“The Lord is My Rock” Psalm 18


Our text for today is Psalm 18. These are God’s Words.

1 I love you, O LORD, my strength.
2 The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer,
my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge,
my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
3 I call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised,
and I am saved from my enemies.
4 The cords of death encompassed me;
the torrents of destruction assailed me;
5 the cords of Sheol entangled me;
the snares of death confronted me.
6 In my distress I called upon the LORD;
to my God I cried for help.
From his temple he heard my voice,
and my cry to him reached his ears.
7 Then the earth reeled and rocked;
the foundations also of the mountains trembled
and quaked, because he was angry.
8 Smoke went up from his nostrils,
and devouring fire from his mouth;
glowing coals flamed forth from him.
9 He bowed the heavens and came down;
thick darkness was under his feet.
10 He rode on a cherub and flew;
he came swiftly on the wings of the wind.
11 He made darkness his covering, his canopy around him,
thick clouds dark with water.
12 Out of the brightness before him
hailstones and coals of fire broke through his clouds.
13 The LORD also thundered in the heavens,
and the Most High uttered his voice,
hailstones and coals of fire.
14 And he sent out his arrows and scattered them;
he flashed forth lightnings and routed them.
15 Then the channels of the sea were seen,
and the foundations of the world were laid bare
at your rebuke, O LORD,
at the blast of the breath of your nostrils.
16 He sent from on high, he took me;
he drew me out of many waters.
17 He rescued me from my strong enemy
and from those who hated me,
for they were too mighty for me.
18 They confronted me in the day of my calamity,
but the LORD was my support.
19 He brought me out into a broad place;
he rescued me, because he delighted in me.
20 The LORD dealt with me according to my righteousness;
according to the cleanness of my hands he rewarded me.
21 For I have kept the ways of the LORD,
and have not wickedly departed from my God.
22 For all his rules were before me,
and his statutes I did not put away from me.
23 I was blameless before him,
and I kept myself from my guilt.
24 So the LORD has rewarded me according to my righteousness,
according to the cleanness of my hands in his sight.
25 With the merciful you show yourself merciful;
with the blameless man you show yourself blameless;
26 with the purified you show yourself pure;
and with the crooked you make yourself seem tortuous.
27 For you save a humble people,
but the haughty eyes you bring down.
28 For it is you who light my lamp;
the LORD my God lightens my darkness.
29 For by you I can run against a troop,
and by my God I can leap over a wall.
30 This God—his way is perfect;
the word of the LORD proves true;
he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him.
31 For who is God, but the LORD?
And who is a rock, except our God?—
32 the God who equipped me with strength
and made my way blameless.
33 He made my feet like the feet of a deer
and set me secure on the heights.
34 He trains my hands for war,
so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze.
35 You have given me the shield of your salvation,
and your right hand supported me,
and your gentleness made me great.
36 You gave a wide place for my steps under me,
and my feet did not slip.
37 I pursued my enemies and overtook them,
and did not turn back till they were consumed.
38 I thrust them through, so that they were not able to rise;
they fell under my feet.
39 For you equipped me with strength for the battle;
you made those who rise against me sink under me.
40 You made my enemies turn their backs to me,
and those who hated me I destroyed.
41 They cried for help, but there was none to save;
they cried to the LORD, but he did not answer them.
42 I beat them fine as dust before the wind;
I cast them out like the mire of the streets.
43 You delivered me from strife with the people;
you made me the head of the nations;
people whom I had not known served me.
44 As soon as they heard of me they obeyed me;
foreigners came cringing to me.
45 Foreigners lost heart
and came trembling out of their fortresses.
46 The LORD lives, and blessed be my rock,
and exalted be the God of my salvation—
47 the God who gave me vengeance
and subdued peoples under me,
48 who rescued me from my enemies;
yes, you exalted me above those who rose against me;
you delivered me from the man of violence.
49 For this I will praise you, O LORD, among the nations,
and sing to your name.
50 Great salvation he brings to his king,
and shows steadfast love to his anointed,
to David and his offspring forever.


Psalm 18 is the first long Psalm in the Psalter and is quoted in 2 Samuel 22 with a few minor differences. The fascinating part is that 2 Samuel 22 presents Psalm 18 as David’s last words. Looking backward over a lifetime of warfare, David praises God’s deliverance from his enemies, especially from King Saul. It is therefore, a Psalm of thanksgiving as well as a royal psalm.

It’s a long Psalm and covers a lot of territory. David begins with a summary of his praise and trust in the Lord in verses 1-3. David had hid from the assaults of his enemies behind all sorts of structures: shields and rocks and even mighty fortresses and towers, but ultimately his protection came from the Lord.

Then comes a highly poetic description of God’s deliverance in the form of a thunderstorm that shakes earth, the heavens, and the seas. (v. 4-19)
7 Then the earth reeled and rocked;
the foundations also of the mountains trembled

13 The LORD also thundered in the heavens,
and the Most High uttered his voice,
hailstones and coals of fire.

15 Then the channels of the sea were seen,
and the foundations of the world were laid bare
at your rebuke, O LORD,
at the blast of the breath of your nostrils.

The imagery of hailstones and earth shaking reminds us of Sinai & Sodom. And notice, that God does all this for one man. He swoops down from the heavens. But unlike the Homeric gods of Olympus, the David’s God is unopposed and cannot be undermined.

David then transitions to teach us what kind of person God delights to deliver in verses 20-30. David was rescued because he was following the commands of God with faith. (v. 20-24) so he turns to instruct us. God does not save the strong, he brings him low. He does not save the wise, he confounds him. Who does he save? Those who are weak, humble, submissive. He gives light to those in darkness. And, with the Lord, those who are weak can fight armies. (v. 25-30)

David shows us what this looks like in action. He lists off all of his accomplishments, all his victories, and then says, “Yeah, all of that? God did it.” He declares that his personal victories did not originate with his own strategies and strength; they came from the Lord. (v. 31-45)

Finally, the Psalm ends where is began: the Lord is David’s rock, and David is God’s chosen king. David has been exalted and vindicated so now he will teach the nations of God’s salvation. (v. 46-50)


The only way to properly understand this Psalm is to begin at the end. David is exalted as God’s king, the nation’s come to him and they learn obedience from him as he praises the Lord in their presence.

Great salvation he brings to his king,
and shows steadfast love to his anointed,
to David and his offspring forever. (v. 50)

One of the thematic threads running lengthwise through the Scriptures is that of kingship and slavery. God is king. All authority belongs to him. That’s where the Bible begins. Jesus Christ reasserted this truth in his resurrection and ascension (Matthew 28:18), and it’s where all of history is heading. (Revelation 21:24)

Throughout the Bible, beginning in Genesis 3, human beings have tried finding freedom from the kinship of God, but freedom from the great king only brings slavery to lesser thrones. This is because worship of created things always means serving created things. (Romans 1:25)

As Dylan said, “Everybody’s Gonna Serve Sombody.”

Or David Foster Wallace: There is no such thing as not worshipping. Everybody worships. The only choice we get is what to worship. And.. pretty much anything else you worship will eat you alive. If you worship money and things, if they are where you tap real meaning in life, then you will never have enough, never feel you have enough. It’s the truth. Worship your own body and beauty and sexual allure and you will always feel ugly, and when time and age start showing, you will die a million deaths before they finally plant you.

Most of the Old Testament is given to the search for a king, but none of the human kings are powerful or loving or humble enough to keep the people from falling into idolatry. One of the great questions of the OT is: “How can any king be powerful enough to liberate us from slavery this great?”

Christ, of course is the fulfillment of which David was only a shadow. He liberates us from the slavery of our sin in his death, and he liberates us from death through dying. Jesus Christ is the king who finds himself the true “head of the nations.”

And he is. He is the head of the nations today. We are calling people to bow to the already King.


The Scriptures speak of righteousness on two planes: the first is the vertical plane. On the vertical plane, the Scriptures are clear on our absolute unrighteousness.
“None is righteous, no, not one;
11 no one understands;
no one seeks for God.
12 All have turned aside; together they have become worthless;
no one does good,
not even one.” (Romans 3:10-12)

Psalm 130:

3 If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities,
O Lord, who could stand?
Isaiah 53:6

6 All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned—every one—to his own way;

But here, when David claims that the Lord delivered him because he was righteous, he’s referring to horizontal righteousness, not vertical. He knows he’s a singer, but he also knows there are good guys and bad guys—and he’s been a good guy.

God’s grace doesn’t save us from pursuing holiness, it saves us unto the pursuit of holiness. God’s grace transforms us so that we love his law, and it empowers us so that we can obey it. Humble, merciful, and blameless don’t just describe David, or Christ, they ought to describe us.


As stated earlier, David’s exaltation as king results in the obedience of the nations. David teaches those he conquers to worship and obey the one true God. The same thing happens in the ministry of the church. Christ is the true King over every nation, and he is conquering the nations. God the Father is subduing peoples under his Christ.

Our call to war to love the captive soul
But to rage against the captor
And with the sword that makes the wounded whole
We will fight with faith and valour
When faced with trials on every side
We know the outcome is secure
And Christ will have the prize for which He died
An inheritance of nations
What is evangelism? It’s proclaiming the gospel of the king.
We desire the obedience of every nation to Christ. That’s the great commission. And that obedience isn’t gained through the coercive power of the state, it is won through the transforming power of gospel proclamation.

So, we want America to be a Christian nation, but not because a bunch of legislators in DC have codified our beliefs into laws, but because the church has been allowed to freely preach Christ to every person. Once Christ has won hearts, obedience to his law follows.

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