Free At Last!

Bible Book: Psalms  18 : 1-50
Subject: Deliverence; Gratitude; Praise
Series: Psalms - Kirksey

Free at last! These words reveal the deep sense of relief after God delivers a believer from those used by Satan to harass them and to hinder their obedience to the will of God. The primary focus of our life is to know and to do the will of God, as David’s greater Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, did. In John 4:34, “Jesus said to [His disciples], ‘My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work.”

At Antioch in Pisidia, “Paul stood up, and motioning with his hand said, ‘Men of Israel, and you who fear God, listen: The God of this people Israel chose our fathers, and exalted the people when they dwelt as strangers in the land of Egypt, and with an uplifted arm He brought them out of it. Now for a time of about forty years He put up with their ways in the wilderness. And when He had destroyed seven nations in the land of Canaan, He distributed their land to them by allotment. ‘After that He gave them judges for about four hundred and fifty years, until Samuel the prophet. And afterward they asked for a king; so God gave them Saul the son of Kish, a man of the tribe of Benjamin, for forty years. And when He had removed him, He raised up for them David as king, to whom also He gave testimony and said, ‘I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after My own heart, who will do all My will’” (Acts 12:16-22).

Many believers feel they are out of God’s will at the first sign of opposition. Actually, satanic opposition is a good sign that you are in the center of God’s will.

Dr. John James (J. J.) Stewart Perowne (1823-1904) shares, “In this magnificent hymn the Royal Poet sketches, in a few grand outlines, the tale of his life—the record of his marvellous deliverances, and of the victories which Jehovah had given him—the record, too, of his own heart, the truth of its affection towards God, and the integrity of purpose by which it had ever been influenced. Throughout that singularly chequered life, hunted as he had been by Saul before he came to the throne, and harassed perpetually after he became king by rivals, who disputed his authority and endeavoured to steal away the hearts of his people--compelled to fly for his life before his own son, and engaged afterwards in long and fierce wars with foreign nations—one thing had never forsaken him, the love and presence of Jehovah. By His help he had subdued every enemy, and now, in his old age, looking back with devout thankfulness on the past, he sings this great song of praise to the God of his life. With a heart full of love he will tell how Jehovah delivered him, and then there rises before the eye of his mind the whole force and magnitude of the peril from which he had escaped. So much the more wonderful appears the deliverance, which accordingly he represents in a bold poetical figure, as a stooping of the Most High from heaven to save him—who comes, as He came of old to Sinai, with all the terror and gloom of earthquake, and tempest, and thick darkness. But God delivers those only who trust in Him and who are like Him. There must be an inner life of communion with God, if man will know His mercy. Hence David passes on to that covenant relationship in which he had stood to God. He had ever been a true Israelite, and therefore God, the true God of Israel, had dealt with him accordingly. And thus it is at the last that the servant of Jehovah finds his reward. Jehovah, to whom he had ever looked, did not forsake him, but girded him with strength to the battle, and made even distant nations the vassals of his sway.”[1]

In a message titled, “Shutting the Gates of Derry,” Rev. M. B. Hogg, M. A. (1856-1931) shares, “In token of his gratitude to Jehovah for deliverance from Saul’s malevolence, David wrote this Psalm, a glowing composition, in which martial similes abound. Thanksgiving is not only a national, but an individual duty. There are few today who seem to apprehend this obligation. With simple truthfulness it might be affirmed of most of us—‘Prayers are many, thanks are rare. How many of us who, in critical moments and in sad emergencies, resorted to our God for deliverance and protection, sought His presence again when He heard our prayer and saw our tears?’ Not without deep meaning and subtle experience of human perversity did David write, ‘I will pay Thee my vows which I spake with my mouth when I was in trouble.’”[2]

It is interesting to note there are only minor differences between Psalm 18 and 2 Samuel 22. These differences relate to the purpose of their recording. The account in 2 Samuel 22 is a portion of divine history, while Psalm 18 is a poem of divine hymnody.

Allow me point out several things from this divine hymn.

I. We find an expression of divine praise.

David declares in Psalm 18:1-3, “I will love You, 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 shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I will call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised; So shall I be saved from my enemies.”

David became king when Samuel anointed him at the word of the Lord (1 Samuel 16:1-13; 2 Samuel 2:1-7). David faced the jealousy of his predecessor, Saul, (1 Samuel 18:9, 11; 19:9-10) and the envy of his progeny, Absalom (2 Samuel 15:1-10; 18:33). David encountered both jealousy and envy. Saul had the kingship in his hand and lost it by disobedience; moved with jealousy against David, who received the kingship from God, while Absalom did not have the kingship in his hand, lusted after it with envy.

David resolved to praise the Lord.

II. We find an experience of divine providence.

From Psalm 18:4-19 we read, “The pangs of death surrounded me, And the floods of ungodliness made me afraid. The sorrows of Sheol surrounded me; The snares of death confronted me. In my distress I called upon the Lord, And cried out to my God; He heard my voice from His temple, And my cry came before Him, even to His ears. Then the earth shook and trembled; The foundations of the hills also quaked and were shaken, Because He was angry. Smoke went up from His nostrils, And devouring fire from His mouth; Coals were kindled by it. He bowed the heavens also, and came down With darkness under His feet. And He rode upon a cherub, and flew; He flew upon the wings of the wind. He made darkness His secret place; His canopy around Him was dark waters And thick clouds of the skies. From the brightness before Him, His thick clouds passed with hailstones and coals of fire. The Lord thundered from heaven, And the Most High uttered His voice, Hailstones and coals of fire. He sent out His arrows and scattered the foe, Lightnings in abundance, and He vanquished them. Then the channels of the sea were seen, The foundations of the world were uncovered At Your rebuke, O Lord, At the blast of the breath of Your nostrils. He sent from above, He took me; He drew me out of many waters. He delivered me from my strong enemy, From those who hated me, For they were too strong for me. They confronted me in the day of my calamity, But the Lord was my support. He also brought me out into a broad place; He delivered me because He delighted in me.”

Dr. J. Harold Smith (1910-2001) points out about Psalm 18:16-19, “This has been called the ‘He-me section.’ ‘He’ is found 7 times in these 4 verses, and ‘me’ 9 times.”[3]

Recounting God’s mighty acts provides a great encouragement for every believer. From The Wycliffe Bible Commentary we read about “A Picture of God's Deliverance. He delivered me. When the psalmist, in his distress, called on the Lord for help, the earth shook, the Lord thundered, and deliverance came. In graphic figures like those describing the theophany when the Law was given at Mount Sinai (Ex 19:16-18; 20:18, 21; 24:16-18), the power of God is set forth.”[4]

III. We find an explanation of divine prudence.

In Psalm 18:20-31 we read, “The Lord rewarded me according to my righteousness; According to the cleanness of my hands He has recompensed me. For I have kept the ways of the Lord, And have not wickedly departed from my God. For all His judgments were before me, And I did not put away His statutes from me. I was also blameless before Him, And I kept myself from my iniquity. Therefore the Lord has recompensed me according to my righteousness, According to the cleanness of my hands in His sight. With the merciful You will show Yourself merciful; With a blameless man You will show Yourself blameless; With the pure You will show Yourself pure; And with the devious You will show Yourself shrewd. For You will save the humble people,
But will bring down haughty looks. For You will light my lamp; the Lord my God will enlighten my darkness. For by You I can run against a troop, By my God I can leap over a wall. As for God, His way is perfect; The word of the Lord is proven; He is a shield to all who trust in Him. For who is God, except the Lord? And who is a rock, except our God?”

Reviewing God’s magnificent actions provides a sense of order in a world out of order in many ways. Here, David would remind us that if we do what is right things will eventually work out! David wisely let the Lord take care of Saul and others who opposed his leadership. Vindication and victory must come in God’s time and in God’s way to glorify Him.

On verse 25, Dr. Adam Clarke (1760-1832) comments, “Thou wilt deal with men as they deal with each other. This is the general tenor of God's providential conduct towards mankind; well expressed by Mr. [Alexander] Pope [1688-1744] in his universal prayer:—

Teach me to feel another's woe;
To hide the fault I see:

The mercy I to others show,
That mercy show to me.

It is in reference to this that our Lord teaches us to pray: ‘Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive them that trespass against us.’ If we act feelingly and mercifully towards our fellow creatures, God will act tenderly and compassionately towards us. The merciful, the upright, and the pure, will ever have the God of mercy, uprightness, and purity, to defend and support them.”[5]

Dr. Clarke shares the following comment on verse 26, “My old Psalter has, With the wiked thow sal be wike. Here the term wicked is taken in its true original sense, crooked, or perverse. With the wiked, the perverse, thou wilt show thyself wike, i.e., perverse; from to draw back, to slide. As he draws back from thee, thou wilt draw back from him. It may, as before intimated, come from to seek for enchantments; leaving God, and going to devils; to act like a witch: but here it must mean as above. The plain import is, ‘If thou perversely oppose thy Maker, he will oppose thee: no work or project shall prosper that is not begun in his name, and conducted in his fear.’”[6]

IV. We find an examination of divine principles.

David writes in Psalm 18:32-36, “It is God who arms me with strength, And makes my way perfect. He makes my feet like the feet of deer, And sets me on my high places. He teaches my hands to make war, So that my arms can bend a bow of bronze. You have also given me the shield of Your salvation; Your right hand has held me up, Your gentleness has made me great. You enlarged my path under me, So my feet did not slip.”

Remembering God’s mysterious activity gives believers a healthy sense of self-worth. In the words of Charles H. Gabriel (1856-1932),

I stand amazed in the presence

Of Jesus the Nazarene,
And wonder how He could love me,
A sinner, condemned, unclean.[7]

Paul explains in Romans 12:3, “For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.”

Rev. John Roberts (J. R.) Drummelow of Queens’ College Cambridge, shares the following on “Gentleness]:” “‘condescension.' For the thought cp. 113:6; Isa 57:15: see also Ps 23.”[8] We read about “The Majesty and Condescension of God” in Psalm 113:4-6, “The Lord is high above all nations, His glory above the heavens. Who is like the Lord our God, Who dwells on high, Who humbles Himself to behold The things that are in the heavens and in the earth?” In Isaiah 57:15 we read, “For thus says the High and Lofty One Who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: ‘I dwell in the high and holy place, With him who has a contrite and humble spirit, To revive the spirit of the humble, And to revive the heart of the contrite ones.” David writes in Psalm 23, “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me All the days of my life; And I will dwell in the house of the Lord Forever.”

V. We find an expectation of divine preservation.

In Psalm 18:37-50 we read, “I have pursued my enemies and overtaken them; Neither did I turn back again till they were destroyed. I have wounded them, So that they could not rise; They have fallen under my feet. For You have armed me with strength for the battle; You have subdued under me those who rose up against me. You have also given me the necks of my enemies, So that I destroyed those who hated me. They cried out, but there was none to save; Even to the Lord, but He did not answer them. Then I beat them as fine as the dust before the wind; I cast them out like dirt in the streets. You have delivered me from the strivings of the people; You have made me the head of the nations; A people I have not known shall serve me. As soon as they hear of me they obey me; The foreigners submit to me. The foreigners fade away, And come frightened from their hideouts. The Lord lives! Blessed be my Rock! Let the God of my salvation be exalted. It is God who avenges me, And subdues the peoples under me; He delivers me from my enemies. You also lift me up above those who rise against me; You have delivered me from the violent man. Therefore I will give thanks to You, O Lord, among the Gentiles, And sing praises to Your name. Great deliverance He gives to His king, And shows mercy to His anointed, To David and his descendants forevermore.”

David resolved to praise the Lord. Dr. J. Harold Smith explains, “The last four verses look back to the first three.”[9]


Rev. Matthew Henry (1662-1714) concludes, “We should love the Lord, our Strength, and our Salvation; we should call on him in every trouble, and praise him for every deliverance; we should aim to walk with him in all righteousness and true holiness, keeping from sin. If we belong to him, he conquers and reigns for us, and we shall conquer and reign through him, and partake of the mercy of our anointed King, which is promised to all his seed for evermore. Amen.”[10]

Free at last!

[1]J. J. Stewart Perowne, The Book of Psalms: A New Translation, with Explanatory Notes for English Readers, Third Edition Revised, Book I, PSALMS I.-XLI, (London: George Bell and Sons, 1880), 68-69, accessed: 08/29/13,

[2]The Biblical Illustrator, ed. Joseph S. Exell, The Psalms, Volume 1, (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, n.d. [originally published 1887]) Database © 2012 WORDsearch Corp.

[3]J. Harold Smith, “God’s Gentleness, Our Greatness,” Sermon Notes, (Psalm 18:35)

[4]The Wycliffe Bible Commentary, Edited by Charles F. Pfeiffer and Everett F. Harrison, (Chicago, IL: Moody Bible Institute, 1962, 1990), 502, Database © 2008 WORDsearch Corp.

[5]Adam Clarke, Adam Clarke’s Commentary on the Old Testament, Database © 2004 WORDsearch Corp.


[7]Charles H. Gabriel, “I Stand Amazed in the Presence,” (1905)

[8]J. R. Drummelow, A Commentary on the Holy Bible: The One Volume Bible Commentary, (New York: Macmillan Company, 1908, 1909, 1920), 336, Database © 2010 WORDsearch Corp.

[9]Smith, “Gentleness”

[10]Matthew Henry, Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary on the Whole Bible, (1706), Database WORDsearch Corp.

By Dr. Franklin L. Kirksey, pastor First Baptist Church of Spanish Fort 30775 Jay Drive Spanish Fort, Alabama 36527

Author of Sound Biblical Preaching: Giving the Bible a Voice Available on and / / / /

(251) 626-6210 © September 1, 2013 All Rights Reserved