A WEEKLY WALK THROUGH THE PSALMS

PSALM 18

The youth have a wonderful song they like to sing at gatherings.  Verses 3 and 46 reminded me of it.  The lyrics and music are written by Michael O’Shields:

I will call upon the Lord
Who is worthy to be praised
So shall I be saved from my enemies
The Lord liveth and blessed be the Rock
And let the God of my salvation be exalted.

You really need the music to appreciate the song, but the words are still powerful in themselves.  The writer of Psalm 18 calls God ‘his strength’.  In saying that, he admits that he is weak and needs this power from outside himself.  It also means that he sees this strength of God as something that is for him and not against him.  Some, although we might wonder if it is the case anymore, actually fear the strength of God.  But this writer says he loves it.  It is indeed a great thing when a person is able to say that they trust in the God who is able, who is strong.  So there is at the beginning of this psalm a flood of wonderful names for God – my rock, my fortress, my deliverer, my shield, etc.  He gives credit to God that he has been ‘saved from his enemies’ – and therefore God is indeed ‘worthy to be praised’.

We have many enemies in this life, although we may not often think of them in those terms.  Some of our enemies are within us and some are outside of us, but all of them present challenges to our lives.  Some see it as a sign of weakness to need help, but the truth is that when a person realizes that what they are going through is too much for them alone to handle alone, then hope is possible.

The psalmist then uses images of the forces of nature to talk about how God responds.  The recent images of the earthquake in Nepal are fresh on our minds.  People sometimes wonder why some people suffer the effects of nature and others do not.  Here, it is believed to be punishment on the enemies of the righteous.  But we know that catastrophe, like the rain, falls on the just and on the unjust – so that doesn’t really explain it.  One thing it does reminds us of is that we are not in control and we are not the masters of our fate.  Surely there are many righteous people who are suffering in Nepal.  And so, with the psalmist, we go behind nature to nature’s God.  In the midst of a world that is not as ordered as we would like or believe, we look beyond the events of this world to the God of this world.

However it happened, the psalmist believes that he has been saved through it and because of it.  While it may not always be the experience, there are many who have at times felt lifted from the waters in which they might have drowned – waters of bitterness, grief, sin – by the strong arm of God in Christ.  Like the psalmist, we too have, at times, been brought to a ‘broad place’.  Sometimes when we focus only on what is bad or difficult, our minds get too restricted and we come to a very ‘narrow place’.  But when we live in Christ and are open to His presence, we are able to find ourselves in a broad place where our vision is able to see so much more.  Hopefully, it is in that place where we can say: “Our Lord liveth, and blessed be the rock, and let the God of our salvation be exalted!”

PRAYER:  O God, our stronghold and our salvation, in Christ you draw near to us with compassion.  Give us such strength of love that we may be brought to a broad place where your name may be exalted in all the earth; through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.  Amen.