Psalm 18:7-14

Then the earth reeled and rocked; the foundations also of the mountains trembled and quaked, because he was angry.  Smoke went up from his nostrils, and devouring fire from his mouth; glowing coals flamed forth from him.  He bowed the heavens, and came down; thick darkness was under his feet. 


He rode on a cherub, and flew; he came swiftly upon the wings of the wind. He made darkness his covering around him, his canopy thick clouds dark with water.  Out of the brightness before him there broke through his clouds hailstones and coals of fire. The Lord also thundered in the heavens, and the Most High uttered his voice.  And he sent out his arrows, and scattered them; he flashed forth lightnings, and routed them.  Psalm 18:7-14


Sometimes it gets worse before it gets better.


Psalm 18 begins with a prayer of love and trust, a confession of need, and then, like a sudden change of scenery in an action movie where the music blasts and everything starts moving at warp speed, the whole tone of the psalm shifts.


God is suddenly so angry the earth rocks and reels, the foundations of the mountains tremble.  BOOM!!!


The God who was so recently praised as rock and deliverer suddenly appears as wickedly terrifying as any fire breathing dragon in the dreams of a young child who watched too much of the wrong kind of TV.  Smoke from God’s nostrils and fire from God’s mouth.  Flying down from heaven on the wings of an angel – fire, smoke, burning coals, bursts of lightning.  God of Marvel Comics.


Shocked by this image, we can’t help but wonder, along with the psalmist, is THIS the God we pray to?  More to the point, is the sudden arrival of THIS terrifying image a good thing or a bad thing?  Is help on the way or am I doomed?


Sometimes it gets worse before it gets better.


Sometimes – like seeing Jesus hanging on a cross – or remembering the darkest moment of your life, now long past, but remembering it as you see it now, as a turning point – or seeing something holy in the smiling face of a desperately sick child – we realize again that sometimes it gets worse before it gets better.


And then we see another glance that God is showing up, not to push the red button of our demise and punishment, but to join the battle against the powers of sin, death, and all that assails us.  Cosmic language.  Maybe even poetic, written in bold colors.  For such is the only language that captures the wonder of God at work.  Even in the darkest of times.


Let us pray:  Fight on, God of our salvation, against all that would separate us from your love, from the life that you give us, that would sow chaos into the beauty of your creation.  Fight on, as we face darkness and dread and sickness and all that lies to us and challenges us.  Fight on, and we will join the fight as well.  In Jesus’ name. Amen.   


5 Responses to “Psalm 18:7-14”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    LOVE this!!

  2. Carolee Groux Says:

    “Scary Grammy”, my grandson used to say when viewing Halloween’s spooky decor. This is how I reacted to reading the verses 7-14 in Psalms 18. Scary, because the earth trembles and quakes, smoke comes from God’s nose, and fire from his mouth. Scary stuff!
    But then we look to the same god who says in Isaiah 41:13:
    “For I am the LORD, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.”

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