The Best Protection
(H) For the director of the choir, (a psalm) of David, the servant of Yahweh, who spoke to Yahweh the words of this song on the day that Yahweh delivered him from the hand of all his enemies and from Saul. He said: (1) I love you, Yahweh, my strength. (2) Yahweh is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer. My God (is) my bulwark in whom I take refuge, my shield, the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. (3) I call upon Yahweh who is worthy of praise, and from my enemies I am saved.
The extended heading suggests that the historical background is crucial to grasping the full significance of this psalm. David, who had already been anointed as Israel’s next king, had been relentlessly pursued by King Saul for several years. Time after time, David had managed to elude Saul’s search and destroy missions. At one point, when given the opportunity to kill King Saul, David refused, stating that he would never lift his hand to take the life of the Lord’s anointed ruler. The detailed history of these desperate years is found in 1 Samuel 19-31. David’s great sense of relief when his days as an outlaw finally came to an end is vividly portrayed in this psalm.
Two emphases mark these opening three verses. First, David uses God’s covenant name, “Yahweh,” six times, three times in the heading and three times in the opening three verses, indicating his devotion to the Lord and dependence on him. Then, David uses nine synonyms to describe God’s protection. God is his “strength...rock...fortress...deliverer...bulwark...refuge... shield...the horn of my salvation (and) my stronghold.” It seems as though David has searched for every possible expression in Hebrew to describe the security he finds in his relationship with Yahweh.
I. Declaring love for Yahweh (1)
II. Describing the protection which Yahweh provides (2)
III. Determining to trust in Yahweh (3)
The evidences of Yahweh’s protection in our lives should encourage us both to love and trust him all the more.
Martin Luther, like David, was pursued by powerful enemies especially during the early days of the German Reformation. Out of the experience of facing constant danger, he wrote his most famous hymn which describes the same kind of confidence David expressed in Psalm 18:2. “A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing; / Our helper he, amidst the flood of mortal ills, prevailing.”
Paul expressed this same truth as a rhetorical question: “If God is for us, who can be against us” (Rom. 8:31)? If this be true, and we believers know that it is, then two questions arise: 1) Why are we so often besieged with paralyzing fears when confronting dangers, difficulties, and opposition from our enemies? 2) Why do we so easily forget that our all-powerful God has promised his never-ending protection over us?
We tend to offer excuses for our worrying such as, “But I am only human. How can I possibly keep myself from fretting?” Resigning ourselves to fear need not happen if we, like David, Paul, Martin Luther, and other faithful believers over the centuries, learn to focus on God’s omnipotence and fix our hopes on his great promises never to leave us nor to forsake us. By meditating on the nine synonyms David used to describe God’s protection in Psalm 18:1-3, we can strengthen our hearts with confidence in Yahweh’s power to counter our fears and calm our troubled hearts. Here is that list personalized to help us meditate on the divine protection that is ours: God is my strength, my rock, my fortress, my deliverer, my bulwark, my refuge, my shield, the horn of my salvation, and my stronghold. What more do I need?