Read: 2 Samuel 22; Psalm 18:19 – 24; Luke 24:44
The fifteenth century Portuguese/Jewish scholar and statesman Isaac Abrabanel wrote in his commentary on 2 Samuel 22 (parallel to Psalm 18) that David composed this psalm in his youth, anticipating every possible danger and trial he could face, and carried it with him throughout his life as a guide for his faith. He recited it publicly to glorify God on that day late in his life when his troops refused to let him lead them into battle, lest the lamp of Israel be put out (2 Samuel 21:17). Psalm 18:19 – 24 presents a picture of David that seems, in spite of his many godly characteristics, overly idealistic and even arrogant. However, when a passage in the psalms that seems to make arrogant claims for the psalmist is placed in the mouth of David’s descendant, the Messiah Jesus, it becomes perfectly reasonable. Many of the psalms contain prophetic passages that carry import that was not fully understood even by the human author; such is the nature of inspiration. The Holy Spirit may well have inspired David to write this idealized picture of his life in order to convey a prophetic picture of Jesus.
Think About It: What scriptural basis do we have for saying that the psalms speak of Christ? What biblical evidence do we have that David’s life did not always fit the description of Psalm 18:19 – 24? How would these verses have been helpful to David, assuming that Abrabanel’s explanation of the origin and use of the psalm is correct? What do these verses tell us about David’s messianic descendant, Jesus of Nazareth?
Prayer: Praise God that He is willing to save me on the basis of Christ’s righteousness, and not on the basis of my righteousness!
Read: Psalm 18:1 – 3; Psalm 116:1; Exodus 15:2; Psalm 59:9, 17
Psalm 18 begins with a declaration of David’s love for the Lord, a detailed picture of how David regarded the Lord, and a terse description of David’s prayer life and its consequences. The intensely personal relationship David had with the Lord is reflected in his frequent use of the possessive “my.”
Think About It: What words and word pictures does David use to describe the Lord? David uses the word “my” nine times in Psalm 118:1 – 3, each time followed by a word describing what God was for him. If I were to write my own version of Psalm 18:1 – 3, beginning with “I love you, O Lord,” what nine words would I use to describe what God is for me?
Prayer: Thank you Lord for making it possible for me to have a personal relationship with You.
Read: Psalm 18:4 – 6; Deuteronomy 4:30; Psalm 3:4; Psalm 102:2; Psalm 116:1; Psalm 120:1; Jonah 2:2
David graphically described his predicament in Psalm 18:4 – 6 in terms that could fit a variety of the circumstances in which he found himself over the course of his life: encompassed and entangled by the cords of death and confronted by its snares, assailed by torrents of destruction, deeply distressed.
Think About It: What did David do in the time of deep distress? David was often in distress in places distant from center of worship – out in the wilderness, hiding in a cave, or amongst enemy pagans in Gath—yet he was confident that God heard his cry for help. How can I be assured that God hears my prayer, no matter where I am (Ephesians 3:12, Hebrews 4:16)?
Prayer: Thank you Lord, for hearing my prayers.
Read: Psalm 18:7 – 15; Judges 5:4 – 5; Psalm 68:7 – 8; Haggai 2:6; Acts 4:31; Hebrews 12:26 – 28
After David cried to the Lord, the Lord responded in spectacular fashion. David’s description of that response in Psalm 18:7 – 15 recalls the theophany at Sinai. One particular phrase, “He sent out His arrows” (v. 13) deserves special consideration. An arrow is aimed at a target. Early in David’s life he found himself in dire straits due to unjust persecution from Saul. God targeted Saul with arrows of conviction that could have led him to a repentance that would have, incidentally, spared David much grief: rebukes from Samuel (before and after Samuel’s death), rebuke from his son Jonathan, the public acclaim given to David, bouts of madness, the deep conviction he felt when David twice spared his life. Saul heeded none of these arrows of God, and the final bolt from the blue was defeat at the hands of the Philistines that drove him to suicide in order to escape capture and torture.
Think About It: Have I ever been shaken by a “bolt from the blue” that served as a wake-up call that led to a change of heart and of behavior? When and why does God shake the earth? When is He going to shake the earth yet again? What will remain after God shakes the earth that final time?
Prayer: Thank you Lord, for your gift of a kingdom that cannot be shaken.
Read: Psalm 18:16 – 19, 25– 29, 32 – 36, 39 – 40, 43 – 44, 47 – 48, 50
David gives a large portion of Psalm 18 to recounting the special help God gave him that resulted in his deliverance from his dreadful predicament. Verses 43 – 44 are another example of Messianic prophecy encapsulated in this psalm of praise. While true of David once his kingdom was consolidated, these verses are completely fulfilled in Jesus Christ, before whom every knee shall bow (Philippians 2:9 – 11).
Think About It: What specific help did God provide to David, according to Psalm 18? How has God helped me in ways similar to how He helped David?
Prayer: Praise God for His lovingkindness and tender mercies.
Read: Psalm 18:37 – 38; 40; 42; Leviticus 26:7; Psalm 44:5; 1 Corinthians 12:6; Philippians 2:12 – 13; Ephesians 2:8 – 10; Hebrews 13:20 – 21
While David devoted much of Psalm 18 to the topic of what God did for him, the psalm also reveals that David was more than a passive recipient of God’s help. Equipped by God with strength for the battle, David pursued and overtook his enemies; he thrust them through; he destroyed those who hated him; he beat them fine as the dust and cast them out like mud.
Think About It: How has God strengthened the Christian for spiritual warfare? 2 Corinthians 5:17 – 20 is like a case study of the relationship between what God does in the work of salvation, and one specific task we are to do with the salvation we have received. What is God’s work (2 Corinthians 5:18)? With what has God entrusted us (2 Corinthians 5:19)? What is our task (2 Corinthians 5:20)? A more generalized picture of the relationship between God’s work and our work is found in Ephesians 2:8 – 10. What is God’s part in the process of salvation? What is my part? Assuming I do my part, to whom does all the glory belong (Galatians 6:14)?
Prayer: Thank you Lord, for working in me to do according to Your good pleasure.
Read: Psalm 18:30 – 31; 46; Deuteronomy 32:4; Daniel 4:37; Proverbs 30:5; Revelation 15:3
While much of Psalm 18 is devoted to describing what God did for David, in Psalm 18:30 – 31 and 46 David sums up what he knew to be true about who God is. This is what David knew: God’s way is perfect; His word proves true; He is a shield for those who take refuge in Him; He alone is God; He alone is the rock of refuge; and He lives.
Think About It: Why is it important to affirm that God’s way is perfect? Do I demonstrate in my actions that I believe God’s word proves true? Where do I go for refuge in times of trouble? What are some of the implications of the simple truth that I serve the living God?
Prayer: Praise the Lord that I serve a living Savior!