The Underdog Who Became a King

“Your gentleness has made me great” (Ps. 18:35c, NKJV).

Psalm 18 has always astounded me. At the outset, we have the Psalmist utterly overwhelmed, crushed by the weight of despair: “Death bound me with chains, and the floods of ungodliness mounted a massive attack against me. Trapped and helpless, I struggled against the ropes that drew me on to death” (vv. 4-5, TLB).

In the very same Psalm, a few verses later, we find an entirely transformed man. Somehow, the enemies that had their foot on his neck are now under his feet: “I pursued my enemies and overtook them, and did not turn back till they were consumed. I thrust them through, so that they were not able to rise; they fell under my feet” (vv. 37-38, ESV).

How is this possible?

God did it.

Verse 35 sums up the essence of the whole Psalm. “Your gentleness has made me great.”

It wasn’t David’s hard work that made him great. It wasn’t the sweat of his brow. It wasn’t his prowess at war. It wasn’t his irresistible leadership charisma. It wasn’t his ability to inspire a nation.

It was God’s gentleness. God’s beautiful heart towards him. God’s intimate involvement. God’s tender, astonishing accomplishment.

God’s gentleness did all of this for him:

  • Scattered his attackers with lightning bolts (v. 14).
  • Pulled him out of the pit of wretchedness and lifted him on high (vv. 16-19, 33).
  • Lit up his darkness with glorious splendor (v. 28).
  • Trained him to triumph in every battle (v. 34)
  • Armed him with so much might that he crushed his enemies to powder (vv. 37-42).

David freely acknowledges that his adversaries were too strong for him (v. 17). He proclaims to the four winds that he himself, on his own ability and strength, was a weakling. He did not make himself powerful. He did not make himself victorious. God did it!

By the end of the Psalm, the underdog has become a ruler. “You have made me the head of the nations… as soon as they hear of me they obey me” (vv. 43-44, NKJV). As we read, we encounter a man walking in the authority that flows from having overcome.

In the indescribably joyful place in which he now finds himself positioned, David lifts up his voice in jubilant celebration. Yet, even as he exults, he bows down low and acknowledges with all of his heart, “It is God who avenges me, and subdues the peoples under me” (v. 47, bold emphasis mine).

God did it. His gentleness made David great.

Have you felt overwhelmed and oppressed lately? With all your heart, cry out to the gentle God today! As He delighted in David, He delights in you. He is ready to scatter your attackers and pull you out of your pit. He is eager to illuminate your darkness and train you to triumph. He is longing to arm you with mighty strength… and crush every one of your enemies under your feet.

Cry out! His gentleness will make you great!

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Has God made you victorious over enemies that were once too strong for you? I would love to hear about it in the comments!