Psalm 18:10
And he rode on a cherub, and did fly: yes, he did fly on the wings of the wind.
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(10) Cherub.—See Exodus 25:19. This passage alone would show how naturally the idea of winged attendants on the Divine Being grew out of the phenomena of cloud and storm. No doubt many features of the developed conception were derived from contact with Assyrian art, but for the poetry of this passage we have only to think of those giant pinions into which cloud so often shapes itself, this clause being in close parallelism with “wings of the wind.” The variation in Samuel, “appeared” for “did fly,” is, no doubt, a transcriber’s error. For the picture we may compare Oceanus’ approach in Prometheus Vinctus:—

“On the back of the quick-winged bird I glode,

And I bridled him in

With the will of a God.”

MRS. BROWNING’S translation.

It has been, however, conjectured that for kherûb we should read rekhûb, “chariot,” as in Psalm 104:3. Comp.

“And rushed forth on my chariot of wings manifold.”—ibid.

Psalm 18:10. He rode upon a cherub, and did fly — Or, upon the cherubim, upon the angels who are so called, (Genesis 3:24,) and who are also termed God’s chariots, (Psalm 68:17,) upon which he is said to sit and ride, which is not to be understood literally and grossly, but only figuratively, to denote God’s using the ministry of angels in raising such storms and tempests as are here described, whether they be interpreted literally or figuratively, and especially in effecting many of those great events which take place in the administration of his providence; and particularly such as manifest his immediate interposition in the extraordinary judgments by which he punishes sinful nations, or in the remarkable deliverances which he works out for his people. Yea, he did fly upon the wings of the wind — As swiftly as the wind. He came to my rescue with all speed.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.And he rode upon a cherub - Compare Isaiah 14:13, note; Isaiah 37:16, note. The cherub in the theology of the Hebrews was a figurative representation of power and majesty, under the image of a being of a high and celestial nature, "whose form is represented as composed from the figures of a man, ox, lion, and eagle," Ezekiel 1; 10. Cherubs are first mentioned as guarding the gates of Paradise, Genesis 3:24; then as bearing the throne of God upon their wings through the clouds, Ezekiel 1; 10; and also as statues or images made of wood and overlaid with gold, over the cover of the ark, in the inner sanctuary of the tabernacle, and of the temple, Exodus 25:18 ff; 1 Kings 6:23-28. Between the two cherubim in the temple, the Shechinah, or visible symbol of the presence of God, rested; and hence, God is represented as "dwelling between the cherubim," Exodus 25:22; Numbers 7:89; Psalm 80:1; Psalm 99:1. The cherubim are not to be regarded as real existences, or as an order of angels like the seraphim Isaiah 6:2-3, but as an imaginary representation of majesty, as emblematic of the power and glory of God. Here God is represented as "riding on a cherub;" that is, as coming forth on the clouds regarded as a cherub (compare Ezekiel 1), as if, seated on his throne, he was borne along in majesty and power amidst the storm and tempest.

And did fly - He seemed to move rapidly on the flying clouds.

Yea, he did fly upon the wings of the wind - Rapidly as the clouds driven along by the wind. The "wings of the wind" are designed to represent the rapidity with which the wind sweeps along. Rapid motion is represented by the flight of birds; hence, the term wings is applied to winds to denote the rapidity of their movement. The whole figure here is designed to represent; the majesty with which God seemed to be borne along on the tempest. Herder renders it, "He flew on the wings of the storm."

Psalm 18:10Who maketh the clouds his chariot,

Who walketh upon the wings of the wind.

10. cherub—angelic agents (compare Ge 3:24), the figures of which were placed over the ark (1Sa 4:4), representing God's dwelling; used here to enhance the majesty of the divine advent. Angels and winds may represent all rational and irrational agencies of God's providence (compare Ps 104:3, 4).

did fly—Rapidity of motion adds to the grandeur of the scene.

Upon a cherub; or, upon the cherubims, by an enallage of number; that is, upon the angels, who are so called, Genesis 3:24 Hebrews 9:5, who are also called God’s chariots, Psalm 68:17, upon which he is said to sit and ride; all which is not to be understood grossly, but only to note God’s using of the ministry of angels in raising such storms and tempests as are here described.

Upon the wings of the wind; as swiftly as the wind. He came to my rescue with all speed. 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.

And he rode upon a {g} cherub, and did fly: yea, he did fly upon the wings of the wind.

(g) This is described at large in Ps 104:1-35.

10. As the Shechinah, or mystic Presence of Jehovah in the cloud of glory, rested over the cherubim which were upon the “Mercy-seat” or covering of the ark (2 Samuel 6:2; Psalm 80:1; Hebrews 9:5), so here Jehovah 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 25:17-22; Exodus 26:1; 1 Kings 6:23 ff; 1 Kings 7:29; 1 Kings 7:36): (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.

yea, he did fly] R.V. yea, he flew swiftly. The Heb. word is a peculiar one, used of the swooping of birds of prey (Deuteronomy 28:49; Jeremiah 48:40; Jeremiah 49:22). The reading “yea, he was seen” in 2 Sam. is an obvious corruption. The consonants of the two words are so nearly alike (ויראוידא), that the rarer word would easily be altered into the more common one. For “the wings of the wind” cp. Psalm 104:3.Verse 10. - And he rode upon a cherub, and did fly. The imagery here transcends all experience, and scarcely admits of comment or explanation. God is represented as borne through the heavens, as he proceeds to execute his purposes, by the highest of his creatures, the cherubim. Elsewhere (Psalm 104:3) he sails through the sky supported on clouds. Yea, he did fly upon the wings of the wind; rather, he sped swiftly (Kay). The verb used is different from that translated "did fly" in the preceding verse. It is applied elsewhere especially to the eagle (Deuteronomy 28:49; Jeremiah 48:40; Jeremiah 49:22). (Heb.: 18:5-7) In these verses David gathers into one collective figure all the fearful dangers to which he had been exposed during his persecution by Saul, together with the marvellous answers and deliverances he experienced, that which is unseen, which stands in the relation to that which is visible of cause and effect, rendering itself visible to him. David here appears as passive throughout; the hand from out of the clouds seizes him and draws him out of mighty waters: while in the second part of the Psalm, in fellowship with God and under His blessing, he comes forward as a free actor.

The description begins in Psalm 18:5 with the danger and the cry for help which is not in vain. The verb אפף according to a tradition not to be doubted (cf. אופן a wheel) signifies to go round, surround, as a poetical synonym of סבב, הקּיף, כּתּר, and not, as one might after the Arabic have thought: to drive, urge. Instead of "the bands of death," the lxx (cf. Acts 2:24) renders it ὠδῖνες (constrictive pains) θανάτου; but Psalm 18:6 favours the meaning bands, cords, cf. Psalm 119:61 (where it is likewise חבלי instead of the הבלי, which one might have expected, Joshua 17:5; Job 36:8), death is therefore represented as a hunter with a cord and net, Psalm 91:3. בליּעל, compounded of בּלי and יעל (from יעל, ועל, root על), signifies unprofitableness, worthlessness, and in fact both deep-rooted moral corruption and also abysmal destruction (cf. 2 Corinthians 6:15, Βελίαρ equals Βελίαλ as a name of Satan and his kingdom). Rivers of destruction are those, whose engulfing floods lead down to the abyss of destruction (Jonah 2:7). Death, Belı̂jáal, and Sheôl are the names of the weird powers, which make use of David's persecutors as their instruments. Futt. in the sense of imperfects alternate with praett. בּעת ( equals Arab. bgt) signifies to come suddenly upon any one (but compare also Arab. b‛ṯ, to startle, excitare, to alarm), and קדּם, to rush upon; the two words are distinguished from one another like ׬berfallen and anfallen. The היכל out of which Jahve hears is His heavenly dwelling-place, which is both palace and temple, inasmuch as He sits enthroned there, being worshipped by blessed spirits. לפניו belongs to ושׁועתי: my cry which is poured forth before Him (as e.g., in Psalm 102:1), for it is tautological if joined with תּבא beside ושׁועתי. Before Jahve's face he made supplication and his prayer urged its way into His ears.

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