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.
“It is God that avengeth me, and subdueth the people under me.” To rejoice in personal revenge is unhallowed and evil, but David viewed himself as the instrument of vengeance upon the enemies of God and his people, and had he not rejoiced in the success accorded to him he would have been worthy of censure. That sinners perish is in itself a painful consideration, but that the Lord’s law is avenged upon those who break it is to the devout mind a theme for thankfulness. We must, however, always remember that vengeance is never ours, vengeance belongeth unto the Lord, and he is so just and withal so long-suffering in the excercise of it, that we may safely leave its administration in his hands.
“It is God.” Sir, this is none other than the hand of God; and to him alone belongs the glory, wherein none are to share with him. The General served you with all faithfulness and honour; and the best commendation I can give him is that I dare say he attributes all to God, and would rather perish than assume to himself.”—Written to the Speaker of the House of Commons, after the battle of Naseby, June 14, 1645, by Oliver Cromwell.
The Treasury of David.
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