Action and energy: A closer look at Psalm 18
Psalm 18 speaks about a very active God and a wholehearted man.
Psalm 18 is particularly instructive and exceptionally clear. It speaks about a very active God in heaven and about a man on earth who is wholehearted and eager to carry out God’s will and work.
It begins with this stirring, unequivocal, wholehearted declaration: “I will love You, O Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.” Psalm 18:1-2.
You can build and accomplish something on such a foundation. David stood on this foundation in the days ofwhen he was confronted by the sorrows and snares of death.
Then he cried out to his God, and God heard him in His temple. It was the prayer of a righteous man, pure and undefiled by idolatry. The result was not long in coming. “Then the earth shook and trembled … Smoke went up from His nostrils, and devouring fire from His mouth; coals were kindled by it.” Psalm 18:7-8. There was an exceptional reaction and action by God: “He sent from above, He took me; He drew me out of many waters. He delivered me …” Psalm 18:16-17. What action and energy! The result was an overwhelming victory!
The entire psalm is a blow against false grace and false preaching—the preaching that takes away our personal responsibility and our part in the covenant. The preaching that says that what we do means so little because “everything is by grace” is a counterfeit Word of God. True grace leads to work and action. What God does is often a reaction to our action and our longing. This is how God is honored, for it is He who works both to will and to do; but He gets nowhere without our obedience.
David understood this, and when he analyzed God’s mighty intervention and wondrous acts, he said, “The Lord rewarded me according to my righteousness; according to the cleanness of my hands He has recompensed me.” Psalm 18:20. As far as David was concerned, God’s answer to his prayer was a recompense and reward for his wholehearted effort. He had kept the ways of the Lord; all His statutes were before him, and he kept himself from his iniquity. (verses 21-23) What a man! What a giant of God in the old covenant!
David repeats that it was the Lord’s recompense because of his purity before the Lord’s eyes. “With the merciful You will show Yourself merciful; with a blameless man You will show Yourself blameless; with the pure You will show Yourself pure.” There is great seriousness in what follows next: “With the devious You will show Yourself shrewd.” Another translation says, “You will lead the devious astray.” (Psalm 18:25-26) In other words, one is led astray into thinking, suspecting, and drawing wrong conclusions, and on this basis the person measures and weighs God and draws His displeasure over his life so that he never gets to know David’s God.
Everything was so brilliantly clear for David. How do I see my situations, my fellow men, my brothers, the church, even God Himself? The dark spot that we see often mirrors corresponding dark spots in our own heart. This was not so in David’s heart; therefore God could be so totally one with him in His mighty power.
David was led from victory to victory. “As for God, His way is perfect …” Psalm 18:30. In other words, he had nothing to complain about; he was not dissatisfied.
The rest of the psalm is an exemplary testimony of constant victory, of the total destruction of the enemy. He uses the strongest expressions: running against a troop, leaping over a wall, pursuing my enemies till they were destroyed. Everything that was an enemy was totally destroyed, with the result that the psalm ends with praises to God who had shown such mercy to His anointed, to David. He did not claim any honor or a victory medal for himself.
God has not changed one iota during all these years. As He treated David, so He treats you and me. He is not partial. The only thing that matters is how we have it in our heart.
The whole triumphal procession started with: “I will love You, O Lord, my strength.” Psalm 18:1. If this is true in us, God will move heaven and earth for our and my sakes.
This article has been translated from Norwegian and is taken from an article published in the BCC periodical “Skjulte Skatter” (“Hidden Treasures”) in February 2009, under the title “Psalm 18.”
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Scripture taken from the New King James Version®, unless otherwise specified. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.