Psalm 18 – The Lord My Warrior

Psalm 18 is a powerful poem of rescue.  The images David paints are striking and visually engaging.  David writes this psalm as praise for God's deliverance.  This is personally one of my favorite psalms because of the way David pictures God as an invincible warrior stooping down to rescue his drowning child.



Psalm 18 is the same song that is recorded, with slight differences, in 2 Samuel 22.

One of the structural features of this psalm is the changes from talking to God to talking about God. The central theme is found at one of the these changes as David proclaims in verse 25,

With the merciful you show yourself merciful;
with the blameless man you show yourself blameless;

The imagery is so powerful in this psalm that any commentary is going to pale in comparison. Make sure you visualize the psalm as you read it.

My Rock

Psalm 18:1-2

The first image we are given is that of a Rock.  God is pictured as a rock, a shield and a fortress.  The idea here is that God is so solid that David's enemies are broken against Him.  The image of a rock is especially appropriate because, as we see in the next section David uses the image of water to represent His enemies.


Psalm 18:3-5

David finds himself engulfed by his enemies.  He paints a word picture of ropes entangling him and water surrounding him.  Have you ever felt like David?  Overwhelmed by life and entangled such that you feel like you are drowning?

God Responds

Psalm 18:6-8

David does the one thing that can really make a difference in our out of control lives.  He calls on God for help.

The description of God in this passage is so awesome - it literally creates a sense of awe as you read it!  When God hears David's cry He responds with such force that the ground shakes at His anger.

The Rescuer

Psalm 18:9-12

With smoke and fire and darkness, yet led by brightness, God storms down riding on angelic mounts to rescue His child.  Never forget the power and love of our God for His children!

The Voice of God

Psalm 18:13-15

With thunder and lightning and blasts of His breath God parts the waters of chaos, the enemies that surround David, and comes down to rescue His servant. Notice the imagery brings back memories of the parting of the Red Sea, Israel's greatest moment of deliverance.

The Rescue

Psalm 18:16-19

God reaches down and pulls David out of the engulfing waters and places him on solid ground.

God Rescues the Righteous

Psalm 18:20-24

David claims that it is because of his blamelessness that God rescued him.  At first this seems wrong.  How could David claim to be so perfect that he was blameless before God?

I don't think David here is claiming that he has no sin, only that he has faithfully followed God - David is blameless in that he has done his best to do what is right and confess his wrongs.  He is not perfect, but because of God's mercy (Psalm 18:25) and David's faith, David is seen as blameless in God's eyes.

You Are the Just Judge

Psalm 18:25-29

David now changes from talking to the people about God to talking with God. He acknowledges that God is perfectly just in His actions - giving strength to the humble and destroying the proud.

It is at this halfway point that we find the meaningful center:

With the merciful you show yourself merciful;
with the blameless man you show yourself blameless;

This God is YHWH

Psalm 18:30-34

Who is David's rescuer? YHWH, the only true God!

You Make Me Great

Psalm 18:35-38

David recognizes that all he has is from God. It is God who trains him, strengthens him, protects him and defeats his enemies.  As the old NIV used to say, God "stooped down to make me great" (Psalm 18:35).  It was only because God "condescended", which is the meaning of the Hebrew word at this point; It is only because God stooped down that David becomes great.  (For more on the meaning of this verse see this post.)  It was was God's mercy that lifted David from the mire of his life and placed him on the Solid Rock.  Isn't this a perfect picture of our relationship with God?  Our only hope is in the mercy of God!

You Give Me Victory

Psalm 18:39-42

David is only victorious because of God power.  David, the famous warrior, takes no credit for his victories.

You Exalted Me

Psalm 18:43-45

Through God's merciful rescue, David is now exalted as king over many people.

I Exalt God

Psalm 18:46-48

God has exalted David and now David responds by exalting God. To highlight this concept, the last two lines change from talking about God to talking to God.

yes, you exalted me above those who rose against me;
you delivered me from the man of violence.

I Praise You

Psalm 18:49-50

David closes the psalm by praising God for salvation. Another sudden change of address makes the last verse function as a coda summarizing the psalm and bringing it to a close.

Great salvation he brings to his king,
    and shows steadfast love to his anointed,
    to David and his offspring forever.


What are you going through?  Are you feeling overwhelmed like David.  Remember there is only one rescuer.  God loves to rescue His children.  Cry out to him and wait for His deliverance.

Jerry Wyrick

This post is part of a series on the Psalms.

by Jerry Wyrick, President of Worship Arts Conservatory

Posted in General Worship, Personal Worship, Psalms and tagged .