David’s Song of Praise
Of all the biblical characters who appear throughout scripture, David the worshipper king is one of the most recognizable and prominent to make known the character attributes of God to the world. From David’s anointing as king while still a youth, to his unlikely victory against Goliath, to his establishment of continual worship and prayer in Jerusalem, David’s life speaks of a personal and powerful knowledge of God.
In no place do we find this more notably than in David’s song of praise that is recorded in Second Samuel 22 (a similar version is found in Psalm 18). The Second Samuel passage opens with these words:
1 Then David spoke to the Lord the words of this song, on the day when the Lord had delivered him from the hand of all his enemies, and from the hand of Saul. 2 And he said:
“The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; 3 The God of my strength, in whom I will trust; My shield and the horn of my salvation, My stronghold and my refuge; My Savior, You save me from violence. 4 I will call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised; So shall I be saved from my enemies.”
If there is one thing about David in both his triumphs and his struggles, it is that he constantly turned to the Lord in those very moments of good or bad events. When the Ark of the Covenant returned to Jerusalem, David didn’t just celebrate as king but he danced and praised the Lord “with all his might” (2 Samuel 6:14). When the prophet Nathan confronted David about his sin of murderous adultery, David immediately repented before God (2 Samuel 12:13, Psalm 51).
David spoke out the above words of his song of praise on the same day that God granted him deliverance from Saul and his enemies. Imagine it – a personal victory of David, in a day’s time, results in a song of praise being spoken and sung for 3,000 years (and still going!).
David had been a hunted man, living as a fugitive and surely asking himself if the promise of God regarding his becoming king of Israel would ever come to pass. When the moment of breakthrough came, his heart swelled with praise – and the world has been talking about it ever since.
Let’s look a little closer at some of the declarations David made on that day of great deliverance.
The Lord is a Rock and Fortress (v. 2)
David was well familiar with the wilderness terrain where he had to hide, taking refuge in caves and rocky cliffs as his daily fortresses. He was also well aware of what five specially selected stones could do to slay a giant. When David declared, “The Lord is my rock”, he demonstrated that he had seen the Lord present in the rocks of his own journey and the strength they provided in the hand of the Lord. Instead of becoming embittered by his circumstances, David saw God’s strength in the stones and turned the stones into praise.
The Lord is Worthy to Be Praised (v. 4)
When the victory came, David did not attribute it to the strategy or battle skills that he and his band of men had developed over the years of being pursued by their enemies. He said that only God was worthy and that He should be openly and loudly praised for the victory. Becoming king did not change this heart perspective within David; it only reinforced David’s trust and dependence on God for prevailing in future battles, and for glorifying God’s unmatched strength and power.
The Lord Thunders from Heaven (v. 14)
Our God, the God of Israel, is a God of lovingkindness and mercy, but He is not a pushover! David felt the protective, righteous anger of the Lord on his behalf when his enemies were too strong for him. Because David’s God had no weakness in Him, David could trust that God would be his support and bring him out into a broad place of safety (vv. 19-20).
The Lord Rewards the Righteous (v. 21)
When David said, “The Lord rewarded me according to my righteousness”, he was not referring to a position of his own human strength, for David at that moment had just finished reiterating how he needed to be rescued and needed the support of his God. Rather, he was speaking of a right standing before God, born from the place of humility. Because David knew that his heart’s position was one of dependence on the Lord, he could confidently say that God was the One who would reward the cleanness of his hands and heart.
The Lord is a Lamp (v. 29)
It might seem obvious, but the strength of light in the midst of darkness is that it makes everything visible. David was personally experienced in facing ambushes and hiding under the cover of night. In those moments, he needed the presence of God to light the way, showing him where to go and also where his enemy was. Then he could say, “For by You I can run against a troop” (v. 30) – in bright daylight or the dead of night, the Lord was his cover.
The Lord’s Way is Perfect (v. 31)
Familiar with his own weakness and imperfections, David allowed his circumstances to help lift his eyes to the God who is perfect in all He does. When your life is on the line, there is no margin for error! David grew in his trust for the Lord at every step because God never steered him wrong. Even when everything was headed in seemingly the wrong direction, David later saw that God had not veered off course but all along was working for David’s good.
The Lord Lives! (v. 47)
In the midst of death and destruction, David saw that his God was alive and was the Giver of life in any situation. And ultimately, that is all that matters!
The philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche famously claimed,“God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him.” But it couldn’t be farther from the truth. God never has been and never will be subject to the ‘might’ of His own creation. He is unshakable and can never be removed from His throne.
Today, let’s join our hearts and lives with David and declare the wonders of the God of Israel. The Lord is a Rock! The Lord is worthy! And above all, the Lord lives!