Indescribable, uncontainable, You placed the stars in the sky and You know them by name You are amazing God All powerful, untameable, Awestruck we fall to our knees as we humbly proclaim You are amazing God (writer: Laura Story, singer: Chris Tomlin)
Have you ever had the problem of describing what seems indescribable? As I write one person describing Cyclone Debbie in North Queensland said, “It’s just like freight trains coming through left and right,” Trying to express in words something, someone, an experience or feeling for which adequate words seem to be lacking. I have. And, it would seem that often, it has something to do with God (or his creation) as do the lyrics of the song above, “Indescribable”.
One such experience happened to me only a few years after I had become a follower of Jesus. God spoke to me from His Word ever so clearly about my life’s calling to world missions. The presence of God was very real and totally overwhelming and I recall that I felt weak and just sobbed in his presence. Then, having spent time hearing from Him, for how long I have no idea, I fell asleep (it was mid- afternoon) and when I awoke my life’s purpose was changed. From that day on the focus of all I did was towards serving God in missions. But to describe this experience with God is extremely difficult, although it was very real and transformed my life. Maybe you have had a similar experience.
Certainly, it would seem the psalmist is having the same problem here in Psalm 18. A Psalm full of poetic imagery. Verses 7 to 15 are David’s attempts to express the inexpressible event in his life when, in his own words:
16 He [the Lord God] reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters. 17 He rescued me from my powerful enemy, from my foes, who were too strong for me.
He describes it as follows:
7 The earth trembled and quaked, and the foundations of the mountains shook; they trembled because he was angry. 8 Smoke rose from his nostrils; consuming fire came from his mouth, burning coals blazed out of it. 9 He parted the heavens and came down; dark clouds were under his feet. 10 He mounted the cherubim and flew; he soared on the wings of the wind. 11 He made darkness his covering, his canopy around him— the dark rain clouds of the sky. 12 Out of the brightness of his presence clouds advanced, with hailstones and bolts of lightning. 13 The Lord thundered from heaven; the voice of the Most High resounded. 14 He shot his arrows and scattered the enemy, with great bolts of lightning he routed them. 15 The valleys of the sea were exposed and the foundations of the earth laid bare at your rebuke, Lord, at the blast of breath from your nostrils.
Check out again the richness of the vocabulary (above in Bold font) that David uses to describe this incredible event when the awesome God intervened to confront his enemies.
Blaiklock suggests that “These verses should be read in one sweep, and not analysed. They are a poem of storm, and typical of much poetry outside the classical tradition. Modern poetry is frequently of this order, a tumult of imagery and interlocking metaphor. David has in his memory the splendid terror of a storm in the rugged Judean hills. Flash floods and downpour were common there…Lightning stabbed…winds howled…The whole fierce picture is quite magnificent….David exulted in it…[in the midst of] such a tempest, God delivered him..” (see refererences # 37)
And why not exult in it, because it describes the incredible day when:
16 He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters. 17 He rescued me from my powerful enemy, from my foes, who were too strong for me. 18 They confronted me in the day of my disaster, but the Lord was my support. 19 He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me.
Remember the rather claustrophobic situation he had found himself in which he describes earlier as:
4 The cords of death entangled me; the torrents of destruction overwhelmed me. 5 The cords of the grave coiled around me; the snares of death confronted me.
Well out of that confined and terrible place God had now rescued him and brought him “into a spacious place”. No wonder he was thankful.
Wilcock points out that, “much of what these verses portray had once happened quite literally in the experience of [David’s] people, Israel…the events of the exodus…the crossing of the Red Sea…the descent of God on Mount Sinai…are all in mind [see Exodus 9, 10, 15 and 19]…what happened to David was an exodus-type deliverance. It was the God of Moses who had come to his aid.”
Wilcock continues, “the exodus-God…now reaches down to rescue the individual David. ‘All this cosmic drama, just for me?’ he might have said…But such is God’s care for the one as well as the many.”
And then there are those wonderful words to explain why God went to such trouble to rescue his servant David – “he rescued me because he delighted in me.” God delighted in David!
Remarkable words, and as Wilcock says, these “words…are far reaching, Moses and Israel…David…our Lord Jesus Christ…and we his people…can all say that God delights in us. The claim opens up a theology as spacious as the place into which David had been brought, as spacious as the Bible itself.” (see references # 5)
If you are a child of God, one who is able to say like David, “I love you, Lord, my strength” because you have discovered His great love for you in sending Jesus to be your Saviour and Lord, then you can confidently also say, “He brought me out into a spacious place, he rescued me because he delighted in me.”
Father, what a wonderful truth, that you, the God of the exodus, of the Red Sea crossing, of David, delights in me. Thank you that this delight in us is only possible because of your delight in your Son, the Lord Jesus, the one who gave his all that we might live and so make it possible for us to come into “a spacious place”, a place of freedom and blessing in Christ. Amen.