Short Meditations on the Psalms: Psalm 18

Psalm 18  •  4 min. read  •  grade level: 8
This is Messiah’s praise for deliverance or resurrection, which had been expected at the close of the preceding Psalm. He celebrates Jehovah as His rock and His horn—symbols of strength and royalty. He recites His desires in the day of His distress, and the marvelous redemption which the hand of Jehovah had wrought for Him and His Israel, when in the place of death, or amid the confederations of His enemies in the latter day. His deliverance is God’s answer to His cry. The earth then shakes. As the place of assembly shook at the voice of the Church in Jerusalem (Acts 4). For the Judge of all the earth will avenge His own elect that cry to Him. The Spirit of His mouth and the brightness of His coming will do this. (Psalm 18:8,128There went up a smoke out of his nostrils, and fire out of his mouth devoured: coals were kindled by it. (Psalm 18:8)
12At the brightness that was before him his thick clouds passed, hail stones and coals of fire. (Psalm 18:12)
; 2 Thess. 2:88And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: (2 Thessalonians 2:8).)
This Psalm strikingly shows Christ in two places and two very distinct characters. For He is here both the delivered one and the deliverer. He is the one who makes this supplication, and the one who answers it. All this, of course, simply and necessarily arising from His person, divine and human as it is, from His being one with His afflicted people, and yet the Lord who rescues and blesses them: as we see Him in Isaiah 8, waiting on Jehovah who has turned His face from Israel, and in Matt. 23 Jehovah Himself with his face turned away.
David’s deliverance from the hand of Saul was the type of this; and the deliverance of Israel (with whom Messiah here identifies Himself) in the latter day will be the real deliverance here celebrated by the prophetic spirit. The rescue of Israel from the Red Sea, where the strength of Pharaoh perished, is referred to (Psa. 18:15-1615Then the channels of waters were seen, and the foundations of the world were discovered at thy rebuke, O Lord, at the blast of the breath of thy nostrils. 16He sent from above, he took me, he drew me out of many waters. (Psalm 18:15‑16)); for that was another typical resurrection or deliverance. So the discomfiture of Adonizedek, who was the type of the last enemy or the willful king in the days of Joshua, is also glanced at in Psa. 18:1212At the brightness that was before him his thick clouds passed, hail stones and coals of fire. (Psalm 18:12). (See also Psa. 144, Isa. 30:27-3327Behold, the name of the Lord cometh from far, burning with his anger, and the burden thereof is heavy: his lips are full of indignation, and his tongue as a devouring fire: 28And his breath, as an overflowing stream, shall reach to the midst of the neck, to sift the nations with the sieve of vanity: and there shall be a bridle in the jaws of the people, causing them to err. 29Ye shall have a song, as in the night when a holy solemnity is kept; and gladness of heart, as when one goeth with a pipe to come into the mountain of the Lord, to the mighty One of Israel. 30And the Lord shall cause his glorious voice to be heard, and shall show the lighting down of his arm, with the indignation of his anger, and with the flame of a devouring fire, with scattering, and tempest, and hailstones. 31For through the voice of the Lord shall the Assyrian be beaten down, which smote with a rod. 32And in every place where the grounded staff shall pass, which the Lord shall lay upon him, it shall be with tabrets and harps: and in battles of shaking will he fight with it. 33For Tophet is ordained of old; yea, for the king it is prepared; he hath made it deep and large: the pile thereof is fire and much wood; the breath of the Lord, like a stream of brimstone, doth kindle it. (Isaiah 30:27‑33), and Isa. 64:1-31Oh that thou wouldest rend the heavens, that thou wouldest come down, that the mountains might flow down at thy presence, 2As when the melting fire burneth, the fire causeth the waters to boil, to make thy name known to thine adversaries, that the nations may tremble at thy presence! 3When thou didst terrible things which we looked not for, thou camest down, the mountains flowed down at thy presence. (Isaiah 64:1‑3).)
And the delivered one becomes the conquering and the reigning one at the close. The Lord strengthening Him, He seems equal to everything. The same hand of God that rescues Him, gives Him victory, and at last invests Him with dominion. It lights His candle, and makes Him run through a troop.
And thus this Psalm tells us, as Paul teaches in Romans 8, “whom He justified, them He also glorified.” For the Lord does not, cannot, stop with mere deliverance, but goes on to perfect His goodness in the kingdom. The song of Israel in Exodus 15 and that of the elders in Revelation 5 utter the same truth. If He translate us into the kingdom of His dear Son, it is as putting us on the sure and ready way to the inheritance of the saints in light (Col. 1). He perfects that which concerneth us.
But all this is in favor of the righteous (Psa. 18:20-2720The Lord rewarded me according to my righteousness; according to the cleanness of my hands hath he recompensed me. 21For I have kept the ways of the Lord, and have not wickedly departed from my God. 22For all his judgments were before me, and I did not put away his statutes from me. 23I was also upright before him, and I kept myself from mine iniquity. 24Therefore hath the Lord recompensed me according to my righteousness, according to the cleanness of my hands in his eyesight. 25With the merciful thou wilt show thyself merciful; with an upright man thou wilt show thyself upright; 26With the pure thou wilt show thyself pure; and with the froward thou wilt show thyself froward. 27For thou wilt save the afflicted people; but wilt bring down high looks. (Psalm 18:20‑27)); paying just judgment to others. That is the character of the action here. For the deliverance from “the violent man” will not be so much in grace as in righteousness. The sinner is delivered only in grace, through atonement, from the curse of the accuser, the penalty of sin, and the just judgment of the law. And so the Israel of God in the day of their repentance by and by. But in conflict with the enemy, they will be righteous as David with Saul. They will suffer as martyrs or as righteous ones, and as such they will be delivered. And this just judgment, this reward of righteousness and of evil, is the character of the action in the book of Revelation (see Rev. 22:11,1511He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still. (Revelation 22:11)
15For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie. (Revelation 22:15)
), as it is of this Psalm.
2 Samuel 22 shows us that this Psalm was the utterance of David in a fitting time; and though I have just noticed it above, I may urge it again here, what a proof does this offer of the typical nature of certain pieces of history. For the deliverance of David from the hand of Saul is here published in such a style as tells us plainly that another and far more magnificent deliverance was looked at through it.
Hannah’s Song of Solomon in like manner, looks beyond the occasion of it (1 Sam. 2). Nothing is more common than this. And this is judged by some to be the meaning of those words, “No prophecy of the scriptures is of any private interpretation” (2 Peter 1). All individual events are parts of one great system of divine government.