Theme: Why God Delivered David
In this week’s lessons we consider different reasons for which David offers thanksgiving as he reflects on God’s grace and faithfulness towards him.
Scripture: Psalm 18:1-24
Yesterday we introduced the section of verses 4-19, and pointed out that in verses 4-6 David is recalling former dangers he faced from his enemies. He uses powerful poetic language to describe how God’s presence is revealed to those who cry out to him for help.
Verses 7-11 use language associated with the descent of God to Mount Sinai to give the law through Moses. This was accompanied by a shaking of the earth, dark clouds and lightning. The author of Hebrews describes Sinai as “a mountain… burning with fire . . . darkness, gloom and storm,” so terrifying that even Moses said, “I am trembling with fear” (Heb. 12:18-21).
Verses 12-14 refer to God’s intervention in the battles against the Canaanites at the time of the Jewish conquest, particularly against the southern confederation in the battle described in Joshua 10. That is the occasion on which God sent hailstones against the Jews’ enemies. The exposure of the sea valleys described in verses 14 and 15 undoubtedly refers to the parting of the Red Sea at the time of the Exodus from Egypt and the parting of the waters of the Jordan River at the time of the crossing over into Canaan. What is happening in these verses is what Spurgeon describes in a portion of his comments on the psalm: “David has in his mind’s eye the glorious manifestations of God in Egypt, at Sinai, and on different occasions to Joshua and the judges; and he considers that his own case exhibits the same glory of power and goodness, and that, therefore, he may accommodate the descriptions of former displays of the divine majesty into his own hymn of praise.”4
This also means that the God of Moses, Joshua and the judges is his God too, which is the point we saw in studying Psalm 17, where we treated it in terms of the covenant. There David explicitly alluded to the two “songs of Moses” in Exodus 15 and Deuteronomy 32. The God Moses praised is declared to be David’s God also. Here David accomplishes the same thing by reference to the special manifestations of God’s presence and power in past victories.
And God did deliver him, answering the cry of Psalm 17, which is what the next sub-section, verses 16-19 of Psalm 18 describes: “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 third of the six major sections into which I am dividing this psalm has five verses and explains why God delivered David (vv. 20-24). This also takes us back to Psalm 17, for the point is that God delivered David because of the upright manner in which he lived, which is the first basis for his appeal for God’s help made earlier. In Psalm 17 David said, “Though you probe my heart and examine me at night, though you test me, you will find nothing. I have resolved that my mouth will not sin” (v. 5). Here he says, “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 have not done evil by turning from my God” (vv. 20, 21).
How is God described in verses 7-19? What attributes do they show?
According to verses 20-24, why does God deliver David?
Reflection: David writes in verse 19 that God rescued him because he delighted in David. Is the Lord delighting in you, or are there things in your life that are displeasing to God because they are competing for your affections and priorities that he alone deserves?
4C H. Spurgeon. The Treasury of David, vol. 1a, Psalms 1-26 (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1968), p. 239.