Sought by Saul, David lived a life on the run. His enemies were powerful and determined to snuff out his life. But David had the only ally that matters. Looking back on the deliverance that God accomplished and the salvation that God won for David, the king of Israel praised the King of all creation.
“I love you, O LORD, my strength. The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised, and I am saved from my enemies” (Psalm 18:1-3 ESV).
David describes Jehovah as “my rock and my fortress and my deliverer.” To David, God is a “shield” and a “stronghold.” We have no trouble visualizing those illustrations. We can envision God as a fortress built upon a high mountain. He is impenetrable. “None of those who take refuge in him will be condemned” (Psalm 34:22).
The phrase “the horn of my salvation” is more puzzling to us. Only twice is the phrase found in the Old Testament and both are the words of David (see 2 Samuel 22:3). What does David have in mind?
Those who have encountered animals like domesticated cattle know how much power resides within even the most docile of cows. Add horns and the danger increases. Now imagine an animal feared for its ferociousness. The Cape Buffalo is perhaps Africa’s most dangerous animal. It is more feared among hunters than lions or rhinoceros.
The ox represents such strength in scripture. In Moses’ final blessing upon Israel, he refers to the tribes of Joseph (Ephraim and Manasseh) as a “firstborn bull” who has “majesty” and whose “horns are the horns of a wild ox.” With these horns he shall “gore the peoples, all of them, to the ends of the earth” (Deuteronomy 33:17). Balaam refers to God being to Israel “like the horns of the wild ox” (Numbers 23:22; 24:8).
The horn was power, majesty, and deliverance. God was the horn of salvation.
How compelling it is that after John’s birth, his father Zechariah prophesied about Jesus, and used this same phrase.
“Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has visited and redeemed his people and has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David” (Luke 1:69, 70).
Jesus is the horn of salvation. He saves us not from an injurious country, an insolent neighbor, or an inconvenient request, but from our ultimate enemy. He saves us from Satan, sin, and ourselves. He saves us from the certain and imminent spiritual death toward which we were all hurtling.
We need a champion. We need a conqueror. We need a horn of salvation. We cannot be victorious alone.
Victory in God looks different than worldly victory. God’s people who live in victory live in light and peace.
It is because of the “tender mercy of our God” that light shines upon us from above and guides our feet into the way of peace (Luke 1:78, 79).
May we all live in the light of God and walk in the way of peace.