INTRODUCTION TO Psalm 18
To the chief Musician, a Psalm of David. This is the same with that in 2 Samuel 22:1, with some variations, omissions, and alterations:
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 the words of this song; that is, who delivered and sung this song in so many express words, in public, before all the congregation of Israel, to the honour and glory of God:
in the day [that] the Lord delivered him from the hand of all his enemies, and from the hand of Saul, Not that this psalm was composed and sung the selfsame day that David was delivered from Saul, and set upon the throne; for it seems to have been written in his old age, at the close of his days; for immediately after it, in the second book of Samuel, it follows, "now these be the last words of David", 2 Samuel 23:1, but the sense is, that whereas David had many enemies, and particularly Saul, who was his greatest enemy, the Lord delivered him from them all, and especially from him, from him first, and then from all the rest; which when he reflected upon in his last days, he sat down and wrote this psalm, and then sung it in public, having delivered it into the hands of the chief musician for that purpose. There are two passages cited out of it in the New Testament, and applied to Christ; Psalm 18:2, in Hebrews 2:13, and Psalm 18:49 in Romans 15:9; 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; and which is expressed in much the same language as the like things are in Isaiah 55:4; 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; and which is applied to the Messiah by the Jews (q) as Psalm 18:32 is paraphrased of him by the Targum on it;
and he said; the following words:
(q) Echa Rabbati, fol. 50. 2. & Midrash Tillim in Tzeror Hammor, fol. 47. 3.
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.I will love thee, O Lord, my strength. These words are not in twenty second chapter of Second Samuel: the psalm there begins with Psalm 18:2. 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; and as in David, so in all regenerate ones, there is love to God; Jehovah is loved by them in all his persons; Jehovah the Father is loved, and to be loved, for the perfections of his nature, because of the works of his hands, of creation and providence; and particularly because of his works of special grace and goodness, and especially because of his love wherewith he has loved his people, 1 John 4:19. Jehovah the Son is loved, and to be loved, above all creatures and things whatever, sincerely and heartily, fervently and constantly; because of the loveliness of his person, the love of his heart, and his works of grace and redemption; all of him is lovely; and he is to be loved, and is loved, in his person, offices, relations, people, word, and ordinances: Jehovah the Spirit is loved, and to be loved, because of his person and perfections, and operations of grace; as a sanctifier, comforter, the spirit of adoption, the earnest and pledge of eternal glory. The word here used signifies the most intimate, tender, and affectionate love; it often designs mercy and bowels of mercy; so Aben Ezra interprets it of seeking mercy of God: the reasons are as follow in this verse and Psalm 18:2, because "the Lord is my strength"; so he was to Christ as man, who as such was the man of his right hand, the Son of Man, whom he made strong for himself, to do his work, and for his glory, Psalm 80:17; he promised to strengthen him, and he did, Psalm 89:21; and so he is the strength of all his saints, even Jehovah, Father, Son, and Spirit; he is the strength of their hearts both in life and at death; he is the strength of their graces, who strengthens that which he has wrought for them, and in them; he strengthens them to do their duty, to bear the cross, and every affliction, and against every enemy of their souls; and this renders him very lovely and amiable to them.
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.The Lord is my rock,.... To whom the saints have recourse for shelter and safety, for supply, support, and divine refreshment; and in whom they are secure, and on whom they build their hopes of eternal life and happiness, and so are safe from all enemies, and from all danger. Christ is called a Rock on all these accounts, Psalm 61:2;
and my fortress; or garrison; so the saints are kept in and by the power of God as in a garrison, 1 Peter 1:5;
and my deliverer: out of all afflictions, and from all temptations, and out of the hands of all enemies; from a body of sin and death at last, and from wrath to come;
my God; the strong and mighty One, who is able to save, and who is the covenant God and Father of his people;
my strength, in whom I will trust; as Christ did, and to whom these words are applied in Hebrews 2:13; and as his people are enabled to do even under very distressing and discouraging circumstances, Job 13:15;
my buckler; or shield; who protects and defends them from their enemies, and preserves them from the fiery darts of Satan;
and 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 Saviour, is called, Luke 1:69;
and my high tower; such is the name of the Lord, whither the righteous run and are safe, Proverbs 18:10; and where they are above and out of the reach of every enemy; see Isaiah 33:16; in 2 Samuel 22:3, it is added, "and my refuge, my Saviour, thou savest me from violence". These various epithets show the fulness of safety in Jehovah, the various ways he has to deliver his people from their enemies, and secure them from danger; and the psalmist beholding and claiming his interest in him under all these characters, rendered him exceeding lovely and delightful to him; and each of them contain a reason why he loved him, and why, in the strength of grace, he determined to love him. God may be regarded in all these characters by Christ as man.
I will call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised: so shall I be saved from mine enemies.I will call upon the Lord,.... In prayer, for fresh mercies, and further appearances of himself, and discoveries of his grace and favour;
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. The Targum is,
"in praise, or with an hymn, I pray before the Lord;''
agreeably to the rule the apostle gives, Philippians 4:6; and this prayer was a prayer of faith, as follows;
so shall I be saved from mine enemies: which was founded upon past experience of God's goodness to him in distress, when he called upon him, as the next words show.
The sorrows of death compassed me, and 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, when his soul was encompassed about with sorrow, even unto death, Matthew 26:38; when his sorrow was so great, and lay so heavy upon him, that it almost pressed him down to death, he could scarce live under it; and may also take in the very pains and agonies of death; he dying the death of the cross, which was a very painful and excruciating one; see Psalm 22:14; The Hebrew word for "sorrows" signifies the pains and birth throes of a woman in travail; 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 Targum is,
"distress has encompassed me, as a woman that sits upon the stool, and has no strength to bring forth, and is in danger of dying.''
In 2 Samuel 22:5, it is "the waves" or "breakers of death compassed me"; and the word there used is rendered in Hosea 13:13; "the breaking forth of children"; moreover the same word signifies "cords" (r), as well as pains and sorrows; and the allusion may be to malefactors being bound with cords when led to execution, and put to death; and may here signify the power of death, under which the Messiah was held for a while, but was loosed from it at his resurrection; to which sense of the word, and to the words here, the Apostle Peter manifestly refers, Acts 2:24;
and the floods of ungodly men made me afraid; meaning either the multitude of them, as Herod, Pontius Pilate, the Roman soldiers, and people of the Jews, who all gathered together against him; so the Targum renders it, "a company of wicked men"; or the variety of sufferings he endured by them; as spitting upon, buffering, scourging, &c. The word rendered "ungodly men is Belial"; and signifies vain, worthless, and unprofitable men; men of no figure or account; or lawless ones, such as have cast off the yoke of the law, are not subject to it; persons very wicked and profligate. The word in the New Testament seems to be used for Satan, 2 Corinthians 6:15; where it is so rendered in the Syriac version, and he may be designed here; and by the floods of Belial may be meant, not so much the temptations of Satan in the wilderness, as his violent and impetuous attacks upon Christ in the garden, when being in an agony or conflict with him, his sweat was, as it were, great drops of blood, Luke 22:44. The Septuagint render the word, "the torrents of iniquity troubled me"; which was true of Christ, when all the sins of his people came flowing in upon him, like mighty torrents, from all quarters; when God laid on him the iniquity of them all, and he was made sin for them; and in a view of all this "he began to be sore amazed", Mark 14:33; compare with this Psalm 69:1. Arama interprets Belial of the evil imagination in David, who had a war in himself.
(r) "funes mortis", Musculus, Montanus, Vatablus, Gejerus, Michaelis; so Ainsworth, Hammond.
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" (s), 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; see John 11:44; 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 snares of death prevented me; or "met" or "got before me" (t) the sense is, he was taken in them: this phrase designs the insidious ways and methods which the enemies of Christ took to ensnare him, and take away his life, and in which they succeeded; see Matthew 26:4.
(s) "funes sepulchri", Musculus, Gejerus. (t) "praeoccupaverunt me", V. L. "anteverterunt me", Vatablus; "occurrerunt", Cocceius.
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.In my distress I called upon the Lord,.... The great Jehovah, the everlasting I AM, who is the most High in all the earth, and who is able to save, Hebrews 5:7;
and cried unto my God; as Jesus did, Matthew 27:46; 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; and a great privilege it is they have that they have such a throne to come to for grace and mercy to help them in time of need, and such a God to sympathize with them, and help them; and their encouragement to call upon him, and cry unto him, is, that he is Jehovah, omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent; who knows their wants, is able to help them, and is a God at hand to do it;
He heard my voice out of his temple; that is, out of heaven his dwelling place; for the temple at Jerusalem was not built in David's time; and it may be observed, that the prayer of the psalmist, or whom he represents, was a vocal one, and not merely mental; and hearing it intends a gracious regard unto it, an acceptance of it, and an agreeable answer: for it follows,
and 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 his ears, and even entered into them, and was delightful music to them: see John 11:41.
Then the earth shook and trembled; the foundations also of the hills moved and were shaken, because he was wroth.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 27:50; and so some time after, when his people were praying together, the place where they were assembled was shaken, Acts 4:31; 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; see Psalm 104:32; and it is easy to observe, that in this, and other parts of this majestic account of the appearance of God on the behalf of the person the subject of this psalm, and against his enemies, there are manifest allusions to the giving of the law on Mount Sinai; though it may be this shaking of the earth, and what follows, are to be understood in a figurative sense;
the foundations also of the hills moved and were shaken; and design the shaking of the earth and heavens, prophesied of in Haggai 2:6; and which is explained in Hebrews 12:26; of the removing the ordinances of the ceremonial law, that Gospel ordinances might remain unshaken; for in 2 Samuel 22:8; the words are, "the foundations of heaven moved and shook"; and the shaking and moving of the earth and mountains may denote the abolition and destruction of kingdoms and nations; and first of the civil polity of the Jews, and of their ecclesiastical state, which quickly ensued upon the death of Christ; and next of the ruin of Rome Pagan, and then of Rome Papal; which are both signified by an earthquake, and by the removal of mountains, Revelation 6:12;
because he was wroth; with the people of the Jews, for disbelieving and rejecting the Messiah; for setting themselves, and taking counsel together against him, and putting him to death; for these things God was angry with them, and wrath came upon them to the uttermost, and their nation, city, and temple were destroyed, Psalm 2:1; and with the Pagan empire and antichristian powers, Revelation 6:16.
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,.... This, with what follows, describes a storm of thunder; the "smoke" designs thick black clouds, gathered together; "fire" intends lightning; and "coals of fire", hot thunderbolts; and the whole is borrowed from, and is an allusion to what was at the giving of the law on Mount Sinai, Exodus 19:16; The majesty of God is here set forth in much such language as is the leviathan in Job 41:19; the "smoke of his nostrils" seems to intend the indignation of God against the enemies of David, of Christ, and of his people, and the punishment be will inflict upon them, Isaiah 65:5. The Targum interprets it of the pride and insolence of Pharaoh;
and fire out of his mouth devoured; God is a wall of fire round about his people, and a consuming one to his and their enemies. This expresses the wrath of God upon the Jewish nation, and his sending the Roman armies to burn their city, Matthew 22:7;
coals were kindled by it; the Jews being as dry trees, were fit fuel for the fire of divine wrath, and so presently became as coals of fire; so the antichristian party, upon the pouring out of the fourth vial, will be scorched with heat, and blaspheme the name of God, Revelation 16:8.
He bowed the heavens also, and came down: and darkness was under his feet.He bowed the heavens also, and came down,.... To execute wrath and vengeance on wicked men; which is always the sense of these phrases when they go together; see Psalm 144:6; The Targum is, "he bowed the heavens, and his glory appeared"; that is, the glory of his power, and of his mighty hand of vengeance; for not his grace and mercy, but his indignation and wrath, showed themselves; for it follows,
and darkness was under his feet; the Targum is, "a dark cloud", expressive of the awfulness of the dispensation to wicked men; who are not allowed to see the face of God, are debarred his presence, and denied, communion with him, and to whom everything appears awful and terrible, Psalm 97:2.
And he rode upon a cherub, and did fly: yea, he did fly upon the wings of the wind.And he rode upon a cherub, and did fly,.... The Targum renders it in the plural number, "cherubim"; and so the Septuagint, Syriac, and Arabic versions; and by whom may be meant, either the angels, who are as horses and chariots, on whom Jehovah rides, and who art he makes use of as executioners of his wrath and vengeance, Zechariah 6:5; and to whom wings are assigned as a token of swiftness, Isaiah 6:2; or rather the ministers of the Gospel, who are the living creatures in Revelation 4:7; and answer to the "cherubim" in Ezekiel's visions; and whom God made use of, especially after the death of Christ, and when the Gospel was rejected by the Jews, to carry it into the Gentile world, which was done by them with great speed and swiftness; and Maimonides (u) gives a caution, not to understand the phrase, "he did fly", as of God, but of the cherub;
yea, he did fly upon the wings of the wind; 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; see Psalm 104:3; the words in 2 Samuel 22:11, with only the variation of a letter in one word, are, "and he was seen upon the wings of the wind"; which were both true; nor need a various reading be supposed, the psalmist using both words at different times, suitable to his purpose, and which both express his sense. Wings are ascribed to the winds by the Heathen poets, and they are represented as winged on ancient monuments (w).
(u) Moreh Nevochim. par. 1. c. 49. (w) Vide Cuperi Apotheos. Homeri, p. 178. Wings are given to the south wind by Ovid, Metamorph. l. 1. Fab. 7. and by Juvenal, Satyr. 5. v. 10. and by Virgil, Aeneid. 8. v. 430. and who also speaks of wings of lightning, Aeneid. 5. v. 319.
He made darkness his secret place; his pavilion round about him were 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; the Targum interprets it,
"he caused his Shechinah to dwell in darkness;''
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; see Romans 11:7.
At the brightness that was before him his thick clouds passed, hail stones and coals of fire.At the brightness that was before him, The lightning that came out of the thick clouds; which may denote, either the coming of Christ to take vengeance on the Jewish nation, which was swift and sudden, clear and manifest; or the spreading of the Gospel in the Gentile world, in which Christ, the brightness of his Father's glory, appeared to the illumination of many; see Matthew 24:27; and both may be intended, as the effects following show;
his thick clouds passed; that is, passed away; 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 stones and coals of fire; the same Gospel that was enlightening to the Gentiles, and the savour of life unto life unto them, was grievous, like hail stones, and tormenting, scorching, irritating, and provoking, like coals of fire, and the savour of death unto death, to the Jews; when God provoked them, by sending the Gospel among the Gentiles, and calling them: or these may design the heavy, awful, and consuming judgments of God upon them, which are sometimes signified by hail storms; see Revelation 8:7. In 2 Samuel 22:13, it is only, "through the brightness before him were coals of fire kindled".
The LORD also thundered in the heavens, and the Highest gave his voice; hail stones and coals of fire.The Lord also thundered in the heavens,.... By his apostles and ministers, some of which were Boanergeses, sons of thunder, whose ministry was useful to shake the consciences of men, and bring them to a sense of themselves, Mark 3:17;
and the Highest gave his voice; the same with thunder; for thunder is often called the voice of the Lord, Job 37:5; compare with this Psalm 68:11; the Targum interprets it, "he lifted up his word"; the same effects as before follow,
hail stones and coals of fire; See Gill on Psalm 18:12.
Yea, he sent out his arrows, and scattered them; and he shot out lightnings, and discomfited them.Yea, he sent out his arrows,.... By which thunderbolts, cracks of thunder, and flashes of lightning, seem to be meant; see Psalm 77:17; comparable to arrows shot, and sent out of a bow; and 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, being the savour of death unto death; 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. The Targum is,
"he sent his word as arrows;''
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 scattered them; among the nations of the world, where they have been dispersed ever since;
and he shot out lightnings; or "many lightnings", so the Targum:
and discomfited them; troubled, terrified, and distressed them.
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.Then the channels of water were seen,.... Or, "of the sea"; as in 2 Samuel 22:16. There seems to be an allusion to the drying up of the sea when the Israelites passed through it. Aben Ezra interprets this of the discovery of the secrets of enemies, and of their deep schemes and counsels, which they seek to hide, but are made known by him who sees all things in the dark; and so the following clause;
and the foundations of the world were discovered; but it rather seems to intend the utter extirpation and ruin of the Jewish nation, both in their civil and ecclesiastic state, the foundation of which was rooted up and laid bare; unless with Jerom we understand this of the ministers of the word, in whom the doctrines of grace were channelled, and who were as fountains of water; and of the foundation of the apostles and prophets made known in the Gospel: but the former sense is best; since it follows,
at thy rebuke, O Lord; at the blast of the breath of thy nostrils; for the destruction of the Jews was the effect of divine wrath and vengeance: so ends the account of the wonderful appearance of God in favour of the person the subject of this psalm, and against his enemies; the deliverance wrought for him is next described.
He sent from above, he took me, he drew me out of many waters.He sent from above,.... Either his hand, as in Psalm 144:7; he exerted and displayed his mighty power in raising Christ from the dead; or he sent help from his sanctuary; as in Psalm 20:2; and helped and strengthened him in a day of salvation; or when he wrought out the salvation of his people; or "he sent his word", as in Psalm 107:20; his word of command, to take up his life again, as he had given it to lay it down, John 10:18. The Targum is, he sent his prophets; but it may be much better supplied, he sent his angels, or an angel; as he did at his resurrection, who rolled away the stone from the sepulchre, as a token of his justification and discharge: so Jarchi interprets it, he sent his angels; and Aben Ezra supplies it thus,
"he sent his word or his angel:''
unless the sense should be, as Cocceius suggests, he sent a cloud from above, which was done at Christ's ascension, and which received him out of the sight of the apostles, Acts 1:9. Since it follows,
he took me; that is, up to heaven; thither Christ was carried in a cloud, one of God's chariots, he sent for him; and where he is received, and will be retained until his second coming; though rather the sense is, he took me by the hand:
he drew me out of many waters. This is said either in allusion to Moses, who had his name from his being drawn out of the water, Exodus 2:10; and who was an eminent type of Christ; and this is the only place where the Hebrew word is made use of from whence he had his name; or else to a man plunged in water ready to be drowned; see Psalm 69:1. By these "many waters" may be meant the many afflictions, sorrows, and sufferings from which Christ was freed, when raised from the dead, and highly exalted and crowned with glory and honour; and the torrent of sins which flowed in upon him at the time he was made sin for his people, from which he was justified when risen; and so will appear a second time without sin unto salvation; and the wrath of God, the waves and billows of which went over him, and compassed him about as water, at the time of his sufferings; from which he was delivered when he was shown the path of life, and entered into the presence of God, and sat at his right hand, where are joys and pleasures for evermore; and also his grand enemy Satan, with his principalities and powers, who came in like a flood upon him; but he destroyed him and spoiled them; and particularly the floods of ungodly men, spoken of in Psalm 18:4; seem to be here designed; compare with this Psalm 144:7; "so many waters" signify many people and nations, Revelation 17:15; and accordingly the Targum is,
"he delivered me from many people.''
This was true of Christ when risen and ascended; he was then separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens; and this sense is confirmed by the following words, where what is expressed figuratively here is there literally explained.
He delivered me from my strong enemy, and from them which hated me: for they were too strong for me.He delivered me from my strong enemy,.... Which, as it may respect David, may be understood of Goliath the Philistine champion, who was a man of war from his youth; or Saul, king of Israel; and, as it may respect David's antitype, may design either the chief priests, Scribes, and Pharisees, who were men of power and influence; or more especially Satan, the strong man armed, with all his principalities and powers; or, likewise death, the last enemy, from whose pains and cords he was loosed when raised from the dead, and when he was delivered from every other strong enemy;
and from them which hated me; from the old serpent the devil, between whom and him there has been a lasting enmity; and from the world, the people of the Jews, particularly the Pharisees, who bore an implacable hatred to Christ;
for they were too strong for me; as Goliath and Saul were too strong for David of himself, so Christ's enemies were too strong for him; not as God, for he is the mighty God, the Almighty, and stronger than the strong man armed, but as man; for in his human nature he had a sinless weakness, which showed itself in his agonies in the garden; or a natural weakness, through which he was crucified; and this weak nature of Christ Satan attacked, and got an advantage over, and brought it to the dust of death, which is meant by his bruising his heel, though by it he got a broken head. But though Christ's enemies were too strong for him, considered merely as man, they not being, at least many of them, flesh and blood, but principalities and powers; yet being helped by his Father, and supported by his divine nature, he overcame them, and was delivered from them.
They prevented me in the day of my calamity: but the LORD was my stay.They prevented me in the day of my calamity,.... Referring to the times of his distress in the garden and upon the cross; the time of his sufferings and death, which was a dark and cloudy day, as the word (x) used suggests, both in a literal and in a spiritual sense; and when the day and hour was come, fixed and determined by the will of God, then his enemies, though not before, met him, laid hold on him, were too mighty for him, condemned, crucified, and insulted him;
but the Lord was my stay; or staff, on whom he leaned, relied, and depended, believing he would help him; and by whom he was supported and upheld, Isaiah 42:1. The Targum is,
"the Word of the Lord was my stay.''
(x) "in the day of my cloudy calamity", Ainsworth; "nomen" "proprie signifient vaporem vel nubem, ut Genesis 7.6. hinc per metaphoram transfertur ad obscuras ac terrificas calamitatum nebulas, Prov. i. 26.", Gejerus.
He brought me forth also into a large place; he delivered me, because he delighted in me.He brought me forth also into a large place,.... Into heaven, a place of the glorious liberty of Christ, after his captivity to death and the grave, whither he ascended leading captivity captive, and of the children of God; and a spacious place, where there is room enough for Christ and all his people; here he now is, and will remain till his second coming, and from hence we expect him; see John 14:2. Compare with this Psalm 31:8;
he delivered me, because he delighted in me; God delivered David from all his enemies, because he was a man after his own heart, in whom he delighted; not for any merit and worthiness in him, but of his good will and pleasure: he delivered Christ because he was his elect, in whom his soul delighted; and who was daily his delight, rejoicing in his presence before the world was: and he delivers his church and people, because they are his Hephzibah, in whom is his delight, Isaiah 62:4; the Father delighted in them, and therefore chose them to salvation; the Son delighted in them, and gave himself for them, and ransomed them out of the hands of him that is stronger than they; the Holy Spirit delighted in them, and therefore regenerates, renews, and sanctifies them, and seals them up unto the day of redemption.
The LORD rewarded me according to my righteousness; according to the cleanness of my hands hath he recompensed me.The Lord rewarded me according to my righteousness,.... Which, if applied to David, cannot be understood of his own personal righteousness, or of works of righteousness done by him, for these merit nothing at the hand of God; no reward, in strict justice, is due to them, or given to them: a man's own righteousness is imperfect, and by the law of God is not accounted a righteousness; and it is unprofitable to God, is no gain to him, and so not rewardable by him; and were it perfect, it is but man's duty, and what God has a prior right to, and so is not recompensed by him; though it is so far from being pure and perfect, that it is attended with much sin, and is no other than rags, and filthy ones, which can never recommend a person to God; it is what will not bear the sight of God, and can never be called cleanness in his eyesight: by it no man is justified before him; and though God does, indeed, reward the works of his people, which are fruits of his grace, yet the reward is not of debt, but of grace. This, therefore, must be understood of the righteousness of David's cause, and of his innocence with respect to the things he was charged with by his enemies; of his righteousness towards Saul; and of "the cleanness of his hands", in not defiling them with his blood, when it was in his power to take away his life; therefore God rewarded him by delivering him out of his hands, and setting him upon the throne, and causing his kingdom to flourish and prosper; for this respects temporal blessings, and not eternal glory and happiness; and is something that had been and was then enjoyed, and not anything future, or in another world: though it is best of all to apply it to Christ, and understand it of his righteousness, which he, as Mediator, has wrought out for his people; this is perfect, pure, and spotless, and entirely agreeable to the law of God; what will bear the sight of God, is satisfying to his justice, is well pleasing to him, and is what he accepts of, and imputes to them that believe in Christ, and by which they are justified from all things. Now, according to this righteousness, Christ in strict justice has been rewarded in his own person; as he had the work of man's redemption assigned him, and he agreed to do it, he had a reward promised him, and which he claimed, when he had glorified his Father and finished his work; and which he received when he was set down at the right hand of God, crowned with glory and honour, in consequence of his obedience, sufferings, and death; see Philippians 2:7; and he is rewarded in his members according to his righteousness, they being justified by it, and made heirs of eternal life on account of it, and are or will be glorified with him for evermore;
according to the cleanness of my hands hath he recompensed me; which signifies the same thing.
For I have kept the ways of the LORD, and have not wickedly departed from my God.For I have kept the ways of the Lord,.... Not those which the Lord himself walks in, his ways of providence, or of grace; though these are and should be taken notice of and observed by good men, as the word (y) used will bear to be rendered; but the ways which he has prescribed and directed men to walk in, the ways of his commandments, in which they should go; these were, in some measure, kept by David, who often, in the hundred nineteenth psalm speaks of his keeping the testimonies and statutes, and commandments of the Lord; as they are by good men, with some degree of pleasure, they take delight to walk in them; and with some degree of constancy, they keep walking in them, without turning to the right hand or the left, though solicited to it; but yet not perfectly, for they have many a slip and fall in them; wherefore this cannot be a reason of their being rewarded according to their righteousness: in strict justice, the words better agree with Christ, who kept the law of God perfectly, did his will completely; he came from heaven to do it; it was his meat and drink to accomplish it; and he always did the things which pleased his father, wherefore he rewarded him;
and have not wickedly departed from my God; which was, in some sense, true of David; not as by disbelieving the power and providence, the promises, truth, and faithfulness of God, and his covenant interest in him; which to do would have been a wicked departure from God; see Hebrews 3:12; nor by forsaking the house and worship of God; though he was driven from thence by wicked men, yet sore against his will, and which during his exile he frequently laments and complains of; nor by sinning wilfully and presumptuously, only through error, inadvertency, infirmity, and temptation: but when it is observed, how much unbelief, which is a partial departing from the living God, and how many there are that neglect private and public worship, and what a proneness there is to sin and wickedness, and how much there is of the will in sinful actions, in the best of men; it is right and best to understand this of Christ, who never was guilty of sin, nor committed any wickedness in departing from God in the least: as man, God was his God, and he always believed his interest in him, and claimed it even when he forsook him on the cross; nor did he quit his service, desert his cause, nor depart from the work and business he enjoined him, till it was finished.
(y) "observaveram", Tigurine version, Vatablus; "observo", Junius & Tremellius; "observavi", Gejerus, Michaelis; so Ainsworth.
For all his judgments were before me, and I did not put away his statutes from me.For all his judgments were before me,.... That is, the precepts of the law of God, which David had a respect unto, loved, took delight and pleasure in, and so had them all in his sight, and made them the rule of his actions; and the law of God is delighted in by regenerate persons, after the inward man; and though it is abolished as a covenant of works, it is a rule of walk and conversation to the saints; and as such they keep it in view, and regard it impartially, not only some of its precepts, but all. This in the highest and fullest sense was done by Christ, who was made under the law, in whose heart it was, and who came to fulfil it, and has completely fulfilled it;
and I did not put away his statutes from me; in 2 Samuel 22:23; it is read, "and as for his statutes, I did not depart from them"; the sense is the same; this may have respect to the ceremonial law, and the ordinances of it, which David abode by, very strictly observed, renewed, and put in order; and which Christ, his antitype, never departed from, but conformed unto throughout the whole of his life; witness his circumcision, keeping of the passover, attendance on the synagogue and temple worship; nor did he put them away until they had their full accomplishment in him; when there was a disannulling of them because of their weakness and unprofitableness.
I was also upright before him, and I kept myself from mine iniquity.I was also upright before him,.... In heart and conversation, being sincere and faithful; so David was in the sight of God; but this is much more true of Christ, in whom there was no unrighteousness nor guile, neither in his heart, nor in his lips; he was of perfect integrity, and faithful in all things to him that appointed him;
and I kept myself from mine iniquity; which some interpret of original sin, in which David was born, which dwelt in him, and prompted him to sin; but rather it refers to the taking away of Saul's life, which he might be tempted to do, as being his enemy that sought his life; and which he was put upon and urged to by some about him, and yet did it not. But it is best here also to apply these words to Christ; for though he had no iniquity of his own, yet he had the iniquities of his people on him, as their surety, and which he calls "mine", Psalm 40:12. But though he bore them, he did not commit any of them; though he was made sin, he knew none; and though he was tempted by Satan to the most enormous iniquities, as destroying himself and worshipping the devil, he kept himself from the evil one, that he could not touch him: the sense is, that he kept himself from committing any sin, which cannot be said of any mere man; and so far as good men are kept from sin, they are kept by the power of God, and not by themselves. All these things show, that the righteousness of Christ was a perfect, sinless one, entirely agreeable to the laws, statutes, and judgments of God; was pure in the sight of God, and rewardable in strict justice. Hence it is repeated as follows:
Therefore hath the LORD recompensed me according to my righteousness, according to the cleanness of my hands in his eyesight.Therefore hath the Lord recompensed me according to my righteousness,.... Having proved and supported this proposition by the above reasons, it is repeated, for confirmation's sake;
according to the cleanness of my hands in his eyesight; this phrase, "in his eyesight", is here added, to show that the righteousness of Christ was clean, pure, and spotless in the sight of God; in the eye of divine justice: hence those that are clothed with it are holy and unblamable, and irreprovable in his sight, Colossians 1:22.
With the merciful thou wilt shew thyself merciful; with an upright man thou wilt shew thyself upright;With the merciful thou wilt show thyself merciful,.... The merciful man is the good, gracious, holy, and godly man, as the word (z) here used signifies, and is sometimes rendered; one that has received grace and mercy from the Lord, and has principles of grace and goodness wrought in him, and is kind and merciful to others, both to their souls and bodies; and to such men God shows himself merciful: not that they are first merciful to others, and then he is so to them, for it is just the reverse; nor is their mercifulness the cause or condition of his, for he has mercy on whom he will have mercy; but to such he shows fresh mercy, and bestows more grace upon them; they find grace and mercy with him now, and will do hereafter; see Matthew 5:7. This may be applied to Christ, all whose ways are mercy and truth; he saw the estate his people would come into; he pitied their case, and became their surety in eternity; he betrothed them to himself in loving kindness and tender mercies; and undertook to feed the flock of slaughter, even the poor of the flock; having, through his merciful lovingkindness, assumed human nature, he went about doing good to the souls and bodies of men; he healed the diseased and fed the hungry, and had compassion on the ignorant, and them that were out of the way; and, as a merciful high priest, he bore the sins and sorrows of his people; and in his love and pity redeemed them, and continues to sympathize with them in all their afflictions and temptations; and though no mercy was shown him while he was suffering for them, for God spared him not, but awoke the sword of justice against him, and used him with the utmost rigour and severity; yet satisfaction being made, he did not leave him in the grave, nor suffer his holy, good, and merciful One to see corruption; but raised him from the dead, prevented him with the blessings of his goodness, and set upon his head a crown of honour and glory;
with an upright man thou wilt show thyself upright; an upright man, as the word (a) used signifies, is a perfect man, not absolutely, but comparatively; not in himself, but in Christ; perfect with a perfection of parts, but not of degrees; he is one that is upright in heart, sincere and without hypocrisy; an Israelite indeed, whose faith, hope, and love, are undisguised; he is a man of integrity, a faithful man, faithful to God, his cause and interest, his word and ordinances, and is faithful with the saints; he walks, uprightly according to the rule of God's word, and by faith in Christ; and to such upright men God shows himself upright, or faithful, by keeping his covenant with them, fulfilling his promises to them, and not suffering one good thing to fail he has given them reason to expect from him. This may also be interpreted of Christ, who is in the highest and fullest sense perfect, upright, and sincere, and faithful to him that appointed him; and as he has been faithful in all his covenant engagements with his Father, so his Father has been faithful to him in making good all he promised him; both with respect to his own glory, and the happiness of his people; see Isaiah 53:10.
(z) "benigno", Vatablus, Junius & Tremellius; "bono", Gejerus, some in Vatablus; "qui bonitati studet", Tigurine version; "pio", Munster, Cocceius, Michaelis; "gracious saint", Ainsworth. (a) "perfecto", Pagninus, Montanus; so Ainsworth.
With the pure thou wilt shew thyself pure; and with the froward thou wilt shew thyself froward.With the pure thou wilt show thyself pure,.... None of Adam's posterity are pure by nature; they are all defiled with sin; and though some are pure in their own eyes, they are far from being cleansed from their filthiness; such only are pure who are sanctified by the Spirit of God, have clean hearts created in them, and whose hearts are purified by faith in the blood of Christ; who are justified by Christ's righteousness, and are washed from their sins in his blood; and who, in consequence of such grace, love, pureness of heart, speak a pure language, hold the mystery of faith in a pure conscience, and with a pure conversation, and live soberly, righteously, and godly: and whereas God is a pure and holy Being, his perfections, works, and word, are pure; he shows himself to be so to such persons, by providing for the honour of his purity and holiness in their redemption, sanctification, and salvation; by making all things to be pure to them; by granting them his presence, and blessing them with the vision of himself here and hereafter; see Matthew 5:8; this may likewise be understood of Christ, who, in his human nature, is pure from all sin, both original and actual: he indeed took upon him the sins of his people, and bore them, and made satisfaction for them, and brought in everlasting righteousness; which being done, God has showed himself pure to him, by justifying, acquitting, and discharging him from all such sins; by accepting his righteousness, and imputing it to those for whom he wrought it;
and with the froward thou wilt show thyself froward; or "thou wrestlest" (b), or wilt contend with them until they are destroyed: the same word is here used which Naphtali has his name from, Genesis 30:8. The froward are such as are of perverse dispositions, and of stubborn and obstinate tempers, and whose ways are crooked and distorted; and such were the people of the Jews in the times of Moses, and of Christ, Deuteronomy 32:5; and who seem here to be designed; even the Jews in Christ's time, who were just the reverse of the above characters, were cruel and unmerciful, faithless and hypocritical, filthy and pure, disbelieved the Messiah, rejected and crucified him, were contrary to God, and to all men; and therefore God walked contrary to them, as he threatened, Leviticus 26:27; the same as showing himself froward to them; for God is not froward and perverse in himself, nor in his ways, which are all equal, just, and pure: and though there is one and the same word used in our version, yet there are two different words in the Hebrew text; the same word that is used of the froward is not used of God; that which is used of God, as before observed, signifies wrestling, and designs God's contending with the people of the Jews, in a way of wrath and fury, which came upon them to the uttermost, and issued in their entire ruin as a people and nation; the words here had their fulfilment in the destruction of Jerusalem.
(b) "eluctaris", Junius & Tremellius; "colluctaris", Aben Ezra; "reluctaris", Gejerus; "certas", Schmidt.
For thou wilt save the afflicted people; but wilt bring down high looks.For thou wilt save the afflicted people,.... As the people of God commonly are; they are afflicted with sin, and the corruption of their own hearts, and with Satan and his temptations, and with the world, its reproaches, and persecutions; but God in his own time saves them out of them, if not here, yet hereafter. This is particularly and eminently true of the Christians who lived between the crucifixion of Christ and the destruction of Jerusalem; who were greatly afflicted and persecuted by the Jews, but were in a remarkable manner saved a little before the destruction of Jerusalem, by being directed to go out of it to a place called Pella (c); so that not one Christian suffered in it;
but wilt bring down high looks; or proud men, whom God humbles; these he abhors, resists, sets himself against, scatters and destroys. The Jews were a very proud people, and behaved in an insolent and insulting manner towards Christ and his followers; but the high looks of the chief priests, Scribes, and Pharisees, were brought down to a purpose, when their city, temple, and nation, were destroyed; see Isaiah 2:11.
(c) Euseb. Eccl. Hist. l. 3. c. 5.
For thou wilt light my candle: the LORD my God will enlighten my darkness.For thou wilt light my candle,.... Or lamp (d): in 2 Samuel 22:29, it is, "Thou art my lamp, O Lord"; which may either design outward prosperity, and the flourishing condition of David's kingdom; or internal spiritual light, and an increase of it, by giving fresh supplies of the oil of grace, to cause the lamp to burn more clearly; or rather the prosperous estate of Christ's kingdom; and may be the same with the lamp ordained for the Messiah, Psalm 132:17;
the Lord my God will enlighten my darkness; or "cause light to shine in my darkness" (e); that is, bring me out of darkness into light; either out of adversity to prosperity, or from walking in darkness to the enjoyment of the light of his countenance; and is true of Christ, not only of the prosperity of his kingdom and interest, but of him personally; who though, when on the cross, was in darkness of soul, being forsaken by his God; yet, when raised from the dead, he was received up to heaven, and set down at the right hand of God, and was made full of joy with his countenance, Acts 2:28.
(d) "lucernam meam", Pagninus, Montanus, Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, &c. (e) So Gussetius, Comment. Ebr. p. 495.
For by thee I have run through a troop; and by my God have I leaped over a wall.For by thee I have run through a troop,.... Or, "I have run to a troop": to meet one (f) with courage and intrepidity, as some interpret it (g); or, as others (h), "I have run after a troop": that is, pursued after one, as David pursued after the troops of the Amalekites who burnt Ziklag, 1 Samuel 30:8; to which Jarchi refers this passage; or rather, "I have broke a troop", or "through one" (i); for the word, as some Jewish writers (k) observe, comes from a root which signifies to "break" in pieces, and is fitly used for the destroying or cutting in pieces a troop of the enemy; and is true of Christ, when he engaged with the troops of hell, and broke the squadrons of the infernal fiends, and spoiled or disarmed principalities and powers, and triumphed over them on the cross, and made a show of them openly, when he dragged them at his chariot wheels, and led captivity captive;
and by my God have I leaped over a wall; which refers to the scaling of walls, and taking of fortified places; and so the Targum, "By the word of my God I will subdue fortified towns"; so Apollinarius has it, passed over a tower, or took it; which was literally true of David, in many instances. Jarchi applies this to his taking the fortress of Zion from the Jebusites: a learned writer (l) thinks this refers to his leaping over the city wall, and slipping through the city watch, when Michal let him down through a window: it may be applied to Christ, who broke down the middle wail of partition, the ceremonial law, which stood between Jew and Gentile; or rather it may design the many difficulties which were in the way of the salvation of his people, which he surmounted and got over with great strength and swiftness; such as fulfilling the law, satisfying justice, bearing sin, and making atonement for it, undergoing a shameful and an accursed death, and grappling with numerous enemies, whom he conquered; and he is said to do all this by his God; because, as man and Mediator, he was strengthened and assisted by him.
(f) "occurram turmae", so some in Vatablus. (g) Apud Kimchi in loc. (h) Apud Aben Ezra in loc. (i) "Conteram", Pagninus; "perfregi", Vatablus; "perrupi", Musculus; "perrumpo", Tigurine version, Castalio; so Ainsworth. (k) Kimchi & Ben Melech. (l) Delaney's Life of King David, vol. 1. p. 62.
As for God, his way is perfect: the word of the LORD is tried: he is a buckler to all those that trust in him.As for God, his way is perfect,.... Or "without spot" (m), as the Septuagint render the word; without any just charge of inequality, or unrighteousness; such is God's way of providence, though sometimes his methods of providence are cavilled at by wicked men, and murmured at by his own people: they are at a loss, at times, to reconcile promises and providences together, and to account for the justice and equity of them; these ways of his are unsearchable, and not to be traced out by them; but when his judgments will be made manifest, the wisdom, goodness, and righteousness of them will be clearly discerned, and they will be admired; for they are all of a piece, and perfectly consistent with the attributes of God: and such also is his way of grace, and method of salvation; it is agreeable to all his perfections, and according to his purposes, counsel, and covenant; this being resolved on in his breast, contrived by his wisdom, and concluded on in the covenant, has been effected and finished by his son; and his inward way of working upon the heart, though at present imperfect, will be completed; he is a rock, and his work is perfect, and all his ways are judgment: whatever way or method he contrives and enters upon, whether in providence or grace, he pursues and brings to an issue; for he is an omnipotent, omniscient, and unchangeable Being, and neither frustrates, nor is he frustrated; nor is there any insincerity, unrighteousness, and unfaithfulness in him; nor can he act contrary to himself, and the perfections of his nature: the way also which he prescribes to others is perfect and plain, whether the path of doctrine or of duty; the path of truth is plain to the enlightened understanding, and the way of holiness is such, in which men, though fools, shall not err; see Proverbs 8:8;
the word of the Lord is tried; as silver in a furnace, and is clear of all dross, of error, and falsehood; is free from human mixtures, and without any impurity and unholiness; nor is God's word of promise chargeable with unfaithfulness; all his promises being yea and amen in Christ, and have been tried and proved by the saints in all ages; and have been found true, faithful, constant, and invariable;
he is a buckler to all those that trust in him; not in man, nor in themselves; in their own righteousness, or in any creature or creature enjoyment or performance; but in the providence and power of God, in his grace and mercy, in his word, and especially in his Son; in his person, blood, and righteousness; to such he is a buckler or shield: his power is all around them, his favour encompasses them, and his truth, or faithfulness in his word, is their shield and buckler: and so is his Son, who is both a sun and shield to them; and such are his precious blood, his spotless righteousness, and stoning sacrifice; which, being held up by faith, repel the fiery darts of Satan.
(m) Sept. "impolluta", V. L. so Syriac. Aethiop.
For who is God save the LORD? or who is a rock save our God?For who is God save the Lord?.... Or Jehovah: there is but one God, and Jehovah is he; there is none besides him, nor any like him: there are many that are called gods, nominal deities, who are not by nature gods; fictitious ones, the idols of the Gentiles, made of gold, silver, brass, wood, and stone; but there is but one true God: there are gods, in an improper sense, as civil magistrates; but there is none really and truly so but the Lord; which is to be understood, not of Jehovah the Father, to the exclusion of the Son and Spirit; for the Son is Jehovah, and the Spirit is Jehovah; both are so called, as well as the Father, and all three one God;
or who is a rock save our God? to have recourse to for shelter and protection; or to trust to, and build upon, for eternal life and salvation. False gods are rocks; but not like ours, our enemies themselves being judges, Deuteronomy 32:31; so Apollo at Delphos is called the Delphian rock (n): the words seem to be taken from, or at least there is in them a reference to, 1 Samuel 2:2.
(n) , Sophoclis Oedipus, v. 472.
It is God that girdeth me with strength, and maketh my way perfect.It is God that girdeth me with strength,.... For battle, as in Psalm 18:39; with strength of body and fortitude of mind; both which are from the Lord, and were in David; and were acknowledged by him as bestowed on him by the Lord; and which confirms what he had before said of him: or with spiritual strength, with strength in his soul, against sin, Satan, and the world; and to do the will and work of God: saints are girt by the Lord with the whole armour of God, and among the rest with the girdle of truth; and are prepared and ready to every good work; see 1 Samuel 2:4. Hannah's song is again referred to: in 2 Samuel 22:33, the words are, "God is my strength and power"; they are true of Christ, the man of God's right hand, whom he promised to strengthen, and whom he has made strong for himself, Psalm 80:17;
and maketh my way perfect; or safe, or prosperous. God removed every impediment and obstacle out of his way, and made it plain and easy, as Jarchi observes; and succeeded him, and gave him victory over his enemies; this has been verified in Christ, who has conquered sin, Satan, the world, death, and the grave: for this is not to be understood of the way and course of David's life and conversation, which was not perfect and unspotted, but had many blemishes and imperfections in it, which he often owns, confesses, and bewails.
He maketh my feet like hinds' feet, and setteth me upon my high places.He maketh my feet like hind's feet,.... As light and swift as theirs, as the Targum; that is, either to flee, when there was a necessity for it, as Kimchi observes; or rather to pursue after the enemy, to run through a troop, and leap over a wall, as before; see 1 Chronicles 12:8; the same phrase is used in Habakkuk 3:19; and may be understood in a spiritual sense of that readiness and cheerfulness with which the saints run the ways of God's commandments, when their hearts are enlarged with his love and grace; and may very well be applied to Christ, who is often compared to a roe, or a young hart, for swiftness; who readily and at once engaged to come and do the will of God, and whose coming in the flesh, at the appointed time, was swift; and who made haste to do the work of God, in which he took the utmost pleasure; and who is a speedy and present help to his people in time of trouble; see Sol 2:8;
and setteth me upon my high places; the towers and fortresses, and strong and fortified places, where he was safe from his enemies; and: in a spiritual sense, may design the everlasting love of God, the covenant of grace, its blessings and promises; and Christ himself, with the fulness of grace in him, on which believers may be said to be set, when their faith is directed to them, and they live and dwell upon them; see Habakkuk 3:19; and, the words were fulfilled in Christ, when God highly exalted him at his right hand, and set him above all principalities and powers, and made him higher than the heavens.
He teacheth my hands to war, so that a bow of steel is broken by mine arms.He teacheth my hands to war,.... From whence it appears, that war, in some cases, is lawful; and that all the skilfulness and art in training men for war, in the use of armour, in marshalling of armies, in forming sieges, &c. is all from God; see Psalm 144:1; and so is all that spiritual skill, in making use of the whole armour of God against every enemy, sin, Satan, and the world; and even the wisdom and skill, counsel and instruction, which Christ as man and Mediator had, when it was the hour and power of darkness; when he was engaged with principalities and powers, and got the victory over them, were from the Lord: see Psalm 16:7;
so that a bow of steel is broken by mine arms; that is, the bow of an enemy falling into his hands, which might be literally true of David. It is in the Hebrew text, "a bow of brass"; and so Apollinarius renders it; which Kimchi and Ben Melech interpret strong iron, that is, steel; and so the Targum; see Job 20:24; Satan is an archer; his temptations are darts, and fiery ones; and his strong bow may be said to be broken by the arms of faith, when his temptations, under the influence of divine grace, are repelled and rendered ineffectual; and especially his bow was broken by Christ, not only in the wilderness, when he was vanquished by him; but in the garden, and on the cross, when Satan could find nothing in him, and get no other advantage over him, but to bruise his heel; when he himself had his head broke, his works ruined, and he himself destroyed. Some render the words, "mine arms have bent a bow of steel": that is, such skill and strength were given him that he was able to bend, draw, and shoot a bow or steel: the Targum is, "and hath strengthened mine arm as a bow of brass", or "steel"; and so the Syriac and Arabic versions; and to the same purpose the Septuagint, Vulgate Latin, and Ethiopic versions; or it may be rendered, "my arms have bent", or "made to descend (o), a bow of brass"; for when a bow is bent, the horns or corners of it are made to descend towards a man.
(o) "ut current", Cocceius; so Michaelis; "ut descendat vel deprimatur", Gejerus; vid. Gussetii Comment. Ebr. p. 507. so Jarchi.
Thou hast also given me the shield of thy salvation: and thy right hand hath holden me up, and thy gentleness hath made me great.Thou hast given me the shield of thy salvation,.... Meaning either temporal salvation, which was a shield to him when he had no outward one, as when he fought with Goliath; and was what preserved him in all his battles at other times: or spiritual salvation, which is of the Lord, of his contriving, effecting:, and applying, and in which his glory is concerned; interest in which is a free gift of his, as are the knowledge, application, and possession of it; and this is as a shield, which saves from sin, from all sin, and the damning power of it; keeps off the curses of the law, secures from wrath to come, and repels Satan's temptations; the words may be applied to Christ, who, though he was not saved from dying, yet was preserved in the day of salvation, and was not suffered to see corruption in the grave, and was quickly delivered from the power and dominion of it;
and thy right hand hath holden me up; Christ may be said to be the right hand of God, being as dear to him as his right hand; and being exalted at it; and because by him he communicates all good things to his people, and with him upholds and sustains them; or else it designs the mighty power of God, which is often signified by it, Psalm 20:6; and may be understood of the sustentation of David, both in a providential way, with respect to his being, the preservation of it, the supplies of life, and support in times of trouble and distress; and in a spiritual sense, maintaining the principle of grace in him, furnishing him with fresh supplies of grace, and bearing him up under and through every temptation and exercise; so upholding him that he stood firm in the true grace of God, in the exercise of it implanted, and in the doctrine of grace, so as to go forward in the ways of God, and follow hard after him, and so as not to fall and utterly perish; and which is true of all the saints; see Psalm 63:8. The words may be interpreted of Christ, who, as man and Mediator, as God's righteous servant, was upheld by him, so that he failed not, nor was he discouraged; the hand of the Lord was established with him, and his arm also strengthened him, Isaiah 42:1; this clause is not in 2 Samuel 22:36;
and thy gentleness hath made me great; David was very mean and low by his birth and occupation, and while persecuted by Saul; but God of his grace and goodness, of his sovereign good will and pleasure, raised him to an high estate, set him on the throne of Israel, and gave him honour among and above the kings of the earth; so Kimchi interprets the word for "gentleness" by "goodness" or "merciful" kindness; R. Jonah by "providence"; and R. Isaac explains it "thy help and good will"; and all shows that his greatness was not owing to his merits, but to the providential goodness of God; and his special grace and mercy in Christ Jesus made him still greater, even a child of God, an heir of God, a joint heir with Christ, a King and a Priest unto God; gave him a right unto and a meetness for a crown of glory, an everlasting kingdom, an eternal inheritance, as it does all the saints. The words may be rendered, "thy humility hath made me great" (p); which may be understood either of God's humbling himself to look upon him in his low estate, and to raise him to such honour and dignity as he did, both in a temporal and spiritual sense; see Psalm 113:6; or of the humility which he had in himself from God, as Aben Ezra interprets it; of which grace God is the author; it is a fruit of the Spirit; which he takes great notice of, gives more grace to them that have it, and exalts them, as he did David, who was mean and low in his own eyes. The Septuagint, and those versions which follow that, render it "thy discipline" or "correction": and so may design the gentleness and lenity of God in chastising his people, which is always in measure and in judgment, and for their good; whereby he increases grace in them, and trains them up for, and brings them to his kingdom and glory. The Chaldee paraphrase is, "by thy word thou hast increased me"; it may not be improperly interpreted of Christ, who was very low in his estate of humiliation on earth, but is now highly exalted, and crowned with glory and honour; who first endured great sufferings, and then entered into his glory.
(p) "mansuetudo tua", Pagninus, Montanus, Musculus, Gejerus; "thy meekness", Ainsworth; "sumitur pro humilitate seu mansuetudine", Zeph. ii. 3. Gejerus.
Thou hast enlarged my steps under me, that my feet did not slip.Thou hast enlarged my steps under me,.... Which is opposed to those straitened circumstances in which the psalmist was, Psalm 18:4; and is expressive of deliverance from his enemies, by whom he was surrounded, besieged, and shut up; see Psalm 31:8; and of freedom of walking at large, without being straitened for room, or interrupted by others, Proverbs 4:12; and of safety in standing; all which is true in a spiritual sense of believers in Christ, who being delivered by him out of the hands of their enemies, serve the Lord without fear in righteousness and holiness; walk at liberty by faith in Christ, and up and down in the name of the Lord their God; and have their feet established upon the Rock of ages, that sure and large foundation, Christ, from which there is no danger of slipping and falling; as follows;
that my feet did not slip; so as to fall and perish; for sometimes the steps of the saints are well nigh slipped; yea, in some sense they stumble; slip, and fall, but not so as to be utterly cast down and perish eternally; the bottom on which they are is so broad, and the foundation so sure, that it is not possible they should. The words will bear to be applied to Christ, who was in very pressed and straitened circumstances, when beset with the bulls of Bashan, encompassed with dogs, and enclosed with the assembly of the wicked; and was in slippery places, when he sunk in deep mire where there is no standing, Psalm 22:12; but now being delivered from all this, he is brought, as in Psalm 18:19, into a large place, into heaven, and made higher than the heavens, and is set down at the right hand of God, from whence he can never be moved.
I have pursued mine enemies, and overtaken them: neither did I turn again till they were consumed.I have pursued mine enemies, and overtaken them,.... Which may refer to David's pursuing the Amalekites, who overtook them and recovered all they had carried away, 1 Samuel 30:8; so Kimchi explains it;
neither did I turn again till they were consumed; for not a man escaped, save four hundred young men that rode on camels and fled, Psalm 18:17.
I have wounded them that they were not able to rise: they are fallen under my feet.I have wounded them, that they were not able to rise,.... Which was not only true of the Amalekites, but of all with whom David engaged in war;
they are fallen under my feet; either dead, or become subject and tributaries to him; as the Philistines, Moabites, Syrians, and Edomites; see 2 Samuel 8:1. This, with Psalm 18:37, may very well be accommodated to David's antitype, and be expressive of the entire victory he has obtained over all his and his people's enemies; he wounded the heads over many countries, Psalm 110:6. Satan and his principalities and powers, whose head is broke, whose works are destroyed; yea, he himself, which had the power of death, so as not to be able to rise more against Christ, who has led captivity captive: he has also finished and made an end of sin, and overcome the world; nor did he turn back from this work he engaged in until he had made a complete conquest; and moreover he has likewise made his people more than conquerors, through him, over these same enemies; so that the words are also applicable to them.
For thou hast girded me with strength unto the battle: thou hast subdued under me those that rose up against me.For thou hast girded me with strength unto battle,.... See Psalm 18:32; that natural strength, courage and valour, which David had, were from the Lord; and so is the Spirit of power, love, and of a sound mind, which believers have; and likewise that strength which Christ, as man, had and used in his combat with the powers of darkness; see Psalm 80:17;
thou hast subdued under me those that rose up against me; as the psalmist ascribes his strength, so he attributes his success to the Lord; who likewise subdues the sins of his people, and all other enemies of theirs, and who also makes the enemies of his Son his footstool, Psalm 110:1.
Thou hast also given me the necks of mine enemies; that I might destroy them that hate me.Thou hast also given me the necks of mine enemies,.... Either to slay them, or to trample or put a yoke upon them; or rather the sense is, thou hast made them to fly before me, to turn their necks or backs unto me, as the word is used in Joshua 7:8; and it is expressive of an utter rout and vanquishing of them;
that I might destroy them that hate me; they not being able to face him and stand against him.
They cried, but there was none to save them: even unto the LORD, but he answered them not.They cried, but there was none to save them,.... It is in 2 Samuel 22:42; "they looked"; that is, they looked round about, here and there, to see if there were any near at hand to help and deliver them; they cried in their distress, and because of the anguish of their spirits, and for help and assistance, but in vain; they cried, as Jarchi thinks, to their idols, as Jonah's mariners cried everyone to their god; and, if so, it is no wonder there was none to save; for such are gods that cannot save: but it follows,
Then did I beat them small as the dust before the wind: I did cast them out as the dirt in the streets.Then did I beat them small, as the dust before the wind,.... They being given up by God, and he not answering to their cries; the phrase denotes the utter ruin and destruction of them, and represents their case as desperate and irrecoverable; being, as it were, pounded to dust, and that driven away with the wind: just as the destruction of the four monarchies is signified by the iron, clay, brass, silver, and gold, being broken to pieces, and made like the chaff of the summer threshing floor, and carried away with the wind, so that no place is found for them any more, Daniel 2:35;
I did cast them out as the dirt of the streets; expressing indignation and contempt: in 2 Samuel 22:43; it is, "I did stamp them as the mire of the street, and did, spread them abroad"; which also denotes the low and miserable condition to which they were reduced, and the entire conquest made of them, and triumph over them; see Isaiah 10:6; compare with this 2 Samuel 12:31.
Thou hast delivered me from the strivings of the people; and thou hast made me the head of the heathen: a people whom I have not known shall serve me.Thou hast delivered me from the strivings of the people,.... In 2 Samuel 22:44, it is read "my people", meaning the people of Israel; either Saul and his men, who contended with David, and sought his life; or rather the tribes of Israel, who, after Saul's death, refused to acknowledge David as their king, but afterwards came and anointed him in Hebron. The words may very well be interpreted of the contentions of the Scribes and Pharisees with Christ, and of the opposition from sinners, which he for a while endured, but is now delivered from them all;
and thou hast made me the head of the Heathen; which, if understood of David, refers to the Philistines, Syrians, Moabites, and Edomites, being subdued by him, and becoming tributaries to him, 2 Samuel 8:1. But it best agrees with Christ, who is the head of his chosen ones among the Gentiles; the political head, King, and Governor of them, the Heathen being given him for his inheritance and possession; and which appeared in the first ages of Christianity, when the Gospel was first preached to the Gentiles by the apostles; and still continues, and will be more clearly seen in the latter day, when the Lord shall be King over all the earth. Christ was made the head of the Heathen, by the appointment and designation of his Father; and, in fact, was so when multitudes from among the Gentiles were converted and brought to the obedience of him. In 2 Samuel 22:44 it is, "thou hast kept me to be head of the Heathen"; which does not seem so much to intend the designation and constitution of him as such, but the continuation of him; and denotes the stability of his government in the Gentile world, of which there will be no end;
a people whom I have not known shall serve me; by whom are meant the Gentiles, who were not the people of God, were without Christ and without God, and without hope in the world: not that there are any people that can be unknown to Christ, as he is the omniscient God; nor were these unknown to him, in such sense as reprobates, nominal professors, and foolish virgins, are said not to be known by him, Matthew 7:23. For these people among the Heathen, who are or shall be brought to serve the Lord, are such who were the objects of his love and delight from everlasting; were in his Father's choice and in his own, and in the gift of his Father to him, and in the covenant of his grace; and therefore must be known by him; moreover, they are the purchase of his blood; and the sheep he knows, for whom he has laid down his life, and of whom he has such an exact and particular knowledge, that he can and does call them by name. But the sense is, these seemed not to be taken notice of and cared for by Christ; they were not owned and acknowledged by him as his people; the Jews were distinguished from all others; they only had the law, the word of God, and his ordinances; the Gentiles were suffered to walk in their own ways; they were neglected, and the times of their ignorance were overlooked and disregarded; so that they were treated as a people that were not known for many hundreds of years: but here it is predicted, that when the Gospel should come among them, and they be called by it, they should "serve" the Lord in righteousness and true holiness, with reverence and godly fear, from a principle of love, in his name and strength, and to his glory; see Isaiah 55:4.
As soon as they hear of me, they shall obey me: the strangers shall submit themselves unto me.As soon as they hear of me they shall obey me,.... That is, as soon as they should hear of Christ, through the preaching of the word, by which faith would come, they should readily and at once receive, embrace, and profess the Gospel, and yield a cheerful submission to the ordinances of it; and which has had its accomplishment among the Gentiles, Acts 28:28;
the strangers shall submit themselves unto me; meaning either the same persons as before; the Gentiles, who were aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenant of promise, who should submit to Christ, to his Gospel, to his righteousness, and to the sceptre of his kingdom; though some interpret it of the degenerate Jews, "the sons of the stranger", as the words may be rendered; who, though called the children of God, and the children of the kingdom, yet were, as our Lord says, of their father the devil; and these, some of them, in a flattering and dissembling way, feigned themselves to be the followers and disciples of Christ: and, indeed, it looks as if hypocrites were intended, whether among Jews or Gentiles, or both, since the word here used, and rendered "submit", signifies to "lie"; and so it is in the metaphrase of Apollinarius; or, as in the margin of some Bibles, to "yield a feigned obedience"; see Psalm 66:3. There seems to be an allusion to the conquest of nations, some of the inhabitants of which readily and heartily submit, but others only feignedly, and through fear, and the force of superior power they cannot withstand.
The strangers shall fade away, and be afraid out of their close places.The strangers shall fade away,.... Like the leaves of trees in autumn, when they fall and perish; to which hypocrites and nominal professors are compared, Jde 1:12;
and be afraid out of their close places; their towers and fortified places, or the rocks and mountains to which they betake themselves for shelter; but, as not thinking themselves safe enough, through fear and dread, come out of them; see Micah 7:17. Some Jewish writers (q) interpret the words, they shall halt or be lame; that is, because of the chains put upon their feet: and so they are expressive of the conquest made of them. The word in the Arabic language signifies to "come out"; and may be so rendered here, and "come out": in 2 Samuel 22:46; it is, "they shall gird themselves", or "come out girt".
(q) R. Donesh apud Jarchi & Abendana not. in Miclol Yophi in loc. to Apollinar. Metaphras.
The LORD liveth; and blessed be my rock; and let the God of my salvation be exalted.The Lord liveth, and blessed be my Rock,.... This, with what follows, is the concluding part of the psalm, which ends with a celebration of the Divine Being, and with thankfulness for mercies received from him. The psalmist praises him on account of what he is in himself, what he was to him, and had done for him: in himself he is the living God, "the Lord liveth": he has life in himself, essentially, originally, and independently; and is the fountain and author of life to all others, even to all creatures that have life, whether rational or irrational: he is the giver of natural life to all men, and the supporter of it; and of spiritual and eternal life to his chosen people; and he continues to live, and ever will; wherefore the saints may conclude that their life in every sense is safe and secure. Some render the phrase, by way of wish, "may the Lord live" (r); but then it must be understood only that he would show himself more abundantly to be the living God, and that he might be acknowledged so by others. The next clauses are by way of petition; "and blessed be my Rock"; on which he was built and established, to which he betook himself in times of distress, which was his place of defence, and from whence he had a supply; wherefore he desires he might be blessed, not by invoking or conferring a blessing on him, neither of which can be; there being none greater than he to call upon, and he being "Elshaddai", God all sufficient, and in no need of any; but by declaring his blessedness, by celebrating his greatness and goodness, and by ascribing blessing and honour and glory to him;
and let the God of my salvation be exalted; God was the God of his salvation in a temporal sense, saving him daily from his many enemies; and in a spiritual sense, being the contriver, author, and applier of it to him; on which account he would have him be exalted both by himself, and in the high praises of his people; ascribing the whole of salvation to him, and giving him all the glory of it. Some render the words, "the God of my salvation is high" (s); he is the most high God, the high and lofty One that inhabits eternity, and is above all others. In 2 Samuel 22:47 the words are read, "and exalted be the God of the Rock of my salvation".
(r) "vivat Jehova", Musculus, Tigurine version, Piscator, Muis; so some in Vatablus, Ainsworth. (s) "excelsus est", Gejerus.
It is God that avengeth me, and subdueth the people under me.It is God that avengeth me,.... Or "gives vengeance unto me", or "for me" (t): vengeance only belongs to God, and he repays it for and in behalf of his people. Private revenge is not to be exercised by any; public vengeance on delinquents may be exercised by the civil magistrate, to whom God gives power and authority to exercise it, Romans 13:4; as he did to David, as king of Israel; though the phrase rather seems to design the victories which he obtained over his enemies, which were punishments to them, vengeances inflicted on them; and owing to God; so the acceptable year of the Messiah's coming, and the time of his people redeemed by him, is called the day of vengeance of our God, both on his and their enemies, Isaiah 61:2;
(t) "qui dat ultiones mihi", Pagninus, Gejerus; so Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Musculus, Cocceius, Michaelis.
He delivereth me from mine enemies: yea, thou liftest me up above those that rise up against me: thou hast delivered me from the violent man.He delivereth me from mine enemies,.... From Saul and his men, from Ishbosheth and Abner, from Absalom, and the conspirators with him; so all believers are delivered out of the hands of their enemies by Christ, as that they can serve the Lord without fear; and so Christ himself is delivered from all his enemies, being raised from the dead, and set at the right hand of God, where he must reign till all enemies are put under his feet;
yea, thou liftest me up above those that rise up against me; David was lifted up from a low and mean estate, and placed on the throne of Israel, above all those that rose up against him, and sought to destroy him; and the saints are set upon their high places in Christ, where they are out of the reach of their enemies to do them any harm; and Christ, he is highly exalted at the right hand of God, above all principality and power, might and dominion, and every name that is named in this world;
thou hast delivered me from the violent man; either from Saul, from whom David was delivered; or from Satan the enemy, the son of wickedness, who shall no more exact upon and afflict the Messiah, Psalm 89:21. The Chaldee paraphrase says, from Gog; as the saints will be delivered from antichrist, the man of sin, and son of perdition, who will be destroyed with the breath of Christ's mouth.
Therefore will I give thanks unto thee, O LORD, among the heathen, and sing praises unto thy name.Therefore will I give thanks unto thee, O Lord, among the Heathen,.... These words are cited by the apostle, in Romans 15:9; and applied to the conversion of the Gentiles, which is manifestly prophesied of in some preceding verses of this psalm: there it is rendered, "I will confess to thee among the Gentiles"; and designs not confession of sin, nor profession of the truth, but an acknowledgment of unworthiness, joined with thankfulness for mercies received; done in the most public manner, not only in the congregation of the righteous, but before the Heathen conquered by him; owning before them all, that the victories he had obtained over them were not to be ascribed to his arm and sword, but to the power of the Lord;
and sing praises unto thy name; which is comely for the saints to do, and which Jesus Christ himself did, in the great congregation of his disciples, and among the Gentiles, by his apostles, and others, on the account of the conversion of them.
Great deliverance giveth he to his king; and sheweth mercy to his anointed, to David, and to his seed for evermore.Great deliverance giveth he to his king,.... Not that is king over him; for he is King of kings and Lord of lords; but that is made king by him, as David was; who did not usurp the throne, but was anointed king by the appointment of God, and was placed by him upon the throne; to whom he gave great deliverance from his enemies, or "magnified salvations" to him; which were great in kind, and many in number; and as Christ is, whom God has set as his King on his holy hill of Sion, against whom the Heathen raged, and kings and princes set themselves; but he is delivered from them all, and saved from the power of death and the grave, and ever lives to reign over, protect, and defend his people; in 2 Samuel 22:51, it is, he is "the tower of salvation for his king", with which compare Proverbs 18:10;
and showeth mercy to his anointed, to David, and to his seed for evermore; which may be understood either of David literally, who was the Lord's anointed, and to whom God showed mercy in various instances; and then by his seed is meant the Messiah, who was of his seed according to the flesh; or of the Messiah, whose name signifies Anointed; and who is often called David, Ezekiel 34:23, Hosea 3:5; and so some of the Jewish doctors (u) from this verse prove that the name of the Messiah is David: and by his seed are meant his spiritual seed; all the elect of God, who are given him as his children, to whom he stands in the relation of the everlasting Father: and as mercy is kept with him for evermore, Psalm 89:28; so it is shown to them in regeneration, in the forgiveness of their sins, and in their everlasting salvation.
(u) Echa Rabbati, fol. 50. 2.