By Horatius Bonar
"He sent from above, he took me, he drew me out of many waters." -- Psalm 18:16
WE take these words as the expression, (1.) of David's experience; (2.) of Christ's experience; (3.) of every Christian's experience.
In all these we learn much of God; David's God; the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ; our own God. For it is His character that is thus unfolded to us. He is the God of all grace; nay, God is love; in Him there is help, and with Him is plenteous redemption; He it is that redeems Israel out of all his troubles. It is He who is above; it is He who sends from above; it is He who takes (lays hold of); it is He who draws,-- and that out of many waters. Such is the God with whom we have to do! He is infinite in power and grace. To know Him is life eternal; to rest upon His love and power is the true strength and solace of the soul! The knowledge of ourselves troubles and casts down; the knowledge of this God relieves and lifts up. The great use of knowing ourselves is, not that we may be qualified for receiving and being received by Him, but that we may become more and more dissatisfied with self, and more and more drawn to Him who is altogether unlike self, more and more emptied of everything; so that as empty vessels we may be in a state for containing Him and His fullness. For it is our emptiness that attracts and makes us suitable for His fullness; and it is in knowing self that we are: emptied of self. We decrease, He increases.
I. David's experience. This whole psalm refers to this subject; and his whole life is an exemplification of the text. He was constantly in the deep and many waters, from the day that Samuel anointed him king. First Saul, then the Philistines, then Absalom, threatened to overwhelm him. They compassed him about; they raged against him; they poured their billows over him; till he seemed sinking in the waters; not once nor twice, but: many times. In each successive peril God drew near to save; He sent from above, He laid hold of him, He drew him out of many waters. Jehovah's love and power never failed. Low as David went down, they went down lower still. Whether as the young shepherd of Bethlehem he was exposed to any danger save that of the lion and the bear, we know not; but no sooner is he named king than enemies arise; the floods assail him. That which we should have expected to be the termination of trouble and danger, stirred up these, introduced him into conflict; raised the storm; drew the rage of enemies around. What could David have done, had it not been for Jehovah his God! His arm, His shield, His sword,--they were his protection and deliverance.
II. Messiah's experience. These psalms of David are the psalms of the Son of David; and this psalm is specially His resurrection psalm. All His life He was exposed to foes. He was made to feel the wrath of God, as the bearer of our sins, "Thy wrath lieth hard upon me, thou hast afflicted me with all thy waves, all thy waves and billows have gone over me." It was so during His life, as when He said, "Now is my soul troubled;" it was so in Gethsemane, when He said, "My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death;" it was so on the cross, when He cried, "My God;" it was so when He lay under the power of death. But "Jehovah sent from above, He took Him, He drew Him out of many waters." He "delivered Him because He delighted in Him." As our sin-bearer, our curse- bearer, our death-bearer, He had Jehovah's wrath poured upon Him. This was the depth out of which he was plucked by the Father's hand; and His deliverance is ours. It was as our Surety, our Substitute, that He was drawn out of many waters.
III. The Christian's experience. By nature he is in these many waters, though at first he knows it not. "Under wrath" is the description of his condition; "the wrath of God abideth upon him." He is not alive to this. His eyes and ears are closed. He sees not, hears not the roaring waves of wrath. Like Jonah, he is asleep in the storm. When the Holy Spirit shews him where he is, and what he is, terrors seize him. He is overwhelmed, and knows not how to help himself. All help is vain. He looks upward, and sees him who was drawn out of many waters, and Him who drew Him. He remembers the words, Whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved. He appeals to that name; and forthwith the help comes down, and he is delivered, and henceforth his song of grateful joy is, "He sent from above, he took me, he drew me out of many waters." So in after conflicts; so in daily troubles; so in times of sorrow; so on his bed of death; and so in the day when his body shall be delivered from death and the grave.
Thus he ascribes all to God, from first to last; the sending, the taking, the drawing; all are of God. Salvation is of the Lord. Of Him, and to Him, and through Him are all things. Yes, Jehovah saves! He does not help us to save ourselves; He SAVES! However far down we may be; however deep the waters; however near the perishing,--He can rescue! His arm is not shortened that it cannot save; nor waxed feeble that it should fail to grasp us or to draw us up. His is salvation to the uttermost; deliverance from the lowest hell.
All true religion must begin with salvation. God's hand must lay hold on us and lift us up. Untrue religion may begin in any way; and can go on without salvation, without pardon, without reconciliation, without any putting forth of the mighty power of God. But the true, the real, the divine, must begin with this conscious rescue, this plucking from the waves of wrath; and must, though perhaps with feeble voice, sing Messiah's song, "He sent from above, he took me, he drew me out of many waters."