“For who is God, but the Lord?
And who is a rock, except our God?
This God is my strong refuge
and has made my way blameless.
He made my feet like the feet of a deer
and set me secure on the heights.
He trains my hands for war,
so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze.
You have given me the shield of your salvation,
and your gentleness made me great.
You gave a wide place for my steps under me,
and my feet did not slip;
I pursued my enemies and destroyed them,
and did not turn back until they were consumed.
I consumed them; I thrust them through, so that they did not rise;
they fell under my feet.
For you equipped me with strength for the battle;
you made those who rise against me sink under me.
You made my enemies turn their backs to me,[g]
those who hated me, and I destroyed them.
They looked, but there was none to save;
they cried to the Lord, but he did not answer them.
I beat them fine as the dust of the earth;
I crushed them and stamped them down like the mire of the streets.” – 2 Samuel 22:32-43 ESV
Whether we want to admit it or not, we have other gods we worship. And it has always been that way. While some of our national currency still carries the phrase, “One Nation Under God”, it has never said, “One God Over the Nation.” Like every culture and generation before us, we Americans have, and always have had, a predisposition toward idolatry. And the people of Israel were no different. That’s why God gave them the Ten Commandments, the first four of which have to deal with man’s relationship with God. God prefaced His list of commands with the statement, “I am the Lord your God” (Exodus 20:2 NLT). He was telling Moses and the people of Israel that He was to be their God, their one and only God. And then He clarified exactly what He meant. “You must not have any other god but me” (Exodus 20:3 NLT). In other words, unlike all the other cultures around them, they were to have only one god, not many. They were to worship one deity, not a plethora of gods like the Egyptians had. They were to give their allegiance to the one true God. And it was not as if God was admitting that He had real competition and was demanding their undivided attention. God didn’t have to worry about competitors, but He did have to be concerned about man’s natural tendency to create false gods, man-made substitutes or stand-ins for Him. That is why the psalmist wrote:
Their idols are merely things of silver and gold,
shaped by human hands.
They have mouths but cannot speak,
and eyes but cannot see.
They have ears but cannot hear,
and noses but cannot smell.
They have hands but cannot feel,
and feet but cannot walk,
and throats but cannot make a sound.
And those who make idols are just like them,
as are all who trust in them. – Psalm 115:4-8 NLT
But the fact that these gods are false has never stopped men from placing their hope in them. And while the psalmist is obviously referring to actual 3-dimensional idols made to represent a false deity, we 21st-Century human beings have moved to a much more sophisticated, yet sinister, form of idolatry. Our gods come in a variety of forms. They don’t sit on a shelf where we offer literal sacrifices to them. But they demand our worship nonetheless. We have made gods out of everything from work to entertainment, the television in our home to the money in our bank. There are so many things in our lives that demand our undivided attention or, to put it another way, our worship. We revere these things and sacrifice our time, attention and even our money to them. We turn to them in times of trouble, hoping they will rescue us. We lean on them for a sense of contentment and happiness during the dark days of our lives. We seek satisfaction from them. We put our hope in them. But the God would remind us:
“To whom will you compare me?
Who is my equal?
Some people pour out their silver and gold
and hire a craftsman to make a god from it.
Then they bow down and worship it!
They carry it around on their shoulders,
and when they set it down, it stays there.
It can’t even move!
And when someone prays to it, there is no answer.
It can’t rescue anyone from trouble.” – Isaiah 46:5-7 NLT
David knew there was no reliable source for help and hope in his life, but God. Which is why he rhetorically asks, “who is God except the Lord?” The answer is obvious: No one. There is no god but God. He has no real competition. We may attempt to find help elsewhere, but those things will always come up short. They can’t deliver. That is why David said, “This God is my strong refuge” (2 Samuel 22:33 ESV). It was God to whom he turned for help, hope, safety, security, rescue, rest, strength and victory. THIS God, and no other.
In this passage, David weaves together an interesting mixture of pronouns, repeatedly referring to both himself and God. He was not putting himself on the same level with God, but was simply trying to show that his life was totally dependent upon God.
He makes me as surefooted as a deer… – vs 34
He trains my hands for battle… – vs 35
You have given me your shield of victory… – vs 36
…your help has made me great… – vs 36
You have made a wide path for my feet… – vs 37
It was God who had done these things for David and, as a result, David was able to say:
I chased my enemies and destroyed them… – vs 38
I did not stop until they were conquered… – vs 38
I consumed them… – vs 39
I struck them down… – vs 39
I ground them as fine as the dust of the earth… – vs 43
David had done his part, but only because God had made it possible. David knew he was not a self-made man. He could take no credit for his victories. He was in no place to brag about his exploits – apart from God’s help. Anything he had done of value in his life was attributable to God. God got the glory. God deserved the credit. Which is why David was able to say to God, “your help has made me great” (2 Samuel 22:36 NLT). He had no problem acknowledging God as the source of all his victories and the explanation behind any value he had as a person. Without God, David was nothing. Apart from God, David would have done nothing. At least, nothing of lasting note or significance. It was as if David was saying, “THIS God has made THIS man who he is.”
How easy it is for us to take credit for what God has done. How tempting it is to give credit to someone or something else, for what is clearly the work of God in our lives. We are sometimes prone to give more credit to luck than we do to the Lord. We explain our good fortune as fortuitous, when we should be given God the praise He deserves. Back in Exodus 20, we read the words of God. “I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God who will not tolerate your affection for any other gods” (Exodus 20:5 NLT). God will share His glory with anyone or anything. He will not tolerate faithlessness and infidelity among His people. Which is why He repeatedly referred to the people of Israel as adulterous. They cheated on Him, on a regular basis. They shared their attention and affections with others. They refused to give Him the credit He deserved and the honor His status as God demanded. But we are so often guilty of the same thing. And David provides us with a sobering reminder that THIS God of ours is worthy of our praise, glory, honor, gratitude, worship, and undivided attention. For who is God except the Lord?
English Standard Version (ESV)
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.
New Living Translation (NLT)
Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.