Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges
Ch. 22. David’s thanksgiving for deliverance from his enemies
This magnificent hymn is substantially identical with Psalms 18. The chief variations are pointed out in the notes, and some general remarks on the difference of the two texts will be found in Additional Note III., p. 235.
It was written, as the title indicates, when David’s triumphs over his enemies at home and abroad were still recent. Its composition may with much probability be assigned to the period of peace described in ch. 2 Samuel 7:1; but must be placed after Nathan’s visit, as 2 Samuel 22:51 seems clearly to refer to the great promise made through him. The free and joyous tone of the Psalm, and its bold expressions of conscious integrity, also point to the earlier years of David’s reign rather than the later, overclouded as these were by the fatal consequences of his sin.
This chapter is the Haphtarah or lesson from the prophets appointed to be read in the Synagogue on the Sabbath in conjunction with Deuteronomy 32 according to the ritual of the Sephardim or Spanish Jews, and also on the seventh day of the Passover.
And David spake unto the LORD the words of this song in the day that the LORD had delivered him out of the hand of all his enemies, and out of the hand of Saul:1. The title
1. Compare the inscriptions which introduce Moses’ songs in the historical narrative (Exodus 15:1; Deuteronomy 31:30). This inscription seems to have been taken by the compiler of Samuel and the compiler of the Psalter from a common source—probably one of the prophetic histories of David’s reign—in which this Psalm was incorporated.
in the day that] i.e. at the time when.
out of the hand of Saul] Specially mentioned because Saul was the bitterest and most implacable of his enemies, and because the deliverance from his power raised David to the throne of Israel.
And he said, The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer;2–4. Introductory invocation of Jehovah
2. The Lord is my rock] The opening address to God, found in Psalms 18, “Fervently do I love thee O Jehovah my strength,” is wanting here.
2, 3. The imagery, by which David describes so emphatically all that Jehovah had been to him as a Deliverer from his enemies, is derived from the experiences of his warlike life, and particularly of his flight from Saul. The cliff (1 Samuel 23:25; 1 Samuel 23:28) where he had escaped from Saul, the strong-hold in the wilderness of Judah or the fastnesses of Engedi (1 Samuel 23:14; 1 Samuel 23:19; 1 Samuel 23:29), “the rocks of the wild goats” (1 Samuel 24:2), were all emblems of Him who had been throughout his true Refuge and Deliverer.
The God of my rock; in him will I trust: he is my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my high tower, and my refuge, my saviour; thou savest me from violence.3. The God of my rock] = my strong God: but it is better to alter the vowel points and read as in the Ps., “my God, my Rock.” The title Rock is frequently used to describe the strength, faithfulness, and unchangeableness of God. See Deuteronomy 32:4; Deuteronomy 32:37; 1 Samuel 2:2; Psalm 28:1, &c.
in him will I trust] Better, in whom I take refuge: carrying on the metaphor of a hiding-place in the rocks. Quoted in Hebrews 2:13; cp. Psalm 94:22.
my shield] Compare God’s promise to Abram (Genesis 15:1); and Deuteronomy 33:29.
the horn of my salvation] The Power which saves and delivers me. The figure of the horn, as a symbol of victorious strength, is derived from horned animals. Cp. Deuteronomy 33:17; Luke 1:69.
and my refuge, &c.] The words, “and my retreat, my saviour, thou savest me from violence,” are omitted in Psalms 18.
I will call on the LORD, who is worthy to be praised: so shall I be saved from mine enemies.4. I will call … so shall I be saved] Better, I called … and I was saved. The tenses are frequentative, describing David’s habitual experience of God’s readiness to answer prayer. This verse presents “the theme of the Psalm.”
When the waves of death compassed me, the floods of ungodly men made me afraid;5. waves] Psalm 18:4 reads cords as in 2 Samuel 22:6; E. V sorrows.
ungodly men] Heb. Belial. See note on 1 Samuel 1:16. The parallelism points to the meaning destruction, physical mischief, instead of the ordinary meaning wickedness, moral mischief.
5–7. The Psalmist’s perils. His cry for help
5, 6. For breakers of death had compassed me,
torrents of destruction were affrighting me,
cords of Sheol had surrounded me,
snares of death had encountered me.
The perils to which he had been exposed are described as waves and floods which threatened to engulf him: Sheol and death are represented as laying wait for his life like hunters with nets and snares.
The sorrows of hell compassed me about; the snares of death prevented me;6. the sorrows of hell] The word may no doubt mean pangs, as it is translated in the Sept. (ὠδῖνες, cp. Acts 2:24); but is better explained of the cords or nets of the hunter. Hell is Sheôl (Gr. Hades), the mysterious unseen world, ready to seize and swallow up its victim. See note on 1 Samuel 2:6.
In my distress I called upon the LORD, and cried to my God: and he did hear my voice out of his temple, and my cry did enter into his ears.7. called … cried] This rendering represents a difference of words found in the Heb. of Psalm 18:6, but not here. It is however supported by the Sept. and is probably the true reading.
out of his temple] The palace temple of heaven, where He sits enthroned. Cp. Psalm 11:4.
and my cry did enter into his ears] In place of the terse expression my cry was in his ears, Psalm 18:6 reads “my cry before him came into his ears.”
Then the earth shook and trembled; the foundations of heaven moved and shook, because he was wroth.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.
There went up a smoke out of his nostrils, and fire out of his mouth devoured: coals were kindled by it.9. Smoke arose in his nostril,
and fire from his mouth did devour:
hot coals came burning from him.
The startling boldness of the language will be intelligible if the distinctive character of Hebrew symbolism is borne in mind. It is no “gross anthropomorphism,” for the Psalmist did not intend that the mind’s eye should clothe his figure in a concrete form. His aim is vividly to express the manifestation of the wrath of God, and he does so in figures which are intended to remain as purely mental conceptions, not to be realised as though God appeared in any visible shape. See some excellent remarks in Archbishop Trench’s Comm. on the Epistles to the Seven Churches, p. 43.
a smoke] The outward sign of the pent-up fires of wrath. So anger is said to smoke (Psalm 74:1; Psalm 80:4 marg.). This bold figure is suggested by the panting and snorting of an angry animal. Cp. Job 41:20; in illustration of which Mr Cox quotes from Bertram’s Travels in Carolina: “I perceived a crocodile rush from a small lake … Thick smoke came with a thundering noise from his nostrils.” Martial speaks of fumantem nasum ursi “the smoking nostril of an angry bear” (Epigr. vi. 64. 28).
fire] Compare again Job’s description of Leviathan (Job 41:19-21). Fire is the constant emblem of the consuming wrath of God. See Deuteronomy 32:22; Psalm 97:3; Hebrews 12:29.
coals] The fiery messengers of vengeance. Cp. Psalm 140:10.
He bowed the heavens also, and came down; and darkness was under his feet.10. He bowed the heavens] The dark canopy of storm cloud, which is the pavement under His feet (Nahum 1:3), lowers as He descends to judgment. God is said to come down when He manifests His power in the world (Genesis 11:7; Genesis 18:21; Isaiah 64:1). Darkness symbolizes the mystery and terror of His Advent (Exodus 19:16; Exodus 20:21; 1 Kings 8:12; Psalm 97:2).
And he rode upon a cherub, and did fly: and he was seen upon the wings of the wind.11. he rode upon a cherub] As the Shechinah, or mystic Presence of God in the cloud of glory, rested over the Cherubim which were upon the “Mercy-seat” or covering of the Ark (ch. 2 Samuel 6:2), so in this Theophany God is represented “riding upon a Cherub,” as the living throne on which He traverses space.
The Cherubim appear in Scripture (a) as the guardians of Paradise (Genesis 3:24): (b) as sculptured or wrought figures in the Tabernacle and Temple (Exodus 25:17-20; Exodus 26:1, &c.): (c) in prophetic visions as the attendants of God (Ezekiel 10:1 ff; cp. Ezekiel 1; Isaiah 6; Revelation 4). The Cherubim of the Tabernacle and Temple seem to have been winged human figures, representing the angelic attendants who minister in God’s Presence: those of Ezekiel’s vision appear as composite figures (Ezekiel 10:20-21), symbolical perhaps of all the powers of nature, which wait upon God and fulfil His Will.
was seen] The true reading is that preserved in Psalm 18:10, did fly, a peculiar word used of the swooping of an eagle (Deuteronomy 28:49; Jeremiah 48:40; Jeremiah 49:22). The consonants of the two words are so nearly alike (וידא–וירא), that the rarer word would be easily altered into the more common one. For “the wings of the wind” cp. Psalm 104:3.
And he made darkness pavilions round about him, dark waters, and thick clouds of the skies.12. More fully in Psalm 18:11 : “He made darkness his secret place, his pavilion round about him; even darkness of waters, thick clouds of the skies.” The darkness of the clouds is the tent in which God shrouds His Majesty.
dark waters] So Psalm 18:11; but the word here, which is most probably the original reading, means the gathering of waters.
Through the brightness before him were coals of fire kindled.13. Through the brightness, &c.] Out of the brightness, &c. The lightning flashes which now burst through the dense cloud, are as it were rays of the “unapproachable light” in which He dwells. The text of Psalm 18:12 is fuller and probably more correct: “Out of the brightness before him there passed through his clouds hailstones and coals of fire.”
The LORD thundered from heaven, and the most High uttered his voice.14. the most High] The name of God as the Supreme Ruler of the Universe. Cp. Genesis 14:18-22; Deuteronomy 32:8.
uttered his voice] Thunder is the voice of God. See Job 37:2-5. The repetition of “hailstones and coals of fire” in Psalm 18:13 is probably due to an error of transcription.
And he sent out arrows, and scattered them; lightning, and discomfited them.15. scattered them] “Them” obviously refers to the enemies whose destruction was the object of this divine interposition (2 Samuel 22:4).
discomfited them] A word denoting the confusion of a sudden panic, and used specially of supernatural defeat. Cp. Exodus 14:24 (E. V. troubled); Joshua 10:10; Jdg 4:15; 1 Samuel 7:10.
And the channels of the sea appeared, the foundations of the world were discovered, at the rebuking of the LORD, at the blast of the breath of his nostrils.16. All nature is pictured as convulsed to its lowest depths; the sea dried up, and the hidden bases of the world laid bare, owning their Lord and Master, as of old at the passage of the Red Sea, when “He rebuked the Red Sea, and it was dried up.” See Exodus 15:8; Psalm 104:7; Psalm 106:9; Nahum 1:4. Cp. too Matthew 8:26.
were discovered] Discover in Bible English generally retains its literal meaning ‘to uncover,’ ‘lay bare.’
at the blast, &c.] Cp. 2 Samuel 22:9.
He sent from above, he took me; he drew me out of many waters;17–21. Jehovah’s deliverance of his servant for his faithfulness
17. He sent from above] He reached forth from on high: stretched out His hand and caught hold of the sinking man, and drew him out of the floods of calamity which were engulfing him. Cp. 2 Samuel 22:5; Psalm 144:7.
drew me] A word found elsewhere only in Exodus 2:10, and suggesting a parallel, as though David would say, ‘He drew me out of the great waters of distress, as He drew Moses out of the waters of the Nile, to be the deliverer of His people.’
He delivered me from my strong enemy, and from them that hated me: for they were too strong for me.
They prevented me in the day of my calamity: but the LORD was my stay.19. They prevented me] They encountered me, the same word as in 2 Samuel 22:6, meaning to meet with hostile intention. Prevent is used in a sense which illustrates the transition from the original meaning ‘to go before’ to the modern meaning ‘to hinder.’ See the Bible Word Book, p. 383. Cp. Milton’s Paradise Lost, vi. 129:
Half way he met
His daring foe, at this prevention more
my stay] The staff on which he leaned for support. Cp. Psalm 23:4.
He brought me forth also into a large place: he delivered me, because he delighted in me.20. into a large place] The opposite of the straits of peril. Cp. 2 Samuel 22:37; Psalm 31:8.
because he delighted in me] This was the ground of God’s deliverance, and it now becomes the leading thought of the Psalm. Cp. ch. 2 Samuel 15:26; Psalm 22:8; and also Matthew 3:17, where the Greek word for “I am well pleased” is the same as that used in the Sept. (εὐδοκεῖν). The reference becomes doubly significant if it is borne in mind that the theocratic king was called God’s son (ch. 2 Samuel 7:14; Psalm 2:7). See Introd. p. 43.
The LORD rewarded me according to my righteousness: according to the cleanness of my hands hath he recompensed me.21. according to my righteousness] This is no vain-glorious boasting of his own merits, but a testimony to the faithfulness of Jehovah to guard and reward His faithful servants. David does not lay claim to a perfect righteousness, but to sincerity and single-heartedness in his devotion to God. Compare his own testimony (1 Samuel 26:23), God’s testimony (1 Kings 14:8), and the testimony of history (1 Kings 11:4; 1 Kings 15:5), to his essential integrity.
Is not this conscious rectitude, this “princely heart of innocence,” a clear indication that the Psalm was written before his great fall?
the cleanness of my hands] = the purity of my actions. Cp. Psalm 24:4.
For I have kept the ways of the LORD, and have not wickedly departed from my God.22–25. The integrity of David’s life and its reward
22. For I have kept, &c.] He goes on to substantiate the assertion of the preceding verse.
For all his judgments were before me: and as for his statutes, I did not depart from them.23. all his judgments were before me] God’s commandments were continually present to his mind as the rule of life. Cp. Deuteronomy 6:6-9; Psalm 119:30; Psalm 119:102.
and as for his statutes, &c.] In Psalm 18:22, “And his statutes did I not put away from me,” in order to sin with less compunction. This suits the parallelism better, and is probably the true reading.
I was also upright before him, and have kept myself from mine iniquity.24. upright] Or perfect, as in 2 Samuel 22:31; 2 Samuel 22:33. It expresses the sincerity of undivided devotion. As a sacrificial term it signifies without blemish, and so the Sept. renders it here ἄμωμος, for which cp. Ephesians 1:4; Colossians 1:22, &c.
have kept myself from mine iniquity] I have watched over myself that I might not transgress. Some see further in the words the recognition of an inherent tendency to sin, or an allusion to some special temptation, but the simple explanation is best.
Therefore the LORD hath recompensed me according to my righteousness; according to my cleanness in his eye sight.25. The assertion of 2 Samuel 22:21 is repeated as the conclusion to be drawn from the review of his conduct in 2 Samuel 22:22-24, and is confirmed in the following verses by a consideration of the general laws of God’s moral government.
With the merciful thou wilt shew thyself merciful, and with the upright man thou wilt shew thyself upright.26. the merciful] Or pious: the word includes love to God as well as to man. See note on 1 Samuel 2:9, and cp. Matthew 5:7.
the upright man] Lit. the upright hero: the man who is valiant in maintaining his integrity.
26–28. The law of God’s dealings with men
The truth here enunciated is that God’s attitude towards men is regulated by men’s attitude towards God (cp. 1 Samuel 2:30; 1 Samuel 15:23); not (though this is also true) that men’s conceptions of God are the reflection of their own characters.
With the pure thou wilt shew thyself pure; and with the froward thou wilt shew thyself unsavoury.27. with the pure, &c.] Properly one who purifies himself. Cp. 1 John 3:3; Matthew 5:8; Psalm 73:1.
thou wilt shew thyself unsavoury] Better, perverse. The man who is froward, morally distorted and perverse, is given over by God to follow his own perverseness, till it brings him to destruction. Cp. Leviticus 26:23-24; Romans 1:28; Revelation 22:11; and as an illustration, cp. the history of Balaam (Numbers 22:20).
And the afflicted people thou wilt save: but thine eyes are upon the haughty, that thou mayest bring them down.28. thine eyes, &c.] Thine eyes are against the haughty, whom thou bringest low. In Psalm 18:27 a more usual phrase is found: “haughty eyes dost thou bring low.” Cp. Isaiah 2:11-12; Isaiah 2:17.
the afflicted people] The Heb. words for poor or afflicted and for humble are closely connected; and as afflicted is here contrasted with haughty, it may be understood to mean those who through the discipline of suffering have learnt humility. Cp. Luke 6:20 with Matthew 5:3.
For thou art my lamp, O LORD: and the LORD will lighten my darkness.29. For thou, &c.] For connects this verse closely with 2 Samuel 22:29, as the confirmation out of his own experience of the principles there enunciated.
my lamp] Illuminating all his life with the light of prosperity, as the lamp illuminates the house. Dominus illuminatio mea was David’s motto. Cp. Psalm 27:1; Psalm 132:17. With the different application of the figure in Psalm 18:28, “Thou wilt light my lamp,” cp. 1 Kings 11:36; 1 Kings 15:4.
29–31. God’s faithfulness attested by the Psalmist’s experience
After celebrating God’s goodness in delivering him from all the dangers which threatened his life, David goes on to describe how God had made him victorious over all his enemies.
For by thee I have run through a troop: by my God have I leaped over a wall.30. Two memorable events in David’s life seem to be here alluded to: the successful pursuit of the predatory “troop” of Amalekites which had sacked Ziklag (1 Samuel 30 : in 2 Samuel 22:8; 2 Samuel 22:15; 2 Samuel 22:23 the same word troop is used of the Amalekites): and the capture of Zion, effected with such ease that he seemed to have leapt over the walls which its defenders trusted were impregnable (ch. 2 Samuel 5:6-8).
run through] Better, run after. The point is the speed of the pursuit, not the completeness of the defeat. This and not the marginal rendering broken is preferable.
As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the LORD is tried: he is a buckler to all them that trust in him.31. tried] i.e. refined: like pure gold, with no taint of earthly dross. Cp. Psalm 12:6; Psalm 119:140; Proverbs 30:5.
a buckler, &c.] A shield to all them that take refuge in him. Cp. 2 Samuel 22:3.
For who is God, save the LORD? and who is a rock, save our God?32–37. The praise of Jehovah the giver of victory
32. For who is a strong God (El) save Jehovah?
and who is a rock, save our God (Elôhîm)?
Cp. ch. 2 Samuel 7:22; Deuteronomy 32:31; 1 Samuel 2:2.
El, the name which describes God as the Mighty One, is found in Samuel only in 1 Samuel 2:3; 2 Samuel 22:31-33; 2 Samuel 22:48; 2 Samuel 23:5. For the combination of El and Elôhîm see Genesis 33:20.
God is my strength and power: and he maketh my way perfect.33. my strength and power] Rather, my strong fortress. Psalm 18:32 reads “who girdeth me with strength:” cp. 2 Samuel 22:40.
maketh my way perfect] Maketh is a different word from that similarly translated in Psalm 18:32, and seems to express the removal of obstacles which blocked up the path of his life. Observe the analogy between the perfection of God’s way (2 Samuel 22:31) and His servant’s. Cp. Matthew 5:48. Cp. also Psalm 101:2; Psalm 101:6.
He maketh my feet like hinds' feet: and setteth me upon my high places.34. like hinds’ feet] The hind, like the gazelle, was a type of agility, swiftness, and surefootedness, indispensable qualifications in ancient warfare. Cp. 2 Samuel 2:18; 1 Chronicles 12:8.
setteth me upon my high places] The metaphor of the hind, bounding unimpeded over the mountain tops, is continued. David’s high places are the mountain strongholds, the occupation of which secured him in possession of the country. Cp. Deuteronomy 32:13. Habakkuk 3:19 is an obvious imitation of this passage.
He teacheth my hands to war; so that a bow of steel is broken by mine arms.35. so that a bow of steel, &c.] And mine arms bend a bow of bronze. The ability to bend a metal bow (cp. Job 20:24) was a mark of superior strength. Readers of the Odyssey will recall Ulysses’ bow, which none but himself could bend. (Hom. Od. xxi. 409).
Observe how David recognises that the advantages of physical strength and energy, important qualifications in times when the king was himself the leader of his people in battle, were gifts of God; yet that it was not these that saved him and made him victorious, but Jehovah’s care and help (2 Samuel 22:36 ff.).
Thou hast also given me the shield of thy salvation: and thy gentleness hath made me great.36. the shield of thy salvation] Cp. Ephesians 6:17. Psalm 18:35 adds, “and thy right hand sustained me.”
thy gentleness] This is a rendering of the word used in Psalm 18:35, which means gentleness or condescension: but the reading here is different, and probably means thy answering, i.e. thy answers to my prayers for help.
Thou hast enlarged my steps under me; so that my feet did not slip.37. enlarged my steps, &c.] Given me free space for unobstructed motion (cp. 2 Samuel 22:20; Proverbs 4:12), and the power to advance with firm, unwavering steps.
I have pursued mine enemies, and destroyed them; and turned not again until I had consumed them.38–43. David’s destruction of his enemies
38. destroyed them] In Psalm 18:37, “overtaken them,” an echo of Exodus 15:9.
And I have consumed them, and wounded them, that they could not arise: yea, they are fallen under my feet.39. And I have consumed them, and wounded them] Yea I consumed them—omitted in Psalm 18:38—and crushed them.
For thou hast girded me with strength to battle: them that rose up against me hast thou subdued under me.
Thou hast also given me the necks of mine enemies, that I might destroy them that hate me.41. And mine enemies didst thou make to turn their backs unto me:
as for them that hate me, I destroyed them.
The first clause means that his enemies were put to flight (Exodus 23:27), not (as the E. V. suggests) that he planted his foot on their necks in token of triumph (Joshua 10:24).
They looked, but there was none to save; even unto the LORD, but he answered them not.42. They looked] They looked for help. Cp. Isaiah 17:7-8. The Sept. and Psalm 18:41 read, they cried. There is only the difference of a single letter between the words, as far as the consonants are concerned (ישעו–ישועו).
even unto the Lord] In their extremity even the heathen might cry for mercy to the “unknown God” of their enemies. Cp. 1 Samuel 5:12; Jonah 3:7 ff.
Then did I beat them as small as the dust of the earth, I did stamp them as the mire of the street, and did spread them abroad.43. as the dust of the earth] In Psalm 18:42, “as the dust before the wind.” For the metaphor cp. 2 Kings 13:7.
I did stamp them, &c.] In Psalm 18:42, “as the mire of the streets did I empty them out:” I flung them away as worthless refuse. Again the variation is due to the confusion of similar words (אדקם–ארים).
Thou also hast delivered me from the strivings of my people, thou hast kept me to be head of the heathen: a people which I knew not shall serve me.44–46. The establishment of David’s dominion
44. from the strivings of my people] The reference seems to be to the civil wars and internal dissensions which had disturbed the early years of David’s reign, while Saul’s house still endeavoured to maintain its position. Through all these conflicts he had been safely brought, and preserved to exercise dominion over the heathen nations round. Cp. ch. 2 Samuel 8:1-14; Psalm 2:8.
shall serve me] Served me. There is no reason for the sudden transition of the E. V. to the future here and in 2 Samuel 22:45-46. David is still recounting his past victories, with special reference in all probability to the subjugation of the Syrians, whom he might well describe as “a people he knew not.” Cp. ch. 2 Samuel 8:6, 2 Samuel 10:19.
Strangers shall submit themselves unto me: as soon as they hear, they shall be obedient unto me.45. shall submit themselves unto me] Submitted themselves unto me. The marginal rendering, yield feigned obedience, gives the original meaning of the word, which according to its derivation seems to denote the unwilling homage extorted from the vanquished by their conqueror. Cp. Deuteronomy 33:29; Psalm 66:3; Psalm 81:15.
as soon as they hear, &c.] At the mere rumour of David’s victories they offer their allegiance, as for example Toi king of Hamath did (ch. 2 Samuel 8:9 ff.).
In Psalm 18:44 the order of the clauses is inverted.
Strangers shall fade away, and they shall be afraid out of their close places.46. shall fade away] Faded away: like plants scorched up by the burning sun. Cp. Exodus 18:18 (marg.).
shall be afraid] Probably, came limping out of their fastnesses: a picture of the exhausted defenders of a fort dragging themselves along with difficulty and reluctance to lay down their arms before their conqueror. But the word may also be explained according to the slightly different reading of Psalm 18:45, came trembling out of their fastnesses, terrified into surrendering at discretion to the triumphant invader. Cp. Micah 7:17; 1 Samuel 14:11.
The LORD liveth; and blessed be my rock; and exalted be the God of the rock of my salvation.47–51. Concluding thanksgiving and doxology
47. The Lord liveth] Life is the essential attribute of Jehovah, Who is the Living God in contrast to the dead idols of the heathen. The experience of David’s life was to him a certain proof that God is the living, acting Ruler of the World. Cp. Joshua 3:10.
the God of the rock of my salvation] God who is strong and faithful to work out deliverance for me. Cp. 2 Samuel 22:3. Psalm 18:46 has merely “the God of my salvation.”
It is God that avengeth me, and that bringeth down the people under me,48. avengeth me] For the wrongs inflicted by Saul (1 Samuel 24:12); for the insults of Nabal (1 Samuel 25:39); for the opposition of those who refused to acknowledge him as king (ch. 2 Samuel 4:8). Vengeance is the prerogative of God (Psalm 94:1), and the visible execution of it was anxiously looked for as His vindication of the righteousness and innocence of His servants.
bringeth down the people under me] The reference seems to be, as in 2 Samuel 22:44, to his success in overcoming internal opposition to his rule. It is not the boast of a triumphant despot, but the thanksgiving of a ruler who recognised the vital importance of union for the prosperity of Israel, and the extreme difficulty of reconciling all the discordant elements in the nation, and knew that it was a task beyond his unaided powers. Cp. Psalm 144:2. The Sept. reads “disciplineth.”
And that bringeth me forth from mine enemies: thou also hast lifted me up on high above them that rose up against me: thou hast delivered me from the violent man.49. bringeth me forth] The opposite of “shutting him up into the hand of his enemies” (Psalm 31:8). Cp. 2 Samuel 22:20; 2 Samuel 22:37.
the violent man] This may mean men of violence in general, but as Saul is named in the title, it is natural to see a definite reference to him in particular. Cp. Psalm 140:1; Psalm 140:4; Psalm 140:11.
Therefore I will give thanks unto thee, O LORD, among the heathen, and I will sing praises unto thy name.50. The celebration of Jehovah’s faithfulness to His servant is not to be confined within the narrow limits of Israel. His praise is to be proclaimed among the heathen, who, as they are brought under the dominion of His people, may also be brought to the knowledge of Jehovah. Cp. Psalm 96:3; Psalm 96:10. This verse is quoted by St Paul in Romans 15:9 (along with Deuteronomy 32:43; Psalm 117:1; Isaiah 11:10), to prove that the Old Testament anticipated the admission of the Gentiles to the blessings of salvation.
He is the tower of salvation for his king: and sheweth mercy to his anointed, unto David, and to his seed for evermore.51. He is the tower of salvation] So the Qrî: cp. Psalm 61:3; Proverbs 18:10 : but the Kthîbh, the Versions, and Psalm 18:50 read, Who giveth great deliverance. The difference between the consonants of the words in the original is very trifling (מנדול–מנדיל).
to his seed for evermore] A reference to the promise in ch. 2 Samuel 7:12-16, claiming the continued favour of God for his posterity. See notes there.