Psalm 18:1-12. I love you, O Lord, my strength.
2 The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer,
my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge,
my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
3 I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised,
and I am saved from my enemies.
4 The cords of death encompassed me;
the torrents of destruction assailed me;
5 the cords of Sheol entangled me;
the snares of death confronted me.
6 In my distress I called upon the Lord;
to my God I cried for help.
From his temple he heard my voice,
and my cry to him reached his ears.
7 Then the earth reeled and rocked;
the foundations also of the mountains trembled
and quaked, because he was angry.
8 Smoke went up from his nostrils,
and devouring fire from his mouth;
glowing coals flamed forth from him.
9 He bowed the heavens and came down;
thick darkness was under his feet.
10 He rode on a cherub and flew;
he came swiftly on the wings of the wind.
11 He made darkness his covering, his canopy around him,
thick clouds dark with water.
12 Out of the brightness before him
hailstones and coals of fire broke through his clouds.
16 He sent from on high, he took me;
he drew me out of many waters.
17 He rescued me from my strong enemy
and from those who hated me, for they were too mighty for me.
18 They confronted me in the day of my calamity,
but the Lord was my support.
19 He brought me out into a broad place;
he rescued me, because he delighted in me.
49 For this I will praise you, O Lord, among the nations,
and sing to your name.
50 Great salvation he brings to his king,
and shows steadfast love to his anointed,
to David and his offspring forever.
Psalm 18 was written by David as a public worship song of praise to God because God had delivered David from all of his enemies and kept his promise to make David the king of Israel – I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised, and I am saved from my enemies.
Advent is a rescue mission.
David is describing his own personal angelic advent. The arrival of God in his time of distress. And it is epic (literally). If you have time read the whole psalm. What you and I would see as just another day in human history, David describes as the awesome and cosmic work of the Lord. David winning a battle on earth is smoke from God’s nostrils and fire from his mouth. David’s enemy, Saul, dying in battle, a normal part of war, is God bowing the heavens and coming down with thick darkness under his feet riding on a cherub.
Psalm 18 (1942), Milena Pavlović Barilli Gallery
My guess is that we don’t see the events of our lives this way. We probably are oblivious to all of the rescues of God. All of the angelic advents that have occurred throughout our lives. How many times has God rode down on his cherub for you this year? This week? Today?
The truth is that it’s happening all the time. Coming down with angels is what God does. Hopefully this advent series is helping you to see that. God is transcendent, yes. He is far above us. He has to ride down. But he is also imminent. Ride down he does! Carried by his cherub to rescue you and me today.
So why do we miss it? Because God’s works are veiled in darkness – He made darkness his covering, his canopy around him. Usually God’s angelic advents aren’t visible. His rescue missions are hidden. No literal earthquakes. No actual smoke and fire. No vision of the cherubim storming down from heaven. Just darkness.
But if you can have the eyes of faith to see, you know that time and time again God has arrived to rescue you. To draw you out of many waters. To bring you into a broad place. Why? Because he delights in you.
How can we know that God is rescuing us like this? That he delights in us as he did David? We can know because 2000 years ago God rode down on the cherub and invaded earth to rescue us through the birth of Jesus Christ. Veiled in flesh but piercing the darkness. Born out of the brightness of the angelic splendor but dying under the canopy of God’s darkness.
How do we know that God is rescuing us? Because the God of Psalm 18 has united his life to ours in Christ. God delights in us because he delights in his son Jesus. In Christ we are his anointed to whom he shows steadfast love. The unconditional covenant love of the God who has ridden down into our hearts on his cherub giving us the power of Christ and his righteous life.
31 For who is God, but the Lord?
And who is a rock, except our God?—
32 the God who equipped me with strength
and made my way blameless.
33 He made my feet like the feet of a deer
and set me secure on the heights.
34 He trains my hands for war,
so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze.
35 You have given me the shield of your salvation,
and your right hand supported me,
and your gentleness made me great.
How do we know that God is rescuing us? Because one day another angelic advent will occur. God will ride down on his cherub again. This time visible to the whole world. Smoke from his nostrils and fire from his mouth. And all the world will see him. No more veil of darkness. Just light.
Every eye shall now behold him
Robed in dreadful majesty;
Those who set at nought and sold him,
Pierced and nailed him to the tree,
Shall the true Messiah see. (Lo He Comes With Clouds Descending)
Have you experienced the rescue of Psalm 18? The spiritual rescue from your sins? Spend some time today meditating on this psalm. Remember that because God rode down to earth as a baby in a manger and as a man upon the cross to rescue you from the outside in, he now can ride down into your heart to rescue you from the inside out.