Psalm 18:1 For the director of music. Of David the servant of the LORD. He sang to the LORD the words of this song when the LORD delivered him from the hand of all his enemies and from the hand of Saul. He said:
I love you, O LORD, my strength.
2 The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer;
my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge.
He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
3 I call to the LORD, who is worthy of praise,
and I am saved from my enemies.
4 The cords of death entangled me;
the torrents of destruction overwhelmed me.
5 The cords of the grave coiled around me;
the snares of death confronted me.
6 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.
7 The earth trembled and quaked,
and the foundations of the mountains shook;
they trembled because he was angry.
…16 He reached down from on high and took hold of me;
he drew me out of deep waters.
17 He rescued me from my powerful enemy,
from my foes, who were too strong for me.
18 They confronted me in the day of my disaster,
but the LORD was my support.
19 He brought me out into a spacious place;
he rescued me because he delighted in me.
The helpless disciple
The first nineteen verses of this Psalm speak of the believer who trusts in God and has faith in God. He calls on the Lord for help, and the Lord hears him and saves him. The believer is helpless before the dangers which confront him. God is glorified as He stretches forth His hand to protect His disciple.
Why is the Lord faithful to help this person? God is not obligated to help just anyone who calls on His name. There are those who pray to him out of sheer desperation, “If you exist, help me now. I will believe in you if you help me now.” But God does not always answer such prayers with deliverance. Let us continue on with the next verses to learn the characteristics of the one whose prayer the Lord does hear and answer.
20 The LORD has dealt with me according to my righteousness;
according to the cleanness of my hands he has rewarded me.
21 For I have kept the ways of the LORD;
I have not done evil by turning from my God.
22 All his laws are before me;
I have not turned away from his decrees.
23 I have been blameless before him
and have kept myself from sin.
24 The LORD has rewarded me according to my righteousness,
according to the cleanness of my hands in his sight.
25 To the faithful you show yourself faithful,
to the blameless you show yourself blameless,
26 to the pure you show yourself pure,
but to the crooked you show yourself shrewd.
27 You save the humble
but bring low those whose eyes are haughty.
28 You, O LORD, keep my lamp burning;
my God turns my darkness into light.
God hears the disciple who is obedient and lives a righteous life
The disciple who truly has faith in God will keep God’s commands and ways. He will keep his hands clean from sin. He lives a righteous life in the fear of God. He is faithful to the Lord and blameless in His sight, and the Lord in turn is faithful to him. He is not proud because he lives a pure life; he remains humble before God. According to this Psalm, this is the disciple to whom the Lord reveals His grace to save from danger. This is the one who has true faith in God.
What happens to the disciple who has faith in God—evidenced by works of obedience?
29 With your help I can advance against a troop;
with my God I can scale a wall.
30 As for God, his way is perfect;
the word of the LORD is flawless.
He is a shield
for all who take refuge in him.
31 For who is God besides the LORD?
And who is the Rock except our God?
32 It is God who arms me with strength
and makes my way perfect.
33 He makes my feet like the feet of a deer;
he enables me to stand on the heights.
34 He trains my hands for battle;
my arms can bend a bow of bronze.
35 You give me your shield of victory,
and your right hand sustains me;
you stoop down to make me great.
36 You broaden the path beneath me,
so that my ankles do not turn.
37 I pursued my enemies and overtook them;
I did not turn back till they were destroyed.
38 I crushed them so that they could not rise;
they fell beneath my feet.
39 You armed me with strength for battle;
you made my adversaries bow at my feet.
40 You made my enemies turn their backs in flight,
and I destroyed my foes.
41 They cried for help, but there was no one to save them—
to the LORD, but he did not answer.
42 I beat them as fine as dust borne on the wind;
I poured them out like mud in the streets.
43 You have delivered me from the attacks of the people;
you have made me the head of nations;
people I did not know are subject to me.
44 As soon as they hear me, they obey me;
foreigners cringe before me.
45 They all lose heart;
they come trembling from their strongholds.
46 The LORD lives! Praise be to my Rock!
Exalted be God my Savior!
47 He is the God who avenges me,
who subdues nations under me,
48 who saves me from my enemies.
You exalted me above my foes;
from violent men you rescued me.
49 Therefore I will praise you among the nations, O LORD;
I will sing praises to your name.
50 He gives his king great victories;
he shows unfailing kindness to his anointed,
to David and his descendants forever.
Kingly authority and mountain-moving faith
The disciple who has true faith in God as evidenced by obedience will be armed by the Lord to become a skilled and mighty warrior. He will accomplish victories for His God and become “great” (verse 35). He will become proficient in utterly destroying the enemies of God. They will fear him.
This disciple will be given “kingly” authority to crush God’s enemies. He will have great mountain-moving faith to accomplish great victories. God performs His powerful works through him.
The tone in the last section of this Psalm could not contrast more from the tone in the first section. In the first section, the disciple appears helpless and at the mercy of his foes who were “too strong for him.” He has faith in God to save him. But in the last section the disciple is suddenly able to destroy and crush his foes; they turn their backs and flee from him. He now has mountain-moving faith to command obedience from the foreigners (verse 44) with his word.
We see a dramatic transition from faith in God for God’s help—to mountain-moving faith to do the great and awesome works of God. How does this transition take place? It is through a life of righteousness and obedience to God’s commands.
Psalm 18:24 The LORD has rewarded me according to my righteousness, according to the cleanness of my hands in his sight.