One time, my brothers and I were being picked on by some bigger kids. My dad found out and put himself between us and the bullies. His anger was evident and his message was clear:
Leave my kids alone, or you will face me.
Another time, I came home from a similar altercation was incredibly upset. My dad, the same one who had previously chased off the bullies, picked me up and sat me in his lap. (I was considerably smaller then.) He comforted me and told me that tough times will come and pain will come, but that they don’t stay.
These two small memories of running to my dad for comfort remind me so much of this passage from Psalm 18. It begins with the psalmist calling out to God help. Then, the psalm shifts to describing God in His fearsome splendor. The imagery is vivid and violent. This is God at war.
Then, there is another shift. The anger and rage is gone. God tenderly lifts the psalmist out of his troubling situation and brings him to a place of safety and peace.
The message is clear:
God is our Father, and no one gets away with bothering His kids.
Please read the selected verses below and think about how this fearsome picture of God is simply the relation of a Dad to hearing that His kid is in trouble. Then, I hope you realize that He holds you in His heart with the same level of passion. He delights in you.
I called to the Lord, who is worthy of praise, and I have been saved from my enemies. 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. (Psalm 18:3, 6-19 NIV)