“Look! Up in the sky! It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s Superman!”
The success of the Superman franchise is testimony to the character’s enduring popularity. As versatile as he is powerful, the Man of Steel has flown from comic books to radio to movies highlighted by ever more sophisticated special effects.
Psalm 18 is David's expression of confidence in and thanksgiving to the Ultimate Superhero, God Almighty!
Psalm 18 was written by David after his deliverance from Saul and from others who hated and opposed him. Many believe that it was written when David was old and He praised God as he recalled God’s mercy and deliverance. Others think that he actually wrote it when he was young, after God delivered him from his many early adversities. In the psalm he gives glory to God, and takes comfort in Him because of His past favor, and in anticipation of future favor.
Like David we should, in our praise, look as far back as we can, and thank God for His protection, His, grace, His mercy, and His salvation through His Son Jesus; and we should look forward with anticipation for more of the same, as my Pastor loves to say, we move from glory, to glory, to glory.
by Gary D. Robinson
It was always the same. Episode after episode, Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen, two of the only three reporters the Daily Planet could afford, rushed off in pursuit of a “scoop” only to be scooped up by the bad guys.
Did these two have the good sense to worry? Of course not! For, in the guise of Clark Kent, their mild-mannered colleague, Superman was always watching out for them. Lois and Jimmy knew they could depend on Superman.
He bursts through the brick wall. The adobe bounces and the dust flies and there he stands! Out come the villains’ guns. How I love George Reeves’ classically bored expression as the bullets bounce harmlessly off his chest!
“Oh, Superman!” gushes Lois. “You saved us again!”
With a wry grin, Reeves would reply, “That’s my job, isn’t it, Miss Lane?”
Wouldn’t it be a comfort to have somebody like Superman watching out for us? Got a flat and no jack? No problem for the Man of Steel! He can pick up the car, hold ‘er steady while we change the tire, and never even break a sweat!
But why waste such a magnificent creature on small stuff? Save him for when we’re stricken with a fatal disease. Why, he can fly into the future, retrieve the cure, and be back before one second has ticked by! (George Reeves never did that, but the comic book hero used to all the time.)
Did Mom and Dad break up? Superman can fix it. . Am I saddled with some fear or compulsion, habit or addiction? You know the Man of Tomorrow must be able to help!
After all, that’s why they call him “Superman,” isn’t it?
But, let’s face it; reality is more steel than Superman will ever be made of. And fantasizing does little to salve our suffering.
Well, what about God, then? He’s real, isn’t He? Yes, I believe He is. He loves us, doesn’t He? Yes, I believe He does. Well, why doesn’t He rescue us when we’re in trouble?
You know, sometimes He does. If you listen to the “Focus on the Family” radio program, you may remember hearing the dramatic story of Duane Miller. He was a minister who loved to preach and sing. Then Duane lost his voice and plunged into a pit of despair. Did God rescue him? Did He! Not only did He restore Duane’s voice, He allowed the miracle to be audiotaped as it happened!
King David knew how God could rescue. He’d pulled David’s fat out of the fire more than once.
And David loved to make up songs – Psalms, we call them – about these rescues. “The sorrows of death compassed me,” sings David in the eighteenth Psalm. “The sorrows of hell compassed me about: the snares of death prevented me.
Psalm 18:4-5 NIV 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 David’s distress, he calls on the Lord. Then, by George, things start to happen!
Psalm 18:7-10 NIV 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.
David’s description of God’s ride to the rescue includes lightning, hail, and coals of fire. About the only thing missing is His bursting through a brick wall!
But David knew the other side of the coin too. The 18th Psalm is a song of triumph. Flip forward a couple pages in your Bible, however, and you’ll find David singing a different tune”
Psalm 22:1 NIV My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from my cries of anguish?
The favor he quaffs in Psalms 18 is flung back into his face.
Psalm 22:7-8 NIV All who see me mock me; they hurl insults, shaking their heads. “He trusts in the Lord ,” they say, “let the Lord rescue him. Let him deliver him, since he delights in him.”
One thing about the Bible, it’s realistic. Pollyanna didn’t write it, and you do get the bitter with the sweet.
But the question remains: Why must we have the bitter at all? Especially if God loves us?
And we’re not talking about flat tires or even the flu. We’re wondering why we’re dealt such cruel and continuous blows. Here’s a thirty-eight-year-old mother of two bereft of a husband and a father for her children. Here’s a lady who’s being fed a steady diet of contempt by her philandering mate. Here’s a kid who has to cope with dope on the playground and no hope at home. Here’s a world where “Look! Up in the sky!” is just an invitation to look at a bird or a plane . . . .or a particularly dark cloud.
Is there anybody — anybody — to rescue us?
Believe me, beloved, if I didn’t think there was, you wouldn’t be hearing this.
Is God interested in you? The Bible says so.
Just read the first few verses of Psalms 139 and be convinced.
Psalm 139:1-6, 17-18 NIV You have searched me, Lord , and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord , know it completely. You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain. How precious to me are your thoughts, God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand— when I awake, I am still with you.
Does God love you? Again, the Bible says so.
John 3:16 NIV For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
Romans 5:8 NIV But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
1 John 3:1 NIV See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.
Psalm 103:11 NIV For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him;
Shall I go on?
“All right, then. If He loves me so darn much, why doesn’t He rescue me?”
It all depends on what we want to be rescued from. We don’t have time to fathom all the deep questions of suffering and evil. Suffice it to say that evil and suffering are part of life. God doesn’t rescue us from life.
Instead, He rescues us from meaningless, purposeless, hopeless living.
I personally don’t have a dramatic testimony. (Wish I did. It really wows a crowd!) I was raised in a good home, brought up to know right from wrong, taken to church. I married an excellent woman and the Lord blessed us with two excellent kids. I’ve had my troubles, sure, but nothing major. So what do I have to say to those of you who really wonder whether God loves you?
Just this: I don’t think, I know – if it weren’t for Jesus Christ, my life would be a wreck
In the first place, He gives me a Meaning without which I would surely despair. I know who I am: I am one who was loved by God before time began. No, I’m not afraid to say it, I am the apple of His eye, the cream in His coffee, and the sugar in His tea.
How do I know this? Easy. “The Bible tells me so.” It tells you the same.
What’s more, He gives me a Purpose without which I, for one, would flounder miserably in life. It’s not that I know I’m to be a preacher so much as it is I know the purpose of life in general. Beloved, I know what to do whether I stand before a congregation with a Bible before me or before an wall with a bucket of paint beside me. Whether preacher, plumber, or paperback writer, I must live to please God. For that is the whole duty of man.
How do I know this? Elementary. “The Bible tells me so.” You too.
Ecclesiastes 12:13 NIV Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind.
Finally, He gives me a Hope that is greater than circumstances. It’s a hope without which I think I would commit suicide. Without it, even a relatively undamaged life like mine is just a wind-up clock running down. With it, the world can do its worst. Ultimately, it won’t matter.
My late brother-in-law, a man who had to surrender this life at a mere 41 years of age, died with that hope. My sister, who must live without her husband, lives with that hope. It’s the hope of a city, a glory, a hope of seeing the very face of God in a place where they’ll never ever be separated from on another again.
It’s the hope of a whole new world, a place that’ll make this place at its best look like a shoddy, painted doll beside a man’s sweetheart. A place where we can never ever feel afraid, even if we try.
How do I know this? You know. The same way I know Jesus loves me. “The Bible tells me so.” And so it tells you.
What you have to do is believe what it tells you. That’s what makes the difference.
He didn’t come in a rocket, but in a manger. He didn’t deflect bullets nor heft autos. Instead, He sweated bullets of blood and bore the awful weight of our sin upon the cross.
Look! Up on the cross! It’s the love of God come down to us in Jesus Christ!
Colossians 1:27 NIV To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.
When we go to the movies or read stories, the heroes are always the ones who can do more. They have a special ability or a special story. Whether it’s immense brainpower, super speed, or strong magic - each time we recognize who the hero is because of what they can do. But God’s heroes are never those people.
He never chooses the ones everyone else would choose. He looks for the disadvantaged, the small, the scared, the unlearned and he transforms them into testimonies for His glory!
Apart from God, David was never going to be more than a shepherd. He was never going to slay giants or conquer armies until God pointed at him and said, you are my chosen.
God has done the same to you.
Psalm 18:1-50 NIV I love you, Lord , my strength. The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I called to the Lord , who is worthy of praise, and I have been 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 enemy, with great bolts of lightning he routed them. 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. He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters. He rescued me from my powerful enemy, from my foes, who were too strong for me. They confronted me in the day of my disaster, but the Lord was my support. He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me. The Lord has dealt with me according to my righteousness; according to the cleanness of my hands he has rewarded me. For I have kept the ways of the Lord ; I am not guilty of turning from my God. All his laws are before me; I have not turned away from his decrees. I have been blameless before him and have kept myself from sin. The Lord has rewarded me according to my righteousness, according to the cleanness of my hands in his sight. To the faithful you show yourself faithful, to the blameless you show yourself blameless, to the pure you show yourself pure, but to the devious you show yourself shrewd. You save the humble but bring low those whose eyes are haughty. You, Lord , keep my lamp burning; my God turns my darkness into light. With your help I can advance against a troop ; with my God I can scale a wall. As for God, his way is perfect: The Lord ’s word is flawless; he shields all who take refuge in him. For who is God besides the Lord ? And who is the Rock except our God? It is God who arms me with strength and keeps my way secure. He makes my feet like the feet of a deer; he causes me to stand on the heights. He trains my hands for battle; my arms can bend a bow of bronze. You make your saving help my shield, and your right hand sustains me; your help has made me great. You provide a broad path for my feet, so that my ankles do not give way. I pursued my enemies and overtook them; I did not turn back till they were destroyed. I crushed them so that they could not rise; they fell beneath my feet. You armed me with strength for battle; you humbled my adversaries before me. You made my enemies turn their backs in flight, and I destroyed my foes. They cried for help, but there was no one to save them— to the Lord , but he did not answer. I beat them as fine as windblown dust; I trampled them like mud in the streets. You have delivered me from the attacks of the people; you have made me the head of nations. People I did not know now serve me, foreigners cower before me; as soon as they hear of me, they obey me. They all lose heart; they come trembling from their strongholds. The Lord lives! Praise be to my Rock! Exalted be God my Savior! He is the God who avenges me, who subdues nations under me, who saves me from my enemies. You exalted me above my foes; from a violent man you rescued me. Therefore I will praise you, Lord , among the nations; I will sing the praises of your name. He gives his king great victories; he shows unfailing love to his anointed, to David and to his descendants forever.