Good morning to you all, I wish I could see your faces –I hope you are all doing well and are safe and healthy. Been a while since we’ve seen each other, I do miss you all, and looking forward to meeting again with you face to face.
In the meantime, thank you for tuning in here – we’re kicking off a series this morning on some of the Psalms of David, which I’m sure will be interesting and uplifting.
I’m starting us off in the next 2 weeks at Psalm 18 and 19 – so, please join me in the word if you have a bible around or on your phone.
The Psalms are a really great place to spend time in – the original hymnbook, how many times do find yourself dipping your toes into these chapters here – whether you’re in need of comfort and guidance and wisdom, whether you’re wanting to express yourself in praise and you don’t have the words – I’m sure in the next few weeks we’ll cover a whole range of ground. We’ll read together this morning in Psalm 18 – please sit back and listen.
For the director of music. Of David the servant of the Lord. He sang to the Lord the words of this song when the Lord delivered him from the hand of all his enemies and from the hand of Saul. He said:
1 I love you, Lord, my strength.
3 I called to the Lord, who is worthy of praise,
and I have been saved from my enemies.
4 The cords of death entangled me;
the torrents of destruction overwhelmed me.
5 The cords of the grave coiled around me;
the snares of death confronted me.
6 In my distress I called to the Lord;
I cried to my God for help.
From his temple he heard my voice;
my cry came before him, into his ears.
7 The earth trembled and quaked,
and the foundations of the mountains shook;
they trembled because he was angry.
8 Smoke rose from his nostrils;
consuming fire came from his mouth,
burning coals blazed out of it.
9 He parted the heavens and came down;
dark clouds were under his feet.
10 He mounted the cherubim and flew;
he soared on the wings of the wind.
11 He made darkness his covering, his canopy around him—
the dark rain clouds of the sky.
12 Out of the brightness of his presence clouds advanced,
with hailstones and bolts of lightning.
13 The Lord thundered from heaven;
the voice of the Most High resounded.[d]
14 He shot his arrows and scattered the enemy,
with great bolts of lightning he routed them.
15 The valleys of the sea were exposed
and the foundations of the earth laid bare
at your rebuke, Lord,
at the blast of breath from your nostrils.
16 He reached down from on high and took hold of me;
he drew me out of deep waters.
17 He rescued me from my powerful enemy,
from my foes, who were too strong for me.
18 They confronted me in the day of my disaster,
but the Lord was my support.
19 He brought me out into a spacious place;
he rescued me because he delighted in me.
My bible attributes these words to David - you also find this passage in the book of Samuel interestingly enough.– and maybe just to remind ourselves of who we have here as the worldly author - of course scripture is divinely inspired, but the vehicle through which God is speaking is a man just like you and me. Well maybe not just like you and me, David’s story is quite incredible, but human and fallible nonetheless. A sinner just like you and me.
David – son of Jesse
David anointed by Samuel
David, the man after God’s own heart
David and Goliath – wow what a story
David and Bathsheba, yikes, what a story
David the skillful musician – plays his instrument, his lyre to sooth the king
David who would go on to be King at age 30!
David on the run from his predecessor Saul – David in the wilderness running for his life.
He has seen highs and he has seen lows He has seen God’s highest favour and anointing, and as the Psalms say, he has seen some pretty lonely dark places too. How would someone who would go on to be in the lineage of Christ himself (Hosanna to the Son of David) find himself hiding out in a cave.
This particular Psalm references his entanglement with King Saul. So to unpack that super quickly:
Saul is King – but he’s running into trouble -the Prophet Samuel tell Saul that God has rejected him as King – all this is in 1 Samuel by the way – Saul is troubled by an evil spirit and he sends for David – who comes and helps him – David is appointed as Saul’s Armor bearer – a nice position for a shepherd boy – someone close to him – he stays at court, he lives with him.
After his battle with Goliath he becomes super popular – Saul offers him his eldest daughter at a wife – he says no thanks.
People start singing songs about David – Saul has slain his thousands and David his tens of thousands!
You see what’s happening – he is rising in popularity - everything he is doing, militarily – seems to be tremendously successful– this is a threat to the king. Saul’s son Jonathon and David are close friends – he is again offered the hand of a daughter of Saul – and Saul by now is in full entrapment mode – but David passes every test. What an overachiever. No wonder Saul dislikes the guy, he is making Saul look pretty ordinary.
His dislike grows into hatred – he becomes fearful of David
He tells Jonathon to kill David – but Jonathan tells David about the plan – and so starts this pursuit of David by Saul – he flees and is chased down, over and over . A man on the run – that’s the backdrop for this Psalm.
So when David says he has a fortress and a deliverer, you understand what he is being protected from , and delivered from. The King himself, with all his might and resources, wanted him dead.
HE had nowhere to run to, no safe refuge or hiding pace – literally out in the wilderness.
Yes, framed in this beautiful poetic language of praise, but based on a real lived experience that he has gone through. This songs of praise is his testimony.
Would David have had any inkling as he strummed his guitar in the courts of the king, of wait lay before him? As he was enjoyed success after success, as he was having princesses thrust before him, that pretty soon he would be sleeping in a cave? Seems unlikely.
There’s an interesting preface of course to this Psalm in the Psalm before it – if you look at the language used in Psalm 17 – you see a different picture – a cry out for help of someone who has not yet been delivered – my enemies surround me – they have tracked me down and encircle me – very much in the middle of what he is facing – and so Psalm 18 becomes this after thought – this look back, this reflection on how God has worked.
Here is a man who had it all going for him, who had a good life with power and influence and highly positioned friends, he had skills and talents – but all that was of very little use when actually faced with mortal danger. He still had a need to cry out to God.
What would your response after having had all that taken away from you, seemingly in an instant? Anger, Frustration? If you’ve been through a trial and a massive test of your faith – aren’t we all the more likely to be angry with God – like God, what was that all about? Why did you put me through that? Instead of praising him for delivery through trial, If you’re like me you kind of get self-focussed a bit too much – why have you forsaken me kind of thinking. This shouldn’t have happened to me – because our expectation obviously is that we won’t be grieved, or tested, or put through furnace of affliction. That God won’t allow bad things to happen to his people,
Wow, I live a good life, I’m a good person, I tithe, I attend church, I’m on fire for you God, and STILL you let this happen to me?
We might shout angrily at God
David calls out to a compassionate God
He calls out to the Lord – in my distress I call out to the Lord
And he responds
He comes down
HE mounts Cherubim
His voice thunders, he shot arrows – He reaches out – he hears, he acts, and he saves
You have a call from someone in need, someone in trouble, and you have a real response from the almighty God.
He reached down from on high and took hold of me;
he drew me out of deep waters.
David calls out – he recognises he is in trouble. And he needs help. That’s an important point worth noting – you can’t do this alone. And there’s nothing wrong with recognising your weakness, with recognising the danger you find yourself in.
How’s it going – ja no, fine, lekker, all under control. God is good all the time.
Listen to a different Psalm - 42
I say to God my Rock, “Why have you forgotten me? Why must I go about mourning, oppressed by the enemy?” My bones suffer mortal agony as my foes taunt me, saying to me all day long, “Where is your God?” Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me?
Do we think our God will not act – do you think our God does not hear our cries – that he is unconcerned with little old me and my problems.
Or do we think we can sort all our problems out ourselves. That we are strong – we are strong enough to face it all alone.
But David knows that God is his Rock. He knows he doesn’t have to be strong, because God is His strength, God is his rock
Write that down – put those four words in your memory right now – GOD IS MY ROCK.
Let me put my engineer hat on for a quick moment
And let’s talk about strength and let’s talk about ROCK – but buildings - and bridges and dams and skyscrapers – they have massive foundations, that go down to ROCK.
Proper foundations are built on hard rock. You might be fooled into thinking that your weak concrete strip footing foundations you see when you do your renovations at home are proper foundations, but sorry to be the one to tell you, those are not – that’s why you still get cracks in your walls that you have to fill up with Polyfilla.
True, proper foundations for a building, extend all the way down until they find what – SOLID ROCK.
Don’t build your house on the sandyland.
If it’s built on rock, the structure will be strong – it won’t crack, it won’t settle – it will stand firm and stand true. It will be strong. It won’t be moved. It will resist whatever forces are trying to bring it down.
David obviously isn’t talking about houses and bridges here when he says, repeatedly, the God is his ROCK. It is his source of stability. It is his source of strength – it is his source of protection – his refuge. When the world around him is very quickly dissolving and disappearing – His rock is there for him. His rock is dependable – his rock is trustworthy. His mountain – his shield – his stronghold. – you can see the personal connection – not a mountain, a shield, a stronghold, but My mountain, my shield, my stronghold. There’s a level of connection and intimacy there with the most high God.
He is the horn of my salvation – The biblical use of horns – power, might, strength, protection like the horns of a animal. He is powerful and mighty in securing my salvation and keeping me safe – he says.
He is my deliverer – my carrier – he has brought me through this thing.
So God My Rock. You can’t help but be amused by all this imagery and metaphor and picture – as David calls God His Rock – he is referring to a time when he spent time hiding in a literal cave. It’s quite tangible isn’t it. You can just imagine him – moving through the wilderness – looking for physical shelter – looking for a physical place to take refuge, looking for a nice solid rock formation in which he could hide out and be safe – but as he looks back and pens these words – he realises that God is so much greater than just a physical outworking – that his protection and shelter and deliverance doesn’t come from a physical cold, lifeless rock – but that it comes instead from the most high living God.
Friends, this rock, the rock of our salvation – is here for us too. He is our rock – our shelter in the storm, our light in the darkness. He is that strong sure foundation for everything – everything that matters in life.
He is the rock of history – he gives meaning to our lives, he gives purpose and direction and contentment as we wander through every changing days. He is the rock of our emotions – as we experience the highs and lows of life – the ups and downs – he is the strong sure presence that is always constant and always there for us. He is the rock of our faith – that our faith is not built upon human beings, and failing promises, but upon the grounded truth that comes from God – that we believe in something real and firm. He is the rock on which I place my hope. So that even when I am surrounded by danger – that, like David, we feel the walls closing in and we’re just surrounded and things just seem to get worse and worse – that he is our deliverer that we can trust to be faithful to all of His promises to us.
David is saved – in the Psalm he is singing of his salvation from death. Resurrection language
He is talking about the earth shaking, about darkness all over the Land
Talking at the end of the Psalm about it being ‘To David and to his descendants forever’.
What do you think? It makes me think of Jesus – it makes me thing of the gospel. It makes me think that the Lord shows his kindness and his mercy and his power to us in the very same way. That through Jesus he becomes OUR stronghold, and very surely, our deliver. That we can sing this song of praise too. That we can also stand upon this rock.
Thank you for listening – I hope you are blessed by us spending some in the word this morning and that your week ahead would truly be mindful, that God is our ROCK.