Psalm 18

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, February 18, 2019 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

“I love you, Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.” (Psalm 18:1-2)

The main reason I chose to write on Psalm 18 is its first couple verses. These two verses are pretty powerful so I want to focus primarily on them.

While much of the Bible is about love, it occurred to me that we don’t often see the words “I love you” in it like this. The word for “love” here in the Hebrew is not the most common verb for love. There are multiple words to express love, but this one is most often used to refer to the mercy and compassion that God has on mankind. It’s often associated with the nurturing love a mother has for her children. Using this particular word here shows that the psalmist (David) is communicating how intimate his relationship is with God and how it contains a love that is compassionate, nurturing, and merciful.

David further clarifies this relationship by calling the Lord his strength. Through God’s love and their relationship, David has seen God working in his life. God chose David even though he was the youngest and smallest of Jesse’s 8 sons (1 Samuel 16). David saw God’s strength firsthand when God worked through David to defeat Goliath (1 Samuel 17). David had plenty of proof in his life of God’s strength, so God being David’s strength is a key component to their relationship.

David goes on to describe the Lord with three more terms: rock, fortress, and deliverer. God is referred to as the rock of Israel multiple times in the book of Deuteronomy, including 32:4: “He is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is he.” Rocks are generally considered to be unmoving (at least in the days before heavy machinery), so this picture of God shows that He is forever faithful, not changing in His ways or opinions. We can count on God to always be who He is, no matter what.

David was a warrior, so the military term of “fortress” would have been a part of his normal vocabulary. David also refers to God in these terms in Psalm 31:2: “Turn your ear to me, come quickly to my rescue; be my rock of refuge, a strong fortress to save me.” David would have been very familiar with physical fortresses such as Jerusalem (2 Samuel 5:7) or his stronghold in the wilderness (1 Samuel 24:22).

God had already delivered David from Saul’s murderous rage (1 Samuel 18-19), so “deliverer” was another aspect of God that David had lived out in his life. David had gone through many battles where he knew they won because of the Lord’s hand, not simply because of David’s strength. God truly was his deliverer.

David then uses parallelism and repeats the same idea again with slightly different words. The first address of God uses the divine name of YHWH, while the second is the more generic “God.” This English translation uses the word “rock” twice, but in Hebrew those are two different words for “rock.” His use of “shield” is similar to “fortress,” and “salvation” is similar to “deliverer.” The word for “salvation” is the same root where the name of Jesus comes from. The final attribute of “my stronghold” could also be translated as refuge or fortress.

We see a lot of military sort of language here, because that was David’s world that he was familiar with. We see a richness in David’s language here, and maybe some of these words resonate with you strongly too. If you were writing a psalm of love to God, what words would you choose?

I encourage you to read the rest of this psalm and see what else David has to say about God, but I’ll summarize it a bit for you here. After focusing on praising God for His character, verse 3 explains the purpose of this psalm: to call upon God for salvation. David then goes on to describe the situation that God saved him from (verses 4-6) and how God saved him from that (verses 7-19). David then shares why God desired to save him (verses 20-27), and then about how God was so good to him (verses 28-34). David shares how God provided him victory over his enemies (verses 35-45) then praises Him for it (verses 46-49).

The psalm closes with verse 50: “He gives his king great victories; he shows unfailing love to his anointed, to David and to his descendants forever.” This brings it back full circle to where the psalm started - with David professing his love for God. All of the things that God did for David were wrapped up in love; God’s love for us is the reason we can have relationship with Him, and it’s what that relationship is built on.

How is God showing that love in your life? What has God done for you, similar to the victories He gave King David, that have proven His love for you and His strength in your life? Reflect on God’s love in your life this week, and all that ways He is working in your life.

Like Katie’s writings? You can purchase her book What the Bible Says About... here!

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