"The Lord Is My Rock and My Fortress and My Deliverer" (Psalms 18) June 13
We previously read Psalm 18 in conjunction with the other passage in Scripture where this lengthy psalm is found, 2 Samuel 22, which contains nearly identical text. Here David expresses thanks to God for delivering him from trials with all his enemies, including Saul.
In the opening three verses, David compares his strength in God to a rock, fortress, deliverer, shield, horn of salvation and stronghold. Confident in this security, David states, "So shall I be saved from my enemies"—even impending death (verses 3-5). In verses 7-15 David poetically describes the power of God in word pictures recalling God's description of Himself to Job (Job 38-39). The Nelson Study Bible states: "Underlying these poetic words is the understanding that the Almighty will turn the universe inside out, if necessary, to deliver His servant.... All of the Lord's fearsome power is used to save the one who worships Him" (notes on Psalm 18:7-9, 15).
This is not to imply that believers will be spared—"saved from"—every painful trial in life, although God undoubtedly holds up His hand against many things that would otherwise batter us. But we can have every confidence that He is working toward our ultimate salvation in the spiritual sense, saving us from perishing forever to instead live in eternal spirit existence.
Verse 10 gives us the imagery of God riding a cherub. In one sense, this recalls the imagery of Ezekiel 1 and 10, where the throne-chariot of God is shown being transported by four cherubim. Yet the riding of a single cherub seems more akin to Revelation 19, where Jesus is shown returning on a white horse. While white horses are symbolic of victory, this may also represent a literal cherub.
When stating that God intervened "according to my righteousness, according to the cleanness of my hands" (verses 20, 24), David isn't boasting about any inherent goodness. His righteousness—meaning his pursuit of the right way, God's way, and his efforts to please God—he contrasts with the goals and activities of the wicked. They turn from godliness to practice evil.
David observes that God deals with people on the terms they themselves set: with the merciful, God is merciful; with the blameless, God shows Himself blameless; with the pure, God shows Himself pure; with the devious, God shows Himself shrewd (as God is never devious Himself). The humble He will save, and the haughty He will bring down (verses 25-27).
David sets up the highest praise: "As for God, His way is perfect.... For who is God, except the Lord? And who is a rock, except our God?" (verses 28-31). In the remainder of the psalm, David recounts the battle victories that allow him to lead without opposition. He was now king over the most powerful nation of his day (verse 43). Yet, as The Nelson Study Bible notes regarding verses 49-50, "David's victories are prototypes of the victories of the great King to come. The use of the word anointed is appropriate for David, but it points forward to the Savior who is the Anointed One (2:2). The words to David and his descendants forevermore connect the previous promises to the only Son of David who inherited an eternal kingdom, the Savior Jesus (2 Sam.7)."
As noted in the Bible Reading Program comments on 2 Samuel 22, verse 3 of that chapter (also Psalm 18:2) is quoted in Hebrews 2:13, and 2 Samuel 22:50 (Psalm 18:49) is quoted in Romans 15:9 as applying directly to Jesus.