A Study of Psalm 18:16
“He sent from above, he took me, he drew me out of many waters.” (Psalm 18:16)
The unhumbled Arminian would brashly tell us in exciting tones to rise up and engage in the business of saving ourselves when calamities arise, despite this and countless other texts like it to the contrary. David’s clear account here of the LORD’s dealings with us, however, seems so very much more suited to our spiritual needs than some Arminian’s free-will mumblings, and exactly corresponds with our experiences.
“Many waters” as the language is used in the above text represents a common ordeal describing the trials of the saints, and is recorded throughout the Bible. It depicts the gracious way our Saviour both finds and delivers us.
The Bible records for all who have eyes to see the account of Noah’s generation, that was about to be swept away with the waters of the great flood. The fountains of the great deep were about to be opened, and the windows of heaven prepared to emit its judgments on the earth. “…and Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD.” What else could have delivered Noah from this impending destruction, had the LORD not sent from above, and by taking him in the arms of grace, draw him out of many waters? A flood of waters unlike anything ever seen or thought of takes away every living thing from the earth. But however deep the flood becomes, Noah and the other members of his family, along with the animals ride out the flood on the top of it, for the LORD, in His matchless grace, had drawn him out. (Genesis 6:8; Genesis 7:16-17)
So too was pitiable Jonah about to be submerged in the furious waters of the raging sea, until the LORD, in His kind Providence, dispatched a whale to take him up in its mouth, and draw him out of the depths. Jonah was engaged in fleeing the LORD, only to find himself being tossed over the side of the ship towards the foaming waves. None but infidels would deny that the LORD had determined from everlasting to send from above, and command this great fish He had prepared for this moment to snatch Jonah from this formidable circumstance (Jonah 1:17).
Proud Peter walks triumphant for a short while on the waters. No doubt but he feels a sense of pride that he is so victorious over the elements. A little glance, however, away from the Saviour’s countenance, and sudden calamity seems to loom at hand. No time now for exulting in the moments past. “….and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me.” (Matthew 15:30). Sufficient for the trial at hand, God had sent His only begotten Son from above, and He took him, and drew the pitiful disciple from the waters (Matthew 15:31).
Paul and his company were being transported by ship to Rome where he was to stand trial before Caesar for supposed crimes against the Jews, his kinsman. They encountered contrary winds early, and despite a south breeze that softly carried them on, it was only a short while until a great storm called Euroclydon drove the sad mariners to abandon all hope. The dreaded sea appeared to be their certain grave. Then the apostle stood up in the midst of them, and announced that God had revealed to him the deliverance of all that remained with the ship. Thus, God once again sent from above, and took those He treasured, and delivered them from many waters.
Even so in the spiritual realm, our God yet sends glad tidings to His elect, and takes them out of their fears and doubts, and draws them out of those murky waters that so woefully sink them down.
J.F. Poole – 1989