Psalms 18:1-27 Lord is My Rock
Posted by adventbiblestudy on November 16, 2013
Psalms 18:1-27 NLTse I love you, LORD; you are my strength. (2) The LORD is my rock, my fortress, and my savior; my God is my rock, in whom I find protection. He is my shield, the power that saves me, and my place of safety. (3) I called on the LORD, who is worthy of praise, and he saved me from my enemies. (4) The ropes of death entangled me; floods of destruction swept over me. (5) The grave wrapped its ropes around me; death laid a trap in my path. (6) But in my distress I cried out to the LORD; yes, I prayed to my God for help. He heard me from his sanctuary; my cry to him reached his ears. (7) Then the earth quaked and trembled. The foundations of the mountains shook; they quaked because of his anger. (8) Smoke poured from his nostrils; fierce flames leaped from his mouth. Glowing coals blazed forth from him. (9) He opened the heavens and came down; dark storm clouds were beneath his feet. (10) Mounted on a mighty angelic being, he flew, soaring on the wings of the wind. (11) He shrouded himself in darkness, veiling his approach with dark rain clouds. (12) Thick clouds shielded the brightness around him and rained down hail and burning coals. (13) The LORD thundered from heaven; the voice of the Most High resounded amid the hail and burning coals. (14) He shot his arrows and scattered his enemies; his lightning flashed, and they were greatly confused. (15) Then at your command, O LORD, at the blast of your breath, the bottom of the sea could be seen, and the foundations of the earth were laid bare. (16) He reached down from heaven and rescued me; he drew me out of deep waters. (17) He rescued me from my powerful enemies, from those who hated me and were too strong for me. (18) They attacked me at a moment when I was in distress, but the LORD supported me. (19) He led me to a place of safety; he rescued me because he delights in me. (20) The LORD rewarded me for doing right; he restored me because of my innocence. (21) For I have kept the ways of the LORD; I have not turned from my God to follow evil. (22) I have followed all his regulations; I have never abandoned his decrees. (23) I am blameless before God; I have kept myself from sin. (24) The LORD rewarded me for doing right. He has seen my innocence. (25) To the faithful you show yourself faithful; to those with integrity you show integrity. (26) To the pure you show yourself pure, but to the wicked you show yourself hostile. (27) You rescue the humble, but you humiliate the proud.
Look at how David begins this pray. “I love you, LORD; you are my strength.” Doesn’t that show his relationship with God is growing to a point he has to declare his love before offering a petition? I wonder if David is beginning to recognize his prophetic gift and sees far greater things are ahead. Jumping ahead to David’s summation, we see that understanding. “You give great victories to your king; you show unfailing love to your anointed, to David and all his descendants forever.” David declares his love because he feels God’s love. It’s an exchange of trust and passion.
Once again we’re faced with a large selection of keys words what are the same, similar, or related. As we’ve seen in the previous study, a chart will help us determine which key words will lead us to New Testament texts revealing the fulfillment of this prophecy. So we make a chart of the most used key words to help narrow down the selection.
Saves, rescued, rescue
death, destruction, grave
quaked, trembled, shook
Smoke, flames, coals
With all these words and groups of words, narrowing the list down to two or three key words seems difficult. It seems like it could be a time consuming process to locate the proper texts and chapter. This is where God’s Spirit comes to our aid and a list of key words can help. Look at the sequence on the key words. Rock, save, death, quaked, smoke, burning, enemies, reward, innocence, kept, faithful, integrity, and pure all point to one parallel text. It’s located by searching the word rock, which is not used in the same manner as Psalm 18, but in this case the rocks are shook. Those two words lead us to Matthew 27.
Matthew 27:50-60 NLTse Then Jesus shouted out again, and he released his spirit. (51) At that moment the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. The earth shook, rocks split apart, (52) and tombs opened. The bodies of many godly men and women who had died were raised from the dead. (53) They left the cemetery after Jesus‘ resurrection, went into the holy city of Jerusalem, and appeared to many people. (54) The Roman officer and the other soldiers at the crucifixion were terrified by the earthquake and all that had happened. They said, “This man truly was the Son of God!” (55) And many women who had come from Galilee with Jesus to care for him were watching from a distance. (56) Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary (the mother of James and Joseph), and the mother of James and John, the sons of Zebedee. (57) As evening approached, Joseph, a rich man from Arimathea who had become a follower of Jesus, (58) went to Pilate and asked for Jesus‘ body. And Pilate issued an order to release it to him. (59) Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a long sheet of clean linen cloth. (60) He placed it in his own new tomb, which had been carved out of the rock. Then he rolled a great stone across the entrance and left.
It may seem strange to see the Rock David referred to is not the same rocks mentioned in Matthew 27, but look at those rocks on the spiritual level and ask a few questions. “The earth shook, rocks split apart, and tombs opened.” When did the rocks split? When Jesus died on the cross. Why did the rocks split? To announce Jesus’ death. Now compare this information to the Psalm 18. “Then the earth quaked and trembled. The foundations of the mountains shook; they quaked because of his anger. Smoke poured from his nostrils; fierce flames leaped from his mouth. Glowing coals blazed forth from him. He opened the heavens and came down; dark storm clouds were beneath his feet. Mounted on a mighty angelic being, he flew, soaring on the wings of the wind. He shrouded himself in darkness, veiling his approach with dark rain clouds. Thick clouds shielded the brightness around him and rained down hail and burning coals. The LORD thundered from heaven; the voice of the Most High resounded amid the hail and burning coals.” A portion of Psalm 18 deals with God’s reaction to Jesus’ death on the cross. Some may ask, “but how can that be? There was no fire and coals coming down when Jesus died.” But look. “Thick clouds shielded the brightness around him and rained down hail andburning coals.” It helps to look at a translation closer to the original Hebrew language. “At the brightness that was before him his thick clouds passed, hail stones and coals of fire. (Psalms 18:12 KJV). Thick clouds shielded God, hail stones and coals of fire. People had no way of seeing anything happening in the heavens above them. Look at how Luke described the scene. “And it was about the sixth hour, and there was a darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour. And the sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple was rent in the midst.” (Luke 23:44-45 KJV). Back to the rocks. No one could see the show of fire in the sky, the rocks on the ground announced God’s presence. Now we can look at the other rock in Matthew 27. “He placed it in his own new tomb, which had been carved out of the rock.” Since the first rocks announced God’s presence, it makes sense the second rock also announced an important event. What was the rock used for? It was Jesus’ tomb. And what did the rock announce? “He is not here, but is risen: remember how he spake unto you when he was yet in Galilee, Saying, The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again. And they remembered his words.” (Luke 24:6-8 KJV). The second rock, an empty tomb announced Jesus’ resurrection. Now you know why Jesus said, “I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out.” (Luke 19:40 KJV). Jesus knew there were messages in rocks that His disciples would one day understand.
Is it normal for God to hide His brightness and glory? Look what happened when God called Israel to Sinai when He gave them the ten commandments. After God put on a visual display and told them He wanted to make them a nation of priests, everything seemed okay. All the people said they would follow God’s instructions. They thought it wouldn’t be difficult to keep God’s laws. After all, they already learned to perform the role of priest for the Passover. The second time turned out a little different. When God’s told Israel all His commandments the people told Moses they changed their minds. They no longer wanted to be a nation of priests, but wanted Moses to be a go between them and God. Moses was called up the mountain to get the law in writing. When Moses came down the people were partying under God’s display or power and glory. Something changed at that point. Israel changed. So when was the next time anyone saw God’s display of power? Remember Elisha and his servant? Elisha saw what his servant couldn’t. “Don’t be afraid!” Elisha told him. “For there are more on our side than on theirs!” Then Elisha prayed, “O LORD, open his eyes and let him see!” The LORD opened the young man’s eyes, and when he looked up, he saw that the hillside around Elisha was filled with horses and chariots of fire.” (2 Kings 6:16-17 NLTse). There was another view of fire in the heavens before Elijah showed his servant. Elisha also saw a chariot of fire when Elijah was called to Heaven. There’s a message in those rare views of God’s glory. There was another display during Jesus’ ministry. But even as he spoke, a bright cloud came over them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy. Listen to him.” The disciples were terrified and fell face down on the ground. (Matthew 17:5-6 NLTse). Why were the disciples afraid? What didn’t they understand? No wonder they didn’t see the display overhead when Jesus died on the cross. God has a way of repeating events. How many people are going to miss seeing Jesus return in the clouds? God’s flame can be seen when people know how to look for it. It’s plain as day when they know how to believe. I love the way Bible Study can make you think.
As a matter of fact I forgot to mention one of the most important times God revealed Himself in a display of fire. The pillar of fire first showed up in Genesis 13. The Israelites left Succoth and camped at Etham on the edge of the wilderness. The LORD went ahead of them. He guided them during the day with a pillar of cloud, and he provided light at night with a pillar of fire. This allowed them to travel by day or by night. And the LORD did not remove the pillar of cloud or pillar of fire from its place in front of the people. (Exodus 13:20-22 NLTse). The next time the pillar of fire is mentioned is in Exodus 14. It was a pillar of light to Israel and darkness to the Egyptians. God’s pillar of fire guided Israel through the wilderness, taking the form of fire to light the night and cloud to shade them during the day. It was a daily reminder of God’s presence. You would think more people would have made it to the promised land. How do we see evidence of God everyday that we ignore? One of God’s most fascinating creations is found in His Word. The fact Jesus fulfilled more than 300 prophecies is amazing. A lot of people know there are over 300 prophecies in the Old Testament, but only know where a few are located. Almost no one knows where or how to find New Testament texts telling how these prophecies have been fulfilled. To think … this was the message Jesus gave His disciples to spread throughout the world. It’s the message that added thousands everyday in the beginning. Why has the message of God’s salvation been lost? Here’s where we experience the excitement of the early church when we look at and compare scripture they wrote after they discovered the prophecies Jesus fulfilled. The most amazing details are found when we compare the introductions and summations to the two parallel chapters.
Matthew 27:1-10 NLTse Very early in the morning the leading priests and the elders met again to lay plans for putting Jesus to death. (2) Then they bound him, led him away, and took him to Pilate, the Roman governor. (3) When Judas, who had betrayed him, realized that Jesus had been condemned to die, he was filled with remorse. So he took the thirty pieces of silver back to the leading priests and the elders. (4) “I have sinned,” he declared, “for I have betrayed an innocent man.” “What do we care?” they retorted. “That’s your problem.” (5) Then Judas threw the silver coins down in the Temple and went out and hanged himself. (6) The leading priests picked up the coins. “It wouldn’t be right to put this money in the Temple treasury,” they said, “since it was payment for murder.” (7) After some discussion they finally decided to buy the potter’s field, and they made it into a cemetery for foreigners. (8) That is why the field is still called the Field of Blood. (9) This fulfilled the prophecy of Jeremiah that says, “They took the thirty pieces of silver– the price at which he was valued by the people of Israel, (10) and purchased the potter’s field, as the LORD directed.”
The first thing we notice is the similarity between two verses. Then they bound him, led him away, and took him to Pilate, the Roman governor. The ropes of death entangled me; floods of destruction swept over me. It’s also clear David’s prophecy is about Jesus in the grave. Some portions could refer to Jesus on the cross or in the grave, how do we determine the spiritual interpretation? We have to realize, God’s understanding is different from ours. A valuable tool of Bible Study is to look back in the chapter and book to find the answer. Looking back to Matthew 26, we see Jesus offering His blood and body to His disciples as a memorial. At the end of the dinner, Judas leaves to exchange Jesus’ freedom for a few pieces of silver. During the dinner, Jesus identified Judas as the disciple who was going to betray Him. After dinner Jesus takes His disciples to a garden to pray. Jesus asked them to pray for Him, but they fell asleep a number of times. Finally Jesus was arrested. We need to look back a little further to find out if David if referring to the rocks splitting at the cross or the tomb.
Once the religious leaders wanted a sign. So Jesus gave them a sign. But Jesus replied, “Only an evil, adulterous generation would demand a miraculous sign; but the only sign I will give them is the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was in the belly of the great fish for three days and three nights, so will the Son of Man be in the heart of the earth for three days and three nights.” (Matthew 12:39-40 NLTse). This sign has seen its share of debate. To understand the prophesy about the three days, you have to understand how God’s Word interprets prophecies and how to understand spiritual symbols. The easiest way to understand a time prophecy that’s been fulfilled is to count back from the moment it was fulfilled. Mary and the other women discovered Jesus’ tomb empty on what we refer to as Sunday morning. Lesson one – we have to look at the way the Bible interprets time. God called the light “day” and the darkness “night.” And evening passed and morning came, marking the first day. (Genesis 1:5 NLTse). A day begins in the evening. So the first day of the week, Sunday was the third day in the grave, before the sun rose. From sunset the sixth day or Friday as we call it, to sunset the seventh day, Sabbath was the second day in the tomb. Scripture tells us Joseph placed Jesus in the tomb just before sunset or the beginning of Sabbath. As evening approached, Joseph, a rich man from Arimathea who had become a follower of Jesus, went to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body. And Pilate issued an order to release it to him. Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a long sheet of clean linen cloth. He placed it in his own new tomb, which had been carved out of the rock. Then he rolled a great stone across the entrance and left. (Matthew 27:57-60 NLTse). Most of the time you hear the small portion just before the Sabbath as a day, the Sabbath as a day, and the evening of the next day as the third day. Is that a complete explanation? Look how David words the prophecy. The ropes of death entangled me; floods of destruction swept over me. The grave wrapped its ropes around me; death laid a trap in my path. But in my distress I cried out to the LORD; yes, I prayed to my God for help. He heard me from his sanctuary; my cry to him reached his ears. Then the earth quaked and trembled. The foundations of the mountains shook; they quaked because of his anger. The logical question would be, could Jesus physically call out from the grave? We’re faced with a decision – we are looking at either a spiritual call or a spiritual tomb which led to a physical tomb. What would God consider a spiritual tomb? Looking back before Jesus’ trial, we see how the religious leaders plotted to kill Him before they were able to arrest Jesus. It was now two days before Passover and the Festival of Unleavened Bread. The leading priests and the teachers of religious law were still looking for an opportunity to capture Jesus secretly and kill him. (Mark 14:1 NLTse).
We have to look at the circumstances of Jesus’ trial. Then the high priest tore his clothing to show his horror and said, “Blasphemy! Why do we need other witnesses? You have all heard his blasphemy. What is your verdict?” “Guilty!” they shouted. “He deserves to die!” (Matthew 26:65-66 NLTse). God knew this was going to happen before it entered the high priest’s mind. Thousands of years before Jesus’ trial, God took the initiative to arrange the priest’s uniform with some very symbolic details. More than most people imagine. For one thing, the priest’s garment was sown so it could NOT be torn. “Make the robe that is worn with the ephod from a single piece of blue cloth, with an opening for Aaron’s head in the middle of it. Reinforce the opening with a woven collar so it will not tear. (Exodus 28:31-32 NLTse). It would also be impossible for the priest to tear his garments if he was wearing the breastplate, also known as the breastplate of judgment. The priest was supposed to wear the breastplate during an important trial. What trial could be more important than one where the high priest asked, “I demand in the name of the living God–tell us if you are the Messiah, the Son of God.” (Matthew 26:63 NLTse). God also created a series of laws to deal with false witnesses so important He repeated them. They are found in Numbers 35, Deuteronomy 17 and 19. According to the law, the trial should have been stopped, investigated by the priests, and the false witnesses should have faced the same sentence as the accused. None of that happened during Jesus’ trial. Jesus was condemned before His arrest and trial. In a sense, Jesus was in a spiritual tomb the second he entered the courtroom. No wonder He described the priests the way he did. “What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs–beautiful on the outside but filled on the inside with dead people’s bones and all sorts of impurity. Outwardly you look like righteous people, but inwardly your hearts are filled with hypocrisy and lawlessness. (Matthew 23:27-28 NLTse). As far as the priests were concerned, they placed Jesus in a tomb the moment He entered the courtroom. After all, Jesus gave the sign to the priests. The interpretation was one last attempt to reach them.
It’s time we took the mask off and looked in the mirror to see whose really there. Do we conduct ourselves like the Lamb being led to slaughter or like the priests? Do we judge others based on their looks, the clothes they wear, what they’ve done in the past, who they know, what they do, the color of their skin, their jewelry, tattoos, hair style, the list goes on. Satan never runs out of ways to waste time. Admit it or not, that’s what people do best, judge. The quicker they judge the better they feel about themselves. Just like the high priest, they leave off the breastplate of judgment – their decision is final – no need to bother God with such an obvious verdict. The accused is condemned without a trial – condemned to death. Like the priests who condemned Jesus, no one will admit it, but God shows how the priests and people judge based on outside appearances to their rules and doctrines. Look closely at the introduction of Matthew 27, the chapter that tells about how the priests put Jesus on the cross. Do you think the priests put Jesus on the cross to send Him up to Heaven to be with God? No! The priests not only judged Jesus, they condemned Him to hell – just like people do today when they judge people according to their standards. God didn’t want anyone to miss this point. He pointed it out in the introduction. After some discussion they finally decided to buy the potter’s field, and they made it into a cemetery for foreigners. The priests decided to dedicate an entire cemetery to people they judged and predetermined their fate after death based on the fact the foreigners were not like them… just like people do today when they judge. This is such an important point, God gave it its own prophecy. This fulfilled the prophecy of Jeremiah that says, “They took the thirty pieces of silver– the price at which he was valued by the people of Israel, and purchased the potter’s field, as the LORD directed.” But who needs to pay attention to the prophecies Jesus fulfilled or the lessons they teach? Who needs to spend time with God and His Word? As far as the world is concerned, they don’t need God to separate the goats from the sheep, the wheat from the tares… they’ve made a life out of doing it themselves while they fill the potters field day after day. But can they bring God’s Word together? Do they know how to compare the prophecies Jesus fulfilled with the texts explaining how and why they were fulfilled and the greater message behind them? To compete a study, you have to look at and compare the summations of both chapters. The end of each chapter is designed to summarize the main thought in the prophecies and their fulfillment.
Psalms 18:46-50 NLTse The LORD lives! Praise to my Rock! May the God of my salvation be exalted! (47) He is the God who pays back those who harm me; he subdues the nations under me (48) and rescues me from my enemies. You hold me safe beyond the reach of my enemies; you save me from violent opponents. (49) For this, O LORD, I will praise you among the nations; I will sing praises to your name. (50) You give great victories to your king; you show unfailing love to your anointed, to David and all his descendants forever.
Matthew 27:62-66 NLTse The next day, on the Sabbath, the leading priests and Pharisees went to see Pilate. (63) They told him, “Sir, we remember what that deceiver once said while he was still alive: ‘After three days I will rise from the dead.’ (64) So we request that you seal the tomb until the third day. This will prevent his disciples from coming and stealing his body and then telling everyone he was raised from the dead! If that happens, we’ll be worse off than we were at first.” (65) Pilate replied, “Take guards and secure it the best you can.” (66) So they sealed the tomb and posted guards to protect it.
David opens his summary by once again praising God. We can’t be sure if the prophecy is directed to God in Heaven or Jesus – who would be in the grave based on the comparison with the summary of Matthew 27. When we look at the rest of Psalm 18’s summary, David puts the prophecy into context. God is rescuing and holding Jesus beyond the reach of his enemies. Who knows what the priests were planning to do with Jesus’ body. Ever hear the term, never underestimate your enemies? The priests were crafty characters. They knew the scriptures. They knew God required a perfect sacrifice. Their goal was to prove Jesus could never be the Messiah. Turning Jesus over to Pilate was part of their plan. The priests had their own idea of the Messiah and sacrifice. There’s no doubt Jesus and God’s Spirit tried their best to reach the priests. They were shown evidence in scripture they should have figured out, but refused to come to terms with. Things are not much different today. To understand the mistakes made today, we can look at how the priests used physical symbols to cast doubt on Jesus.
The plot to present Jesus as a false prophet and soiled sacrifice started by tying up Jesus and putting chains on Him. The priests presented Jesus as a convicted criminal before the trial. The priests were aware of a connection between the Messiah and the perfect sacrifice, but shunned the idea because it didn’t align with their doctrine. Not wanting to take any chances, they knew they had to physically abuse Jesus – ruining the chances of Jesus being accepted by God. Immediately after the mock trial, the priests joined in when Jesus was beaten. They carefully plotted the timing, sending Jesus into Pilate’s court – their doctrines taught a man would be unclean and unacceptable to God until after the Passover. They also knew a man hung on a tree was cursed – so they demanded that Jesus be crucified. The priests also knew Pilate would whip Jesus to within an inch of His life. The priests must have felt a sense of victory when Pilate presented Jesus to the crowd after the beating. That wasn’t enough for them. They spread through the crowd to lead the chant of, “crucify him, crucify him.” The priests set up every physical aspect of Jesus’ trial, condemnation, and execution not only to secure His death and destroy any belief in Him, the priests goal was to ensure God would reject Him. The priests weren’t happy with destroying His body, they also wanted to destroy His soul.
We know the priests listened to Jesus, they heard Him talk about rising from the grave in three days. They may have acted like they didn’t know what Jesus was talking about when He gave them the sign of Jonah inside the fish. They most likely talked and preached about their interpretation – it was always on their mind. This is another detail showing us the priests had Jesus and God’s Spirit working to reach them – no one forced the religious leaders to reject all the signs – it was their decision. It was also their responsibility to lead their followers. They were supposed to lead people to a closer walk with God, but their only goal was to bring people under their control. Their major weapon was man made laws, doctrines, and interpreting scripture, namely prophecy. It should seem strange to see the government, in this case Roman guards restraining misguided religious factions, but who really knows how far they would have gone to achieve the victory they lusted over. Who knows how many ways God protected His Son at the cross and in the grave. Jesus gained a total victory no one could take away when He breathed His last breath on the cross. Satan was defeated – there was nothing he could do about it. Still he used the priests and others to lash out at Jesus, a strategy he still uses and fine tunes today.