In these verses,
I. David looks back, with thankfulness, upon the great things which God had done for him. He had not only wrought deliverance for him, but had given him victory and success, and made him triumph over those who thought to triumph over him. When we set ourselves to praise God for one mercy we must be led by that to observe the many more with which we have been compassed about, and followed, all our days. Many things had contributed to David’s advancement, and he owns the hand of God in them all, to teach us to do likewise, in reviewing the several steps by which we have risen to our prosperity. 1. God had given him all his skill and understanding in military affairs, which he was not bred up to nor designed for, his genius leading him more to music, and poetry, and a contemplative life: He teaches my hands to war, Ps. 18:34. 2. God had given him bodily strength to go through the business and fatigue of war: God girded him with strength (Ps. 18:32, 39), to such a degree that he could break even a bow of steel, Ps. 18:34. What service God designs men for he will be sure to fit them for. 3. God had likewise given him great swiftness, not to flee from the enemies but to fly upon them (Ps. 18:33): He makes my feet like hinds’ feet, Ps. 18:36. “Thou hast enlarged my steps under me; but” (whereas those that take large steps are apt to tread awry) “my feet did not slip.” He was so swift that he pursued his enemies and overtook them, Ps. 18:37. 4. God had made him very bold and daring in his enterprises, and given him spirit proportionable to his strength. If a troop stood in his way, he made nothing of running through them; if a wall, he made nothing of leaping over it (Ps. 18:29); if ramparts and bulwarks, he soon mounted them, and by divine assistance set his feet upon the high places of the enemy, Ps. 18:33. 5. God had protected him, and kept him safe, in the midst of the greatest perils. Many a time he put his life in his hand, and yet it was wonderfully preserved: “Thou hast given me the shield of thy salvation (Ps. 18:35), and that has compassed me on every side. By that I have been delivered from the strivings of the people who aimed at my destruction (Ps. 18:43), particularly from the violent man” (Ps. 18:48), that is, Saul, who more than once threw a javelin at him. 6. God had prospered him in his designs; he it was that made his way perfect (Ps. 18:32) and it was his right hand that held him up, Ps. 18:35. 7. God had given him victory over his enemies, the Philistines, Moabites, Ammonites, and all that fought against Israel: those especially he means, yet not excluding the house of Saul, which opposed his coming to the crown, and the partisans of Absalom and Sheba, who would have deposed him. He enlarges much upon the goodness of God to him in defeating his enemies, attributing his victories, not to his own sword or bow, nor to the valour of his mighty men, but to the favour of God: I pursued them (Ps. 18:37), I wounded them (Ps. 18:38); for thou hast girded me with strength (Ps. 18:39), else I could not have done it. All the praise is ascribed to God: Thou hast subdued them under me, Ps. 18:39. Thou hast given me their necks (2 Sam. 22:41; 18:40), not only to trample upon them (as Josh. 10:24), but to cut them off. Even those who hated David whom God loved, and were enemies to the Israel of God, in their distress cried unto the Lord: but in vain; he answered them not. How could they expect he should when it was he whom they fought against? And, when he disowned them (as he will all those that act against his people), no other succours could stand them in stead: There was none to save them, Ps. 18:41. Those whom God has abandoned are easily vanquished: Then did I beat them small as the dust, Ps. 18:42. But those whose cause is just he avenges (Ps. 18:47), and those whom he favours will certainly be lifted up above those that rise up against them, Ps. 18:48. 8. God had raised him to the throne, and not only delivered him and kept him alive, but dignified him and made him great (Ps. 18:35): Thy gentleness has increased me—thy discipline and instruction; so some. The good lessons David learned in his affliction prepared him for the dignity and power that were intended him; and the lessening of him helped very much to increase his greatness. God made him not only a great conqueror, but a great ruler: Thou hast made me the head of the heathen (Ps. 18:43); all the neighbouring nations were tributaries to him. See 2 Sam. 8:6, 11. In all this David was a type of Christ, whom the Father brought safely through his conflicts with the powers of darkness, and made victorious over them, and gave to be head over all things to his church, which is his body.
II. David looks up with humble and reverent adorations of the divine glory and perfection. When God had, by his providence, magnified him, he endeavours, with his praises, to magnify God, to bless him and exalt him, Ps. 18:46. He gives honour to him, 1. As a living God: The Lord liveth, Ps. 18:46. We had our lives at first from, and we owe the continuance of them to, that God who has life in himself and is therefore fitly called the living God. The gods of the heathen were dead gods. The best friends we have among men are dying friends. But God lives, lives for ever, and will not fail those that trust in him, but, because he lives, they shall live also; for he is their life. 2. As a finishing God: As for God, he is not only perfect himself, but his way is perfect, Ps. 18:30. He is known by his name Jehovah (Exod. 6:3), a God performing and perfecting what he begins in providence as well as creation, Gen. 2:1. If it was God that made David’s way perfect (Ps. 18:32), much more is his own way so. There is no flaw in God’s works, nor any fault to be found with what he does, Eccl. 3:14. And what he undertakes he will go through with, whatever difficulties lie in the way; what God begins to build he is able to finish. 3. As a faithful God: The word of the Lord is tried. “I have tried it” (says David), “and it has not failed me.” All the saints, in all ages, have tried it, and it never failed any that trusted in it. It is tried as silver is tried, refined from all such mixture and alloy as lessen the value of men’s words. David, in God’s providences concerning him, takes notice of the performance of his promises to him, which, as it puts sweetness into the providence, so it puts honour upon the promise. 4. As the protector and defender of his people. David had found him so to him: “He is the God of my salvation (Ps. 18:46), by whose power and grace I am and hope to be saved; but not of mine only: he is a buckler to all those that trust in him (Ps. 18:30); he shelters and protects them all, is both able and ready to do so.” 5. As a non-such in all this, Ps. 18:31. There is a God, and who is God save Jehovah? That God is a rock, for the support and shelter of his faithful worshippers; and who is a rock save our God? Thus he not only gives glory to God, but encourages his own faith in him. Note, (1.) Whoever pretends to be deities, it is certain that there is no God, save the Lord; all others are counterfeits, Isa. 44:8; Jer. 10:10. (2.) Whoever pretends to be our felicities, there is no rock, save our God; none that we can depend upon to make us happy.
III. David looks forward, with a believing hope that God would still do him good. He promises himself, 1. That his enemies should be completely subdued, and that those of them that yet remained should be made his footstool,—that his government should be extensive, so that even a people whom he had not known should serve him (Ps. 18:43), --that his conquests, and, consequently, his acquests, should be easy (As soon as they hear of me they shall obey me, Ps. 18:44), --and that his enemies should be convinced that it was to no purpose to oppose him; even those that had retired to their fastnesses should not trust to them, but be afraid out of their close places, having seen so much of David’s wisdom, courage, and success. Thus the Son of David, though he sees not yet all things put under him, yet knows he shall reign till all opposing rule, principality, and power shall be quite put down. 2. That his seed should be forever continued in the Messiah, who, he foresaw, should come from his loins, Ps. 18:50. He shows mercy to his anointed, his Messiah, to David himself, the anointed of the God of Jacob in the type, and to his seed for evermore. He saith not unto seeds, as of many, but to his seed, as of one, that is Christ, Gal. 3:16. It is he only that shall reign for ever, and of the increase of whose government and peace there shall be no end. Christ is called David, Hos. 3:5. God has called him his king, Ps. 2:6. Great deliverance God does give, and will give to him, and to his church and people, here called his seed, for evermore.
In singing Ps. 18:29-50 we must give God the glory of the victories of Christ and his church hitherto and of all the deliverances and advancements of the gospel kingdom, and encourage ourselves and one another with an assurance that the church militant will be shortly triumphant, will be eternally so.