Psalms 18

PSALM XVIII

David's address of thanks to Jehovah, 1-3.

A relation of sufferings undergone, and prayers made for

assistance, 4-6.

A magnificent description of Divine interposition in behalf

of the sufferer, 7-15;

and of the deliverance wrought for him, 16-19.

That this deliverance was in consideration of his

righteousness, 20-24;

and according to the tenor of God's equitable proceedings,

25-28.

To Jehovah is ascribed the glory of the victory, 29-36;

which is represented as complete by the destruction of all

his opponents, 37-42.

On these events the heathen submit, 43-45.

And for all these things God is glorified, 46-50.

NOTES ON PSALM XVIII

The title: "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."

Except the first clause, this title is taken from 2Sa 22:1. The

reader is requested to turn to the notes on 2Sa 22:1, for some

curious information on this Psalm, particularly what is extracted

from Dr. Kennicott. This learned writer supposes the whole to be a

song of the Messiah, and divides it into five parts, which he thus

introduces:-

"The Messiah's sublime thanksgivings, composed by David when his

wars were at an end, towards the conclusion of his life. And in

this sacred song the goodness of God is celebrated, 1. For

Messiah's resurrection from the dead, with the wonders attending

that awful event, and soon following it. 2. For the punishment

inflicted on the Jews; particularly by the destruction of

Jerusalem. And, 3. For the obedience of the Gentile nations. See

Ro 15:9; Heb 2:13; and Mt 28:2-4; with Mt 24:7, 29."

And that the title now prefixed to this hymn here and in

2Sa 22:1, describes only the

time of its composition, seems evident; for who can ascribe to

David himself as the subject,

Ps 18:5, 6, 8-17, 21-26, 30, 42, 44, &c.?

In Dr. Kennicott's remarks there is a new translation of the

whole Psalm, p. 178, &c.

The strong current of commentators and critics apply this Psalm

to Christ; and to oppose a whole host of both ancients and moderns

would argue great self-confidence. In the main I am of the same

mind; and on this principle chiefly I shall proceed to its

illustration; still however considering that there are many things

in it which concern David, and him only. Drs. Chandler and Delaney

have been very successful in their illustration of various

passages in it; all the best critics have brought their strongest

powers to bear on it; and most of the commentators have laboured

it with great success; and Bishop Horne has applied the whole of

it to Christ. My old Psalter speaks highly in its praise: "This

Psalme contenes the sacrement of al chosyn men, the qwilk doand

the law of God thurgh the seven fald grace of the Haly Gast fra al

temptaciouns, and the pouste of dede and of the devel lesid: this

sang thai syng til God; and thankes him and says, I sal luf the

Lord, noght a day or twa, bot ever mare: my strength, thurgh quam

I am stalworth in thoght."

Verse 1. I will love thee] Love always subsists on motive and

reason. The verb racham signifies to love with all the tender

feelings of nature. "From my inmost bowels will I love thee, O

Lord!" 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.

My strength.] 1. Thou who hast given me power over my

adversaries, and hast enabled me to avoid evil and do good.

Verse 2. The Lord is my rock] 2. 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; where the bees often made

their nests, and whence honey was collected in great abundance.

"He made him to suck honey out of the rock," De 32:13. 3. He was

his fortress; a place of strength and safety, fortified by

nature and art, where he could be safe from his enemies. He

refers to those inaccessible heights in the rocky, mountainous

country of Judea, where he had often found refuge from the pursuit

of Saul. What these have been to my body, such has the Lord been

to my soul.

Deliverer] 4. mephalleti, he who causes me to escape.

This refers to his preservation in straits and difficulties. He

was often almost surrounded and taken, but still the Lord made a

way for his escape-made a way out as his enemies got in; so that,

while they got in at one side of his strong hold, he got out of

the other, and so escaped with his life. These escapes were so

narrow and so unlikely that he plainly saw the hand of the Lord

was in them. 5. My God, Eli, my strong God, not only the

object of my adoration, but he who puts strength in my soul. 6. My

strength, tsuri. This is a different word from that in the

first verse. Rabbi Maimon has observed that tsur, when

applied to God, signifies fountain, source, origin, &c. God is not

only the source whence my being was derived, but he is the

fountain whence I derive all my good; in whom, says David, I

will trust. And why? Because he knew him to be an eternal and

inexhaustible fountain of goodness. This fine idea is lost in

our translation; for we render two Hebrew words of widely

different meaning, by the same term in English, strength. 7. My

buckler, maginni, my shield, my defender, he who

covers my head and my heart, so that I am neither slain nor

wounded by the darts of my adversaries. 8. Horn of my salvation.

Horn was the emblem of power, and power in exercise. This has

been already explained; see on 1Sa 2:1. The

horn of salvation means a powerful, an efficient salvation. 9.

My high tower; not only a place of defence, but one from which I

can discern the country round about, and always be able to

discover danger before it approaches me.

Verse 3. I will call upon the Lord] When he was conscious that

the object of his worship was such as he has pointed out in the

above nine particulars, it is no wonder that he resolves to call

upon him; and no wonder that he expects, in consequence, to be

saved from his enemies; for who can destroy him whom such a God

undertakes to save?

Verse 4. The sorrows of death compassed me] chebley

maveth, 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] Troops of wicked men were rushing

upon him like an irresistible torrent; or like the waves of the

sea, one impelling another forward in successive ranks; so that,

thinking he must be overwhelmed by them, he was for the moment

affrighted; but God turned the torrent aside, and he escaped.

Verse 5. The sorrows of hell] chebley sheol, the

cables or cords of the grave. Is not this a reference to the

cords or ropes with which they lowered the corpse into the

grave? or the bandages by which the dead were swathed? He was as

good as dead.

The snares of death prevented me.] I was just on the point of

dropping into the pit which they had digged for me. In short, I

was all but a dead man; and nothing less than the immediate

interference of God could have saved my life.

Verse 6. In my distress I called] His enemies had no hope of his

destruction unless God should abandon him. They hoped that this

was the case, and that therefore they should prevail. But God

heard his cry and came down to his help; and this interference

is most majestically described in the 7th and following verses.

Dr. Dodd has collected some excellent observations on these verses

from Chandler, Delaney, and others, which I shall transcribe, as I

know not that any thing better can be offered on the subject.

Verse 7. Then the earth shook and trembled] "In this and the

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, is described in the loftiest and most

striking terms. The shaking of the earth; the trembling of the

mountains and pillars of heaven; the smoke that drove out of his

nostrils; the flames of devouring fire that 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 of his voice in peals of thunder; the storm of

fiery hail; the melting of the heavens, and their dissolving

into floods of tempestuous rain; the cleaving of the earth, and

disclosing of 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, sec. 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's; 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 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

was 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 he employed were thunderbolts,

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, 2Sa 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 ninth Prelection.

Verse 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 when the passions are warm and

violent, it 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, thus 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, and

consumed around him.'-Chandler.

Verse 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 exceeding lustre; and which, by its gradual approach to the

earth, would appear as though the heavens themselves were bending

down and approaching towards us.

Verse 10. 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.

See Ps 103:20; 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 convey'd

By four cherubic shapes.

Par. Lost, lib. vi.

This seems to be the image intended to be conveyed in the place

before us. "He rode upon a cherub, and did fly; he flew on 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. God is expressly said to "make the

clouds his chariot," Ps 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. The next clause in the

parallel place of Samuel is, "He was seen on the wings of the

wind;" yera, he was seen, being used for yede,

he flew, daleth being changed into resh. Either of

them may be the true reading, for the MSS. are greatly divided on

these places; but on the whole vaiyera appears to be the

better reading: "And he was seen on the wings of the wind."

As the original has been supposed by adequate judges to exhibit

a fine specimen of that poetry which, in the choice of its terms,

conveys both sense and sound, I will again lay it before the

reader, as I have done in the parallel place, 2Sa 22:2. The words

in italic Hebrew to be read from right to left.

vaiyaoph kerub al vayirkab

And he rode upon a cherub, and did fly!

ruach canphey al waiyede

Yea, he flew on the wings of the wind!

The word ruach, in the last line, should be pronounced, not

ruak, which is no Hebrew word: but as a Scottish man would

pronounce it, were it written ruagh. With this observation, how

astonishingly is the rushing of the wind heard in the last word of

each hemistich! Sternhold and Hopkins have succeeded in their

version of this place, not only beyond all they ever did, but

beyond every ancient and modern poet on a similar subject:-

"On cherub and on cherubin

Full royally he rode;

And on the wings of mighty winds

Came flying all abroad."

Even the old Anglo-Scottish Psalter has not done amiss:-

And he steygh aboven cherubyn and he flow;

He flow aboven the fethers of wyndes.

Verse 11. He made darkness his secret place] God is represented

as dwelling in the thick darkness, De 4:11; Ps 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, is truly grand and

poetic.

Dark waters] The vapours strongly condensed into clouds; which,

by the stroke of the lightning, are about to be precipitated in

torrents of rain. See the next verse.

Verse 12. At the brightness that was before him his thick clouds

passed] The word nogah 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.

Hail-stones and coals of fire.] This was the storm that followed

the flash and the peal; for it is immediately added-

Verse 13. The Lord also thundered in the heavens, and the

Highest gave his voice] And then followed the hail and coals of

fire. 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. Some think the words

hail-stones and coals of fire are entered here by some careless

transcribers from the preceding verse; and it is true that they

are wanting in the Septuagint and the Arabic, in the parallel

place in 2 Samuel, and in five of Kennicott's and De Rossi's

MSS. I should rather, with Bishop Horsley, suppose them to be an

interpolation in the preceding verse: or in that to have been

borrowed from this; for this most certainly is their true place.

Verse 14. He sent out his arrows-he shot out lightnings] I

believe the latter clause to be an illustration of the former. He

sent out his arrows-that is, he shot out lightnings; for

lightnings are the arrows of the Lord, and there is something very

like the arrowhead apparent in the zigzag lightning. Sense and

sound are wonderfully combined in the Hebrew of this last

clause: uberakim rab vaihummem, "and thunderings

he multiplied and confounded them." Who does not hear the

bursting, brattling, and pounding of thunder in these words? See

Delaney?

Verse 15. The channels of water were seen] This must refer to an

earthquake; for in such cases, the ground being rent, water

frequently gushes out at the fissures, and often rises to a

tremendous height. Whole rivers were poured out of the chasms made

by the earthquake in Jamaica, A. D. 1694; and new lakes of water

were formed, covering a thousand acres of land!

Verse 16. He drew me out of many waters.] Here the allusion is

still carried on. The waters thus poured out were sweeping the

people away; but God, by a miraculous interference, sent and drew

David out. Sometimes waters are used to denote multitudes of

people; and here the word may have that reference; multitudes were

gathered together against David, but God delivered him from them

all. This seems to be countenanced by the following verse.

Verse 17. He delivered me from my strong enemy] Does not this

refer to his conflict with Ishbi-benob? "And Ishbi-benob, which

was of the sons of the giant-thought to have slain David. But

Abishai the son of Zeruiah succoured him, and smote the

Philistine, and killed him. Then the men of David sware unto him,

saying, Thou shalt go no more out with us to battle, that thou

quench not the light of Israel;" 2Sa 21:16, 17. It appears that

at this time he was in the most imminent danger of his life, and

that he must have fallen by the hands of the giant, if God had not

sent Abishai to his assistance. They were too strong for me. He

was nearly overpowered by the Philistines; and his escape was such

as evidently to show it to be supernatural.

Verse 18. They prevented me in the day of my calamity] They took

advantage of the time in which I was least able to make head

against them, and their attack was sudden and powerful. I should

have been overthrown, but the Lord was my stay. He had been nearly

exhausted by the fatigue of the day, when the giant availed

himself of this advantage.

Verse 19. He brought me forth also into a large place] He

enabled me to clear the country of my foes, who had before cooped

me up in holes and corners. This appears to be the allusion.

Verse 20. The Lord rewarded me] David proceeds to give the

reasons why God had so marvellously interposed in his behalf.

According to my righteousness] Instead of being an enemy to

Saul, I was his friend. I dealt righteously with him while he

dealt unrighteously with me.

Verse 21. I have kept the ways of the Lord] I was neither an

infidel nor a profligate; I trusted in God, and carefully

observed all the ordinances of his religion.

Verse 22. All his judgments were before me] I kept his law

before my eyes, that I might see my duty and know how to walk and

please God.

Verse 23. I was also upright] The times in which David was most

afflicted were the times of his greatest uprightness. Adversity

was always to him a time of spiritual prosperity.

Mine iniquity.] Probably meaning what is generally termed the

easily-besetting sin; the sin of his constitution, or that to

which the temperament of his body most powerfully disposed him.

What this was, is a subject of useless conjecture.

Verse 25. With the merciful thou wilt show thyself merciful]

Thou wilt deal with men as they deal with each other. This is the

general tenor of God's providential conduct towards mankind; well

expressed by Mr. Pope in his universal prayer:-

"Teach me to feel another's wo;

To hide the fault I see:

The mercy I to others show,

That mercy show to me."

It is in reference to this that our Lord teaches us to pray:

"Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive them that trespass

against us." If we act feelingly and mercifully towards our fellow

creatures, God will act tenderly and compassionately towards us.

The merciful, the upright, and the pure, will ever have the God of

mercy, uprightness, and purity, to defend and support them.

Verse 26. With the froward] ikkesh, the perverse man; he

that is crooked in his tempers and ways.

Thou wilt show thyself froward.] tithpattal, thou wilt set

thyself to twist, twine, and wrestle. If he contend, thou wilt

contend with him. Thou wilt follow him through all his windings;

thou wilt trace him through all his crooked ways; untwist him in

all his cunning wiles; and defeat all his schemes of stubbornness,

fraud, overreaching, and deceit.

My old Psalter has, With the wiked thow sal be wike. Here the

term wicked is taken in its true original sense, crooked, or

perverse. With the wiked, the perverse, thou wilt show thyself

wike, i.e., perverse; from [Anglo-Saxon], to draw back, to

slide. As he draws back from thee, thou wilt draw back from

him. It may, as before intimated, come from [A.S.], to seek for

enchantments; leaving God, and going to devils; to act like a

witch: but here it must mean as above. The plain import is, "If

thou perversely oppose thy Maker, he will oppose thee: no work or

project shall prosper that is not begun in his name, and conducted

in his fear."

Verse 27. For thou wilt save the afflicted] The afflicted are

the humble; and those thou hast ever befriended.

Verse 28. For thou wilt light my candle] Thou wilt restore me to

prosperity, and give me a happy issue out of all my afflictions.

By the lamp of David the Messiah may be meant: thou wilt not

suffer my family to become extinct, nor the kingdom which thou

hast promised me utterly to fail.

Verse 29. I have run through a troop] This may relate to some

remarkable victory, and the taking of some fortified place,

possibly Zion, from the Jebusites. See the account 2Sa 5:6-8.

Verse 30. God, his way is perfect] His conduct is like his

nature, absolutely pure.

The word of the Lord is tried] Literally tried in the fire. It

has stood all tests; and has never failed those who pleaded it

before its author.

He is a buckler] A sure protection to every simple believing

soul. We cannot believe his word too implicitly; nor trust too

confidently in him.

Verse 31. For who is God save the Lord?] "For who is Eloah,

except Jehovah?" None is worthy of adoration but the

self-existent, eternal, infinitely perfect, and all-merciful

Being.

Or who is a rock] A fountain emitting continual supplies of

grace and goodness.

Verse 32. God-girdeth me with strength] The girdle was a

necessary part of the Eastern dress; it strengthened and supported

the loins; served to confine the garments close to the body; and

in it they tucked them up when journeying. The strength of God was

to his soul what the girdle was to the body. I need not add,

that the girdle was also an ornamental part of the dress, and from

it the sword was suspended.

And maketh my way perfect.] He directs me so that I do not go

astray; he blesses me in my undertakings; and by him the issue of

my labours is crowned with prosperity.

Verse 33. My feet like hinds' feet] Swiftness, or speed of foot,

was a necessary qualification of an ancient hero. This was of

great advantage in pursuing, combating, or escaping from a fallen

foe. ποδαςωκυςαχιλλευς, "the swiftfooted Achilles," is

frequently given by Homer as a most honourable qualification of

his hero.

Upon my high places.] In allusion to the hinds, antelopes,

mountain goats, &c., which frequented such places, and in which

they found both food and safety. God frequently preserved the life

of David by means of these.

Verse 34. He teacheth my hands to war] The success which I have

had in my military exercises I owe to the Divine help. How few of

the conquerors of mankind can say so! And how few among those who

call themselves Christian warriors dare to say so! War is as

contrary to the spirit of Christianity as murder. Nothing can

justify Christian nations in shedding each other's blood! All men

should live in peace; all men might live in peace; and the

nation that is first to break it is under a heavy curse.

A bow of steel is broken by mine arms.] All the versions render

this: "Thou hast made my arm like a brazen bow." A bow of steel is

out of the question. In the days of David it is not likely that

the method of making steel was known. The method of making brass

out of copper was known at a very early period of the world; and

the ancients had the art of hardening it, so as to work it into

the most efficient swords. From his own account David was swift,

courageous, and strong.

Verse 35. The shield of thy salvation] In all battles and

dangers God defended him. He was constantly safe because he

possessed the salvation of God. Everywhere God protected him. Thy

gentleness, anvathecha, thy meekness or humility.

Thou hast enabled me to bear and forbear; to behave with courage

in adversity, and with humility in prosperity; and thus I am

become great. By these means thou hast multiplied me. The Vulgate

reads, Disciplina tua ipsa me docebit; "And thy discipline itself

shall teach me." In this sense it was understood by most of the

versions. The old Psalter paraphrases thus: Thi chastying

suffers me noght to erre fra the end to com.

Verse 36. Enlarged my steps] See on Ps 18:19. From the hand of

God he had continual prosperity; and while he walked with God no

enemy was able to prevail against him. He details his successes in

the following verses.

Verse 40. The necks of mine enemies] Thou hast made me a

complete conqueror. Treading on the neck of an enemy was the

triumph of the conqueror, and the utmost disgrace of the

vanquished.

Verse 41. They cried] The Philistines called upon their gods,

but there was none to save them.

Even unto the Lord] Such as Saul, Ishbosheth, Absalom, &c., who,

professing to worship the true God, called on him while in their

opposition to David; but God no more heard them than their idols

heard the Philistines.

Verse 42. Then did l beat them] God was with him, and they had

only an arm of flesh. No wonder then that his enemies were

destroyed.

Small as the dust before the wind] This well expresses the

manner in which he treated the Moabites, Ammonites, and the people

of Rabbah: "He put them under saws, and under harrows of iron, and

under axes of iron; and made them pass through the brick-kiln,"

&c. See 2Sa 12:31, and the notes there.

Verse 43. The strivings of the people] Disaffections and

insurrections among my own subjects, as in the revolt of Absalom,

the civil war of Abner in favour of Ish-bosheth, &c.

The head of the heathen] rosh goyim, "the chief," or

"governor, of the nations;" all the circumjacent heathen people;

all these were subdued by David, and brought under tribute.

A people whom I have not known] The people whom he knew were

those of the twelve tribes; those whom he did not know were the

Syrians, Philistines, Idumeans, &c. All these served him, that is,

paid him tribute.

Verse 44. As soon as they hear of me] His victories were so

rapid and splendid over powerful enemies, that they struck a

general terror among the people, and several submitted without a

contest.

Strangers shall submit themselves unto me.] Some translate this:

"The children of the foreign woman have lied unto me." This has

been understood two ways: My own people, who have sworn fealty to

me, have broken their obligation, and followed my rebellious son.

Or, The heathens, who have been brought under my yoke, have

promised the most cordial obedience, and flattered me with their

tongues, while their hearts felt enmity against me and my

government. Nevertheless, even in this unwilling subjection I was

secure, my police being so efficient, and my kingdom so strong.

Verse 45. The strangers shall fade away] beney nechar,

the same persons mentioned above. They shall not be able to effect

any thing against me; yibbolu, "they shall fall as the leaves

fall off the trees in winter."

And be afraid out of their close places.] Those who have formed

themselves into banditti, and have taken possession of rocks and

fortified places, shall be so afraid when they hear of my

successes, that they shall surrender at discretion, without

standing a siege. Perhaps all these verbs should be understood in

the perfect tense, for David is here evidently speaking of a

kingdom at rest, all enemies having been subdued; or, as the title

is, when the Lord HAD delivered him from all his enemies.

Verse 46. The Lord liveth] By him alone I have gained all my

victories; and he continueth, and will be my Rock, the Source

whence I may at all times derive help and salvation. May his name

be blessed! May his kingdom be exalted!

Verse 47. God that avengeth me] The way that I took was after

his own heart; therefore he sustained me in it, and did me justice

over my enemies.

Subdueth the people under me.] He keeps down the spirits of the

disaffected, and weakens their hands. They are subdued, and they

continue under me; and this is the Lord's doing.

Verse 48. He delivereth me] That is, he hath delivered me, and

continues to deliver me, from all that rise up against me.

The violent man.] Saul; this applies particularly to him.

Verse 49. Will I give thanks unto thee-among the heathen] Quoted

by St. Paul, Ro 15:9, to prove that the

calling of the Gentiles was predicted, and that what then took

place was the fulfilment of that prediction.

But there is a sense in which it applies particularly to David,

well observed by Theodoret: "We see," says he, "evidently the

fulfilment of this prophecy; for even to the present day David

praises the Lord among the Gentiles by the mouth of true

believers; seeing there is not a town, village, hamlet, country,

nor even a desert, where Christians dwell, in which God is not

praised by their singing the Psalms of David."

Verse 50. Great deliverance giveth he to his king] David was a

king of God's appointment, and was peculiarly favoured by him.

Literally, He is magnifying the salvations of his king. He not

only delivers, but follows up those deliverances with innumerable

blessings.

Showeth mercy-to David] I have no claim upon his bounty. I

deserve nothing from him, but he continues to show mercy.

To his seed] His posterity. So the words zera and

σπερμα, in the Old and New Testament, should be universally

translated. The common translation is totally improper, and now

more so than formerly, when anatomy was less understood.

For evermore.] ad olam, for ever; through all duration

of created worlds. And more-the eternity that is beyond time. This

shows that another David is meant, with another kind of posterity,

and another sort of kingdom. From the family of David came the man

Christ Jesus; his posterity are the genuine Christians; his

kingdom, in which they are subjects, is spiritual. This

government shall last through all time, for Christianity will

continue to prevail till the end of the world: and it will be

extended through eternity; for that is the kingdom of glory in

which Jesus reigns on the throne of his Father, and in which his

followers shall reign with him for ever and ever.

It has already been remarked that this whole Psalm has been

understood as relating to the passion and victories of CHRIST, and

the success of the Gospel in the earth. In this way Bishop Horne

has understood and paraphrased it; and in the same way it is

considered by the ancient Psalter, so often mentioned. Many of the

primitive fathers and modern interpreters have taken the same view

of it. Those passages which I judged to have this meaning I have

pointed out, and have only to add that, as David was a type of

Christ, many things spoken of him primarily, refer to our Lord

ultimately; but much judgment and caution are required in their

application. To apply the whole Psalm in this way appears to me

very injudicious, and often derogatory from the majesty of Christ.

Let this be my excuse for not following the same track in which

many of my predecessors have gone.

ANALYSIS OF THE EIGHTEENTH PSALM

David's επινικιον or song of triumph after his conquest of ail

his enemies.

This Psalm may be divided into four parts:-

I. David shows what God is to his servants, and the effect it

wrought upon him, Ps 18:1-3.

II. The great danger in which he was from the power and

multitude of his enemies, Ps 18:4-28.

III. His glorious victories, and their consequences,

Ps 18:29-45.

IV. His thanksgiving for those victories, Ps 18:46-50.

I. What God is to his servants, and to him especially. 1.

Strength. 2. Rock. 3. Fortress. 4. Deliverer. 5. Tower.

6. Buckler. 7. Horn of salvation. 8. High tower,

Ps 18:1, 2. (See the notes.)

The effect it wrought in him. It produced, 1. Love: "I will love

the Lord." 2. Confidence: "In him will I trust." 3. The spirit of

prayer: "I will call on the Lord." The fruit of all which was his

safety: "So shall I be saved from mine enemies," Ps 18:3.

II. The great dangers in which he was, and of his escape.

1. His danger was great; for, 1. He was encompassed with the

sorrows of death. 2. Was terrified with the floods of ungodly men.

3. Surrounded by the sorrows of hell. And, 4. Prevented by the

snares of death, Ps 18:4, 5.

2. He shows how he behaved in these dangers, and from whom he

sought for help: 1. "He called upon the Lord." 2. "He cried unto

his God."

3. He shows the goodness of God to him, and his readiness to

help him: 1. "He heard me out of his holy temple." 2. "My cry came

into his ears."

4. The cause of his escape was the immediate hand of God, who

testified his presence by many supernatural signs. 1. EARTHQUAKES:

"The earth shook and trembled." 2. HILLS and mountains were moved

from their places: "The hills moved," &c., Ps 18:7. 3. SMOKE came

out of his nostrils. 4. A consuming FIRE came out of his mouth;

and became permanent, for coals were kindled by it, Ps 18:8. 5. A

THICK DARKNESS announced his presence; and the atmosphere was

greatly confused: "He bowed the heavens; darkness was under his

feet," Ps 18:9. 6. There were

mighty winds and tempests: "He flew on the wings of the wind,"

Ps 18:10. 7. There were violent inundations, with blackness of

the atmosphere, dark waters, thick clouds of the sky, Ps 18:11.

8. Great THUNDERS: "The Lord thundered; the Highest gave his

voice." 9. There was great HAIL, and FIERY METEORS: "Hailstones

and coals of fire," Ps 18:12, 13. 10.

Tremendous LIGHTNINGS, and fearful CHASMS opened in the earth:

"He sent out," &c., Ps 18:14, 15.

5. He reckons up his deliverances, with the manner and causes:-

1. "He took, he drew me out of many waters," Ps 18:16.

2. He did this in a supernatural way: "He sent from above," ib.

6. He describes his enemies from whom God delivered him. 1. They

were very numerous, compared to many waters, Ps 18:16: "He drew

me out of many waters." 2. They were very strong. 3. Full of

malice. 4. Too strong for him. 5. INSIDIOUS and CRUEL: 'They

prevented me in the day of my calamity," Ps 18:17, 18.

7. But God was his STAY: and the causes which moved God to help

him were, 1. His own good will: "Because he delighted in me." 2.

David's innocence; which he declares, Ps 18:20-25.

8. And then, ab hypothesi, from his own particular case, he

takes occasion to discourse in thesi, that this is not only true

in David's person, but shall be verified in all that are upright

as he was: which he proves from the nature and usual manner of

God's proceedings with good and bad men, Ps 18:25-28.

III. David's glorious VICTORIES, and their CONSEQUENCES,

Ps 18:28-46.

1. His victory he expresses and amplifies many ways:-

1. From the opposition which he conquered. Nor troops nor walls

hindered, Ps 18:29.

2. From God's singular protection. He was his Buckler, his Rock.

3. From his armour. He was made fleet; and had military

knowledge, strength, and defence, from God, Ps 18:33.

4. From his safety. He was not wounded in the battle.

5. From his success. He routed his enemies; they fled, and he

pursued, Ps 18:37.

6. From the greatness of the victory. It was a complete

conquest; for his enemies were taken, or consumed, or wounded,

so as to be unable to rally. They fell under his feet; their

necks were brought down, Ps 18:38-42.

7. From the cause. All was of God; he takes nothing to himself.

THOU hast girded me. THOU hast subdued. THOU hast given me, &c.

2. The consequences of these victories were the propagation and

enlargement of David's kingdom:-

1. Before these victories there were murmurings and

insurrections among his people: but now, being conqueror, they are

all quiet: "Thou hast delivered me from the strivings of the

people," Ps 18:43.

2. He was exalted to be head of the heathen: Moabites,

Ammonites, &c., served him, Ps 18:44.

3. People whom he had not known became tributary to him: "Aliens

shall serve me," Ps 18:44.

4. This, it is true, they did out of fear, not affection. They

dissembled in their fidelity; and several fell off: but still

they were obliged to submit, Ps 18:45.

IV. David's THANKSGIVING. This is the main scope of the Psalm;

to celebrate and extol the name and mercy of God for his

victories. This has two parts: 1. His present thanksgiving. 2. His

profession for the future.

1. He magnifies God: "The Lord liveth; and blessed be my Rock;

and let the God of my salvation be exalted;" Ps 18:46. And to

this end, in the two next verses, he makes mention again of his

victories, and attributes the whole success to God, Ps 18:47, 48.

2. He professes still to do it; he will not cease even among the

heathen: "Therefore will I give thanks," Ps 18:49.

3. And he shows how much reason he had to do so: because, 1. He

had great deliverances. 2. He was the man of God's choice; his

king-his anointed. 3. This goodness was to survive him, and go to

his posterity: "To David, and to his seed." 4. It was to have no

end: it was to be for evermore, Ps 18:50.

Here the true David and the spiritual seed are referred to; and

for this the reader is requested to examine the notes, and the

remark before this analysis.

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