|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
18:1-19 The first words, I will love thee, O Lord, my strength, are the scope and contents of the psalm. Those that truly love God, may triumph in him as their Rock and Refuge, and may with confidence call upon him. It is good for us to observe all the circumstances of a mercy which magnify the power of God and his goodness to us in it. David was a praying man, and God was found a prayer-hearing God. If we pray as he did, we shall speed as he did. God's manifestation of his presence is very fully described, ver. 7-15. Little appeared of man, but much of God, in these deliverances. It is not possible to apply to the history of the son of Jesse those awful, majestic, and stupendous words which are used through this description of the Divine manifestation. Every part of so solemn a scene of terrors tells us, a greater than David is here. God will not only deliver his people out of their troubles in due time, but he will bear them up under their troubles in the mean time. Can we meditate on ver. 18, without directing one thought to Gethsemane and Calvary? Can we forget that it was in the hour of Christ's deepest calamity, when Judas betrayed, when his friends forsook, when the multitude derided him, and the smiles of his Father's love were withheld, that the powers of darkness prevented him? The sorrows of death surrounded him, in his distress he prayed, Heb 5:7. God made the earth to shake and tremble, and the rocks to cleave, and brought him out, in his resurrection, because he delighted in him and in his undertaking.
Verse 5. - The sorrows of hell compassed me about; literally, the cords of Sheol, or Hades. Death and Hell are, both of them, personified, and made to join in the chase. The ensnaring nets are drawn nearer and nearer; at last the toils close in, the last cast is made, and the prey is taken. The snares of death prevented me; or, came upon me (Revised Version) - "took me by surprise" (Kay).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
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.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
5. death—and hell (compare Ps 16:10) are personified as man's great enemies (compare Re 20:13, 14).
prevented—encountered me, crossed my path, and endangered my safety. He does not mean he was in their power.
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