Psalm 18:25-50: Advance Against a Troop
January 19, 2022
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
David continues his psalm of praise to God as his “strength” (18:1). Many people have wondered what is the secret of the success of the “great” man, or the source of his “strength.” Well, here David tells us. It is not where we think it is, not what we think it is. The source of his strength is God himself. God is his strength.
To the uninitiated this appears to be mere pious nonsense or wishful thinking. Yeah, yeah, they say to themselves; sure, God is your strength. Like Jesus is the Sunday school answer. But David’s answer is tried in the very real fire of battle, persecution, and defeat of his enemies. He looks back on what caused him to triumph. And his answer is unequivocal: God is his strength.
But why is that not the case for everyone? With the “merciful,” God shows himself merciful. With the “purified,” God shows himself pure. But with the “crooked,” God “makes himself seem tortuous” (18:25-26). If someone confesses to find God of no consequence, a negative force in his life, then it may well be that, really, they are confessing to not being merciful themselves, and not being purified themselves.
Of course, the righteous do suffer. As C.S. Lewis once quipped, the reason why God allows the righteous to suffer is because no one else could put up with it. Jesus suffered; he was certainly righteous. But even in the suffering of the righteous, there is a resource of strength. The apostles were thrown in prison. Yet they sang in jail. That is the kind of strength that is on offer, David is saying, for all who follow the God of the Bible in merciful righteousness and purified godliness. God saves a “humble” people (more truth that some might sneer at), but the “haughty” he brings down (18:27). Humble yourself under God’s righteous hand that in due time he might lift you up (1 Peter 5:6).
Indeed, says David, looking back, even in battle this was his secret. “For by you I can run against a troop” (18:29). David had proved this truth right back to when he fought Goliath. You come against me with a javelin, but I come against you in the name of the LORD of hosts (1 Samuel 17:45). Or as Paul put it: we have divine power to demolish strongholds (2 Corinthians 10:4).
Think about it: if God is God, and if we are about God’s business, and if we are pursuing him in purity of heart, then what is there that could possibly be bigger or more powerful than God? Nothing and no one. That was David’s experience, anyway. God equipped David with strength for the battle (18:39). People he had not known served him (18:43).
He sings therefore: “The LORD lives, and blessed be my rock, and exalted be the God of my salvation” (18:46). He delivered David from Saul, the “man of violence” (18:48). Behind all of this is God’s covenant. His “steadfast love” to “his anointed” (18:50)—to David, the anointed king, and ultimately to another anointed, The Anointed, The Messiah, Christ Jesus. In him, we find strength.
And he is our rock. Perhaps you this morning are facing a very real enemy. Perhaps you are tempted to feel that this time the problem is too big for God. Take a moment to reflect on David’s experience. A warrior. Harassed and chased throughout the country. Facing a national leader out to get him—to kill him indeed. And yet David triumphed!
What a great man must David have been, we are tempted to think. How talented. How strong. How beyond anything that we could possibly be. And yet David says: no. God is his strength. Would you hide in him this morning? Would you make God your strength? Would you make him your refuge? With his help, you can advance against a troop.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
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