The best worship for God is stirred in those who recognise the greatness of God’s love for them. Pray for God to help you see all that he has done for you.
This psalm is also found in 2 Samuel 22 with some small differences. God, in his mercy, had delivered David from all his enemies, including Saul. This was his song of praise to express gratitude to God.
All that God has done
For fifty verses David celebrates all that God has done for him. God is his rock. God is his saviour. God is his fortress. God is his deliverer. The psalm begins with a declaration of David’s love for God (18:1) and ends with a reference to God’s unfailing love for David (18:50).
Our own song of praise
If you or I were to begin and end a song of praise and gratitude with God’s love for us and our love for him, what would we write in between? The truth is that we probably don’t even know all the ways that God has faithfully cared for us and delivered us over the years.
We may not be able to write a psalm as eloquent and extensive as this one, but we could make a start. When you think about your life, what would you include in your psalm of praise to God for his love toward you?
‘I love you, Lord’ (v 1). When we say that, what do we mean? The word ‘love’ here is an uncommon Hebrew word which is impulsive and emotional.1 That definitely has a place in our own experience of profound gratitude to God. Normally in the Bible, to ‘love’ God is a covenant term implying loyalty and commitment to obedience. It is this underlying theme of covenant righteousness (eg in vs 20–24) that explains David’s apparent boastfulness. As in last Sunday’s psalm, he is not claiming perfection but is effectively saying, ‘I want to walk in your ways, Lord’ – a simple prayer that we all need to pray! This psalm is cited in 2 Samuel 22 and belongs to the period described in 2 Samuel 8:13–18, at the zenith of David’s career.
In poetic language reminiscent of the Exodus and Sinai (see Exod 9,10,15,19), David testifies to what God has done for him at a time of distress and danger and what he trusts he will do in the future. Rescue was part of God’s side of the covenant. Hebrew does not have tenses as English does, whence the differences between various translations of (eg) verses 31–45. This allows us to look ahead as well as behind and see the ever-living, active God at work throughout history, into the New Testament and beyond.2
David takes up what God has revealed of himself (vs 25,26) and offers it back to him as praise and challenge. ‘He makes his creed his prayer.’3 You are like this, Lord; so do what you’ve promised: deliver me (v 27), keep my lamp burning (v 28), enable me to cope with people and situations (v 29). This is an excellent foundation for prayer: to start with God’s own character. So, the psalm starts and ends in praise! (vs 1–3,46–50).
1 Kidner, p91
2 Wilcock, p68
3 Wilcock, p66Vivien Whitfield