Waging warfare through Psalm 18

It seemed like a normal day. I was going about my ordinary household tasks, for the most part on automatic. But during the course of the day I became aware of where my heart was going. I realized that I was continuing to be bombarded by temptations in my thoughts, and that I was coyly flirting with the enemy, even though it was only barely at the level of consciousness. Because, after all, I was still washing clothes and cleaning the kitchen and doing school and answering emails and carrying on with life.

Under this bombardment of wrong desires, anxiety, and wrong attitudes, I grew more and more acutely aware of the weakness and inability of my heart to resist temptations so strong. I knew through painful experience where my own flirtations could lead: I am all too subject to being drawn away by my own lusts and enticed. So, under the pretense of “going to go rest,” I took my Bible to bed and began to pray through Psalm 18.

I love Psalm 18. I’ve loved it for decades. I love the way David starts it out with a declaration of determination. Not “help me to love You,” but “I will love You.” I love his proclamation of who God is to him—nine proclamations, in three sets of three—as the introduction to his astounding story. My Rock, my Fortress, my Deliverer. My God, my Strength, the One in whom I trust. My Shield, the Horn of my salvation, and my High Tower.

I will call on the Lord, who is . . . who is . . . Not “who is very powerful.” Not “who is faithful.” Those are true. But where is his focus? “Who is worthy to be praised.”

This is going to be good.

I was overwhelmed by my enemies. I was afraid. Yes, Lord, that’s me. They are too strong for me. I’m afraid I’ll be taken captive.

In my distress, I cried out to the Lord. Yes, Lord, that’s what I’m doing. I’m terribly distressed, and I’m crying out to You. You are the only one who can rescue me.

The whole psalm has me on the edge of my seat, but this next part is especially exciting. God heard. God came. And not quietly and calmly, but in a storm of thunder and lightning and hailstones and fire and blackness and earthquakes and chariots. With a blast of His breath, He vanquished the enemy.

Yes, Lord, I trust You! You will do that for me! I cry out to You to do that for me!

Then David makes one statement after another about his own integrity, his own righteousness in the situation with Saul. For me, these are statements of my righteousness in Christ. So I could assert “I have kept the ways of the Lord, and have not wickedly departed from my God,” because I knew that Christ had done that for me, and I am in Christ. I came to the Lord guilty, asking forgiveness, but now I stood before Him clean in the cleansing power of my Savior.

Then David’s whole demeanor changes. He is no longer the fearful one, hiding in the shadows. The deliverance of the Lord has empowered him. Now he is a new man. He is strong. By Thee I have run through a troop! Yes, Lord, You will strengthen me to charge through theses enemies. By my God I have leaped over a wall! I have seen it in my life before, Lord, I remember that wall, and I remember how You empowered me to leap over it. Your way is perfect. You are the only God. You are the only Rock. You give me hinds’ feet to walk on my high places. Show me my high places, Lord. I want to walk on them! Let me see my hinds’ feet. Increase my faith!

My arms are strong enough to break a bronze bow. Your gentleness has made me great. Now I have chased after my enemies and destroyed them, because you have filled me with strength.

One amazing statement after another to meditate on, all pointing to the power and glory and mighty salvation of our matchless God. Through the salvation of my great Savior, I am victorious beyond my dreams.

For about an hour I fought through Psalm 18. By the end of it, exhaustion put me to sleep.

It wasn’t long before I got up and returned to my housework and schoolwork. But the temptations to sin in my thoughts had fallen away, the Lord had conquered the enemy once again, and my mind was free to praise Him without the constant bombardment.

Though I know I am still new at this, I am waging warfare. Though I know I still have much to learn, He is teaching me to overcome my enemies through faith.

And all of it, all of it, comes through the power of my Savior Jesus Christ. He, unlike any other, is worthy to be praised.

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–originally posted in November 2009

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