life… Would it have 3 act plot structure?!nWhatever our story looks like (they will all be unique), I hope that, like David, we nail our colours to the mast as the saying goes. David comes straight out of the blocks with his declaration:  I love you, O Lord! my strength, underpinning the scope of his relationship with God.

Why does David start here? I love you, O Lord! My strength. Surely because it is the most natural response to what he has experienced. When all is said and done. When he sits as the newly anointed king of Israel and looks back, David’s heart knows no bounds for the mercy God poured out on him as he lurched from struggles to struggle. David’s first line foreshadows the end of the story… he’s giving away the ending. Lord you are my everything, trustworthy in the most difficult of circumstances.

“He is my rock, and strength, and fortress, my shield, my deliverer;’’  Think about those words. When do you need a fortress, a shield, a deliverer… ?? Not when things are going well! That’s for sure. The value of a fortress and a shield are during dangerous times of warfare. David is saying: “I have found him to be everything I need through the greatest dangers and difficulties.’’ So David knows what he is talking about, which makes me want to listen to him all the more.

David is telling us “God is the one I’m counting to protect me. He’s not just my plan A, He’s my Plan B and Plan Z. “

That freaks me out, if I’m completely honest! I’m the queen of backups and alternative plans (typical teacher) …. When I read that David relies on God as his one and only hope, or that Jesus sent his disciples out without any money, it makes me uncomfortable. When I read stories from the mission field, from the 10/40 window of how people with no resources 100% rely on God, it challenges me to the depths or should I say shallows of my faith…. God is my everything. What would our lives look like if we lived that out??? Pick up a Heidi Baker book, go have a look on the book table and find something to stir your faith levels.

  1. Confrontation: Outnumbered and outgunned:

From verse 4 we see the situation through the eyes of a man who was been overwhelmed… pretty much everything that could go wrong had gone wrong for David. Cords of death and torrents of destruction. Things don’t look rosy!

I have no idea how we can understand what David writes here, unless we have had some kind of parallel experience. David’s experience was an ongoing nightmare of being relentlessly pursued. His life in danger every day. He doesn’t elaborate on it here, but rather uses some powerful metaphors to give us a word picture of his desperate state.

David had a massive problem and so sort God earnestly to delivery him v6 I called out to the Lord, I cried to God for help.

We, like David are called to be a people of prayer because our God is prayer-hearing God. God is all powerful, which David recognises. Left alone to defend himself, David knows his own strength wouldn’t cut it. His enemies were too strong, too quick for him; He was outnumbered, out gunned…David had a massive problem (and so sort God earnestly to delivery him), and God’s answer was equally massive!

III. Resolution: God saves David and David gives God the glory  

Time for the exciting resolution: God intercedes and the poetic language David uses leaves us in no doubt that the God we serve is a mighty, blazing with righteous anger…v7-19… the earth shook, there was consuming fire… we’ve got lightning bolts. If we’re going to have any hope of doing justice to this scene – this awesome rescue mission that God mounts- it’s pretty obviously Peter Jackson is going to need to be the director!

David had a massive problem (and so sort God earnestly to delivery him), God’s answer was equally massive! and therefore David’s natural reaction was to respond in kind with great praises.  As we read through the Ps, we see how David highlights God’s deliverance of him as a way of praising God.

And then there’s a sort of intermission, an ad-break of sorts. So David can give us a timely reminder in Verses 20-28 of how God works. God is holy and we need to be His holy people. To stand against sin and the snares that it brings. David shows us how things work in God’s economy…. Cling to God, stick to doing things His way. I think I would have just wanted to kill Saul in the cave, and just be done with it. But David had a bigger vision: God’s work done in God’s way in God’s timing!

Actually, for people who love God and want to be called His, there are rules, God’s rules. Just like how different households have different rules that are set by the parents. My Mum use to say it pretty bluntly “If you want to live under my roof, you need to obey my rules; if you don’t like it you can leave!”

Yes, God in his wisdom has given us rules to live by, to love and protect us and others. Sometimes I don’t like God’s rules… because they’re not always easy to follow and at times it costs more than I want to give. In choosing to stick to God’s ways and wanting to live righteously, it doesn’t mean we must attain perfection, but rather we need to be humble and come before God when we mess up.

And just as well David stuck to God’s script not mine, because the outcome was undoubtedly much better. David was able to maintain his integrity when all around things were going wrong.

Now that the important intermission is finished, we come to Verses 29-49. In the second part of his story, David looks back, with a thankful heart over what God has done for him:

  • deliverance
  • victory and
  • success,

God rescued David, the bad guys got what they deserved and David rightly gives God the glory! It’s the flashback scene, with God firmly as the hero, not David. For sure, David was a warrior and we can trace many contributing factors to David’s ultimate triumph, the most important is the hand of God in them all.

David fought the Philistines, Moabites, Ammonites, and others that came against Israel, he evaded Saul and his men: and yet in all things he points not to his own sword or bow, nor to the valour of his men, but to the favour of God for his victories

David possessed far more the skill and understanding in military affairs than anything beyond his upbringing, and he tells us his secret:

God arms me with strength (v. 32v. 39), He trains my hands for battle, v. 34.).

Resounding we see: God equips those whom he calls.

All throughout David’s story we see God had the situation under control.

It’s interesting to see how David foreshadows Christ – led through wildness experiences, refined and drawn into a closer relationship with God, ready to take on leadership beyond his capabilities, but not beyond his faith. And best of all: God knows David will not try stealing an ounce of His glory.

  1. Looks forward to what else God will do

Now as any good modern story, will do, David sets up the scene for the sequel in the closing moments…. V 50 He gives his king great victories, he shows unfailing kindness to his anointed, to David and his descendants forever.

Having attested to God’s goodness in his bleak set of circumstances, having come out the other side, David now turns to the future. He has a level of faith expectation that God will not fail those that trust in him. The AMAZING thing is that you and I are in that sequel! We are David’s descendants. In Christ we are the anointed, to whom God will give his victories.

WOW. Did you see that twist coming??? David’s story is our story. He lends it to us so we can take courage that the God who came through for him will also come through for us. David is speaking into our situation as one who knows what it’s like to hang in there tenaciously when things are going badly and it seems like a lost cause.

Perhaps you can’t see what God is doing in those situation you’re praying about, in the things that keep you awake at night… that’s ok. Spurgeon says: “When you can’t trace His hand,… trust His heart -”  God is faithful, He’s never failed, He’s not going to fail this time and nothing ever takes Him by surprise. He’s got a plan. – So what should our response be: Watch. Pray. Wait expectantly. Be amazed. And be like David: “Be brave enough to let God write your story.”