I love you, Lord , my strength. The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I called to the Lord , who is worthy of praise, and I have been saved from my enemies. The cords of death entangled me; the torrents of destruction overwhelmed me. The cords of the grave coiled around me; the snares of death confronted me. 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. – Psalm 18:1-15
The image I get while I am reading the beginning of this passage is of a people tied up in knots, both physical and spiritual, crying out to God for help. The image of God’s response is quite scary “Smoke rose from his nostrils; consuming fire came from his mouth, burning coals blazed out of it”…to quote Dan Aykroyd from Ghostbusters… “real wrath of God stuff”.
The clouds part and down comes God with dark clouds at his feet. This mode of arrival is reminiscent of a passage back in 2 Samuel 22:8-14, when God shows up Riding on Rain Clouds. The description of God in 2 Samuel is word for word the same as this psalm…a reflection.
It sounds like God shows up in one incredible thunder and lightening storm. I have experienced some pretty impressive thunderstorms. Just after we moved to Michigan we had lightening strike close enough to the house to take out most of our electronics. It even took out our oven! Luckily no one was hurt and we got to know our new insurance agent pretty well.
Another storm that I will never forget is one that came just after we had set up our tent on a trip to the west coast. We were passing through Minnesota and had stopped for the night. I can still remember sitting in our tent with lightening flashing so often that we thought someone was shining their headlights into our tent. To be honest it kind of felt like God had shown up at our campsite as is described in this passage. The power of this storm was awe, and fear, inspiring.
We ended up deciding we should make a break for the car so at least we would have the protection of the rubber tires in case of a lightening strike. We all made it to the car safely. My wife likes to remind me that she was the last one out of the tent and had to fight a stuck tent zipper while me and the kids sat in the car wondering what was taking her so long. Drenched and tired we sat in the car listening to Blue Bayou by Linda Ronstadt…very surreal. You can imagine I felt like a bit of heal when the lyrics came to:
I feel so bad I got a worried mind
I’m so lonesome all the time
Since I left my baby behind…
All came out right in the end and I learned an important lesson about trusting God in the midst of a storm. I also gained a healthy respect for staying on God’s good side :).
Prayer: God thank You for watching our for my family amid the storm and seeing us through all of life’s storms.