First Off…read Psalm 18!
Psalm 18 may seem long…may seem “wordy”…but wouldn’t you too be wordy and wanting to sing a non-stop song unto the Lord if you had been saved and spared from your enemies? Would you not sing a song of joy after being delivered from death? I think I would!
In order to begin to grasp this song of joy one needs to go back into history to read what was going on between David and Saul…and see, and hear why the Lord God would split apart the heavens and move the earth in order to fight for David.
A VERY brief history: Before David there was Saul – the son of Kish from the tribe of Benjamin (one of the original Tribes of Israel). Saul was King before David became King. In the book of Samuel we can read the rise of Saul into the throne…but God eventually rejects Saul as King and Samuel tells Saul that God will anoint a new king…David, son of Jesse, from the tribe of Judah. David will replace Saul as King…and Saul does not like this. Thus begins the battle between the two – well…more from Saul than David as David has numerous opportunities to kill Saul but never does (he never fully understands why Saul hates him so much)…even though Saul continuously tries to kill David. We read in 1 and 2 Samuel of the conflicts between the two, the fierce battles, the hiding…and eventually, Saul dies. And then in 2 Samuel 22 we get nearly this same song of praise that we have here in our psalm 18 text. David’s enemies have been delivered to him and Saul is no more. So David sings a song of joy (even though he mourns the death of Saul).
So why is this important for us to understand? Because it is through this line of David that we get Christ. Because just as David saw God as his “rock and deliverer”…his “fortress” and “shield”…so too is God ours. Just as David saw his enemies as “cords of death” that entangled him and overwhelmed him…so too there are cords of death that entangle us and try to bring us down. Sin…entangles its nasty web of cords all around us each and every day. Lust, greed, lying, hatred, anger – those all weave a nasty web within us…all of those constantly try to coil around us and bring us death and destruction.
But just like in David’s song – God responded and did something about it.
Think about it…when in our past (as read in the Bible), did the earth tremble and quake with the foundations of the mountain shaking? When did all of these “tremble” (Matthew 27:45-53)?
What about God parting the “heavens” and coming down to us? We see something similar in the birth of Jesus
When did God reach down and rescue from the foes those that would die without his intervention? When Christ came and overcame sin and death (1 Cor 15:55-57)
When did God turn darkness into light? When Jesus came. We read in John 1:1-5 that Christ IS the light and that darkness cannot overcome him.
Every image we have in this psalm is of God reaching down to help David because David couldn’t do anything on his own. Eugene Peterson writes that there was, and is, no way for David (nor us) to reach up and pull us up to God – lifting us out of the chaos…but if we cannot lift ourselves up to God, God can, and does, reach down and lift us up to himself.
David’s song wasn’t sung about Christ – but it was a song about the love and desire of God to step in and save his people…and while this song in Psalm 18 is not specific to us as it was to him…it still is OUR song! Yes, David’s is very specific to him and what he saw and how he felt – but David sings of how God saved him from death and destruction and that none of it would and could have happened if it wasn’t specifically for God’s hand at delivering and redeeming him.
This psalm invites us to sit in David’s shoes (or is it sandals?) and listen to his heart sing about what God has done…and then ultimately inviting the reader/listener to sing THEIR OWN song about God’s redeeming love and grace!
So let me ask…what is your song? What song would YOU sing unto your King…your Lord and Savior…your Redeemer and Sanctifier who split the heavens for you…who crossed oceans and valleys for you…who overcame sin and death for you…who died upon the cross for you? We know all the names and work of Christ – it’s just a matter of seeing where those have been in your life.
The music is here, the lyrics are here as well…it’s just a matter of adding your own words of gratitude and proclamation…