First, let me explain a little of what has happened in David's life to cause him to write this praise song.
If you know the story of David you will know he was a lowly shepherd boy, so how did he become king of the Israelites? After the Israelites were led out of Egypt by Moses, they were to only have God as their leader. There were judges that ran the day-to-day affairs & made sure God's law was being honored & obeyed but the true "head" was to be God. Well, the people, typical to all humans, whined & complained that they wanted a king like all the other nations around them. Finally, God said, "Fine, you want a king, here is Saul." (I'm paraphrasing.)
Now, fast forward a few years. God had instructed the people to go into the Promised Land & drive out all the inhabitants there. However, Saul did not follow God's instructions, so, he rejected Saul & found our lowly hero, the "man after God's own heart."
God sent Samuel (the prophet) to Bethlehem to the house of Jesse (David's dad) & there, anointed David. However, he did not immediately become crowned. In fact, he returned to the fields.
After the anointing, God's Spirit came upon David & left Saul. Saul was then possessed or oppressed by a demon. He would go off in fits of rage, so one day one of his servants suggested he have a harp player come play for him to calm him. Who do you suppose was this wonderful musician? That's right! Our hero...David! Saul loved David. So much so that he made David his armor bearer (kind of like his "right-hand man"). Even Saul's son, Jonathan, and David became best friends.
Now comes the most famous David story. The Philistine's were attacking the Israelites and they were scared to death. Jesse sent David to the front lines with some food for his brothers. When he saw how fearful the Israelites were acting before the Philisteans, David said to them, “What shall be done for the man who kills this Philistine and takes away the reproach from Israel? For who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?” (1 Samuel 17:26 ESV) Let's admit, this young fellow was quite the honey badger (pop culture/YouTube reference for those of you who do not get what I just said...basically he is quite the whipper-snapper, a feisty & fearless lad). Well, long-story-short, David killed the giant Goliath & received the praise of the entire country.
David was praised higher than Saul, “Saul has struck down his thousands, and David his ten thousands.” (1 Samuel 18:7 ESV). And when Saul heard their songs of praise, he became enraged with jealousy. He even tried to kill him a couple of times but Saul was also afraid of David because the people loved him so much. Saul ended up giving David his daughter in marriage so David became Saul's son-in-law. All I can say is, thank God I'm not marrying into that crazy family...I mean, they're crazy but no one has tried to spear me yet, so my soon-to-be in-laws are looking pretty classy in comparison. ;)
Finally, Saul had had enough & plotted to kill David. However, Jonathan told David & he fled. For several years David was on the run from Saul. During this time, David penned many of the Psalms, especially the ones that speak of God delivering him from his enemies. Psalm 18 is one of those.
I know what you are thinking. "Why did it take you all that time to just say, 'this Psalm was written after David was delivered from Saul & his army'?" However, I think it is nice to remember the history every once in a while. ;)
So, I'm going to pick out a couple of verses that really jumped out at me when reading it this time.
For all his rules were before me, and his statutes I did not put away from me. (Psalm 18:22 ESV)David, is telling us here that it is vital to stay in the Word.
I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you. (Psalm 119:11 ESV)
Oh how I love your law! It is my meditation all the day. Your commandment makes me wiser than my enemies, for it is ever with me. I have more understanding than all my teachers, for your testimonies are my meditation. I understand more than the aged, for I keep your precepts. I hold back my feet from every evil way, in order to keep your word. I do not turn aside from your rules, for you have taught me. How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! Through your precepts I get understanding; therefore I hate every false way. (Psalm 119:97-104 ESV)There are so many benefits to studying God's Word. You learn about history, learn about the future, you learn about the Trinity, you grow in wisdom, it keeps you from becoming over-come with sin, it teaches you discernment & how to avoid being taken in by false teachers,....I just can't say enough about it.
With the merciful you show yourself merciful; with the blameless man you show yourself blameless; with the purified you show yourself pure; and with the crooked you make yourself seem tortuous. For you save a humble people, but the haughty eyes you bring down. (Psalm 18:25-27 ESV)This is why atheists & other non-Christians see God as a cruel god. That's why you often hear, "Well, if your god is so loving, then why does he ________?" They do not understand. The evil see God as evil. Ok, I'm sure someone is going to say, "You think I'm evil just because I don't believe in your god?!" Yes, I do, because we are all evil, the Bible says so.
for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, (Romans 3:23 ESV)
as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; (Romans 3:10 ESV)However, God provided a way to be purified, sanctified through Christ's sacrifice.
But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it—the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. (Romans 3:21-26 ESV)And that brings us to verse 28.
For it is you who light my lamp; the LORD my God lightens my darkness. (Psalm 18:28 ESV)David is, once again, referring to God as a lamp. Like I talked about in the post over Psalm 27, the light of God brings understanding to His Word.