Union Chapel Baptist Church



Psalm 18:1-3

By Stephen Mitchell

Psalm 18 is a slight reworking of the song David sang in 2Samuel 22. The songs are almost identical and express David’s delight in the LORD for delivering him from the hand of Saul and from all his enemies.

We don’t know exactly when David composed this song but it was most likely after he had become the king of a united Israel. The pagan kings, such as the Assyrian or Babylonian kings, liked to leave behind inscriptions praising themselves and all they accomplished. David did not do that. He left behind writings that praised the LORD for the LORD’s accomplishments. Even the description in the title of David as “the servant of the LORD” is not his own, but was given him by the LORD Himself. In 2Sam.3:18 it is recorded: “For the LORD has spoken of David, saying, ‘By the hand of My servant David I will save My people Israel from the hand of the Philistines and from the hand of all their enemies.'”

While, in 2Samuel 22, David began the song with “The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer,” in Psalm 18 begins with a much more personal declaration.

I love You, O LORD, my strength.

David had a lot to say about the LORD in this Psalm, but he began with this beautiful declaration of love. There is an intimacy in this declaration. As we read through the Psalm, we can see that David has walked through some difficult and dangerous times. And in every one of those circumstances, the LORD had been right there with him. It is the intimacy of a faithful companion. It is the intimacy of one who has shared the sound of battle. It is the intimacy of one who has been there even when everyone else has fled. It is an intimacy brought about by the LORD’s proven faithfulness in protecting David through David’s life. When David was in battle, the LORD was there. When David wandered the wilderness to escape danger, the LORD was there.

So it was natural for David to begin his praise of God’s faithfulness and power with this very intimate and revealing statement: “I love you, O LORD, my strength.”

This is the type of intimacy we enjoy with our Lord. He walks through the dangers with us, the perilous times. He is there with us in grief, in sorrow, in pain, in joy, in celebrations, in any and all circumstances. And, because He is always there and always ready to help, we can say, with David, “my strength.” If we have learned, by experience, how faithful our Lord is to walk with us through life, giving us of His strength when we are weak and frail, we will understand exactly David’s opening statement: “I love you, O LORD, my strength.”

David then began to list eight ways the LORD had been his strength. They reflect two themes: battle, and the wilderness. We will also be looking at as two parallel sets of four. The first four are Rock, Fortress, Deliverer, and God. The second set are Rock, Shield, Horn of my salvation, and Stronghold.

The LORD is my rock

My rock, in whom I take refuge

The first word translated rock carries the idea of a cleft in the rock, a place to slide into to be surrounded by the strength of the rock, a place of safety. The second word translated rock often carried the idea of a mountain, stressing the massive size of the rock. Which is why David added the phrase, “in whom I take refuge.” In both, David is stressing the ability of the LORD to protect and provide refuge. The LORD was a safe place in which to hide and be protected.

We also experience the safety of trusting in the Lord. When we find ourselves in difficulties, He is always a safe place to turn to for His protection.

My fortress

My shield

The word “fortress” has the idea of a ‘watchtower.’ This sits to watch for the enemy and warn of approaching danger. The shield has a parallel idea in protecting one from the strike of attack. In both the warning and the blocking of an attack, the LORD protected David in times of danger.

Our Lord also does this for us. He warns us of the dangers of this world. He tells us of the danger of ignoring God’s righteous demands upon our lives. He is also our shield, taking upon Himself the stroke of God’s just wrath at our sin there on the cross, protecting us from the greatest danger there is: the wrath of God at sin. Isaiah 53:4 stated that our Lord was “smitten of God.” He took our place, allowing God His Father to strike Him with the stroke that was due us. Jesus truly is also our shield.

My Deliverer

The horn of my salvation

The LORD was David’s deliverer. He rescued him from the tight, difficult circumstances of life. He saved him from death and destruction many times. the LORD was David’s Deliverer. The term “horn” has the idea of something that streams forth as a horn pushes forth from the head. The LORD streamed forth continuously David’s deliverance. The LORD continually save David out of many perilous circumstances.

Our Lord is our Deliverer and His salvation continuously pours forth onto us. We are saved by His life and by His death. He is our Deliverer and continuously delivers us from the hand of the enemy.

My God

My stronghold

We know God. But do we know Him as our stronghold? The word translated “stronghold” carries the idea of height. God is high. He is lofty. The writer of Proverbs put this idea this way, in Proverbs 18:10: “The name of the LORD is a strong tower; The righteous runs into it and is safe.” God is both high and lofty, He is also beyond the reach of His enemies. Therefore we can run to Him for safety in times of danger or distress. He is the One we should turn to. He can be trusted and He is always a place of safety for our souls.

All of this brought David to the confidence he wrote in Psalm 18:3.

I call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised, And I am saved from my enemies.

Here, again, David expressed the faithfulness of God in His relationship with David. Because God is all of those things David described, David was supremely confident in calling upon the LORD. The LORD is always worthy of David’s praise. That means that the LORD never showed any quality that could be criticized or condemned. Everything the LORD did was praiseworthy. And David praised Him. David was saved from his enemies because He called on the LORD.

This is the truth we need to take to heart at this time of distress. All those things the Lord was for David, He is also for us. As David could confidently call upon the LORD, trusting in His response and deliverance, we can as well. In this time of national and international testing, we need to be calling upon the Lord. He will show His faithfulness and deliver us from all evil.

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