We know the specific context of this song of David because it also occurs (with minor variations) in 2 Samuel 22. “David sang to the Lord the words of this song when the Lord delivered him from the hand of all his enemies and from the hand of Saul.” (2 Samuel 22:1)
The Psalm is composed of three major divisions.
Verses 1 – 3
Introduction of Praise
Verses 4 – 19
How the Lord Delivered David
Verses 20 – 29
David’s Righteousness is Rewarded
Verses 30 – 45
David Recounts the Lord’s Blessing
Verses 46 – 50
Conclusion of Praise and Thanksgiving
The “I love you” in verse 1 is an unusual Hebrew expression that emphasizes the intensity of David’s love.
Warren Wiersbe shares this commentary:
As we look at verses 1-6, we find nine different titles for God: my God, my Rock, my Fortress, my Deliverer, my Strength, my Shield, the Horn of my Salvation, my Stronghold, the Lord. Don’t let that little word my upset you. You must lay hold of God personally and say, “He is my God. He is my Deliverer. He is my Salvation.” Who delivers you? The Lord. When will He deliver you? When you call upon Him. “I will call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised; so shall I be saved from my enemies” (v. 3).
David cries to God for help and God responds in a mighty way. The song recounts phrase after phrase of vivid descriptions of God’s work on David’s behalf. In verse 17 David declares his weakness and need for God’s salvation from his enemies.
How grateful David was to finally be in a “spacious place” after years of running and hiding.
God answered David’s prayer because He delights in His followers who seek to keep the ways of the Lord. Verses 20-29 depict what such people are like. Though David speaks highly of his own character, he wasn’t boasting in himself, but in the Lord: “You stoop down to make me great” (v. 35).
David acknowledges that all he has and all he has achieved come from the Lord.
God arms him with strength
God enables him to stand on the heights.
God provides him the shield of victory.
God makes him the head of nations.
What exuberant praise ends this Psalm. David has traveled a lengthy and arduous journey to achieve this victory. God’s unfailing kindness in his covenant with David sustained him on the journey.
You can download the printable cards for Psalm 18 here.
Rock, fortess, refuge, shield, horn of salvation, cords of death, torrents of destruction, foundations of the mountains shook, mounted the cherubim and flew, great bolts of lightning, drew me out of the deep waters, burning lamp turns my darkness into light