Psalm 18:15
Then the channels of waters were seen, and the foundations of the world were discovered at thy rebuke, O LORD, at the blast of the breath of thy 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"). Psalm 18:15(Heb.: 18:14-16) Amidst thunder, Jahve hurled lightnings as arrows upon David's enemies, and the breath of His anger laid bare the beds of the flood to the very centre of the earth, in order to rescue the sunken one. Thunder is the rumble of God, and as it were the hollow murmur of His mouth, Job 37:2. עליון, the Most High, is the name of God as the inapproachable Judge, who governs all things. The third line of Psalm 18:14 is erroneously repeated from the preceding strophe. It cannot be supported on grammatical grounds by Exodus 9:23, since קול נתן, edere vocem, has a different meaning from the נתן קלת, dare tonitrua, of that passage. The symmetry of the strophe structure is also against it; and it is wanting both in 2 Sam. nd in the lxx. רב, which, as the opposite of מעט Nehemiah 2:12; Isaiah 10:7, means adverbially "in abundance," is the parallel to ויּשׁלח. It is generally taken, after the analogy of Genesis 49:23, in the sense of בּרק, Psalm 144:6 : רב in pause equals רב (the ō passing over into the broader like עז instead of עז in Genesis 49:3) equals רבב, cognate with רבה, רמה; but the forms סב, סבּוּ, here, and in every other instance, have but a very questionable existence, as e.g., רב, Isaiah 54:13, is more probably an adjective than the third person praet. (cf. Bttcher, Neue Aehrenlese No. 635, 1066). The suffixes ēm do not refer to the arrows, i.e., lightnings, but to David's foes. המם means both to put in commotion and to destroy by confounding, Exodus 14:24; Exodus 23:27. In addition to the thunder, the voice of Jahve, comes the stormwind, which is the snorting of the breath of His nostrils. This makes the channels of the waters visible and lays bare the foundations of the earth. אפיק (collateral form to אפק) is the bed of the river and then the river or brook itself, a continendo aquas (Ges.), and exactly like the Arabic mesı̂k, mesâk, mesek (from Arab. msk, the VI form of which, tamâsaka, corresponds to התאפּק), means a place that does not admit of the water soaking in, but on account of the firmness of the soil preserves it standing or flowing. What are here meant are the water-courses or river beds that hold the water. It is only needful for Jahve to threaten (epitiman Matthew 8:26) and the floods, in which he, whose rescue is undertaken here, is sunk, flee (Psalm 104:7) and dry up (Psalm 106:9, Nahum 1:4). But he is already half engulfed in the abyss of Hades, hence not merely the bed of the flood is opened up, but the earth is rent to its very centre. From the language being here so thoroughly allegorical, it is clear that we were quite correct in interpreting the description as ideal. He, who is nearly overpowered by his foes, is represented as one engulfed in deep waters and almost drowning.
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