Then the earth shook and trembled; the foundations of heaven moved and shook, because he was wroth.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Of heaven.—Psalms 18, “of the hills.” The thought is the same, but the strong poetic figure by which the mountains are spoken of as “the pillars of heaven” (comp. Job 26:11) is softened in the psalm.Psalm 18, and with the words of this first verse for its title, belongs to the early part of David's reign when he was recently established upon the throne of all Israel, and when his final triumph over the house of Saul, and over the pagan nations 2 Samuel 22:44-46, Philistines, Moabites, Syrians, Ammonites, and Edomites, was still fresh 2 Samuel 21. For a commentary on the separate verses the reader is referred to the commentary on Psalm 18.
The last words of David - i. e., his last Psalm, his last "words of song" 2 Samuel 22:1. The insertion of this Psalm, which is not in the Book of Psalms, was probably suggested by the insertion of the long Psalm in 2 Samuel 22.
David the son of Jesse said ... - The original word for "said" is used between 200 and 300 times in the phrase, "saith the Lord," designating the word of God in the mouth of the prophet. It is only applied to the words of a man here, and in the strikingly similar passage Numbers 24:3-4, Numbers 24:15-16, and in Proverbs 30:1; and in all these places the words spoken are inspired words. The description of David is divided into four clauses, which correspond to and balance each other.
2Sa 22:1-51. David's Psalm of Thanksgiving for God's Powerful Deliverance and Manifold Blessings.
The song contained in this chapter is the same as the eighteenth Psalm, where the full commentary will be given [see on Ps 18:1, &c.]. It may be sufficient simply to remark that Jewish writers have noticed a great number of very minute variations in the language of the song as recorded here, from that embodied in the Book of Psalms—which may be accounted for by the fact that this, the first copy of the poem, was carefully revised and altered by David afterwards, when it was set to the music of the tabernacle. This inspired ode was manifestly the effusion of a mind glowing with the highest fervor of piety and gratitude, and it is full of the noblest imagery that is to be found within the range even of sacred poetry. It is David's grand tribute of thanksgiving for deliverance from his numerous and powerful enemies, and establishing him in the power and glory of the kingdom.Psalm 18:7. Then the earth shook and trembled; the foundations of heaven moved and shook, because he was wroth.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)8. shook and trembled] The paronomasia of the original may be preserved by translating, and the earth did shake and quake.
the foundations of heaven] The mountains on which the vault of heaven seems to rest: cp. “the pillars of heaven” (Job 26:11): or perhaps the universe is regarded as a vast building, without any precise application of the details of the metaphor. See note on 1 Samuel 2:8. For heaven Psalm 18:7 reads “the mountains.”
8–16. The manifestation of Jehovah for the discomfiture of David’s enemies
Earthquake and storm are regarded as the visible manifestations of Divine Power: and therefore God’s interposition for the deliverance of His servant from the perils that surrounded him is described as accompanied by terrible phenomena in nature. We have here an ideal description of a Theophany, based on the description of the Theophany at Sinai. See Exodus 19:16-18; and cp. Psalm 68:8; Psalm 77:16-18; Jdg 5:4-5. It is not indeed impossible that David refers to some occasion when his enemies were scattered by the breaking of a terrible storm (cp. Joshua 10:11; 1 Samuel 7:10): but we have no record of such an event having actually happened in his life; and in any case the picture is designed to serve as a description of God’s intervention for his deliverance in general, and not upon any single occasion. His power was exerted as really and truly as if all these extraordinary natural phenomena had visibly attested His Advent.
The earthquake (2 Samuel 22:8); the distant lightnings (2 Samuel 22:9); the gathering darkness of the storm (2 Samuel 22:10-12); the final outburst of its fury (2 Samuel 22:13-16); are pictured in regular succession.
Psalms 29 may be compared as illustrating David’s sense of the grandeur and significance of natural phenomena.Verses 8-10. -
"And the earth quaked and trembled;
The foundations of the heavens shook,
And quaked because he was wroth.
A smoke went up in his nostril,
And fire out of his mouth devoured;
Red hot cinders burned from him.
And he bowed the heavens and came down,
And darkness was under his feet." In describing the manifestation of God for his deliverance, David bore in mind and repeated the description of God's descent to earth given in Exodus 19:16, 18. But the poetic vigour of David's imagination intensities the imagery, and makes it more grand and startling. Not merely is there the earthquake and the volcano and the storm cloud, but the dim form of the Almighty is present, with the smoke of just anger at unrighteousness ascending from his nostrils, and the lightnings flashing forth to execute his wrath. But David certainly intended that these metaphors should remain ideal; and it was quite unnecessary for the Targum carefully to eliminate all such expressions as seem to give the Almighty bureau shape. In so doing it merely changes poetry into prose. But even more dull and commonplace is the explanation given by some modern commentators, that all that is meant is that David was once saved by a thunderstorm from some danger or other. Really this glorious imagery, taken from all that is grandest on earth, is intended to magnify to us the spiritual conception of God's justice coming forth to visit the earth and do right and equity. In ver. 8 for "the foundations of the heavens," we find in Psalm 18:7 "the foundations of the hills." The former is the grander metaphor, and signifies the mighty mountain ranges, like those of Lebanon, on which the skies seem to rest. The smoke signifies hailstorms and, perhaps, also the rain driven in wreaths along the ground by the wind. Red hot cinders burned from him describes the flashing lightnings that were shot forth like the coals from the refiner's furnace when heated to the full. It is to be regretted that the Revised Version retains the bathos of the old rendering, that God's fiery breath set coals on fire. 2 Samuel 22:2-4 form the introduction.
2 Jehovah is my rock, my castle, and my deliverer to me;
3 My Rock-God, in whom I:trust:
My shield and horn of my salvation, my fortress and my refuge,
My Saviour; from violence Thou redeemest me.
4 I call upon the praised one, Jehovah,
And I am saved from my enemies.
This introduction contains the sum and substance of the whole psalm, inasmuch as David groups the many experiences of divine deliverance in his agitated life into a long series of predicates, in all of which he extols God as his defence, refuge, and deliverer. The heaping up of these predicates is an expression both of liveliest gratitude, and also of hope for the future. The different predicates, however, are not to be taken as in apposition to Jehovah, or as vocatives, but are declarations concerning God, how He had proved himself faithful to the Psalmist in all the calamities of his life, and would assuredly do so still. David calls God וּמצרתי סלעי (my rock, and my castle) in Psalm 31:4 as well (cf. Psalm 71:4). The two epithets are borrowed from the natural character of Palestine, where steep and almost inaccessible rocks afford protection to the fugitive, as David had often found at the time when Saul was pursuing him (vid., 1 Samuel 24:22; 1 Samuel 22:5). But whilst David took refuge in rocks, he placed his hopes of safety not in their inaccessible character, but in God the Lord, the eternal spiritual rock, whom he could see in the earthly rock, so that he called Him his true castle. לי מפלטי (my deliverer to me) gives the real explanation of the foregoing figures. The לי (to me) is omitted in Psalm 18:2, and only serves to strengthen the suffix, "my, yea my deliverer.' "My Rock-God," equivalent to, God who is my Rock: this is formed after Deuteronomy 32:4, where Moses calls the Lord the Rock of Israel, because of His unchangeable faithfulness; for zur, a rock, is a figure used to represent immoveable firmness. In Psalm 18:3 we find צוּרי אלי, "my God" (strong one), "my rock," two synonyms which are joined together in our text, so as to form one single predicate of God, which is repeated in 2 Samuel 22:47. The predicates which follow, "my horn and my salvation-shield," describe God as the mighty protector and defender of the righteous. A shield covers against hostile attacks. In this respect God was Abraham's shield (Genesis 15:1), and the helping shield of Israel (Deuteronomy 33:29; cf. Psalm 3:4; Psalm 59:12). He is the "horn of salvation," according to Luther, because He overcomes enemies, and rescues from foes, and gives salvation. The figure is borrowed from animals, which have their strength and defensive weapons in their horns (see at 1 Samuel 2:1). "My fortress:" misgab is a high place, where a person is secure against hostile attacks (see at Psalm 9:10). The predicates which follow, viz., my refuge, etc., are not given in Psalm 18:3, and are probably only added as a rhythmical completion to the strophe, which was shortened by the omission of the introductory lines, "I love thee heartily, Jehovah" (Psalm 18:1). The last clause, "My Saviour, who redeemest me from violence," corresponds to אחסה־בּו in the first hemistich. In Psalm 18:4, David sums up the contents of his psalm of thanksgiving in a general sentence of experience, which may be called the theme of the psalm, for it embraces "the result of the long life which lay behind him, so full of dangers and deliverances." מהלּל, "the praised one," an epithet applied to God, which occurs several times in the Psalms (Psalm 48:2; Psalm 96:4; Psalm 113:3; Psalm 145:3). It is in apposition to Jehovah, and is placed first for the sake of emphasis: "I invoke Jehovah as the praised one." The imperfects אקרא and אוּשׁע are used to denote what continually happens. In 2 Samuel 22:5 we have the commencement of the account of the deliverances out of great tribulations, which David had experienced at the hand of God.
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