“I will call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised: so shall I be saved from mine enemies …. The Lord liveth and blessed be my rock: and let the God of my salvation be exalted” (Ps. 18:3, 46). If you sang those verses as you read them, you are truly a blessed person. Though we will never know the tune (or cadence) to which David set Psalm 18, modern men have set some of this psalm to music that allows us to sing it.
Psalm 18 was David’s cry of thanksgiving after being delivered from Saul. It has the unique position of being a psalm quoted almost entirely in II Samuel 22 also. When reading First Samuel, we know David was chased by Saul for a while when it was clear that he was to be king instead of Jonathan (I Sam. 18:10-26:25). When David killed Goliath, the women sang, “Saul hath slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands” (I Sam. 18:7). After this event, and seeing how the people responded to David, Saul became jealous and was determined to kill him. Thankfully, this did not happen. At the same time, David was faced with opportunities to kill Saul, but refused to kill the “Lord’s anointed.” As a result, God caused an end to the hostilities when Saul was made aware that his life could have been taken by David, but it wasn’t (I Sam. 26:21).
An interesting fact about this Psalm is that some suggest the original word used was not “Saul” but “Sheol” (grave) that was used in that first paragraph. This was referred to in Psalm 18:5, also. If it was actually David praising God for delivering him from the grave, it must certainly include praise for his deliverance from Saul because Saul wanted to kill him! Either way, (whether Saul or Sheol) David’s praise and gratitude to God are just as real, as vibrant, and this attitude needs to be seen today!
I find it fascinating that the praise David gives God in verse 2 is repeated throughout the psalm. David speaks of God as …
Rock (v. 2, 31, 46) – not a mere pebble, but a large rock where thousands might stand and even build their homes! Think of Matthew 16:18. This rock will stand!
Fortress (v. 2) – In other words, He’s a fortified refuge for God’s people! They have a place to go when they need protection and comfort.
Deliverer (v. 2, 17, 19, 40, 43, 48, 50) – He delivers us from the danger and sin in this world if we let Him.
Strength (v. 2, 17b, 29, 32, 34, 39) – Since we are weak, He provides strength!
Buckler/Shield (v. 2, 30, 35) – He has the shield to help us when Satan attacks. In Ephesians, Paul wants all Christians to carry the “shield of faith” to “quench the fiery darts (arrows) of the wicked” (Eph. 6:16).
Horn (v. 2, 33-34) – just as an animal’s horn is used for protection, so God is that “horn of salvation,” protecting us from spiritual dangers, like Satan, while we are on earth.
High Tower (v. 2) – though the term “tower” is not used, the reference to God being “on high” or above us is seen in verses 13-14, and 16.
David learned about God from experience. Have we learned to trust in God as David did? If not, why not? He loves and cares for us and we need to turn to Him for everything in this life!
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
Psalm 16 is a very interesting song. Among other things, it has a prophetic section, wherein Peter, being guided by the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:4) preached about the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. In so doing, he quoted from portions of Psalm 16.
In this “divine commentary,” we are assured that the One David was talking about in Psalm 16:8-11 was his descendant, Jesus the Messiah (Acts 2:25-28, 31)! David would die and his body buried, and that would be all, but the One to come would have a body that would not see corruption, because it was resurrected (Ps. 16:10; Acts 2:31)!
The beauty and glory of the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ cannot be overemphasized. In this case, David speaks of it some 1000 years before it happened! He speaks about it with perfect clarity, so that none can misunderstand. Let us be thankful for this! Truly Christ is declared to be the Son of God by the resurrection (Rom. 1:4). Baptism has power to save because of the resurrection (I Pet. 3:21). Since Christ resurrected, we know we will one day (I Cor. 15:12-20)!
Let us be warned, though. In this same psalm we learn, “Their sorrows shall be multiplied that hasten after another god” (Ps. 16:4). Let us not be enamored by other “gods.” Those things take our focus and our fidelity away from God!
It is a constant warning from God that we not be involved in idolatry. This is seen from Genesis to Revelation! John’s last words in his first epistle are to Christians, reminding them, “keep yourselves from idols” (I Jn. 5:22)! God thinks it necessary we stay away from idols and idolatry. Our sorrows will be multiplied when we do not avoid them!
What might be “gods” (idols) to us? Certainly any object, person, idea, or action that we place above God! The apostle Paul reminds us that “covetousness … is idolatry” (Col. 3:5). In this way, think about I Timothy 6:10. The “love of money” is “the root of all evil,” and those who strive for it will “pierce themselves through with many sorrows”! This passage kind of sounds like Psalm 16:4, doesn’t it? Let us make sure we put nothing above God (Matt. 6:33)!
Friends, let us take seriously the multifaceted Psalm 16. It has prophecies we see fulfilled in Christ, and has practical warnings for people of every age! We can learn much when we heed the inspired words of David.
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
The 15th psalm is one I have preached, taught in classes, etc. It is a straightforward psalm that tells us how to abide (live) with God. The point David makes in verse one is asking who shall be in God’s presence or enjoy fellowship with God. The rest of the psalm answers this question.
Another interesting point is that Psalm 15 is similar to Psalm 14. As we continue to read, we will see that Psalm 24 borrows some phrases from here, just like Psalm 53 and Psalm 14 are worded similarly. The difference is that Psalm 24 only uses a small piece of Psalm 15, but Psalm 53 repeats Psalm 14 word-for-word.
In the text, we see David’s main question asked in verse 1. It is the same question asked two ways: “Who shall abide in thy tabernacle?” and “Who shall dwell in thy holy hill?” Zion (God’s dwelling) is compared to the tabernacle (tent) or a high hill in this verse. When we look back in the Old Testament, we see the Tabernacle was where God spoke and met (communed) with His people (Ex. 29:42-43, 33:8-9). This is where God’s glory was seen (Ex. 40:34-35). Thus, it is fitting to ask such a question. Please note David did not have the literal tabernacle in mind. We know this based on the rest of the psalm. Again, who can be in God’s presence, ultimately? Imagine being a Jew 3000 years ago and getting to sing this song that spelled out who it is!
Someone who (v. 2-5):
- Walks uprightly or blamelessly. This word would remind the Hebrews of the spotless animal sacrifice they were to offer. He lives a life of integrity, just as John taught (I Jn. 2:6).
- Works righteousness. This was what Peter told Cornelius to do as well (Acts 10:35).
- Speaks the truth “in his heart.” This shows the sincerity of the person. He doesn’t speak the truth only when convenient for him to do so. He is an honest person (Eph. 4:25; Col. 3:9)!
- Does not backbite. This is a natural contrast with the last phrase about speaking the truth!
- Does not do evil. This is a demand throughout Scripture. We are not to do evil to people even when they first did evil to us (Rom. 12:19; Matt. 7:12, 5:39-45).
- Does not take a reproach against his neighbor. From this, we see we are not to “discredit” or say evil things against our neighbors. “Who is my neighbor?” Do you remember?
- Rejects the vile person. The righteous man has the right attitude toward evil people. This is not speaking about hatred of the person but a rejection of the deeds of the evil person. One in fellowship with God does not praise evil but rejects it, just like Jesus did (Heb. 1:9)!
- Honors those who fear the Lord. This statement stands as a natural contrast with the last phrase. Since a righteous man rejects the vile person’s ways, he accepts those who fear the Lord! He is in fellowship with everyone who is in fellowship with God (II Jn. 9-11; I Jn. 1:7).
- Swears to his own hurt. This means this person makes a promise and stands by it when it is right. This is especially true when we consider the things we have promised God (Ecc. 5:1-6)! When I made a vow to be a Christian, this means I will be a Christian and follow the Lord regardless of what others say!
- Does not put out his money to usury. This is a little difficult for 21st-century people to understand. Under the Old Testament, God forbade His people from charging interest on debts to anyone but foreigners (Ex. 22:25; Lev. 25:35-37; Deut. 23:19-20; Neh. 5; etc.). Thus, a righteous man would not charge interest on debts to his countrymen. A modern application would be not to be oppressive to people or not take advantage of people when they are in a weakened circumstance, financially or otherwise.
- Does not take a bribe. Staying with the theme of “money” and how to use it properly, righteous people do not take bribes! Judas would be an example of someone who did not live Psalm 15:5 (Matt. 26:15)!
Doing these things means we will not be moved (shaken), just as Jesus taught in Matthew 7:24-28! When we look to the New Testament, we see obedience to God emphasized similarly. If I am going to please God, I need to do what He says (Heb. 5:9), be motivated in the right way (I Cor. 13:4-8; Jn. 13:34-35), and treat others correctly (Matt. 7:12). Just as in Old Testament days, it is possible to be in fellowship with God today! Let’s make this our daily goal to “walk in the light” (I Jn. 1:7)!
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
This psalm shows us a great contrast between the righteous and the wicked. David turns to God for his help (v. 1). Why? David says the godly and the faithful have ceased and are no more. I do not understand this to be an absolute statement, but a poetic statement where it seems he sees no righteous people around. Indeed, righteous people existed then (and today), for God always has His “7000” (I Kings 19:18; Rom. 11:3-4)! Yet, David cries out in sorrow about the words of the wicked (v. 2).
He quickly understands, though, that “the Lord shall cut them off” (v. 3). Do we ever get downtrodden? Do we think that the world is so far gone that it is beyond help? Have we ever asked where God is during these times? If you have, then let David answer these questions in Psalm 12.
The words of the wicked sound mighty and intimidating, but I must remember that God’s words are “pure words, as silver… purified seven times” (v. 6). This means God’s word is without a speck of imperfection. It is without a hint of error! Remember that “seven” symbolizes that which is perfect or complete. Therefore, if God’s word is like “silver … purified seven times,” we can be assured there is no error to be found here! Man will lie and change facts to suit himself or to make himself look good. God changes nothing! His very word is truth (Jn. 17:17) and needs no change! We need to listen to it above anything a man might tell us!
Finally, the wicked men roam or walk when the vilest are exalted (v. 8). Sadly, this seems to be the lot of men who live on earth. God speaks, but His word is ignored by the wicked. Wicked men roam, walk, or strut when the vile are exalted. We see examples of this daily! Solomon lamented the same thing in his writings (ex: Prov. 14:34; etc.). Yet, let us remember that God is still on His throne. His pure word is with us. One day, there will be a reckoning of these things (I Thess. 4:13-17; II Thess. 1:6-9). Where will you be when that happens?
Yes, we sympathize with David’s concern, but we also know there is hope in Christ (Eph. 4:4; Col. 1:27; I Pet. 1:3; I Jn. 3:3)! Let us focus on this, and let us tell others about the hope and joy we have in the Lord (Mk. 16:16; II Tim. 2:2).
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
Do you like sad songs? When a song comes on the radio that makes you want to cry or tells about the experience of a broken-hearted person, what does that do to you? Sad songs touch people in ways that joyous songs do not. Sad songs can make one look inwardly to examine oneself. Sad songs can make us upset at the “establishment” or an oppressor. Sad songs allow us to sympathize with the singer.
I believe Psalm 13 is one of the saddest psalms we read. David asks if God will forget him forever (v. 1). How sad! Have we been in situations where we felt alone or abandoned? This is how David feels. Can we sympathize?
I like the way The Israel Bible translates verse two. It says, “How long will I have cares on my mind, grief in my heart all day? How long will my enemy have the upper hand?” Have we had times like this?
Verses 3, 5, and 6 show us that within this man still beats a heart of hope. Unlike sad songs men might write today that leave us crying or simply feeling bad for the condition of the singer, David writes a psalm that declares that in such overwhelming sadness, there is hope. “I have trusted in thy mercy” (v. 5). He didn’t deny God had any mercy left! There is still mercy for God’s people, and it abounds. Are we aware of God’s mercy, or are we only seeing the sadness?
Often, when we are hurting the worst, is when God is the closest. He cares! Such times have been compared to when a storm rolls through the land. Lightning flashes, the thunder rolls, violent winds blow, and the rains drench the earth. Yet, all of us know that that bright, shining sun is on the other side of the clouds. It has not gone anywhere and will shine long after the storm is gone.
So it is with God! “I will sing unto the Lord, because he hath dealt bountifully with me” (v. 6). Amen!
I know this is not the only sad song in the Psalms, but this song definitely causes us to look inward and examine and see where our faith really lies! Psalm 13 shows us where our hope needs to be! Where is your hope? Is it in men or God? Where is your faith when the storms rage (Ps. 13:6)?
- Jarrod M. Jacobs