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Psalm 18

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This psalm is found, with some unimportant variations, in 2 Samuel 22. In that history, as in the inscription of the psalm here, it is said to have been composed by David on the occasion when the Lord “delivered him from the hand of all his enemies, and from the hand of Saul.” There can, therefore, be no doubt that David was the author. It is a song of victory. David, long pursued and harassed by foes who sought his life, at length felt that a complete triumph was obtained, and that he and his kingdom were safe, and he pours forth the utterances of a grateful heart for God’s merciful and mighty interposition.

From the place which this psalm occupies in the history of the life of David (2 Sam. 22), it is probable that it was composed in the latter years of his life (although some scholars think it occurred earlier in his life), though it occupies this early place in the Book of Psalms. The circumstance which is mentioned in the title - “and out of the hand of Saul” - does not necessarily conflict with this view, or make it necessary for us to suppose that it was composed immediately after his deliverance from the hand of Saul. To David, recording and recounting the great events of his life, that deliverance would occur as one of the most momentous and worthy of a grateful remembrance, for it was a deliverance which was the foundation of all his subsequent successes, and in which the divine interposition had been most remarkable. At any time of his life it would be proper to refer to this as demanding special acknowledgment. Saul had been among the most formidable of all his enemies. The most distressing and harassing events of his life had occurred in the time of his conflicts with him. God’s interpositions in his behalf had occurred in the most remarkable manner, in delivering him from the dangers of that period of his history.

From the fact that there are variations, though not of an essential character, in the two copies of the psalm, it would seem not improbable that it had been revised by David himself, and that one copy was used by the author of the Book of Samuel, and the other by the collector and arranger of the Book of Psalms. These variations are not important, and by no means change the essential character of the psalm. The minute variations in the language of the song as recorded in 2 Samuel 22, from that embodied in the Book of Psalms - which may be accounted for if the first copy of the poem was carefully revised and altered by David afterwards, when it was set to the music of the tabernacle. This inspired ode was manifestly the effusion of a mind glowing with the highest fervor of piety and gratitude, and it is full of the noblest imagery that is to be found within the range even of sacred poetry. It is David’s grand tribute of thanksgiving for deliverance from his numerous and powerful enemies, and establishing him in the power and glory of the kingdom.

The differences are:

1) The introduction, or the title of it, is adapted, in the psalm before us, to the purposes for which it was designed, when it was admitted into the collection. “To the chief Musician, a Psalm of David, the servant of the Lord, who spake unto the Lord the words,” etc.

2) The first verse of Ps. 18, “I will love thee, O Lord, my strength,” is not found in the psalm as it is in the Book of Samuel.

3) The second verse of the psalm is, “The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower.” In Samuel, the corresponding passage is, “The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; the God of my rock, in him will I trust; he is my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my high tower, and my refuge, my savior; thou savest me from violence.”

4)In Psa_18:4, the reading is, “The sorrows of death compassed me” etc.; in Samuel, “The waves of death compassed me.”

5 etc) Similar variations, affecting the words, without materially affecting the sense, occur in Psa_18:2-4, Psa_18:6-8, Psa_18:11-16, Psa_18:19-21, Psa_18:23-27, also in Psa_18:28-30, Psa_18:32-45, and Ps. 18:47-51.

The psalm embraces the following subjects:

I. A general acknowledgment of God, and thanks to him, as the Deliverer in the time of troubles, and as worthy to be praised, Psa_18:1-3.

II. A brief description of the troubles and dangers from which the psalmist had been rescued, Psa_18:4-5.

III. A description, conceived in the highest forms of poetic language, of the divine interposition in times of danger, Psa_18:6-19,

IV. A statement of the psalmist that this interposition was of such a nature as to vindicate his own character, or to show that his cause was a righteous cause; that he was right, and that his enemies had been in the wrong; that God approved his course, and disapproved the course of his enemies: or, in other words, that these interpositions were such as to prove that God was just, and would deal with men according to their character, Psa_18:20-30.

V. A recapitulation of what God had done for him, in enabling him to subdue his enemies, and a statement of the effect which he supposed would be produced on others by the report of what God had done in his behalf, Psa_18:31-45.

VI. A general expression of thanksgiving to God as the author of all these blessings, and as worthy of universal confidence and praise, Psa_18:46-50. Prophetic imagery of the the glorious triumphs of the Messiah, David's seed and the Lord's anointed is evident here.

There are two passages cited out of it in the New Testament, and applied to Christ; Psalm 18:2 The LORD is my strength, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my rock; I will trust in Him; He is my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my high tower, in Hebrews 2:13 And again, "I will put My trust in Him." And again, "Behold Me and the children whom God has given Me." and Psalm 18:49 Therefore I will give thanks to You, O LORD, among the nations, and sing praises to Your name, in Romans 15:9 and that the nations might glorify God for His mercy, as it is written, "For this cause I will confess to You in the nations, and I will praise Your name." and there are many things in it that very well agree with him; he is eminently the "servant" of the Lord as Mediator; he was encompassed with the snares and sorrows of death and hell, and with the floods of ungodly men, when in the garden and on the cross God was his helper and deliverer, as man; and he was victorious over all enemies, sin, Satan, the world, death and hell; as the subject of this psalm is all along represented: and to Christ it does most properly belong to be the head of the Heathen, whose voluntary subjects the Gentiles are said to be, Psalm 18:43 You have delivered Me from the strivings of the people; You have made Me the head of the nations; a people whom I have not known shall serve Me. and which is expressed in much the same language as the like things are in Isaiah 55:4 Behold, I have given Him for a witness to the people, a Leader and Commander of peoples; which is a clear and undoubted prophecy of the Messiah; to which may be added, that the Lord's Anointed, the King Messiah, and who is also called David, is expressly mentioned in Psalm 18:50 magnifying the salvations to His king, and working mercy to His anointed, to David, and to his seed forevermore; and which is applied to the Messiah.

Since this psalm mirrors 2 Samuel 22, I will include those corresponding verses with each verse in this psalm.

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Psa 18:1 To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David, the servant of the LORD, who spake unto the LORD the words of this song in the day that the LORD delivered him from the hand of all his enemies, and from the hand of Saul: And he said, I will love thee, O LORD, my strength.

2Sa 22:1 And David spake unto the LORD the words of this song in the day that the LORD had delivered him out of the hand of all his enemies, and out of the hand of Saul:

A Psalm of David - The words “A Psalm” are not here in the original, and may convey a slightly erroneous impression, as if the psalm had been composed for the express purpose of being used publicly in the worship of God. In the corresponding place in 2 Sam. 22, it is described as a “Song” of David: “And David spake unto the Lord the words of this song.” It was originally an expression of his private gratitude for God’s distinguishing mercies.

I will love thee, O Lord, my strength - The psalmist here expresses his love to the Lord, and his continuance in it; that Jehovah the Father was, is, and ever will be the object of Christ's love, is certain; and which has appeared by his readiness in the council and covenant of grace to do his will; by his coming down from heaven to earth for that purpose; by his delight in it, it being his meat and drink to do it; and by his sufferings and death, which were in compliance with, and obedience to it, John 14:31 But that the world may know that I love the Father, and as the Father has given Me commandment, even so I do. Arise, let us go away from here; and as in David, so in all regenerate ones, there is love to God; 1 John 4:19 We love Him because He first loved us.

I will love thee, O Lord - Most affectionately, and with my whole soul; as the Hebrew word signifies. This verse is not found in the song in 2 Sam. 22. It is a proper commencement of a psalm that is designed to recount so many mercies. Why should he love Jehovah? Not merely because he was infinitely great and good, possessed of all possible perfections, but because he was good to him: and he here enumerates some of the many blessings he received from him. It is the feeling which all should have when they recall the goodness of God to them in their past lives.

I will love thee, O Lord - Those that truly love God, may triumph in him as their Rock and Refuge, and may with confidence call upon him. It is good for us to observe all the circumstances of a mercy which magnify the power of God and his goodness to us in it. David was a praying man, and God was found a prayer-hearing God.

The servant of the Lord - The title deserves attention. David, although at this time a king, calls himself “the servant of Jehovah,” but makes no mention of his royalty; hence we gather that he counted it a higher honor to be the Lord's servant than to be Judah's king.

The servant of the Lord - This expression also is wanting in 2 Sam. 22. It is possibly an addition by a later hand, as indicating the general character which David had acquired, or as denoting the national estimate in regard to his character. The same expression occurs in the title to Psa_36:1-12.

the servant of the Lord - not only by creation, nor merely by regeneration, but by office, as king of Israel, being put into it by the Lord, and acting in it in submission and obedience to him; just as the apostles under the New Testament, on account of their office, so style themselves in their epistles:

Who spake unto the Lord - Composed it as giving utterance to his feelings toward the Lord. Who delivered and sung this song in public, before all the congregation of Israel, to the honor and glory of God.

in the day that the Lord delivered him - When the Lord “had” delivered him; when he felt that he was completely rescued from “all” his foes. This does not mean that the psalm was composed on a particular day when God had by some one signal act rescued him from impending danger, but it refers to a calm period of his life. when he could review the past, and see that God had rescued him from “all” the enemies that had ever threatened his peace. This would probably, as has been suggested above, occur near the close of his life.

And from the hand of Saul - Saul had been one of his most formidable enemies, and the wars with him had been among the most eventful periods of the life of David. In a general review of his life, near its close, he would naturally recur to the dangers of that period, and to God’s gracious interpositions in his behalf, and it would seem to him that what God had done for him in those times deserved a special record. The original word in Psalm 18 - kaph - is not the same as in the corresponding place in 2 Sam. 22 - yâd - though the idea is substantially the same. The word used in Psalm 18 means properly the “palm” or “hollow” of the hand; the word used in 2 Samuel 22 means the hand itself.

And from the hand of Saul - Deliverance “out of the hand of Saul” is specially mentioned, not because this was the last, but because it was the greatest and most glorious, - a deliverance out of the deepest misery into regal might and glory.

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Psa 18:2 The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower.

2Sa 22:2 And he said, The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer;

2Sa 22:3 The God of my rock; in him will I trust: he is my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my high tower, and my refuge, my saviour; thou savest me from violence.

The Lord is my rock - The idea in this expression, and in the subsequent parts of the description, is that he owed his safety entirely to God. He had been unto him as a rock, a tower, a buckler, etc. - that is, he had derived from God the protection which a rock, a tower, a citadel, a buckler furnished to those who depended on them, or which they were designed to secure. The word “rock” here has reference to the fact that in times of danger a lofty rock would be sought as a place of safety, or that men would fly to it to escape from their enemies. Such rocks abound in Palestine; and by the fact that they are elevated and difficult of access, or by the fact that those who fled to them could find shelter behind their projecting crags, or by the fact that they could find security in their deep and dark caverns, they became places of refuge in times of danger; and protection was often found there when it could not be found in the plains below.

The Lord is my rock - I stand on him as my foundation, and derive every good from him who is the source of good. The word sela signifies those craggy precipices which afford shelter to men and wild animals.

The Lord is my rock - Moses calls the Lord the Rock of Israel, because of His unchangeable faithfulness; Deu_32:4 He is the Rock; His work is perfect. For all His ways are just, a God of faithfulness, and without evil; just and upright is He.

And my fortress - He has been to me as a fortress. The word fortress means a place of defense, a place so strengthened that an enemy could not approach it, or where one would be safe. Such fortresses were often constructed on the rocks or on hills, where those who fled there would be doubly safe.

My God - Who hast been to me a God; that is, in whom I have found all that is implied in the idea of “God” - a Protector, Helper, Friend, Father, Savior.

my God - the strong and mighty One, who is able to save, and who is the covenant God and Father of His people.

in whom I will trust - as Christ did, and to whom these words are applied in Hebrews 2:13 And again, "I will put My trust in Him." And again, "Behold Me and the children whom God has given Me." and as his people are enabled to do even under very distressing and discouraging circumstances, Job 13:15 Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him: but I will maintain mine own ways before him.

My strength - “My rock” although the Hebrew word is different from that which is used in the former part of the verse. Both words denote that God was a refuge or protection, as a rock or crag is to one in danger. Compare to Deu_32:37 And He shall say, Where are their gods, their rock in whom they trusted?

My buckler - The word used here is the same which occurs in Psa_3:3, where it is translated “shield.”

my buckler - or shield; who protects and defends them from their enemies, and preserves them from the fiery darts of Satan

the horn of my salvation - who pushes, scatters, and destroys their enemies, and saves them; a metaphor taken from horned beasts; so Christ, the mighty and able Savior, is called, Luke 1:69 and has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of His servant David,

And the horn of my salvation - The “horn” is to animals the means of their defense. Their strength lies in the horn. Hence, the word is used here, as elsewhere, to represent that to which we owe our protection and defense in danger; and the idea here is, that God was to the psalmist what the horn is to animals, the means of his defense.

And the horn of my salvation - This describes God as the mighty protector and defender of the righteous. A shield covers against hostile attacks. In this respect God was Abraham's shield Gen_15:1 After these things the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram, I am your shield and your exceeding great reward. and the helping shield of Israel Deu_33:29 Blessed are you, O Israel! Who is like you, O people saved by the LORD, the shield of your help, and who is the sword of your excellency! And your enemies shall be found liars to you, and you shall tread on their high places. The figure is borrowed from animals, which have their strength and defensive weapons in their horns.

Horn of my salvation - Horn was the emblem of power, and power in exercise. The horn of salvation means a powerful, an efficient salvation.

And my high tower - He is to me what a high tower is to one who is in danger. Pro_18:10 The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous man runs into it and is safe. The word used here occurs in Psa_9:9 The LORD also will be a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble, where it is rendered “refuge.” Such towers were erected on mountains, on rocks, or on the walls of a city, and were regarded as safe places mainly because they were inaccessible.

my high tower - whither the righteous run and are safe, Proverbs 18:10 The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous man runs into it and is safe. and where they are above and out of the reach of every enemy; Isaiah 33:16; in 2 Samuel 22:3, it is added, "and my refuge, my Savior, thou savest me from violence." These various epithets show the fullness of safety in Jehovah, the various ways he has to deliver his people from their enemies, and secure them from danger.

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Psa 18:3 I will call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised: so shall I be saved from mine enemies.

2Sa 22:4 I will call on the LORD, who is worthy to be praised: so shall I be saved from mine enemies.

I will call upon the Lord - The idea here is, that he would constantly call upon the Lord. In all times of trouble and danger he would go to him, and invoke his aid. The experience of the past had been such as to lead him to put confidence in him in all time to come. He had learned to flee to him in danger, and he had never put his trust in him in vain. The idea is, that a proper view of God’s dealings with us in the past should lead us to feel that we may put confidence in him in the future.

I will call upon the Lord - In prayer, for fresh mercies, and further appearances of himself, and discoveries of his grace and favor;

Who is worthy to be praised - More literally, “Him who is to be praised I will call upon, Jehovah.” The prominent - the leading thought is, that God is a being every way worthy of praise.

who is worthy to be praised - for the perfections of his nature, the works of his hands, his providential goodness, and more especially for his covenant grace and blessings in Christ.

So shall I be saved from my enemies - Ever onward, and at all times. He had had such ample experience of his protection that he could confide in him as one who would deliver him from all his foes.

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Psa 18:4 The sorrows of death compassed me, and the floods of ungodly men made me afraid.

2Sa 22:5 When the waves of death compassed me, the floods of ungodly men made me afraid;

The sorrows of death compassed me - These words and the following, in this verse and Psalm 18:5, as they respect David, show the snares that were laid for his life, the danger of death he was in, and the anxiety of mind he was possessed of on account of it; and as they refer to Christ, include all the sorrows of his life to the time of his death, who was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief personally, and bore and carried the sorrows and griefs of all his people; and may chiefly intend his sorrows in the garden, arising from a view of the sins of his people, which he was about to bear upon the cross; and from an apprehension of the wrath of God, and curse of the law, which he was going to sustain for them. Matthew 26:38 Then He said to them, My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Wait here and watch with Me. The Hebrew word for "sorrows" signifies the pains and birth throes of a woman in labor; and is here fitly used of the sufferings and death of Christ; through which he brought forth much fruit, or many sons to glory.

The sorrows of death compassed me - Surrounded me. That is, he was in imminent danger of death, or in the midst of such pangs and sorrows as are supposed commonly to attend on death. He refers probably to some period in his past life - perhaps in the persecutions of Saul - when he was so beset with troubles and difficulties that it seemed to him that he must die. The corresponding place in 2 Sam. 22 is: “The waves of death.” The word which is used there means properly waves which break upon the shore - “breakers.” Either word denotes a condition of great danger and alarm, as if death was inevitable.

The sorrows of death compassed me - the cables or cords of death. He was almost taken in those nets or stratagems by which, if he had been entangled, he would have lost his life. The stratagems to which he refers were those that were intended for his destruction; hence called the cables or cords of death.

the floods of ungodly men - The figure “breakers or waves of death” is analogous to that of the floods of ungodly men (streams of Belial). Belial was afterwards adopted as a name for the devil (2Co_6:15). His distress is represented in both of them under the image of violent floods of water. Streams of wickedness are calamities that proceed from wickedness, or originate with worthless men.

And the floods of ungodly men - Hebrew, “Belial.” The word “Belial” means properly “without use or profit;” and then worthless, abandoned, wicked. It is applied to wicked men as being “worthless” to society, and to all the proper ends of life. Though the term here undoubtedly refers to “wicked” men, yet it refers to them as being worthless or abandoned - low, common, useless to mankind. The word rendered floods means in the singular, properly, a stream, brook, rivulet; and then, a torrent, as formed by rain and snow-water in the mountains. The word used here refers to such men as if they were poured forth in streams and torrents - in such multitudes that the psalmist was likely to be overwhelmed by them, as one would be by floods of water.

Psa 18:5 The sorrows of hell compassed me about: the snares of death prevented me.

2Sa 22:6 The sorrows of hell compassed me about; the snares of death prevented me;

The sorrows of hell compassed me about - Or "the cords of the grave", under the power of which he was detained for awhile; the allusion may be to the manner of burying among the Jews, who wound up their dead bodies in linen clothes; so that they were as persons bound hand and foot; and thus were they laid in the grave; and so was Christ, till he was raised from the dead, when he showed himself to have the keys of hell and death, and to be no more under their power, or be held by them;

The sorrows of hell - The word used here is the same which occurs in the previous verse, and which is there rendered “sorrows.” On the word here rendered “hell.” It means here the “under-world, the regions of the dead.” It is a description of one who was overcome with the dread of death.

The snares of death - The word “snares” refers to the gins, toils, nets, which are used in taking wild beasts, by suddenly throwing cords around them, and binding them fast. The idea here is, that “Death” had thus thrown around him its toils or snares, and had bound him fast.

Prevented me - The word used here in Hebrew, as our word “prevent” did originally, means to “anticipate, to go before.” The idea here is that those snares had, as it were, suddenly rushed upon him, or seized him. They came before him in his goings, and bound him fast.

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Psa 18:6 In my distress I called upon the LORD, and cried unto my God: he heard my voice out of his temple, and my cry came before him, even into his ears.

2Sa 22:7 In my distress I called upon the LORD, and cried to my God: and he did hear my voice out of his temple, and my cry did enter into his ears.

In my distress - This refers, most probably, not to any particular case, but rather indicates his general habit of mind, that when he was in deep distress and danger he had uniformly called upon the Lord, and had found him ready to help.

I called upon the Lord - I prayed. That is, he invoked God to help him in his trouble. He relied not on his own strength; he looked not for human aid; he looked to God alone.

And cried unto my God - The word used here denotes an earnest cry for help.

cried unto my God - so the members of Christ, when in distress, as they often are, through sin and Satan, through the hidings of God's face, a variety of afflictions, and the persecutions of men, betake themselves to the Lord, and call upon their God: a time of distress is a time for prayer; and sometimes the end God has in suffering them to be in distress is to bring them to the throne of his grace. Heb 4:16 Therefore let us come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

my cry came before him, even into his ears - God did not cover himself with a cloud, that his prayer could not pass through; but it was admitted and received; it came up before him with acceptance; it reached

He heard my voice out of his temple - That is, he, being in his temple, heard my voice. The word rendered temple cannot refer here to the temple at Jerusalem, for that was built after the death of David, but it refers either to heaven, considered as the temple, or dwelling-place of God, or to the tabernacle, considered as his abode on earth. The sense is not materially varied, whichever interpretation is adopted.

Even into his ears - Indicating that he certainly heard it.

Psa 18:7 Then the earth shook and trembled; the foundations also of the hills moved and were shaken, because he was wroth.

2Sa 22:8 Then the earth shook and trembled; the foundations of heaven moved and shook, because he was wroth.

The foundations also of the hills moved - The mountains seemed to rock on their foundations. In the corresponding place in 2Sa_22:8 the expression is, “The foundations of heaven moved and shook;” that is, that on which the heavens seem to rest was agitated. Many suppose that the expression refers to the mountains as if they bore up the heavens; but one scholar supposes that the reference is to the heavens as a building or an edifice resting on foundations. Why the change was made in revising the psalm from the “foundations of the heavens” to the “foundations of the hills,” it is impossible now to determine. Note the similarity from His appearance on Sinai Deu_32:22 For a fire is kindled in My anger, and shall burn to the lowest hell, and shall consume the earth with its increase, and set on fire the foundations of the mountains.

Because he was wroth - literally, “Because it was inflamed (or enkindled) to him;” that is, because he was angry. Anger is often compared to a raging flame, because it seems to consume everything before it. God seemed to be angry, and hence, he came forth in this awful manner, and the very earth trembled before him.

Then the earth shook and trembled - As it did quickly after Christ called upon the Lord, and cried to his God upon the cross, Matthew 27:51 And, behold! The veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. And the earth quaked, and the rocks were sheared, and so some time after, when his people were praying together, the place where they were assembled was shaken, Acts 4:31 And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the Word of God with boldness. as a token of God's presence being with them: and the shaking and trembling of the earth is often used as a symbol of the presence of God, and of the greatness of his majesty; as when he brought the children of Israel through the Red sea, went before them in the wilderness, and descended on Mount Sinai, which mountain then moved and quaked exceedingly.

the foundations also of the hills moved and were shaken – the shaking of the earth and heavens, prophesied of in Haggai 2:6 For so says Jehovah of Hosts: Yet once, it is a little while, and I will shake the heavens, and the earth, and the sea, and the dry land. and explained in Hebrews 12:26 whose voice then shook the earth; but now He has promised, saying, "Yet once more I will not only shake the earth, but also the heavens." of the removing the ordinances of the ceremonial law, that Gospel ordinances might remain unshaken.

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Psa 18:8 There went up a smoke out of his nostrils, and fire out of his mouth devoured: coals were kindled by it.

2Sa 22:9 There went up a smoke out of his nostrils, and fire out of his mouth devoured: coals were kindled by it.

There went up a smoke out of his nostrils - the smoke seemed to be produced “by” his nostrils, or to be caused by his breathing. The comparison, according to some, is derived from wild beasts when excited with anger, and when their rage is indicated by their violent breathing. Isa 65:5 who say, Keep to yourself, do not come near me; for I am holier than you. These are a smoke in My nose, a fire that burns all the day. In Isaiah, this is meant to be emblematic of His wrath. This denotes, by a poetical figure, the greatness of his anger and indignation.

And fire out of his mouth devoured - That is, the clouds seemed to be poured forth from his nostrils, and the lightning from his mouth.

Coals were kindled by it - Everything seemed to glow and burn. The lightning, that appeared to flash from his mouth, set everything on fire. The heavens and the earth were in a blaze.

Psa 18:9 He bowed the heavens also, and came down: and darkness was under his feet.

2Sa 22:10 He bowed the heavens also, and came down; and darkness was under his feet.

He bowed the heavens also - The allusion is still to the tempest, when the clouds ran low; when they seem to sweep along the ground; when it appears as if the heavens were brought nearer to the earth - as if, to use a common expression, “the heavens and earth were coming together.”

And came down - God himself seemed to descend in the fury of the storm.

And darkness was under his feet - A dark cloud; or, the darkness caused by thick clouds. The idea here is that of awful majesty and power, as we are nowhere more forcibly impressed with the idea of majesty and power than in the fury of a storm.

He bowed the heavens also, and came down - He made the heavens bend under him when he descended to take vengeance on his enemies. The psalmist seems here to express the appearance of the Divine majesty in a glorious cloud, descending from heaven, which underneath was substantially dark, but above, bright, and shining with exceeding luster; and which, by its gradual approach to the earth, would appear as though the heavens themselves were bending down and approaching towards us.

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Psa 18:10 And he rode upon a cherub, and did fly: yea, he did fly upon the wings of the wind.

2Sa 22:11 And he rode upon a cherub, and did fly: and he was seen upon the wings of the wind.

And he rode upon a cherub - The cherub in the theology of the Hebrews was a figurative representation of power and majesty, under the image of a being of a high and celestial nature, “whose form is represented as composed from the figures of a man, ox, lion, and eagle,” Ezek. 1; 10. Cherubs are first mentioned as guarding the gates of Paradise, Gen_3:24 And He drove out the man. And He placed cherubs at the east of the garden of Eden, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the tree of life. then as bearing the throne of God upon their wings through the clouds, Ezek.1 and also as statues or images made of wood and overlaid with gold, over the cover of the ark, in the inner sanctuary of the tabernacle, and of the temple Exo_25:18 And you shall make two cherubs of gold; of beaten work you shall make them, in the two ends of the mercy-seat. 1Ki_6:23-28. Between the two cherubim in the temple, the Shechinah, or visible symbol of the presence of God, rested; and hence, God is represented as “dwelling between the cherubim,” Exo_25:22 And I will meet with you there, and I will talk with you from above the mercy-seat, from between the two cherubs on the ark of the testimony, of all things which I will give you in commandment to the sons of Israel. Num_7:89 And when Moses had gone into the tabernacle of the congregation to speak with Him, then he heard the voice of One speaking to him from the mercy-seat on the ark of testimony, from between the two cherubs. And He spoke to him. Psa_80:1 To the Chief Musician. A Testimony Concerning the Lilies. A Psalm of Asaph. Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel, You who lead Joseph like a flock; You dwelling between the cherubs, shine forth. Psa_99:1 Jehovah reigns; let the peoples tremble. He sits between the cherubs; let the earth quake. Here God is represented as “riding on a cherub;” that is, as coming forth on the clouds regarded as a cherub, as if, seated on his throne, he was borne along in majesty and power amidst the storm and tempest.

He rode a cherub and did fly - The cherub is not a personified earthly creature, for cherubim are angels around the throne of God (see at Gen_3:22). The poetical figure “riding upon the cherub” is borrowed from the fact that God was enthroned between the two cherubim upon the lid of the ark of the covenant, and above their outspread wings (Exo_25:20-21). As the idea of His “dwelling between the cherubim” (2Sa_6:2; 1Sa_4:4; Psa_80:2) was founded upon this typical manifestation of the gracious presence of God in the Most Holy place, so here David depicts the descent of Jehovah from heaven as “riding upon a cherub,” picturing the cherub as a throne upon which God appears in the clouds of heaven. The “flying” is also suggested by the wings of the cherubim. As the divine “shechinah” was enthroned above the ark of the covenant upon the wings of the cherubim, David in his poetical description represents the cherub and his wings as carrying the throne of God, to express the thought that Jehovah came down from heaven as the judge and savior of His servants in the splendor of His divine glory, surrounded by cherubim who stand as His highest servants around His throne.

He rode upon a cherub, and did fly - That is, as it is immediately explained, Yea, he did fly upon the wings of the wind. God was in the storm, and by the ministry of angels guided the course of it, and drove it on with such an impetuous force as nothing could withstand. He ‘rides in the whirlwind and directs the storm.’ Angels are in a peculiar sense the attendants and messengers of the Almighty, whom he employs as his ministers in effecting many of those great events which take place in the administration of his providence; and particularly such as manifest his immediate interposition in the extraordinary judgments which he inflicts for the punishment of sinful nations. The cherub is particularly mentioned as an emblem of the Divine presence, and especially as employed in supporting and conveying the chariot of the Almighty, when he is represented as riding in his majesty through the firmament of heaven. The cherub supported and led on the tempest, in which the Almighty rode as in his chariot. Thus they supported the mercy-seat, which was peculiarly the throne of God under the Jewish economy. God is expressly said to “make the clouds his chariot,” Psa_104:3; and to “ride upon a swift cloud,” Isa_19:1 : so that “riding upon a cherub,” and “riding upon a swift cloud,” is riding in the cloud as his chariot, supported and guided by the ministry of the cherubim. This is agreeable to the office elsewhere ascribed to the cherubim.

he did fly upon the wings of the wind - He seemed to move rapidly on the flying clouds, which may design the speedy help and assistance God gave to his Son, and gives to his people; and the swift destruction of their enemies. The words in 2 Samuel 22:11 are "and he was seen upon the wings of the wind"; which both express the same sense.

he did fly upon the wings of the wind - Rapidly as the clouds driven along by the wind. The “wings of the wind” are designed to represent the rapidity with which the wind sweeps along. Rapid motion is represented by the flight of birds; hence, the term wings is applied to winds to denote the rapidity of their movement. The whole figure here is designed to represent; the majesty with which God seemed to be borne along on the tempest.

Psa 18:11 He made darkness his secret place; his pavilion round about him were dark waters and thick clouds of the skies.

2Sa 22:12 And he made darkness pavilions round about him, dark waters, and thick clouds of the skies.

He made darkness his secret place - Which, and the dark waters in the next clause, are the same with the thick clouds in the last, in which Jehovah is represented as wrapping himself, and in which he lies hid as in a secret place; not so as that he cannot see others, as wicked men imagine, Job 22:13; but as that he cannot be beheld by others.

He made darkness his secret place - God is represented as dwelling in the thick darkness, Deu_4:11; Psa_97:2. This representation in the place before us is peculiarly proper; as thick heavy clouds deeply charged, and with lowering aspects, are always the forerunners and attendants of a tempest, and greatly heighten the horrors of the appearance: and the representation of them, spread about the Almighty as a tent.

his pavilion round about him were dark waters, and thick clouds of the skies - these were as a tent or tabernacle, in which he dwelt unseen by men; see Job 36:29; all this may design the dark dispensation of the Jews, after their rejection and crucifixion of Christ; when God departed from them, left their house desolate, and them without his presence and protection; when the light of the Gospel was taken away from them, and blindness happened unto them, and they had eyes that they should not see, and were given up to a judicial darkness of mind and hardness of heart; which were some of the dark, deep, and mysterious methods of divine Providence, with respect to which God may be said to be surrounded with darkness, dark waters, and thick clouds; Romans 11:7.

Dark waters - The vapors strongly condensed into clouds; which, by the stroke of the lightning, are about to be precipitated in torrents of rain.

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Psa 18:12 At the brightness that was before him his thick clouds passed, hail stones and coals of fire.

2Sa 22:13 Through the brightness before him were coals of fire kindled.

At the brightness that was before him - From the flash of the play of the lightning that seemed to go before him.

His thick clouds passed - vanished. They seemed to pass away. The light, the flash, the blaze, penetrated those clouds, and seemed to dispel, or to scatter them. The whole heavens were in a blaze, as if there were no clouds, or as if the clouds were all driven away. The reference here is to the appearance when the vivid flashes of lightning seem to penetrate and dispel the clouds, and the heavens seem to be lighted up with a universal flame.

And coals of fire - This was the storm that followed the flash and the peal. There seemed to be coals of fire rolling along the ground, or falling from the sky. In the corresponding place in 2Sa_22:13 the expression is, “Through the brightness before him were coals of fire kindled.” That is, fires were kindled by the lightning.

And coals of fire - The splendor of the divine nature enveloped in clouds breaks through the dark covering in burning coals of fire. The coals of fire which burst forth, i.e., which break out in flame from the dark clouds, are the lightning which shoots forth from the dark storm-clouds in streams of fire.

At the brightness that was before him his thick clouds passed - The word signifies the lightning. This goes before him: the flash is seen before the thunder is heard, and before the rain descends; and then the thick cloud passes. Its contents are precipitated on the earth, and the cloud is entirely dissipated.

his thick clouds passed - that is, passed away; prophetically the gross darkness, which had for so many years covered the Gentile world, was removed when God sent forth his light and truth; and multitudes, who were darkness itself, were made light in the Lord.

hail and coals of fire - these may design the heavy, awful, and consuming judgments of God, which are sometimes signified by hail storms; Revelation 8:7 The first angel sounded, and there followed hail and fire mixed with blood, and they were cast on the earth. And the third part of trees was burned up, and all green grass was burned up.

Psa 18:13 The LORD also thundered in the heavens, and the Highest gave his voice; hail stones and coals of fire.

2Sa 22:14 The LORD thundered from heaven, and the most High uttered his voice.

The Lord also thundered in the heavens - Thunder is often in the Scriptures described as the voice of God. The former verse mentioned the lightning, with its effects; this gives us the report of the thunder, and the increasing storm of hail and fire that attended it.

Hail-stones, and coals of fire - Accompanying the thunder. The repetition seems to be because these were such striking and constant accompaniments of the storm.

And the Highest gave his voice - God, the most exalted Being in the universe, uttered his voice in the thunder; or, the thunder was his voice.

the Highest gave his voice - the same with thunder; for thunder is often called the voice of the Lord, Job 37:5 God thunders marvelously with His voice; He does great things, and we do not understand.

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Psa 18:14 Yea, he sent out his arrows, and scattered them; and he shot out lightnings, and discomfited them.

2Sa 22:15 And he sent out arrows, and scattered them; lightning, and discomfited them.

Yea, he sent out his arrows - The word arrows here probably refers to the lightnings mentioned in the other clause of the verse. Those lightnings scattered around, and accomplishing such destruction, seemed to be arrows sent forth from the hand of God.

Yea, he sent out his arrows – this may denote, either the doctrines of the Gospel, which were sharp in the hearts of Christ's enemies, and are either the means of subduing them to him, or of destroying them; or however, like arrows, give great pain and uneasiness where they stick, and grievously distress and torment; as does the fire which comes out of the mouth of the two witnesses, Revelation 11:5. Or else the judgments of God are meant, as famine, pestilence, and the sword, which God sent unto, and spent upon the Jewish nation, Deuteronomy 32:23.

And he shot out lightnings - As arrows; or, as from a bow. This illustrates the first, that He sent out arrows. The fiery brightness of lightning, in shape like burning arrows rapidly shot through the air, well represents the most terrible part of an awful storm. Before the terrors of such a scene the enemies are confounded and overthrown in dismay.

And scattered them - the enemies of David. They seem, however, to have been in his eye throughout the psalm, for it was the victory achieved over them by the divine interposition that he was celebrating throughout the poem.

And discomfited them - literally, to impel, to drive; then, to put in commotion or consternation. The allusion is to an army whose order is disturbed, or which is thrown into confusion, and which is, therefore, easily conquered. The idea is that David achieved a victory over all his enemies, as if God had scattered them by a storm and tempest.

Psa 18:15 Then the channels of waters were seen, and the foundations of the world were discovered at thy rebuke, O LORD, at the blast of the breath of thy nostrils.

2Sa 22:16 And the channels of the sea appeared, the foundations of the world were discovered, at the rebuking of the LORD, at the blast of the breath of his nostrils.

Then the channels of waters were seen - In 2Sa_22:16 this is, “And the channels of the sea appeared.” The idea is that, by the driving of the storm and tempest, the waters were driven on heaps, leaving the bottom bare. In Psalm 18 the word used, “waters” - mayim - would denote waters of any kind - seas, lakes, rivers; in the corresponding place in 2 Samuel, the word used - yâm - denotes, properly, the sea or the ocean. The word rendered channels means a pipe or tube; then a channel, or bed of a brook or stream, Isa_8:7; Eze_32:6; and then the bottom of the sea or of a river. The allusion is to the effect of a violent wind, driving the waters on heaps, and seeming to leave the bed or channel bare.

Then the channels of water were seen - There seems to be an allusion to the drying up of the sea when the Israelites passed through it.

The foundations of the world were discovered - Were laid open; were manifested or revealed. By mighty earthquakes, which overturned the earth, and made its lower parts visible. People seemed to be able to look down into the depths, and to see the very foundations on which the earth rests. The world is often represented as resting on a foundation, Psa_102:25; Isa_48:13; Zec_12:1; Pro_8:29.

At thy rebuke - At the expression of his anger or displeasure; as if God, in the fury of the tempest, was expressing his indignation and wrath.

At the blast of the breath of thy nostrils - At the breathing forth of anger, as it were, from his nostrils.

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