Scripture reading – Psalms 18; Psalms 121
The deaths of King Saul and his sons concluded a tragic time in Israel’s history (1 Samuel 31) and instituted a new era. Saul’s death marked the ascension of David, the man whom the LORD had chosen to be king, for he was a man after God’s heart (1 Samuel 13:14).
Today’s Scripture reading (Psalm 18 and Psalm 121) introduces us to the Psalms David penned during his reign as the king of Israel.
You must consider the psalms in their historical context and cultural setting to understand them. David wrote them in a pastoral and agricultural time, far removed from our fast-paced 21st-century world. Beautiful and poetic, the Psalms reflected the heart of a man who loved the LORD and cherished His Word, Law, and Commandments.
The length and spiritual breadth of the Psalms make it impossible for me to write an exhaustive exposition of the chapters and verses in a brief daily Bible study. Yet, I pray my meditations and thoughts will enrich your study and understanding. [For the sake of brevity, I will limit my focus to only a few verses of each Psalm. As a reminder, the words and phrases in brackets are my amplification.]
Psalm 18 – A Hymn of Rejoicing
The title of Psalm 18 indicates it was a hymn of rejoicing and was penned by David as a reflection on the occasion when the LORD delivered him from Saul and his enemies. After expressing his deep, fervent love for the LORD (18:1), David painted a verbal portrait that used eight descriptive metaphors. The king wrote:
Psalm 18:2 – The LORD is my rock [stronghold; cliff], and my fortress [castle], and my deliverer [Savior; Rescuer]; my God [Almighty God], my strength [rock; mountain], in whom I will trust; my buckler [a small shield], and the horn [strength] of my salvation [deliverance], and my high tower [defense; refuge].
“Rock” and “Fortress” described the LORD’s loving protection of His people. David had often sought refuge among the rocks and clefts of the wilderness, and they served as a reminder that God desires His people to flee to Him in their hour of trouble and need. The LORD is also our “Deliverer” and mighty “God” and can save us from our enemies by the power of His might. The LORD is “my Strength.” He is immutable, like a great rock or mountain, and never changes.
David also employed three metaphors that suggest a battlefield. David wrote that the LORD is “my Buckler” (a small shield employed by a soldier in “hand to hand” combat when an enemy pressed hard upon him). Also, the LORD is “the Horn of my Salvation” (the “horn” of a beast representing its strength). Therefore, the LORD alone has the power to save. The LORD is “my High Tower,” a refuge to Whom believers may flee for safety.
Psalm 18:3 – I will call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised: so shall I be saved [delivered; preserved]from mine enemies [foe; adversary].
There were times when David’s courage waned, and his fears well-nigh overwhelmed him, but the LORD delivered him. Indeed, the LORD alone is worthy to be praised!
Psalm 18:30 – “As for God [“El;” Almighty God], his way is perfect: the word [commandment] of the LORD[Jehovah; Eternal, Self-existent God] is tried [refined; purged by fire; tested]: he is a buckler [small shield] to all those that trust in him [flee to Him for protection; confide; make their refuge].”
David’s hope revived, and his strength was renewed when he reflected on the character of the LORD (Psalm 18:31) and confessed, “His way is perfect” (Psalm 18:30), for He is “my rock…[and] the God of my salvation” (Psalm 18:46).
Closing thought for Psalm 18:
It is easy to say that “God’s way is perfect” when we are free from trials and troubles. Yet, will we trust His way is perfect when trials overshadow our days? When we feel the intense heat of trials, and our motives are tried and fired like silver in a smelting pot, will we resolve to trust the LORD? When an enemy maligns and friends betray us, will we turn to God’s promises for hope? Will we trust Him to be our shield when an enemy means to harm us?
Psalm 121 – A Pilgrim’s Psalm
A brief outline of Psalm 121 will suffice for today. Notice that Psalm 121 is titled “A Song of Degrees.” It is believed this is one of the songs sung by the saints of God during their annual pilgrimages to Jerusalem and the Temple.
I suggest four major themes from Psalm 121: The Pledge of the psalmist to seek the LORD (Psalm 121:1); his Promise to trust Him (Psalm 121:2); his confidence that the LORD was His Protector (Psalm 121:3-7); and that He was a Perpetual Shepherd and would “preserve [his] going out and [his] coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore” (Psalm 121:8a).
Believers can be confident that there is no place beyond the LORD’s watch. He keeps us when we are young and strong and grow old and frail. He is with us in sickness and in health! He is with us in our down sittings and our uprisings.
If you are a child of God, you are secure in the LORD and can be assured that, “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life” (Psalm 23:6a).
Copyright © 2023 – Travis D. Smith
* You can subscribe to the Heart of a Shepherd daily devotionals by entering your name and email address at the bottom of today’s devotion.
The Internal Revenue Service recognizes Heart of A Shepherd Inc as a 501c3 public charitable organization. Your donation is welcome and supports the worldwide ministry outreach of www.HeartofAShepherd.com.