I will praise Him!
Reading: Psalm 18
The LORD lives! Praise be to my Rock!
Exalted be God my Savior!
He is the God who avenges me,
who subdues nations under me,
who saves me from my enemies.
You exalted me above my foes;
from a violent man you rescued me.
Therefore I will praise you, LORD, among the nations;
I will sing the praises of your name.
He gives his king great victories;
he shows unfailing love to his anointed,
to David and to his descendants forever (NIV).
The joyful exuberance of the opening lines of this final reading from Psalm 18 is well worth reflecting upon. David exults, “The LORD lives! Praise be to my Rock! Exalted be God my Savior!”
To my thinking, there’s nothing quite as dead as a rock. But here in the same breath, David praises the living LORD, his Rock and his Savior. Living rock seems to be a contradiction in terms, but our God is very much alive. He was alive and active in David’s life, and He is alive and active in your life as well—as active and alive as you allow Him to be.
But the LORD also wants to be the Rock of stability in your life—the solid foundation from which you draw strength. A life anchored in God can withstand the storms of adversity and the test of time. The LORD is that stalwart mainstay that actively trains us for eternity.
Most importantly, our LORD saves. He saved David from all of his troubles. It was God’s intervention in David’s life that brought him the victory time after time. God was not content to sit in heaven and cheer from the sidelines. The LORD got involved in David’s life. He responded repeatedly to David’s cries for mercy and help.
If David had ample reasons to praise God and be thankful, we who live on this side of the cross, under the new covenant, have far more grounds for praise. God intervened directly for us. We have a Savior in Jesus, who left his throne in glory. He put His own skin in the game. The Father sent His one and only Son to live as a man, and then suffer and die on our behalf. And Jesus did not remain dead. God the Father raised him from the dead. Now with David we can say, “The LORD lives! Praise be to my Rock! Exalted be God my Savior!”
Response: Heavenly Father, thank you for sending Jesus. Thank you for his life, his death and his resurrection. I love you, Lord Jesus. You are the living Rock on which I can build my life. Through you I am more than a conqueror. Holy Spirit help me live this day in praise of my Savior. Amen.
Your Turn: Is the LORD your living Rock? Has He been your help? Has Jesus become your Savior? How will you honor Him today?
Reading: Psalm 18
As for God, his way is perfect:
The LORD’s word is flawless;
he shields all who take refuge in him.
For who is God besides the LORD?
And who is the Rock except our God?
It is God who arms me with strength
and keeps my way secure.
He makes my feet like the feet of a deer;
he causes me to stand on the heights.
He trains my hands for battle;
my arms can bend a bow of bronze.
You make your saving help my shield,
and your right hand sustains me;
your help has made me great.
You provide a broad path for my feet,
so that my ankles do not give way (NIV).
There’s a principle of biblical interpretation that goes something like this: The natural comes first, and then comes the spiritual. We can see this illustrated in Paul’s comparison of the first man, Adam, with the new man, Christ, in 1 Corinthians 15. Similarly, the natural Kingdom of Israel is replaced in the New Testament by the spiritual Kingdom of God, which has no physical or geographic boundaries.
In David’s time natural Israel had borders, which needed to be defended from attack by flesh and blood enemies that were only too eager take advantage of any perceived weakness. In the same way today, the church and every born-again believer must be on guard, because Satan and his demons are lying in wait, ready to attack.
Yes, Virginia, there is a Devil. And he has marked you as his target. He has spiritual murder as his top priority—your murder. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8).
But God did not leave David or natural Israel defenceless. The LORD provided His matchless word and His impenetrable shield of faith against the foes attack. Furthermore, there was strength for the battle. David declares, “It is God who arms me with strength and keeps my way secure… He trains my hands for battle; my arms can bend a bow of bronze.”
This portion of Psalm 18 has its New Testament spiritual counterpart in Ephesians 6:10-17, where Paul the apostle, calls us as spiritual warriors to put on the armor of God. Like David, we are in a battle.
Response: Heavenly Father, help me to fight the good fight. Today, I put on the armor of God to fight the attacks of the enemy. Give me your strength in Jesus name. Amen.
Your Turn: How does Satan try to bring you down? What weapons are you using to counter his attacks?
Reading: Psalm 18
To the faithful you show yourself faithful,
to the blameless you show yourself blameless,
to the pure you show yourself pure,
but to the devious you show yourself shrewd.
You save the humble
but bring low those whose eyes are haughty.
You, LORD, keep my lamp burning;
my God turns my darkness into light.
With your help I can advance against a troop;
with my God I can scale a wall (NIV).
How do you see God? How do you perceive Him to be? The opening lines of today’s psalm reading tell us plainly that the state of our heart determines our perception of God. God reveals Himself to us according to the condition of our soul. Therefore, David makes this observation: To the faithful you show yourself faithful, to the blameless you show yourself blameless, to the pure you show yourself pure, but to the devious you show yourself shrewd.
The truth expressed in this straightforward observation has enormous implications for every human on the planet. Our relationship with God is shaped by our perception of Him, and our perception of Him is reflective of the state of our heart. For example, one person goes through a period of hardship and loss and becomes bitter and angry toward others and God. Another person goes through a similar period of hardship and loss, but emerges passionately in love with his Creator. How can this be?
The answer can be found in David’s observation: To the faithful you show yourself faithful, to the blameless you show yourself blameless, to the pure you show yourself pure, but to the devious you show yourself shrewd. The blameless assign no blame to God, but the sin-darkened soul blames Him for even the slightest adversity.
Jesus said, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God” (Matthew 5:8). Do you want to see God at work in your life? Then ask the Lord Jesus to give you a pure heart. God shows Himself—becomes visible—to those with a pure heart. The pure in heart see God in the glory of the sunset, in the face of a child, in kindness of a stranger. The sin-polluted soul can view the same scene—experience the same events—and sees God in none of it. He is blind to God.
Our eyes open the moment we humble ourselves before God. David’s words ring true today. You save the humble but bring low those whose eyes are haughty. You, LORD, keep my lamp burning; my God turns my darkness into light.
Response: Heavenly Father, give me a pure heart. I want to see you. I want to see you, Lord Jesus, alive and active all around me today. Give me eyes that see beyond the natural and into the realm of the spirit where you are at work. Amen.
Your Turn: Did you see God today? How did He show Himself to you?
Reading: Psalm 18
He reached down from on high and took hold of me;
he drew me out of deep waters.
He rescued me from my powerful enemy,
from my foes, who were too strong for me.
They confronted me in the day of my disaster,
but the LORD was my support.
He brought me out into a spacious place;
he rescued me because he delighted in me.
The LORD has dealt with me according to my righteousness;
according to the cleanness of my hands he has rewarded me.
For I have kept the ways of the LORD;
I am not guilty of turning from my God.
All his laws are before me;
I have not turned away from his decrees.
I have been blameless before him and have kept myself from sin.
The LORD has rewarded me according to my righteousness,
according to the cleanness of my hands in his sight (NIV).
In the previous reading, David depicted the LORD as riding the wings of the wind on a thunderstorm to rescue him from his enemies. In this portion of Psalm 18, the enemy is routed and David is rescued. In triumph David declares, “They confronted me in the day of my disaster, but the LORD was my support. He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me.”
David then goes on to assert the reason why he believes the LORD did not allow him to perish at the hands of his mortal enemies. Twice he makes this claim, “The LORD has rewarded me according to my righteousness, according to the cleanness of my hands in his sight.”
Why were clean hands so important in David’s ultimate victory? Why are clean hands so important to the LORD? Twice when David had the opportunity to cut down his enemies—the enemies who were in pursuit to kill him—David kept his hands clean. When the opportunity arose, David refused to kill jealous King Saul despite the urging of the men who were with him. He attempted reconciliation with the enemy who sought his life. See 1 Samuel 24. That takes courage and conviction.
Sometimes it takes more courage to hold your fire than press your advantage. It takes a godly conviction that God is keeping score, and He will reward the man with a clean heart and clean hands. That takes faith—faith in the unseen hand of God at work in the affairs of men. David had that kind of faith.
How about you? Are your hands clean? Are you trusting in the LORD or settling accounts your way? Faith in God calls us to a higher standard.
Response: LORD, I want clean hands and a pure heart before you. I put my trust in you. You reward those who diligently seek you. Jesus, wash me clean. I put my faith in you. Amen.
Your Turn: Does God always reward those with clean hands? How do you keep your hands clean?
Reading: Psalm 18
In my distress I called to the LORD; I cried to my God for help.
From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came before him, into his ears.
The earth trembled and quaked, and the foundations of the mountains shook;
they trembled because he was angry.
Smoke rose from his nostrils; consuming fire came from his mouth,
burning coals blazed out of it.
He parted the heavens and came down; dark clouds were under his feet.
He mounted the cherubim and flew; he soared on the wings of the wind.
He made darkness his covering, his canopy around him—
the dark rain clouds of the sky.
Out of the brightness of his presence clouds advanced,
with hailstones and bolts of lightning.
The LORD thundered from heaven; the voice of the Most High resounded.
He shot his arrows and scattered the enemy, with great bolts of lightning he routed them.
The valleys of the sea were exposed
and the foundations of the earth laid bare at your rebuke, LORD,
at the blast of breath from your nostrils (NIV).
Maybe you are like me? I love thunderstorms. But watching a thunderstorm in a city is like watching a Christmas light display in broad daylight. There’s something missing. There’s no sense of broad expanse or sweeping grandeur.
I grew up on the prairies and for sheer awe there’s nothing quite like viewing a thunderstorm slowly building in the western sky. There you are on a slow moving tractor working a field. There’s you, there’s miles of flat land, and there’s the sky. And the most active thing is the sky. Sometimes the storm clouds can hang there boiling and brooding for hours—lightning flashing in the distance. Then suddenly the air changes, the wind picks up, and look out! Lightning! Thunder! Fierce gusts of wind. Rain. Hail. It all comes at you—comes at you with a vengeance.
I love a thunderstorm. It puts me in my place. It lets me see who I am. I am a small man in a big world—a world I cannot control. I’m a man at the mercy of God. I’m always at the mercy of God whether I see the storm clouds building or not.
In this psalm, David pictures the LORD riding the wings of the wind, thundering from heaven, not to harm him, but storming in to rescue him in response to his cry for help. That’s my God. That’s the picture of God that I need etched onto my mind. He is the God who hears and answers, the God who helps in times of need. In a vast world, He hears the cry of little, insignificant me. I love a thunderstorm. It lets me see the LORD’s love and grace.
Response: Heavenly Father, may I always see you as my helper. Ride to my rescue when times are tough and I am in need. You are my help and defender. You are worthy of my praise. Amen.
Your Turn: Do the storms of life help you see God at work around you?