The LORD thundered from heaven; the voice of the Most High resounded--hailstones and coals of fire.
as a whole - for it is a unity - and to show how grand a basis it presents for the pulpit exposition of the provisions of "the everlasting covenant" to which allusion is made in the last verse of the psalm. The student and expositor might with advantage refer at the outset to Isaiah 4:3, "I will give you the sure mercies of David," with the view of showing that the promises made to David do immeasurably transcend any merely personal reference; that they include all the blessings which come to us through him who, though David's Son, was yet David's Lord. There is no reason to doubt the Davidic authorship of the psalm. There are, moreover, more data than most psalms present, to aid us in deciding the approximate date of its composition. We have it recorded in 2 Samuel 22:4-51. This gives us one historic clue to its date. Besides, the tone of triumph which is heard throughout it was scarcely heard in the later days of David, after his great crime had darkened the remainder of his earthly life. Vers. 19-24 could scarcely have been written after that catastrophe, even though it be urged that David writes rather of his administration as king than of his behaviour as a man. Regarding, then, the inscription at the head as showing us the occasion on which the psalm was first penned, and taking into account the prophetic far-reaching-ness of its closing words, we are called on to view it in a double aspect - one historical, the other typical.
I. LET US SKETCH ITS CONTENTS AS HISTORICALLY REFERRING TO KING DAVID AND HIS CONQUESTS.
1. Here is a distinct reference to David as king. And while we should miss very much of the significance of the psalm, were we to omit the larger view to which we shall presently refer, yet, on the other hand, if we omit the strictly historical application, our use of the psalm will be strangely incomplete. As, without the historic setting, there would be no basis on which to set anything further, so, without the larger view, there would be no adequate superstructure set up upon that basis. Combine both, and the glory of the psalm stands forth as combining inspiration and revelation in the contents of this triumphant song (see ver. 50, where the remarkable, phrase occurs, "his king;" i.e. God's king). David was God's appointed king for Israel, and as such he tunes his harp for Jehovah's praise.
2. With David as king, God had made a covenant. This is implied in ver. 50, where the mercies already granted are referred to as pledged "for evermore."
3. David had been plunged into fierce conflict. (See vers. 4, 5.) The study of David's life will furnish us with a host of facts in this direction.
4. Conflict had driven him to earnest prayer. (Ver. 6.) Again and again had he passed through this experience (see Psalm 34:6; Psalm 138:3). The believer's most piercing cries are sent upward to God, when he is being pierced by the sharpest arrows of affliction. How is it that we so often need the pressure of sorrow to quicken us from languor in prayer. Sad, - that prayer should be forced out rather than drawn out]
5. Prayer had been followed by timely deliverance. This is set forth in poetry which is truly sublime (see vers. 7-16). 'The Divine deliverance was seen:
(1) In girding the assailed one with strength (ver. 39).
(2) In rescuing him from his pursuers (ver. 16).
(3) In causing the foe to be prostrate under the conqueror's feet (ver. 40).
(4) In bringing forth the conqueror to liberty and gladness (ver. 19).
6. Such deliverance led him to triumph in God. It may be asked, however, "Is not such joy in God rather of an inferior order, when it arises because God has done for us just what we wished? Perhaps so. But that is not a correct setting of the case before us. It is this: God had promised deliverance. David pleaded with God on the ground of the promise; and he found the great Promiser true. Hence the jubilation. When prayers that are presented on the basis of God's promise are abundantly answered, gratitude may well burst forth in holy song (see vers. 1, 2). What joy to a believer to read in the trials and reliefs of life a perpetual revelation of the loving-kindness of God!
7. The mercies of the past assure him of help in the future. (Ver. 50.) For evermore." Even so. So often has prayer been turned to praise, so often have we cast our burden at God's feet, and borne a song away, that we cannot doubt him now. Rather will we sing, "Because thou hast been my help, therefore in the shadow of thy wings will I rejoice." God has helped us, and will "for evermore."
II. LET US NOTE ITS CONTENTS TYPICALLY, AS FULFILLED AND FULFILLING IN ONE WHO IS OF DAVID'S SEED, YET IS DAVID'S LORD. Although it is easy to explain the greater part of the phrases of this psalm by incidents in David's personal career, there are some which seem to tower above his or any man's experience, and which can be adequately interpreted only as the psalm is regarded as having not only historical meaning, but also typical and predictive significance. How this manifests itself will appear, we trust, from the present outlines.
1. The kingship of David was not only personal, but also typical and prophetic. That such was the case may be gathered from the last verse of this psalm, and also from a study of the following passages: 2 Samuel 7:12-16; 2 Samuel 23:2-5; Psalm 16:8-10; Psalm 89:20-37; Psalm 132:11-18; Psalm 110.; Matthew 22:41-45; Acts 2:25-36; Acts 13:32-37. That gracious redemptive work, which began with the calling out of Abraham (Isaiah 51:2, Hebrew), was being carried forward through David with a view to its fulfilment in the Lord Jesus Christ, who is seated on David's throne. And the glory of King David is infinitely surpassed in David's Lord; while the promises made to David and his seed are made over to all who are in blessed covenant relation to God through the Lord Jesus Christ (Isaiah 4:3).
2. The Lord Jesus and his saints are gone forth to war. (Ver. 34.) In a high and holy sense, as the kingship of David was typical, so also were his wars. One of the early visions of the seer of Patmos indicated this. He sees One who speaks of himself as the Root and Offspring of David (Revelation 22:16) going forth conquering and to conquer (Revelation 6:2); and, indeed, the entire Book of the Apocalypse might be called the 'Book of the Wars of the Lord.'
3. The issue of the great conflict is already foreseen. The "for evermore" with which the psalm closes spans the whole of the present dispensation, and reaches forward to the time when Jesus shall have "all enemies beneath his feet." This is beyond doubt. The everlasting covenant is "ordered in all things and sure."
4. Ere this final victory, there will intervene many a struggle and many a rescue. While David's Lord is on high, controlling the conflict, and administering all, the saints are in the midst of the struggle. As individuals they are called to "wrestle against the world-rulers of darkness." Ministers of the gospel are to "endure hardness, as good soldiers of Jesus Christ." And the Church, as a whole, will have to undergo many a severe struggle. At times it may seem as if the cause were all but lost. But the great Commander will ensure his army all timely rescue as well as final triumph.
6. The great King will receive the homage of the peoples, and be exalted above all. (Vers. 43, 44.) The expression in ver. 43, "the Head of the nations," can be fully accomplished only in Christ as our victorious Lord. "All nations shall serve him."
7. All who are now fighting on the King's side will share his victory. That which is the result for David is ensured also to "his seed" (ver. 50). As our Lord is not alone in the war, so he will not be alone when the war is over. His triumph will be that also of those who are his.
8. The result of all will be a new disclosure of God. (Vers. 1, 2, 30, 31, 46, 47.) Just as David's career was ever unfolding to him the faithfulness and love of God, so will the result of the Church's conflict reveal to believers how great, how vast, was the scheme of mercy for men's deliverance, and for the discomfiture of the powers of ill. The glory of God will stand out revealed in the day of final triumph, putting doubts and fears to fiight, as his love stands forth vindicated in the glorious result of all. And the oft-repeated Scripture phrase, "They shall know that I am the Lord," will be fulfilled with a glory and grandeur beyond our utmost stretch of thought.
9. All this is now God's noblest prophecy, and will be hereafter the theme of the saints noblest song. Psalm 18, may well be regarded as finding its exposition, its supplement, in Revelation 5. In the psalm we have God's providences forecast; in the Apocalypse we have God's providences reviewed. In the former David's conquests are recited; in the latter the conquests of the Root of David. In the former we have the song of the victorious David; in the latter the new song of the victorious Seed of David. And by as much as David's Lord is greater than David, by so much will the new song of the redeemed transcend the noblest flights of Hebrew praise. - C.
The Lord also thundered in the heavens.His, to whom the darkness and the light are both alike. Meanwhile the roar of the thunder, the voice of the Most High in the clouds, is incessant; the lightnings flashing from cloud to cloud, from the clouds to the earth, and from the earth back again to the clouds. Moreover, it seems as if He who measureth the waters in the hollow of His hand had poured them out, for the rain descends in torrents, mingled at times with destructive hail, while coals of fire — balls of meteoric flame — run along the ground (Exodus 9:23).
(David Caldwell, A. M.)
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