The Word Made Fresh
1Then David sang this song when the LORD had delivered him from the hands of all his enemies and from Saul:
2“The LORD is my rock, my fortress, my savior;
3my God, my foundation in whom I find safety;
my armor, my strength and my constant protector,
my fortress and refuge who saves me from harm.
4I call on the LORD, who is worthy of praise;
and know I am rescued from every alarm.
5When death’s inundations surrounded me wholly,
the floods of destruction assailed without mercy;
6the maw of the grave grasped firmly about me,
the awful entrapments of death hovered near.
7Then from my deep troubles I called on the LORD;
I called on my God, and by God I was heard,
My voice raised in worship, my cry raised in tears.
8The earth shook and trembled, and so did the heavens;
the anger of God jumbled all that exists.
9Smoke went from God’s nostrils and fire from God’s mouth
like hot glowing coals flaming forth from God’s throne.
10God opened the heavens, and downward descended,
with deep darkness spreading around the descent.
11Riding a cherub and soaring above me,
I saw the LORD coming on wings of the wind;
12in darkness and hidden in swirling deep clouds,
now bursting with moisture and dense with the dew.
13Bright coals of fire burned ahead of the cherub,
14the LORD’s voice from heaven thundered above me,
El Elyon’s deep voice was shaking the sky.
15The LORD sent out arrows against all opposing,
and sent lightning bolts down to rout every enemy.
16The depths of the sea were now opened to view,
and the earth’s very bedrock laid bare to my eyes,
exposed by a blast of the breath of the LORD.
17The LORD took me up from the deep waters ’round me,
reached down from on high to rescue my life;
18from enemies strong and from those who despised me,
powerful foes all determined to slay me.
19In the days of my weakness my enemies gathered,
but the LORD stood beside me and gave me protection;
20and carried me out to a wide, spacious place,
and saved me — I knew then the LORD was my friend.
21The LORD has been good to me, for I was faithful;
and so was rewarded, for my hands were clean.
22I steadfastly followed the LORD’s good instructions,
I have not indulged in crass wickedness.
23God’s laws and instructions were ever before me,
and I did not stray from them or disobey.
24I lived before God with a heart that was pure,
and stayed far away from temptations to sin.
25The LORD has repaid me for remaining faithful,
and always has judged me to be clean and pure.
26To the loyal you always are loyal, O God,
to the blameless you always are faithful and true;
27and those who are pure have reflected your pureness,
but those who are false you’ve repaid them in kind.
28You always are ready to help the afflicted,
but those who are haughty you always bring down.
29You, O my LORD, are my light in the darkness,
you always are able to shine on my path.
30With you I can run through an army of soldiers;
with you I can leap o’er the highest of walls.
31With God is perfection, and flawless your word.
A shield of protection for all who need aid.
32For who is this God? This God is our LORD!
And who is the Rock? The Rock is our God!
33God, who has always provided my strength;
God, who has always protected my path.
34God makes me to stand with sure feet, like a deer
secure in the heights and the treacherous ways.
35God teaches my hands to be prepared for troubles,
and strengthens my arms for the stiffest of bows.
36You protect and defend me; your shield of salvation
has always been with me and helped make me strong.
37You have helped me to walk with long strides on your pathway,
my feet never slip, and my ankles stay firm.
38I chased down my enemies; I crushed them in battle,
and never withdrew before they were destroyed.
39I beat them, I crushed them, they fell down before me,
and never returned to the fight anymore.
40You always did clothe me with strength for the battle;
my enemies always fell down at my feet.
41You made them turn and run from each battle
and helped me destroy all my adversaries.
42They searched but they never found anyone to help them,
they even cried out to you, LORD, but you shunned them.
43I beat them and pounded them like windblown dust;
I trampled them down like the mud in the streets.
44You also delivered me from my own people,
kept me as their leader, even of those I knew not.
45Foreigners came to me, bowing and scraping,
submitting to me because of all they had heard.
46These foreigners lost heart as soon as they saw me;
and came to me trembling from out of their forts.
47The LORD God is living! And blessed be my rock,
exalted above all, the rock of my rescue.
48The God who avenged me and saved me from enemies,
49and rescued me each time my life was in danger;
You lifted me out of each trap and each trouble,
and saved me from violent enemies around.
50And that is why I extol you, O Lord.
Among all the nations I sing to you praise.
51The LORD gives the LORD’s chosen leader great victories,
shows unfailing kindness to the one who’s anointed —
to David, and to his descendants forever.”
1-4: The introduction tells us that David penned this psalm when all his enemies were subdued, but it reads like a psalm of expectation and faith that God will do such a thing in the future. This will appear later as Psalm 18, by the way. It opens with words of reliance on God, who is trustworthy.
5-6: David’s plight described here could be any one of a half dozen situations.
7-16: He calls on God for deliverance, and God hears his voice and responds with indignant rage at his enemies. All creation shakes at God’s anger.
17-20: David pictures God’s hand reaching down and snatching him out of danger. He imagines that because he has escaped so many close calls God must delight in him.
21-25: But God’s delight is well deserved! David has been such a righteous man! He has obeyed all God’s laws and is blameless in God’s sight! Do you suppose he wrote this while Bathsheba, his partner in adultery and whose husband he had killed, lounged in an easy chair next to his desk?
26-31: Everyone imagines God as being something like themselves, but God pulls down the haughty and raises up the humble. David gives God credit for his victories.
32-43: David describes God’s help through the years. I wonder if Paul was reading this Psalm when he used the imagery of armor for the Christian life (Ephesians 6:14, I Thessalonians 5:8).
44-46: David credits his widespread success to God’s intervention.
47-51: The psalm ends as it began, with praise to God.Â
This is the second of David’s songs, and this one is included in the Book of Psalms as Psalm 18, with minor differences. The song praises God from beginning to end, but also praises David who has done no wrong (says he). Perhaps it is a case of Hebrew hyperbole, a common literary exaggeration that appears regularly throughout the Old Testament. More likely, it is David’s attempt to leave behind the kind of record by which he wants to be remembered. A common endeavor – obituaries in the newspaper seldom mention the failures or foibles of the deceased. I hope mine doesn’t.