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18. Psalm 18

I will love thee, O Lord, my strength.

2The 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.

3I will call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised: so shall I be saved from mine enemies.

4The sorrows of death compassed me, and the floods of ungodly men made me afraid.

5The sorrows of hell compassed me about: the snares of death prevented me.

6In 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.

7Then the earth shook and trembled; the foundations also of the hills moved and were shaken, because he was wroth.

8There went up a smoke out of his nostrils, and fire out of his mouth devoured: coals were kindled by it.

9He bowed the heavens also, and came down: and darkness was under his feet.

10And he rode upon a cherub, and did fly: yea, he did fly upon the wings of the wind.

11He made darkness his secret place; his pavilion round about him were dark waters and thick clouds of the skies.

12At the brightness that was before him his thick clouds passed, hail stones and coals of fire.

13The Lord also thundered in the heavens, and the Highest gave his voice; hail stones and coals of fire.

14Yea, he sent out his arrows, and scattered them; and he shot out lightnings, and discomfited them.

15Then 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.

16He sent from above, he took me, he drew me out of many waters.

17He delivered me from my strong enemy, and from them which hated me: for they were too strong for me.

18They prevented me in the day of my calamity: but the Lord was my stay.

19He brought me forth also into a large place; he delivered me, because he delighted in me.

20The Lord rewarded me according to my righteousness; according to the cleanness of my hands hath he recompensed me.

21For I have kept the ways of the Lord, and have not wickedly departed from my God.

22For all his judgments were before me, and I did not put away his statutes from me.

23I was also upright before him, and I kept myself from mine iniquity.

24Therefore hath the Lord recompensed me according to my righteousness, according to the cleanness of my hands in his eyesight.

25With the merciful thou wilt shew thyself merciful; with an upright man thou wilt shew thyself upright;

26With the pure thou wilt shew thyself pure; and with the froward thou wilt shew thyself froward.

27For thou wilt save the afflicted people; but wilt bring down high looks.

28For thou wilt light my candle: the Lord my God will enlighten my darkness.

29For by thee I have run through a troop; and by my God have I leaped over a wall.

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.

31For who is God save the Lord? or who is a rock save our God?

32 It is God that girdeth me with strength, and maketh my way perfect.

33He maketh my feet like hinds’ feet, and setteth me upon my high places.

34He teacheth my hands to war, so that a bow of steel is broken by mine arms.

35Thou hast also given me the shield of thy salvation: and thy right hand hath holden me up, and thy gentleness hath made me great.

36Thou hast enlarged my steps under me, that my feet did not slip.

37I have pursued mine enemies, and overtaken them: neither did I turn again till they were consumed.

38I have wounded them that they were not able to rise: they are fallen under my feet.

39For thou hast girded me with strength unto the battle: thou hast subdued under me those that rose up against me.

40Thou hast also given me the necks of mine enemies; that I might destroy them that hate me.

41They cried, but there was none to save them: even unto the Lord, but he answered them not.

42Then did I beat them small as the dust before the wind: I did cast them out as the dirt in the streets.

43Thou 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.

44As soon as they hear of me, they shall obey me: the strangers shall submit themselves unto me.

45The strangers shall fade away, and be afraid out of their close places.

46The Lord liveth; and blessed be my rock; and let the God of my salvation be exalted.

47 It is God that avengeth me, and subdueth the people under me.

48He delivereth me from mine enemies: yea, thou liftest me up above those that rise up against me: thou hast delivered me from the violent man.

49Therefore will I give thanks unto thee, O Lord, among the heathen, and sing praises unto thy name.

50Great deliverance giveth he to his king; and sheweth mercy to his anointed, to David, and to his seed for evermore.

47. The God who giveth me vengeance. The Psalmist again attributes to God the victories which he had obtained. As he could never have expected to obtain them unless he had been confident that he would receive the aid of God, so now he acknowledges God to be the sole author of them. That he may not seem carelessly to bestow upon him, as it were, in passing, only a small sprinkling of the praise of his victories, he repeats, in express terms, that he had nothing but what God had given him. In the first place, he acknowledges that power was given him from above, to enable him to inflict on his enemies the punishment which they deserved. It may seem at first sight strange that God should arm his own people to execute vengeance; but as I have previously shown you, we ought always to remember David’s vocation. He was not a private person, but being endued with royal power and authority, the judgment which he executed was enjoined upon him by God. If a man, upon receiving injury, breaks forth to avenge himself, he usurps the office of God; and, therefore, it is rash and impious for private individuals to retaliate the injuries which have been inflicted upon them. With respect to kings and magistrates, God, who declares that vengeance belongeth to him, in arming them with the sword, constitutes them the ministers and executioners of his vengeance. David, therefore, has put the word vengeance for the just punishments which it was lawful for him to inflict by the commandment of God, provided he was led under the influence of a zeal duly regulated by the Holy Spirit, and not under the influence of the impetuosity of the flesh. Unless this moderation is exemplified in performing the duties of their calling, it is in vain for kings to boast that God has committed to them the charge of taking vengeance; seeing it is not less unwarrantable for a man to abuse, according to his own fancy and the lust of the flesh, the sword which he is allowed to use, than to seize it without the command of God. The Church militant, which is under the standard of Christ, has no permission to execute vengeance, except against those who obstinately refuse to be reclaimed. We are commanded to endeavor to overcome our enemies by doing them good, and to pray for their salvation. It becomes us, therefore, at the same time, to desire that they may be brought to repentance, and to a right state of mind, until it appear beyond all doubt that they are irrecoverably and hopelessly depraved. In the meantime, in regard to vengeance, it must be left to God, that we may not be carried headlong to execute it before the time. David next concludes, from the perils and distresses in which he had been involved, that if he had not been preserved by the hand of God, he could not in any other way have escaped in safety: My deliverer from my enemies; yea, thou hast lifted me up from those who had risen up against me. The sense in which we are to understand the lifting up of which he speaks is, that he was wonderfully raised up above the power and malice of his enemies that he might not sink under their violence, and that they might not be victorious over him.


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