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IMG_2010.JPGThe language of defeat is prominent in Psalm 18:35-45 (see after the jump), so prominent it might offend. David, or whoever this might be, exults in the defeat of his enemies and he looks to God for that victory. In fact, the whole is framed through looking to God for that victory: “You have given me…” etc.

As Goldingay puts it: YHWH acts and does not abandon; the psalmist triumphs instead of being overwhelmed; the enemy loses instead of triumphing. That’s the substance of these verses.
He speaks of slaughter, and he gives thanks to God for it. There’s no mercy here. So, what to do? Here’s Goldingay (Psalms 1): “A Christian might think that the psalm is mistaken and that Yhwh was not so involved… Or … might think that God was so involved then but is no longer so involved … might thus allegorize the psalm so that its battles refer to our battling against our own faults. Or a Christian might think that the perspective of the psalm fits the NT attitude expressed in Romans 13:4…” and all of this means the psalm can be abused but all texts suffer from that possibility.
Or perhaps this is phenomenological experience: the psalmist was victorious and thanks God and thinks God was with him.

Psalms 18

Psalm 18

For the music director; by the Lord‘s servant David, who sang to the Lord the words of this song when the Lord rescued him from the power of all his enemies, including Saul.

18:1 He said:

“I love you, Lord, my source of strength!

18:2 The Lord is my high ridge, my stronghold, my deliverer.

My God is my rocky summit where I take shelter,

my shield, the horn that saves me, and my refuge.

18:3 I called to the Lord, who is worthy of praise,

and I was delivered from my enemies.

18:4 The waves of death engulfed me,

the currents of chaos overwhelmed me.

18:5 The ropes of Sheol tightened around me,

the snares of death trapped me.

18:6 In my distress I called to the Lord;

I cried out to my God.

From his heavenly temple he heard my voice;

he listened to my cry for help.

18:7 The earth heaved and shook;

the roots of the mountains trembled;

they heaved because he was angry.

18:8 Smoke ascended from his nose;

fire devoured as it came from his mouth;

he hurled down fiery coals.

18:9 He made the sky sink as he descended;

a thick cloud was under his feet.

18:10 He mounted a winged angel and flew;

he glided on the wings of the wind.

18:11 He shrouded himself in darkness,

in thick rain clouds.

18:12 From the brightness in front of him came

hail and fiery coals.

18:13 The Lord thundered in the sky;

the sovereign One shouted.

18:14 He shot his arrows and scattered them,

many lightning bolts and routed them.

18:15 The depths of the sea were exposed;

the inner regions of the world were uncovered

by your battle cry, Lord,

by the powerful breath from your nose.

18:16 He reached down from above and took hold of me;

he pulled me from the surging water.

18:17 He rescued me from my strong enemy,

from those who hate me,

for they were too strong for me.

18:18 They confronted me in my day of calamity,

but the Lord helped me.

18:19 He brought me out into a wide open place;

he delivered me because he was pleased with
me.

18:20 The Lord repaid me for my godly deeds;

he rewarded my blameless behavior.

18:21 For I have obeyed the Lord‘s commands;

I have not rebelled against my God.

18:22 For I am aware of all his regulations,

and I do not reject his rules.

18:23 I was innocent before him,

and kept myself from sinning.

18:24 The Lord rewarded me for my godly deeds;

he took notice of my blameless behavior.

18:25 You prove to be loyal to one who is faithful;

you prove to be trustworthy to one who is innocent.

18:26 You prove to be reliable to one who is blameless,

but you prove to be deceptive to one who is perverse.

18:27 For you deliver oppressed people,

but you bring down those who have a proud look.

18:28 Indeed, you are my lamp, Lord.

My God illuminates the darkness around me.

18:29 Indeed, with your help I can charge against an army;

by my God’s power I can jump over a wall.

18:30 The one true God acts in a faithful manner;

the Lord‘s promise is reliable;

he is a shield to all who take shelter in him.

18:31 Indeed, who is God besides the Lord?

Who is a protector besides our God?

18:32 The one true God gives me strength;

he removes the obstacles in my way.

18:33 He gives me the agility of a deer;

he enables me to negotiate the rugged terrain.

18:34 He trains my hands for battle;

my arms can bend even the strongest bow.

18:35 You give me your protective shield;

your right hand supports me;

your willingness to help enables me to prevail.

18:36 You widen my path;

my feet do not slip.

18:37 I chase my enemies and catch them;

I do not turn back until I wipe them out.

18:38 I beat them to death;

they fall at my feet.

18:39 You give me strength for battle;

you make my foes kneel before me.

18:40 You make my enemies retreat;

I destroy those who hate me.

18:41 They cry out, but there is no one to help them;

they cry out to the Lord, but he does not answer them.

18:42 I grind them as fine windblown dust;

I beat them underfoot like clay in the streets.

18:43 You rescue me from a hostile army;

you make me a leader of nations;

people over whom I had no authority are now my subjects.

18:44 When they hear of my exploits, they submit to me.

Foreigners are powerless before me;

18:45 foreigners lose their courage;

they shake with fear as they leave their strongholds.

18:46 The Lord is alive!

My protector is praiseworthy!

The God who delivers me is exalted as king!

18:47 The one true God completely vindicates me;

he makes nations submit to me.

18:48 He delivers me from my enemies;

you snatch me away from those who attack me;

you rescue me from violent men.

18:49 So I will give you thanks before the nations, O Lord!

I will sing praises to you!

18:50 He gives his chosen king magnificent victories;

he is faithful to his chosen ruler,

to David and his descendants forever.”

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