Theme: The Story Retold
In this week’s lessons we see how the second part of Psalm 18 builds upon the first part, and how Paul uses it to refer to the Lord Jesus Christ.
Scripture: Psalm 18:25-50
The fifth section of Psalm 18 (vv. 30-45) is the most obvious repetition of earlier material, in this case a repetition of verses 4-19. But it is neither a mere repetition nor a vain repetition. Charles Haddon Spurgeon said, “Second thoughts upon God’s mercy should be and often are the best.”5
The first time David told the story of his deliverances by God it was from God’s perspective. As we saw when we studied verses 4-19, the language is borrowed from the accounts of God’s appearance to Moses on Mount Sinai, his deliverance of the people from their enemies in the battles under Joshua at the time of the conquest, and the Exodus from Egypt. The account describes God rising from the throne of his glory in heaven, parting the clouds and descending to earth, accompanied by thunder, smoke, fire, darkness and earthquakes. The result was that David was drawn “out of deep waters” and “rescued from” powerful enemies (vv. 16, 17).
In the second telling (vv. 30–45) David describes in very common terms what this intervention by God meant to him personally. It meant, in short, that God provided for his every need. The terms are physical. First, his feet: “He makes my feet like the feet of a deer; he enables me to stand on the heights” (v. 33). The words are almost identical to the ending of the minor prophet Habakkuk (in Hab. 3:19). Second, his hands: “He trains my hands for battle” (v. 34). Third, his arms: “My arms can bend a bow of bronze” (v. 34). Fourth, his ankles: “You broaden the path beneath me, so that my ankles do not turn” (v. 36). Interspersed with these acknowledgements are verses which say that God armed him with strength (v. 32) and gave him his own shield of victory (v. 35). As a result, David was always able to achieve a full victory over all his enemies.
Verses 37-42 describe the extent of these victories. It was complete and total. Then, lest the reader get the impression that somehow this was David’s own achievement, verses 43–45 make clear once again that it was due to God’s intervention and provision. In other words, these verses link the second telling of David’s deliverance to the first.
David was a king and military commander, so what he needed was strength for and victory in battle. We do not usually need these things. But the principle holds true for us anyway, since, whatever we need, God, the same God, provides it. Is it wisdom? God is the source of all wisdom, and we are told to pray for it. “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him” (James 1:5). Is it peace in the midst of trouble? God is the source of peace. Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you” (John 14:27). Is it love? Joy? Patience? The Bible says, “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (Gal. 5:22). Paul wrote, “My God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus” (Phil 4:19). Wise people have found this to be true and therefore turn to God for their needs, rather than turning to the false promises of the world.
There is one more interesting thing about these verses. David begins by saying, quite rightly, “As for God, his way is perfect” (v. 30). But then, just two verses further on, he adds, “…and he makes my way perfect” (v. 32). So it is! A life well-ordered is a life that follows after and is obedient to the Lord.
How does section five (vv. 30-45) differ from vv. 4-19?
In this section David describes how the Lord provided for him in a physical sense. How else can this be applied to us?
Reflection: How has the Lord intervened for you in a personal way? Praise him for his goodness and faithfulness to you.
5C. H. Spurgeon, The Treasury of David, vol. la Psalms 1-26 (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1968), p. 244.