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Bible Commentaries

Expositor's Dictionary of Texts

Psalms 18

Verses 1-50

Psalms 18:17-19

These words were sung upon the scaffold by four sons of the Huguenots:

'He delivered me from my strong enemy, and from them which hated me: for they were too strong for me.

'They prevented me in the day of my calamity: but the Lord was my stay 'He brought me forth also into a large place; he delivered me because he delighted in me.'

They were sung by the last martyrs of the desert, Francis Rochette, and three brothers of the name of Grenier, who suffered as late as 1762, under the reign of Louis XV.

John Ker.

The Irony of God

Psalms 18:26

'The pure thinks God is pure, the froward thinks God is froward.'

I. The froward think that God is froward. Sinners think that God is altogether One such as themselves. Even in the hour of death the most abandoned sinners go to meet God without a tremor. There are others who, while they know that God is angry with them and their sins, yet do not feel that it is with a terrible and alarming anger. Now there are many facts in life which the most honest minds find hard to reconcile with God's holiness. Look at some of those facts. ( a ) How many opportunities for sin there are in the world. ( b ) Again, how often, when men begin to sin, they begin to succeed. ( c ) On the other hand, how often the moment men cease from sinning they begin to fail. ( d ) Again, some of the highest forces in the world are on the side of evil.

II. With the pure God shows Himself to be pure. They see that the froward is the victim of illusions, and, in spite of all appearances, that God is perfect in holiness. They see that all these untoward facts only mean that temptation is an element in life. Tempted purity is the purest, and the fire is intended not to consume, but to purify the gold.

III. But what is the reason of God's creation of this strange law, that what a man is shall determine his thought of God, so that with the froward He shows Himself perverse? The answer is, God uses irony in His dealings with men. One or two instances will illustrate this Divine use of irony. ( a ) Is it not an irony that the kingdom of good often comes in this world by the victory and not the defeat of the kingdom of evil. ( b ) Is it not an irony that men often sin to gain an end, and miss the very end they sin to gain? ( c ) And is not this an irony that men who reject God and His wisdom often in their calculations miss out the only things which are certain to happen?

IV. The reason of God's use of irony in his dealings with men. If we are not open to the conviction that we are sinners, He will convince us that we are fools. And nothing shows the proud their folly so effectually as irony. Behind the Divine laughter there is love. Behind the sarcasm there is yearning; the irony is the hunger of a heart seeking to save.

E. Aldom French, God's Message through Modern Doubt, p. 15.

References. XVIII. 25, 26. J. Service, Salvation Here and Hereafter, p. 156. XVIII. International Critical Commentary, vol. i. p. 137.

Lead, Kindly Light

Psalms 18:28

There is in man something to which the Divine taper can be applied. The image and superscription of God imprinted upon him have not been completely effaced. And yet man can shine, as does the man with a light that is borrowed.

I. Only He Who in the beginning said, 'Let there be light,' Who 'is light,' and in Whom 'is no darkness at all,' can light the human lamp: and when a man's lamp is thus lit, he not only finds his own path bright, but, reflecting the Divine rays, he becomes a lamp to others who are groping their way amid the gloom and terror of the night.

II. There is perhaps no single word which is so expressive of everything that is good, and consequently so satisfying to man on every side of his nature as the word 'light'. Darkness is chiefly associated with what is bad, hurtful, dangerous. There are times when, on account of the darkness, we cannot see our way. And then we cry, 'Lead, kindly light'.

W. Taylor, Twelve Favourite Hymns, p. 63.

References. XVIII. 28. H. P. Liddon, Contemporary Pulpit, Extra No. 4, p. 92. XVIII. 30. J. C. Miller, Penny Pulpit, No. 1035. XVIII. 35. J. Vaughan, Sermons, 4th Series, p. 245. W. M. Taylor, Limitations of Life, and other Sermons, p. 344. R. C. Trench, Sermons in Westminster Abbey, p. 339. C. J. Vaughan, Voices of the Prophets, p. 18. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xii. No. 683. H. Bushnell, Christ and His Salvation, p. 18. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xii. No. 683. Leach, Christian World Pulpit, vol. iv. p. 232. Bishop Woodford, Sermons on Subjects from the Old Testament, p. 105. XVIII. 50. H. Bonar, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xv. p. 177. A. Maclaren, Life of David, p. 153.

Psalms 18:39-40

Clovis, the founder of the French monarchy, whose name in the form of Louis has descended to so many kings, was marching southward from Paris, a.d. 507, to meet the formidable Visigoths in battle. Anxious to forecast the result, he sent messengers to consult the shrine of St. Martin of Tours, the oracle of Gaul. They were told to mark the words of the Psalm chanted, when they entered the church. These were verses 39, 40, and encouraged Clovis to the step which proved decisive in French history:

'I have wounded them that they were not able to rise; they are fallen under my feet.

'For thou hast girded me with strength unto the battle; thou hast subdued under me those that rose up against me.'

John Ker.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
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Bibliographical Information
Nicoll, William Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Psalms 18". Expositor's Dictionary of Text. 1910.