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The Lord Is My Rock and My Fortress

To the choirmaster. 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 rescued him from the hand of all his enemies, and from the hand of Saul. He said:

1I love you, O Lord, my strength.
2The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer,
my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge,
my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
3I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised,
and I am saved from my enemies.

4The cords of death encompassed me;
the torrents of destruction assailed me;11Or terrified me
5the cords of Sheol entangled me;
the snares of death confronted me.

6In 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.

7Then the earth reeled and rocked;
the foundations also of the mountains trembled
and quaked, because he was angry.
8Smoke went up from his nostrils,22Or in his wrath
and devouring fire from his mouth;
glowing coals flamed forth from him.
9He bowed the heavens and came down;
thick darkness was under his feet.
10He rode on a cherub and flew;
he came swiftly on the wings of the wind.
11He made darkness his covering, his canopy around him,
thick clouds dark with water.
12Out of the brightness before him
hailstones and coals of fire broke through his clouds.

13The Lord also thundered in the heavens,
and the Most High uttered his voice,
hailstones and coals of fire.
14And he sent out his arrows and scattered them;
he flashed forth lightnings and routed them.
15Then 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.

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

20The Lord dealt with me according to my righteousness;
according to the cleanness of my hands he rewarded me.
21For I have kept the ways of the Lord,
and have not wickedly departed from my God.
22For all his rules33Or just decrees were before me,
and his statutes I did not put away from me.
23I was blameless before him,
and I kept myself from my guilt.
24So the Lord has rewarded me according to my righteousness,
according to the cleanness of my hands in his sight.

25With the merciful you show yourself merciful;
with the blameless man you show yourself blameless;
26with the purified you show yourself pure;
and with the crooked you make yourself seem tortuous.
27For you save a humble people,
but the haughty eyes you bring down.
28For it is you who light my lamp;
the Lord my God lightens my darkness.
29For by you I can run against a troop,
and by my God I can leap over a wall.
30This God—his way is perfect;44Or blameless
the word of the Lord proves true;
he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him.

31For who is God, but the Lord?
And who is a rock, except our God?—
32the God who equipped me with strength
and made my way blameless.
33He made my feet like the feet of a deer
and set me secure on the heights.
34He trains my hands for war,
so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze.
35You have given me the shield of your salvation,
and your right hand supported me,
and your gentleness made me great.
36You gave a wide place for my steps under me,
and my feet did not slip.
37I pursued my enemies and overtook them,
and did not turn back till they were consumed.
38I thrust them through, so that they were not able to rise;
they fell under my feet.
39For you equipped me with strength for the battle;
you made those who rise against me sink under me.
40You made my enemies turn their backs to me,55Or You gave me my enemies' necks
and those who hated me I destroyed.
41They cried for help, but there was none to save;
they cried to the Lord, but he did not answer them.
42I beat them fine as dust before the wind;
I cast them out like the mire of the streets.

43You delivered me from strife with the people;
you made me the head of the nations;
people whom I had not known served me.
44As soon as they heard of me they obeyed me;
foreigners came cringing to me.
45Foreigners lost heart
and came trembling out of their fortresses.

46The Lord lives, and blessed be my rock,
and exalted be the God of my salvation—
47the God who gave me vengeance
and subdued peoples under me,
48who delivered me from my enemies;
yes, you exalted me above those who rose against me;
you rescued me from the man of violence.

49For this I will praise you, O Lord, among the nations,
and sing to your name.
50Great salvation he brings to his king,
and shows steadfast love to his anointed,
to David and his offspring forever.

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David's Triumphs in God; Devout Confidence.

To the chief musician, A psalm of David, the servant of the Lord, who spake unto the Lord
the words of this song in the day that the Lord delivered him from the hand of all his enemies.

1 I will love thee, O Lord, my strength.   2 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.   3 I will call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised: so shall I be saved from mine enemies.   4 The sorrows of death compassed me, and the floods of ungodly men made me afraid.   5 The sorrows of hell compassed me about: the snares of death prevented me.   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.   7 Then the earth shook and trembled; the foundations also of the hills moved and were shaken, because he was wroth.   8 There went up a smoke out of his nostrils, and fire out of his mouth devoured: coals were kindled by it.   9 He bowed the heavens also, and came down: and darkness was under his feet.   10 And he rode upon a cherub, and did fly: yea, he did fly upon the wings of the wind.   11 He made darkness his secret place; his pavilion round about him were dark waters and thick clouds of the skies.   12 At the brightness that was before him his thick clouds passed, hail stones and coals of fire.   13 The Lord also thundered in the heavens, and the Highest gave his voice; hail stones and coals of fire.   14 Yea, he sent out his arrows, and scattered them; and he shot out lightnings, and discomfited them.   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.   16 He sent from above, he took me, he drew me out of many waters.   17 He delivered me from my strong enemy, and from them which hated me: for they were too strong for me.   18 They prevented me in the day of my calamity: but the Lord was my stay.   19 He brought me forth also into a large place; he delivered me, because he delighted in me.

The title gives us the occasion of penning this psalm; we had it before (2 Sam. xxii. 1), only here we are told that the psalm was delivered to the chief musician, or precentor, in the temple-songs. Note, The private compositions of good men, designed by them for their own use, may be serviceable to the public, that others may not only borrow light from their candle, but heat from their fire. Examples sometimes teach better than rules. And David is here called the servant of the Lord, as Moses was, not only as every good man is God's servant, but because, with his sceptre, with his sword, and with his pen, he greatly promoted the interests of God's kingdom in Israel. It was more his honour that he was a servant of the Lord than that he was king of a great kingdom; and so he himself accounted it (Ps. cxvi. 16): O Lord! truly I am thy servant. In these verses,

I. He triumphs in God and his relation to him. The first words of the psalm, I will love thee, O Lord! my strength, are here prefixed as the scope and contents of the whole. Love to God is the first and great commandment of the law, because it is the principle of all our acceptable praise and obedience; and this use we should make of all the mercies God bestows upon us, our hearts should thereby be enlarged in love to him. This he requires and will accept; and we are very ungrateful if we grudge him so poor a return. An interest in the person loved is the lover's delight; this string therefore he touches, and on this he harps with much pleasure (v. 2): "The Lord Jehovah is my God; and then he is my rock, my fortress, all that I need and can desire in my present distress." For there is that in God which is suited to all the exigencies and occasions of his people that trust in him. "He is my rock, and strength, and fortress;" that is, 1. "I have found him so in the greatest dangers and difficulties." 2. "I have chosen him to be so, disclaiming all others, and depending upon him alone to protect me." Those that truly love God may thus triumph in him as theirs, and may with confidence call upon him, v. 3. This further use we should make of our deliverances, we must not only love God the better, but love prayer the better—call upon him as long as we live, especially in time of trouble, with an assurance that so we shall be saved; for thus it is written, Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved, Acts ii. 21.

II. He sets himself to magnify the deliverances God had wrought for him, that he might be the more affected in his returns of praise. It is good for us to observe all the circumstances of a mercy, which magnify the power of God and his goodness to us in it.

1. The more imminent and threatening the danger was out of which we were delivered the greater is the mercy of the deliverance. David now remembered how the forces of his enemies poured in upon him, which he calls the floods of Belial, shoals of the children of Belial, likely to overpower him with numbers. They surrounded him, compassed him about; they surprised him, and by that means were very near seizing him; their snares prevented him, and, when without were fightings, within were fears and sorrows, v. 4, 5. His spirit was overwhelmed, and he looked upon himself as a lost man; see Ps. cxvi. 3.

2. The more earnest we have been with God for deliverance, and the more direct answer it is to our prayers, the more we are obliged to be thankful. David's deliverances were so, v. 6. David was found a praying man, and God was found a prayer-hearing God. If we pray as he did, we shall speed as he did. Though distress drive us to prayer, God will not therefore be deaf to us; nay, being a God of pity, he will be the more ready to succour us.

3. The more wonderful God's appearances are in any deliverance the greater it is: such were the deliverances wrought for David, in which God's manifestation of his presence and glorious attributes is most magnificently described, v. 7, &c. Little appeared of man, but much of God, in these deliverances. (1.) He appeared a God of almighty power; for he made the earth shake and tremble, and moved even the foundations of the hills (v. 7), as of old at Mount Sinai. When the men of the earth were struck with fear, then the earth might be said to tremble; when the great men of the earth were put into confusion, then the hills moved. (2.) He showed his anger and displeasure against the enemies and persecutors of his people: He was wroth, v. 7. His wrath smoked, it burned, it was fire, it was devouring fire (v. 8), and coals were kindled by it. Those that by their own sins make themselves as coals (that is, fuel) to this fire will be consumed by it. He that ordains his arrows against the persecutors sends them forth when he pleases, and they are sure to hit the mark and do execution; for those arrows are lightnings, v. 14. (3.) He showed his readiness to plead his people's cause and work deliverance for them; for he rode upon a cherub and did fly, for the maintaining of right and the relieving of his distressed servants, v. 10. No opposition, no obstruction, can be given to him who rides upon the wings of the wind, who rides on the heavens, for the help of his people, and, in his excellency, on the skies. (4.) He showed his condescension, in taking cognizance of David's case: He bowed the heavens and came down (v. 9), did not send an angel, but came himself, as one afflicted in the afflictions of his people. (5.) He wrapped himself in darkness, and yet commanded light to shine out of darkness for his people, Isa. xlv. 15. He is a God that hideth himself; for he made darkness his pavilion, v. 11. his glory is invisible, his counsels are unsearchable, and his proceedings unaccountable, and so, as to us, clouds and darkness are round about him; we know not the way that he takes, even when he is coming towards us in ways of mercy; but, when his designs are secret, they are kind; for, though he hide himself, he is the God of Israel, the Saviour. And, at his brightness, the thick clouds pass (v. 12), comfort returns, the face of affairs is changed, and that which was gloomy and threatening becomes serene and pleasant.

4. The greater the difficulties are that lie in the way of deliverance the more glorious the deliverance is. For the rescuing of David, the waters were to be divided till the very channels were seen; the earth was to be cloven till the very foundations of it were discovered, v. 15. There were waters deep and many, waters out of which he was to be drawn (v. 16), as Moses, who had his name from being drawn out of the water literally, as David was figuratively. His enemies were strong, and they hated him; had he been left to himself, they would have been too strong for him, v. 17. And they were too quick for him; for they prevented him in the day of his calamity, v. 18. But, in the midst of his troubles, the Lord was his stay, so that he did not sink. Note, God will not only deliver his people out of their troubles in due time, but he will sustain them and bear them up under their troubles in the mean time.

5. That which especially magnified the deliverance was that his comfort was the fruit of it and God's favour was the root and fountain of it. (1.) It was an introduction to his preferment, v. 19. "He brought me forth also out of my straits into a large place, where I had room, not only to turn, but to thrive in." (2.) It was a token of God's favour to him, and that made it doubly sweet: "He delivered me because he delighted in me, not for my merit, but for his own grace and good-will." Compare this with 2 Sam. xv. 26, If he thus say, I have no delight in thee, here I am. We owe our salvation, that great deliverance, to the delight God had in the Son of David, in whom he has declared himself to be well pleased.

In singing this we must triumph in God, and trust in him: and we may apply it to Christ the Son of David. The sorrows of death surrounded him; in his distress he prayed (Heb. v. 7); God made the earth to shake and tremble, and the rocks to cleave, and brought him out, in his resurrection, into a large place, because he delighted in him and in his undertaking.