Psalm 18 then, verse 29 - or alternatively you could turn to 2 Samuel 22 and verse 30, where you will find the identical verse, because in 2 Samuel 22 you have this same Psalm, a song of praise to God for the deliverance that David experienced right throughout his whole life. We'll stay in Psalm 18 because I think it's more familiar to most of us, and I want to speak to you today on 'Leaping Walls'. Let us read the verse again with some variations: 'For by thee I have run through a troop', some versions or renderings, even margins, say 'run upon a troop', or 'crushed a troop, by thee I have crushed a troop; and by my God have I leaped over a wall', or again your margin might say, 'I have taken a fort' - 'By my God have I leaped over a wall'.
Of course, if you're familiar with King David's life, it'll not take you too long to assess the fact that probably David is referring to having taken some great town by the scaling of the ramparts, the defence of that town. We don't know the specific situation, but we know that David had enough experience of battle to know that this probably happened on a number of occasions. He is attributing right throughout the whole of this Psalm in 2 Samuel 22, and Psalm 18, all of his triumphs and victories to the Lord his God: 'By thee have I run through a troop; by thee have I leaped over a wall'. But if you will allow me the liberty of looking behind this verse to the actual spirit of that, what I mean is the truth that the Holy Ghost is trying to get across to us, and as we decipher it I believe that we will get great strength for our own lives and we will learn ourselves how to leap over walls.
If you remember nothing else of what I say to you today, do remember this - this, I believe, is the sentiment behind David saying: 'By my God have I leaped over a wall' - it's this: that great obstacles can be overcome when God is with us. Great obstacles can be overcome when God is with us. Now we all are aware, especially if you're a Christian and familiar with the word of God, that God is the God of miracles. In Psalm 77 verse 14 we read: 'Thou art the God that doest wonders' - other versions say 'Thou art the God of miracles: thou hast declared thy strength among the people'. Of course, even if you were a child at Sunday School, you would have heard many of the miraculous stories of how God delivered His people, and how God showed Himself as the God who doest wonders. But it doesn't seem to ring the same as David's statement here in this Psalm, where he says: 'By my God have I leaped over a wall'. It doesn't really strike us with the miraculous, it's not really that David is trying to overcome an obstacle which is impossible to overcome - the wall or even the troop - on occasions he wrestled with lions, bears, and even Goliath; and although those things may have been difficult, they're in the natural realm. I want you to understand that: a wall is a natural thing, not a supernatural obstacle; a troop is a natural thing, an army; a lion; a bear; even Goliath - although he was a giant - was a natural man.
So what we're thinking of this morning are not obstacles that are impossible to overcome, that need a supernatural miraculous intervention of God in our lives to get the victory over, but what we're talking about today are natural things that are difficult. They may be natural things that are improbable for us to overcome, and the odds may all be against us. They may even exert us to the end of our strength, even beyond strength if that were possible, but I do want you to see this distinction: that we're not speaking essentially of when God breaks through in the supernatural - we believe in that, God is the God of miracles, He is the God of wonders - but we're not talking about when God suspends the laws of the natural, but rather when God breaks through in our experience into the natural realm and helps us overcome not impossibilities but difficulties.
I hope you don't think I'm hair-splitting, or making false distinctions - I want you really to see this difference, I do see a difference here when David says: 'By my God have I leaped over a wall'. Let me illustrate it to you like this: if you were standing with the children of Israel at the Red Sea, having been delivered in the exodus from Egypt and many years bondage, and you witnessed that great miracle as Moses lifted his rod and you saw these great walls of water being erected, and the dry land appearing of the bed of the sea - you would see clearly, definitely and immediately that God was doing something supernatural: that is, God was doing something that man could not do, He was suspending the natural laws of this universe.
Let me bring you to another place, this time the New Testament, the Acts of the Apostles chapter 12 and verse 8, and Peter is in prison, and there's a miraculous intervention. The prison doors, the iron gates yield and he's able to go out - but before he goes out the angel speaks to Peter and says: 'Gird thyself, and bind on thy sandals. And so he did. And he saith unto him, Cast thy garment about thee, and follow me'. The angel, by the power of God, opened the prison doors to allow Peter out - but the angel was not prepared, by God's power, to put his slippers on! In other words, he wasn't prepared to do something that Peter could do himself. We are expected by God to do those things which we can do, and when we cannot do anything in a particular situation or circumstance, we then can rely on God to do the supernatural and intervene.
Now what category does 'By my God I have leaped over a wall' fall into? Well here man is doing something, isn't he? He's leaping over a wall. But David is attributing the help to do that earthly natural thing to God, it is God who is empowering him to excel in it. Of course David could climb walls, and maybe you can climb a wall, he could even leap over small walls - but here the insinuation is that God is enabling David to do the extraordinary in the natural realm. Are you seeing the distinction? It's not something that David could not do himself whatsoever, David had to be in it. And it wasn't something, David says, that he could do just in and of himself, but it was something that David was doing and God was helping him to do it well.
Let me just say before we go on any further that there is a beautiful precious spiritual principle here that we would do well to note. It is this: that this is the way, the particular specific way, I believe, God enjoyed working in the lives of His children. He doesn't deal every day in the flashing lights, in the lightning experiences, in the earthquakes, in the fire, in the rushing mighty wind, but generally speaking God moves in His providential circumstances and dealings in a quiet way with His children - quietly, unassuming. This is how He works with us with the obstacles that we face every day, these great obstacles can be overcome by God with His help - but often they're done in an unseen manner.
I alluded to Elijah there. You remember in 1 Kings 19, when he was in that awful depressive state, feeling that he was the only one left that was heralding the cause of God, and the kingdom, and Jezebel, and everything was against them, and the prophets of Baal - and he came from that great spiritual victory on the mount, down into the valley. When God needed to minister to Elijah's spirit, how did He do it? Listen to the verse: 'A great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the LORD; but the LORD was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the LORD was not in the earthquake: And after the earthquake a fire; but the LORD was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice'.
Now the Lord, the insinuation is, was in the still small voice - but everybody can hear the earthquake that breaks the rocks in pieces, can't they? And they could point and say: 'There's the power of God', but God was not in that! They can see the whirlwind and think: 'There is God flexing His muscles in the supernatural', but God was not there - and He wasn't in the fire, He was in the still small voice. Everyone could hear the former three, but only Elijah could hear the voice of God.
When men saw David leaping over the wall, I don't know whether anybody did see him, but they may have thought: 'Well, there's the Israelite excelling himself again, the great King, the great warrior and soldier, leaping over the wall'. Whereas I believe what really is being said here is: David knew it, God knew it, that it was through divine help that David knew this experience of excelling in natural things by the power of God. It didn't matter how many other people knew it, it was a still small voice between David and his God, that this ordinary thing was made extraordinary because God was with him in it. My friend, we only need to look to Calvary to behold that even in the greatest transaction of God with men - and I want you not to misunderstand what I'm about to say - but to the naked natural eye that scene on Golgotha's hill, with the three crosses, and the centre one with our Lord upon it, it was a natural and ordinary scene essentially. What I mean is, if you were in the crowd that day, with the naked eye it would be difficult to tell any difference between the Christ of God in the middle and the two thieves on either side - except what was coming from their mouths. It was a natural scene, and apart from the phenomenon that we know about after the giving up of the ghost of our Lord, the veil being rent in twain, the earthquakes, the rocks rending, the graves opening, and of course before that there was the hours of darkness from the sixth to the ninth hour. But surely this is obvious: that no one looking upon that scene, and even witnessing the earthquake, the wind, and the fire, could have made the assumption and known that that man - even though He was innocent and seemed to be in men's eyes - was carrying the sins of the world off men's shoulders before God into the grave!
God loves to work quietly in our lives day by day, and no more so when we have walls to leap over. He gets a certain glory that most do not see, but you see it, you know it, and God knows it - and it's something sweetly personal to you. Look at the first person in the language: 'For by thee I have run through a troop; and by my God have I leaped over a wall'. It wasn't the words of a witness who said: 'One day I was fighting for David, and I saw him leaping over a wall, I saw him running through a troop' - it's personally precious to David. I ask you today, around this beautiful verse: if you're a child of God, do you not have those personally precious sweet things to remember between only you and God? Walls that He has helped you leap over. This was something that David had in his heart, and like Mary the mother of the Lord Jesus in the nativity scene, he had kept all these things, these intimate dealings with God, and pondered them in his heart. 'By my God have I leaped over a wall'.
Let us learn some things, as we close in our minutes that remain, from David's experience. This is the first thing that I want you to learn: this experience that he testifies of was not a removal of a wall, a demolition or destruction of a wall, but it was rather the scaling of it - have you that that? God did not bring down a supernatural ball and chain and demolish the wall, or a JCB with an angel on it, but rather God empowered him to scale the wall. Now there's a distinction here, and it's important to note the distinctions of Scripture. This is not faith to remove a mountain, it is faith to leap over walls. There's a difference. Let me show you that difference further, look with me at Isaiah 43 - a very commonly quoted portion of Scripture - it is not always God's will to remove problems immediately, and some problems are often with us forever. Isaiah 43 and verse 1: 'But now thus saith the LORD that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel, Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine. When thou passest', not 'if', 'When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee. For I am the LORD thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour: I gave Egypt for thy ransom, Ethiopia and Seba for thee'.
This is often God's way of working with His children - not to immediately remove our walls, but by empowering us to leap over them. Now I've already made a distinction that this is not intrinsically supernatural, and so Peter walking on the water is different from this. To walk on the water is something absolutely supernatural, whereas to leap over a wall is not really so - but yet there is a similarity with Peter walking on the water and David leaping over a wall. It's similar in this sense: when Peter was on the water the Lord Jesus did not divide the lake of Galilee in the way He divided the Red Sea for the Israelites, rather He left Peter in the deep waters, but He revealed Himself to Peter, and that was what enabled him to overcome in a moment - although he failed after it - but right throughout his entire life, looking unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of his faith who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross. Do you see the similarity? Is it not true that often the Lord gives His most complete revelations of Himself to us when He leaves us in the storm, and when He doesn't remove the walls around us?
What is a wall? We're going to be building walls soon, but have you ever thought about what a wall is, apart from the natural bricks and mortar? A wall is something that restricts, isn't it? If you like, it binds you, it binds you in or binds others out, but it is a hindrance - probably to David it was a hindrance getting in somewhere, but it could also be a hindrance getting out, it could be a hindrance moving forward. It might be a large hindrance, we're not told how large this wall was that David leaped over, but it could have been an intimidating wall, a very high wall towering, casting a terrible shadow on you beneath. He said: 'By thee have I run through a troop' - a troop is in the open field, it's a conflict where you're surrounded by soldiers, but a wall is different: a wall is a restriction in a tight place surrounded by stones. You're kept in, others are kept out - if you like, it is a dead end in life. It's cold: there's no life in a brick and mortar. It's hard, it's impersonal, and it is man-made. We all have them - I don't know what your wall is, I know what mine are - we all have them, we will experience them, but what is often common with all of us with regards to our walls is that we usually resent them - is that not true? We don't want them.
Now let's learn from David's experience. Let's look at another incident from David's life that shows us how character building these walls were in his life, these natural obstacles - 1 Samuel 17. You remember he's come down to his brothers who are in the battle with the Philistines, and the cause of God is suffering. He says: 'Is there not a cause?', and he gives himself to that cause and offers his services to King Saul as a boy. In verse 32 we read: 'And David said to Saul, Let no man's heart fail because of him; thy servant will go and fight with this Philistine. And Saul said to David, Thou art not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him: for thou art but a youth, and he a man of war from his youth. And David said unto Saul, Thy servant kept his father's sheep, and there came a lion, and a bear, and took a lamb out of the flock: And I went out after him, and smote him, and delivered it out of his mouth: and when he arose against me, I caught him by his beard, and smote him, and slew him. Thy servant slew both the lion and the bear: and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be as one of them, seeing he hath defied the armies of the living God. David said moreover, The LORD that delivered me out of the paw of the lion, and out of the paw of the bear, he will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine. And Saul said unto David, Go, and the LORD be with thee'.
It's just that little statement in verse 34: 'Thy servant kept his father's sheep, and there came a lion'. Now what age was David here? He was in his youth - there came a lion in his youth. He says in Psalm 18 that he had to leap over walls, he had to run through troops - and we're beginning to see a picture painted that David faced obstacles along the pathway of his life from youth to old age, one after the other: a lion, a bear, then Goliath, then troops, then walls, and all sorts of things. All of them were outward things that would be feared by most, that would be not welcome but made unwelcome by us - but David saw that thing, that lion and that bear, as the qualification for his next spiritual victory. Are you seeing this? 'There came a lion, that's why I can fight Goliath, because there came a lion and there came a bear, and I leapt over the lion, I leapt over the bear, and I leapt over the wall, and I ran through the troop - and God has been with me'. Because David had this attitude not to repel God's dealings in his life, but receive them in the right way, they became God's opportunity of greatness to him.
The big question is: would the young boy ever have leaped the wall as the King if he had not killed the lion as a lad? Probably not. 'Then came a lion', they will come; walls will come; bears will come; troops will come - but the real question for the child of God is: how do we greet them? Do we greet them as obstacles - 'I don't want that in my life' - or opportunities? Do we see them as things to hinder or to help our communion with the Lord, or are we like Nehemiah - remember what he said? Nehemiah chapter 6 and verse 3, they were calling him down from the walls that he was building for the Lord: 'And I sent messengers unto them, saying, I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down: why should the work cease, whilst I leave it, and come down to you?'. Do we see the walls in our lives as a great work? We can't leave them, although we feel like running away from them! We feel like the Psalmist in 139: 'If I had wings I would go to the uttermost parts of the sea and get away from my walls'.
I wonder have you met a wall, or even walls recently in your life. You're like the Psalmist in another place who said in 107: 'Those who meet these obstacles reel, at times, to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man, and are at their wits end'. Are you at your wits end? I have been richly blessed this week through two poems, one I'm going to read to you now. It's called 'Wit's End Corner', listen to this and think of how David could say: 'By my God I have leaped a wall':
'Are you standing at "Wit's End Corner,"
Christian, with troubled brow?
Are you thinking of what is before you,
And all you are bearing now?
Does all the world seem against you,
And you in the battle alone?
Remember--at "Wit's End Corner"
Is just where God's power is shown.
Are you standing at "Wit's End Corner,"
Blinded with wearying pain,
Feeling you cannot endure it,
You cannot bear the strain,
Bruised through the constant suffering,
Dizzy, and dazed, and numb?
Remember--at "Wit's End Corner"
Is where Jesus loves to come.
Are you standing at "Wit's End Corner"?
Your work before you spread,
All lying begun, unfinished,
And pressing on heart and head,
Longing for strength to do it,
Stretching out trembling hands?
Remember--at. "Wit's End Corner"
The Burden-bearer stands.
Are you standing at "Wit's End Corner"?
Then you're just in the very spot
To learn the wondrous resources
Of Him who faileth not:
No doubt to a brighter pathway
Your footsteps will soon be moved,
But only at "Wit's End Corner"
Is the "God who is able" proved'.
In Isaiah 46 verse 11, Isaiah says a tremendous thing, of course inspired by God: 'I will make all my mountains away'. Could I paraphrase it like this in our contemporary language: 'I will make the obstacles, mountains they may be, in your life, stepping stones for my providence'. God makes our obstacles serve His purpose, and we all have these mountains and walls in our lives, and often we pray for their removal - sometimes they are gone - but these, we need to see, are the very conditions of our achievement. They are His mountains, He puts them there - like Paul's thorn in the flesh - and doesn't remove them because we need them. Paul could never have become the great apostle if it wasn't for the thorn! 'For with the thorn', God says, 'comes my grace which is sufficient for thee, for my strength is made perfect in your weakness'. 'Most gladly, therefore', he said, 'will I rather glory in my infirmities' - why? - 'That the power of God may rest upon me'.
Paul said in 1 Corinthians 16 to those wavering weak-kneed Corinthians: 'Quit you like men, be strong, it's time to stand at the battle'! It's time to realise that whatever walls there may be, and mountains, and crevices and valleys - that we can leap over them by our God: God is with us! Don't run away from the challenges and the trials and the perplexities and the walls, but trust God to do the extraordinary in your ordinary, in your natural, in your mundane. Philip Brooks, the puritan, said: 'Do not pray for easy lives, pray to be stronger men. Do not pray for tasks equal to your powers, pray for powers equal to your tasks. Then the doing of your work shall be no miracle, but you shall be the miracle'.
The second poem is by Maltbie D. Babcock:
We are not here to play, to dream, to drift,
We have hard work to do, and loads to lift.
Shun not the struggle; take it. 'Tis God's gift.
Say not the days are evil, - Who's to blame?
And fold not the hands and acquiesce, - O shame!
Stand up, speak out, and bravely, in God's name.
It matters not how deep entrenched the wrong,
How hard the battle goes, the day, how long.
Faint not, fight on! To-morrow comes the song".
Psalm 18, as opposed to 2 Samuel 22, is a Psalm which is a Messianic Psalm, a prophetic Psalm, and many scholars will tell you rightly so that it is a Psalm pointing primarily not to David's experience, but to our Saviour's suffering and His glory. Take some time when you have it, go through Psalm 18 and you'll see the blessed Lord's death, His resurrection, His exaltation, and His second coming, and even His glorious kingdom foreshadowed upon the earth. In spirit it is the Christ of God who is saying: 'By my God have I leaped over a wall' - what wall? The wall of our sin!
I wonder is your wall today a sin? Isn't it wonderful to know that Christ has already leaped over it? Therefore you can leap over it too! Oh, it might be a second wall of death and hell - He leaped over it as well. Even though man built it himself, and it kept man out of heaven and glory and peace and blessing, but He has leapt over it for us! Christ came and leapt over all these walls, and because of that all the prisoners can be set free, the war is over, there is an amnesty to all who will come, who will leave their weapons of rebellion down - a true emancipation. Because He - believer, whatever your wall is, whatever you're going through - is the Captain of our salvation, if we follow Him we will overcome!
What are your walls? Christ causes His soldiers to scale them! Would you listen with me as I close by reading Romans 8 verses 31 to 39, and I want to read it in the light of David's testimony: 'By my God have I leaped over a wall'. Listen: 'What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation', not that wall, 'or distress', not that wall, 'or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord'.
'By my God I have leaped over a wall'.
Our dear Father, gracious and compassionate God, we thank Thee that those walls that have been directed across our path by Thy loving hand are there are to be leaped over. Though we are killed all the day long, as sheep counted for the slaughter, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that hath loved us. We thank Thee for the Lord Jesus Christ, for His victory at Calvary and from the grave, and we pray that we will follow Him as we leap over our walls in His name. Amen.
Preach The Word.
This sermon was delivered at The Iron Hall Assembly in Belfast, Northern Ireland, by Pastor David Legge. It was transcribed from the tape, titled "Leaping Walls" - Transcribed by Andrew Watkins, Preach The Word.
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