I love you, O Lord, my strength.
The Lord is my rock, my fortress, and my deliverer,
my God, my rock in whom I take refuge,
my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised,
so I shall be saved from my enemies.
Psalm 18:1–3 (NRSV)
This song of praise, Psalm 18, was David’s response to God after Saul and his men had just chased David and his men around a mountain. Just as Saul and his army were surrounding David, Saul received word that the Philistines had made a raid on the land and turned back. David then named that place the “Rock of Escape” (see 1 Samuel 23:25–28).
It’s from this place we see that David is declaring that, in fact, God is the rock. He delivered them literally from death. In the story it was a giant rock they were running for their lives on, and here David is declaring, “The Lord is my rock.” It was not David’s six hundred men who shielded him from Saul; rather, it was the Lord. It isn’t the rock they were hiding on; it is God he takes refuge in. It was not the “horn of salvation” or “Rock of Escape” (which both refer to the mountain) he puts his trust in; it is the God who made the mountains who is worthy to be praised.
When David heard Saul was after him, he did not turn first to his trusted men to seek counsel, he prayed and asked God what he should do. So often when we find ourselves in difficult situations we first turn to one of two places most instinctively: ourselves and others. When we turn to ourselves, we must recognize that while we sometimes have accurate instincts and some experience and understanding, we can often get it wrong. Second, while seeking out others can be very helpful, we must consider why we would often rely first on a source that could give uninformed advice or make false assumptions, verses seeking out the God who knows all, sees all, and is over all.
We must come to depend on the reality that God alone is the unshakable rock on which we stand. That he alone is the refuge and shield in the storms and battles of life. This does not mean we are to go about life alone! It is rather the order of things. What if we first turned to God in prayer at the outset of trouble, then sought out the counsel of our band or trusted friend, then made the best decision we could from that vantage point? Perhaps then when things turned around for the better we would pour out our praise first to God rather than patting ourselves on the back. This is how dependence gives way to delight.
There is an old adage, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.” I think a better phrase would be, “When the going gets tough, the tough get praying.”
Lord, I echo this ancient prayer today: I love you, O Lord, my strength. You are my rock, my fortress, and my deliverer, my God, my rock in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I call upon you, Lord, who is worthy to be praised, so I shall be saved from my enemies. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Have you ever had an experience in your life where you felt like God clearly answered your prayer in a tough situation? Describe it.
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