Alfred Place Baptist Church

Psalm 18: God Coming Awesomely to Deliver His People

Psalm 18:1-15
 

For the director of music. Of David the servant of the LORD. He sang to the LORD the words of this song when the LORD delivered him from the hand of all his enemies and from the hand of Saul. He said:

 

I love you, O LORD, my strength. The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge. He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I call to the LORD, who is worthy of praise, and I am saved from my enemies. The cords of death entangled me; the torrents of destruction overwhelmed me. The cords of the grave coiled around me; the snares of death confronted me. In my distress I called to the LORD; I cried to my God for help. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came before him, into his ears. The earth trembled and quaked, and the foundations of the mountains shook; they trembled because he was angry. Smoke rose from his nostrils; consuming fire came from his mouth, burning coals blazed out of it. He parted the heavens and came down; dark clouds were under his feet. He mounted the cherubim and flew; he soared on the wings of the wind. He made darkness his covering, his canopy around him – the dark rain clouds of the sky. Out of the brightness of his presence clouds advanced, with hailstones and bolts of lightning. The LORD thundered from heaven; the voice of the Most High resounded. He shot his arrows and scattered the enemies, great bolts of lightning and routed them. The valleys of the sea were exposed and the foundations of the earth laid bare at your rebuke, O LORD, at the blast of breath from your nostrils.”

 

This is the fourth longest psalm; it is divinely judged to be important enough to be included twice in the Bible, here, and also in II Samuel chapter 22. The entire psalm is expressed in the first person singular. The pronouns ‘I’, ‘me’ and ‘my’ are found exclusively throughout, especially at its beginning and in its final verses. David never says ‘we’ in this psalm; it is all so very personal, and can there be a greater beginning to a psalm than its opening words, “I love you, O Lord, my strength”? A man once asked Jesus that of all the commandments that have come to us from God which did he think was the greatest? Without hesitation our Lord replied that the greatest of all the commandments is that we love the Lord with all our heart and soul and mind and strength. It is not that we seek to love him, but that we do love him. It is not that we belong to a community that loves God but that we as individuals love him. We do not think about loving him, or plan to love him, or know that we should love him and regret we don’t love him more – all that is true, but we actually do love God. We too say, “I love you O Lord,” just as David says here. Here we find a unique word for ‘love.’ Nowhere else in the Old Testament is this particular word used for love. It is utterly heartfelt; Derek Kidner describes it as impulsive and emotional love. The relationship of David to God is not defined pre-eminently as one of service and subordination and submission and obedience; it is defined by love. There is a loved one, and he is Jehovah, and there is the lover and he is David, the representative and archetypal believer.

 

It is, you see, an immensely personal love. David says, “The Lord is my strength, my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock.” I love him because he is mine! “He loved me and gave himself for me,” said Paul. It is all intensely personal. We sing, “My Jesus, I love Thee, I know Thou art mine,” and so every Christian reading this will immediately feel some sense of unease and self-examination. “Do I love the Lord? Do I really love him? So many days I feel I do not.” We remember the line of William Cowper, “Lord it is my chief complaint that my love is weak and faint.” We identify with those sentiments completely. But we cannot leave it there, any more than Cowper did. We continue in our praise to sing, “Yet I love Thee, and adore, O for grace to love Thee more.”

 

David in this psalm helps us by telling us the reasons why he loves the Lord.

 
  1. HOW DAVID CAME TO LOVE THE LORD.
 

i] David loved Jehovah because of what he is. He is David’s strength. How could David become a good man and live a good life? Didn’t David have the power of remaining sin within him pulling him down? When David would do good didn’t he feel another law in his members urging him not to do good? David along with every Christian, knew a constant internal battle, and he lost many a skirmish, but the only way he kept going was by the energy that God kept giving him. David was renewed day by day to love whatsoever things are true and noble and right and pure and lovely and admirable. We are tempted to retaliate, or to have the last word always, or to become bitter and self-pityi
ng, or to become resentful and unforgiving, to exaggerate our troubles, to be short-tempered, to fantasize, to indulge in the lusts of the mind and of the flesh, and so on. But then we get strength from the Lord to keep going, to forgive, to turn the other cheek, to be tender, to give a gentle answer, to flee from sin and to mortify it, to be wise and gentle and full of mercy and compassion. All that did not come from us; it was not due to our upbringing or our own sweet personalities, but by the strength of God himself. He gave us power day by day to live like that. Strength to overcome sin in the kitchen, strength in the study, strength in the office, strength in the staffroom, strength in the bedroom, strength in the church, strength in business meetings, strength when driving a car, strength in health and strength in sickness, strength in riches and strength in poverty. Always and everywhere God proves to be our energy to live as we should, as we must, without which we shall be hurting ourselves and hurting others. How we need to be strengthened by the might of his Spirit in our inner man to love God and to love our neighbour as ourselves.

 

God was David’s rock. He says this twice in the second verse, with a different word for ‘rock’ in both places. Like a wife says admiringly about her husband, “He’s my rock.” They have gone through trials and changes and challenges together. She feels she gets too emotional, easily becoming weepy and at times despairing, but he is her rock.

 

God was also David’s fortress. David could have said the words of Toplady, “A sovereign Protector I have, unseen yet for ever at hand.” He could have said what Luther said, “A safe stronghold our God is still.” God kept David in his mighty tower, safe from the wiles of the devil, from the enticements of the world’s glittering prizes, from deep distress and despair. When David’s children fell apart in bloody hatred, when David fell into notorious sin, then God was his fortress and deliverer. He could take refuge in God. “Hiding in Thee, Thou bless Rock of ages, I’m hiding in Thee.” God was David’s shield, the one who protected him from the fiery darts of the evil one, from the subterfuge of those who would have wrested the crown from him by their cunning deceit.

 

Then there is a change of metaphor; the images of defence are now replaced by one of aggression. We say quite correctly that the best form of defence is attack, and David knew this and showed it when he was facing Goliath. He had to take the initiative or the giant would have played with him. He did not wait for the giant to start toying with him. He ran to the brook and took the five smooth stones, took aim with his slingshot and swiftly dispatched Goliath. So amidst this list of weapons of defence David says that God was also his horn of deliverance. You have seen a champion Welsh Black bull and all the strength of its shoulders, its neck and those two mighty horns. What weapons. You are walking along a path on a mountain side and you come across a bull there to your side, and he spots you and he starts pawing the ground and lowering his head, and you are terrified at such an adversary with those horns. What damage it could do, easily killing you and yours. What do you do? Do you run, or do you walk calmly along? He could destroy you in a moment. “O God help me,” you pray to the God who is “the horn of my salvation,” (v.2) says David. 

 

What a range of images David employs to persuade us of this reality that God defends him. This is why we must believe in the perseverance of the saints. Christians keep going; they keep trusting in God; they keep serving him; they keep loving him because he is their strength and their great Protector. I think that there are actually six metaphors in these opening two verses all of them insisting on the fact that every ordinary Christian is being kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation. “You mean he is keeping me . . . keeping me this very moment, that my being here now, and reading these words, is a mark of God’s determination to keep me?” Precisely! You are not at this moment stuck in front of a TV set watching some dead-beat programme, surfing the Internet for some unseemly pictures, or planning to walk down to the pub to listen to the know-alls talking above the noise of the music. God is engaging with you vitally, assuring you, “I am giving you strength; I am your infallible protector; none shall pluck you out of my hand. Your rock, your shield, your fortress, your horn, your stronghold.” David loved God for what he is.

 

ii] David also loved Jehovah because of what he does.I call to the Lord, who is worthy of praise, and I am saved from my enemies” (v.3). I love those words that are almost an excursus – they are virtually in brackets – ‘The Lord is worthy of praise.’ Isn’t he worthy of praise? He formed you in the womb and he will guide you through life to the tomb. He has saved you from judgment through the death of his Son. He is blessing you still with every spiritual blessing in the heavenlies in Christ. He is taking you to a new heavens and a new earth. Nothing will ever separate you from his love. God is worthy of praise, isn’t he? A million times yes. Why do we sing four hymns in our Sunday services? Not principally because we enjoy it (which we do), or that it attracts people (I am not sure that it does), but because God is worthy of praise. ‘Hallelujah, what a Saviour! . . . To God be the glory great things he has done!’

 

“Let me tell you this,” David says, “When I call to the Lord . . . I am saved from my enemies” (v.3). Doesn’t all the world long for such a Saviour? Why are there fantasies about Superman and characters like that? Because of a longing that there would be someone outside ourselves who would care for us, come right up to us in our need and deliver us. There is such a person, and his name is Jesus Christ and he really does save us from our enemies. He saves us from infatuation, and thoughtless actions, and pride, and powerful temptations – what enemies they are – and from the schemes of men who would bring our gospel into disrepute. Think of Paul’s deliverance from his enemies; not from beatings, and imprisonments, and hunger, and stonings, no, he did suffer all those trials. The Lord nowhere promises we will not suffer at the hands of the enemies of the gospel – quite the reverse. We will be blessed in being persecuted for righteousness’ sake. Nor was Paul saved from falls into sin, from doing evil when he knew he should be doing good, but he knew as every Christian knows salvation from principalities and powers and the rulers of the darkness of this world. Paul was saved from a dead-end life in which nothing worked together for his good; Paul was saved from unbelief; Paul was saved from hell. What did he have to do to get that? What great price did he have to pay? How many years did he have to live in a cave in a wilderness to obtain this salvation? None! What did he do? He did what David did (v.3), he called to the Lord and he was saved. Paul loved the Lord because of what God was and for what God did. Shouldn’t we love the Lord for the same reasons? Isn’t it a sin to know such a Lord, and be a beneficiary of so much kindness and love, and yet not to love him in return? Isn’t it true that there isn’t one person in hell who loves the Lord? The horror of hell is that nobody whatsoever loves God there. It is a love-free zone. No one sings; no sounds but, in the flames, that intolerable endless murmur of the hatred of God. So do you love the Lord because of what he is and what he has done
for everyone who repents and believes?

 
  1. DAVID LOVED THE LORD OF AMAZING DELIVERANCES.
 

Now David calls on the whole of mighty creation to capture the wonder of being rescued from sin by God. Remember how this psalm begins, “I love you O Lord.” There is this wonderful relationship of two such different beings, David, so very insignificant, one of seven thousand million people living on this planet, while the other is the one and only living God, infinite, eternal and unchangeable. David, so soiled and deformed by sin while God is light and in him is no darkness at all. “Yet I love him and he loves me! Let me tell you how we got into this relationship,” says David.

 

Now he could have done what Solomon did in his Song of Songs and use the analogy of the passionate love of a man for his wife. Solomon is overwhelmed by the fact that someone so beautiful could love him. “Let me tell you about her,” he says, “her eyes, her hair, her neck, her nose, her mouth, her face . . .” He is totally captivated by her and he wants everyone to understand something of his wonder at being loved by her, and that is what he does in the Song of Solomon. He writes a long love poem concerning the beauties of his bride. It reflects something of the passionate affection of Christ for his bride, desperately in love with her, going to Golgotha for her, laying down his life for her. But that is not what Solomon’s father David did. He tells us that he loves the Lord who is the God of all creation.

 

“He loved me and he came to save me. The God of the heavens and the earth rescued me. He moved the winds and waves, rocks and hills; he thundered and he lightninged, he parted the heavens, he rode on the winds and strode across the clouds in his determination to deliver me. You consider what you have been saved from and what you are being saved to and the immense cost of all of that, and everything has been so utterly unmerited and undeserved. The mighty Creator came so low to save us! Such a theme merits the vivid poetry of a Tennyson. You cannot call on plodding clichés to describe such a divine mighty deliverance. Think of the finest hymns; they are full of ardour and hyperbole – “O for a thousand tongues to sing my great Redeemer’s praise!” So David ransacks the cosmos to describe how God came and saved him from his wretchedness. The power that made and sustains the cosmos saved David and hence the justification for this high poetry to describe the wonder of his salvation. Even Caesar recognizes the use of poetry to record national events. He appoints the office of Poet Laureate and he or she records in poetry significant occasions. So consider the language which David uses to describe the state he was in through the power of sin.

 

i] The plight David was in. “Let me tell you what sin does for men and women,” says David. “The cords of death entangled me; the torrents of destruction overwhelmed me. The cords of the grave coiled around me; the snares of death confronted me” (vv.4&5). David’s life was in a tangle; he was all tied up and he couldn’t escape from evil habits and attitudes. Great thick ropes bound him to such sins as selfishness and lust and alcohol and pride and gold and entertainment. This was killing him; he was utterly helpless because of them. Cords of the grave were pulling him into the pit; snares of death were strangling the life out of him. There was once a magician who could do wonderful tricks; he could saw people in half, and make people disappear, and amputate his own arms and legs and yet in a moment they were back attached to his body. The climax of his show were ropes that at his word came out of a box and coiled themselves around him and swathed him from head to toe tightening around him so that they looked as if they were choking him, but he would give a word and they would loosen themselves and down they would fall to the ground and he would walk away to great applause. One night in his act the cords began to tighten around him and when he spoke the word for them to fall away nothing happened. People laughed nervously; they thought it was part of the act, but he commanded them again more urgency in his voice. Nothing happened the cords tightened and tightened and his face grew red and he struggled and cried out for the cords to loosen, but they grew tighter and tighter and choked the life out of him. That is what sin does; we think we can take our drugs, and drink our alcohol, and indulge in our lusts, and fantasize with our unbelief and relativism and then one day we will command those snares, “Cease your hold of me,” and they will fall away and I will be released – “and with one bound Jack was free!” We think at our own time and choice we’ll be able to overcome our desire for those things that have us in their grip. But one day we’ll wake up to discover who is our master, and who is the slave. It’s the cords of death that have entangled me; it’s the torrents of destruction that have overwhelmed me; the cords of the grave have coiled around me; the snares of death confront me. It was a lesson that one of the youthful reformers, Melancthon, had to learn, that old Adam was too strong for young Melancthon.

 

David had learned that lesson and knew the reality of his desperate plight; he was distressed; he was a slave to sin, but not David alone; it is the predicament of every man. “The Scripture declares that the whole world is a prisoner to sin” (Gals. 3:22). The cords of death are entangling you. You are a prisoner to your sins, aren’t you? But are you doing what David did when he saw this? “In my distress I called to the Lord; I cried to my God for help” (v.6). To whom will you turn? When your marriage is on the rocks, when your children stay out at night, when you become redundant, when you can’t stop opening another bottle, when you are smoking forty cigarettes a day, when your car fails its MOT, when you face a big tax demand, when your father or mother get dementia, when you find a lump – to whom will you turn at those times? When sin snares you and its noose tightens around your neck to whom will you cry? The only power that can help you spoke in the beginning and said, “Let there be light” and light blazed forth. Here is a man who is in earnest. You need the mighty power of the Creator to deliver you from sin. The arm of flesh will fail you. Vain is the help of man. Go to God! That is what David did in his distress. He didn’t ‘say a prayer.’ “I called to the Lord; I cried to my God for help” (v.6). David knew that only a divine intervention by the God of Genesis one could deliver him from the snares of death. Until you are sure of that you will not be in earnest for God to save you, and so you will remain entangled in the muddle in which your life has been in till now. Go to God. Cry mightily to the Lord! So that is the plight David was in.

 

ii] The Mighty Deliverance David Experienced. Did God hear David? Did he answer his cry for help? He always hears our prayers. “From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came before him, into his ears” (v.6). The temple is where God is honoured and worshipped. The heavenly temple is the heart of God’s presence, though he fills heaven and earth, this is where God sits enthroned in majesty. He is surrounded by an innumerable company of angels – yet he is a personal God who listens to us when we cry to him. He determines the flight of the comet, the trajectory of the meteor, the collapse of galaxies mill
ions of light years away from our earth. He governs all the affairs of the Milky Way – yet he is a personal loving God who hears the cry of a little boy who needs him. Millions of others are crying to him at the same time as you but he is omniscient and omnipotent. You are never overlooked. He distinguishes and loves each one of us and answers according to his grace and mercy. “He heard my voice,” says David; “I was a mere shepherd boy and I cried and he heard me!” God delights in personal dealings with all his people.

 

See then what happened. David is overwhelmed with God’s answer. This is ‘so great a salvation’ because of the one who saved him and because of the way he saved him and because of the consequences of his salvation. David could not murmur some platitudes, “So the Lord saved me. Full stop.” David uses all his poetic skills as the most gifted poet in the whole world 3,000 years ago to describe what the mighty Maker of heaven and earth did. God was angry at what sin had done almost destroying David. Remember the anger of Jesus seeing what sin and sinners had done in the Temple turning the place of atonement into a den of thieves? Jesus came, whip in hand, and drove them out. God came to rescue David angered at sin coiling around him and destroying this man. God came personally and really close up in order to deliver David from sin. If this were an ordinary conversation at a bus stop then the speaker would be saying to her old friend, “I was in a mess and God delivered me.” But the psalms are poetry, aren’t they, and poetry dramatizes a subject and moves us, and this is what David does here as he describes his plight and the wonderful deliverance of God as he came to save this man. Listen! “The earth trembled and quaked, and the foundations of the mountains shook; they trembled because he was angry. Smoke rose from his nostrils; consuming fire came from his mouth, burning coals blazed out of it. He parted the heavens and came down; dark clouds were under his feet. He mounted the cherubim and flew; he soared on the wings of the wind. He made darkness his covering, his canopy around him – the dark rain clouds of the sky. Out of the brightness of his presence clouds advanced, with hailstones and bolts of lightning. The LORD thundered from heaven; the voice of the Most High resounded. He shot his arrows and scattered the enemies, great bolts of lightning and routed them. The valleys of the sea were exposed and the foundations of the earth laid bare at your rebuke, O LORD, at the blast of breath from your nostrils” (vv.7-15).

 

What a manifestation of the living God! The technical term for a description like this is a ‘theophany.’ You remember God coming to the Red Sea and parting the waters for his people and yet destroying the armies of their enemies. You remember how God came to Sinai giving the law and Moses being overwhelmed and the people couldn’t bear the sight. “Mount Sinai was covered with smoke, because the LORD descended on it in fire. The smoke billowed up from it like smoke from a furnace, the whole mountain trembled violently, and the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder. Then Moses spoke and the voice of God answered him” (Ex.19:18&19). The mountain shook and thundered; flames lit up the heavens. You remember how God came to Elijah “The LORD said, ‘Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by.’ Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. Then a voice said to him, ‘What are you doing here, Elijah?’” (I Kings 19:11-13). You remember how God came to Ezekiel “I looked, and I saw a windstorm coming out of the north – an immense cloud with flashing lightning and surrounded by brilliant light. The centre of the fire looked like glowing metal, and in the fire was what looked like four living creatures . . . Spread out above the heads of the living creatures was what looked like an expanse, sparkling like ice, and awesome . . . When the creatures moved, I heard the sound of their wings, like the roar of rushing waters, like the voice of the Almighty, like the tumult of an army. When they stood still, they lowered their wings. Then there came a voice from above the expanse over their heads as they stood with lowered wings. Above the expanse over their heads was what looked like a throne of sapphire, and high above on the throne was a figure like that of a man” (Ezek. 1:4,5, 22, 24-26). During redemptive history God visited his people in these ways and the prevailing impact of his coming was to impress upon them his mighty power and glory in serving them, in saving and keeping them.

 

The Creator of Genesis one has a people whom he will redeem, the seed of the woman, the seed of Abraham; he loves them and he draws near to his people usually in the person of his servants the prophets. To them he speaks in words the prophets understand and are able to pass on; “Thus saith the Lord!” He is a personal God, and he is not silent. Yet how awesome he is; fearful in praises; he plants his footsteps in the sea and rides upon the storm. Only this mighty God can save you! You think salvation is something you can control! You think you can name the day it will occur; you imagine the bishop can do it at 8 p.m. on a Wednesday night in St Mark’s church by placing his hands on your head and it is done! You might as well dream of drawing down a tornado. Will the lightning strike at your whim? Never. Then learn that salvation is of the Lord. Its origin and its timing and its achievement is all his; ‘Thou must save and Thou alone!’ Only the might of God can save you from sin.

 

You might be thinking that this is the Old Testament, but consider the signs in heaven above and earth beneath when the Lord Christ came into our world. The heavens announced his coming; a new star appeared in the east and moved across the heavens to Bethlehem. All the innumerable angels of heaven came down to rejoice at his coming and they surrounded the stable in Bethlehem: “Glory to God in the highest!” When he was baptized the voice of God was heard, as it also was on the hill of transfiguration. When he hung on the cross the light of the mighty sun was extinguished; the moon shone red like a drop of blood in the sky. A great earthquake shook the ground around Golgotha as he hung on the cross. Forty days after his resurrection he ascended up through the heavens. Ten days later at Pentecost there was the sound of a rushing mighty wind and cloven tongues as of fire appeared on them. When Peter was imprisoned and the church gathered to pray the whole building was shaken where they were assembled. When Paul and Barnabas was in prison in Philippi there was a great earthquake that terrified the Roman jailer. When Paul was taken captive to Rome on a voyage across the Mediterranean a mighty storm destroyed the ship in which the beloved servant of God was being carried. Are these not mighty signs of the power of God in creation as he comes to redeem his servants? Are not these the signs accompanying the appearing of the Lord Jesus in the New Testament?

 

But I want to say more. Doesn’t God use everything in creation today to save and keep his people? He will use the armies of medieval princes to save Europe from conquest by the hordes of Islam’s armies. What enormous costly battles! He will use a mighty storm from h
eaven to change the whole direction of the life of a young German named Martin Luther. He will use more than 300 bonfires across England and Wales at the time of Queen Mary on which fires his servants, young and old, men and women, were burnt alive for the sake of the gospel, and that was to change the whole destiny of the United Kingdom. He will use a prison cell and twelve years of incarceration in Bedford Jail to produce Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress and make it the most powerful tool to explain the Christian life to millions of Christians ever after. He will come in an Atlantic storm that almost sent the ship to the bottom of the ocean to confront one of the midshipmen, John Newton, and transform his life so that his letters are still helping people all over the world today. He will use a snowstorm in Colchester to prevent a fifteen year old boy named Charles Haddon Spurgeon attending his own church to worship nearby in a Primitive Methodist church in Artillery Street and hear an uneducated preacher crying, “Look to Christ and be saved. That’s all you have to do, Look to Christ!”

 

What providences will God not use to achieve his goal of saving his people, delivering them from unbelief and backsliding and taking them to heaven? I have told you of meeting with the late Eric Gurr and preaching in his church in Toronto where he told me of an experience he had had a few weeks earlier when after the service a man came to the front to speak to him. He wore jeans and Adidas shoes and he had some questions to ask Eric. He told his story, how ten years earlier he had come to London on his way to the USA but there was a train strike and he could not get home that week-end. Finally he’d found with great difficulty a room in the YMCA. Can God use industrial action and strikes? The man he was sharing a room with asked him if he would like to come to church with him on the Sunday evening, and having nothing else to do, he agreed. He was taken to hear Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones and in the preaching was worked over by the word and Spirit, so much so that he joined the line of men and women after the service who wanted to talk to the Doctor further about what he’d said. The Doctor spoke to him and gave him a copy of Henry Scougal’s The Life of God in the Soul of Man. Much of the next ten years he spent in Rio and now he was coming back to a job in the USA. He had a stop-over in a hotel in Toronto and that Sunday afternoon he had tipped his old bag upside down on the bed to tidy it up and there at the bottom, forgotten and long ignored was, The Life of God in the Soul of Man. He sat down and read it and it awakened the feelings he had felt ten years earlier as he heard Dr Lloyd-Jones preaching. He had to find a place where this message could be heard again and he walked down the street and saw Jarvis Street church and entered and heard Dr. Gurr preaching and hence his coming to him to talk to him. “I have two questions to ask you,” he said. “Do you know that preacher Jones whom I heard in London?” “We have been friends for many years,” Eric replied. “Do you know that book, The Life of God in the Soul of Man?” Eric told me that he did not have to get out of his chair. He leaned across and opened a drawer in the pulpit and took out a copy and put it in the man’s hand. He was quite overwhelmed, and Eric felt he left that meeting a regenerate man. See how God comes to deliver his people entangled by the cords of death, the torrents of destruction overwhelming them. They cry to God for help and he guides them in extraordinary ways anywhere in the world. All these pictures in these verses of thunder, lightning, hailstones, deep darkness, valleys of the sea, foundations of the earth, smoke, the wings of the wind, describing the awesome coming and presence of God when he determines he will reach out and save us.

 

Sometimes God will use a mighty earthquake to save one of his people as he did in Philippi when the jailer was so terrified that he considered killing himself with his sword, crying out in desperation, “What must I do to be saved?” But sometimes God will come as tenderly as a mother awakening her sleeping child with a kiss. You would compare that to the tenderest warmest breeze touching your cheek. But however God comes, and however you are awakened to him awakened you must be! May it not be a great storm! May it be like a tender kiss of the one you love, but pray God you will be awakened from your sleep of death. May your cords fall off and may you be free. Free at last! Free at last! Lord God Almighty I am free at last!

 

21st March 2010   GEOFF THOMAS