Text: 2 Samuel 22:26-34
“You are my lamp, O Lord, and my God lightens my darkness. For by You I can run against a troop, and by my God I can leap over a wall. This God – His way is perfect; the Word of the Lord proves true; He is a shield for all who take refuge in Him.” (2 Samuel 22:29-31 English Standard Version) They say that, when you’re young, it’s common to feel invincible. Many of us long for those days when we felt like we could go anywhere, do anything, survive anything that might come our way. Over time, that sense starts to dissipate. Whether it’s due to time, changing responsibilities, or declining health, eventually we no longer feel the same sense of invincibility that we once did. And yet, these words today from King David – where he more or less feels invincible – come near the end of his earthly life. The next chapter in Samuel contains “the last words of David.” (2 Sam. 23:1)
David confessed this feeling not because he himself was invincible – for his body would soon give out and be buried with his fathers. No, David confessed this feeling of invincibility through the mercy and strength given him by God. Throughout David’s life, the Lord proved His Word to be true. He continually had mercy on David and forgave him his many sins. Time and time, again, the Lord by His Word gave strength to David to rule in justice and, in time, to die in peace. The Lord lightened David’s darkness. He does the same for us. Our Lord God is continually merciful to us by forgiving us our sins and He strengthens us with His Word so that our feet are, “like the feet of a deer.” (v. 34)
We don’t know when exactly David sang this song, but the Spirit tells us earlier in the chapter that it was, “on the day when the Lord delivered [David] from the hand of all his enemies.” (v. 1) This could really be anytime in his life, but its spot at the end of the book suggests this is a song David sang while looking back on the Lord’s deliverance throughout his life. David did have no shortage of enemies – all of whom the Lord saved him from. For example, we know Goliath – how the Lord delivered David from the hands of that Philistine with just a sling and a stone. There were also the decades that the Lord delivered David from the hands of King Saul, who had been trying to kill him. Then, there was the revolt of Absalom – one of David’s sons – when David had to flee Jerusalem in haste. There were also a number of other revolts and wars, from all of which the Lord delivered David.
The Lord provided David deliverance from all of these things not because David deserved it – for we also know David to be a great sinner – but because of His own mercy. The Lord’s grace was what caused Him to raise David up from shepherding the sheep to be shepherd of His people, Israel. The Lord, through His Word, gave David the gift of faith in Jesus. By this faith, David received mercy from the Lord. Throughout his life, David was led by faith in Christ. When he fell into sin, as he often did, he came to this conclusion – as we spoke this morning – “I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the Lord, and You forgave the iniquity of my sin.” (Ps. 32:5) David confessed his sin, trusting in Christ’s death for him, and the Lord had mercy on him. The Lord forgave his sin and delivered him from all his enemies. “My God lightens my darkness,” David said. “[He] has made my way blameless.” (vv. 29, 33)
Looking back on the Lord’s mercy and deliverance, David said, “The Word of the Lord proves true; He is a shield for all who take refuge in Him…He has made my feet like the feet of a deer and set me secure on the heights.” (vv. 31, 34) In other words, David felt strengthened, nimble, invincible. When David was in trouble, surrounded by enemies, he turned to God’s Word. By the Word, the Lord strengthened David. He assured him of His mercy in the forgiveness of sins and the hope of eternal life through the Resurrection of Jesus. Through the Word, David was strengthened to face his enemies and endure all things, trusting in the Lord, his shield.
We, also, have received deliverance from the Lord our shield. King David was among those whom, St. Peter once said, saw ahead in the Holy Spirit to the ministry of Christ. They witnessed and prophesied for our benefit, we who live near the end of the ages. We are able to look back to see and read the deliverance we have received in Christ. For us, keeping true to His promise, Jesus took on flesh, being conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of Mary. For us, He kept the Law of God fully – in thought, word, and deed. In His death on our behalf, He drank the cup of wrath that was ready to be poured out on us. By these things, and by His resurrection, He has secured for us deliverance from our chief enemy, the devil, and from the power of sin. By His rising, He made it so that our deaths will only prove the doorway from this sad life to joy immortal with Him and our fellow saints.
As with David, the Lord grants us this deliverance not because we deserve it, but solely by His mercy. We, who have lived long enough to no longer feel invincible, have also found in ourselves the corruption of sin. It courses through our veins in an intangible yet ever-present way. If we stop paying attention, if our eyes move from the cross of Christ, we fall. Time, and time again, we sin and continue to fall short of the glory of God. And yet, He has mercy on us. The Lord takes no pleasure in the death of anyone, therefore He brings us to repent of our sins through His Law and, by His mercy, forgives. “The Word of the Lord proves true.” When we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
The result of all this, of the Lord continually delivering us by His mercy, is that we can walk a little lighter. Maybe our feet aren’t quite like those of a deer – the Holy Spirit did grant David the gift of poetry, after all. However, here we are in the midst of a pandemic. Here we are singing praise to our God. Here, we receive the forgiveness of our sins as our God serves us in the Absolution and in the true body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. This, by the way, is why it’s called “The Divine Service.” In the Liturgy, God serves us; we receive His mercy and sing back to Him of the good things He first gave us. Here, the Lord strengthens us with His Word. When we are faced with difficulty of one sort or the next, we can find comfort here in the Word, where we hear that the Lord has already and will deliver us from our enemies – from sin, from the devil, and from death.
They say that when you’re young you feel invincible. You aren’t really, but you feel that way for a time. But, there is a truth to be had in this in that we are – properly understood – invincible. This isn’t something we possess ourselves, but it’s granted to us by God’s mercy through faith. He has delivered us from all our enemies, and He will yet do so. By His mercy, He continually forgives us our sins; He strengthens our faith through His Word. Even though everything else will fade away, we will endure in Christ. He is our strong refuge and has made our way blameless. “You are my lamp, O Lord, and my God lightens my darkness.” Amen.