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David praiseth God for his manifold and marvellous blessings.
Title. לדוד יהוה לעבד למנצח lamnatseach leebed Jehovah ledavid. To the chief musician. A Psalm of David, the servant of the Lord.] After David had subdued his enemies, and was in peaceable possession of his kingdom, in grateful commemoration of the numerous favours of Divine Providence towards him, he composed this excellent psalm, that the memory of such goodness to him might be perpetuated throughout all generations. Bishop Hare has compared this psalm throughout with the other copy of it, 2 Samuel 22., and Dr. Kennicott has collated the Oxford Hebrew manuscripts of both in his second Dissertation upon the printed text. To these, therefore, we rather refer the reader, than fill our notes with the observation of minute differences. The psalm begins with a solemn acknowledgment of God, as David's all-powerful protector and only refuge in danger, when he needed salvation from his enemies, Psalms 18:1-3. He then describes the distresses that he had been in, Psa 18:4-5 and the wonderful manner by which God, in answer to his prayer, was pleased to deliver him; in which the terrors and dreadful effects of the divine vengeance are described by the sublimest images and loftiest expressions, so as to surpass all imagination: Psalms 18:6-19. He next proceeds to the mention of his own integrity, in his adherence to God, and strict observance of the law of Moses; declaring, that God's conduct towards himself, in thus rewarding him according to his righteousness, was agreeable to the settled method of his providence; and that all good men might expect from him the constant marks of his protection and favour: Psalms 18:20-27. He then gratefully ascribes all his military power, strength, and prudence, his successes, victories, the enlargement of his dominions, and the destruction and submission of his enemies, to the favour and goodness of God: concluding the whole with a solemn thanksgiving for the mercy that God had shewn him, and the settlement of the crown and kingdom of Israel on his family for ever: Psalms 18:28-50.
Psalms 18:2. The Lord is my rock, &c.— These words, by which David expresses his security under the protection of God's providence, will appear to be well chosen, if we consider that under Saul, when he was driven into banishment by him, he was forced to conceal himself in rocks and caverns, and to retreat for his safety to steep hills and precipices, rendered by nature almost inaccessible. See 1 Samuel 19:24; 1 Samuel 24:2. He further declares, that God is his buckler, or shield; or who, as the shield in the soldier's hand, protected him from danger in those perilous wars in which he was engaged with his enemies. He adds, The horn of my salvation: i.e. He who by his power saves me from the destruction which my enemies intend; a metaphor taken from the horns of animals, which are their ornament and strength; by which they protect themselves, and assault those who oppose or injure them. The horn is frequently used by the sacred writers, and by the Arabians, to denote riches, strength, dignity, and power. See also Hor. Carm. Lib. 3: Obadiah 1:21 and Epod. 6: This verse contains a continued chain of metaphors, and is a sublime paraphrase on the first commandment; declaring that God, the God of Israel alone, was the foundation of the Royal Psalmist's confidence, and the author of his security and happiness. Dr. Chandler and Patrick.
Psalms 18:4. The sorrows of death, &c.— The whirlpools of death in heaps rolled over me. Chandler. In the parallel place of Samuel, it is, The waves of death compassed me. Dr. Delaney observes, that nothing can be a finer emblem of a host of men, in their several ranks, than the waves of the sea, succeeding one another in their natural order; and when we consider them pressing forward to the destruction of their adversaries, they may very properly be termed waves of death. The next clause is literally, The torrents of Belial made me afraid: i.e. "The forces of wicked men came down upon me like a torrent of water; as though they would have swept me away by their violence and fury; like an irresistible flood carrying all before it; and filled me with sudden terror." It is to be observed, that, by this translation, the two clauses in this verse properly correspond to each other.
Psalms 18:5. The sorrows of hell, &c.— The nets of Hades, &c. Chandler; with whom Houbigant and Mudge agree; for, by this rendering, the clauses again in this verse properly correspond. By the cords and toils of hell, he means, such as would have sent him into the state of the dead, if he had been taken by them. For he adds, The snares of death prevented me; i.e. "Deadly snares invaded me, and came on me unawares; so that I had no power or opportunity to prevent them." See Psa 18:18 and Chandler.
Psalms 18:7-15. Then the earth shook, &c.— In this, and the eight following verses, David describes, by the sublimest expressions and grandest terms, the majesty of God, and the awful manner in which he came to his assistance. The representation of the storm, in these verses, must be allowed by all skilful and impartial judges to be truly sublime and noble, and in the genuine spirit of poetry. The majesty of God, and the manner in which he is represented as coming to the aid of his favourite king, surrounded with all the powers of nature as his attendants and ministers, and arming, as it were, heaven and earth to fight his battles, and execute his vengeance, are described in the loftiest and most striking terms. The shaking of the earth, the trembling of the mountains and pillars of heaven; the smoke which drove out of his nostrils; the flames of devouring fire which flashed from his mouth; the heavens bending down to convey him to the battle; his riding upon a cherub, and rapidly flying on the wings of a whirlwind; his concealing his majesty in the thick clouds of heaven; the bursting of the lightnings from the horrid darkness; the uttering his voice in peals of thunder; the storm of fiery hail; the melting of the heavens, and their dissolving into floods of tempestuous rains; the cleaving of the earth, and disclosing the bottom of the hills, and the subterraneous channels or torrents of water, by the very breath of the nostrils of the Almighty;—are all of them circumstances which create admiration, excite a kind of horror, and exceed every thing of this nature that is to be found in any of the remains of heathen antiquity. See Longinus on the Sublime, sect. 9., and Hesiod's description of Jupiter fighting against the Titans, which is one of the grandest things in all pagan antiquity, though, upon comparison, it will be found infinitely short of this description of the Psalmist; throughout the whole of which God is represented as a mighty warrior, going forth to fight the battles of David, and highly incensed at the opposition which his enemies made to his power and authority. When he descended to the engagement, the very heavens bowed down to render his descent more awful; his military tent was substantial darkness; the voice of his thunder was the warlike alarm which sounded to the battle; the chariot in which he rode were the thick clouds of heaven, conducted by cherubs, and carried on by the irresistible force and rapid wings of an impetuous tempest; and the darts and weapons that he employed were thunder-bolts, lightnings, fiery hail, deluging rains, and stormy winds! No wonder that, when God thus arose, all his enemies should be scattered, and those who hated him should flee before him! It does not appear, from any part of David's history, that there was any such storm as is here described, which proved destructive to his enemies, and salutary to himself. There might indeed have been such a one, though there is no particular mention of it; unless it may be thought that something of this nature is intimated in the account given of David's second battle with the Philistines, 2 Samuel 5:23-24. It is undoubted, however, that the storm is represented as real, though David, in describing it, has heightened and embellished it with all the ornaments of poetry: see Chandler, Delaney, and Lowth's 9th Prelection.
Psalms 18:8. There went up a smoke out of his nostrils— Or, There ascended into his nostrils a smoke, as the words, literally rendered, signify. The ancients placed the seat of anger in the nose, or nostrils, because that passion, when it grows warm and violent, discovers itself by the heated vehement breath which proceeds from them. Hence the physiognomists considered open wide nostrils as a sign of an angry fiery disposition. This description of a smoke arising into, and a fire breaking forth from the nostrils of God, denotes, by a poetical figure, the greatness of his anger and indignation. Fire out of his mouth devoured, means that consuming fire issued out of his mouth. Coals were kindled by it, we render the next clause; but the words do not mean that fire proceeding from God kindled coals, but that burning coals issued from his mouth; and it should be rendered, Living coals from his mouth burned or consumed around him. Chandler.
Psalms 18:9. 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 an amazing lustre, and which, by its gradual approach to the earth, would appear as though the heavens themselves were bending down, and approaching towards us.
Psalms 18:10. He rode upon a cherub, and did fly— i.e. 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. See Psalms 103:20; Psalms 104:4. 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:
——Forth rush'd, with whirlwind sound, The chariot of paternal Deity; Flashing thick flames, wheel within wheel undrawn, Itself instinct with spirit, but convoy'd By four cherubic shapes.
Paradise Lost, b. 6:
This seems to be the image intended to be conveyed to us in the place before us: He rode upon a cherub, and flew upon the wings of the wind; i.e. The cherub supported, and led on the tempest, in which the Almighty rode, as in his chariot. This is agreeable to the office elsewhere ascribed to the cherubim. Thus they supported the mercy-seat, which was peculiarly the throne of God under the Jewish economy. What confirms me in this sentiment is, that God is expressly said to make the clouds his chariot, Psa 104:3 and to ride upon a swift cloud, Isaiah 19:1.; so that riding upon a cherub, and riding a swift cloud, is riding in the cloud, as his chariot, supported and guided by the ministry of the cherubim. The next clause in the parallel place of Samuel is, And he was seen upon the wings of the wind. The word rendered was seen, might be translated, appeared as a warrior, or fought upon the wings of the wind; which conveys a noble representation of God, as riding in his chariot directed by cherubs, and borne up by the swift wings of a tempest, as a mighty warrior going to engage in battle for the assistance of his favourite king: in which view the passage is more striking than in the Psalms; where, however, we should observe, that, though we use the word fly in both clauses, yet the original words are different; and the verse might be rendered, He rode upon a cherub, and flew; yea, as an eagle he rapidly flew upon the wings of the wind; the latter expression conveying a stronger image than the former. See Exodus 19:4. Deu 32:11 and Chandler.
Psalms 18:11. He made darkness his secret place— His tent. Chandler. God is frequently represented in the sacred writings as surrounded by clouds. See Psalms 97:2.Deuteronomy 4:11; Deuteronomy 4:11. This representation in the place before us is peculiarly proper, as thick heavy clouds, deeply charged, and with louring aspects, are always the forerunners and attendants of a tempest, and greatly heighten the horrors of the appearance; and the representation of them, as spread around the Almighty for his pavilion and tent, is truly poetical and grand.
Psalms 18:12. At the brightness that was before him— At his lightning his clouds swelled, and burst out into hailstones and coals of fire. Schultens, Chandler, &c. The meaning is, that at the brightness or lightning which proceeded from God, his clouds fermented, i.e. being rarefied by the heat, swelled and boiled over. Thus Hesiod represents the whole earth, the currents of the ocean, and the great sea, as fermenting and boiling, when Jupiter threw abroad his thunder and lightning. See Theog. ver. 695, 696. In the former part of this description, the clouds are represented as condensed, heavy, and louring, ready to burst out with all the fury of a tempest; and here, as beginning to disburthen and discharge themselves, by the eruption of the lightning in fire, flames, and hailstones, mixed: the abrupt manner in which the burning coals and hailstones are mentioned, points out the sudden and impetuous fall of them. The word גחלי gachalei, rendered coals, signifies living, burning coals. Where the lightning fell, it devoured all before it, and turned whatever it touched into burning embers. Chandler.
Psalms 18:13. The Lord also thundered in the heavens, &c.— 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 which attended it; and the omission of the hail and fire after the thunder, would have made it a sort of brutum fulmen, harmless thunder, and almost disarmed the artillery of the Almighty of its vengeance. I cannot, therefore, but wonder, that some learned men should imagine, that these words were here taken unnecessarily from the former verse by careless transcribers. It is indeed said, that the fire and hail in this last verse are omitted in the parallel place in Samuel. This is true; but then the whole description there differs from this in the Psalms; as the reader will see by comparing the two places together. See Chandler, and Kennicott's Dissert. vol. 1:
Psalms 18:14. Yea, he sent out his arrows, and scattered them— Yea, he sent out his darts, and scorched them: he brandished his thunder-bolts, and dissolved them; i.e. the heavens. Schultens. Dr. Chandler approves of this version of Schultens; only instead of scorched, in the former clause, he renders it, made the heavens overflow: the word פוצ putz, is used to denote the inundation caused by rivers overflowing their banks, and the pouring down of large showers from the heavens; and, as applied to the heavens, here, means, that by the thunder and lightning the clouds were made to overflow and fall with such violence, as that the heavens themselves seemed to be dissolving down in rain. Lucretius finely compares the dissolution of the clouds in rain, by the heat of the sun, to the melting of wax by fire, lib. vi. v. 510. The Greek and Latin poets frequently speak of thunder and lightning as the arrows of Jupiter. See Chandler, and Schultens, Orig. Heb. vol. 1: p. 131.
Psalms 18:15. Then the channels of water were seen— This is a description of the effects of the earthquake, by which the earth was riven or rent in sunder, and such clefts made in it, that the subterraneous passages of the waters were discovered by the eruption of vast quantities of water proceeding from the breaches of it, as have frequently been the effects of violent earthquakes. In that great one which happened at Jamaica in the year 1692, in some places out of the clefts issued forth whole rivers of water, spouting up a great height into the air, which seemed to threaten a deluge even twelve miles from the sea; in others, there were formed new lakes of water covering a thousand acres. Many other instances of the like sort might be mentioned. These dreadful eruptions of water may well be called the channels, or rather torrents of water, or of the sea, which discovered themselves as the effect of the earthquake. The Psalmist adds, The foundations of the world were discovered; i.e. such large and deep chasms, or apertures, were made by the violence of the shock, that one might almost see the very foundations; or, as Jonah calls them, the bottoms, or rather the extremities of the mountains, in the bottom of the sea. These may be well called the foundations of the world, as their bases run deep into the earth, and thereby add greatly to the security and stability of it. Chandler. Dr. Delaney, in his first volume, b. i. c. 11. of his Life of David, has made a judicious and pleasing comparison between this description, and a fine passage of much the same kind in the first Georgic of Virgil, to which we must refer the reader.
Psalms 18:16. He sent from above, &c.— This may either denote, in general, that God aided and assisted him by his divine power, or that he sent his angels from heaven, to protect and rescue him from the many dangers that surrounded him; which he figuratively calls drawing him out of many waters; afflictions and great calamities being frequently represented by deep waters and floods in the sacred writings. See Chandler, and Lowth's 6th Prelection. Theodoret observes, that the Psalmist tells us what waters he means by the next words: He delivered me from my strong enemies; i.e. from Saul and other his persecutors.
Psalms 18:18. They prevented me in the day of my calamity— i.e. "came on me suddenly, unawares, when I was unprovided and helpless; and must have destroyed me, had not God upheld and supported me when I was in danger of perishing." God was to the Psalmist for a staff, to support him. What a staff is to one who is ready to fall, the means of recovering and preserving him, that was God to David in the time of his extremity.
Psalms 18:19. He brought me forth also into a large place— The Psalmist expresses himself much in the same manner, but with an addition which explains the nature of the phrase, Psalms 31:8. Thou hast not shut me up into the hand of the enemy: thou hast set my feet in a large room. David was several times shut up in close confinement in rocks and caverns. In opposition to this, he says, God had brought him into a large place; had set him at liberty, and placed him in such happy circumstances, as that he could live and act with the utmost freedom, without any constraint of his enemies, or danger to his person. It may also be observed, that the eastern writers denote any person's condition in life by his steps or goings. Hence, narrow or straitened steps denote a state of distress and great affliction; and large unconfined steps, the contrary state of prosperity and plenty; so that he praises God for advancing him to great honour and prosperity, by settling him on the throne, and enabling him to conquer all his enemies. See Chandler, and Schultens on Job 18:7.
Psalms 18:20. The Lord rewarded me according to my righteousness— In this and the five following verses, David declares his own integrity, and that he had not departed from, but conscientiously observed, the precepts and commands which God had given him by the law of Moses; and that therefore God, in the deliverance which he had vouchsafed him, and peaceably establishing him on the throne of Israel, had testified his approbation of him, and abundantly rewarded him. His behaviour to Saul was exemplary; and there is no instance in this period of his life that can be alleged against him, in which he violated the known precepts of religion and virtue, enjoined by that constitution which he was under; and therefore, conscious of his integrity, thus far, he glories and rejoices, that God, who was witness to it, had thus bountifully rewarded it.
Psalms 18:23. I kept myself from mine iniquity— The affix י jod, my to the noun עון avon may probably be merely supplemental, and not point out any particular sin to which David was especially inclined. The Chaldee paraphrase renders it, He was the saviour of my soul from sin; and the Syriac version, I preserved myself from sin; or, if it was intended to point out any such sin, it may be difficult to determine what it was. David certainly was of a warm, eager, hasty disposition: this appears throughout the whole of his character: and when his passions were raised, and in the heat of his temper, he was liable to be transported into unjustifiable proceedings; yet we find that in this respect he had wonderfully the mastery over himself. This appeared in his whole behaviour towards Saul; and though, in the affair of Nabal, he vowed a cruel revenge for an outrageous affront, he immediately grew cool when reason took place, and blessed God that he had been preserved from executing the purpose which he had formed. This violence of temper may be what he calls his own iniquity; which he had learned to conquer, and from the guilty effects of which, he reflects with comfort that he had been enabled to keep himself. Chandler.
Psalms 18:25. With the merciful thou wilt shew thyself merciful— In this and the two next verses, David lays down the general method of the procedure of God's moral providence and government, which will be in the issue agreeable to the moral character and conduct of men themselves. With the merciful thou wilt shew thyself merciful: similar to that of our Lord: Blessed are the merciful; for they shall obtain mercy. With an upright man thou wilt shew thyself upright; an invariable friend to his integrity; just to reward it, and faithful in all thy promises to encourage it. With the pure thou wilt shew thyself pure; the lover of purity, righteousness, and truth, and ever acting towards those whose character this is, according to the perfect rectitude and unspotted purity of thy own nature. But with the froward thou wilt shew thyself froward. The word עקשׁ ikkesh, rendered, froward signifies one of a perverse disposition, who twists and twines himself just as his humour, passions, and interest lead him; or a crafty wily person, who accustoms himself to all the arts of deceit. With one of this character, the Psalmist says of God, Thou wilt shew thyself froward; as we render the original: it properly signifies to wrestle, and should be rendered, "Thou will shew that thou canst wrestle with, and supplant them too." The meaning therefore is, that God will deal with designing, crafty, perverse men according to their deserts, disappoint them in all their subtilest devices, and cause them to fall by those very wiles by which they endeavour to deceive and ruin others. See Leviticus 26:23-24. Chandler, and Schultens' Instit. Ling. Heb. 482.
Psalms 18:28. Thou wilt light my candle— i.e. Advance me to honour, and increase my prosperity; and make me continually joyful by thy favour. Nothing more usual among the Oriental writers than the representing any person or family by a lamp enlightening the whole house. See 1 Kings 11:36; 1 Kings 15:4.Job 18:5-6; Job 18:5-6.
Psalms 18:29. For by thee I have run through a troop, &c.— David mentions this as one instance of God's lighting up his lamp; or his purpose to advance him to the greatest splendours of royal majesty: his beating the troops of his enemies, and his reducing some remarkable city or fortress; both of them circumstances which render men glorious in the eyes of the world. David soon after his settlement on the throne drove the Jebusite garrison out of Jerusalem, and reduced the city to his obedience, making it the future capital of his kingdom. And I think he must refer to these actions, or to his two victories over the Philistines, mentioned 2 Samuel 5:17; 2Sa 5:25 because I apprehend this Psalm was composed soon after he had introduced the ark into Jerusalem. David's habitual piety should be here remarked; as he ascribes all his successes to the assistance of God, and in the two next verses celebrates—The unerring rectitude of his Providence: As for God, his way is perfect, in every thing just and kind:—The truth of his promises; the word of the Lord is tried, free from deceit, as gold refined by fire, and certainly to be performed:—And that powerful protection which he affords to good men; He is a buckler, a sure defence to all those who trust in him. To this he could bear witness from his own experience; and therefore he breaks out in that just acknowledgment, Psalms 18:31. Who is God, save Jehovoah? or, who is a Rock,—who can give absolute security from all dangers, save our God? He then goes on to enumerate the particular favours which God had bestowed on himself, and the various perils that he had been in, under which he experienced the divine protection. Chandler. Dr. Delaney advances a conjecture, that David composed the greater part of this Psalm after the deliverance he obtained from Saul's messengers, when they were sent to his house to take him, and when he was let down by Michal out of the window, and escaped over the garden-wall: But, as we think the above interpretation of Dr. Chandler very satisfactory, we shall only refer such of our readers as are curious to enter into the subject, to the above quoted part of the Life of David. Some render the latter clause, By my God have I taken a fort.
Psalms 18:32. It is God that girdeth me, &c.— The form of speaking here seems to be taken from the military belt which officers wore as the emblem of authority and valour; and the meaning is, that God distinguished him by inspiring him with a superior spirit of courage, and the highest resolution and fortitude in war. He maketh my way perfect, means, he directeth me to those methods which secure my success. A man's way in the pursuit of any end is perfect, when the means that he uses to attain it are proper and direct, and will finally render him successful in it: and thus God made David's way perfect, as he gave him the surest directions how to act, and prospered him in all his measures to support the dignity of his crown and government. Chandler. Green renders it, He maketh my warfare complete: and he endeavours to prove on Psa 2:12 that the word דרךֶ derek is frequently used in this sense.
Psalms 18:33. He maketh my feet like hinds' feet, &c.— i.e. "Hath endowed me with agility and vigour, and made me swift to run, so that I can easily ascend the highest hills." This was reckoned a very honourable qualification among the ancient warriors; who, as they generally fought on foot, were enabled by their agility and swiftness speedily to run from place to place, give orders, attack their enemies, defend their friends, or for any other purposes that the service might require of them; many instances of which we have in the battles of Homer and Virgil. See 2 Samuel 1:23. 1 Chronicles 12:8. This qualification was peculiarly useful to David, as the country of Judaea, and some of those wherein he was obliged to make war, were very mountainous and steep.
Psalms 18:34. A bow of steel is broken by mine arms— My arms have bent the bow of steel. Chandler. He makes my arms to be like a brazen bow. Houbigant and Mudge: but Dr. Chandler's rendering is more agreeable to the Hebrew. In the foregoing part of the verse, the Psalmist acknowledges that God taught his hands to war, of which he gives an instance in the latter; that his arms were able to bend and draw together even a brazen or steely bow, and to use it in his wars against his enemies: this was an argument of great strength. The story of Ulysses' bow, which none of the suitors were able to draw, is well known. See Odyss. lib. 21. ver. 409. Dr. Delaney, speaking of the excellency of this composition, observes, "What is very singular, David had found out the secret of most effectually perpetuating his own praise, by perpetuating that of his Maker: while he labours to make the praises of God glorious, he makes his own eminent above that of all other mortals. A single instance will evince this: we never should have known that David was one of the swiftest and strongest of mankind, if his own thanksgivings had not told us so; if he had not blessed God for giving him the swiftness of the hart, and the strength to break a bow of steel. It has been observed by writers of all times, how much dignity a graceful mien and person have always given to kings and commanders. David had these advantages added to his other accomplishments, beyond most men. We cannot help forming to ourselves some idea, however imperfect, of the persons whom we admire, and mine of David's person, continues Dr. Delaney, hath, I own, been modelled by that of Claudian's Stilico:
The moment we behold you, we admire; The radiant eye proclaims the valiant chief; The limbs so siz'd and shap'd as poets paint Heroes and demi-gods, less finish'd forms. Thro' every city as you pass rever'd, All rise respectful, and with joy give place. CLAUD. de Laude Stil. lib. 1:"
I would just observe, that the radiant eye, &c. in this version of Delaney's, by no means expresses the beauty of Claudian's Celsi nitor igneus oris;—the fiery splendor of his lofty brow.
Psalms 18:35. Thou hast also given me the shield of thy salvation, &c.— i.e. "The salvation which thou hast afforded me, hath been my constant protection and security; and thy gentleness; i.e. (as I think the words may be rendered) that gentleness, forbearance, and freedom from the spirit of malice and revenge, with which thou hast blessed me, hath increased my greatness; referring to his conduct towards Saul, which God approved and highly rewarded." Chandler.
Psalms 18:36. Thou hast enlarged my steps under me— See the note on Psalms 18:18. "Thou hast brought me out of my distresses; given me great prosperity:" and my feet do not slip: i.e. my happiness continues unmoved.
Psalms 18:39. Thou hast girded me with strength unto battle— "Thou hast inspired my forces with resolution and vigour, and thereby hast subdued under me those who rose up against me: i.e. my enemies, who joined in battle to oppress me."
Psalms 18:40. Thou hast also given me the necks of mine enemies— As for mine enemies, thou givest me their back. Houbigant. Mudge, &c. The word ףּער oreph, rendered neck, signifies the back part of the neck, and therefore is equivalent to back, as the LXX also translate it. Thou givest me their back; that is, puttest them to flight. See Exodus 23:27.
Psalms 18:42. I did cast them out as the dirt in the streets— As the mire in the streets I trampled them down. Chandler. I beat them flat. Mudge.
Psalms 18:43. Thou hast delivered me from the strivings of the people— From that conflict between the tribes, or the civil war, which was raised by Abner in favour of Ishbosheth, and from the invasions of the Philistines, who attacked him soon after his succession to the kingdom; and thereby put him into peaceable possession of the throne, and made him the head of those nations, which were become tributary by his victories over them. See 2 Samuel 8:1; 1 Chronicles 18:01 Chronicles 18:0; 1 Chronicles 18:0.
Psalms 18:44. The strangers shall submit themselves unto me— The Hebrew is literally, The sons of the stranger have lied unto me; "The foreign nations that I have conquered have promised me their obedience, and, dissembling their hatred and hostility, have submitted to my government; offered me their service, and paid me through compulsion the tribute that I demanded of them." Nothing can argue a more wretched and servile subjection than to be forced to compliment a conqueror at the expence of truth and liberty; and with a lying mouth, and treacherous heart, to give him assurances of fidelity. Chandler.
Psalms 18:45. The strangers shall fade away, &c.— "They shall either lose their courage, and all power to resist, and their prosperity shall decay, and come to an utter end; or they themselves shall fall and gradually perish, till there be few or none of them left to oppose me." See Isaiah 1:30; Isaiah 40:7. Exodus 18:18. Psalms 37:2. It is added, They shall be afraid out of their close places. Grotius's comment is, "They shall suspect their safety in the very places they flew to for refuge." The verb חרג charag, is used only in this place in the Old Testament. The force of it seems to be, to be straitened; and the meaning of the clause, "They are straitened and distressed in the places where they shut themselves up, so that they are forced to surrender them into my hands." See Chandler, and Schultens.
Psalms 18:50. Great deliverance giveth he, &c.— Literally, He magnifies the salvations of his king; they are such as are great and wonderful in themselves, and as they add a dignity and lustre to the king, on whom they are bestowed; there being nothing which can tend more to advance the honour, and heighten the reverence due to a prince, than to consider him as the favourite of Providence, highly distinguished by the divine protection and care, and delivered by it out of numerous dangers which threatened his prosperity and life; except we had that prince's thorough sense of the greatness of his obligations, and his piety in the grateful acknowledgment of them. David was eminent for both. Chandler. I would just observe, in conclusion, that though the passages, Psalms 18:42, &c. in which David speaks of himself as being made head of the nations, allude primarily to his victories; yet, in the secondary sense, they allude to his Divine Son, and to the conversion of the Gentiles to his faith; in which sense they are applied by the apostles themselves. To his seed for evermore, in this verse, must also be applied to the Messiah, whose kingdom shall never have an end.
REFLECTIONS.—David may here be called the servant of the Lord, as representing him who took upon himself the form of a servant when he was made in the likeness of men; and his dangers were greater, and his deliverances far more glorious, than those which the king of Israel experienced.
1. The Psalmist, in the person of the Redeemer, expresses his confidence in God, his love to him, and constant dependance upon his salvation in every time of trouble.
2. He magnifies the glorious interposition that he had experienced under the most dangerous and threatening circumstances, when his soul was exceeding sorrowful even unto death; when ungodly men, mighty as the stormy waves, Jews and Heathens, conspired to destroy him, when pains of hell tormented his spirit, and death in its most horrid shapes seized on his body; in that hour when the powers of darkness summoned their collected force to shake the confidence of the great Mediator, then, with strong crying and tears, he made supplication and was heard. The trembling earth, and rending rocks, bespoke the wrath of God against the murderers of his Son, and swift vengeance soon awaked to overtake them. Judgments, sudden as the lightning, terrible as thunder, and consuming as fire, fell upon the devoted city and people where he was crucified; the very foundations of their commonwealth were razed, and desolations spread on every side. Note; More terrible judgments await the sinner in the day of God; when all who have rejected, like those Jews, his great salvation, and by their sins have crucified the Son of God afresh, will see him bow the heavens and come down to take final and eternal vengeance on his enemies.
3. He speaks with exultation of his deliverance, and the glory to which he was advanced. God drew him from the hands of his enemy, delivered him from the power of Satan, and loosed the bands of death, raising him from the grave triumphant, and causing him to ascend to his right hand in glory, because he delighted in him. Note; God delights in his Son, and all who are members of his body mystical are interested in the same divine regard; and, however deep the afflictions with which they are now exercised, the faithful shall shortly be exalted with their triumphant Lord and Saviour.
4. Though David's cause was righteous, and his heart simple before God, yet is our most righteous Saviour more particularly adverted to here. His exaltation and glory is the reward of a righteousness absolutely perfect; for in him was no sin, nor guile found in his mouth. Note; They who have an interest in Christ, have a right to his merits: but while his afflicted and faithful people are saved, and they who suffer with Jesus are glorified together with him, the froward and perverse, the proud, self-righteous, and unhumbled, shall be brought low, and feel the wrath of an offended God.
5. David had experienced many dark providences, many dark nights of spiritual affliction, and many foes without, as well as fears within; but all vanished when God, his help and strength, lightened his darkness, and gave him victory over all his enemies. The Son of David found deeper distress, and greater foes; yet, though his eyes were sealed in death, and his burning light gone out in obscurity, he awaked, and, like the sun, shone brighter in glory, when the dark cloud had passed over him. God helped him, (for, as man, he needed divine support,) and none of his enemies could stand before him. He ascended up on high, and led captivity captive, having spoiled principalities and powers; and now he reigns in glory everlasting, exalted in the most eminent sense to be head of the heathen, all power being given him in heaven and in earth; and in a peculiar manner he is the head of his church, gathered out of all the nations of the world.
In the view of these mercies the Psalmist exalts the Divine Majesty, blessing and praising him for such exertions of his power and faithfulness. And Jesus thus thanked his Father, for hearing and helping him; and in his church unceasing praise will be for ever given for this great salvation, both of the head and of the several members.
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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Psalms 18". Coke's Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 8 / Ordinary 13