This God—his way is perfect; the word of the LORD proves true; he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him. ³¹For who is God, but the LORD? And who is a rock, except our God? —Psalm 18:30-31
Psalm 18 is David’s song of praise to God, his deliverer. According to the Psalm's heading, David wrote it to mark “the day when the Lord rescued him from the hand of all his enemies, and from the hand of Saul." Deliverance "from the hand of Saul" was nothing less than protection from the business end of Saul’s sharp and heavy spear.
God sent the prophet Samuel to anoint David as the next king of Israel, He gave David victory over the Philistine giant and his entire army, and He caused King Saul to appoint David to a position of honor in his court. David’s response in each setting was submission to, and faith in, the God of Israel. Meanwhile, Saul’s response to God’s hand in each encounter with David was rising jealousy and, over time, murderous rage.
Did David wonder, throughout the treacherous game of cat and mouse with God’s anointed, why the day of deliverance was so long in coming? Forced to hide in out-of-the-way places with a rag-tag group of outlaws for soldiers, David resisted multiple opportunities to kill King Saul. This, even though Saul's only reason for hunting David down was Saul's own jealousy of David’s God-given success over Israel’s enemies.
During his time in the wilderness, David was learning about his God. So it was that he sang of this God, declaring “his way is perfect.” What is the way of this God? Isaiah records God’s self-disclosure:
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:8-9)
David embraced God’s ways, repaying Saul's evil with good (1 Samuel 24:15, 17). David’s trust that God would avenge him and bring His promises to pass enabled him not to take matters into his own hands.
It's tempting to think our ways are right. But Scripture shows us that our ways are not God’s ways. Only God’s way is perfect. And God protects those who submit to Him and follow His ways. In the context of Psalm 18, David was thinking of God’s protection from Saul. God was a refuge to David when he was in hiding, trying to evade capture and death.
We know from Scripture that not every one of God’s children escapes persecution, suffering, or martyrdom. Like David on-the-run, the many faith-filled people referenced at the end of Hebrews 11 “wander[ed] about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.” But unlike the victorious King David, “Some were tortured…Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated…” (Hebrews 11:35b-37).
How do we make sense of this God, whose way for some is the way of suffering? Is He not a shield to them? Whether we’re on the run from an unjust manic king or living on a quiet, leafy-tree-lined suburb, we are in mortal danger every day. We have an enemy who seeks to destroy us (1 Peter 5:8). The world and our flesh conspire against us (1 John 2:16). But the greatest danger we face, the one from which we are in most need of protection, is the Lord’s righteous wrath against our sin.
Isn’t it remarkable that God Himself becomes a shield to those who put their faith in Him in order to protect them from His judgment? God, our shield and our defender, against God. Blessed are all those who take refuge in Him, from Him.
No other god would imagine such a thing because all other gods are the invention of men. And our ways are not His ways. Whatever our circumstances, we can say with David, “This God, His way is perfect.”
In the midst of unjust circumstances, have you been distracted by thoughts of taking revenge or expectations that God will avenge you in this life?
How would refocusing your attention on God’s help to endure suffering in this life, and His promised justice in the next, protect you from anger and bitterness?
Ask God to shift your perspective from what you think your enemies deserve, to what you deserve for your sin. Give thanks for the rescue God offers through Jesus Christ. Ask Him to help you lay aside every desire to take revenge and instead to trust in Him.
Candice Watters is the Fighter Verses editor. She is married to Steve Watters, Truth78's director of marketing and resource development. She is mom to Harrison, Zoe, Churchill, and Teddy and co-author with Steve of Start Your Family: Inspiration for Having Babies.