Psalm 18 - Great Praise from a Place of Great Victory - Page 9 (series: Lessons on Psalms)

by John Lowe
(Woodruff, S.C.)

(v. 23) I was also upright before him. In verses 20-24, the psalmist appears to be boasting, but that is not the case, for his boasting is biblical, since it is ultimately in the Lord—“Thus saith the LORD, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches: 24 But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the LORD which exercise loving-kindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the LORD. (Jeremiah 9:23-24).

(v. 23) And I kept myself from mine iniquity, that is, “from guilt.” I have been so careful to be a man of God that I have not done anything that could be called “my inequity,” i.e., something which had become, so to say, a part of me. Likewise, Paul could say, “. . . Men and brethren, I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day” (Acts 23:1). The principle underlying this section is that God reinforces the character which men choose to acquire, behaving toward them as they behave toward Him—“And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient” (Rom. 1:28).

(v. 24) Therefore hath the LORD recompensed me according to my righteousness. David was faithful to the Lord (vv. 20-44; Psalm 17:3-5{9]), so the Lord faithfully cared for David (vv. 25-29). David understood the nature of the Lord and how he revealed Himself to mankind. God rewards people according to their inner character: faithfulness to the faithful, blamelessness to the blameless, purity to the pure, but shrewdness to the crooked (“twisted, perverse,” a word also used in Psalm 101:4; Proverbs 2:15; 8:8; 11:20; 17:20; 19:1; 22:5{10], “wicked”; 28:6{11]). His dealings are always just.

David was loyal (“blameless”), and God was faithful to him and kept his promises to bless him. David wasn’t sinless, but he was blameless in his motives—David possessed a single-hearted sincerity in his devotion to God. The “pure in heart” (Matthew 5:8) are those whose hearts are wholly dedicated to God. Saul had been devious in his dealings with God, David, and the people, but David was honest and straightforward. It’s true that early in his exile, he lied to Ahimelech the priest and to Achish, king of Gath (1 Samuel 21), but he soon learned that faith is living without scheming. God’s character and covenants never change, but His dealings with us are determined by the condition of our hearts.

(v. 24) According to the cleanness of my hands in his eyesight.

David had clean hands (v. 20) as well as skillful hands (v. 34; Psalm 78:72).

(v. 25) With the merciful thou wilt shew thyself merciful.

The way we relate to the Lord determines how the Lord relates to us (vv. 25-27). David was merciful to Saul, and God was merciful to David—“Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy” (Matthew 5:7).

(v. 26) And with the froward thou wilt shew thyself forward.

Froward means “contrary to;” those who act crooked, shrewd, devious or crafty. In other words, God will be against those who are against Him.

(v. 27) For thou wilt save the afflicted people.

God saves the humble (Literally, the poor, humbly pious or afflicted).

(v. 27) but wilt bring down high looks.

God defeats the arrogant (high looks means a proud look (See Psalm 101:5; Proverbs 6:17; 30:13). God makes right the affairs of man.

Verses 28-45 are to be considered together.

What was God accomplishing during those difficult years of Saul’s reign? For one thing, He was disciplining His people for running ahead of Him and making Saul king—“I gave thee a king in mine anger, and took him away in my wrath. 12 The iniquity of Ephraim is bound up; his sin is hid” (Hosea 13:10-11). In His longsuffering, He was also Giving Saul opportunities to repent. At the same time, He was equipping David for his years of service. God takes time to prepare His servants: thirteen years for Joseph, forty years for Moses, and forty years for Joshua. The lessons David learned about himself and God during those years of exile helped to make him the man that he was. The images in these verses reveal God developing a great warrior, a compassionate leader, and a godly man.

28 For thou wilt light my candle: the LORD my God will enlighten my darkness.
29 For by thee I have run through a troop; and by my God have I leaped over a wall.
30 As for God, his way is perfect: the word of the LORD is tried: he is a buckler to all those that trust in him.
31 For who is God save the LORD? or who is a rock save our God?
32 It is God that girdeth me with strength, and maketh my way perfect.
33 He maketh my feet like hinds' feet, and setteth me upon my high places.
34 He teacheth my hands to war, so that a bow of steel is broken by mine arms.
35 Thou hast also given me the shield of thy salvation: and thy right hand hath holden me up, and thy gentleness hath made me great.
36 Thou hast enlarged my steps under me, that my feet did not slip.
37 I have pursued mine enemies, and overtaken them: neither did I turn again till they were consumed.
38 I have wounded them that they were not able to rise: they are fallen under my feet.
39 For thou hast girded me with strength unto the battle: thou hast subdued under me those that rose up against me.
40 Thou hast also given me the necks of mine enemies; that I might destroy them that hate me.
41 They cried, but there was none to save them: even unto the LORD, but he answered them not.
42 Then did I beat them small as the dust before the wind: I did cast them out as the dirt in the streets.
43 Thou hast delivered me from the strivings of the people; and thou hast made me the head of the heathen: a people whom I have not known shall serve me.
44 As soon as they hear of me, they shall obey me: the strangers shall submit themselves unto me.
45 The strangers shall fade away, and be afraid out of their close places.

(v. 28) For thou wilt light my candle.

The image of the candle speaks of God keeping David alive during those dangerous years (See Job 18:5-6; Proverbs 13:9{5]). It also speaks of the perpetuity of his family and dynasty (Psalm 132:17; 2 Samuel 21:17; 1 Kings 11:36, 15:4; 2 Kings 8:19; 2 Chronicles 21:7), culminating in the coming of Jesus Christ to earth (See Luke 1:26-33). This expression has also been rendered “For Thou (God) will give me light,” which means that God will make me prosperous.

(v. 28) The LORD my God will enlighten my darkness. The dynamic of David’s life is “the Lord my God,” whose indwelling light and vigor both maintain the burning glow of personal existence and give incentive and power whereby difficulties are overcome.

(v. 29) For by thee I have run through a troop. With God’s help (“For by thee”) David could always advance against and defeat any enemies (“run through a troop”).

(v. 29) And by my God have I leaped over a wall is perhaps a reference to the incident recorded in 2 Samuel 5:6-10: “David then led his troops to Jerusalem to fight against the Jebusites. “You'll never get in here," the Jebusites taunted. "Even the blind and lame could keep you out!" For the Jebusites thought they were safe. But David captured the fortress of Zion, now called the City of David. When the insulting message from the defenders of the city reached David, he told his own troops, "Go up through the water tunnel into the city and destroy those 'lame' and 'blind' Jebusites. How I hate them." That is the origin of the saying, "The blind and the lame may not enter the house." So David made the fortress his home, and he called it the City of David. He built additional fortifications around the city, starting at the Millo and working inward. And David became more and more powerful, because the LORD God Almighty was with him.

(v. 30) As for God, his way is perfect: the word of the LORD is tried: In the first part of this section (vv. 28-45) of praise David rejoiced over God’s character and His benefits to him. God’s way, the psalmist said, is perfect and His Word flawless, or tried. (Psalm 12:6; Proverbs 30:5). God is worthy of all honor and adoration, not merely because of the blessings He bestows but because of His essential qualities—absolutely true in all that He says and perfect in all He does; perfect in His righteousness, faithfulness, and therefore He is utterly dependable. Therefore He cannot protect those who are antagonistic to Him, but to those who trust Him, He is utterly trustworthy. Beside Him there is none other—“I am the LORD; there is no other God. I have prepared you, even though you do not know me, so all the world from east to west will know there is no other God. I am the LORD, and there is no other” (Isaiah 45:5-6). The word tried is used here in the sense of how metals are tried by fire and proved genuine—“And the words of the LORD are flawless, like silver refined in a furnace of clay, purified seven times” (Psalm 12:6).

Although David wrote this psalm, it is not really completely true of him, instead, as we said earlier, it can be applied to Jesus Christ. David may be speaking prophetically through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit about the One who would be both his Son and his Lord (See Matthew 22:41-46).

(v. 30) He is a buckler to all those that trust in him. Because David trusted God, God enabled him to run, leap, fight, and defeat the enemy (vv. 29, 32-34, 37-45). He could run through a troop, scale a wall, or leap like a deer up the mountains (See Habakkuk 3:19). David said God was his shield (buckler).

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