Psalm 18 – Day 1

Describing the Indescribable.

“I love you, LORD; you are my strength. The LORD is my rock, my fortress, and my savior; my God is my rock, in whom I find protection. ” – Psalm 18:1-2 NLT

The imagery used in this Psalm is classic David. The simple, yet powerful words used by David to describe his God are found throughout the Psalms he penned. They are a vivid example of someone trying to describe the indescribable using terminology that is familiar to him and to which he can easily relate. David refers to God as his strength, rock, fortress, savior and a source of protection. It is because of these attributes that David loves the Lord. These words describe what God IS to David. They illustrate characteristics of God that have come to mean much to this man after God’s own heart. This Psalm was likely written late in David’s life because it is almost a word-for-word copy of the song David sings near the end of his life that is recorded in 2 Samuel 22. David is near death and he is remembering all that God has done for him over a long, distinguished and sometimes difficult life. C. H. Spurgeon calls this Psalm “The Grateful Retrospect.” David is expressing appreciation, praise, and love for God’s unmistakable role in his life. He goes on to describe what God has done by using words like:

Pays back
Holds me safe
Saves me
Gives victory
Shows unfailing love
David opens up this Psalm with praise for God’s characteristics. Then he closes it the same way. It is a classic chiastic structure, where the first half of the Psalm mirrors the second half. But the main point is found at the beginning and the end. God is David’s rock. His sela in Hebrew. A rock, cliff, or a hollowed-out place in a rock that provides safety, refuge and protection. Why would David describe God in those terms? Why would a king who lived in a palace in luxury use that kind of imagery? You have to remember that at one point, early in his life, David spent over ten years of his life hiding in the wilderness, attempting to keep from being killed by King Saul. He hid in caves and lived in the remote wilderness, finding refuge and protection among the cliffs, rocks, and mountains.
The cave of AdullamThis was David’s home. This is where he hid from his enemy and found refuge in times of difficulty. Those rocks and caves became very familiar to David and they were a constant reminder of God’s protection and love. They may look remote, foreboding and uninviting, but to David they were familiar and comfortable. There were probably many times in his reign when he would have preferred to be back in those same caves. In fact, when his son, Absalom, stole his kingdom from him, David headed back to the wilderness again. It was familiar territory where he knew God would meet him and provide for him.
Where do you and I run when times get tough? Do we have a place where God has showed Himself strong in the past? If we had to pick words to describe who God is to us and what He has done for us, which ones would we use? David spoke of God from experience. His knowledge of God and love for Him was not based on academics, but first-hand experience. I love what Eugene Peterson says about David and his relationship with God:

The single most characteristic thing about David is God. David believed in God, thought about God, imagined God, addressed God, prayed to God. The largest part of David’s existence wasn’t David, but God. The evidence of David’s pervasive, saturated awareness of God is in his profusion of metaphors: bedrock, castle, knight, crag, boulder, hideout. David was immersed in God. Every visibility revealed for him an invisibility.

That is the kind of relationship I long to have with God. I want to be able to see Him all around me, to view Him through all my circumstances. The words we use to describe God are a great indicator of just how well we know Him.

Father, You are my provider, banker, counselor, guide, shelter, the Kevlar vest I wear when the enemy attacks, the umbrella that keeps me dry in the storms of life, the life preserver when my boat goes out from under me, the warm fire when the lights go out and the heat goes off, the unexpected check in the mail when my account was empty and my hopes were lost. Father, You have been there for me so often in my life. You have never failed to provide for me, protect me, and shower me with Your grace. Thank You! Amen

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men

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