The Book of Psalms Chapter Eighteen Commentary by
Pastor Ron Beckham
Our Rock And Our Salvation
Verses 1-3: "I love You, O Lord, my strength. 2 The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, My God, my rock, in whom I take refuge; my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. 3 I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised, and I am saved from my enemies." Notice the comparison, the similarity of this Psalm to the Lord's Prayer in Matthew 6:9-13. David started with praise to God, just as the Lord taught us. God is indeed our Strength, Rock, Fortress and Deliverer. We have more information than David, humanly speaking, but he heard the Holy Spirit, and from that perspective, he knew more than most of us do. He saw that "the Lord... is worthy to be praised," which we need to see. There is so much unworthiness in the world, and we become jaded in our understanding, thinking that everything is like this world system. David knew better and we can, too.
Verses 4-6: "The cords of death encompassed me, and the torrents of ungodliness terrified me. 5 The cords of Sheol surrounded me; the snares of death confronted me. 6 In my distress I called upon the Lord, and cried to my God for help; He heard my voice out of His temple, and my cry for help before Him came into His ears." David became terrified as the pressures of office and his life overwhelmed him. He was depressed to the point of thinking he was going to die. Ungodly thoughts filled him. It's at that point we all have a choice—we can give in to depression and attempt to implement some human solution that we mistakenly think will ease our pain, or we can call upon the Lord and cry to God for help. David was a real human being who did call on the Lord and here's what happened: God HEARD him, just like He hears you and me.
Verses 7-8: "Then the earth shook and quaked; and the foundations of the mountains were trembling and were shaken, because He was angry. 8 Smoke went up out of His nostrils, and fire from His mouth devoured; coals were kindled by it." Like it was for David, it's true for you and me—God hears us, and He ACTS on our behalf. Notice the characteristics He always has at His disposal, including earthquakes, volcanism, thunder, lightning, and so much more. God brought everything into existence by His Word, and He can take us out again in an instant. It's time for all of us to see that He is utterly powerful, and also we must see His love—before it's too late. Let's trust in Him today like never before.
Verses 9-14: "He bowed the heavens also, and came down with thick darkness under His feet. 10 He rode upon a cherub and flew; and He sped upon the wings of the wind. 11 He made darkness His hiding place, His canopy around Him, darkness of waters, thick clouds of the skies. 12 From the brightness before Him passed His thick clouds, hailstones and coals of fire. 13 The Lord also thundered in the heavens, and the Most High uttered His voice, Hailstones and coals of fire. 14 He sent out His arrows, and scattered them, and lightning flashes in abundance, and routed them." God is not only strong, but He is also subtle in His strength, often operating out of familiar laws in this universe, though He is actually outside of them all. He is right here, and yet our attempts to prove Him scientifically cannot penetrate the thick darkness that adorns Him when He so wills. Cherubim are amazing, literal creatures at the throne of God, as seen in places like Ezekiel 10. They are incredibly more than the smiling, winged little characters often seen on Christmas cards. The Father has chosen to not reveal Himself directly, but He has revealed Himself through the Son, who said, in John 14:9, "He who has seen Me has seen the Father..." The winds, hail, lightning, the interstellar vastness of space—all things are in His Hand.
Verses 15-19: "Then the channels of water appeared, and the foundations of the world were laid bare at Your rebuke, O Lord, at the blast of the breath of Your nostrils. 16 He sent from on high, He took me; He drew me out of many waters. 17 He delivered me from my strong enemy, and from those who hated me, for they were too mighty for me. 18 They confronted me in the day of my calamity, but the Lord was my stay. 19 He brought me forth also into a broad place; He rescued me, because He delighted in me." In these verses we discover David the prophet, as seen in places like Acts 2:29-30. David did much more than just recite incidents from his own life—he was himself surprised and delighted as he looked forward in time to his Descendant, God's Son, the Messiah of Israel and the Savior of the world. The Great Flood was very much within the memory and belief system of the nation Israel, and here is a comparison of mankind's deliverance of the family of Noah, along with David himself and the Messiah, the Christ who was to come. When you think about it, our life is very much like being caught in a flood of waters that is too great for us, and then being rescued by the One who can, will, and does deliver us. You are brought into a broad, safe and beautiful place by the Lord Jesus Christ.
Verses 20-24: "The Lord has rewarded me according to my righteousness; according to the cleanness of my hands He has recompensed me. 21 For I have kept the ways of the Lord, and have not wickedly departed from my God. 22 For all His ordinances were before me, and I did not put away His statutes from me. 23 I was also blameless with Him, and I kept myself from my iniquity. 24 Therefore the Lord has recompensed me according to my righteousness, according to the cleanness of my hands in His eyes." As to David the prophet, a careful reading of his life does indicate that the "righteousness" mentioned here, did not quite describe David the man. He sinned, in word and in actions, like we all have, and "cleanness of... hands" was only possessed and manifested by one Person in human history, and His name is Jesus the Christ. "For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are-yet he did not sin" (Hebrews 4:15). The righteousness of Jesus Christ is imputed, shared with those who place their faith in the Lord as David did. In Christ, we become "blameless with Him," healed from iniquity, and given eternal life. "Righteousness" is not us—it's Him in us! In our natural state, we are "dirty dishes" in the "kitchen sink" of God. As dishes, we can't wash ourselves or each other, but God can make us clean, which He does in Jesus Christ.
Verses 25-29: "With the kind You show Yourself kind; with the blameless You show Yourself blameless; 26 With the pure You show Yourself pure, and with the crooked You show Yourself astute. 27 For You save an afflicted people, but haughty eyes You abase. 28 For You light my lamp; the Lord my God illumines my darkness. 29 For by You I can run upon a troop; and by my God I can leap over a wall." We are not blameless, but it has been the tendency of many to pretend we are. When I was 11-years old, suddenly my eyes went bad. I could not determine who was approaching me in the schoolyard, for I couldn't see their faces and know who they were. It's like humanity's "eyes" went bad and we could no longer see God and the things of God. As it was for David, the author of this Psalm, faith in the Lord restores our "sight." That same Lord, who is blameless, paid the price for humanity's rebellion, and the faithful find His purity grafted into the center of our being. Those who don't trust in Him are abased, with the hope that their difficulties will bring them to God. The Lord is indeed "the light of the world" (John 8:12), and with the Lord, "you are the light of the world" (Matthew 5:14), when He is in your heart. He gives us spiritual "glasses" that enable us to "see."
Verses 30-35: "As for God, His way is blameless; the word of the Lord is tried; He is a shield to all who take refuge in Him. 31 For who is God, but the Lord? And who is a rock, except our God, 32 The God who girds me with strength and makes my way blameless? 33 He makes my feet like hinds’ feet, and sets me upon my high places. 34 He trains my hands for battle, so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze. 35 You have also given me the shield of Your salvation, and Your right hand upholds me; and Your gentleness makes me great." Almighty God is Innocent, Pure, Blameless, Holy, and full of love. The daily news broadcast or looking inside our souls, reveals that humanity is not good like He is. We read His Word, we trust in God the Son, trying Him to see if He is what He is said to be... and when we find that He is, He becomes our "Shield," the "Rock" who is our Foundation, and He makes us "blameless" in His sight. We become strong in ways we did not expect, protected more than we know as He trains us for battle, and best of all, we have salvation in Christ Jesus. We are upheld by the One at the Father's right hand, our strong, gentle Friend, who shares His greatness with ordinary people like you and me.
Verses 36-42: "You enlarge my steps under me, and my feet have not slipped. 37 I pursued my enemies and overtook them, and I did not turn back until they were consumed. 38 I shattered them, so that they were not able to rise; they fell under my feet. 39 For You have girded me with strength for battle; You have subdued under me those who rose up against me. 40 You have also made my enemies turn their backs to me, and I destroyed those who hated me. 41 They cried for help, but there was none to save, even to the Lord, but He did not answer them. 42 Then I beat them fine as the dust before the wind; I emptied them out as the mire of the streets." Our lives are enlarged in a very good way, through the Lord Jesus Christ. Before, we did not know what was right, but now we are being led and guided into truth (John 14:6). We find ourselves acquiring strengths and abilities previously unknown to us. We are being equipped for battle, in a war we did not even know about before because it is perceived through eyes of faith. He gives us prayer which defeats our enemies. David had personally experienced many such events, remembering no doubt, his God-given victories over Goliath and the nations that hated Israel. Note that he KNEW, through faith, that "You," that is—God, "girded (you and me) with strength for battle." God won the war on the cross of Jesus Christ, though we are in His heavenly army through faith in the Son of God.
Verses 43-45: "You have delivered me from the contentions of the people; You have placed me as head of the nations; a people whom I have not known serve me. 44 As soon as they hear, they obey me; foreigners submit to me. 45 Foreigners fade away, and come trembling out of their fortresses." David was a little shepherd boy who, at the call of God, became the leader of a nation. Not only did he acquire supernatural enemies and those of neighboring nations, but his own people often were against him. Ultimately, it was God who gave him the victory and David knew it. When you and I give ourselves to the Son of God, He keeps on delivering us, now, for the rest of our lives, and for all eternity. We become leaders, even when we don't see that we are, in obvious and subtle ways, and people are often jealous of leaders. Blessedly, it is the LORD who truly is in charge—He was and is David's King and Deliverer, just as He is yours and mine.
Verses 46-48: "The Lord lives, and blessed be my rock; and exalted be the God of my salvation, 47 The God who executes vengeance for me, and subdues peoples under me. 48 He delivers me from my enemies; surely You lift me above those who rise up against me; You rescue me from the violent man." We all need to understand and recognize that "the Lord LIVES." David's human descendant who was and is the Son of God, experienced a lowly birth and ended up dying the death of a criminal—for the benefit of all who will have faith in Him. And He is Alive! He is our "Rock," the foundation of our lives, and He is "the God of (our) salvation." He rescues us from our enemies, and often our worst enemy can be ourselves, as revealed by our decisions in life. Walt Kelly, the cartoonist, had his chief character, "Pogo," state the words, "We has met the enemy, and he is us." In Christ, God has delivered us from not only external enemies, but most important, we are delivered from who and what we became.
Verses 49-50: "Therefore I will give thanks to You among the nations, O Lord, and I will sing praises to Your name. 50 He gives great deliverance to His king, and shows lovingkindness to His anointed, to David and his descendants forever." Comparing our lives to a financial ledger, as I walk with the Lord, I find that more-and-more, I am making entries on the asset side (the plus side) of my ledger, with notably fewer entries on the debit side. In other words, I am being healed of unhappiness and depression, praising my Lord and thanking Him for what He has done. He loves me, He has delivered me, and does the same for all who are willing to have faith in the Lord—including David, his faithful descendants, and you.
Father, thank You for delivering me in Christ Jesus and leading me to victory in Him. I am Yours, Lord. Please forgive me, heal me, and lead me in the Way Everlasting. Thank You, Lord, for equipping and saving me. In Jesus Name. Amen.