We will be studying the book of Psalm 18 meaning verse by verse today. Like many others Psalms, Psalm 18 is also written by King David, the servant of the LORD. He 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 the hand of Saul. It is a royal song of thanksgiving that rehearses God’s deliverance of David from all his enemies. The psalm includes a declaration of David’s love and trust in the Lord (verses 1-3), a narrative of his deliverance by the Lord (verses 4-19), an explanation of the cause for David’s deliverance (verses 20-24), an exposition of the display of Gods attributes to those who trust in Him (verses 25-30), a further description of David’s victory (verses 31-45), and a concluding word of thanks for God’s deliverance (verses 46-50).
Psalm 18 is an individual psalm of thanksgiving, also bearing royal characteristics. Its poetry and theme resemble other ancient testimonies to God’s great historical deliverances.
PSALM 18 MEANING VERSE BY VERSE
Psalm 18: 1&2 “I will love thee, O LORD, my strength. “The LORD [is] my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, [and] my high tower.”
This is the first verse of the chapter and it portrays how David declared his love for God and how his choice of words intended to express a very strong devotion. God was his strength Both defensively and offensively, the Lord was all David needed in lifes tough battles, and his salvation is bought by the precious shed blood of the Lamb.
Psalm 18:3 “I will call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised: so shall I be saved from mine enemies.”
The idea here is, that he would constantly call upon the Lord. In all times of trouble and danger, he would go to him and invoke his aid through his praise and confide in him as one who would deliver him from all his foes.
Psalm 18:4&5 “The sorrows of death compassed me, and the floods of ungodly men made me afraid, The sorrows of hell compassed me about: the snares of death prevented me.”
David is telling of his condition before the Lord came to his rescue. David was in danger of death from his enemies, until the Lord rescued him and his fears were turned into joy.
Psalm 18:6 “In my distress I called upon the LORD, and cried unto my God: he heard my voice out of his temple, and my cry came before him, [even] into his ears.”
A time of distress is a time for prayer which brings us to the throne of his grace. And a great privilege is that we have such a throne to come to for grace and mercy to help us in times of need. I.e In our deepest need, we should cry out to God. He will hear and answer our prayers. God’s ears are always tuned into the needs of His people.
Psalm 18:7 “Then the earth shook and trembled; the foundations also of the hills moved and were shaken, because he was wroth.”
Many times in the Bible, God shook the earth. Once was the earthquake when Moses came down the mountain and saw the children of Israel worshipping a golden calf. When Jesus died on the cross, the earth quaked. The earth is God’s and the fullness thereof. He can shake it if He desires to. When God’s anger comes up in His face at the end of the age, the earth will quake as never before. The earth will quake so that it will be felt around the world. It is best not to anger God.
Psalm 18:8 “There went up a smoke out of his nostrils, and fire out of his mouth devoured: coals were kindled by it.”
We know that the wrath of God is something we do not want to encounter. If God is a flaming fire, and the Word says He is, it would be only natural for His anger to proceed from His mouth as a fire.
Psalm 18:9 “He bowed the heavens also, and came down: and darkness was under his feet.”
To execute wrath and vengeance on wicked men, he bowed the heavens, and his glory appeared”. That is the glory of his power and his mighty hand of vengeance. Using the Israelite as an example God showed Himself to the Israelites in a fire by night, and a cloud by day. He descended and His presence was over the mercy seat. As far as the people were concerned, this cloud was thick darkness because they could not see God. For that matter, all things are under His feet, not just darkness.
Psalm 18:10 “And he rode upon a cherub, and did fly: yea, he did fly upon the wings of the wind.”
This is just David’s explanation of how God can move through the air and upon the cherubims, that is, upon the angels, who are also called Gods chariots. He moves through the earth, he did not need an airplane to carry Him, He just went up on a cloud.
Psalm 18:11&12 “He made darkness his secret place; his pavilion round about him [were] dark waters [and] thick clouds of the skies.”At the brightness [that was] before him, his thick clouds passed, hail [stones] and coals of fire.”
The representation in the verse before us is peculiarly proper; as thick heavy clouds In which Jehovah is represented as wrapping Himself, and in which He lies hid as in a secret place and at his bright presence, his thick cloud passed, or did cleave; whence came hailstones mixed with coals of fire, or lightning out of the clouds. Jesus opened the way into the heavenly for you and me. Someday, the darkness of clouds surrounding the Father will be removed and we will see Him as He is. That is when the secret of God will be revealed in heaven to us.
Psalm 18:13 “The LORD also thundered in the heavens, and the Highest gave his voice; hail [stones] and coals of fire.”
Thunder is often in the Scriptures described as the voice of God. See the magnificent description in Psalm 29:1-11, and then followed the hail and coals of fire. The former verse mentioned the lightning, with its effects; this gives us the report of the thunder and the increasing storm of hail and fire that attended it.
Psalm 18:14 “Yea, he sent out his arrows, and scattered them; and he shot out lightning, and discomfited them.”
I believe the latter clause to be an illustration of the former. He sent out his arrows – that is, he shot out lightning; for lightning are the arrows of the Lord, and there is something very like the arrowhead apparent in the zigzag lightning which troubled, terrified, and distressed them.
Psalm 18:15 “Then the channels of waters were seen, and the foundations of the world were discovered at thy rebuke, O LORD, at the blast of the breath of thy nostrils.”
This verse is demonstrating how powerful the breath of God is, just a blast of his breath will occur mighty earthquakes, which will overturn the earth, and make its lower parts visible.
Psalm 18:16 “He sent from above, he took me, he drew me out of many waters.”
All these manifestations of the divine interposition were from above, or from heaven and all came from God. “He took me” He took hold on me; he rescued me, “He drew me out of many waters”: Waters are often expressive of calamity and trouble. The meaning here is, that God had rescued him out of the many troubles and dangers that encompassed him. As if he had fallen into the sea and was in danger of perishing.
Psalm 18:17 “He delivered me from my strong enemy, and from them which hated me: for they were too strong for me.”
In this verse, we can see that the enemy that had more power and was likely to overcome the psalmist, he admitted his enemies were superior to himself in power and he also admitted that he owed his preservation not to his courage and skill in war, but God.
Psalm 18:18 “They prevented me in the day of my calamity: but the LORD was my stay.”
The idea here is that his enemies came before him, or intercepted his way. They were in his path, ready to destroy him. “On the day of my calamity”: In the day to which I now look back at the time of my special trial. “But the Lord was my stay” That is, the Lord upheld me, and kept me from falling. Not only did God slay David’s enemy, but He does the same for us.
Psalm 18:19&20 “He brought me forth also into a large place; he delivered me because he delighted in me. The LORD rewarded me according to my righteousness; according to the cleanness of my hands hath he recompensed me.”
God delivered David from all his enemies, because he was a man after his own heart, in which he delighted. Not for any merit and worthiness in him, but of his goodwill and pleasure and brought him into heaven, a place of the glorious liberty of Christ. He also rewarded his righteousness. Righteousness, as we have said over and over, is being in right standing with God.
Psalm 18:21 “For I have kept the ways of the LORD, and have not wickedly departed from my God.”
This verse is talking about the laws which God has given to regulate our conduct. So many people, in our day, feel that all they must do is be baptized and they will go to heaven. To depart from God, after He has saved you, would cause God to call you wicked. Baptism is burying that old man of sin and living a new clean life in Christ Jesus.
Psalm 18:22 “For all his judgments [were] before me, and I did not put away his statutes from me.”
David is making a statement that we should live by too. He says, God, I have not forgotten your law. I keep it on my mind and do it. Joshua 1:8 “This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have success.”
Read your Bible and know God’s will, then do God’s will.
Psalm 18:23 “I was also upright before him, and I kept myself from mine iniquity.”
The verse tells us that David kept David from sinning. Temptation comes to all. We must not surrender to temptation. We must stay strong in ourselves. The battle is between the sinful things the flesh wants to do and the spirit which wants to follow God. Let your spirit rule over your flesh.
Psalm 18:24 “Therefore hath the LORD recompensed me according to my righteousness, according to the cleanness of my hands in his eyesight.”
According to the cleanness of my hands in his eyesight. This phrase, “in his eyesight”, is here added, to show that the righteousness of Christ was clean, pure, and spotless in the sight of God. Hence those that are clothed with it are holy and unblamable, and unreprovable in His sight.
Notice in this whose eyesight it was important to be right in. David probably did not appear to be righteous in people’s eyes. Stop worrying about what others think and start pleasing God.
Psalm 18:25 “With the merciful thou wilt show thyself merciful; with an upright man thou wilt show thyself upright;”
That general statement is, that God deals with men according to their character. Or, that he will adapt his providential dealings to the conduct of men. And will show mercy to those following him.
Psalm 18:26 ” With the pure thou wilt show thyself pure; and with the froward thou wilt show thyself froward.”
This verse tells us that those who are pure in their thoughts, their motives, their conduct. They will find that they have to deal with a God who is ever pure. Who loves purity, and who will accompany it with appropriate rewards wherever it is found.
Psalm 18:27 “For thou wilt save the afflicted people, but wilt brings down high looks.”
As the people of God commonly are afflicted with sin, and the corruption of their hearts. And with Satan and his temptations, reproaches, and persecutions. But God in his own time saves them out of them, if not here, yet hereafter.
“But wilt brings down high looks”: Or proud men, whom God humbles, We must humble our self to receive from God. Proud arrogant people feel that they are self-sufficient. They do not feel as if they need a Savior.
Psalm 18:28 ” For thou wilt light my candle: the LORD my God will enlighten my darkness.”
The Lord my God will enlighten my darkness Or cause light to shine in my darkness. That is, bring me out of darkness into light. Either out of adversity to prosperity or from walking in darkness to the enjoyment of the light of his countenance.
Psalm 18:29 “For by thee I have run through a troop, and by my God have I leaped over a wall.”
The idea in this verse is that d psalmist had been delivered, was been able to scale the walls of an enemy, ie to overcome them, and to secure a victory through God. The general idea is, that all his victories were to be traced to God.
Psalm 18:30 “As for God, his way is perfect: the word of the LORD is tried: he is a buckler to all those that trust in him.”
We may not always understand what God is doing at the moment in our lives, but we can be assured it is the right thing. God is perfect. He does not make mistakes. Whatever problem we are facing at the moment; we can trust that our God can handle it. Our job is not to question, but to trust Him. To have faith is one thing, but trust goes beyond faith.
Psalm 18:31 ” for who is God, but the LORD? And who is the rock, except our God
From the beginning of time to all of eternity, we will still be trying to understand the fullness of who God is. The Spirit is one. The personalities of that One Spirit are three. We know that Jesus was and is the Rock. He is the Rock that we must build our house upon. He was the Rock in the wilderness that Moses struck to bring forth water. He not only was the Rock but is the Water that flows from that Rock as well. God is everything good and wonderful. He is my all in all. Without Him, I can do nothing. With Him, I can do all things.
Psalm 18:32 “it is God that girdeth me with strength, and maketh my way perfect.”
This passage indicates that God is our strength and power and he removed every impediment and obstacle out of our way and made it plain and easy.
Psalm 18:33 “He maketh my feet like hinds’ [feet], and setteth me upon my high places.”
He maketh my feet like hinds. The hind is the female deer, remarkable for fleetness or swiftness. The meaning here is, that God had made him alert or active, enabling him to pursue a flying enemy or to escape from a swift-running foe. And setteth me upon my high places, strong and fortified places, where he was safe from his enemies.
Psalm 18:34 “He teacheth my hands to war so that a bow of steel is broken by mine arms.”
Some people are offended that we are soldiers in a battle for the Lord. When David went into battle, it was a war that he was fighting with the blessing of God. The Holy Spirit of God teaches the Christian the way to win the war that we are in. Our weapons are not carnal. The weapon of the Christian is the two-edged sword, which is the Word of God.
Psalm 18:35&36 “Thou hast also given me the shield of thy salvation: and thy right hand hath holden me up, and thy gentleness hath made me great. Thou hast enlarged my steps under me, that my feet did not slip.”
“Thy right hand hath holden me up”: Kept us from falling into those snares and mischiefs which enemies designed, and I feared I should fall into. “That my feet did not slip” the idea here is, “Thou hast made room for my feet so that I have been enabled to walk without hindrance or obstruction. We know that the path to righteousness is narrow and straight, so it does not mean that God has widened the path. It just means that God made our feet sure in the path.
Psalm 18: 37&38 “I have pursued mine enemies, and overtaken them: neither did I turn again till they were consumed.” “I have wounded them that they were not able to rise: they are fallen under my feet.”
This verse implies that David did not only routed them but had enough strength to pursue them. We know that God was with David in battle. This is like a victory cry over the enemy.
The literal meaning of this verse is that David did defeat his enemy. Looking at this from the spiritual standpoint would mean: withstand the devil, and he will flee from thee.
Psalm 18:39, “For thou hast girded me with strength unto the battle: thou hast subdued under me those that rose against me.”
That natural strength, courage, and valor, which David had, were from the Lord. And so is the Spirit of power, love, and a sound mind, which believers have. “Thou hast subdued under me those that rose against me”: As the psalmist ascribes his strength, so he attributes his success to the Lord. Who likewise subdues the sins of his people and all other enemies of theirs. And who also makes the enemies his footstool.
Psalm 18:40, “Thou hast also given me the necks of mine enemies; that I might destroy them, that hate me.”
In this verse, we can notice that David is quick to give God credit for putting his enemies in his hand. Not only did he put them in David’s hand, but he placed their neck in David’s hand.
Psalm 18:41 “They cried, but [there was] none to save [them: even] unto the LORD, but he answered them not.”
These people had an opportunity to surrender to God but did not. Now it is too late for them to cry out to Him. When Jesus comes in the clouds for the believers, it will be too late for those who rejected Him completely. We must accept Jesus as our Savior because we believe.
Psalm 18:42 “Then did I beat them small as the dust before the wind: I did cast them out as the dirt in the streets.”
The defeat of our enemies will be as the defeat of David’s enemies, if we continue to serve the Lord, our enemies will be destroyed.
Psalm 18:43&44 “Thou hast delivered me from the strivings of the people; and thou hast made me the head of the heathen: a people whom I have not known shall serve me. “As soon as they hear of me, they shall obey me: the strangers shall submit themselves unto me.”
This verse is speaking of God’s grace upon David, and how the heathen accepted him, people who he never knew, Whom he had no acquaintance with or relation to came to obey him. They instantly comply with his will, as soon as they understand, and submitted themselves to David because it was God’s grace upon his life at work.
Psalm 18:45 “The strangers shall fade away, and be afraid out of their close places.”
The idea in this verse is that all his foes would vanish, And be afraid out of their towers and hidden places, or the rocks and mountains to which they betake themselves for shelter.
Psalm 18:46 “The LORD liveth; and blessed be my rock, and let the God of my salvation be exalted.”
Life is an essential attribute of Jehovah. He is the Living God in contrast to the dead idols of the heathen. We should never cease praising the Lord Jesus Christ for what He has done for us. We should exalt His name forever. The God of my salvation is Jesus, he is my Rock, Lord, and our savior Liveth means to live continually. He is the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End. We are not like those who worship idols. We serve the living God.
Psalm 18:47, “it is God that avengeth me, and subdueth the people under me.”
The Lord controls all people. He is our Creator and has absolute control over His creation. We need not be concerned with our enemies because he gives vengeance to me or for me. Vengeance only belongs to God, and he repays it for and on behalf of his people. God is our avenger.
Psalm 18:48 “He delivereth me from mine enemies: yea, thou liftest me up above those that rise against me: thou hast delivered me from the violent man.”
David was victorious over all of his enemies. Saul was not spared in this. God removed Saul and made David king. One of the things we see in this is the fact that Saul thought he had defeated David, but David rose again. The very act that David thought would do away with David was David’s greatest victor.
Psalm 18:49 “Therefore, will I give thanks unto thee, O LORD, among the heathen, and sing praises unto thy name.”
The idea here is that he would make a public acknowledgment of those blessings which he had received; or he would cause the praises of God to be celebrated among foreign or pagan nations, as the result of what God had done for him.
Psalm 18:50 “Great deliverance giveth him to his king; and showeth mercy to his anointed, to David, and his seed forevermore.”
This is the last verse of this chapter, and it tells us how David was given great deliverance from his enemies. This is speaking of the Christians when it speaks of his seed. We are delivered from our enemies. His mercy and grace is our hope.
When do I need this Psalm 18?
You might be wondering when exactly do you need this Psalm, and you can check below for some of the situations when you should use Psalm 18
- When the cords of death and depression entangled me
- When the snares of confusion confronted me.
- When the torrents of self-destruction overwhelmed me.
- Teach me to be humble and bring my eyes low when arrogant.
- My God turns my darkness into light.
- Lord, drew me out of the deep waters of despair.
- Lord, be my rock, my safe place, and my deliverer.