Title. To the Chief Musician a Psalm of David, the servant of the Lord, who spake unto the Lord the words of this song in the day that the Lord delivered him from the hand of all his enemies, and from the hand of Saul. We have another form of this Psalm, with significant variations (2 Samuel 22:1-51), and this suggests the idea that it was sung by David at different times when he reviewed his own remarkable history, and observed the gracious hand of God in it all. Like Addison’s hymn beginning, “When all thy mercies, O my God, “this Psalm is the song of a grateful heart overwhelmed with a retrospect of the manifold and marvellous mercies of God. We will call it The Grateful Retrospect. The title deserves attention. David, although at this time a king, calls himself, “the servant of Jehovah, “but makes no mention of his royalty; hence we gather that he counted it a higher honour to be the Lord’s servant than to be Judah’s king. Right wisely did he judge. Being possessed of poetic genius, he served the Lord by composing this Psalm for the use of the Lord’s house; and it is no mean work to conduct or to improve that delightful part of divine worship, the singing of the Lord’s praises. Would that more musical and poetical ability were consecrated, and that our chief musicians were fit to be trusted with devout and spiritual psalmody. It should be observed that the words of this song were not composed with the view of gratifying the taste of men, but were spoken unto Jehovah. It were well if we had a more single eye to the honour of the Lord in our singing, and in all other hallowed exercises. That praise is little worth which is not directed solely and heartily to the Lord. David might well be thus direct in his gratitude, for he owed all to his God, and in the day of his deliverance he had none to thank but the Lord, whose right hand had preserved him. We too should feel that to God and God alone we owe the greatest debt of honour and thanksgiving.
If it be remembered that the second and the forty-ninth verses are both quoted in the New Testament (Hebrews 2:13 Romans 15:9) as the words of the Lord Jesus, it will be clear that a greater than David is here. Reader, you will not need our aid in this respect; if you know Jesus you will readily find him in his sorrows, deliverance, and triumphs all through this wonderful psalm.
Division. Psalms 18:1-3 are the proem or preface in which the resolve to bless God is declared. Delivering mercy is most poetically extolled from Psalms 18:4-19; and then the happy songster Psalms 18:20-28, protests that God had acted righteously in thus favoring him. Filled with grateful joy he again pictures his deliverance and anticipates future victories Psalms 18:29-45; and in closing speaks with evident prophetic foresight of the glorious triumphs of the Messiah, David’s seed and the Lord’s anointed.
The Treasury of David.
“Thou hast also given me the shield of thy salvation.” Above all we must take the shield of faith, for nothing else can quench Satan’s fiery darts; this shield is of celestial workmanship, and is in all cases a direct gift from God himself; it is the channel, the sign, the guarantee, and the earnest of perfect salvation. “Thy right hand hath holden me up.” Secret support is administered to us by the preserving grace of God, and at the same time Providence kindly yields us manifest aid. We are such babes that we cannot stand alone; but when the Lord’s right hand upholds us, we are like brazen pillars which cannot be moved. “Thy gentleness hath made me great.” There are several readings of this sentence. The word is capable of being translated, “thy goodness hath made me great.” David saw much of benevolence in God’s action towards him, and he gratefully ascribed all his greatness not to his own goodness, but to the goodness of God. “Thy providence” is another reading, which is indeed nothing more than goodness in action. Goodness is the bud of which providence is the flower; or goodness is the seed of which providence is the harvest. Some render it, “thy help,” which is but another word for providence; providence being the firm ally of the saints, aiding them in the service of their Lord. Certain learned annotators tell us that the text means, “thy humility hath made me great.” “Thy condescension” may, perhaps, serve as a comprehensive reading, combining the ideas which he have already mentioned, as well as that of humility. It is God’s making himself little which is the cause of our being made great. We are so little that if God should manifest his greatness without condescension, we should be trampled under his feet; but God, who must stoop to view the skies and bow to see what angels do, looks to the lowly and contrite, and makes them great. While these are the translations which have been given to the adopted text of the original, we find that there are other readings altogether; as for instance, the Septuagint, which reads, “thy discipline”—thy fatherly correction—”hath made me great;” while the Chaldee paraphrase reads, “thy word hath increased me.” Still the idea is the same. David ascribes all his own greatness to the condescending goodness and graciousness of his Father in heaven. Let us all feel this sentiment in our own hearts, and confess that whatever of goodness or greatness God may have put upon us, we must cast our crowns at his feet, and cry, “thy gentleness hath made me great.“
“The shield of thy salvation.” What it is? Faith. Whence it comes? “Thou hast given.” What it secures? “Salvation.” Who have received it?
See “Spurgeon’s Sermons,” No. 683. “Divine Gentleness Acknowledged.”
The Treasury of David.
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