“The glory of God is a person fully alive!” said the church father Irenaeus.
Psalm 18 shows David exuberantly alive with the life of God. This psalm of victory is filled with rich imagery of God’s deliverance and blessing upon the people of faith. It tells the story of David overcoming Saul and all his enemies. It re-tells the story of Israel’s deliverance from slavery in Egypt and ascent up Mt. Sinai to make covenant with God. It foretells the coming of Jesus Christ to lead us into the high places of God’s kingdom.
Make Psalm 18 Your Story
I wanted Psalm 18 to become my story! I wanted it in my heart so it can stir my spiritual imaginations and strengthen my confidence of God and his kingdom in my midst all the time – in stress and disappointment and injustice and waiting for prayers to be answered. So I tried to memorize it, but its a loooong Psalm!
But after meditating on David’s victory Psalm and praying it with Christ many times over two years I condensed it a lot, paraphrased it a little… And I love the result! “High Places” is the prayer poem that God gave me. It preserves Psalm 18’s theme, story, richest verses and images, puts the focus on Christ, and it’s easy to memorize.
I pray that “High Places” becomes your story! Delight in God with me as we rise to high places with Christ…
High Places (Psalm 18 Prayer)
I love you, O Lord, my strength!
I cried to my God for help…
Christ parted the heavens and came down for me:
He soared on the wings of the wind to come to me,
He thundered and hurled lightening to scatter my enemies,
He reached down from on high and took hold of me,
He drew me out of deep waters,
He brought me out into a spacious place;
He rescued me because he delighted in me!
With Christ I can leap over a wall:
You arm me with strength, O Lord,
You train my hands for battle,
You light the way before me,
You make my feet nimble like the feet of a deer,
You enable me to climb and to stand on the high places with you,
You stoop down to make me great!
Christ the Lord lives! Praise be to my Rock!
Exalted be God my Savior!
(Psalm 18:1,6,9,10,14,16,19,29,32,33,34,35,46, with some paraphrasing.)
Experience Psalm 18
My favorite way to meditate on my Psalm 18 prayer is while jogging in the hills or hiking up a mountain. This way I get to experience the dynamic metaphors of Psalm 18 like being under a big sky, feeling the wind, stepping into a spacious place, climbing higher, standing on top of a hill or mountain. And God can use both the Psalm and my experience in nature to speak to a personal challenge that I’m facing at the time.
This is an example of a favorite spiritual practice of mine: “Praying a Psalm in its Nature Setting.” Many people have appreciated Kristi and I sharing this exercise with them on retreats we’ve led.
Another way to use my Psalm 18 prayer is to meditate on its healing, redemptive images. Groups I lead in seminars and retreats have appreciated this as an inspiring Soul Shepherding exercise. “Visualize Yourself with Christ in Scripture” features 14 powerful images from Psalm 18 to facilitate the deep-spirited conversation that promotes discipleship to Jesus and an experience of Trinitarian community.