The 18th Psalm is another of the remarkable Old Testament passages that speak of the Lord Jesus Christ. We notice at the beginning of the Psalm that David wrote it after he was delivered from the hand of Saul. David related his own experience of deliverance and yet as he wrote the Holy Spirit had much more profound intentions as these words relate to the deliverance of Christ from the death of the tomb. David depended on God to deliver him as he refused to lift his hand against God’s anointed. There were times when David had Saul’s life in his hands, but he never raised a finger against him. This was a battle he chose to leave in the hands of the Almighty.
In David’s action, we see the character of Jesus Christ. He was led to the death of the cross and yet he never opened His mouth in His defense nor did He command angelic armies to release Him. Jesus went to the death of the cross obediently fully expecting the Father to raise Him from the grave. This Psalm reflects His righteous obedience and the fury of God as He beat back the forces of evil that were determined to keep Him in the tomb.
At first, the cross and the tomb appear to be the ignominious defeat of Christ. Satan surely believed he had won the victory and the demons who are his evil companions encamped around the tomb to keep watch to make sure their victory was not short lived. The resurrection would mean their defeat which they struggled with all their might to prevent. God the Father left the body in the tomb for three days and on the third a battle for the resurrection commenced. Verse 5 speaks of death that tried to hold Jesus locked behind the stone that was rolled against the door. Verse 6 is the cry of the Saviour as His soul pleaded for deliverance from the grave. In verse 7, the wrath of God began to shake the earth. The cosmic battle was engaged—an unseen battle that none were aware was happening. In verse 8, the fury of God is seen in the smoke that came from His nostrils as He vented his extreme anger at Satan and his forces of evil.
Verse 14 says He shot out lightening. Imagine the power of God as He wrenched death from the clutches of Satan. Jesus in His flesh was no match for the powers of evil just as no man can withstand demonic power on his own. He constantly prayed for strength and complete deliverance. As He believed would happen, verse 17 says He was delivered from His strong enemy. It is interesting that at the crucifixion those that mocked Christ said, “He trusted in God; let him deliver him now, if he will have him: for he said, I am the Son of God.” This is a quotation from the 22nd Psalm, and indeed Christ did trust God to deliver Him. He did not ask to be delivered from the cross. It was predestined and necessary. He rather trusted God to deliver Him from the tomb. The greatest display of God’s power is not that He could save His life, but that He could restore life to the dead. The Psalmist wrote in 18:19, “He brought me forth also into a large place; he delivered me, because he delighted in me.” The mockers said of God, “Let him deliver him if he will have him.” Yes, God would have Him because of His perfect righteousness and satisfaction for sin. Both Psalm 22:8 and 18:19 say God delighted in Him.
It is too easy for us to pass over this Psalm without thoughtful consideration. None of us knows the depth of commitment Christ made nor the actual power of God that raised Jesus from the dead. These are not trivial matters. No human can fathom the majesty and holiness of God. Consider this as you read. You step into another dimension that will not be fully realized until you stand face to face with God. Be sure you face Him with Christ and not without.
Pastor V. Mark Smith