God is my rock — Psalm 18

Psalms of David

Psalms in Book 1 (Psalms 1 to 41) are mostly personal songs, so I will be looking at how they apply to us personally. Social and communal aspects of life and work do not come in until the later books of psalms.

It’s a long one today, I suggest you set aside some time to look at the psalm. Pray first that the Holy Spirit will guide your thoughts, read it slowly and pause to think whenever you find something that drops into your mind. If that is all you do and don’t move on to my thoughts after the passage that is fine. If you find something different to what I have written that is OK too. The important thing is to let the Holy Spirit speak.

Come Holy Spirit.

The books of Psalms are roughly themed like this:

Book 1: Psalms 1 – 41: God is beside us.
Book 2: Psalms 42 – 72: God goes before us
Book 3: Psalms 73 – 89: God is all around us.
Book 4: Psalms 90 – 106: God is above us.
Book 5: Psalms 107 – 150: God is among us.

To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David, the servant of the Lord, who addressed the words of this song to the Lord on the day when the Lord rescued him from the hand of all his enemies, and from the hand of Saul. He said:

18 I love you, O Lord, my strength.
The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer,
    my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge,
    my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised,
    and I am saved from my enemies.

The cords of death encompassed me;
    the torrents of destruction assailed me;
the cords of Sheol entangled me;
    the snares of death confronted me.
In my distress I called upon the Lord;
    to my God I cried for help.
From his temple he heard my voice,
    and my cry to him reached his ears.

Then the earth reeled and rocked;
    the foundations also of the mountains trembled
    and quaked, because he was angry.
Smoke went up from his nostrils,
    and devouring fire from his mouth;
    glowing coals flamed forth from him.
He bowed the heavens and came down;
    thick darkness was under his feet.
10 He rode on a cherub and flew;
    he came swiftly on the wings of the wind.
11 He made darkness his covering, his canopy around him,
    thick clouds dark with water.
12 Out of the brightness before him
    hailstones and coals of fire broke through his clouds.
13 The Lord also thundered in the heavens,
    and the Most High uttered his voice,
    hailstones and coals of fire.
14 And he sent out his arrows and scattered them;
    he flashed forth lightnings and routed them.
15 Then the channels of the sea were seen,
    and the foundations of the world were laid bare
at your rebuke, O Lord,
    at the blast of the breath of your nostrils.
16 He sent from on high, he took me;
    he drew me out of many waters.
17 He rescued me from my strong enemy
    and from those who hated me,
    for they were too mighty for me.
18 They confronted me in the day of my calamity,
    but the Lord was my support.
19 He brought me out into a broad place;
    he rescued me, because he delighted in me.

20 The Lord dealt with me according to my righteousness;
    according to the cleanness of my hands he rewarded me.
21 For I have kept the ways of the Lord,
    and have not wickedly departed from my God.
22 For all his rules were before me,
    and his statutes I did not put away from me.
23 I was blameless before him,
    and I kept myself from my guilt.
24 So the Lord has rewarded me according to my righteousness,
    according to the cleanness of my hands in his sight.

25 With the merciful you show yourself merciful;
    with the blameless man you show yourself blameless;
26 with the purified you show yourself pure;
    and with the crooked you make yourself seem tortuous.
27 For you save a humble people,
    but the haughty eyes you bring down.
28 For it is you who light my lamp;
    the Lord my God lightens my darkness.
29 For by you I can run against a troop,
    and by my God I can leap over a wall.

30 This God—his way is perfect;
    the word of the Lord proves true;
    he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him.
31 For who is God, but the Lord?
    And who is a rock, except our God?

32 the God who equipped me with strength
    and made my way blameless.
33 He made my feet like the feet of a deer
    and set me secure on the heights.
34 He trains my hands for war,
    so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze.
35 You have given me the shield of your salvation,
    and your right hand supported me,
    and your gentleness made me great.
36 You gave a wide place for my steps under me,
    and my feet did not slip.
37 I pursued my enemies and overtook them,
    and did not turn back till they were consumed.
38 I thrust them through, so that they were not able to rise;
    they fell under my feet.
39 For you equipped me with strength for the battle;
    you made those who rise against me sink under me.
40 You made my enemies turn their backs to me,
    and those who hated me I destroyed.

41 They cried for help, but there was none to save;
    they cried to the Lord, but he did not answer them.
42 I beat them fine as dust before the wind;
    I cast them out like the mire of the streets.
43 You delivered me from strife with the people;
    you made me the head of the nations;
    people whom I had not known served me.
44 As soon as they heard of me they obeyed me;
    foreigners came cringing to me.
45 Foreigners lost heart
    and came trembling out of their fortresses.

46 The Lord lives, and blessed be my rock,
    and exalted be the God of my salvation—
47 the God who gave me vengeance
    and subdued peoples under me,
48 who delivered me from my enemies;
    yes, you exalted me above those who rose against me;
    you rescued me from the man of violence.

49 For this I will praise you, O Lord, among the nations,
    and sing to your name.
50 Great salvation he brings to his king,
    and shows steadfast love to his anointed,
    to David and his offspring for ever.

Psalm 18 ESVUK

Rock is the safest way to build, for steady foundations, it is best to go down to solid rock. David said God is his rock, it is a statement that God is the foundation on which his life was built.


Like all the psalms Psalm 18 is structured, but it is worth looking at the words first without the structure getting in the way. One suggested structure is that the psalm is in seven parts which then repeat in reverse order, a structure called a chiasm.

The structure includes the title, so make sure you did not miss it out when reading. The structure also has a centre section dedicated to YHWH.

  • A – Introduction
    • B – vv 1-3, YHWH the rock
      • C – vv 4-6, the cry of David is answered
        • D – vv 7-19, YHWH’s deliverence
          • E – vv 20-24, David is upright
            • F – vv 25-29, The ways of YHWH
          • E’ – vv 30-31, YHWH is upright
        • D’ – vv 32-40, YHWH’s deliverence
      • C’ – vv 41-45, the cry of David’s enemies is unanswered
    • B’ – vv 46-48, YHWH the rock
  • A’ – vv 49-50, Conclusion

The name of God

YHWH is the intimate name of God and names in the Bible show something of the nature of the person. God is holy, but his name is so holy that Jewish tradition says it must never be uttered. But here is David not only using God’s name freely in this psalm but using it intimately. YHWH is God’s intimate name and we, like David, can be intimate with a holy God even if we, like David, are not holy.

God is our victory

God has delivered David from his trouble, his life was literally at stake, but David makes it clear that his deliverance was not of his own doing but God’s although he still had to fight. The details of David’s fighting are gory, a bit too gory for me to be comfortable with. I am also uneasy about the military leanings and sabre rattling that surrounds remembrance. This post is due to be published on the Monday following a weekend of remembrance, Remembrance day was on Friday 11th November, the festival of remembrance was on Saturday 12th and Remembrance Sunday on the 13th, I remember those that died not because it was a glorious sacrifice, but because war is always, always a bad thing. Sometimes it is the least bad option when faced with an invasion of one country by another, but it is still a bad thing. May we never make those same mistakes again.

< Psalm 17 | Psalm 18 | Psalm 19 >
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