David’s a singer; he’s always singing.
It seems he understood that this was his proper response to God and what God had done for him; David knows the Lord is worthy of praise.
So he sings.
If you’ve read David’s story in 1-2 Samuel, you understand how much the Lord had done for him and how the Lord had been with him—calling him, anointing him, protecting him, working through him, keeping him, confronting him, disciplining him, and, not least of all, promising to keep someone on his throne forever.
So David sings.
Psalm 18 is almost identical to a song David sang in 2 Samuel 22.
There in 2 Samuel, David is expressing personal gratitude to the Lord for all He has done; let’s move quickly through the details of David’s life:
David tends his father’s flock.
Samuel comes to Jesse’s house and anoints David as king.
David kills Goliath.
Saul fears David and wants to kill David.
David runs for his life.
David spares Saul’s life not once, but twice.
Saul dies, taking his own life.
David becomes king at Hebron.
David then becomes king over all Israel and conquers Jerusalem.
The palace is built.
David’s kingdom is established.
God makes a covenant with David, promising descendants on his throne forever.
David sins with Bathsheba.
Absalom, David’s son, kills Amnon, David’s son, and then runs away.
After 3 years, Absalom returns to Jerusalem, wins the hearts of the people, steals his father’s throne, and becomes king in Hebron.
David flees to Jerusalem.
Sheba rebels against David.
And then at this point, nearing the end of his life, David sings this song to the Lord; the song he sang (recorded in 2 Samuel 22) is the song that makes up Psalm 18.
Notice the intro at each point before the song begins:
The Lord brought David through many dangers, toils, and snares.
David expresses gratitude to the Lord, and rightly so.
Since this song was published again in the Book of Psalms, this is not merely David’s song.
It is his song (almost word-for-word), but the context is different.
Psalm 18 is an adaptation of David’s song; it’s adapted for the whole assembly of God’s people to sing.
The collection of psalms—the Psalter—is for all God’s people.
It’s our songbook, our prayerbook, our worship guide.
When God’s people sing this psalm, they are to give thanks to the Lord for all that he has done for them.
They are to thank Him, specifically, for His covenant promises; promises made and promises kept.
And so, like David, God’s people sing.
Here’s David, the king of Israel—important, powerful—and now, toward the end of his life, we find him singing this song to the Lord:
David praises the Lord and leads God’s people to praise the Lord with:
A Deep Love
The word for “love” in v. 1 is an unusual word to use; it’s an uncommon one.
It’s impulsive and emotional.
David bursts forth with praise.
He erupts with worship.
He can’t help but sing: “I love you, Lord...”
This word means “to love deeply, to love with tender affection.”
Using this word doesn’t make sense unless you understand David’s particular situation; he’s just been delivered from the hand of his enemies, from the hand of Saul.
Getting free of Saul takes up almost half of the book of 1 Samuel (chapters 18-31).
It’s a pretty good read for us since we’re separated from all of it and none of it is happening to us.
But for David, it’s a little different story.
David is hated, hunted, haunted by Saul on every page, page after page after page.
It’s actually a pretty painful read.
If you’re up to it, give it a go.
It’s a good summer read, First and Second Samuel.
Read it and you’ll start to wonder when it’ll get any better for ol’ Dave.
David has enemies besides Saul, foreign enemies and domestic ones.
Understanding what David’s up against helps us to understand the feeling of verses 1-3.
Remember the woman who was washing Jesus’ feet with her tears, wiping them with her hair, pouring her expensive perfume on them?
The lesson there was the one who is forgiven much loves much.
Likewise, the one who has been delivered much loves much; the one who has been delivered over and over is much more apt to sing a love song to the Savior than the one who feels they have been delivered little.
There were many, many times where David’s enemies nearly sunk his battleship, and they would have, had not the Lord protected him and kept him and held him fast.
Deliverance—repeated, undeserved deliverance—deliverance experienced will caused the one delivered to well-up in exuberant praise and overflowing love.
And so it is: David praises with a deep and deeply affectionate love.
I’ve heard for years in church ministry strategy that we need to gear things more to manly men.
Stop talking about all this lovey-dovey stuff, stop singing gushy ballads to the Lord; that just makes men uncomfortable.
You know what I think?
I think David is as tough as they come.
He’s a warrior, mighty and tested.
He took down Goliath with a river stone and a sling, and then he chopped off the giant’s head with a sword (and all this when he was a young man).
He’s not someone you’d want to meet in a dark alley; brother knows how to take care of himself.
David fought on several fronts (and often), leading military campaigns, he led a nation, and, guess what?
He sang, unashamed:
“I love you, Lord and I lift my voice to worship You, oh, my soul, rejoice!
Take joy, my King in what you hear; may it be a sweet, sweet sound in your ear.”
People with a clear understanding of their deliverance praise God with a deep, deep love.
David gushes over God, calling Him “my strength, my rock, my fortress, my deliverer, my rock, my shield, the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.”
In his love song, David piles up a few handfuls of names for the Lord, almost as if he wants people to know: “The Lord Yahweh is all that to me and more besides.”
A good way to get the force of this is to highlight the conjunctions.
The Lord is “my strength and my rock and my fortress and my deliverer and my rock (again) and my shield and the horn of my salvation and my stronghold.”
These verses illustrate that the Lord always proves to be more than we think Him to be.
And there’s always another “and” that can be added to the Lord’s list of names and characteristics.
Who is the Lord?
In a word?
Shout it out!
(Savior and Redeemer and Rescuer and Creator and Sustainer and Comfort and Peace and Hope and Joy....)
Isn’t this always how it is?
The Lord is always more than He seems at first, and more than you can possibly express.
It makes sense, doesn’t it, when we think about it like David, why David begins with such an unashamed, undignified, unusual opening: “I love you, Lord.”
It makes perfect sense, David begins with deep love.
David praises with deep love and a high view of God (try to visualize this description):
A High View
It’s a pretty startling picture of God, isn’t it?
It’s not something we’re accustomed to; we tend to think of God as more docile, that deity that won’t mess with us or bother us if we don’t want Him to.
He’ll just knock real softly on the screen door; He would dare ring the doorbell so as not to disturb anyone or wake anyone from their nap.
He’s real timid and respectful of your space, this “god”.
God’s more tiny, declawed kitten than He is roaring lion.
The unforgettable scene from the Narnian saga where Susan and Mr. Beaver are discussing what Aslan (the Christ-figure) is like comes to mind:
“Aslan is a lion- the Lion, the great Lion."
"Ooh" said Susan.
"I'd thought he was a man.