Psalm 18 is one of David’s songs, sung when the Lord rescued him from his enemies and from Saul. This happened so many times, right? The Bible doesn’t clearly state how long David was on the run from Saul, but some scholars estimate it was about seven to ten years.
During that time, David had a lot of practice at learning to forgive, learning to be content, and learning to trust God for the outcome. He’d already been anointed king, but his time had not yet come, and he refused to grab the throne from Saul. He was a man of patience. A man who made mistakes. A man who believed God’s timing was perfect even if difficult.
It seems this particular psalm was written after Saul’s death. David declares his love to God and proclaims God as his strength, shield, fortress, and more. This speaks of how intimately and doggedly David had pursued God thus far.
And close to the middle of this psalm, we come to David’s realization that this era is over. Not only was he rescued, but set in a safe place. The Message renders verse 19 this way: He stood me up on a wide-open field; I stood there saved—surprised to be loved!
I’m sure I’ve read Psalm 18 dozens of times, but about a year ago, my eyes lingered on verse 19. Oh, it needs the entire context, for sure, and yet it’s also clear and beautiful on its own. The Passion Translation says: Love broke open the way, and he brought me into a beautiful, broad place. He rescued me—because his delight is in me!
Are you getting the picture? It’s like you’ve been slogging through a dense forest. A jungle, maybe. It’s hard going, all this bush-whacking, and there isn’t really a trail. Maybe the weather isn’t so great, so let’s add in some cold rain. Oh, and mosquitoes! It’s miserable all the way around… and there’s a bad guy after you.
Incidentally, ‘but’ is one of my favorite story words. Why? Because it signals a change. There’s all this stuff BUT then something happens. Maybe unexpected. Something that adds a tweak in a new direction. It might be a minor deviation, but sometimes it’s a big twist.
In our jungle trek, the twist is breaking through the dense branches and roots and foliage to find yourself in a wide and pleasant place. Imagine being dirty and disheveled, stopping and staring in disbelief at the beautiful expanse in front of you. No more tripping over logs. No more mud and bugs and drizzle. The bad guy is gone, and with him, the feeling of panic.
You take a few steps forward, looking around in astonishment. This is amazing! You feel so safe. So loved.
That’s God, all the way. That’s what He loves to do in our lives. That’s what He did for David and what He longs to do for us.
As an author, it’s what I long to do for my characters, too. I long to point them to the God who rescues them, who brings them through the terrible things in their lives – some of them self-inflicted, but not all of them – and gives them hope and a future. Because, as I tell these stories, I also learn and grow and find hope. And readers tell me it happens for them, too.
As I contemplated a new series over last summer and fall, I came back to Psalm 18:19. What would it be like for characters to experience that wide and pleasant place after enduring difficulties in their lives?
Brittany Santoro and Treyan Ackerman each had their own dark periods, and neither is expecting the light to shine through any time now. Why would it, when they’ve been slogging through that nasty jungle for so long that they think they deserve to keep living there? When light is a distant memory they don’t foresee enjoying again?
But there is always hope, and writing A Wide and Pleasant Place taught me a lot about contentment and forgiveness and dealing with the negatives life may send our way. This novel, first in the new Farm Fresh Market Romance series, will be coming your way in just a few short weeks.
A Wide and Pleasant Place is now available for pre-order.
What has been a verse of hope and triumph you’ve clung to in dark times?