For the choir director. A Psalm of David the servant of the Lord, who spoke to the Lord the words of this song in the day that the Lord delivered him from the hand of all his enemies and from the hand of Saul. And he said,
I love You, O Lord, my strength.
The 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.
I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised,
and I am saved from my enemies (vv. 1-3).
David’s life of worship is a beautiful pattern for us… he pens yet another a song to the Lord for His faithfulness and deliverance. Each day we should rise with thanksgiving pouring from our hearts to God for His faithfulness, and for keeping us in the cleft of His rock. While He hides us there from the storm, His glory is displayed; Moses witnessed His glory from the cleft of the rock. (see Exodus 33:18-23)
“It is David’s thanksgiving for the many deliverances God had wrought for him. The poetry is very fine, the images are bold, the expressions lofty, and every word is proper and significant; but the piety far exceeds the poetry. Holy faith, and love, and joy, and praise, and hope, are here lively, active, and upon the wing.”
This is the second recording of the prayer in Psalm 18. The first is found in II Samuel 22, though David’s editing pen is evident.
David’s love for the Lord is beautifully expressed here. David offers his words, as the evening sacrifice. (Ps. 141:2) He praises God with all that is in him. He loves the Lord so deeply and it flows out of his soul like water. I want thankfulness and gratitude to flow from me like this. I want to wake up singing praises to God from the very depths of my spirit. This praise life that David nurtured began by thanking God in everything ~ cultivating a grateful heart. And this is where it begins for us.
In everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
(1 Thessalonians 5:18 NASB)
David cannot praise God enough for His strength and power, and victory over his enemies. The Lord is his rock and fortress ~ his place of refuge. God is also His shield and the horn of his salvation. David is quite familiar with the horn. Samuel anointed him with oil poured from the ram’s horn. The horn is the symbol of power and strength. Animals use their horns as a defense and are the power and strength of the creature.
David is poetically and prophetically speaking to Christ, the horn of our salvation, and our altar.
Blessed be the Lord God of Israel,
For He has visited us and accomplished redemption for His people,
And has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of David His servant. (Luke 1:68-69 NASB)
Four horns adorn the altars in the Tabernacle and Temple of Solomon. Horns were used to tie the unwilling sacrifice to the altar; though Christ is our willing sacrifice bound to the cross with grueling pain and cruelty, with nails that pierced His precious hands and feet. Revelation chapter five describes Jesus the Lamb of God having seven horns, which is emblematic of the power of His sacrifice, and His body and blood.
The horns of the altar were also a place of refuge for one desperate for mercy. The horns were a place of life or death. 1 Kings 1: 50-53 is the account of Adonijah, a rebel to the reign of Solomon. When he heard that Solomon was crowned king, he ran to the temple and clutched the horns of the altar, seeking mercy from King Solomon; mercy was granted. God granted mercy to David by saving him from his enemies. Each of us can grab on to the horns of the altar ~ Christ Jesus and His sacrifice ~ and find a place of mercy and refuge. No other religion can make that claim, and no other god can make that promise.
The cords of death encompassed me,
And the torrents of ungodliness terrified me.
The cords of Sheol surrounded me;
The snares of death confronted me (vv. 4-5).
David eluded death on many occasions; God proves ever faithful to David, and promised him the scepter would remain in his house forever. David was not perfect; he suffered weighty consequences for his sins. He had a promise of the scepter remaining in his lineage, but the sword, too, will never depart from his house. (2 Samuel 12:10) It is no surprise that David found trouble ~ or that trouble found him. But God never left David because of his sin, and He won’t leave us either. Christ died to set us free from sin, not so that we can stay in our sin. He loves us in spite of our sin. He is Faithful and True.
Death seems to surround us today as well; the slaughter of people around the globe fills the news. Christians and other religious minorities are being butchered by ISIS. Church shootings, and terror threats confront us on American soil every day. Ungodliness seems to be running amok in our nation, as America grows more hostile to Christianity than at any other time since the founding of this great nation. We live in desperate days indeed. Once again, David serves as our teacher:
In my distress I called upon the Lord,
And cried to my God for help;
He heard my voice out of His temple,
And my cry for help before Him came into His ears. (v.6)
David knows just where to run; He knows God will hear him when he cries. God heard David from His temple.
God heard. Notice the past tense verb. Before we even call, He know our needs. (see Matthew 6:8) One Jewish Scholar suggests that God heard him in the past tense because David lived a life that was thankful to God, and he was grateful for his past victories. Sometimes it may feel like you are praying into the wind, or over an endless mountain range, hearing nothing but the echo of your own voice; but God hears ~in fact He heard you before you called.
In the last days the mountain of the LORD’s temple will be established as the highest of the mountains; it will be exalted above the hills, and all nations will stream to it. (Isaiah. 2:2 NIV)
Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the whole world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God. (Ps. 90:2 NIV)
I lift up my eyes to the mountains ~ where does my help come from?
Ps: 121:1 NASB
 Leslie F. Church, ed., Matthew Henry’s Commentary in One Volume (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1961), 594.