Psalm 18:15
Then the channels of waters were seen, and the foundations of the world were discovered at your rebuke, O LORD, at the blast of the breath of your nostrils.
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(15) The channels.—The description of the storm ends with the fury of the wind and the effects of the tempest on the earth’s surface. Comp. Psalms 29, and Milton:—

“Either tropic now

‘Gan thunder and both ends of heaven the clouds,

From many a horrid rift abortive pour’d

Fierce rain with lightning mix’d, water with fire,

In ruin reconciled; nor slept the winds

Within their stony caves, but rush’d abroad

From the four hinges of the world and fell

On the vex’d wilderness.”

—Par. Reg. iv. 409416.

Here, to suit the poet’s purpose (see next verse), the rage of the tempest is made to spend itself on the water-floods. The “channels” are either torrent beds (Isaiah 8:7; Psalm 42:1; Job 6:15), or as in Samuel (where for “waters” the text has “sea”) the depths of ocean. (Comp. Jonah 2:5.)

Psalm 18:15. Then the channels of waters were seen — This is a description of the effects of the earthquake, by which the earth was rent in sunder, and such clefts made in it that the subterraneous passages of the waters were discovered, as has frequently been the case in violent earthquakes, whole rivers of waters sometimes issuing from the clefts, and spouting up a great height into the air. The foundations of the world were discovered — That is, Such large and deep chasms, or apertures, were made by the violence of the shock that the lower parts of the earth were laid open to view, and made perfectly visible.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.Then the channels of waters were seen - In 2 Samuel 22:16 this is, "And the channels of the sea appeared." The idea is that, by the driving of the storm and tempest, the waters were driven on heaps, leaving the bottom bare. In the place before us the word used, "waters" - מים mayim - would denote waters of any kind - seas, lakes, rivers; in the corresponding place in 2 Samuel, the word used - ים yâm - denotes, properly, the sea or the ocean. The word rendered channels means a pipe or tube; then a channel, or bed of a brook or stream, Isaiah 8:7; Ezekiel 32:6; and then the bottom of the sea or of a river. The allusion is to the effect of a violent wind, driving the waters on heaps, and seeming to leave the bed or channel bare.

The foundations of the world were discovered - Were laid open; were manifested or revealed. People seemed to be able to look down into the depths, and to see the very foundations on which the earth rests. The world is often represented as resting on a foundation, Psalm 102:25; Isaiah 48:13; Zechariah 12:1; Proverbs 8:29; see the note at Job 38:4.

At thy rebuke - At the expression of his anger or displeasure; as if God, in the fury of the tempest, was expressing his indignation and wrath.

At the blast of the breath of thy nostrils - At the breathing forth of anger, as it were, from his nostrils. See the note at Psalm 18:8.

15. The tempest of the air is attended by appropriate results on earth. The language, though not expressive of any special physical changes, represents the utter subversion of the order of nature. Before such a God none can stand. By mighty and terrible earthquakes, which overturned the earth, and made its lower parts uppermost and visible. Then the channels of water were seen,.... Or, "of the sea"; as in 2 Samuel 22:16. There seems to be an allusion to the drying up of the sea when the Israelites passed through it. Aben Ezra interprets this of the discovery of the secrets of enemies, and of their deep schemes and counsels, which they seek to hide, but are made known by him who sees all things in the dark; and so the following clause;

and the foundations of the world were discovered; but it rather seems to intend the utter extirpation and ruin of the Jewish nation, both in their civil and ecclesiastic state, the foundation of which was rooted up and laid bare; unless with Jerom we understand this of the ministers of the word, in whom the doctrines of grace were channelled, and who were as fountains of water; and of the foundation of the apostles and prophets made known in the Gospel: but the former sense is best; since it follows,

at thy rebuke, O Lord; at the blast of the breath of thy nostrils; for the destruction of the Jews was the effect of divine wrath and vengeance: so ends the account of the wonderful appearance of God in favour of the person the subject of this psalm, and against his enemies; the deliverance wrought for him is next described.

Then the channels of waters were seen, and the {l} foundations of the world were discovered at thy rebuke, O LORD, at the blast of the breath of thy nostrils.

(l) That is, the deep bottoms were seen when the Red sea was divided.

15. The waters of the sea retreat, its bed is seen, and the hidden bases of the world are laid bare, owning their Lord and Master, as of old at the Exodus when “He rebuked the Red Sea, and it was dried up.” See Exodus 15:8; Psalm 106:9; Nahum 1:4. Cp. too Matthew 8:26. Channels of the sea (2 Sam.) is the preferable reading.

were discovered] i.e. as R.V., were laid bare, the original meaning of the word discover, which it generally retains in the A.V. Cp. Psalm 29:9.

at the blast &c.] Cp. Psalm 18:8.Verse 15. - Then the channels of waters were seen. By "the channels of waters" seem to be meant the torrent-courses, so common in Palestine, especially on either side of Jordan, which convey into it the winter rains. These "were seen," lit up by the "lightnings manifold," having previously been in darkness (see vers. 9-11). At the same time, the foundations of the world were discovered. The earthquake (ver. 7) still continuing, the earth gaped in places, and the glare of the lightning enabled the eye to penetrate deep into the solid globe - so deep that it seemed to reach the "foundations." At thy rebuke, O Lord, at the blast of the breath of thy nostrils (comp. ver. 7, "because he was wroth"). (Heb.: 18:8-10) As these verses go on to describe, the being heard became manifest in the form of deliverance. All nature stands to man in a sympathetic relationship, sharing his curse and blessing, his destruction and glory, and to God is a (so to speak) synergetic relationship, furnishing the harbingers and instruments of His mighty deeds. Accordingly in this instance Jahve's interposition on behalf of David is accompanied by terrible manifestations in nature. Like the deliverance of Israel out of Egypt, Psalm 68; Psalm 77, and the giving of the Law on Sinai, Exodus 19, and like the final appearing of Jahve and of Jesus Christ according to the words of prophet and apostle (Habakkuk 3; 2 Thessalonians 1:7.), the appearing of Jahve for the help of David has also extraordinary natural phenomena in its train. It is true we find no express record of any incident in David's life of the kind recorded in 1 Samuel 7:10, but it must be come real experience which David here idealises (i.e., seizes at its very roots, and generalises and works up into a grand majestic picture of his miraculous deliverance). Amidst earthquake, a black thunderstorm gathers, the charging of which is heralded by the lightning's flash, and its thick clouds descend nearer and nearer to the earth. The aorists in Psalm 18:8 introduce the event, for the introduction of which, from Psalm 18:4 onwards, the way has been prepared and towards which all is directed. The inward excitement of the Judge, who appears to His servant for his deliverance, sets the earth in violent oscillation. The foundations of the mountains (Isaiah 24:18) are that upon which they are supported beneath and within, as it were, the pillars which support the vast mass. געשׁ (rhyming with רעשׁ) is followed by the Hithpa. of the same verb: the first impulse having been given they, viz., the earth and the pillars of the mountains, continue to shake of themselves. These convulsions occur, because "it is kindled with respect to God;" it is unnecessary to supply אפּו, חרה לו is a synonym of חם לו. When God is wrath, according to Old Testament conception, the power of wrath which is present in Him is kindled and blazes up and breaks forth. The panting of rage may accordingly also be called the smoke of the fire of wrath (Psalm 74:1; Psalm 80:5). The smoking is as the breathing out of the fire, and the vehement hot breath which is inhaled and exhaled through the nose of one who is angry (cf. Job 41:12), is like smoke rising from the internal fire of anger. The fire of anger itself "devours out of the mouth," i.e., flames forth out of the mouth, consuming whatever it lays hold of-in men in the form of angry words, with God in the fiery forces of nature, which are of a like kind with, and subservient to, His anger, and more especially in the lightning's flash. It is the lightning chiefly, that is compared here to the blazing up of burning coals. The power of wrath in God, becoming manifest in action, breaks forth into a glow, and before it entirely discharges its fire, it gives warning of action like the lightning's flash heralding the outburst of the storm. Thus enraged and breathing forth His wrath, Jahve bowed the heavens, i.e., caused them to bend towards the earth, and came down, and darkness of clouds (ערפל similar in meaning to ὄρφνη, cf. ἔρεβος) was under His feet: black, low-hanging clouds announced the coming of Him who in His wrath was already on His way downwards towards the earth.
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