Sermon for July 11th, 2021

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Psalm 18:1-24

To the leader. A Psalm of David the servant of the Lord, who addressed the words of this song to the Lord on the day when the Lord delivered him from the hand of all his enemies, and from the hand of Saul. He said:

1 I love you, O Lord, my strength.
2 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.
3 I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised,
    so I shall be saved from my enemies.

4 The cords of death encompassed me;
    the torrents of perdition assailed me;
5 the cords of Sheol entangled me;
    the snares of death confronted me.

6 In my distress I called upon the Lord;
    to my God I cried for help.
From his temple he heard my voice,
    and my cry to him reached his ears.

7 Then the earth reeled and rocked;
    the foundations also of the mountains trembled
    and quaked, because he was angry.
8 Smoke went up from his nostrils,
    and devouring fire from his mouth;
    glowing coals flamed forth from him.
9 He bowed the heavens, and came down;
    thick darkness was under his feet.
10 He rode on a cherub, and flew;
    he came swiftly upon the wings of the wind.
11 He made darkness his covering around him,
    his canopy thick clouds dark with water.
12 Out of the brightness before him
    there broke through his clouds
    hailstones and coals of fire.
13 The Lord also thundered in the heavens,
    and the Most High uttered his voice.
14 And he sent out his arrows, and scattered them;
    he flashed forth lightnings, and routed them.
15 Then the channels of the sea were seen,
    and the foundations of the world were laid bare
at your rebuke, O Lord,
    at the blast of the breath of your nostrils.

16 He reached down from on high, he took me;
    he drew me out of mighty waters.
17 He delivered me from my strong enemy,
    and from those who hated me;
    for they were too mighty for me.
18 They confronted me in the day of my calamity;
    but the Lord was my support.
19 He brought me out into a broad place;
    he delivered me, because he delighted in me.

20 The Lord rewarded me according to my righteousness;
    according to the cleanness of my hands he recompensed me.
21 For I have kept the ways of the Lord,
    and have not wickedly departed from my God.
22 For all his ordinances were before me,
    and his statutes I did not put away from me.
23 I was blameless before him,
    and I kept myself from guilt.
24 Therefore the Lord has recompensed me according to my righteousness,
    according to the cleanness of my hands in his sight. 

Psummer of Psalms IV - Psalm 18, Part I

Rosemary was nearing the end of her life, and all of her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren had gathered around her one last time, their one last chance to listen to her as she reflected on her 98 years of life. She had been married four times, and the conversation turned to the occupations of her four husbands. The first one had been a banker. The second husband was a circus ringmaster. Her third husband was a preacher. Her fourth and current husband was a funeral director. One of Rosemary's grandchildren asked the question that was on everyone's minds: Why had she married four men with such diverse careers? Rosemary thought about it for awhile, and said, "Well... I married one for the money, two for the show, three to get ready, and four to go."

Psalm 18 is a Psalm of David, and it actually shows up in two places in the Bible: Here in the book of Psalms, but also in 2nd Samuel chapter 22 -- near the end of David's life, right before the chapter titled "The last words of David." So one way to understand this Psalm is David, reflecting back on his long life, and all the things he had been through.

And yet, if you read the inscription at the beginning of the Psalm, it says that this is "A Psalm of David the servant of the Lord, who addressed the words of this song to the Lord on the day when the Lord delivered him from the hand of all his enemies, and from the hand of Saul." David's victory over King Saul happened near the beginning of his career, or (more precisely) at the beginning of his 40 year reign as Israel's greatest king.

It's possible that both are true. Have you ever had a song that followed you throughout your life? A song so meaningful and powerful that you kept coming back to it over and over again? A song that somehow spoke to your heart and told your story, in your youth as well as your old age?

For me, (and I realize this will date me) it's the song "Rocky Mountain High" by John Denver. My mother listened to that song when she was pregnant with me, and on her way to Denver, Colorado, where I was born. She didn't tell me that until after I had rediscovered the song and was playing it non-stop when I was ten years old. It has made several reappearances in my life through the years, including last Christmas when I bought a twelve-string Guild guitar (like the one John Denver played) and taught it to my children. I wouldn't be surprised if it's one of the last things I ask to hear when my time on this earth is coming to and end. It still speaks to me.

I imagine Psalm 18 was like that for King David. It was the soundtrack to his life. And David wrote a lot of songs, too. Over half the Psalms are attributed to him. So what was so special to him about this one? What was it that spoke so powerfully to him, and about him--on the day he wrote it, and every time he sang it, right up to the end of his life? And how can this Psalm speak to us today? How can it inspire us to have faith like King David--the one the Bible calls "a man after God's own heart?" Let's delve in.

Verse 1: "I love you, O Lord, my strength."

What an opening! There is perhaps no phrase in any language more powerful than those three words: I love you. Those are the words that all children long to hear from their parents, that all parents long to hear from their children, that every person longs to hear from their significant other, and yes, they are the words that we long to hear from God, and that God longs to hear from us. I love you, O Lord, my strength. David doesn't waste any time getting to the heart of the matter.

Verse 2:

  • Ezekiel Vision
  • What's your view of God?
  • What's your testimony?