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Psalm 18 – I Love You

 April 2, 2024

This week we focus on three powerful words at the beginning of Psalm 18 – I love you.

Love is a complex, multi-faceted word, much abused and misunderstood. For all of the time we spend thinking about love, writing and singing songs about love, reading romance novels and watching movies about love, it remains a mystery – like God.

Psalm 18 – Part 1

The psalmist begins by saying – “I love you, Lord, my strength.”

We are given two accounts of God strength first through a theophany, powerful manifestations of God in nature.

In my distress I called to the Lord;
I cried to my God for help.
From his temple he heard my voice;
my cry came before him, into his ears.
The earth trembled and quaked,
and the foundations of the mountains shook;
they trembled because he was angry.
Smoke rose from his nostrils;
consuming fire came from his mouth,
burning coals blazed out of it.
He parted the heavens and came down;
dark clouds were under his feet.
God mounted the cherubim and flew;
he soared on the wings of the wind.
He made darkness his covering, his canopy around him—
the dark rain clouds of the sky.

Out of the brightness of his presence clouds advanced,
with hailstones and bolts of lightning.
The Lord thundered from heaven;
the voice of the Most High resounded.

He shot his arrows and scattered the enemy,
with great bolts of lightning he routed them.
The valleys of the sea were exposed
and the foundations of the earth laid bare
at your rebuke, Lord,
at the blast of breath from your nostrils
.”  (vs. 6-15)

Such images scare even the bravest among us, images of an all-powerful, majestic God.

Then God reached down with massive hands and rescued the writer:

“God reached down from on high and took hold of me;
he drew me out of deep waters.
He rescued me from my powerful enemy,
from my foes, who were too strong for me.
They confronted me in the day of my disaster,
but the Lord was my support.
He brought me out into a spacious place;
he rescued me because he delighted in me.”

Psalm 18 – Part 2

In the second part of Psalm 18, the writer states how God gave him victory in battle. God trained him:

It is God who arms me with strength
and keeps my way secure.
God makes my feet like the feet of a deer;
he causes me to stand on the heights.
He trains my hands for battle;
my arms can bend a bow of bronze.”

Then gave him victory:

I pursued my enemies and overtook them;
I did not turn back till they were destroyed.
I crushed them so that they could not rise;
they fell beneath my feet.
You armed me with strength for battle;
you humbled my adversaries before me.
You made my enemies turn their backs in flight,
and I destroyed my foes
.” (37-40)

Now people he doesn’t even know bow down before him because of all God has done for him.

People I did not know now serve me,
foreigners cower before me;
as soon as they hear of me, they obey me.
They all lose heart;
they come trembling from their strongholds.”

Is there any reason to wonder why the writer loves God? God has given him all he wanted.

You exalted me above my foes;
from a violent man you rescued me.
Therefore I will praise you, Lord, among the nations;
I will sing the praises of your name.”

If only all of life were so easy. You trust in God and follow God’s ways and you are rewarded with victory in battle.

To the faithful you show yourself faithful,
to the blameless you show yourself blameless
.” (25)

What Wondrous Love

But we all know that is not always the case. Good people suffer, right doesn’t always win, at least not in this world. Terrible tragedies are all around us. Children starving, innocent victims of war. Others are lost to violence in their own homes. Natural disasters destroy cities and villages. It’s enough to question whether God is worthy of our love.

The love expressed in Psalm 18 is a childish love. Children love because of what we give or do for them. The writer loves God because God gave him victory in battle. It is a triumphal love of an all-powerful God.

Contrast this love to the love of Jesus on the cross. Jesus’ love is vulnerable. Jesus experiences all of the hurts of this world. He is willing to give up his life for us. Such is the love of a parent for a child. We will gladly give our lives for our children.

What wondrous love is this? The crazy love of a God who is all powerful yet willing to give up that power before human free will. How are we called to respond? With love in return.

Psalm 18 – I Love You, Lord!

In Psalm 18 we see an image of God that is worthy of love, one who gives victory in battle and saves us. But it is just one image of God and one form of love. If we only love others when they give us what we want, our love of God has yet to grow into maturity. Can we love God even when things don’t go our way, when terrible things happen that we don’t understand? Can we learn from the wondrous love of our God in Jesus?

(For another take on this psalm, see Psalm 18 – Finding Shelter during Life’s Storms! – Patricia M Robertson.)

This post is part of a series of blog posts on the Psalms. Sign up to follow this blog and receive a free copy of  Dancing on a High Wire the first book in my Dancing through Life Series.      click here to sign up

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