Rev. Margaret Minnicks is an ordained Bible teacher. She writes many articles that are Bible lessons.
Psalm 18 is a very long psalm with 50 verses. It is a song sang by David, a servant of the Lord after God delivered him from the hand of King Saul and from his enemies.
The psalmist declares his love for God in the very first verse when he said, "I love thee, O Lord, my strength." Then in verse 2, David says again that God is his strength.
Verse 2 includes a total of eight metaphors the psalmist lists after saying he loves God. This is one of David's personal psalms based on his relationship with God. He uses both offensive and defensive military metaphors to describe who God is to him. He acknowledges that the Lord was all he needed when he was going through his struggles.
Notice that with each metaphor, David uses the personal possessive pronoun "My." That means he is claiming his intimate metaphors for God and not those of someone else. Perhaps you have your own set of metaphors. If not, feel free to use David's metaphors as your very own.
Background of Psalm 18
The background of Psalm 18 is after David had been anointed the future king of Israel while he was still tending sheep. King Saul was still on the throne at the time. He became jealous of David and tried to kill him.
David lived about 20 years as a fugitive as he ran for his life. He was on the run from Saul and enemies, but he remained steadfast to the God that he loved.
1. My Rock
The psalmist starts his list by saying, "The Lord is my rock." He describes God as his rock because he knew that rocks are refuges for comfort, safety, and security.
When David said, "The Lord is my rock" he meant it in more than one way. As a shepherd, he knew the only place to find shade from the hot sun in the desert was to find it in a rock. As a military man, David was aware that a rock was a place of shelter, safety, and protection. He knew that the rock provided water for the Israelites who were thirsty in the wilderness on their way to the promised land. He also knew the rock was a solid place to stand and fight rather than standing in the sand.
Like David, we all need a rock to rely on in our darkest hour. God is the only one who changes not. He is the only reliable one for comfort, refuge, shelter, safety, and strength.
The word “rock” is used about 129 times in the Bible and 79 times in the Old Testament. It appears about 24 times in the book of Psalms with references to God.
- Moses was the first one in the Bible to use the word “rock” as a metaphor for God. “The Rock, his work is perfect; For all his ways are justice” (Deuteronomy 32:4).
- Hannah prayed, “There is none holy as Jehovah. For there is none besides thee. Neither is there any rock like our God” (1 Samuel 2:2).
- Christ is the chief cornerstone in the New Testament. He is the rock of offense to those who reject Him. He is the spiritual rock for those who obey Him by following His commands (Ephesians 2:20; Romans 9:33).
2. My Fortress
David could have stopped with the first metaphor about God being his rock because that was powerful enough. However, the psalmist continued with the second metaphor. He referred to the Lord as his fortress. Sometimes a fortress is referred to as a mountain castle.
The word fortress means a place of defense. It was often built on rocks or on hills, and those who fled there would be safe.
A fortress in the Bible is a dwelling place in the crevices of a mountain. David escaped from Saul by finding safety and security among the crags in the mountain, but it really was God who was his fortress.
3. My Deliverer
David referred to the Lord as his deliverer. God made a way of escape to protect David while he was hiding from his enemies. When the enemies were coming in one way to capture David, God provided for him to get out another way to escape and be saved.
Often David escaped just in the nick of time. He always knew for sure that it was God who had delivered him out of the hand of his enemies.
4. My God
Right in the middle of the list of metaphors, David reminds himself who he loves and serves. Again, he refers to God as "My God." During his time of trouble and distress, the psalmist never forgot that he had a personal relationship and an intimate connection with God.
David relied on the God that he knew rather than on somebody else's knowledge of the Lord.
5. My Strength
Strength is such a powerful metaphor that David uses it as the fifth metaphor for the Lord in Psalm 18:2. David knew he could rely on God's strength in times when he was weak.
Strength is more than being physically strong. Strength is being strong spiritually, mentally, and intellectually.
6. My Buckler
A buckler is what a soldier uses to shield himself from the arrows and swords of the enemies.
David knew his enemies surrounded him and were out to harm him. He wasn't worried because he also knew that God would be his buckler not to keep the enemies from trying to kill him but to keep the fiery darts from coming in contact with him.
7. Horn of My Salvation
David's God was the horn of his salvation. Horns are well-known symbols of strength and power. Horns are the means of defense for animals because that's where their strength lies. David used the expression here to reflect how God comes to his defense just as animals defend themselves with their horns. The horn of David's salvation was a safe retreat in God.
8. My High Tower
High towers were just as their name suggests. They were erected on high places such as on top of mountains, on rocks, or on city walls. They were safe places for David because his enemies could not get in.
Some versions of the Bible refer to high towers as strongholds where David was always safe and could look down and see his enemies before they approached him. He was never in a place of danger in a high tower.
Eight Metaphors for David's God
The Lord is the one who empowered David to survive against his enemies while he was running and hiding from them. David's eight metaphors for the God he loved are summarized below.
- Rock: David's place of shelter, comfort, safety, and security
- Fortress: The psalmist's hiding place of strength and safety
- Deliverer: The one who made a way of escape for David
- God: The object of the psalmist's adoration and who he had a relationship with
- Strength: God's strength instead of David's own weakness
- Buckler: Shield that kept fiery darts from harming the psalmist
- Horn of Salvation: Protection from danger
- High Tower or Stronghold: Where David could see enemies from a great distance and be protected from them