“I love you, O LORD, my strength.
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,
and I am saved from my enemies.” Psalm 18 1-3
These first three verses of Psalm 18 are a beautiful and powerful truth, an all-time favorite of many. In my humble opinion, the whole Psalm comes straight from the Spirit of Jesus into King David’s heart. It reveals spiritual realities for which there really are no words. These conceptions gave David courage to face his enemies. Jesus certainly studied this Psalm as a boy, and knew he truly did know what it meant. To Jesus, the ‘cords of death’, the trembling mountains, and the anger of the Lord were no mystery. When Jesus repeated, “I love you, O Lord, my strength.” He knew the vicious power of his enemy and the stakes of the battle he faced.
I tend to give little attention to passages about “enemies”. However, Jesus also knew the dangers I would face. When he writes: “For it is you who light my lamp; the LORD my God lightens my darkness.” (18:28), he let us know the reality of the danger to his followers. He reveals the strength and protection that is ours as well when he writes, “This God—his way is perfect; the word of the LORD proves true; he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him.” (18:30). In fact, a cavalier attitude about the battle we are in as Christians puts us in danger.
Most of us have never known enemies who want to kill us. We have been fortunate to live in a peaceful country; we have never known the devastation and danger that many around the globe have suffered for centuries. Nevertheless, our enemies are real, and they are dangerous. Jesus warned, “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” (Matthew 10:28).
Things like an engine warning on the car, the pile of bills, our aches and pains, too much to do—or not enough to do—stress us out. As I meditated on this Psalm for the last several days, I realized that even though I am a believer, even though I cherish my hope and my salvation, I am in danger from the mortal enemies that can kill my soul. Enemies like pride, fear, laziness, worry, greed, and the love of money have the power to kill our souls. These true enemies sneak up on us. When the real enemy stalks us during the day and keep us awake at night, we need to join King David and remember God’s promises.
For who is God, but the LORD?
And who is a rock, except our God?
the God who equipped me with strength
and made my way blameless.
He made my feet like the feet of a deer
and set me secure on the heights.
He trains my hands for war,
so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze. Psalm 18:33-35
Paul went to great lengths to expose this enemy in his letters and to explain how we are to protect ourselves in Ephesians 6:11-18. We can go directly to the Lord and know the safety of “the Rock”. We know he has bestowed strength upon us that only comes from the power of his spirit within us. Even though memories of our sins and mistakes plague us, we can trust that his forgiveness erases them from his memory. We can walk toward him without fear, secure in our faith. If we must go to war, we bend our knee to him and lift up our hands to him in prayer, unhindered, fully armed, with this battle cry on our lips:
The LORD lives, and blessed be my rock,
and exalted be the God of my salvation— Psalm 18:46