Psalm 18 "This God – His way is perfect; the word of the Lord proves true;
he is a shield for all those who take refuge in Him."
Psalm 18 is “A psalm of David, the servant of the Lord, who addressed the words of this song to the Lord on the day when the Lord rescued him from the hand of all his enemies, and from the hand of Saul.” It is the fourth longest Psalm in this book and is largely the same as the Psalm sung by David at the end of his life in 2 Samuel 22. It is likely that he wrote it as a young man in the aftermath of the death of Saul and the death of his other enemies before and leading up to his coronation. Note that David, in an act of immense kindness, does not count Saul as one of his enemies in the preamble to this Psalm “… rescued him from the hand of all his enemies, and from the hand of Saul.”
David praises God for all His many mercies and protections over the following 50 verses, beginning with a profession of love for the Lord. He draws upon all sorts of cataclysmic symbolism to illustrate the Lord’s salvation: “the earth reeled and rocked; the foundations also of the mountains trembled … smoke went up from His nostrils … He bowed the heavens and came down.” He praises the Lord not only for His acts of salvation but for His righteousness and His care for the humble, “for you save a humble people, but the haughty eyes you bring down.” In the final verses, David declares that for all these wonderful things he will sing to the name of God among the nations for His steadfast love.
As stated above, this Psalm is much the same as the one David recites before his death recorded in 2 Samuel. It is evident that while he wrote it as a young man, he was able to look back at the end of his days with tremendous gratitude, singing this song of praise to the God who held him all the days of his life. David lived a particularly turbulent life; never mind all the people like King Saul who continually tried to kill him while in exile, or the sons that were killing one another and usurping David as ruler, or the violent death of his best friend, or his own terrible sins; all of this took place in the brutal and unpredictable ancient world! At the best of times everyone in those days would have been at the mercy of all types of diseases, raiders, mental health issues, famine, and more; isolated and exposed to the teeth of the ravenous hounds that were constantly circling Israel.
David was not kept from any of these things as he lived his life and was the target of both physical and psychological harm, yet even at the end of all things, looking back on his life and the way God had continually provided for him and shown immense kindness and mercy, David was able to say “This God – His way is perfect; the word of the Lord proves true; He is a shield for all those who take refuge in Him.” David in no way glosses over his troubles, “the cords of death encompassed me; the torrents of destruction assailed me; the cords of Sheol entangled me; the snares of death confronted me,” (v.4-5). But if he shed a candle of light on his trouble, he lit a bonfire to illumine the goodness he found in God! His entire life could be summed up in the emboldened verse above – that the word of the Lord proves true!
Application & Question:
Are you trained in gratitude? Is that something you’ve ever thought as something in which to be trained at all? So often in 21st century North America we expect to see God act in massive and dramatic ways as we find in this Psalm and become discouraged or disillusioned when we don’t see this happening. I am convinced that if the average true believing Christian can’t see God working in their lives, they are simply looking for the wrong things. I fell into this trap often as a younger fellow, convinced that God had simply passed me by after I came to Him, neither helping nor hurting, and certainly not answering my grandiose prayers. It was only after I was gently but firmly rebuked by some friends and told to look for the smaller ways in which God was acting in my life that things really began to change. For instance, He made it possible for me to meet with these friends in the first place when it initially couldn’t happen; He provided food for the week when I was living in a place I couldn’t really afford; helped me and a fellow cook get along on what I was expecting to be a particularly tough night; joined me in a truly felt way during my devotional that day which wasn’t a normal occurrence.
Learning to look for the small things that God has and is doing for us each day is not to say we serve a small God or that God doesn’t want to bless us in big ways; it is saying that He cares about us so, so much that He is with you today, even in the tiniest things you have going on right now! Small seeds preclude enormous gardens, small blueprints come before an enormous project. Jesus says in Luke 16:10 “One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much.” We must first train ourselves up in these small ways as preparations for the big ones. Learn to be faithful with the little before reaching for more!
David was crowned as King of a mighty nation, but he began as a faithful overseer of sheep, composing songs to the Lord and slaying mighty beasts of the field. He learned to be faithful in small things first, learned to love the words and commandments of the Lord first. He trained himself in gratitude as well, seeing the faithfulness and goodness of God in all things, not just the giants slain or disasters averted. It is only by this intentional and learned behaviour that we can build joyful, gracious, thankful lives, never missing what God is doing here and now, ever singing and praising Him with a glad heart, saying “this God – His way is perfect.”
Thank you, Lord, for your goodness and patience with us as we learn to listen to your still, small voice. Give us a passion for diligently seeking your face and teach us to blot out those near and clinging sins that seek to steal our attention. Thank you for acting in the tiniest of ways which we will never fully see or appreciate, and for caring about our daily needs! We are not worthy ourselves, but you’ve made us worthy when we came to your Son. Grant happy hearts to your people today and teach us to love your righteousness above everything else. All these things we pray in the name of Jesus Christ – Amen!
Song: The Gates - Young Oceans
In 2023, each week's blog is a follow-up reflection written by the preceding Sunday’s preacher to dig deeper into the sermon topic and explore engaging discussion questions.