The other morning I read these verses from Psalm 18:
1I love you, Lord; you are my strength. 2The Lord is my rock, my fortress, and my savior; my God is my rock, in whom I find protection. He is my shield, the power that saves me, and my place of safety.
We don’t speak this way anymore, at least not in our everyday language. Sometimes the psalms’ archaic poetic style can tempt us to skim and move-on the way we read a greeting card before unwrapping a present. But Scripture is God speaking, so we can always count on finding more than we expected. That is what happened to me while reading the psalm. Expecting a Hallmark card off the grocery shelf, I found a hand-written note with my name on it instead.
Look at the words I highlighted above. They reveal what all of us long for and pursue. These are worship words, and we all worship, all the time. If we take out the references to God, all of us could fill in the blanks with something else.
Here’s one way that my heart would fill the blanks:
1 I love you, reputation; you are my strength. 2 My reputation is my rock, my fortress, and my savior; my reputation is my rock, in whom I find protection. It is my shield, the power that saves me, and my place of safety.
What would your heart supply to fill in these blanks? Comfort? Pleasure? Security? Sex? Drugs or Alcohol? What God-substitutes capture your heart? Whatever you look to for the highlighted words above – that’s what you worship. That’s your god. Anything you look to for these things, other than the one true God, will ultimately betray and enslave you.
Psalm 18 is a mirror that reveals our failure to keep God’s requirement that we worship him and him only. If all God had given us was law, reading this psalm, or anything else in the Bible for that matter, would be a terrible burden.
Here’s the good news – “God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could never do.” (Romans 8:3 emphasis mine) He has given us his Son. This psalm (and all the rest of the Bible) is not about me or you, it’s about Jesus. These are the very thoughts of Jesus Christ, the only one who never filled the blanks with God substitutes. These words display the perfect man offering perfect worship to God, but who would later cry out in anguish from the cross “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” He was willingly stripped of all protection, shield or safety to become the fortress, shield, rock and protector of sinners like you and me. What a Savior!