URC Daily Devotion 8th October

Psalm 18
 

I love you, LORD! You are my strength.
A fortress is the LORD to me—
My rock and my deliverer;
For refuge to my God I flee.

He is my stronghold and my shield,
The LORD who saves me by his might.
I’ll call on him and give him praise.
I’m saved; he puts my foes to flight.

The cords of death entangled me;
Destruction hit me like a wave.
Encircled by the snares of death,
I faced the terrors of the grave.

In my distress I called on God;
I cried out to the LORD for aid.
He from his temple heard my voice;
He listened to the prayer I made.

The earth before God’s anger quaked;
The mountains’ deep foundations shook.
Consuming fire blazed from his mouth,
And from his nostrils came forth smoke.

The heavens parted, he came down;
Beneath his feet the dark clouds lay.
Upon the cherubim he flew;
On wings of wind he made his way.

He made the dark his canopy,
Dark rain clouds swirling in the sky.
From brightness of his presence came
Clouds, hail and lightning from on high.

The LORD Most High sent forth his voice;
His thunder from the heavens pealed.
His arrows scattered all his foes;
His lightning drove them from the field.

The valleys of the sea lay bare
And earth’s foundations deep and vast,
When your rebuke went forth, O LORD—
The power of your nostrils’ blast.

From heav’n he reached to grasp my hand
And lift me as the waters rose;
He saved me from my enemy,
From all my overpowering foes.

They threatened me in my distress,
But God stood by me in my plight.
He brought me out and set me free,
Because in me he took delight.

According to my righteousness
The LORD dealt with me faithfully;
Because my hands were clean from sin,
The LORD my God rewarded me.

For I have kept the ways of God;
From him I have not turned away.
I have not strayed from his decrees;
His statutes ever with me stay.

Before the LORD I’ve kept myself
From blame and all transgression free.
Since in his sight my hands were clean,
The LORD my God rewarded me.

With faithful people you keep faith,
And to the blameless you are good.
With pure men you yourself are pure,
But with the crooked you are shrewd.

You save the humble and the meek,
But bring the proud down from their height.
You, LORD, will keep my lamp aflame;
God turns my darkness into light.

With help from God I can advance
Against a troop and rout them all,
And with the aid my God will give
I can leap over any wall.

For perfect is the way of God;
No flaw is found within his word.
To all who put their trust in him
A shield and refuge is the LORD.

For who is God except the LORD?
Besides our God, who is the Rock?
He is the God who gives me strength,
And he perfects the path I walk.

He makes my feet like feet of deer;
Upon the heights he makes me stand.
My arms can bend a bow of bronze;
In skills of war he trains my hand.

Your right hand gives me victory;
You stoop down low to make me great.
So that my footsteps do not trip
You smooth the pathway for my feet.

I chased and overtook my foes;
I did not turn till they were slain.
I crushed them all beneath my feet;
They fell and could not rise again.

With strength you armed me for the fight;
My foes you humbled at my feet.
You made them turn their backs in flight;
And their destruction was complete.

They cried for help, but none could save;
They cried to God—no answer came.
I beat them fine as wind-borne dust;
Like wayside dirt I scattered them.

You set me over many lands;
You saved me from my enemy.
A people whom I did not know
Are in subjection now to me.

The moment that they hear my voice
They cringe before me and obey.
In fear they tremble and lose heart;
They leave their strongholds in dismay.

The LORD lives! Praise be to my Rock!
My Saviour God exalted be!
He has avenged me, and subdued
Rebellious peoples under me.

You saved me from my enemies,
Exalting me above my foes;
You rescued me from violent men
Who sought my kingdom to oppose.

Therefore among the nations, LORD,
Your praise in song I will proclaim;
Before the peoples of the world
I’ll sing the glory of your name.

You give your king great victories;
Your loving-kindness you will pour
On David, your anointed one,
And his descendants evermore.

You can hear a Free Church congregation sing this to the tune Duke Street here.  

Reflection

When I read this psalm, the line that stood out for me was, ‘For they were too mighty for me’ in the NRSV version which is rendered “from all my overpowering foes” in the metrical version used today.

The image is of David sitting on a rock and letting out a huge sigh of relief because he has been delivered from his ‘strong enemies and those that hate him’.

This Psalm is a bit of a paradox for me, on one hand there is beautiful and persuasive imagery of a humble David, who is praising God for being his rock and salvation. But also, there is some strong and evocative imagery portrayed of a violent and strong Lord who ‘thundered in the heavens’ and had people crying for help ‘but did not answer them’. The Bible is littered with such paradoxes, but how do we make sense of them? If there is an answer to that, it is too long for this devotion!

For this Psalm though, it helped me to consider that this is David’s letter of gratitude to God, in response to his experiences. If I can learn nothing else from this Psalm, I can feel David’s gratitude throughout it. Do I give God the same gratitude in such situations where I feel Her presence as strongly?

Practising gratitude can be life changing, it changes one’s outlook, and in-turn it can change relationships. It helps me to be conscious of the many blessings that God gives me, and being able to stop and think about them and thank God has been a very affirming spiritual practice for me.

Sometimes, praise and worship is something that we just ‘do’, and maybe do not actively seek time with God to bring the realities of our daily lives to Him, which is for me, where practising gratitude steps in.

We all have our own unique life experiences, just like David. Do we though take the time to reflect with gratitude to God for the blessing of our experiences, whether they are good or bad?

Prayer

God of wonder,
no matter if we are stood in a meadow or a crowded market
there is always beauty and your Spirit to be felt.
Help us to stop, look and seek what we can be grateful for.
We pray for all experiences, whether they be joyful or filled with sadness.
We pray that we can sit with you in those experiences and feel your loving presence in our lives.
In your name, we pray.
Amen

 

Today’s Writer

Lee Battle is an Ordinand at Northern College and a member of Wilbraham St Ninian’s URC in Chorlton.

Bible Version

 

Sing Psalms
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Free Church of Scotland
15 North Bank Street
Edinburgh
EH1 2LS

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