Psalm 18: Save me from my Enemies
“If you let Stephen Sizer on the ship, it will sink” That was the gist of a prophecy uttered by a rather eccentric Pentecostal minister who was not impressed that MasterSun had invited me to co-lead a Mediterranean cruise for them in 2004. Called “Pray for the Peace of Jerusalem”, MasterSun didn’t seem too worried but I did some research on the kind of whales might live in the Mediterranean. The cruise actually went very smoothly. Apart from the last night. We encountered a rather violent electrical storm in the Aegean Sea not far from where Paul encountered his. This one had everyone on deck taking photos of the impressive thunder and lightning display. All except me. Being a little deaf, I slept soundly right through the night. I heard all about it the next day at breakfast. Have you ever confronted someone who was your enemy? Maybe not in combat with a bayonet but perhaps with a pen or a word processor? An ‘enemy’ can be an adversary, an opponent, someone who opposes you, hates you or seeks to harm you. Do you have any of those? Even if you can say hand on heart, “I don’t have a single enemy on the world” I would reply that you have at least two. A formidable enemy called Satan and the final enemy – death. An internet search on my name will introduce you to a few of mine and what they have written about me.
Last Thursday on Premier Radio I debated David
Pawson, the retired Baptist minister has written a book entitled, Defending
Christian Zionism in Response to Stephen Sizer and John Stott. I feel honoured to
be associated with both David and John. You can read my critique of his book on
the church website if you are interested. G.K. Chesterton once remarked,
"I like getting in hot water… it keeps me clean." Opposition or
resistance helps purify your motives and turns you back to the Lord in prayer.
King David had his fare share of enemies and in Psalm 18 shows how to handle
them. It may well be that Psalm 18 is one of the last that he wrote. After a
long and fruitful life, filled with ups and downs, highs and lows, David looks
back over his life and thanks the Lord for all he has done for him. From the
very first few words, David is overwhelmed with praise and thankfulness. So the
Psalm is introduced, “Of David the
servant of the LORD. He sang to
the LORD the words of this song
when the LORD delivered him from
the hand of all his enemies and from the hand of Saul.”
1. David Tells of His Love for His Lord
“I love you, LORD, my strength. 2 The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. 3 I called to the LORD, who is worthy of praise, and I have been saved from my enemies.” (Psalm 18:1-3)
In verses 1-3, you almost get the sense of David’s overwhelming joy as he bursts into song. He begins with the 3 most precious words you can ever say to someone - "I Love You" How often do you say those words? Probably not often enough. It’s not enough to just love your husband or wife or children or parents. You need to tell them and often. And this is also true of the Lord. Not for his benefit but for ours. It is good say the words, "I love You" to the Lord. Our relationship is personal. David has much to thank God for. Check out his reasons and see if they resonate with you.
1.1 The Lord is the Source of our Strength (18:1)
“I love you Lord, my strength” (Psalm 18:1). David has just been victorious over the Philistines. You can read the story in 2 Samuel 21. It was in this battle that Goliath’s four sons were defeated. David writes this song as a result. It is repeated in 2 Samuel 22. Notice David doesn’t gloat at what a mighty man of war he is. David doesn’t say his cunning and strength had defeated the enemy. David realized that he was not the source of his strength, God was.
1.2 The Lord is the Source of our Stability (18:2)
David continues, “The Lord is my Rock.” (Psalm 18:2). A rock provides stability. It is impossible to fight without sure footing. And there is no stability apart from God. (See also 18:31)
1.3 The Lord is the Source of our Safety (18:2)
David describes the Lord as “My fortress… my stronghold” A fortress provides a place of protection. All the strength in the world is useless unless we have the proper protection. We are safe in his arms. Eight times in three verses David tells the Lord what he means to him. "my strength, my Rock, my Fortress, my Deliverer, my Refuge, my Shield, the Horn of my salvation, my Stronghold" Undoubtedly, David, as a warrior used to battles, many times owed his life to the protection of his shield... or to the protection of a fortress or a secure hiding place. On other occasions God intervened in a show of great strength. The words, "horn of my salvation" refers to the horns of a wild animal. The horns overwhelm anything that stands in its way. As David called upon the Lord he answered with power and might. So David tells of his love for the Lord (Psalm 18:1-3).
2. David Tells of His Deliverance Provided by the Lord
“The cords of death entangled me; the torrents of destruction overwhelmed me. The cords of the grave coiled around me; the snares of death confronted me. In my distress I called to the LORD; I cried to my God for help. He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters. He rescued me from my powerful enemy, from my foes, who were too strong for me… He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me.” (Psalm 18:4-19)
David goes on to tell, in very vivid language, how God delivered him, more than once. Observe that in the examples David cites, he doesn’t gloss over his trails and tribulations.
"“The cords of death entangled me; the torrents of destruction overwhelmed me. The cords of the grave coiled around me; the snares of death confronted me.” At times his situation was bleak. It was grim... It was dire. Today we might say, "I was a goner... I was nearly done for... I was as helpless as a sitting duck... I was a lost cause." David tells us he "called to the Lord for help" and his cry for help did not go unanswered. “He came and rescued me.” That was his testimony and he wanted people to hear about it. What is your testimony of God’s intervention in your life? Have you experienced his deliverance like that? God reaches down and saves us also and sets our feet on the solid rock. God is not only the source of our strength, our stability and safety. Ultimately he is the source of our salvation. That is why we can all praise him.
David tells of his love for the Lord (18:1-3). David tells of his deliverance provided by the Lord (18:4-19)
3. David Tells of God’s Faithfulness to His People
“To the faithful you show yourself faithful, to the blameless you show yourself blameless, to the pure you show yourself pure, but to the devious you show yourself shrewd. You save the humble but bring low those whose eyes are haughty.” (Psalm 18:25-27)
In verses 20-29, David tells how God has
always been faithful to him. And, not only to him, but in verse 25, he says,
"to the faithful, you show yourself faithful" In verse 29, David says,
"with Your help, I can advance against a troop; with my God, I can scale a
wall" This is David’s way of saying that, when the situation was grim...
when the difficulties seemed insurmountable... when the way seemed
with God’s help, he could overcome them all.
As a boy I used to love watching Superman. Do you remember how the programme began? "faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, able to leap tall buildings in a single bound, is it a bird? Is it a plane? It’s Superman!!
Well, with God on our side, we can be like super men and women... not because of our own abilities and strengths but because, like David said, "with God’s help" we can accomplish anything! David tells of his love for the Lord (18:1-3). David tells of his deliverance provided by the Lord (18:4-19) David tells of God’s faithfulness to his people (18:20-29)
4. David Tells of God’s Power Behind His Achievements
“For who is God besides the LORD? And who is the Rock except our God? It is God who arms me with strength and keeps my way secure. He makes my feet like the feet of a deer; he causes me to stand on the heights. He trains my hands for battle; my arms can bend a bow of bronze. You make your saving help my shield, and your right hand sustains me; your help has made me great.” (Psalm 18:31-35)
David’s list of accomplishments in verses 30-45 are pretty impressive. When he was a boy, he fought off lions to save his father’s sheep. As a young man, he defeated Goliath. As king he defeated armies that were larger and better armed than his... Enough to get a little arrogant... a little cocky about what he has accomplished... But David acknowledges that his strength came from God. He says, "It is God who arms me with strength."
He "makes my way perfect"
He makes my feet surefooted like the deer
He give me strength for my arms...
He gives my protection like my shield...
He guides me and directs me to keep me from falling"
He’s the one to made me what I am...
Without God, I would be nothing!
If you are ever tempted to think that you are a self made person remember this beautiful psalm. And if you ever get round to planning your funeral, please don’t ask for Frank Sinatra’s “I did it my way”.
David tells of his love for the Lord (18:1-3). David tells of his deliverance provided by the Lord (18:4-19). David tells of God’s faithfulness to his people (18:20-29). David tells of God’s power behind his achievements (18:30-45).
5. Finally, David tells us how and why to praise God
“The LORD lives! Praise be to my Rock! Exalted be God my Saviour! … Therefore I will praise you, LORD, among the nations; I will sing the praises of your name.” (Psalm 18:46-50)
David concludes this beautiful Psalm with a summary of praise to God. David never takes personal credit... instead, he insists, "I will praise you among the nations. I will sing praises to your name."
He remembers everything God has done for him.
Remembers all the times that God has delivered him.
Remembers all the times that God intervened in his life.
Guided, protected, delivered. No wonder
praise comes naturally. Lets summarise and apply this moving, personal psalm of
praise. David tells of his love for the Lord (18:1-3). David tells of his
deliverance provided by the Lord (18:4-19). David tells of God’s faithfulness
to his people (18:20-29). David tells of God’s power behind his achievements
(18:30-45). David tells us how and why to praise God (18:46-50).
Let me give you a homework assignment. No, it is not something that you will have to hand in next week. Think of it as a spiritual health exercise.
Sometime next week, take a pen and a piece of
paper and begin to look back over your life. Think back about those times that
God was with you. Think back to the times God dealt with your enemies. Think
back about those times that God answered your prayers. Think back about those
times that God spoke to you.
Think back about those times that God intervened in your life. And write it down. Don’t worry if you aren’t skilled as a poet like David... Just write down your praise to God. let it flow from your heart.
Like I mentioned earlier, it is always good to let people know that you love them. Let Jesus know that you love Him and let Him know why. And do it on paper... It is a good discipline. It will be meaningful to Him. And it will be a blessing to you too.
With grateful thanks to Larry Brincefield and Larry Norman for excellent sermons on Psalm 18 (accessible from www.sermoncentral.com) which I have unashamedly plundered and hereby unreservedly give the credit.