Psalm 18, with fifty verses, is one of the longer psalms that David wrote. The psalm seems to be almost a summary of what had happened to David during his life, and for good reason. II Samuel 21 and 22 contain the record of David’s last battles and his words after the battles were over. The psalm recorded in II Samuel 22 is the same as is found in Psalm 18.
As David wrote his hymn of praise to his God, his thoughts must have looked back at the events of his life. Like any man, David would have identified his successes and failures. David would also have acknowledged how God had blessed him. David was the anointed of God. Later, God would tell the people of Israel through His prophets that He would not destroy Judah because of His love He had for His servant David. What a commendation!
Because of the special relationship that David had with the Lord, a person would think that David’s life should have been one of happiness and success. For David, there should have been no sorrow or failure. However, even a quick reading of the psalm shows that was not the case.
During his life, David faced countless powerful enemies that sought his life. We know from a study of I and II Samuel, that during many of his years as a young man, David was a fugitive from King Saul. As King himself, he witnessed treachery on the part of his trusted general, he gave into temptation with Bathsheba, and he saw many tragedies occur within his own family. No, David’s life was not a “bed of roses”.
Even before we examine the psalm, there is a message for us today. How many people have thought, “Oh, once I become a Christian, then all of my problems will be solved. I will live a happy life from now on.” How wrong that kind of attitude can be! Look at the message of David. David was God’s servant. As Christians, we are God’s children.
However, we have no more of a guarantee that we will enjoy a trouble-free life than David. In David’s life, he experienced more tragedy than most people face today, but look at the first verse of this psalm, “I love you, O Lord, my strength.” Tragically, too many people want to accept the Lord with conditions. “I’ll accept you, but you have to give me a life without trouble.” When this kind of “commitment” is made, usually the person will not be faithful, because “God didn’t protect me.”
David did not say that in his psalm. He saw the Lord as his strength. In verse 2, David used a series of words to show what the Lord meant to him. “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. I call to the Lord, who is worthy of praise, and I am saved from my enemies.”
Think about the words that were used. David, in the latter years of his life, looked back at all that had happened to him and used such words as rock, fortress, deliverer, shield, horn (symbolizing strength), and stronghold. If we were asked to use a series of words to describe what the Lord is to us, would we picture the Lord in these terms?
In the New Testament scriptures, there is another word that follows the same words that David used. That word is anchor. This is what God is – what He does for us. Our Lord does not want us to be strong for Him, and He does not want us to decide that we will be perfect for Him. The Lord wants us to take refuge in Him. We can never succeed alone. It is only when we decide to let God take care of us that we begin to succeed.
It is tragic that so many people today have missed the real blessing of being joined to God. The emphasis today is that mankind can solve the problems of the world. The truth is just the opposite. Humanity has not changed one fraction from the first man and woman. We will always be our own worst enemies, but when we are joined to God through Jesus Christ, the situation is changed.
In Christ, we don’t have to be strong, or perfect. In Christ, all we have to do is give ourselves over to Him; and love Him with all our heart, soul, and mind. God will take care of the rest. Even without the benefit of the New Testament scriptures, and the clear message of the Gospel we have today, David understood that. In verse 28, he wrote, “You, O Lord, keep my lamp burning! My God turns my darkness into light”
Wouldn’t we all like to say that? When the electricity fails in our homes at night, we suddenly find ourselves in the dark. Although the house and furnishings are familiar to us, we still have to more around slowly and hesitantly, because we cannot see. But once we get a flashlight and turn it one, our steps are more confident, and we can see where we are going. Jesus Christ and His Word is the lamp for our lives. Without Him, we stumble through life, but when we entrust ourselves to Him, then we can become more confident; and we can see where we are and where we are going. Thank you Father, for your love and Son!