Psalm 18:10
And he rode upon a cherub, and did fly: yea, he did fly upon the wings of the wind.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(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.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
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). Psalm 18:10(Heb.: 18:11-13) The storm, announcing the approaching outburst of the thunderstorm, was also the forerunner of the Avenger and Deliverer. If we compare Psalm 18:11 with Psalm 104:3, it is natural to regard כּרוּב as a transposition of רכוּב (a chariot, Ew. 153, a). But assuming a relationship between the biblical Cherub and (according to Ctesias) the Indo-Persian griffin, the word (from the Zend grab, garew, garefsh, to seize) signifies a creature seizing and holding irrecoverably fast whatever it seizes upon; perhaps in Semitic language the strong creature, from כּרב equals Arab. krb, torquere, constringere, whence mukrab, tight, strong). It is a passive form like גּבוּל, יסד, לבוּשׁ. The cherubim are mentioned in Genesis 3:24 as the guards of Paradise (this alone is enough to refute the interpretation recently revived in the Evang. Kirchen-Zeit., 1866, No. 46, that they are a symbol of the unity of the living One, כרוב equals כּרוב "like a multitude!"), and elsewhere, as it were, as the living mighty rampart and vehicle of the approach of the inaccessible majesty of God; and they are not merely in general the medium of God's personal presence in the world, but more especially of the present of God as turning the fiery side of His doxa towards the world. As in the Prometheus of Aeschylus, Oceanus comes flying τὸν πτερυγωκῆ τόνδ ̓ οἰωνόν γνώμῃ στομίων ἄτερ εὐθύνων, so in the present passage Jahve rides upon the cherub, of which the heathenish griffin is a distortion; or, if by a comparison of passages like Psalm 104:3; Isaiah 66:15, we understand David according to Ezekiel, He rides upon the cherub as upon His living throne-chariot (מרכּבה). The throne floats upon the cherubim, and this cherub-throne flies upon the wings of the wind; or, as we can also say: the cherub is the celestial spirit working in this vehicle formed of the spirit-like elements. The Manager of the chariot is Himself hidden behind the thick thunder-clouds. ישׁת is an aorist without the consecutive ו (cf. יך Hosea 6:1). חשׁך is the accusative of the object to it; and the accusative of the predicate is doubled: His covering, His pavilion round about Him. In Job 36:29 also the thunder-clouds are called God's סכּה, and also in Psalm 97:2 they are סביביו, concealing Him on all sides and announcing only His presence when He is wroth. In Psalm 18:12 the accusative of the object, חשׁך, is expanded into "darkness of waters," i.e., swelling with waters

(Note: Rab Dimi, B. Taanth 10a, for the elucidation of the passage quotes a Palestine proverb: נהור ענני זעירין מוהי חשׁוך ענני סגיין מוהי i.e., if the clouds are transparent they will yield but little water, if they are dark they will yield a quantity.)

and billows of thick vapour, thick, and therefore dark, masses (עב in its primary meaning of denseness, or a thicket, Exodus 19:9, cf. Jeremiah 4:29) of שׁחקים, which is here a poetical name for fleecy clouds. The dispersion and discharge, according to Psalm 18:13, proceeded from נגהּ גגדּו. Such is the expression for the doxa of God as being a mirroring forth of His nature, as it were, over against Him, as being therefore His brightness, or the reflection of His glory. The doxa is fire and light. On this occasion the forces of wrath issue from it, and therefore it is the fiery forces: heavy and destructive hail (cf. Exodus 9:23., Isaiah 30:30) and fiery glowing coals, i.e., flashing and kindling lightning. The object עביו stands first, because the idea of clouds, behind which, according to Psalm 18:11, the doxa in concealed, is prominently connected with the doxa. It might be rendered: before His brightness His clouds turn into hail..., a rendering which would be more in accordance with the structure of the stichs, and is possible according to Ges. 138, rem. 2. Nevertheless, in connection with the combination of עבר with clouds, the idea of breaking through (Lamentations 3:44) is very natural. If עביו is removed, then עברו signifies "thence came forth hail..." But the mention of the clouds as the medium, is both natural and appropriate.

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