Psalm 18

OK this is a companion piece to yesterday’s desperate plea to god to make the enemies fail. This is an epic celebration of God’s triumphant salvation, every which way, and with the most wonderfully vivid imagery imaginable.

It’s an intensely emotional outpouring of love for God. David cuts to the chase, opening with “i love you” and pulling on every word he can think if about God, both active and passive. God is his fortress, stronghold, his deliverer, his strength, his shield, his horn, his saviour.

It’s in the context of victory, political or military.

Today a friend’s child is suffering life threatening encephalitis. I’m praying for her child, who would be about 23. She is quite likely to lose her. I know god is strong enough to save her. But I also know that everyone dies sometime, I’m praying Rikki’s is not now.

A day further on, no news on rikki… she’s still fighting for her life. At least she’s not losing, though apparently can’t be said to be winning.

David introduces his problems which are huge, like everything in this psalm. I can visualise the torrent of destruction… A big flood, sweeping him away, I can see the chords of death and the grave coiling round him, dragging him down into the torrent. But there are snares of death confronting him in there too. It’s a bad scene, man.

David’s coping mechanism, as ever, is to cry to god, and there is a wonderful long section about God waking up, hearing, shaking the mountains in anger on David’s behalf in awesome might and coming to his rescue with bolts of lightening and steam in his nostrils etc, it’s magnificent. The lord effortlessly scatters the enemies. There’s no partnership of effort here. David’s only role is to cry for help. Good plucks him out of the reading water of disaster and pours him in a spacious place. Great choice of word!

Then a long and slightly uncomfortable section about how David earned the lords rescue by bring blameless, which doesn’t sit well with the doctrines of original sin and grace.

Of course David knew he was a sinner and knew grace, we haven’t got to psalm 51 yet, his penitence after his shocking abuse of power sending a man to certain death on the battlefield because he lusted after his wife. He has no option but to understand God’s grace towards sinners there. But the other psalms are fairly dripping with grace. So I can only think this doesn’t duly mean what it seems to say. Shamelessly hearing the word through my own theological filter here!

That is a faithless thing to do. I shall stop and take time to look further.

Father I pray for rikki again today, and my son is also heavy on my heart. There are a lot of threads that might come together to improve his situation

Spurgeon to the rescue, he discusses the “salvation by works” element of this psalm in reference to what was occurring in David’s life. He was in fact unfairly run out of town by king Saul. “It is not self righteous for an honest man to know he is honest” he says. So without necessarily saying he was perfect, David is here saying “I was a wronged party in this situation and the lord rescued me, hooray!”

I’ll go with that.

In this general section where he is describing the lords charter through his dealings, I love him saying “with the devious he is shrewed” I suppose, again that places it in the day to day, not the eternal, dealings of God. I love the crescendo, which does have a graceful turn, “you keep my lamp burning, you make my darkness light, …with god I can scale walls”

This is a barrage this psalm. You sense it is the extravagant David who scandalised the people by dancing near naked through the streets with joy at his salvation.

Pray again for rikki, I can only imagine how horrible it must be for her mum and dad. And pray for a complex weekend. Lots of stress, and Kelly and I are impatient with each other. With god’s strength I can scale walls

Oh yes, if there were any doubt, so much grace in verses 30-36. Then triumphalism in 37-45. Crashing the enemies to dust etc. This sits not so well with a liberal peacenik like myself. I know that seems very smorgasbord. “Oh, I like this, don’t care for that”. Delighting in victories is something every culture does. Aussies are perversely understated about it. If David had said his victory was “not half bad” and “seen worse days”, and of his enemies “can’t say I’m sorry, they were pretty ordinary” I would have been way more impressed.

In all honesty I do sometime forget to thank God for the great moments too. This psalm is a reminder not to dial up god only for the hard times. It ends with David assigning it all to god, his rock, his salvation, source of unfailing love to him and all his descendants, of whom, spiritually, I am one.

help me to remember you in times of victory father, the source of love and life

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