II Samuel 22

 

 

This song, which is identical with Psalm 18, though with many verbal

differences, is so universally acknowledged as a genuine composition of

King David, that the objections taken by one or two critics serve only to

give us greater security by reminding us that the other side has been

carefully argued. The differences between its form here and in the Book of

Psalms suggest many important considerations with regard to textual

criticism. From the absence of manuscripts, we have very scanty means of

judging of the correctness of the ordinary Hebrew text. We have, indeed,

abundant proof that the Jews took extreme care of their sacred text in the

early centuries of our era; but we nevertheless find, most frequently in

names, mistakes which have arisen from the carelessness of scribes, and

especially from the confusion by them of similar letters. Thus the Sibbechai

of ch.21:18 becomes Mebunnai in ch. 23:27, owing to some scribe having

mistaken two letters in the name. And as the similarity between them exists, not

in the old Hebrew writing, but in the square character substituted after the exile,

the confusion must be subsequent to that date. In comparing the two texts of this

psalm, we find similar instances of confusion of letters in vs. 11, 42-43; we find

words transposed in vs. 5-6; and clauses repeated or omitted in vs. 13-14. In

short, all the phenomena with which we are familiar in the textual criticism

of the New Testament are also found here. And may we not add that they

end in the same result? The general sense and meaning remain much the

same. The variations of reading do not affect the teaching of Holy

Scripture on any important point. It may be asked, then — Why should we

notice them at all? And why urge them upon the attention of scholars? The

answer is that there exist flaws and blemishes in the Massoretic, that is, the

ordinary Hebrew, text, and that the removal of them is prevented by the

strange idea which accords infallibility to the Massorites, and will not

concede to the far more difficult problem of the ancient Hebrew text that

which is granted as a matter of course to the comparatively modern Greek

text of the New Testament. And thus the Old Testament is neglected, and

left outside that careful and minute study so lavishly expended on the New,

and so rich in useful results.

 

Of the date when David wrote this psalm there can be little doubt. It was at

the close of his first great series of victories, after Toi, the Hittite King of

Hamath, had sent to him an embassy of congratulation (ch. 8:9-10),

referred to very triumphantly in vs. 45-46. But there is no trace in it

of the sorrow and shame that clouded over his latter days; and no man

whose conscience was stained with sins so dark as those of adultery and

murder could have written words so strongly asserting his integrity and the

cleanness of his hands as are found in vs. 21-25. The psalm belongs to

David’s happiest time, when he had won for Israel security and empire. It

is written from first to last in a tone of jubilant exultation, caused, as we

may well believe, by Nathan’s acceptance of his purpose to build the

temple, and by the solemn appointment of David as the theocratic king. If

it were arranged according to time and matter, it would be placed

immediately after ch. 8., as it is evidently David’s thanksgiving for the

benefits and blessings just promised to him and his seed.

 

But the scribes inserted it here, not so much because of its historical value,

as because it is a national thanksgiving for the founding of that empire by

which Israel became verily the theocratic people, and the type upon earth

of the kingdom of the Messiah. The prophet who compiled the Books of

Samuel rejoiced in David’s victories, not because they gave Israel worldly

dominion, but because they were a fulfill ment of past prophecy, and a

necessary part of the preparation for the religious position which Israel was

to hold. Such as it had been under the judges, Israel would have been no fit

home for the prophetic light. It could not have grown and developed, nor

the race have become a Church fit to be the teacher of all mankind. And in

this hymn the Church expresses her joy at the high office and extended

usefulness to which God has seen fit to call her. The spiritual exposition of

the psalm will naturally be sought in commentaries on the Book of Psalms.

But such matters as its outward form, and the differences between the two

texts, will not be out of place here.

 

1 “And David spake unto the LORD the words of this song in the day that the

LORD had delivered him out of the hand of all his enemies, and out of the

hand of Saul:”  David spake. The introduction was probably written by the

prophet who compiled the Books of Samuel. The scribe who collected the

Book of Psalms would be a priest, and he has repeated it with one or two

additions, the most important of which is that the psalm was written “by

David the servant of Jehovah.” This title; meaning the minister or

vicegerent of Jehovah, is one so high that it would certainly not have been

given to David in his lifetime; nor was it even until Moses was dead that he

was honored with this rank (Deuteronomy 34:5). But what was

David’s right to this title, which put him on a level with Moses? It was this:

In adding to the sacrificial ritual enacted by Moses a daily service in the

temple of sacred minstrelsy and songs, David was acting with higher

powers than were ever exercised by any other person. For though, as we

have seen, Samuel was the originator of these services in his schools, yet.

there is a wide difference between private and public services; and David

made his anthems part of the national liturgy. But it would only be when

the halo of long use had gathered round his holy psalmody that David

would be placed on in equality with Moses, and his authority a institute a

new ritual for the nation be recognized.

 

2“And he said, The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; 

3 The God of my rock; in Him will I trust: He is my shield, and the

horn of my salvation, my high tower, and my refuge, my savior;

thou savest me from violence.  4 I will call on the LORD, who is worthy

to be praised: so shall I be saved from mine enemies.” 

 

Jehovah is my Cliff and my Stronghold and my Deliverer:

The God of my rock, in whom I take refuge;

My Shield and the Horn of my salvation,

My Fastness and my Place of refuge:

My Saviour: thou savest me from violence.

I call upon Jehovah, the praised One,

And I am saved from my enemies.”

 

The Syriac in v. 2 inserts, “Fervently do I love thee, Jehovah my

Strength;” but it probably only borrows the words from Psalm 18:1.

For we may well believe that it was at a later period of his life, after deeper

and more heart searching trials, that David thus felt his love to Jehovah

only strengthened and made more necessary to him by the loss of his

earthly happiness. In v. 3, The God of my rock is changed in Psalm

18:2 into “My God my Rock” (Authorized Version, “strength”) —

probably an intentional alteration, as being far less rugged and startling

than this bold metaphor of the Deity being his rock’s God. In the original

the words present each its distinct idea. Thus in ver. 2 the rock is a high

cliff or precipice. It is the word sela, which gave its name to the crag city

of Idumea. Fortress really means a rock, difficult of access, and forming a

secure retreat. It is entirely a natural formation, and not a building. In v. 3

rock is a vast mountainous mass (Job 18:4), and, as it suggests the

ideas of grandeur and immovable might, it is often used for God’s glory as

being the Strength and Protection of His people (Deuteronomy 32:15, 31;

Isaiah 30:29, margin). Next follow two ordinary metaphors, the

shield for defense, and the horn for attack; after which David, who had so

often sought safety among the cliffs and fastnesses of the mountains,

returns to the same circle of thoughts, and calls God his High Tower, the

word signifying, not a building, but a height, a lofty natural stronghold; and

finally his Refuge, a place of safe retreat among the mountains. This and

the rest of the verse are omitted in Psalm 18:2. (See Psalm 18 - #1266

this website – CY – 2018)  In v. 4 the words are as literally translated above,

and signify, “Whenever I call, I am saved.”   In all times of difficulty,

prayer brings immediate deliverance.

 

 

                                Songs of Deliverance  (vs. 1-4) 

 

The Facts are:

 

1. David composes a song at the end of all the deliverances which during

his life God had wrought for him.

2. He describes God as being to him a Rock, a Fortress, a Shield, a High

Tower, a Place of Refuge, and represents him as being actively his

Deliverer and Saviour.

3. He, in looking on to the future, resolves to trust in Him who had been so

much to his life in the past, and expects to be saved from his enemies.

4. He, reviewing the past, feels that God is worthy of the praise expressed

in this song. There is a beautiful congruity in the place of this song being

at the close of the most detailed and protracted narrative of personal

history to be found in the Old Testament, and even in the entire Bible with

the exception of that referring to Christ — seeing that that history was one

of most strange vicissitudes, and full of dangers. The story of David’s life is

so necessarily occupied with events as they appeared to men and as they

pertain to visible history, that this song is a true supplement, inasmuch as it

brings into view the deep spiritual feelings that influenced him in the midst

of those events, and so furnishes a key to the religious life of the great

king. This song of deliverances reminds us of the song Moses when Israel

triumphed over Pharaoh and his hosts at the Red Sea (Exodus 15), of the

song of the ransomed as they were to return to Zion with everlasting joy

on their heads (Isaiah 35:10), and of the still more wonderful new song

by the redeemed from all nations and kindreds of the earth (Revelation

5:9-13; 14:1-3). In these historic and prophetic instances we have

illustrations of songs of deliverance ever rising from grateful hearts,

establishing thus with the past and the future a community of religious

experience which is at once a fruit and an evidence of THE DIVINE
REDEMPTION WROUGHT OUT BY THE SAVIOUR! 
Taking the

experience of David as our guide, we may observe:

 

  • THE PERILS OF LIFE ARE SOMETIMES SO EXTREME AS TO

INDUCE IMMENSE EFFORTS TO ESCAPE THEM. History tells us

some of the perils of David’s life, both when Saul pursued him with

relentless cunning and cruelty, and when, as king, kindred, friend, and foe,

and also the unseen powers of darkness, sought his ruin. The subsequent

references in vs. 5-6 give his impression of the greatness of his distress;

and the allusions to “rock,” “high tower,” and “fortress” remind us of the

time when his extremity was such that he climbed the craggy cliff or hid

himself in the inaccessible clefts of the rocks. No man was so near to death

as was David, and no good man came nearer to moral and spiritual

destruction than did he in the case of Bathsheba and Uriah. This is the

common lot of men on earth, though some find their perils less than those

of their fellows. In business affairs, in statesmanship, in special enterprises,

in matters of health, in common interaction with men, and in spiritual

experience, there are seasons when it seems to be a question of a few hours

whether we make wreck or escape. Then comes a strain, a demand on our

fullest resources, corresponding to that on David when Saul sought his life,

or when spiritual destruction was in the train of Bathsheba’s unholy love.

 

  • NO HIGH CHARACTER RAISES US ABOVE LIABILITY TO

THESE EXTREME PERILS. The world is infested with evil, and the best

characters find that, as mortal, fallible men, they are liable to the exigencies

of life, and as good men they are objects of attack by the powers of

darkness. David was an honest, sincere, devout man, and specially dear to

God when Saul hunted his life; and he was superior to many before the

horrible temptation to depart from purity fell upon his soul. Character is a

defense against some dangers, else were it of little worth; but danger to

our calling, our enterprises, our health, our moral position — subtle and

seriouscannot but be our earthly lot. Even our Lord knew the tempter’s

power in the bitterness of poverty; and He warned the best men around His

Person to expect peril to earthly interests, and to watch lest at any time

even their devouter hearts should be overcharged with surfeiting and

drunkenness and the cares of this life (Luke 21:34; compare ch.16).

 

  • TRULY RELIGIOUS MEN WILL USE EVERY EFFORT TO

ESCAPE THESE PERILS. In his reference to “rock,” “refuge,” and

“fortress,” David at once carries us back to the time when he used his

utmost endeavors to escape from Saul by climbing the rocks and taking

refuge among the fastnesses of the mountains (I Samuel 22:1, 5; 23:14-15).

David acted as though all depended on himself. The cave, the cliff, the

gorge, the lofty peak, were sought to cover him as a “shield,” or to raise

him as on a “high tower.” So far as the two men were concerned, it was a

case of skill against skill, endurance against endurance. So, also, in the

more spiritual conflicts of his life, he labored hard to save himself from

destruction.  David used many forms of personal exertion to escape the

foes of his highest life:

 

Ø      prayer,

Ø      meditation on the Divine Law,

Ø      taking heed to his steps, and

Ø      going to the house of the Lord.

 

So is it with the followers of Christ. They strive daily to ward off the ills

which threaten their temporal interests, and when peril becomes extreme,

they stir up all their energies to maintain their head high above all impending

evils; and what is true of temporal is true also of spiritual interests

they give all diligence to make their calling election and calling sure.

(II Peter 1:10)

 

  • THE VISIBLE MEANS OF SAFETY USED BY RELIGIOUS MEN

ARE AN INDEX OF AN INVISIBLE RESOURCE. It is just here that we

get at the heart of David’s meaning. A spectator, observing how he set his

skill against that of Saul, how he baffled the cruel persecutor by feats of

daring among the caves and clefts of the rock, might conclude that success

was decided by a mere balance of ingenuity and agility — the rock, the

cave, were his defense. But no; he used these visible things, but all the time

his soul was resting in THE PROTECTION OF GOD! There was a double

exercise of energy — that which expressed itself in agility of movement

among the mountain fastnesses, and that which expressed itself in calm trust

in the care of God. God was his Rock, his Shield, his Fortress. As Elijah

saw chariots of fire where others saw nothing but vacant air, so he saw the

Eternal Rock, and in Him made his refuge. The same double exercise of

energy was at work in his strenuous efforts to maintain his piety. It was not

prayer, use of the Divine Law, and watchfulness that he trusted in, but the

ever present and faithful God. Herein is the characteristic of a truly godly

man. An inner spiritual activity accompanies all the external forms. His soul

goes out after the living God. He finds safety in the invisible Rock of Ages.

God in Christ is his actual Hiding place.

 

  • THE BEST THINGS IN NATURE ARE BUT SYMBOLS AND

SHADOWS OF EXCELLENCE IN GOD. The rock and the high tower

were the very best things nature afforded to David in his dreadful season of

trial. Those wilds then answered indeed a noble purpose. But David saw in

their protecting powers only a shadow of the real protecting power of

which he was in need. All the saving virtues of the mountain fastnesses

were to him the index of the boundless resources that lie in God. He is the

Rock. Throughout Scripture there seems to be an effort to set forth, if

possible, the reality and vastness and sufficiency of the treasures which are

in God for us. Thus Christ is represented as being the chief and best of all

things in nature:

 

Ø      among stars, the Bright and Morning Star (Revelation 22:16);

Ø      among fruit bearing trees, the luxurious Vine (John 15);

Ø      of members of the body, the Head (Colossians 1:18);

 

Nature can only indicate what wealth of resources we have in Him. His

riches are unsearchable (Ephesians 3:8).

 

  • A REVIEW OF PAST SIGNAL DELIVERANCES ENCOURAGES

CONFIDENCE IN RESPECT TO THE FUTURE. Reviewing the

wonderful deliverances wrought for him, David says, “In Him will I trust;”

“I shall be saved from mine enemies.” The conflict of life was not over.

New dangers will arise, and other enemies will fill the ranks of the fallen.

But experience of God’s merciful help keeps the spirit calm, and every

triumph in the past by His favor is a guarantee that He will be a very

present Help in every time of need. (Psalm 46:1)  How could David doubt

the goodness and power of God after so rich an experience of his aid? If for

no other reason than the confidence it inspires, an occasional deliberate

review of what great things God has done for us is very desirable. Doubt

and fear spring from too much attention to ourselves. Security lies in the

covenant of God, and not in our own powers, and a remembrance of actual

help received is a reading afresh of the many Divine ratifications of the

covenant. The din and hurry of daily life are adverse to reflective habits. It

is well to make positive efforts at certain stages of life to resist the

hindrances to reflection, and allow to pass before the mind the varied

instances in which God has rescued us from impending ruin, both

temporal and spiritual.

 

  • A RATIONAL BASIS FOR PRAISE IS LAID IN A

CONSIDERATION OF GOD’S GREAT DELIVERANCES. It is not

without solid reason that David says, “I will call on the Lord, who is

worthy to be praised.” There are manifold reasons why praise should be

rendered to God, but here the basis in view is that found by a consideration

of the various acts of mercy He has shown. David’s deliverance from Saul,

from the treachery of Doeg and Ahithophel, from the sorrows and shame

of the banishment from throne and city, and from the more fearful woes of

backsliding, were indeed events never to be forgotten. They meant to him

life, joy, honor, instead of death and disgrace. All that is valuable in life, in

distinction, in personal holiness, and victory over spiritual evil, appealed to

his generous nature to acknowledge in thankful form the great things which

God had done. It is the wont of some agnostic writers to represent the

requirement of praise to God as essentially immoral — as a low

representation of God as selfishly egotistic. It might be enough to say that

agnostics have no right to speak of essential morality, since on their

principles there can be no such thing. But apart from that, it overlooks the

real teaching of Scripture and the natural action of human hearts. Men are

not condemned for not praising God, but for being lovers of sin in thought,

feeling, and deed. Their condition necessarily involves a condemnation, as

surely as an anarchical state involves, by its condition, its own destruction.

Their not rendering acknowledgments to God for His mercies is only a

symptom of the real evil, and not the actual cause of condemnation. A

heart true to generous and pure instincts will always admire power blended

with goodness, and be thankful for good placed within reach by that

beneficent power. “Praise is comely for the upright.”  (Psalm 33:1)

 

  • THE DELIVERANCES WROUGHT FOR US BY GOD ARE

ONLY PRELIMINARY BLESSINGS. All through these verses David

speaks of deliverance, of being saved from certain evils, and God as a

Deliverer, a Saviour. This, of course, is a negative good; it is doing

something that he may not die, and not be lost. But it is only a superficial

view to say that this was all that David was thinking of His present position

as honored king, ruling over a united nation, and blessed with a moral

elevation superior to any other man then living, is the counterfoil to this

negative aspect. There was no need to say in words what he now was. His

life tells that side of the record of God’s mercy and power. (What a great

blessing for “goodness and mercy to follow us all the days of our lives”

- Psalm 23:6 – CY  - 2018) He refers to the deliverances as blessings

preliminary to his positive elevation to honor and distinction. Being

delivered from the hand of Saul, he was made king in succession;

being saved from the banishment consequent on Absalom’s rebellion,

of course he was positively restored; being rescued from the sin

of backsliding, of course he was reinstated in the Divine favor and

holiness of life. This is the correct and New Testament view of the great

deliverance, or salvation, wrought for us by Christ. We are delivered from

the curse and guilt of sin; but that is the negative good, preliminary,

necessary to the implied positive elevation to sonship and eternal holiness.

He saves from condemnation, but does not leave us as merely liberated

souls. He gives us therewith “power to become the sons of God.” (John

1:12)  He makes us “kings and priests unto God.” (Revelation 1:6)

The positive aspect of salvation means elevation, progress, conformity

of nature to the Divine will.

 

 

God the Refuge and Deliverer (vs. 2-4)

 

The psalm was composed as a thanksgiving for the safety and deliverances

David had experienced when Saul so persistently sought to destroy him,

and afterwards in the wars with the house of Saul, and with the heathen

tribes that set themselves against him. It appears to belong to an earlier

period than the place it occupies in the book would indicate. It is scarcely

possible that David could have asserted his uprightness and innocence in

the strong terms of vs. 21-25 after his great sins. These verses form the

introduction to the psalm, and express in emphatic language the safety and

salvation which David had found in God. The Christian may use the words

of the similar perils to which he is exposed, and of others not immediately

in the psalmist’s view.

 

  • THE DANGERS TO WHICH WE ARE EXPOSED. Bodily, mental,

spiritual. To reputation. From our own constitutional tendencies. From

diseases and accidents. From the malice of men, and their favor. From

prosperity and adversity. From solitude and society. From labors, rest,

and pleasures. From Satan and his angels. From the broken Law and

injured justice of God. Always and everywhere, under all circumstances

and conditions, we are all exposed to perils.

 

  • THE SAFETY AND DELIVERANCE TO BE FOUND IN GOD. The

psalmist labors to express his sense of the protection, safety, and

deliverance which God had vouchsafed to him, yea, which God Himself had

been to him. The imagery he uses is taken chiefly from natural features of

Palestine, with which he had become especially familiar as affording refuge

and safety during the time that he was hunted by Saul. He calls him “my

Rock,” in the heights and recesses of which he had been safe from his foes;

my Fortress,” his fortified castle, too high to be reached, too strong to be

broken into; “my Deliverer,” by whose aid he had escaped from many a

peril; “the God of my Rock,” equivalent to “my mighty God;” “my Shield

and the Horn of my salvation,” at once protecting him in battle and pushing

his enemies to their destruction; “my high Tower,” or lofty Retreat; “my

Refuge and my Saviour.” What the Almighty was to David He is to all His

people. We may use similar language. Our dangers may not be so fearful in

appearance, or so numerous, or so obvious; but they are as real and

serious. And our safety and deliverance must come from “the Lord.” The

words of the text show that it is not only what He employs for our good,

nor what He Himself does, but what He is, that assures of safety. Not only

does He afford protection and secure deliverance; He is our Protector and

Deliverer. In His almightiness, love, knowledge, wisdom, universal

presence, observation, and operation, WE REALIZE SALVATION!

In Jesus Christ, His very righteousness has become our friend, and assures us

of victory.  The safety thus assured is not absolute immunity from trouble,

but protection from the evil it might produce, and change of its character.

The righteous are visited with calamities similar to those which befall the

wicked, and in some conditions of society with calamities peculiar to

themselves. But in their case they lose their unfriendly character, and

become visitations of a Father’s love, means of deliverance from worse

evils, and of obtaining greater good. The evil which they might do God will

defend us from, if we trust and obey Him. Nor are the righteous sure of

absolute preservation from sin, though they would enjoy perfect immunity

if they fulfilled the necessary conditions on their part. But they have a right

to feel sure of preservation of’ body and soul in this world, until their

appointed work is done; and of final deliverance from all evils

(II Timothy 4:18). They should not desire more.

 

  • THE CONDITIONS OF SAFETY AND DELIVERANCE.

 

Ø      Faith. “In Him will I trust” (v. 3). Confidence in God as our Friend,

Protector, and Saviour. Especially as He is revealed to us in the gospel.

Faith assures us of the Divine love, lays hold of the Divine strength,

enables us to flee to God as our Refuge, to rise to the lofty Rock and

Tower where we are above all adverse powers, and safe from their

assaults, and gives the calmness needful for employing such means as

tend to safety and victory. “All things are possible to him that

believeth(Mark 9:23).

 

Ø      Prayer. “I will call on the Lord...so shall I be saved from mine enemies”

(v. 4). Faith prompts obedience, as in other respects, so in respect to

prayer. Divine help and protection are promised to those who pray.

“Call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt

glorify me” (Psalm 50:15). The sense of peril, the knowledge that there

is safety in God, and that His delivering power is exercised on behalf of

those who seek Him, cannot but lead the Christian to that earnest and

believing prayer which prevails. The Apostle Paul, after pointing out

other methods of ensuring victory over our enemies, adds, “Praying

always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit.” (Ephesians 6:18).

 

  • THE RETURN TO BE MADE FOR SAFETY AND

DELIVERANCE REALIZED, AND ANTICIPATED. Praise. This psalm

is one of the returns of praise which David made to his Deliverer, of whom

he speaks in v. 4 as “the Lord who is worthy to be praised.” Many are

ready to pray to God in danger, who forget or refuse to praise Him when

they have experienced deliverance. The Christian will not fail to give

thanks, not only for what he has experienced of Divine protection, but for

what he feels sure he shall experience, up to and including victory over

death itself, “the last enemy,” in view of whose approach he sings,

“Thanks be to God, who giveth us the victory through our Lord

Jesus Christ  I Corinthians 15:26, 57).

 

 

God Worthy to be Praised (v. 4)

 

The conjunction of ideas here is a little singular. “I will pray to the Lord,

who is worthy to be praised.” It may originate in the feeling that it is

fitting that, when we seek new blessings from God, we should not be

unmindful of those which He has already bestowed. Praise should

accompany prayer (see Philippians 4:6, “prayer... with thanksgiving”).

Add that the subjects of praise are encouragements to prayer. In the act of

praising Him we are reminding ourselves of the strong reasons we have for

hopefully seeking further mercies from Him.

 

  • GOD IS WORTHY TO BE PRAISED. Not merely to be feared,

entreated, strictly obeyed, and submitted to. He is worthy of thankful and

rejoicing obedience and submission. It is not fitting that He should be

served sullenly or silently; or that prayer to Him should be as a cry of a

slave to his master, or of one oppressed to his oppressor, or as a request

for help addressed to a stranger. We should speak to Him with the

confidence and love which his relation to us and past goodness are fitted to

inspire. One way of ensuring this is to blend praise with prayer.

 

  • WHAT IT IS THAT RENDERS HIM WORTHY TO BE PRAISED.

Some obtain praise who are not worthy of it in any measure; others, much

more than they deserve. But God is worthy of and “exalted above all

blessing and praise” (Nehemiah 9:5). Whether we consider His nature,

His regard for His creatures, His works or His gifts, we must feel that it is

impossible to render Him praise worthy of Him. But to the utmost of our

power we should praise Him for:

 

Ø      His glorious perfections. Especially His infinite moral excellences:

o        his truth,

o        holiness,

o        righteousness, and

o        love.

Ø      His wonderful works.

o        In creation,

o        providence, and

o        grace.

Ø      Specially, His redeeming mercy. His kindness to us in Christ. The display

of His perfections in the gift, the Person, and the work of our Lord and

Saviour. The mercy He exercises in the forgiveness of sin, the admission of

sinners into His family, and all the operations by which He brings His “many

sons [and daughters] unto glory,” (Hebrews 2:10). The gift of the Holy

Spirit for this purpose. The final bliss and glory.

Ø      The goodness of God to ourselves. Not forgetting that He is “worthy to

be praised” for the commonest blessings we enjoy, as well as those

distinguishing blessings which we receive as His children through faith in

Christ. And not only for the blessings which give us pleasure, but for those

which give us pain, but are bestowed that we may become in a greater

measure “partakers of His holiness” (Hebrews 12:10).

 

  • BY WHOM HE OUGHT TO BE PRAISED.

 

Ø      By ALL HIS CREATURES according to their capacity. All His inanimate and

irrational creatures do praise Him. Their existence, qualities, order, and (as

to the living creatures) their happiness “show forth the excellences” of their

Creator. “All thy works shall praise thee, O Lord” (Psalm 145:10; compare

Psalm 19:1-4; Psalm 148;). All intelligent beings ought to praise Him; all

the right minded of them do. Those who enjoy least of His bounty have

much to thank Him for, and often praise Him more than those who enjoy

most.

Ø      Especially by His redeemed people. Who are the objects of His special

regard and gracious operation, and to whom the work of praise on earth is

peculiarly committed (Isaiah 43:21; I Peter 2:9). On some accounts

the redeemed and regenerate have more reason to give thanks to God than

those who have never sinned.

 

“They see

On earth a bounty not indulged on high,

And downward look for Heaven’s superior praise…

They sang Creation, for in that they shared:

Creation’s great superior, man, is thine;

Thine is redemption; they just gave the key,

Tis thine to raise and eternize the song.”

(Young.)

 

Nevertheless, angels do give thanks for redemption, and with good reason.

For it is the work of the God whom they love; it enriches their conceptions

of Him; it enlarges their service of Him; and it supremely and eternally

blesses vast multitudes in whom they feel the deepest interest. It thus

gratifies their desires, and adds to their wealth of knowledge, goodness,

and happiness.

 

  • THE KIND AND DURATION OF THE PRAISE OF WHICH HE IS

WORTHY.

 

Ø      The kind. Clearly the best possible; which is not necessarily that which is

most poetical or most musical, though in these respects man should do his

best. But that is best of all which comes from the heart, and from a heart

fullest of admiration, adoration, love, and gratitude. Much which professes

to be praise of God is heartless mockery.

Ø      The duration. Forever and ever (Ephesians 3:21). While we have any

being, in this world and the next (Psalm 145:1-3; 146:2). For, AS GOD

IS EVERLASTING, THE REASONS FOR PRAISING HIM CAN

NEVER END!  

 

5 “When the waves of death compassed me, the floods of ungodly

men made me afraid;  6 The sorrows of hell compassed me about; the

snares of death prevented me;  7  In my distress I called upon the LORD,

and cried to my God: and He did hear my voice out of His temple, and

my cry did enter into His ears.”

 

 “For the breakers of death surrounded me;

Torrents of wickedness [Hebrew, ‘of Belial’] terrified me;

Cords of Sheol surrounded me;

Snares of death came suddenly upon me.

In my distress I cried unto Jehovah,

And to my God I cried.

And He heard my voice out of His palace,

And my cry was in His ears.”

 

Instead of breakers — waves dashing violently on rocks — Psalm 18:4

has “cords of death;” translated “sorrow” in the Authorized Version. But

“cords of death” mean the fatal snares of the hunter, and are not in keeping

with “torrents of wickedness.” “Belial,” literally, “worthlessness,” is by

many supposed, from the context to mean here “destruction,” that is,

physical instead of moral wickedness. So in Nahum 1:11 “a counselor

of Belial” means a ruinous, destructive counselor. Sheol is the world of

the departed, and is equivalent to “death.” Cried is the same verb twice

used. In Psalm 18:6 it is altered, in the former part of the verse unto “I

called” — a change probably suggested by the more fastidious taste of a

later age. For temple we should translate palace, or heavenly temple. It is

not the temple in Jerusalem, which was not yet built, but God’s heavenly

dwelling, that is meant. Instead of the terse ellipse, “And my cry in His

ears,” the full but heavy phrase, “My cry before him came into His ears,”

is substituted in Psalm 18:6.

 

 

Prayer in Distress Heard (v. 7)

 

The distress referred to is graphically described in vs. 5-6, 17-18. The

interposition of God for the psalmist’s deliverance is poetically depicted in

vs. 8-20. The connecting link is given in this verse. David, in his danger

and trouble, called on God, and therefore he was delivered. We have here:

  • DISTRESS. This may arise from various causes; such as:

 

Ø      Enemies. As in David’s case, with the dangers of the battles fought

against them. There are many forms less extreme in which the enmity of

men may show itself and occasion pain or peril.

Ø      Circumstances. Worldly losses and anxieties.

Ø      Personal affliction. Of body or mind. Special distress from afflictions

which implicate the nerves, and so the mind itself.

Ø      Death of loved ones or dear friends.

Ø      Conviction of sin. (See Psalm 32:3-4.) It would be well if this form

of distress were more common.

Ø      Pressure of powerful temptation. The mighty and threatening uprising of

inward corruptions, or the pressing solicitations of evil from without.

Ø      Fear of calamities or of death.

 

  • PRAYER. Natural for men to call upon God when they are in great

trouble or danger. Yet all do not; and of many the prayers are

unacceptable, because they lack the moral and spiritual elements of

successful prayer (see Hosea 7:14). Prayer must be:

 

Ø      That of a righteous man. (vs. 21-25; James 5:16; Psalm 66:18.)

Yet the prayers of one who is stirred by his affliction to sincere

repentance will be heard; for repentance is the beginning of righteousness.

Ø      Offered in faith. (Matthew 21:22.)

Ø      Importunate and persevering. (Luke 11:8, seq.; 18:1-8.)

Ø      Accompanied, where practicable, with the use of appropriate means.

David fought vigorously as well as prayed earnestly.

 

  • DELIVERANCE. The Almighty heard the psalmist’s voice “out of His

temple (equivalent to “the heavens”), and, interposing in majesty and

power, delivered him, discomfiting and scattering his foes. True prayer is

always heard and answered; but the deliverance granted is often not

according to our conceptions and desires, yet ever according to the perfect

wisdom and goodness of our heavenly Father. Sometimes the causes of our

distress are removed; sometimes they are allowed to continue, but the

distress is allayed, and the causes turned into blessings. So it was with

Paul’s “thorn in the flesh,” although he prayed earnestly and repeatedly

(II Corinthians 12:8-10) Spiritual deliverance, however, is always

granted to those who truly seek it; and ultimately complete rescue from all

that afflicts the Christian.

 

  • GRATEFUL REMEMBRANCE AND THANKSGIVING. Although

David’s victories were wrought through the skill and valor of himself and

his troops, he gives to God all the glory of them; for he knew that ALL

WAS DUE TO HIM!   His example will be followed by the Christian, as he

reviews life and calls to mind his distresses and deliverances. He will recognize

the hand of God in all, and render praise to Him who both furnishes the

means of deliverance and exercises the power which renders them

successful.  Finally, let none wait for trouble before they begin to pray.

Live in the habit of prayer, and you will be able, when trouble comes,

to pray truly and successfully. “Pray without ceasing.”  (I Thessalonians

5:17)  Otherwise you may find yourself in the miserable condition of

those described in v. 42, who “looked even unto the Lord, but he

answered them not.”

 

8 “Then the earth shook and trembled; the foundations of heaven

moved and shook, because He was wroth.  9 There went up a smoke out of

His nostrils, and fire out of His mouth devoured: coals were kindled by it.

10 He bowed the heavens also, and came down; and darkness was

under His feet.”

 

“And the earth quaked and trembled;

The foundations of the heavens shook,

And quaked because He was wroth.

A smoke went up in His nostril,

And fire out of His mouth devoured;

Red hot cinders burned from Him.

And He bowed the heavens and came down,

And darkness was under His feet.”

 

In describing the manifestation of God for His deliverance, David bore in

mind and repeated the description of God’s descent to earth given in

Exodus 19:16, 18. But the poetic vigor of David’s imagination

intensities the imagery, and makes it more grand and startling. Not merely

is there:

 

·         the earthquake, the volcano and the storm cloud, but

·          the dim form of the Almighty is present,

Ø      with the smoke of just anger at unrighteousness ascending

from His nostrils, and,

 the lightnings flashing forth to execute His wrath.

 

But David certainly intended that these metaphors should remain ideal; and

it was quite unnecessary for the Targum carefully to eliminate all such

expressions as seem to give the Almighty human shape. In so doing it merely

changes poetry into prose.  But even more dull and commonplace is the

explanation given by some modern commentators, that all that is meant is that

David was once saved by a thunderstorm from some danger or other. Really

this glorious imagery, taken from all that is grandest on earth, is intended to

magnify to us the spiritual conception of God’s justice coming forth to visit the

earth and do right and equity. In v. 8 for “the foundations of the heavens,”

we find in Psalm 18:7 “the foundations of the hills.” The former is the

grander metaphor, and signifies the mighty mountain ranges, like those of

Lebanon, on which the skies seem to rest. The smoke signifies hailstorms

and, perhaps, also the rain driven in wreaths along the ground by the wind.

Red hot cinders burned from Him describes the flashing lightnings that

were shot forth like the coals from the refiner’s furnace when heated to the

full. It is to be regretted that the Revised Version retains the bathos of the

old rendering, that God’s fiery breath set coals on fire.

 

11 “And He rode upon a cherub, and did fly: and He was seen upon the

wings of the wind.  12 And He made darkness pavilions round about Him,

dark waters, and thick clouds of the skies.  13 Through the brightness before

Him were coals of fire kindled.”

 

 “And He rode upon a cherub, and did fly;

And He was seen upon the wings of the wind.

And He made darkness booths round about Him;

Gathering of waters, thickenings of clouds.

Out of the brightness before Him

Coals of fire burned.”

 

In ch. 6:2 Jehovah is described as sitting upon the cherubim; His presence

there, called by the rabbins HIS SHECHINAH,  that is, dwelling, being

indicated by a cloud of light. In this psalm the cherub is His chariot, on

which He rides forth to judgment. He was seen. There can be little doubt

that the right reading is preserved in Psalm 18:10, where we find a verb

signifying the swooping down of a bird of prey upon its quarry

(Deuteronomy 28:49; Jeremiah 48:40). The two words differ only

in the substitution of r for d, and these letters are so similar in Hebrew that

they are constantly interchanged. Booths; made of branches of trees, and

forming a temporary abode. So the dark storm clouds are gathered round

the Almighty to veil His awful form from sight as He goes forth for

judgment. Gathering of waters; probably the right reading, instead of

which in the psalm we find “dark waters.” The gathering of waters would

describe the massing of the rain clouds. The difference here also consists

only in one letter. Out of the brightness, which closely surrounds the

Deity in the midst of the black mass of the tempest, the lightning flashes

forth. This brightness is the Shechinah (see above), to which Paul also

refers where he says that God’s dwelling is in “the unapproachable light”

(I Timothy 6:16).

 

14 “The LORD thundered from heaven, and the most High uttered His

voice.  15 And He sent out arrows, and scattered them; lightning, and

discomfited them.  16 And the channels of the sea appeared, the foundations

of the world were discovered, at the rebuking of the LORD, at the blast of

the breath of His nostrils.”

 

“Jehovah thundered from heaven,

And the Most High uttered His voice.

And He sent forth arrows, and scattered them [the evil doers];

Lightning, and terrified them.

And the sea beds became visible,

The foundations of the world were laid bare,

At the rebuke of Jehovah,

By the breath of the wind of His nostril.”

 

Terrified. The verb signifies” to strike with sudden terror and alarm” (see

Exodus 14:24; Joshua 10:10). It describes here the panic caused by

the lightning, and by the violent throes of nature, so powerfully described

in v. 16. Laid bare. This is the meaning of the word “discovered” in the

Authorized Version. When the version was made, it was equivalent to

“uncovered,” but has now changed its signification.

 

 

17 “He sent from above, He took me; He drew me out of many waters;

18 He delivered me from my strong enemy, and from them that hated

me: for they were too strong for me.  19 They prevented me in the day of

my calamity: but the LORD was my stay.  20 He brought me forth also

into a large place: He delivered me, because He delighted in me.”

 

 “He stretched forth His hand from on high; He took me,

He drew me out of many waters.

He delivered me from my strong enemy,

From them that hated me; for they were too mighty for me.

For they attacked me in the day of my misfortune.

But Jehovah became my Staff,

And He brought me forth into a wide place

He delivered me, because He had pleasure in me.”

 

In the midst of this fearful convulsion of nature, while all around are

stricken with panic, David sees a hand stretched out from above, ready to

deliver him from the overwhelming flood of hatred and peril. Attacked

me. The word does not signify “to prevent,” or” anticipate,” but “to assail”

So in v. 6, “The snares of death assailed me;” and in Isaiah 37:33,

“The King of Assyria shall not attack this city with shield.” It is the same

verb in all these places. Staff; in the Authorized Version, “stay.” But it

means something to lean upon, and is rightly translated “staff” in Psalm

23:4. A wide place; in opposition to the straits of affliction. He had

pleasure in me. In ch. 15:26 this confidence is gone, and David

doubts whether the favor of Jehovah had not been forfeited by him.

 

 

God’s Answer to the Cry of Distress (vs. 5-19) 

 

The Facts are:

 

1. David represents death, the grave, and ungodly men, under various

figures, as causing him deep distress.

2. He states that, on crying unto God out of the greatness of his distress,

his voice entered even into His ears.

3. He thus indicates, in strong figurative language, the tokens of God’s

attention to his cry.

 

  1. Some manifest signs of his displeasure against his foes (vs. 8-9).
  2. A speedy and yet mysterious condescension to the need of His servant

(vs. 10-11).

      c.  The blending of concealed purpose with distinct manifestations of the

reality of His interposition (vs. 12-14).

      d.  The pressure of His agencies on David’s enemies (v. 15).

      e.  The thorough rending of all barriers by His mighty power so as to effect

deliverance for His servant (vs. 16-19). David represents his condition as

one of isolated anguish — he is cut off from God and man, standing in a

position of peril and suffering, from which there is no chance of escape.

Doubtless there were several occasions in his checkered life when this was

true; but he describes them in the terms more strictly appropriate to the

time when, being pursued by Saul and his emissaries, he took refuge in

mountains. Like one standing on a slight elevation when the floods are

gathering around, he sees only, on every side, death as waves eager to

sweep him away. The ungodly men with Saul rush on as a torrent from

which there is no escape. The sorrows arising from the thought of all his

youthful and patriotic aspirations being soon buried in a premature grave,

and a once promising life being cut off as a worthless thing, gather

irresistibly around his soul. Whichever way he turns, to the cliffs or the

plain, to the ravine or the cave, he sees that death is there spreading out

snares to catch him. Neither God nor man is nigh to rescue. Life’s great

and holy purposes are being crushed and blighted forever. No one cares for

his soul. It was then, when destruction was inevitable, that, as a last

desperate resort, he poured out his anguish before God and cried for help.

The help came, and the fact and form of the interposition are the theme of

his song. Here we notice:

 

  • PROVIDENCE PERMITS MEN TO COME INTO GREAT

EXTREMITIES. David’s life was especially providential. He was from his

youth the child of Providence, and yet, for no other traceable reason than

his patriotism and his goodness, he was persecuted by Saul, a jealous,

suspicious king, even to the degree that he despaired of his life.  All the forces

of society and of nature seemed to go against him, and meanwhile the God

of his youth and early manhood was silent and apparently far away. Our

only interpretation of the facts is that God allows his servants sometimes to

be brought very low. He does not give them the immunity from pain and

peril which their relative goodness and fidelity would seem to warrant. Yet

this is not the result of mere arbitrariness or neglect. It is part of an

educational purpose, and inseparable from a government of men free in

their deeds of wrong. The latent qualities of the righteous and their powers

for future use can often be best developed by means of adverse events

which throw them more absolutely on God than under smooth and easy

conditions they ever could be. We need not be surprised if we fall into

manifold trials (I Peter 4:12).

 

  • THE EXTREMITIES OF LIFE DEVELOP THE FULL STRENGTH

OF PRAYER. David had been accustomed, like all pious men, to pray, but

now he cried unto God. There was a reserve store of prayer in him which

now became developed. He realized as never before his need of God, his

helplessness, apart from pure Divine interposition and aid, to accomplish

the purpose for which he had been selected by Samuel. There was more

faith in him than he had been aware of, and now it was brought into

exercise. This was the first gain in the educational process. In the spiritual

life, as in the physical and mental, our capacities become atrophied if not

well used, and circumstances that draw them forth in unusual degree enrich

us with a permanent legacy of increased power. There is a natural tendency

to inertia, which the stress of our environment urges us to overcome. How

great is the power placed in our hands by the privilege of prayer, who can

tell? There are indications of its greatness in particular instances recorded

in the Bible and known in modern life. It availeth much. (James 5:16)

It is the human agency by which the exercise of the Almighty Power has

conditioned its own exercise. How seldom do we cry unto God as though

we really wanted Him and His aid!

 

  • THE INTERPOSITION OF GOD ON BEHALF OF HIS PEOPLE IS

A REALITY IN LIFE. David contrasts in thought his position and that of

his enemies. He was apparently left alone by God and man; they were

prosperous, numerous, strong, and eager as rolling waves. Death was

before and behind him, so that he could not move; they were free to act,

and no one to put them in peril. But a change came; the cry of distress had

entered into the very ear of God, and, as though there were a sudden

change in the Divine relationship to human forces, rescue came. To David

the interposition was as real as the previous peril and agony. It was not

mere faint heartedness in Saul, not accidental diversion of his thoughts, not

a simple refusal of his men to go further in pursuit of the victim of his

malice; it was God who had somehow so acted on men and things as to

bring about deliverance. The strong figures used by David in vs. 8-12

express the conviction that God had come to his help, not simply by the

action of normal laws, but by the invisible contact of the eternal energy

with those laws, wondrously subordinating them to a special design. The

true believer still sees God in his great deliverances. The answer to prayer

is a great reality. God can and does get at His suffering children. Men see

not the invisible hand, but those who cry to God recognize it. The

profoundest matters of life are objects of faith, and in faith, as in intention,

there is a transcendent knowledge passing all demonstration and all

communication.

 

  • A REVIEW OF DIVINE INTERPOSITIONS BRINGS OUT TO

THE EYE OF FAITH THEIR STRONG CHARACTERISTICS. David

here reflects on the deliverances wrought for him in answer to earnest

prayer, and their characteristics appear to him to be best represented by the

bold and vigorous language in vs. 8-16. Among these we may notice:

 

Ø      A twofold revelation — to himself, as the God of power actually

stooping to his help, and holding in His hand the most terrible and most

subtle forces of nature; and to His enemies, as the great God causing His

voice so to be heard in the course of things as to reveal His wrath and

impress men with a sense of His greatness and majesty.

 

Ø      An assurance blended with uncertainty. The coming down and the

Divine brightness brought assurance unmistakable; but the darkness and

mystery of His movements indicated that His methods of working out a

saving purpose were beyond human penetration.

 

Ø      Use of appropriate agencies for frustrating wicked purposes. The

Divine “arrows” were so directed by unerring wisdom as to scatter

those who hitherto were bent on pursuit.

 

Ø      Thoroughness in clearing away all natural obstacles to the perfecting

of the deliverance. So thorough was the reserve to be that the swollen

torrents and deep places were to be entirely made bare of water in order

to render escape complete. We may look at our deliverances as from

enemies human or fiendish, and we shall find that God does make

Himself known as our Friend, and causes our foes to feel His

displeasure. We know that He helps, but we know not all His ways.

He brings influences to bear on our foes, so that they are weakened,

and what He does He does perfectly, clearing away whatever may

hinder our safety. The same general truths will hold good if we look

at our many deliverances from spiritual peril. He sets Himself against

evil, and comes to our sorrowing soul. He lets us know enough for

our cheer, but does not throw full light on all His methods. He

brings the mighty influences of His Word and Spirit to destroy the

power of sin, and by the tremendous work of Christ clears away

every obstacle to our full salvation.

 

  • GENERAL LESSONS.

 

1. When we come into great troubles let us take comfort that in this matter

we are sharing in an experience which, in the case of some of the best of

men, has developed a more earnest spirit of prayer.

2. The records of God’s dealings with His saints shows that there is no

distress too deep for Him to reach and remedy.

3. There is no place on earth but that the voice of prayer is free to enter

into God’s holy temple and even to His ear.

4. Although for a season during the prosperity of those who persecute the

pious it may seem as though they were exempt from displeasure, yet God is

angry with them, and will in some significant way cause them to know it.

“...God is angry with the wicked every day.”  (Psalm 7:11)

5. However desperate our case, we may rest assured that God is in

possession of all the means of gaining access to our need, and of scattering

whatever evils threaten us with ruin.

6. There are no powers, however deep seated and established, but that, if

we trust in God, he will clear them out of the way, so that we may find a

position of safety, and consequent elevation to honor and blessedness.

 

 

 

Rescue from Mighty Foes (vs. 17-20)

 

In vs. 8-16 the psalmist depicts Jehovah as appearing in His glory for the

deliverance of His servant. The picture may have been occasioned by a

storm which, in one of his battles, had terrified his enemies and aided in

their discomfiture (compare Joshua 10:11; I Samuel 7:10). In the text

he narrates the deliverance itself.

 

  • THE ENEMIES. Who were:

 

Ø      Malignant. “Hated me.” There was not only opposition and contest, but

personal hatred. Many of the Christian’s foes have this quality in a high

degree (John 17:14), notably their great leader and chief, Satan

(equivalent to “adversary,” I Peter 5:8).

 

Ø      Powerful. “My strong enemy… too strong for me.” In physical strength,

or military, or in numbers. David may have had in view such instances as

those recorded in chps. 8:3-5 and 21:15-17. The Christian’s foes

also are “powers” (Ephesians 6:12). Wherein consists the power of the

enemies of the righteous?

o        Their inherent vigor;

o        their adaptation to our lower nature;

o        their number.

Ø      Subtle. “They prevented me in the day of my calamity.” They rushed

upon him unexpectedly, when he was enfeebled by calamity, and poorly

prepared for them. David may be thinking of the attack of the Syrians of

Damascus, while he and his army were engaged with Hadadezer or

exhausted by the contest with him (ch. 8:5); or of the assault of

the giant Ishbi-benob, while he was faint from fighting against the

Philistines (ch. 21:15-16). Thus, also, the Christian’s foes often

surprise him when he is preoccupied or distressed by troubles. The day of

calamity is a day of spiritual danger.

Ø      In a measure successful. So that he became as a man struggling for life

in “great waters” (compare vs. 5-6). It seemed as if he must be swallowed

up. Thus, also, the enemies of the Christian may do him much mischief,

temporal and even spiritual; but there is a limit to their power. “For the

eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show

Himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward Him”

(II Chronicles 16:9).

 

  • THE DELIVERER. Jehovah, the Almighty, whose glorious

interposition on behalf of His servant, in answer to his cry of distress, is

described in the previous verses. They set forth:

 

Ø      His awful majesty.

Ø      His power over all the forces of nature.

Ø      The intensity of his interest in His troubled servants. How He rouses

Himself, as it were, for the rescue of those in whom He delights (v. 20).

Ø      His anger against their enemies. (vs. 8-9.) With such a Friend, who

can neither be surprised, evaded, or resisted, the righteous need not

dread the might of any adversary, nor despair of deliverance from

 the direst troubles.

 

  • THE DELIVERANCE.  God:

 

Ø      Supported him in his perils. “The Lord was my Stay.”

Ø      He saved him from them. “He stretched forth His hand from on high;

He laid hold of me; He drew me out of great waters; He delivered me,” etc.

God’s hand can reach His servants in the lowest depths of trouble, and is

strong to rescue them from the strongest of their foes.

Ø      He brought him into a condition of freedom and safety. “Into a large

place,” a broad, open space, where no “cords of Sheol,” or “snares of

death (v. 6, Revised Version), would embarrass or endanger him;

where he could move about with perfect freedom, and yet perfect security.

Such help from on high is realized by God’s people in this world; perfectly

when the hand of their God lays hold of them and raises them from earth

to heaven.

 

  • THE PRAISE. (See homilies on vs. 2-4, 4, and 7.) The perfections

and acts of Jehovah are of such a nature that to merely recite them is

TO PRAISE HIM!   We should acquaint ourselves as fully as possible with

HIS EXCELLENCES AND HIS WORKS, that we may better praise Him

by declaring them; but our own experience of His power and goodness will

give us the liveliest apprehension of them, and stimulate us to the most

ardent praise.

 

21 "The LORD rewarded me according to my righteousness: according

to the cleanness of my hands hath He recompensed me.  22 For I have kept

the ways of the LORD, and have not wickedly departed from my God.

23 For all His judgments were before me: and as for His statutes, I did

not depart from them.  24 I was also upright before Him, and have kept

myself from mine iniquity.  25 Therefore the LORD hath recompensed me

according to my righteousness; according to my cleanness in His eye sight."

 

“Jehovah hath requited me according to my righteousness,

According to the cleanness of my hands hath He recompensed me.

For I have kept the ways of Jehovah,

And sinned not so as to depart from my God.

For all His judgments have been kept in sight,

And from His statutes I have not departed.

I was also perfect towards Him,

And was on my guard against my sin.

Therefore hath Jehovah recompensed me according to my righteousness,

According to my cleanness in His eyesight.”

 

It is impossible to suppose that these verses could have been written after

David’s fall. For while he acknowledges in them a tendency to sin, he

affirms that he had been on his guard against it, and that he had ever kept

God’s statutes present before his view. However complete may be the

penitent’s recovery, yet can he never again be “perfect,” the word applied

to an animal without blemish, and therefore fit for sacrifice. The crime

remains a blemish, even though the intense sorrow for the sin may make it

the means of even attaining to a higher stage of spirituality and devotion. In

v. 22 the words literally are, “I have not sinned away from God, sin

necessarily removing the sinner away from that nearness to God which is

the privilege of the saint.

 

 

God Rewarding the Righteous (vs. 21-25)

 

“He delivered me because He delighted in me,” the psalmist had just said.

The reasons of the Divine delight in him, and his consequent deliverance,

are given in these verses. They at first startle us, as inconsistent with the

humility which is part of the character of a godly man, and as peculiarly

unsuitable in the mouth of one who had been guilty of adultery and murder.

The latter part of the difficulty is removed if, as is most probable, the psalm

belongs to the earlier period of David’s reign, before his commission of

those grievous sins. As to the former, we should hardly find the Apostle

Paul writing in this strain; but rather referring all his successes to the

exceeding grace of God (see I Corinthians 15:9-10). His

consciousness of sin in general, and of his special guilt on account of his

persecution of Christians, prevented everything that savored of boasting,

at least before God. But even he, in appealing to men, did not shrink from

reciting his excellences and devoted labors (see II Corinthians 1:12; 6:3-10;

11:5-31), though ready to call himself a “fool” for recounting them.

And, after all, the truth that God does reward the righteous according to

their righteousness is as much a doctrine of the New Testament as of the

Old; and there are occasions when Christians may fittingly recognize and

declare that the favor God is showing them is according to their

righteousness; although the deeper consciousness of sin, and of entire

dependence on the mercy of God, which is awakened by the revelations of

the gospel, makes the Christian more reluctant to mention his virtues as a

reason for the kindness of God to him. As the meritorious ground of such

kindness, David would have been as far as Paul from regarding them.

Notice:

 

  • THE PSALMIST’S CHARACTER. This he describes by various words

and phrases, which only in part differ from each other.

 

Ø      Righteousness. Uprightness, rectitude, moral and spiritual goodness in

general.

Ø      Cleanness of hands. Hands free from the stain of innocent blood, of

filthy lucre,” etc.

Ø      Observance of God’s ways. The ways He prescribes of thought, feeling,

speech, and action. These are inquired after and followed by the good man.

Ø      Adherence to God. “Have not wickedly departed from my God” — from

His presence, worship, the ways He prescribes, and in which He is to be

found. Some degree of turning from God at times, every one who knows

himself will be conscious of; but “wickedly” to depart from him, to do so

consciously, deliberately, persistently, this is apostasy, the very opposite of

godliness and righteousness. The Christian will esteem the slightest

deviation from God as wicked; but he justly recalls his perseverance in the

habits of piety and holiness, in spite of all temptations, with thankfulness.

Ø      Mindfulness of His Word, and persevering obedience to it. God’s Word

is “His statutes,” what He has determined and appointed, and “His

judgments,” what He declares and prescribes as just and right. These the

psalmist “kept before” him, and from them he “did not depart.” And his

attention and obedience to them were universal — they extended to “all”

of them. One necessary quality of a true obedience. “Then shall I not be

ashamed when I have respect unto all thy commandments” (Psalm

119:6).

Ø      Uprightness before God. With regard both to Him and to men.

Ø      Avoidance of the besetting sin. “I have kept myself from mine iniquity.”

There is a particular sin to which each is specially prone (besetting sin).

To keep one’s self from that, by watchfulness, prayer, and resolute resistance,

is special evidence of genuine piety.

8. Purity of life in general. “My cleanness,” and that “in his eyesight,” a

very different thing from being pure in the eyes of men. Includes purity of

heart as well as conduct, such as is so true and genuine as to bear the

Divine inspection.

 

  • THE PSALMIST’S RECOMPENSE. In his preservation and

deliverance from so many perils and enemies, he recognized the Divine

reward of his righteousness, the Divine reply to the calumnies of his

enemies, the Divine attestation of his innocence.

 

Ø      There is a real righteousness in the character of godly men. By this they

are essentially distinguished from others. It is not a mere difference of

taste.

Ø      The Divine recompense of such righteousness is certain. On account of:

o        The character of God. “The righteous Lord loveth righteousness”

(Psalm 11:7).

o        His relation to the righteous. As their Father, etc.

o        His promises.

o        His almighty power. He is able to do all that is suitable to His nature,

and that He has bound Himself to do by His Word.

Ø      Those who receive such recompense should recognize and acknowledge

it. The righteous do continually receive recompense for their righteousness;

rewards, both spiritual, material, and social. But sometimes the happy

results of their piety are very manifest, and then they should be specially

noticed.

o        To the glory of God. Praising Him and inciting others to praise Him.

o        For encouragement of themselves and their brethren. Increasing their

faith, and strengthening their determination to continue in their chosen

course, and their assurance of ultimate, complete recognition and reward.

For the whole reward is not yet. “Great is your reward in heaven”

(Matthew 5:12); but on earth the “guerdon” may be

 

“Many a sorrow, many a labor,

Many a tear.”

 

Finally, in the Lord Jesus Christ we have the perfect Example of

righteousness and its recompense; how it may be tried, and how sure

is its reward. In Him, too, we behold the Source of righteousness for

us, and the Pledge of its ultimate triumph.

 

 

Self Preservation (v. 24; Psalm 18:23)

 

“I kept myself from mine iniquity” (perversion, distortion, departure from

the line of truth and rectitude). The life of a good man is a conflict (ch.10:12).

“A man will never persevere in the practice of uprightness and godliness,

unless he carefully keep himself from his inquiry” (Calvin).

His self-preservation:

 

  • IMPLIES EXPOSURE TO A DANGEROUS ENEMY.

 

Ø      There is none greater than sin. Every other evil is slight compared with

it.

Ø      Each man has “his besetting sin.” “I kept myself,” not merely against

iniquity becoming my own, but against the iniquity which lies near to

me, and to which I am specially liable from my constitution or condition

(I Samuel 24:5). A traitor within the fortress is a more dangerous foe

than any other.

Ø      It besets him at all times, in all places, and by manifold “devices.”

Ø      To be overcome by it is inexpressibly disastrous.

 

  • REQUIRES THE ADOPTION OF PROPER METHODS.

 

Ø      Due consideration of the danger. To be forewarned is to be forearmed.

Ø      Constant and resolute vigilance against the first approaches of the enemy

(Hebrews 3:13).

Ø      The habitual practice of self-restraint and self-denial.  “Where there is

no restraint, the people perish!”  (Proverbs 29:18)  (This will be one

of the problems at the end of time – “incontinence” – II Timothy 3:3 –

CY – 2018)

Ø      The daily exercise of the virtues and graces that are most opposite to the

sins to which he is disposed (Galatians 5:16).

Ø      Familiar acquaintance with the Word or God (Ephesians 6:13-17).

Ø      Continual looking unto God for His effectual aid. “Kept [guarded]

by the power of God through faith,” etc. (I Peter 1:5).

Ø      Unceasing prayer. “Keep yourselves in the love of God” (Jude 1:21);

“Keep yourselves from idols” (I John 5:21).

 

  • DESERVES TO BE SOUGHT WITH THE UTMOST EARNESTNESS,

because of the advantages by which it is attended.

 

Ø      An assurance of personal sincerity (I John 5:18; Hebrews 3:14).

“The careful abstaining from our own iniquity is one of the best

evidences of our own integrity; and the testimony of our conscience

that we have done so will be such a rejoicing as will not only lessen

the grief of an afflicted, state, but increase the comfort of an advanced

state” (Matthew Henry).

Ø      An experience of Divine help, of which it is indispensable.

Ø      An increase of moral strength.

Ø      A preparation for future victories. “To mortify and conquer our own

appetites is more praiseworthy than to storm strong cities, to defeat

mighty armies, work miracles, or raise the dead” (Scupoli).

                        “...he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city.”  (Proverbs 16:32)

 

26 "With the merciful thou wilt shew thyself merciful, and with the

upright man thou wilt shew thyself upright.  27 With the pure thou wilt

shew thyself pure; and with the forward thou wilt shew thyself unsavory.

28 And the afflicted people thou wilt save: but thine eyes are upon the

haughty, that thou mayest bring them down."

 

 “With the pious man thou wilt show thyself pious;

With the perfect man thou wilt show thyself perfect;

With the pure thou wilt show thyself pure;

And with the crooked thou wilt show thyself perverse.

And the afflicted people thou wilt save;

And thine eyes are upon the haughty, to bring them down.”

 

Having affirmed his integrity, and that God therefore had pleasure in him

and rewarded him, David now asserts that this is the unfailing rule of

God’s dealings with men. The general current of their lives is so ordered as

to be in harmony with their characters. It is not by luck or good fortune

that prosperity attends the righteous, nor is it by chance that things go

awry with the fraudulent, but it is by the law of God’s providence. Pious.

The Hebrew word means “pious” in the original sense of the word, which

includes kindness to men as well as love to God. Perverse. In the

Authorized Version unsavoury.” Really it is the same word as that used in

Psalm 18:26, and signifies “thou wilt make thyself twisted,” only the

form is archaic, as is the case with some other words here. Experience

confirms the psalmist’s verdict. For constantly a strange perversity of

fortune and an untowardness of events are the lot of those whose hearts

are crooked. Afflicted. The word in the original includes the idea of

humility, and so leads naturally on to the thought of the abasement of the

proud. In the psalm the somewhat harsh expression used here has been

softened into the more easy phrase, “The haughty eyes thou wilt bring

down.”

 

 

Correspondence between the Character of Men

and

         the Conduct of God towards Them

                            (vs. 26-27)

 

The psalmist, having spoken of God’s treatment of himself according to his

righteousness, now shows that his case was no exception to the general

rule of the Divine proceedings, but an illustration of it; that, universally,

God renders to men according to their character and works.

 

  • THE MERCIFUL EXPERIENCE HIS MERCY. Our Lord declares the

same truth, when he says, “Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain

mercy (Matthew 5:7); and when He declares, “If ye forgive men their

trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you” (ibid. 6:14);

and teaches us to pray, “Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven

our debtors” (ibid. v.12, Revised Version). But how does this consist

with the doctrine of justification by faith? It must be in harmony with it,

since both are Divine. If it do not accord with some human statements of

the doctrine, it must be because these are erroneous or defective. Faith is

not a mere assent to the truth, or reliance on the atonement of Christ and

the mercy of God in Him; but it involves acceptance of Christ as Teacher

and Lord as well as Redeemer, and therefore a willing obedience to His

instructions, of which part is that we should be forgiving, and that only

those who are shall be forgiven — only the merciful shall find mercy.

Moreover, faith in the love of God in Christ works love in the heart; a faith

which does not is of no avail. From another point of view, “repentance

toward God” is as essential to salvation as “faith toward our Lord Jesus

Christ” (Acts 20:21), and will be produced by it. It is vain, therefore,

for the unmerciful to trust in the mercy of God, or to cry to Him for mercy;

His mercy is shown only to the merciful. But to them it is shown; and that

not only:

Ø      in the forgiveness of their sins, but

Ø      in the bestowment of all needful blessings.

They also should bear in mind that their enjoyment of the

love of God will be in proportion to the love which they cherish and

display; and that every degree of selfishness will deprive them of some

blessing.

 

  • THE UPRIGHT EXPERIENCE GOD’S UPRIGHTNESS. He is

essentially upright, just, faithful; but the happy experience of His

uprightness is for those who “walk uprightly” (Psalm 84:11) — those

who are sincere and true hearted towards God and men. To these He will

show Hmself upright by manifesting to them His favor, and fulfilling to

them all His promises (compare Psalm 92:12-15); while to others He will

show the same quality by the execution of His threatenings.

 

  • THE PURE EXPERIENCE HIS PURITY. “Blessed are the pure in

heart: for they shall see God” (Matthew 5:8).

 

Ø      Genuine Christians are holy. Truly so, though not perfectly. They have

been cleansed by the Word and Spirit of God, and “the blood of Jesus

Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin.” (I John 1:7). They have turned

from sin, and it is their abhorrence. They watch and pray against it; and,

when they fall into it, mourn with sincere grief. They cherish purity of heart,

lip, and life. They desire and strive after perfect holiness.

 

Ø      To such God shows Himself holy.

 

o        He reveals to them His holiness. They are capable of such a revelation,

because of their purity of heart. Sin blinds the soul, incapacitating it

from discerning and appreciating THE HOLY!

o        He acts towards them holily. He requires holiness of them, and works

it in them. All His dealings with them are in accordance with holiness,

and have for their end to promote their sanctification. Hence he does

not indulge his children, but, when necessary, afflicts them, that they

may become more and more “partakers of His holiness” (Hebrews

12:10).  He will not be satisfied until they perfectly reflect His image,

and He can “present them holy and unblameable and unreproveable

in His sight” (Colossians 1:22).

 

  • THE FROWARD FIND HIM FROWARD.

 

Ø      Sinners are froward. They are perverse, unreasonable, ungovernable,

impracticable. They show this in their feeling and conduct towards God,

His Word and ways. They will not submit to His instructions or obey His

commands. They “walk contrary unto” Him (Leviticus 26:21), and do the

opposite to that which He enjoins.

 

Ø      To them God shows Himself froward. It is a bold expression, and

therefore, perhaps, the translators of this book softened it into

unsavonry,” or distasteful. But the same word is rightly translated in

Psalm 18:26, froward.” The meaning is clear. God acts as if perverse

towards the perverse. As they will not pay regard to His will, He will not to

their desires and prayers. As they oppose Him, He opposes them, thwarts

their purposes, disappoints their hopes. As they “walk contrary unto” Him,

He “will also walk contrary unto” them (Leviticus 26:24). It is a

universal truth, discernible:

 

o        In nature. If we would have nature work good to us, we must learn

and obey its laws. If we will not, they will work us harm.

o        In the affairs of life — in business and association with men. If we will

not ascertain and live according to the laws which should regulate our

conduct, they will avenge themselves, inflicting pain, loss, perhaps

utter ruin.

o        In respect to religion and salvation. These originate in the

benevolent will of God; and if we would experience their benefits,

we must have humble and obedient regard to THAT WILL!  We

must ask of Him, “What must I do to be saved?” (Acts 16:30) and

“What wilt thou have me to do?” (ibid.  9:6)  If we choose

to reject the Divine revelations and requirements, and in pride and

perversity take a course opposed to them, the Almighty will not alter

His plans to please us, but will bring upon us the just consequences

of our frowardness.  He will appear froward to the froward, in that,

when they call upon Him, He will not answer; when they seek him

early, they shall not find Him (see Proverbs 1:24-29). It is vain and

foolish for man to assert his own proud, capricious will; he will

find that there is another and stronger will, that will assert itself to

his discomfiture and destruction, UNLESS HE REPENT!

 

 

Divine Rectitude (vs. 26-28; Psalm 18:25-27)

 

Consider the righteousness of God as it appears in:

 

1. The supreme importance which He attaches to moral distinctions

amongst men. Such distinctions are often made light of in comparison with

wisdom, might, and riches (Jeremiah 9:23-24); and those who possess the

latter despise and trample upon the ignorant, the weak, and the poor (v. 27).

But God has chiefly respect to men in their moral attitude toward

Himself, their relation to the law of right, their personal character (I Samuel 2:30).

With Him the great distinction is that between the righteous and the wicked

(Psalm 34:15-16). Whilst His infinite greatness dwarfs earthly power and

honor into insignificance, His perfect righteousness exalts moral worth

beyond measure.

 

2. The different treatment which He adopts toward men of different

character. In Himself HE IS ALWAYS THE SAME (I Samuel 15:29;

“Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and for ever.” Hebrews 13:8);

but the aspect which His character and dealings assume toward them is determined

by their own character and conduct, and is the necessary manifestation of

His unchangeable rectitude — on the one hand, toward the “loving,” etc.,

full of love (all that is kind, desirable, and excellent); on the other, toward

the “perverse,” perverse (contrary, antagonistic, “as an enemy,”

Lamentations 2:5; Leviticus 26:23-24; Hosea 2:6), inflicting

severe chastisement. “There is a higher law of grace, whereby the

sinfulness of man but draws forth the tenderness of a father’s pardoning

pity; and the brightest revelation of His love is made to froward prodigals.

But this is not the psalmist’s view here, nor does it interfere with the law of

retribution in its own sphere” (Maclaren).

 

3. The signal change which he makes in their relative positions:

 

a.      saving and exalting the oppressed and afflicted, and

b.      humbling the proud oppressor;

 

His purpose therein being to vindicate, honor, and promote

righteousness, and to restrain, correct, and put an end to iniquity

(I Samuel 2:8,10). “What is God doing now?” it was asked of Rabbi Jose,

and the reply was, “He makes ladders on which he causes the poor to

ascend and the rich to descend” (The Midrash).

 

 

 

God Observing and Humbling the Proud (v. 28)

 

Thine eyes are upon the haughty, that thou mayest bring them down.” The

mention of “afflicted people” in the first clause of this verse renders it

probable that the psalmist, in the second, referred to proud oppressors who

had afflicted them. But the words express a general truth.

 

  • GOD’S OBSERVATION OF THE PROUD. “His eyes are upon the

haughty.”

 

Ø      He sees them; knows who they are, distinguishes them from others,

overlooks none of them.

Ø      He sees through them, with those piercing eyes of His, that search the

hearts of men. However they may conceal or disguise their pride before

men, they cannot before Him.

Ø      HE NOTICES all the exercises and manifestations of their pride.

o        Their self-complacency and self-laudation;

o        their contempt of others,

o        their insolence,

o        their injustice,

o        their oppression of the meek and humble,

o        their self-assertion as towards Him,

o        their resistance and unsubmissiveness, etc.;

all is open to His view; and He notes all for remembrance exposure, and

punishment. If the proud did but realize that the eyes of the Infinite One

were upon them, how ridiculous would their pride soon appear to

themselves! how unbecoming and contemptible as well as impious! How

would the things on which they pride themselves:

o        their strength,

o        intellect,

o        knowledge,

o        wealth,

o        honors,

o        mastery of men,

o        virtues, etc.,

SHRIVEL INTO INSIGNIFICANCE  as they looked upon them with

the consciousness that God was looking on!

Ø      He keeps them ever in sight. So that nothing can escape His view, and

they cannot elude Him or do anything to the real injury of His servants.

 

  • HIS HUMILIATION OF THEM. At the right time and in the most

effectual way. Jesus said, “Every one that exalteth himself shall be abased”

(Luke 18:14).

 

Ø      Jehovah sometimes brings down the haughty from the position which

fosters or displays their pride. He may deprive them of that on which they

pride themselves — their property, mental vigor, physical strength,

reputation (by permitting them to fall into some disgraceful sin, or

otherwise), power over others. He may bring reverses upon them in the full

career of their prosperity or enterprises; snatch from them the coveted

prize just as they are about to grasp it; rescue the humble victims of their

oppressions. While reducing them to a lower level, he may exalt above

them some whom they have despised. In the height of their glory he may

strike them suddenly down:

o        Pharaoh,

o        Sennacherib,

o        Nebuchadnezzar,

o        Haman,

o        Herod,

are all illustrations of the humbling which God may administer to the

haughty. In every case of impenitent pride terrible humiliation comes

at death and judgment.

Ø      He sometimes brings the proud down in their own esteem — humbles

their spirit. This may be by such methods as have just been referred to; and

the spirit may be humbled without being really changed. But the happiest

humiliation is that which is wrought in the heart by the Word and Spirit of

God, aided by such methods or apart from them. The man thus affected

comes to see his true position as a creature and a sinner. He discerns and

recognizes his entire dependence on God; that whatever he has he has

received (I Corinthians 4:7). He perceives and acknowledges the sin

and folly of his pride, humbles himself before God on account of it, casts

himself on His mercy, gladly accepts pardon and salvation as a free gift of

God’s grace in Christ Jesus; and thus receives a better exaltation than ever

he had known or imagined before. Happy those haughty ones whom God

thus brings down!

 

Then, eschew pride; and “be clothed with humility” (I Peter 5:5-6).  This grace may

best be learned at the cross of Christ. There we see our condition of evil and peril

as sinners, our

entire dependence for salvation on THE MERCY OF GOD and THE MERITS

OF HIS SON and our equality in respect to sin and salvation with the meanest

of those we are tempted to despise.  There also we have presented to our

contemplation the noblest model of humility and self-humiliation

JESUS CHRIST THE RIGHTEOUS!  (Philippians 2:5-8).

 

29 "For thou art my lamp, O LORD: and the LORD will lighten my darkness. 

30 For by thee I have run through a troop: by my God have I leaped over a wall.

31 As for God, His way is perfect; the word of the LORD is tried: He is

a buckler to all them that trust in Him."

 

“For thou, Jehovah, art my Lamp;

And Jehovah will make my darkness light.

For by thee do I run upon a troop;

In my God I leap over a wall.

God — His way is perfect;

The word of Jehovah is purified.

He is a Shield to all that trust in Him.”

 

Lamp. The lamp burning in the house is the proof of life and activity

present there; and thus the extinguishing of the lamp means ruin and

desolation (Job 21:17). So David is called “the lamp of Israel” (ch. 21:17),

because the active life of the nation centred in him. In a still

higher sense the life and being of His people centers in God, and without

Him the soul is waste and void, like the universe before God said, “Let

there be light.” I run. To the warrior in old time speed was as important as

strength, and thus Homer constantly calls Achilles “fleet of foot.” It was

his fleetness which gave Asahel a high place among the mighties (ch. 2:18),

and to this quality David now refers. The troop signifies a

light armed band of marauders, whom with God’s aid David could

overtake, and stop in their course of rapine. The wall means fortifications

like those of Jerusalem (ch. 5:7). Sieges were tedious affairs in

old time, but David had captured that city with a rapidity so great that the

metaphor in the text is most appropriate. Purified; or, refined. This does

not mean that it is proved by experience and found true, but that it is

absolutely good and perfect like refined gold (Psalm 12:6).

 

 

God the Lamp of His People (v. 29)

 

The image of a lamp seems at first too humble to be employed of God.

“The Lord God is a Sun” (Psalm 84:11) appears more suitable for One

so great, who is the Light of the universe. Still, the humbler and homelier

image is expressive. A lamp is of service where the sun is of none — in

mines, dark cellars and dungeons, etc. Its light is more readily commanded

and appropriated. We can say, “My lamp,” we cannot so well say, “My

sun.” And so this image may convey to us more readily how God is a Light

in the darkest places and obscurest recesses; available to each for his own

particular needs and for the humblest uses of daily life. But the distinction

need not and should not be pressed. The word is an image of light.

 

  • A FACT STATED. “Thou art my Lamp, O Lord.”

 

Ø      He shines as a bright lamp.

 

o        He is Light without darkness (I John 1:5); essential, independent,

unchangeable, and eternal Light. Not needing to be or capable of

being replenished, as all other lamps, literal or figurative.

o        He shines pre-eminently in His Son Jesus Christ.

o        In and by His Word — its declarations, precepts, promises,

threatenings. “The commandment is a lamp, and the Law is light”

(Proverbs 6:23).

o        By His Spirit, in the reason, conscience, and heart of man. Thus “the

spirit of man is the lamp of the Lord” (Proverbs 20:27, Revised

Version).

o        In and by His people. He so shines on them as to make them lights.

 

Ø      He thus fulfils the various purposes of a lamp.

 

o        Revealing. Himself, and in His light all other persons and things in their

true nature and relations to him and each other (compare Ephesians

5:13).  Bringing into view what had been hidden in the heart, etc., by

the darkness.

o        Guiding. In the way that is right and safe, and leads to salvation

(Psalm 119:105). He thus gives “the light of life” (John 8:12).

o        Cheering (Psalm 4:6-7; 97:11; compare Esther 8:16).

 

Ø      He is a lamp to each believer. “My Lamp.” Similarly,” The Lord is my

Light” (Psalm 27:1). The godly man accepts the Divine light,

uses  it in practical life, enjoys the comfort of it. Others reject it, and

wander and stumble on in darkness.

 

  • AN ASSURANCE CHERISHED. The Lord will lighten my

darkness.” From his knowledge of God and his promises, and his past

experience, the psalmist felt assured that whatever darkness might come

upon him, God would be his light in and through it, yea, would turn the

darkness into light. Such an assurance may be cherished by all the people

of God. He will lighten the darkness which may arise from:

 

Ø      Perplexity. As to Divine truth and as to the path of duty.

Ø      Sin. The memory of sins long past or recent; the consciousness of

proneness to evil.

Ø      Spiritual gloom. When the lights of heaven seem blotted out, and God

seems Himself to have deserted the soul (Psalm 22:1-2; 42:1-11).

Ø      Troubles. Afflictions of body; bereavements, making dark the home;

unkindness or unfaithfulness of friends; worldly losses. When all other

lights go out, and leave in gloom, GOD REMAINS THE LIGHT

of His friends, and will in due time lighten their darkness.

Let all, then, accept this glorious Lamp for their guidance and comfort.

How blessed the world of which it is said, “There shall be no night

there…for the Lord God giveth them light;” and again, “The glory

of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the Light thereof” (Revelation

22:5; 21:23)!

 

 

God’s Righteousness in Saving the Righteous (vs. 20-30)

 

The Facts are:

 

1. David states that, in delivering him from his enemies, God recognized

his uprightness and purity.

2. He affirms that, as a matter of fact, he had in his conduct endeavored

to live according to the will of God.

3. He declares the general truth that, in thus rescuing him the upright, and

showing disfavor to the perverse persecutor, there was exemplified the

principle of the usual Divine procedure.

4. He ascribes the successes of the past, not to himself, however upright,

but to God, his Light in darkness and his Strength for deeds of daring.

There is, in David’s references to his own righteousness and purity, an

appearance of what is now called, self-righteousness. He seems to violate

the primary canons of Christian propriety and to establish a doctrine of

merit. But this interpretation of his words is an utter misconception of his

meaning, and proceeds from an ignorance of the historical circumstances

he had in mind when penning the words. It is a wrong done to personal

experiences of the Old Testament to approach their interpretation with

certain prepossessions based on New Testament teaching with reference to

our personal unworthiness before God on account of our essential

sinfulness. David was not speaking of his state absolutely before God; he

was not thinking of the question as to whether he or any one else was a

sinner. His sole thought was of the distinct charges brought against him by

such men as Doeg the Edomite, and believed by the foolish king Saul; and

he was conscious that his being hunted by Saul was a grievous wrong, a

treatment he did not deserve. He was the righteous man, for he loved Saul,

showed him kindness, and paid him honor; Saul and Doeg and others in

the conspiracy were the unrighteous men, uttering falsehoods, using

cruelty, and cherishing malice. God came as Judge between them, and by

interposition showed His delight in what His servant had been and done in

this particular matter, and His displeasure with Saul for his wicked conduct.

He vindicates the gracious interposition of God on the ground that it is a

righteous and glorious thing on the part of God to rescue those who suffer

unrighteously, and to declare, by His rescue of them, His delight in them as

compared with the men who cause their sufferings (compare I Samuel 21:7;

22:9-13, 18-23; 24:7-15; 26:10-20). The vindication and illustration of

God’s righteousness in saving His people may be considered as follows.

 

  • THERE ARE SPECIAL INSTANCES IN WHICH IT MAY BE SAID

THAT GOD SAVES THE RIGHTEOUS. In ordinary speech we say that

God saves sinners. That is true in the sense that all men saved, whether

temporally or spiritually, are, in their relation to Him, sinful, or

transgressors of the Law. But in relation to others and in relation to

specific obligations which He may impose on them, they may be relatively

righteous, and His saving them may be because they are so. Thus:

 

Ø      Those who are righteous in life, as compared with others, are saved

from calamity and suffering. Noah was a righteous man, and therefore

was spared, while the Flood carried away the wicked. Lot was a

righteous man in comparison with the Sodomites, and therefore was

delivered by Divine pressure put upon him from the destruction which

befell the rest. Some of the better Churches in Asia were not doomed to

the woe that was to come on others, because God “knew their works”

(Revelation chps 2 and 3). The more holy and devoted to Christ we are,

and the more minutely our lives are regulated by the laws of God as

written in His Word and works, and in our own mental and physical

nature, the more shall we be saved from woes that come upon others

who violate laws physical, moral, and spiritual.

 

Ø      Those who suffer as being unrighteous, when all the time they are not

so. This was the case of David, who was persecuted most bitterly by

Saul on the ground that he hated his king and sought his life, when all

the time he loved his king and guarded his life. It was as a righteous man

in this particular that God saved him from distress. The same was true of

Joseph in prison; of the Apostles Peter and Paul; yea, of our Saviour

Himself. And still does God save His people from the reproach and

sorrow brought on them by being represented as being other than

they really are (Matthew 5:11-12; I Peter 4:14-17).

 

Ø      Those who conform to the gospel law of salvation. Before God all are

sinners, and condemned by their own consciences as also by the broken

Law. But Christ has made full atonement for sin, and now therefore

God, in His sovereign grace, has laid down a new law for us to keep,

based upon his acceptance of Christ’s perfect work, namely, that we

exercise faith in Christ as our atoning Saviour. We are not to try and

keep the Decalogue as a condition of being accepted; we cannot attain

to the righteousness of the moral Law. We are not to plead the value

of repentance and a future life better than the past; all that is indefinite,

uncertain. But we are simply to have faith in Christ as set forth in the

gospel, that is all that God requires for our acceptance; that is the

newly created law, the sum of all obligations in reference to obtaining

justification before God. In other words, we are to attain to the

“righteousness of faith,” the righteousness which consists in

fulfilling the obligation created by gospel grace, and then there is no

condemnation: we walk then as freed sons in the glorious liberty of

the children of God.

 

  • IN ALL THESE INSTANCES IT IS CONSONANT WITH GOD’S

NATURE TO SAVE THE RIGHTEOUS. God’s treatment of Noah and

Lot, and of all who keep His truth in the midst of prevailing degeneracy,

marks His distinction of character on the basis of goodness. It is the Divine

nature to love the good and hate the evil tendencies of men. When the

persecuted are delivered, there is a vindication of character and a

repressing of wrong which cannot but accord with God’s natural love of

justice. When He graciously accepts us on the condition that we have

fulfilled all that He requires under the gospel order, and in our justification

recognizes the “righteousness of faith” (Romans 3:25-28; 4:5-6, 11, 13),

He, accepting that kind of righteousness, that fulfillment of all

obligation, maintains the honor of the violated Law under which we had

lived, and glorifies the sacrificial work of his beloved Son. There is

therefore nothing arbitrary in the “law of faith.”

 

  • THESE SPECIAL INSTANCES OF SALVATION ARE IN

ACCORD WITH THE GENERAL PRINCIPLE OF GOD’S

GOVERNMENT. David was quite warranted in saying that when God, in

the matter of the deliverance from the persecutions of Saul, recompensed

him according to his righteousness (v. 25), he was simply acting in

harmony with his general kindness to the merciful and upright, and His

stern and repressive ways of providence toward the perverse (vs. 26-27).

The actual laws revealed in the Decalogue, in the civil institutions of

Moses, in the precepts of the New Testament, in the constitution of the

physical and mental worlds, all go for the good and against the wicked,

whatever be the form or degree of the goodness or wickedness. It may be

that, for reasons not yet made clear, the wicked triumph for a while and the

righteous cry out in agony, “O Lord, how long!” but God’s government is

vast, intricate, and stretching far into the future, and there are forces at

work by which at last the righteous shall be exalted and the wicked abased

(Psalm 5:4-6, 11-12; 37:6-7, 23-40).

 

  • THOSE WHO ARE SAVED BY GOD ON THE GROUND OF

RIGHTEOUSNESS LAY NO CLAIM TO MERIT. The object of David

in this passage is not to proclaim his own deeds and claim a right to God’s

favor, but rather to set forth the righteousness and goodness of God in

saving those who conform to His will. He had kept the ways, the statutes,

and the judgments of God (vs. 23-24) in respect to his behavior toward

Saul, — he could honestly say that; and he considers it a matter of praise

and glory to God that He manifested His love of what is just in coming to

the rescue of such a one. To have allowed Saul to triumph would have

been a reflection on Divine justice. In all this, therefore, there is no

reference to merit in the sight of God, any more than Noah felt that he

merited God’s favor. It was in neither case a question of the desert of the

entire life, but of the state of the life in relation to other men. So in our

personal salvation through faith, THERE IS NO CLAIM OF MERIT!

IT IS ALL OF GRACE!  The “law of faith” is the creation of grace,

and the heart to conform to it is of grace. The light in which we see

spiritual things, and in which we rejoice, is not our own. The Lord is our

Lamp, and He lightens our darkness (v. 29). If we are able to break

through troops of spiritual foes, and leap over walls (v. 30) that hem us in,

it is not because of our strength; IT IS ONLY BY OUR GOD who of

His free mercy supplies all our need.

 

 

 

God’s Way, Word, and Defense  

      (v. 31; Psalm 18:30)

 

“I can overcome all opposition in and with my God” (v. 30); for:

 

1. His way is perfect. His providential dealings, especially in leading His

servant forward in the conflict. Although oft times mysterious and different

from what might have been expected, it is marked by perfect rectitude,

perfect wisdom, perfect love; and is exactly adapted to effect His holy and

beneficent purposes (Job 23:8-10; Psalm 77:19; 97:2).

 

2. His Word is tried (purified as silver and gold, without dross, and very

precious). It is the chief means of preparation, instruction and help; “the

sword of the Spirit.” Its declarations are true, its directions good, its

promises faithful (Proverbs 30:5; Psalm 12:6-8). The more it is

tested, whether by friends or foes, by examination or experience, the more

it proves itself to be indeed the Word of God, and of unspeakable worth.

“There is none like that; give it me” (I Samuel 21:9).

 

3. His defence is sure; Himself effectuating His Word, and being “a Shield

to all that trust in him,” affording:

a.      certain,

b.      constant, and

c.       complete protection.

Faith is the bond of union between men and God, the “taking

hold of his strength,” a necessary means of defense, and hence often called

a shield (Ephesians 6:16; Hebrews 10:35); but it is God Himself

who is such in the highest sense (Jeremiah 51:20; Deuteronomy 33:29;

Psalm 5:12). HE IS GOD ALONE! (v. 32); the absolute,

incomparable, perfect One; worthy to be trusted and praised (v. 4).

 

 

 

Perfection of God’s Way and Word (v. 31)

 

These words may be regarded as a brief summary of the lessons which

David had learned from his varied experiences and meditations. They are

the perfection of God’s way, the unmixed truth of His Word, and the safety

of all who flee to Him for protection.

 

  • THE PERFECTION OF GOD’S WAY. “His way is perfect.” This is

true of all His proceedings, in every department of His operations. His ways

in nature are to a large extent inscrutable; but we are sure they are infinitely

wise and good. His method of redeeming and saving sinners is PERFECT!

But here the reference is rather to the course of His providence — the way in

which He leads, governs, protects, and delivers His servants.

 

Ø      The meaning of the assertion. That God’s way is perfectly wise and

good and holy, perfectly adapted to fulfill the purposes of His love towards

His children, and leads to an end that is perfectly good. That, in comparison

with the way we might have preferred, it is infinitely superior.

 

Ø      The grounds of the assertion. It expresses a conviction which springs

from:

 

o        Reason. Because God is perfect, His way must be. Perfect Wisdom

and Goodness cannot err; unbounded power carries into effect the

determinations of perfect Wisdom and Goodness.

o        Revelation. Holy Writ is in most cases our first source of knowledge as

to God and His ways; and it abounds in declarations adapted to assure

us, in the midst of all our perplexities respecting the mysteries of Divine

providence, that the ways of God are right and good, and will issue in

good to those who love and obey Him.

o        Experience. Looking back on his own life, with its many difficulties,

struggles, and perils, David could see enough of the way of God in it

all to awaken in him a profound conviction that it was a perfect way.

And no one who serves God can fail to recognize this truth in his own

life, however much may remain at present dark and difficult,

o        Observation. By which the experience of others becomes available for

ourselves. In this we may include the recorded experience of others in

biography and history, in the sacred or other books. The history of the

Church and of individuals abounds in instances adapted to increase

our confidence in the perfection of the Divine way, while leaving vast

spaces of unsolved mystery.   

 

Ø      The influence which this truth should have upon us.

 

o        Thankfulness and praise.

o        Unwavering confidence, however dark some of the Divine

proceedings may be, whether towards ourselves or others.

o        Cheerful submission to the guidance and government of God.

 

  • THE PURITY OF GOD’S WORD. It is “tried;” literally, “smelted,”

and so purified and refined, as metals by fire (compare Psalm 12:6, “The

words of the Lord are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth,

purified seven times”). The meaning is that God’s Word is thoroughly

genuine, true, sincere, free from every particle of opposite qualities. The

statement applies TO EVERY WORD OF GOD  his declarations,

revelations, precepts, promises, and threatenings. It is most probably

made here as to His promises. These are all thoroughly true and reliable,

free from error, free from deceit. FOR GOD:

 

Ø      Cannot lie (Titus 1:2).

Ø      Cannot be mistaken. Knows perfectly all the future, all possible

hindrances to the accomplishment of His purposes, and His own

power to conquer them.

Ø      Cannot change. Not in purpose; not in power. Thus whatever tends to

throw more or less of uncertainty upon human promises is absent from the

Divine (see further on ch. 7:28). The Word of God is “tried” in

another sense of the Hebrew word. It has been “tested,” put to the proof,

in ten thousands of instances, and has ever been found true. The experience

of every believer testifies to ITS PERFECT TRUTH; and the experience

of the Church, and of the world in its connection with the Church, throughout

all ages, gives THE SAME ASSURANCE! Then:

 

o        Let us trust the Word of God with a confidence suited to its entire

trustworthiness.

o        Let us be glad and thankful that, amidst so much that is unreliable,

we have here A FIRM FOUNDATION on which to rest our life and

hopes.

o        Let our word correspond with that of God in its freedom from all

insincerity and untruthfulness, if it cannot be free from the

uncertainty which springs from ignorance, inability, or mutability.

 

  • THE PROTECTION WHICH GOD AFFORDS TO HIS PEOPLE.

 

Ø      The protection itself. “He is a Buckler [Shield] to all them that trust in

Him.” Not only He secures protection, He is Himself the Shield that

protects.  As a hen protects her chickens under her own wings (Psalm 91:4),

so the Lord covers and defends His people with His own Being and

perfections. Their enemies have to conquer Him before they can injure

them. They are under the guardianship of His knowledge, power, goodness,

faithfulness; and these must fail before they can perish.

 

Ø      The persons who enjoy such protection. “All them that trust in Him”

all, as the word is, who flee to Him for refuge.

 

o        It is one of the characteristics of the godly, that in their perils they flee

for refuge to God. It is to God they flee; not to some merely imaginary

being whom they call God — a God, for instance, who, however

despised in the time of prosperity, is always at the call of men in

trouble; too merciful to punish his foes severely; too tender hearted

to disregard the cry of distress, although it come from impenitent

hearts. Such confidence is vain. God’s Word contains not a promise

to the ungodly and unholy, however troubled they may be, unless

the trouble subdue their hearts to A TRUE REPENTANCE!   But those

who live by faith in God naturally turn to Him in danger and distress.

 

o        To them HE IS A SHIELD.   Their faith itself, God-produced and

God-sustained, is a shield (Ephesians 6:16); it inspires their prayers

and struggles after safety; and in response to their confidence and

their prayers the Almighty becomes their Defense, and they are safe!

 

o        Their safety is according to their faith. Faith which is mixed with doubt

is an occasion of peril. Intermittent faith brings intermittent safety. If

for a time we flee from our Refuge, we are exposed defenseless to the

assaults of our enemies, and shall be wounded and distressed. Then,

trust in Him at all times,  ye people ” (Psalm 62:8); and let your

prayer be, “Lord, increase our faith” (Luke 17:5), and, “Pray for

us that  our faith fail not” (see Luke 22:32).

 

 

(vs. 32-51)

 

The Facts are:

 

1. David asserts the exclusive perfection of God.

2. He states that his strength and power are from God, and that God

teaches him to move and act with advantage in times of war and difficulty.

3. He refers to the help received through the graciousness of God, and the

fact that thereby he was able to subdue all his enemies.

4. He alludes to the subjugation of the people to himself as the

consequence of Divine help, and looks on to further triumphs over

strangers.

5. He recounts the fact of his deliverance, and makes the final reference to

them a fresh reason for thanksgiving.

 

32 "For who is God, save the LORD? and who is a rock, save our

God?  33 God is my strength and power: and He maketh my way perfect.

34 He maketh my feet like hinds’ feet: and setteth me upon my high

places."

 

“For who is God, save Jehovah?

And who is a rock, save our God?

God is my strong Fortress,

And He guideth the perfect in his way.

He maketh my feet like the hinds,

And upon my high places He doth set me.”

 

God; Hebrew, El; the Mighty One, used several times in this psalm. In the

second clause the word is Elohim, the ordinary name of God. The

psalmist’s question is a strong assertion that Jehovah alone is God, and that

He alone is a Rock of safety for His people. He guideth, etc. In Psalm

18:32 “He maketh my way perfect,” like His own. The phrase here is

probably that which David wrote, as being less usual, and it signifies that

God will direct the upright man in his good way. Hinds. David’s feet are

swift as hinds, an animal famous for its speed and sureness of foot. My

high places. The tops of the mountains are the favorite resort of the

antelope; and so with David, the possession of such rocky citadels as

Bozez and Seneh (I Samuel 14:4) made him master of the whole country.

 

 

 

Jehovah the Only God, the Only Rock (v. 32)

 

David’s experience of what Jehovah his God had been to him impels him

triumphantly to contrast Him with all other that men called gods.

 

  • JEHOVAH ALONE IS GOD. David was thinking of the idols

worshipped by the nations around, which had proved themselves unable to

protect their worshippers from his victorious arms. The question may be

asked as to all other idols, and all persons and things that men serve as if

they were gods — self, wealth, the world, etc.:

 

Ø      Which of them has PERFECTIONS LIKE THOSE OF JEHOVAH?

 He is the living God, the everlasting, infinite in power, wisdom, and love;

perfect in holiness and righteousness. To whom besides can such attributes

be ascribed? “There is none else” (Deuteronomy 4:39).

 

Ø      Which of them has done or can do works LIKE HIS? “All the gods of the

peoples are idols: but the Lord made the heavens” (Psalm 96:5,

Revised Version; compare Isaiah 45:18).

 

Ø      Which of them can help their worshippers AS HE CAN? They are “vain

things, which cannot profit nor deliver; for they are vain” (I Samuel

12:21).

 

Ø      Which of them, then, is worthy to receive homage such as IS DUE TO HIM?

Fear, trust, love, worship, obedience. Yet the unregenerate do honor one

or other of these vanities more than God. They, as truly as the heathen,

worship and serve the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed

forever (Romans 1:25, Revised Version).

 

  • JEHOVAH ALONE IS A ROCK.

 

Ø      God is a Rock. A term applied to him by Moses (Deuteronomy 32:4),

and afterwards very frequently, especially in the Book of Psalms.

God is to those who trust in Him what a rock, lofty and difficult of ascent

and access to strangers, is to a people invaded by powerful foes. In Him

they find safety and protection. And as a rock is marked by strength,

stability, and permanence, so God is mighty to protect, unchangeable, a

Rock of ages, “an everlasting Rock” (Isaiah 26:4, Revised Version),

A Refuge available through each life and for all generations.

 

Ø      He alone is worthy of the name. There are other persons and things

which minister strength and safety to men. “Wisdom is a defense, and

money is a defence” (Ecclesiastes 7:12), friendship also, and civil

government and military force, etc. BUT NONE besides God deserves the

name of a Rock.

 

o        They are limited in their worth; He, unbounded.  One or another of

them may be a refuge against some dangers; He, against all. They

may not be at hand in the time of most pressing need; He is always

near.

o        They are feeble and unstable; He, strong and firm.

o        They are transient; He, everlasting.

o        They are dependent; He, their independent Source. All their

fitness and ability to aid us IS FROM HIM,  so that, when they

 are of service to us, it is He that is showing Himself to be our Rock.

 

Ø      Then:

 

o        Accept thankfully the good they can do; but trust in THE LORD

ALONE with absolute and unwavering confidence.

o        Beware of resorting to God’s gifts as a refuge from Himself. From

the thought of Him; from the reproaches of a guilty conscience; from

the penalties of His Law

o        If you reject or neglect God for others, bethink you what help they

can give you WHEN HE EXECUTES HIS JUDGMENTS UPON

YOU!. (Judges 10:14;  Jeremiah 2:28.)

 

 

God is My Strength (v. 33)

 

“The God who girdeth me with strength” (Psalm 18:32). Physical

strength is derived from God. Much more is spiritual. It is obtained

through faith. And every believer may say, “His strength is mine.” Thereby:

 

1. I live — live unto God, “soberly, righteously, and godly in this present

world(Titus 2:12; Habakkuk 2:4; Galatians 2:20).

2. I stand — stand fast in temptation, attack, danger (Romans 14:4;

II Corinthians 1:24; Philippians 4:1).

3. I walk — walk forward, in the way of the Lord, surely, swiftly (v. 34),

perseveringly (II Corinthians 5:7; Isaiah 40:31).

4. I labor — labor with and for God, zealously, patiently, and not in vain

(Isaiah 26:12; I Corinthians 15:58).

5. I endure — endure “hardness,” afflictions, reproaches, yea, all things,

supported and “strengthened with power through his Spirit in the inward

man (II Timothy 2:3; Hebrews 11:27; Psalm 138:3).

6. I fight — fight “the good fight of faith,” against his enemies,

courageously and effectually (v. 35).

7. I overcome — overcome in life and death (I Corinthians 15:57).

 

35 "He teacheth my hands to war; so that a bow of steel is broken by

mine arms.  36 Thou hast also given me the shield of thy salvation: and thy

gentleness hath made me great.  37 Thou hast enlarged my steps under me;

so that my feet did not slip."

 

“He teaeheth my hands to war;

And mine arms can bend a bow of bronze.

And thou hast given me thy saving shield;

And thy hearing of me hath made me great.

Thou hast enlarged my steps under me;

And my feet have not slipped.”

 

Bow of bronze. In Job 20:24 we also read of bows made of this metal,

or compound of metals, which was a far more ancient material for weapons

than steel. The bending of such a bow was proof of great strength, and the

last artifice of Penelope, to save herself from the suitors, was to promise

her hand to the man who could bend Ulysses’ bow. Thy hearing of me; in

Psalm 18:35, and Authorized Version and Revised Version here, “thy

gentleness.” The words in the Hebrew are very nearly alike, but the

Septuagint notices the difference, and translates “hearing” in this place, but

“chastisement” in the psalm. The Vulgate has “gentleness” or “mildness”

here, and “discipline” in the psalm. The Syriac alone has “discipline” in

both places. My feet; literally, ankle bones, the weakness of which causes

men to totter.

 

 

Divine Protection and Guidance (v. 33)

 

The experience of David, and the purpose of the psalm, naturally lead to

repetition of declarations and images descriptive of the protection and

guidance which had been vouchsafed to him. They are not unsuitable to

record the convictions and feelings of every good man as he reviews the

past and anticipates the future. This verse in the Revised Version reads,

“God is my strong Fortress, and He guideth the perfect in his way.”

 

  • GOD IS OUR STRONG FORTRESS. A fortress is a protection against

enemies.

 

Ø      We have powerful foes. The world and the flesh, the devil and his angels,

assault us continually, and would destroy, not only our peace, but our

souls. They are too strong and numerous for our power and skill; and no

creature power is sufficient for our defense.

 

Ø      God is our Almighty Protector. The Fortress into which we can flee, and

where we are safe; which no enemy can scale or breach. His presence

surrounds us; His power defends us. Yea, He is in our hearts to strengthen

and protect us. Everywhere, and under all circumstances, we can resort to

this REFUGE,  and defy our foes. We should therefore be ready to go

anywhere and do anything at God’s command. He may lead us where

temptations are numerous and powerful; but obeying and trusting Him,

we are secure.

 

  • GOD IS OUR ALL WISE GUIDE. The reading and translation

preferred by the Revisers gives a good sense, harmonizing with many

statements of Holy Writ. “He guideth the perfect in his way,” or, perhaps,

“His [God’s] way.” The man who is “perfect” in the sense of “upright,”

sincere, true, righteous, wholehearted, may be assured of Divine guidance;

while the insincere, hypocritical, double minded, shall be left to go astray.

In the margin of the Revised Version, however, another reading and

rendering are given, viz. guideth my way in perfectness,” which appears to

be substantially in agreement with the Authorized Version, maketh my

way perfect.”

 

Ø      God leads His people in their way. By His providence, Word, Spirit.

In respect to the affairs of this life, and those of the soul and eternity.

He guides them into the position He has chosen for them, and to and

in the work He appoints for them. “The steps of a good man are

ordered by the Lord” (Psalm 37:23).

 

Ø      His lead is perfect. Such was the conclusion of the psalmist in reference

to his own way. He could see that all had been ordered aright for the

accomplishment of the Divine purposes respecting him. Such will be

the conclusion of all God’s servants at the last; and their faith in

God will enable them to cherish this conviction now,

notwithstanding all the perplexities in which they may be involved.

The way in which they may be led may not be always pleasant;

but it is:

 

o        The best way. The way of holiness; the way in which they can gain

most real good, serve and honor God most, be most useful, attain

ultimately the greatest glory and felicity.

o        The safe way. Sometimes a way which avoids enemies and perils; in

other cases, a way through the midst of them, which God makes safe

by His protection.

o        The way that ends in eternal glory and blessedness. It is “the way of

life which goeth upward” (Proverbs 15:24, Revised Version).

“The end” is “everlasting life” (Romans 6:22). It may be asked how

it comes to pass that those who have God for their Guide nevertheless

make such grievous mistakes, and fall into so much trouble.

 

§         The troubles which spring from want of worldly wisdom,

as well as those which arise from circumstances, are under

Divine guidance. It is the will of God that His people should

suffer, and His benevolent purpose is often made manifest

in the spiritual profit and greater usefulness of the sufferers.

 

§         Even good men do not fully seek and follow the guidance of

God. They too frequently choose their own way, and thus fall

into mischief. But God, in His goodness, does not therefore

forsake them. He leads those who are true at heart out of the

evils into which they have brought themselves, turns their

very sins and follies to account in training them for further

service, and brings them safe home at last.

 

  • THE LESSONS ARE:

 

Ø      Be thankful FOR SUCH A GUIDE!

Ø      See to it that you ever honestly seek and submit to HIS GUIDANCE!

Ø      By the study of His Word and providence, and by earnest prayer,

inquire what is the way in which He would have you go; and,

when you see it, WALK IN IT!

 

 

Knowledge of God Founded on Experience (vs. 31-37)

 

From vs. 31-37 David seems to state some of the results arising out of

his experience of God’s dealing with him during the earlier portion of his

life. He can now say with emphasis what at one time could only be said as

a matter of general profession on the part of a pious Hebrew; and there is

in v. 31 an implied contrast with certain apprehensions entertained during

those seasons of isolation and distress, when no one cared for his soul, and

the course of providence seemed to be all against him. And in this respect

others are like him; the more profound their personal experience in life, the

more clear and sure are their conceptions of THE INEFFABLE (too great or

extreme to be expressed or described in words) PERFECTIONS OF GOD!

 

  • A KNOWLEDGE OF GOD IS MORE A QUESTION OF PERSONAL

EXPERIENCE THAN OF SPECULATION. Among the Hebrews there

were grand traditional beliefs and conceptions which placed their pure

monotheism far above the theistic faiths of other nations, and David in

early years inherited these, and could give beautiful expression to them.

But the traditional and even reasoned views which he had acquired were

not his greatest treasure. A long life of communion, service, conflict, and

patient trust had caused him to see THAT EXPERIENCE was the most

important element in this matter of knowledge of God. No doubt it is

possible to reason up to God. The logical outcome of the principle of

causation is God, and the moral nature of man is only intelligible on the

hypothesis of A SUPREME PERSONAL RULER!  It is not true that

speculative philosophy leads away from God. All its lines, when straightly

pursued, converge on Him. The question is one of personal relations,

and it is not within the competence of a speculative inquirer to settle this

great question regardless of the deep, ineradicable, and most sacred

experience of which human nature is capable.

 

  • AS A MATTER OF FACT, EXPERIENCE GIVES A CLEARER,

FULLER, AND MORE ASSURED KNOWLEDGE THAN ANY

OTHER MEANS. Experience is of first importance in matters pertaining

to spiritual things. We know the reality of unseen beings existing beneath

the fleshly covering of the body more truly by the mysterious contact of

our self with an invisible counterpart, than by any physiological or

psychological arguments. There is an inexpressible knowledge in our

conscious intuitions of other minds being in communion with our own,

which is the more clear, sure, and satisfying, in that it is inexpressible in

words. Likewise the personal experience of holy men brings them so near

to the living God, so directly in contact with His Spirit, and gives them such

clear and irresistible convictions of His Being and His glorious character,

that to such men the light thrown on the question of the Divine existence

and character by processes of reasoning seems very cold and dim. They can

dispense with it for themselves. Like the Apostle John, they have tasted

and handled and felt the Divine reality (I John 1:1-3).

 

  • THE CLEARER AND MORE SURE KNOWLEDGE RELATES

ESPECIALLY TO HIS EXCLUSIVE PERFECTIONS. After his deep

and often trying experience, David could speak most confidently of God as

“perfect” in all things. HE ALONE WAS WORTHY OF THE NAME GOD!

The points referred to are:

Ø      His methods.

Ø      His Word.

Ø      His care.

His methods of discipline, of guidance, of instruction, and of working out

purposes seemed strange and obscure while David was in trial, but in the

end he saw that ALL WAS PERFECT!  So is it ever, The more we

experience of Hs “ways,” the more do we learn their wisdom, goodness,

and justice. His “Word,” considered as promise, covenant, revelation, or

manifestation in Christ, requires personal experience to enable us to see

HOW PERFECT IT IS!  (For this to happen, “....Ye must be born again.”

(John 3:7)  How hearty an “Amen” can multitudes give to this statement!

His care is discovered by our experience through scenes of danger and peril

to be indeed sufficient, suited to every emergency, and most gentle and

considerate. As our “Buckler,” “Shield,” and “Rock,” we know Him more

truly, as life advances and the heart becomes charged with unutterable

experiences, to be perfect. (“Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father

in heaven is perfect.”  Matthew 5:48; “The Lord will perfect that which

concerneth me.”  Psalm 138:8 – CY – 2018)  How vain are all the negations

and disputations of restless speculators to the soul rich in such experience!

 

  • THE KNOWLEDGE OF GOD GAINED BY EXPERIENCE

ISSUES IN DEVELOPMENT OF CHARACTER AND FITNESS FOR

HIGHEST FORM OF WORK. The holy man enriched by such knowledge

is not a mere knowing creature; he becomes a man of higher character and

more extended activity. His way is made perfect; his feet are those of the

hind; he rises to the best positions in the spiritual sphere; his hands are fit

for warfare; he becomes calm and strong in the guarantee of a perpetual

shield; and distinction in the highest society and fitness for the holiest

service are the outcome of God’s gracious dealings. As David, after all his

strange experience of God’s power and gentleness, was more strong in

faith, more skilful in administration, more apt at spiritual warfare, and more

conformed to the Divine will; so all who follow on to know the Lord more

perfectly, and enter more deeply into the secret of the Lord, rise in spiritual

character, and become more fit instruments for doing the purest form of

work in the world.

 

 

The Gentleness of God (v. 36)

 

This beautiful saying of David’s is a wonderful illustration of

the tenderness of his own heart, and of the deep and thoroughly evangelical

thoughts he entertained of the character of God. There is much in this song

to remind us of terrible power (vs. 7-18); but it was to David the power

and terribleness of One who pities the poor and needy, and, out of His deep

compassion, throws the shield of His almightiness over them. In one respect

this display of power is an expression of gentleness; it is tender care and

loving kindness for the needy in their defensive aspect. It was gentleness

that:

a.      took David from the sheepcote to make him King of Israel;

b.      succored and consoled him when exiled in lonely mountains and

heathen lands;

c.       spared his soul and healed his wounds when he fell into his

dreadful sin;

d.      upheld his broken spirit when the crushing blow of rebellion came as

 chastisement for sin;

e.       gradually fashioned his character in spite of adverse influences of the age, and

made him a blessing to Israel; and,

f.       so toned his life that now in old age, instead of being a proud monarch boasting

of his strength, he is constrained to ascribe all the glory of his life TO GOD! 

 

It is the gentleness of God that elevates and ennobles all His people.

 

  • THIS QUALITY IS MOST CHARACTERISTIC OF GOD IN HIS

DEALINGS WITH US. To it — called in the New Testament, love we

owe our redemption THROUGH CHRIST!  The revelation of

“righteousness,” of which the Apostle Paul speaks (Romans 1:17), is

made because of the deep love of God, His tender pity for His erring

children. Our Saviour, who is the express Image of His Person (Hebrews

1:3), was, during His earthly course, the embodiment of all that is sweet,

tender, pitiful, gentle. The bruised reed, the smoking flax, knew his

gentleness. (Isaiah 42:3; Matthew 12:20)  Weeping widows, fallen women,

outcast lepers, despised sinners, little children, a sorrowing Mary at the

cross, were only a few instances in which the infinite tenderness of his

nature went forth in words and deeds of blessing. The spirit of His gospel is

that of tender compassion for all men. In our personal experience THE

SAME SPIRIT IS REVEALED!   He found us bruised, defiled, without

hope; and He tenderly bound up our wounds, took away our guilt, and gave

us power to become His sons. (John 1:12)  In our lapses, how tender,

how patient, and pitiful! When adversity has come, home laid desolate,

or health taken away, how gently His hand has held us up and assuaged

our grief! And when by the open grave, and broken down with sorrow,

His all-sufficing gentleness has come and turned our sorrow into joy.

O BLESSED GENTLENESS!  How dear and precious is our God to

our often weary and sinful hearts!

 

  • THE INFLUENCE OF GOD’S GENTLENESS ON US IS TO

ELEVATE OUR LIFE. It made David “great.” That was its object, and

he, appreciating its blessedness, found that it did secure its object. A

knowledge of this as the distinguishing quality in God’s dealings with

men, tends in itself to raise our conceptions of God, and of the order of His

government. The end for which His gentleness found expression in the

work of Christ is that we may be raised from our low estate, and be heirs

of HIS OWN GLORY!   When we open our hearts to His gentle Spirit, we,

like the prodigal, rise from our degradation and become reinstated as beloved

and honored children. In seasons of calamity it gives us strength to endure

and to wait, and a deep consciousness of its reality often throws over the

character a more than earthly beauty; and when His love has done all its

blessed work in us, we shall rise to a far more glorious position than that

occupied by David when, as king, he reached the highest honor attainable

among men (John 17:24).

 

  • THE REMEMBRANCE OF HIS GENTLENESS IN THE PAST IS

AN ENCOURAGEMENT TO US FOR THE FUTURE. David was

evidently able to look on to the future with perfect composure. THE

LOVE of the past was PLEDGE FOR THE FUTURE. Our review of

God’s gracious dealings with us will cause us to sing of His loving kindness,

(which is better than life!  Psalm 63:3 – CY – 2018) and to fear no evil.

Having given us His beloved Son, we are sure HE WILL GIVE US

ALL THINGS!  (Romans  8:32).

 

 

 

True Greatness (v. 36)

 

“Thy answering hath made me great.” Psalm 18:35, “Thy gentleness”

(humility, meekness, condescending grace). True greatness consists not in

external prosperity, nor in splendid achievements, but in moral and spiritual

excellence. “The good alone are great.” Notice —

 

  • ITS CONDITIONS, on the part of man.

 

Ø      Conscious weakness, the sense of utter helplessness in himself

(I Samuel 30:1-10; John 15:5; II Corinthians 12:10; Hebrews 11:34).

Ø      Believing prayer (v. 7). “By showing us our own nothingness, humility

forces us to depend upon God; and the expression of that dependence is

prayerfulness.”

Ø      Ardent aspiration. “When sea water rises into the clouds it loses its

saltness and becomes fresh; so the soul when lifted up to God” (Tamil

proverb).

 

  • ITS BESTOWMENT; by “that practical hearkening on the part of God

when called upon for help, which was manifested in the fact that God made

his steps broad” (Keil).

 

Ø      In wonderful condescension (Psalm 138:6).

Ø      By manifold methods; preserving, instructing, strengthening, exalting

those who trust in Him.

Ø      With considerate adaptation to their nature and capacities. “The great

God and Father, intent on making His children great, follows them and plies

them with the gracious indirections of a faithful and patient love”

(Bushnell, ‘Christ and his Salvation’). “Like as father pitieth his children,

so the Lord pitieth them that fear Him.” (Psalm 103:13).

 

  • ITS MANIFESTATION. As the effect of sunshine and rain, received

and appropriated by a plant, appears in its abounding strength, beauty, and

fruitfulness, so the effect of Divine grace appears in enlargement and

elevation of mind, sincere and fervent love to God, a set purpose to do his

will, eminence in “love, joy, peace, gentleness,” etc. (Galatians 5:22),

maturity of character (Hosea 14:5-7), holy and beneficent activity,

growing conformity to the perfect Pattern of true greatness (Matthew

20:25-27). “Have the mind in you which was also in Christ Jesus”

(Philippians 2:5).

 

 

Greatness from God’s Condescension (v. 36)

 

“Thy gentleness hath made me great.” David had been raised from a

humble position to one of greatness. He had become great in arms, in royal

dignity, in the extent of his dominion. In these words he ascribes all his

greatness to the condescending goodness of God. The word translated

gentleness is elsewhere used only of men, and signifies “humility”

(Proverbs 15:33; 18:12; 22:4). But in speaking of God, we use the

word “condescension” rather than “humility.” Yet it is said of Him

(Psalm 113:6) that “He humbleth Himself to behold the things that are in

heaven and in the earth;” i.e. He stoops to regard them; it is condescension

in Him to notice them. The words of the text may be used by all Christians;

especially by some of them.

 

  • THE GREATNESS TO WHICH CHRISTIANS ARE EXALTED.

 

Ø      All of them are made great. For they are made:

 

o        Sons and daughters of the great God, brothers and sisters of Jesus

the Son of God, having a nature corresponding with the names.

They are “partakers of the Divine nature” (II Peter 1:4), and therefore

God like, in holiness, righteousness, and love.

o        Wise with heavenly wisdom. A nobler wisdom than that of

philosophers. “Taught of God” (John 6:45), who reveals to them

what He hides from the worldly wise (Matthew 11:25).

o        Powerful with the noblest power, that which is moral and spiritual, by

which they “overcome the world” (I John 5:4), rule their own spirits

(Proverbs 16:32), and subdue others to the obedience of faith.

o        Friends and associates of the best of God’s creatures — holy angels

and redeemed men; with whom they form one family (Ephesians

1:10; 3:15).

o        Heirs, and at length possessors, of a grand and enduring estate

(I Peter 1:4). These things are not mere names or fancies; they are solid

and enduring realities, to have the lowest place and the humblest share

in which is, in the nature of things, to be greater than the greatest of

earthly dignitaries who have no part in them.

 

Ø      Some of them are made specially great. They realize, in a larger

measure than others, the various elements of greatness mentioned above.

They have more of God in them; and hence are richer in spiritual wisdom

and goodness, exercise a wider and stronger influence, do a greater work,

attain to greater honor and renown in this world and the next. Apostles,

martyrs; eminent teachers, evangelists, missionaries, and reformers;

monarchs, too, and statesmen, poets, etc., who are also devoted Christians.

Such special greatness arises sometimes and in part from:

 

o        Greater natural endowments. More of physical energy, or intellectual

power, or emotional force, to begin with.

o        Or greater opportunities, which may be such as rank and fortune give,

or the state of things around them, or such as poverty, affliction, and

persecution afford.

o        Special earnestness, faithfulness, and diligence in the cultivation and

employment of powers and opportunities (Luke 19:16-26).

o        Special prayerfulness. Hence abundant impartation of the Holy Spirit,

the Source and Sustainer of all spiritual excellence.

o        Deeper humility. Without this all seeming greatness is not greatness at

all “in the kingdom of heaven,” and will shrivel into nothingness

(Matthew 18:1-4; Luke 9:48; 14:11).

 

  • TO WHAT SUCH GREATNESS IS TO BE ASCRIBED, AND IS

ASCRIBED BY THOSE WHO ATTAIN TO IT. To the condescension of

God. David recognized that all his greatness was owing to the goodness

and power of God, and in their exercise on his behalf he discerned

unspeakable condescension. Similar should and will be the feeling of all

who are raised to spiritual greatness.

 

Ø      The work of God in their exaltation is a work of condescension. This

appears as we consider:

 

o        His greatness and holiness, and their littleness and sinfulness

(Psalm 8; Isaiah 57:15). God must stoop to reach and raise such

creatures.

 

o        His various operations upon and for them. When we consider what is

involved in the Divine processes by which they are exalted, they resolve

themselves into attention (so to speak) to, and animating or controlling

influence over, a countless multitude of small matters. Yet we shall not

be astonished at this when we remember that not a sparrow is forgotten

by God, and that His children “are of more value than many sparrows”

(Luke 12:6-7). Also that great results depend on small things; and that,

in fact, to the Infinite Mind there is nothing great, nothing small.

o        And pre-eminently, the incarnation and work of the Son of God.

The self-humiliation of the eternal Word in becoming man (John

1:1-3, 14), and of the God Man in lowly service to lowly people,

patiently enduring the greatest indignities and most painful and

ignominious sufferings, “obedient unto death, even the death of

the cross” (Matthew 20:28; Luke 22:27; John 13:2-5; Philippians

2:6-8).

o        The work of the Holy Spirit. Stooping to dwell in the hearts of the

mean and sinful, bearing with neglect, waywardness, resistance, and

disobedience.

 

Ø      The condescension thus displayed promotes spiritual greatness. Not

only as it is exercised in the ways before mentioned, but:

 

o        As it is apprehended and realized. The majesty, holiness, and justice of

God tend to humiliate and repress the human spirit, and discourage

aspiration and effort. At best it produces only a “spirit of bondage”

(Romans 8:15). But under the influence of condescending love, love is

enkindled, confidence is awakened, the heart expands and enlarges, is

inspired with the freedom and courage which prepare for noble service of

God and man, rises heavenward and yet looks on earth with kindlier eye,

and more resolute purpose to labor and suffer for its good.

o        As it incites to imitation. Contemplating the grandeur and beauty

of the Divine condescension, we become transformed into its image.

We learn to stoop to the lowly and even the degraded. We are content

to serve in lowly offices, if thereby we can benefit our fellow men.

It no longer seems strange that we should be required “to wash one

another’s feet” (John 13:14). And this is the way to become great

(Mark 10:43-44). Yet we must not indulge the thought or assume

the air of condescension, or we shall fail both to benefit others and

to secure honor for ourselves. Rather let us accustom ourselves to

think in how many and important respects we are on a level with

those whose good we seek. This will produce in us genuine humility,

and enable us to feel towards our brethren a brotherly sympathy

which will banish the sense of superiority.

 

38 "I have pursued mine enemies, and destroyed them; and turned not

again until I had consumed them.  39 And I have consumed them, and

wounded them, that they could not arise: yea, they are fallen under my feet.

40 For thou hast girded me with strength to battle: them that rose up

against me hast thou subdued under me."

 

 “I have pursued my enemies and destroyed them;

Neither did I turn again until I had consumed them.

And I have consumed them, and smitten them through, and they arose not;

Yea, they fell under my feet.

For thou hast girded me with strength unto the battle;

Thou hast made them that rose against me to bow under me.”

 

In the Psalms, for destroyed we find “overtaken,” and the second “I have

consumed them” is omitted. This exultation of David at the result of his

wars is in accordance with the harsh treatment inflicted by him upon the

vanquished. His enemies were God’s enemies, whom he must consume.

The “new commandment” of Christianity forbids and condemns this delight

in conquest.

 

41 "Thou hast also given me the necks of mine enemies, that I might

destroy them that hate me.  42They looked, but there was none to save;

even unto the LORD, but He answered them not.  43 Then did I beat them

as small as the dust of the earth, I did stamp them as the mire of the street,

and did spread them abroad."

 

 “And mine enemies thou hast made to turn upon me their back,

Even those that hate me; and have utterly destroyed them.

They looked, but there was none to save,

Even to Jehovah, but He answered them not.

And I beat them small as the dust of the earth;

As the mire of the streets I stamped upon them, I trode them down.”

 

Those that hate me. The sentence is to be completed from the previous

clause, “my haters” and “my enemies” being equivalent. There are several

small variations between the text here and in Psalm 18, such as “they

cried” for they looked; and “I emptied them out” for I stamped upon them,

the difference in both cases consisting in a single letter.

 

44 "Thou also hast delivered me from the strivings of my people, thou

hast kept me to be head of the heathen: a people which I knew not

shall serve me.  45 Strangers shall submit themselves unto me: as soon as

they hear, they shall be obedient unto me.  46 Strangers shall fade away,

and they shall be afraid out of their close places."

 

“And thou hast delivered me from the strivings of my people;

Thou hast protected me that I might be head of the nations.

A people whom! knew not have become my servants;

Children of strangers have submitted themselves to me;

At the hearing of the ear they obeyed me.

The children of the strangers faded away;

They fled trembling out of their fastnesses.”

 

People, in the singular, means the Jewish people as opposed to the nations,

that is, the heathen world. The strivings here referred to are the long

dissensions which followed Ishbosheth’s death, and delayed for many the

appointment of David as king of Israel. He now feels that the watchful

which had protected him during that dangerous period had a higher

purpose than the union of the twelve tribes under one head. He was to be

the founder also of that empire over the nations which symbolized the gift

of the heathen world to Christ. And this empire had been extended to

people previously unknown to David. Such might be the case with

Hadarezer, King of Zobah, but it more especially referred to Toi, and the

Hittite kingdom of Hamath (ch. 8:9-10). It was not from force of

arms, but from the hearing of the ear, that is, from the wide extended fame

of David’s conquests, that Toi sent ambassadors to offer allegiance and

presents. They fled trembling. This is certainly the sense in Psalm 18:45,

where, however, there is a transposition of letters. Probably it is the

sense here. But if we might go to the cognate languages for an explanation

of a rare word, it would mean “came limping out of their fastnesses,” as

men worn out with fatigue and exhaustion.

 

 

Life’s Warfare (vs. 38-44)

 

David takes a general survey of his life’s conflicts, and is able to say at the close

that his triumph over enemies is complete.  The language is strong, and to modern

ears fierce and vindictive; but we have to consider the position which he believed

himself to hold under God, and which he believed to be imperiled by his

adversaries. He was, and knew it well, the anointed of the Lord, set over the

people as the representative of God, and for the distinct purpose of preparing

the way for the realization of those vast promises of good to the world made

to Abraham, and devoutly cherished by every enlightened Hebrew.

Consequently, the personal element in his case largely disappeared. The

attacks on him were attacks on God’s government, an effort to frustrate

God’s purposes; and, believing those purposes to be the wisest and best, he

regarded the attempt to put them aside as most wicked; indeed, as the

crime of high treason against the Eternal King. That men who thus oppose

the Lord’s anointed, and are instrumental in committing so great a sin or

doing so serious a mischief in the world, deserved the judgment which God

allowed to come is obvious, or he would not have allowed it; and,

admitting this, there is no obvious sin in David expressing in figurative

terms his acquiescence and even satisfaction in that judgment. There is no

sin in a man’s spiritual vision being so high and wide that he sees justice,

and is glad that justice is done. It is only when we introduce the more

personal element, and judge by it alone, that David’s words are felt to be

improper. His life’s warfare suggests ours, and that being led on by the

Captain of our salvation.

 

  • THERE ARE STRONG AND BITTER FOES AROUND US. Cruel

men under Saul’s leading, Amalekites, Philistines, and rebels within the

kingdom, sought the ruin of David, both personally and in his capacity as

anointed king. No words can set forth adequately the number, strength,

activity, and combinations of the spiritual foes that practically seek our

spiritual life, and also oppose the claims and prerogatives of Christ.

(We are dealing with “spiritual wickedness in high places” – Ephesians

6:12 – CY – 2018)  Every Christian life is a spiritual reproduction of David’s

temporal life; and in the antagonism of our own Christian experience we have

a miniature view of the great conflict going on between the King in Zion and

the principalities and powers of darkness and the countless forces that lie

concealed in the depths of human depravity.

 

  • THE CONFLICT IS PROTRACTED AND CHARACTERIZED BY

CHANGES. From the day that Saul entertained a wicked jealousy of

his powers (I Samuel 18:8) till the revolt of Sheba, David had to be on

his guard, and in some form or other defend his person and his right to the

kingdom. Now he is in deepest distress, and now rescued by the

interposition of God. Sorrow and joy were his portion. The lesson for us is

obvious. Our warfare is lifelong. As long as there is lurking evil within the

domain of our nature, as long as strong and subtle temptations come upon

us, and the great enemy seeketh our life, so long we must stand in the

whole armor of God, and watch and strive (Ephesians 6:10-17). And,

also, we have our seasons of anguish and desolation, our faintings and

fears, our falls and wounds, as well as our songs of triumph and joy. The

Apostle Paul wrote at the close of his toils and conflicts as one who had

suffered much and accomplished much. What is true of us personally is

true in a way of the great Church militant; there are, as history reveals,

times of sore defeat and sorrow and apparent abandonment, and times

again of magnificent triumphs.

 

  • THERE IS, THROUGH THE CONFLICT, ABIDING TRUST IN

GOD AND USE OF GIFTS. The language in which David describes the

issue of his conflicts reveals that all through he cherished unceasing faith in

God, and used well the fingers to fight which Providence had trained. In

darkest seasons his hope was in God. Not armies, but GOD formed his

Refuge, Strength, and Defence (vs. 40- 41). Saving the great lapse, when

for a time the soul was estranged from its Source of blessing, there was a

calm and unshaken confidence that the great purpose for which he was

called to the throne would be realized, and this rendered moral support to

all material means employed for subduing foes. It is the characteristic of

our warfare that it is the “good fight of faith.” (I Timothy 6:12)  From first

to last, trust in the presence, help, and succor of God enters into the exercise

of all watchfulness, prayerfulness, and resolute endeavors to subdue

everything to Christ. Success in Christian warfare springs from a subtle

blending of:

 

Ø      the most absolute faith in the almighty grace of God with

Ø      the  most energetic use of knowledge and resolve.

 

By this combination also, the Church, in its corporate action, seeks to

banish spiritual foes from the kingdom, and to extend Christ’s supremacy

 over all people and lands.

 

  • CERTAIN AND COMPLETE VICTORY IS THE ISSUE. If we

compare David when an outcast among the caves of the mountains, or a

wanderer among an alien people, dependent on heathen hospitality for his

sustenance and protection (I Samuel 27:1-7), with David at the close

of his reign, dwelling in regal splendor, and in peace from all his foes, we

can see how complete his triumph, and how true in effect is the bold

language of this song. Helpless, unbefriended by the Judge of all the earth,

his oppressors are as the beaten dust and trampled mire. Aliens and the

rebellious among his own people (vs. 41-44) alike are brought low, and

all their pride and strength has vanished. It is only when we come to the

end of our Christian career that we can say this of all our foes; but it can

even now be said of many in the past. The strongest language of David will

be inadequate to express the completeness of the victory we shall at last

obtain over all spiritual foes. As Israel saw no living Egyptian as they stood

on the shore of the Red Sea, and as the multitude in Revelation 15:2-4

looked over the calm glassy scene of a former arena of conflict and peril,

so we each shall, through Christ, be able to survey the past and see our

enemies no more. More than conquerors, we shall sing the song of

triumph. Sin and temptation, the horrible dangers, the slippery places, the

roaring torrents, the deep waters, will have been overcome, and our

sanctified nature will constitute a domain in which the voice of tumult is no

more heard. Our personal triumph will be analogous to THE TRIUMPH OF

CHRIST over all the evil forces that once opposed His blessed reign.

 

47 "The LORD liveth; and blessed be my rock; and exalted be the God

of the rock of my salvation.  48 It is God that avengeth me, and that

bringeth down the people under me.  49 And that bringeth me forth

from mine enemies: thou also hast lifted me up on high above them

that rose up against me: thou hast delivered me from the violent man."

 

“Jehovah liveth; and blessed be my Rock,

And exalted be the God of the rock of my salvation,

Even the God that giveth me avengements,

And bringeth down peoples under me.

And bringeth me forth from my enemies.

Yea, thou liftest me up above those that rise up against me;

From the violent man thou deliverest me.”

 

In Psalm 18:46 we find simply “the God of my salvation.” Perhaps

there seemed to the compiler to be some confusion in calling Jehovah, first

David’s Rock, and then the God of his rock (but see note on v. 3).

Avengements, in the plural. In the Law the sanctions were chiefly

temporal, and therefore the saints of old watched anxiously for, and were

strengthened by observing, the constantly recurring proofs of God’s

righteous government of men. Peoples, in the plural; heathen nations. The

violent man may especially be Saul, as is supposed in the title prefixed to

this song in the Book of Psalms. There probably it is general, and includes

all who were bitter in their hostility to David.

 

50 "Therefore I will give thanks unto thee, O LORD, among the

heathen, and I will sing praises unto thy name.  51 He is the tower of

salvation for His king: and sheweth mercy to His anointed, unto David,

and to his seed for evermore."

 

 “Therefore will I praise thee among the nations,

And to thy Name will I sing.

Great deliverance giveth He to His king,

And showeth grace to His messiah —

To David, and to his seed forever.”

 

Great deliverance; literally, He maketh great the salvation of His king;

that is, He rescueth him marvelously again and again. The K’ri substitutes

tower, but it has no support either from the versions or from Psalm 18.,

though admitted into the Authorized Version. The difference between the

two words “making great” and “tower” is, in the Hebrew, trifling. To His

messiah. This mercy was shown to David as the anointed theocratic king,

whose rule was the symbol of that of Christ.

 

 

David’s Song of Praise (vs. 1-51)

 

“And David spake unto Jehovah the words of this song,” etc. (v. 1). It is

a song of:

 

1. The Anointed (Messiah) of the Lord, His king (v. 51), His servant

(Psalm 18., inscription). Like Moses and Joshua, David held a peculiar and

exalted position in the kingdom of God under the Old Testament. He was

“a man [unlike Saul] of God’s own choosing” (I Samuel 13:14; 16:28),

to fill the office of theocratic king, and to fulfill His purposes concerning

Israel and the world; he was also specially fitted for his vocation, faithfully

devoted to it, and greatly blessed in it. And in the consciousness of this he

here speaks.

 

2. Praise to the Lord, on the ground of His perfections, His relations, His

benefits; prompted by the desire to render to Him the honor which is His

due (I Samuel 2:1-10). To praise God means nothing else than to

ascribe to Him the glorious perfections which He possesses; for we can only

give to Him what is His own” (Hengstenberg). And, more especially, of:

 

3. Thanksgiving for past deliverance, from imminent perils, to which, as

the servant of God, he was exposed through the hatred and opposition of

his enemies. Of these Saul was the most formidable; and, after becoming

King of Israel, David was attacked by numerous heathen nations, both

separately and in combination (ch. 5:17; chps. 8 and10). It was probably

when “the Lord had given him rest round about from all his enemies”

(ch.7:1), and after the promise of an everlasting kingdom (ibid. vs.12-16),

that the song was uttered; though by some it is regarded as “a great hallelujah,

with which he retired from the theatre of life.“  Having obtained many and

signal victories, he does not, as irreligious men are accustomed to do, sing a

song of triumph in honor of himself, but exalts and magnifies God, the Author

of these victories, by a train of striking and appropriate epithets, and in a style

of surpassing grandeur and sublimity” (Calvin).

 

4. Confidence in future triumph over all the enemies of the kingdom of

God; of which the success already attained is an assurance. God is praised,

not only for what He is and has been to him, but also for what He will be to

“David and his seed forever” (v. 51). Of this song, consider:

 

  • ITS SUBSTANCE; or, the reasons for praise.

 

Ø      The personal and intimate relationship of Jehovah to His servant

(vs. 2-4).

 

“Jehovah is my Rock, and my Fortress. and my, yea, my Deliverer,

My Rock God, in whom I trust,” etc.   (vs. 2-3)

 

o        He stands in a peculiar relation (beyond that which He bears to all men)

to those to whom He reveals His Name, whom He takes into His

fellowship, and to whom He promises to be “their God.” These things

make it possible to say, “my God,” and (along with His gracious acts)

incite the personal and ardent affection expressed at the commencement

of Psalm 18 (a liturgical variation of the song), “Fervently do I love

thee, O Jehovah my Strength,” (ibid. v. 1)

o        Nature, history, and experience furnish manifold emblems of His

excellences, and of the blessings which He bestows on those who

trust in Him (I Samuel 2:2; Deuteronomy 32:4; Genesis 15:1). These

images were suggested by the physical aspect of Palestine, and by the

perilous condition and special deliverances of David in his early life,

as a fugitive and a soldier, beset by many foes.

o        He is all-sufficient for the needs of His people, however numerous

and great, for their;

§         rescue,

§         defense,

§         permanent security, and

§         complete salvation.

 

“As worthy to be praised, do I call on Jehovah,

And (whenever I call) I am saved from mine enemies.”

 

“Faith knows no past and no future. What God has done and will do is

present to it.”

 

Ø      His marvelous deliverance. (vs. 5-20.) In a single comprehensive

picture David describes the many dangers that encompassed him during his

persecution by Saul, and the many prov