We remember David as a man after God’s own heart, and yet, as the LORD Himself remarked, warfare characterized David’s life and reign. He came to the attention of King Saul due to his victory over Goliath; however, his subsequent victories over the Philistines, with the accompanying praise, turned Saul against him. He spent much of his early adult life either in battle or fearing for his life. Civil war dominated his early reign, and then after uniting Israel he spent years fighting the surrounding nations. The second half of his reign saw two coup attempts by his own sons, and outside problems still persisted. In fact, the two times in life he found himself with some sense of relief came with the death of Saul (and thus of Sauls’ pursuit) and the victories over the nations around him, particularly the Philistines, with whom he had battled since his youth. In both cases he responded with the same psalm, recorded both in Psalm 18 and with some slight variation in 2 Samuel 22.
In times when most people would celebrate great victories, the beginning of a reign and the ensuring of its passage to the next generation, David thanked the LORD. He did so because he saw not only the favorable outcome but also the work behind it, and this caused him to draw near to God with even greater zeal, promising to love (Psa. 18:1), trust (Psa. 18:2), praise (Psa. 18:3), and appeal to the LORD in prayer (Psa. 18:6). Though surrounded by the threat of death constantly (Psa. 18:4-5), David’s faith in God’s deliverance was always justified (Psa. 18:7-18). He attributed this to the LORD’s graciousness (Psa. 18:19), his own righteousness (Psa. 18:20), and his obedience (Psa. 18:21-24). Indeed, David’s confidence in the unchanging character of God and His promises provided the foundation for his faith (Psa. 18:25-28). His faith in God’s ability not only to promise but also to deliver on those promises gave him courage to act boldly in the face of his enemies (Psa. 18:29-45). He understood that God deserved the credit for these victories (Psa. 18:47-48) and indeed for his reign as King (Psa. 18:50); therefore, given the opportunity, he chose to worship, giving thanks and praise to the LORD (Psa. 18:49).
We often get so busy in life with the necessities of going to work, doing chores, going to school, raising a family, and even doing things with the church that we do not have time to stop, breathe, and take a moment to think about how blessed we truly are and how God has provided for us each step of the way. We allow our salvation from sin to recede into the background of our lives and forget what a monumental undertaking this truly was. Therefore, it is good periodically to stop and read Psalm 18, to consider how it applies in the moment, and then offer our own prayer of thanks to the God who made it possible, saying, at least in part, “The LORD lives! Blessed be my Rock! Let the God of my salvation be exalted” (Psa. 18:46).