Hello, I’m Daniel Westfall on the channel “Pray with Me”.
Today we look at Psalm 18. On average, the psalms have 17 verses. Psalm 18 weighs in at 51 verses, three times longer than average. This poses a difficult problem: Is one episode sufficient for this psalm? Or should we divide it into two or even three episodes? This question will become pressingly important when we get to Psalm 119 which has 176 verses, 10 times longer than average.
For what it’s worth, here’s my opinion. One episode is not enough to do ANY of the Psalms justice. They all deserve more. However, I am planning to get through all 150 Psalms in three years, including time off for summer vacations. So I’m sticking with a Psalm a week.
This week’s psalm, Psalm 18, has an astonishing first line. It says, “I love you, O Lord, my strength.” The Bible gives a high profile to the command, “Love God.” But this is the only time in my Bible where someone says to God, “I love you.” This is probably not a good model for how often you should say “I love you” to your partner.
Another astonishing thing is that Psalm 18 casts God as the God of war. David, the warrior king, celebrates God’s military adventures. Listen to the martial themes in the psalm:
Smoke rose from his nostrils,
Consuming fire came from his mouth,
He soared on the wings of the wind. (v. 8-10)
The Lord thundered from heaven
. . . he shot his arrows and scattered the enemies,
great bolts of lightning and routed them. (v. 13-14)
He rescued me from my powerful enemy,
From my foes who were too strong for me. (v. 17)
He is the God who avenges me
Who subdues nations under me. (v. 47)
Wow. Is your God out there in the fray doing battle for you, taking revenge on your enemies, delivering you from attacks, subduing nations under you, guiding your military adventures to victory?
It looks like God is providing air support for David’s combat mission on the ground. Picture God riding the cherubim across the stormy sky, shooting arrows and bolts of lightning at the enemies until they retreat with David pursuing. He’s how the Psalm puts it:
He parted the heavens and came down,
He mounted the cherubim and flew;
Out of the brightness of his presence clouds advanced,
With hailstones and bolts of lightning
You made my enemies turn their backs in flight,
And I destroyed my foes.
I crushed them so they could not rise;
They cried for help
But there was no one to save them
To the Lord
But he did not answer.
That’s God, thundering about the heavens harassing the enemies, supporting David’s on the ground to overrun and crush them. Warrior God supports warrior king in battle.
The psalm ends with thanksgiving for the great rescue and the great victory God has given the king. David says,
The Lord lives!
Praise be to my Rock!
Exalted be the God who rescues me! (v.46).
Our father, in the Narnia books, Susan asks about Aslan, the lion, “Is he safe?” Mrs. Beaver replies, “Of course he’s not safe, but he’s good. He’s the king I tell you.” In Psalm 18, you are not a safe God, but you are a good God, a God who can be trusted and loved by those who trust you and love you.
Thank you for being a strong God. In our world of tanks and F18s, of land mines and assault rifles, of nuclear submarines and hydrogen bombs, we need you, a strong God, a warrior God. Engage with our world today. Mount your strategies against persons and nations who destroy each other and creation. Be for us a warrior God.
Thank you also for your gentleness and love. As the psalm says,
You brought me into a spacious place,
You rescued me because you delighted in me. (v. 19)
To the faithful you show yourself faithful. (v. 25)
You, O Lord, keep my lamp burning,
You turn my darkness into light. (v. 28)
Who is God, besides you, Lord?
And who is the rock except you? (v. 31)
You show unfailing kindness . . . forever. (v. 50)
I’m Daniel on the channel “Pray with Me”.