"You give me your shield of victory, and your right hand sustains me; you stoop down to make me great.
You broaden the path beneath me, so that my ankles do not turn over." - Psalm 18:35-36 (NIV 1984)
Oh, what comfort can be found in understanding God's incredible activity and the intensely protective energy he exerts on behalf of his chosen ones. Here in Psalm 18 are enumerated some of the many blessings lavished on all who call on the Lord. David was in trouble from his enemies, called on the name of the Lord in prayer, and stood back to let God go to work. Verses 7-15 describe the fierce wrath of the Lord directed towards all who would harm his children. God has carved our names in the palms of His hands (Isaiah 49:16), and no one who touches us will go unpunished. It seems to me that much of the passionate wrath poured out from the Bowls of Heaven by the angels in the Book of Revelation have been filled as a result of the persecution of the saints by the wicked.
From verse 16 through verse 45, David gives a fairly detailed list of all the benefits he's received from the Lord. This is a high form of worship, to list in detail one's personal “history of blessing” from the Lord. As the Scripture says, “Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits.” (Psalm 103:2) David is doing just that right here. If anyone feels dejected or down in the circumstances of life, one of the quickest ways to recover is to recount to the Lord all the specific things he has done in his or her life since their time of new birth, and to do so with an increasingly joyful heart. It's a reviving elixir for what ails the soul.
"If anyone feels dejected or down in the circumstances of life, one of the quickest ways to recover is to recount to the Lord all the specific things he has done in his or her life since their time of new birth, and to do so with an increasingly joyful heart."
Of all the benefits that David lists, the one that strikes us as most prominent is God's activity in training, shaping, and purifying David - as well as in protecting him. Here is described (in verses 32 through 36) the sanctification process. Now of course, David is also meditating on how God made a king out of a shepherd boy. But verse 32 says, “(God) makes my way perfect...” What is the perfecting of our way to be called, if not “sanctification?” God energetically fights both our outer and inner foes, but he does so with differing techniques. The outer foes - Satan, his demons, his worldly system, and evil people who tempt, persecute, mock, and otherwise hinder us - these foes get the fierce wrath of the Most High God, as described in verses 7-15. The inner foes - our sinful tendencies, ignorance, weak faith, etc. - these foes are driven from us by God's perfecting strategies.
As David says in verse 35-36, “You stoop down to make me great; you broaden the path beneath me so that my ankles do not turn.” This is the activity of God in clearing the way for our daily growth in sanctification. He “stoops down” because we start so low. He “makes (us) great” in the humility of perfect righteousness in Christ. He “broadens the path” by carefully filtering the trials and temptations we face (1 Corinthians 10:13), only permitting the ones which will strengthen us in the end, but which can never destroy us. Praise be to the living God, who adopts us into his family, then works so energetically in and around us to accomplish his perfecting purposes for us!