Psalm 18:2
The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower.
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(2) Rock.—Better here, cliff, keeping “rock” for the next clause. In the first figure the ideas of height and shelter, in the second of broad-based and enduring strength, are predominant.

Fortress.—Properly, mountain castle. We have the joint figure of the lofty and precipitous cliff with the castle on its crest, a reminiscence—as, in fact, is every one in this “towering of epithets”—of scenes and events in David’s early life.

My God . . .—Better, my God, my rock, I trust in Him. God is here El, “the strong one.” In Samuel, “God of my rock.”

Horn of my salvation.—The allusion seems to be not to a means of attack, like the horn of an animal, but to a mountain peak (called “horn” in all languages—so κέρας, Xen. Anab. v. 6; “Cornua Parnassi,” Statius, Theb. v. 532; and so in Hebrew, Isaiah 5:1, see margin), such as often afforded David a safe retreat. Render “my peak of safety.”

High tower.—The LXX. and Vulgate have “helper.” (Comp. Psalm 9:9.) The word comes in so abruptly, that doubtless the addition in Samuel, “and my refuge, my Saviour, thou savest me from violence,” was part of the original hymn, completing the rhythm.

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.The Lord is my rock - The idea in this expression, and in the subsequent parts of the description, is that he owed his safety entirely to God. He had been unto him as a rock, a tower, a buckler, etc. - that is, he had derived from God the protection which a rock, a tower, a citadel, a buckler furnished to those who depended on them, or which they were designed to secure. The word "rock" here has reference to the fact that in times of danger a lofty rock would be sought as a place of safety, or that men would fly to it to escape from their enemies. Such rocks abound in Palestine; and by the fact that they are elevated and difficult of access, or by the fact that those who fled to them could find shelter behind their projecting crags, or by the fact that they could find security in their deep and dark caverns, they became places of refuge in times of danger; and protection was often found there when it could not be found in the plains below. Compare Judges 6:2; Psalm 27:5; Psalm 61:2. Also, Josephus, Ant., b. xiv., ch. xv.

And my fortress - He has been to me as a fortress. The word fortress means a place of defense, a place so strengthened that an enemy could not approach it, or where one would be safe. Such fortresses were often constructed on the rocks or on hills, where those who fled there would be doubly safe. Compare Job 39:28. See also the notes at Isaiah 33:16.

And my deliverer - Delivering or rescuing me from my enemies.

My God - Who hast been to me a God; that is, in whom I have found all that is implied in the idea of "God" - a Protector, Helper, Friend, Father, Saviour. The notion or idea of a "God" is different from all other ideas, and David had found, as the Christian now does, all that is implied in that idea, in Yahweh, the living God.

My strength - Margin, "My rock" So the Hebrew, although the Hebrew word is different from that which is used in the former part of the verse. Both words denote that God was a refuge or protection, as a rock or crag is to one in danger (compare Deuteronomy 32:37), though the exact difference between the words may not be obvious.

In whom I will trust - That is, I have found him to be such a refuge that I could trust in him, and in view of the past I will confide in him always.

My buckler - The word used here is the same which occurs in Psalm 3:3, where it is translated "shield." See the notes at that verse.

And the horn of my salvation - The "horn" is to animals the means of their defense. Their strength lies in the horn. Hence, the word is used here, as elsewhere, to represent that to which we owe our protection and defense in danger; and the idea here is, that God was to the psalmist what the horn is to animals, the means of his defense. Compare Psalm 22:21; Psalm 75:4-5, Psalm 75:10; Psalm 92:10; Psalm 132:17; Psalm 148:14.

And my high tower - He is to me what a high tower is to one who is in danger. Compare Proverbs 18:10, "The name of the Lord is a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it, and is safe." The word used here occurs in Psalm 9:9, where it is rendered "refuge." (Margin, "A high place.") See the notes at that verse. Such towers were erected on mountains, on rocks, or on the walls of a city, and were regarded as safe places mainly because they were inaccessible. So the old castles in Europe - as that at Heidelberg, and generally those along the Rhine - were built on lofty places, and in such positions as not to be easily accessible.

2, 3. The various terms used describe God as an object of the most implicit and reliable trust.

rock—literally, "a cleft rock," for concealment.

strength—a firm, immovable rock.

horn of my salvation—The horn, as the means of attack or defense of some of the strongest animals, is a frequent emblem of power or strength efficiently exercised (compare De 33:17; Lu 1:69).

tower—literally, "high place," beyond reach of danger.

My rock; to which I flee for refuge, as the Israelites did to their rocks. See Judges 6:2 1 Samuel 13:6.

The horn; by which I have both defended myself, and subdued mine enemies. It is a metaphor from those beasts whose strength lies in their horns. The horn is oft put for power, as Psalm 92:10 Amos 6:13, and elsewhere.

The Lord is my rock,.... To whom the saints have recourse for shelter and safety, for supply, support, and divine refreshment; and in whom they are secure, and on whom they build their hopes of eternal life and happiness, and so are safe from all enemies, and from all danger. Christ is called a Rock on all these accounts, Psalm 61:2;

and my fortress; or garrison; so the saints are kept in and by the power of God as in a garrison, 1 Peter 1:5;

and my deliverer: out of all afflictions, and from all temptations, and out of the hands of all enemies; from a body of sin and death at last, and from wrath to come;

my God; the strong and mighty One, who is able to save, and who is the covenant God and Father of his people;

my strength, in whom I will trust; as Christ did, and to whom these words are applied in Hebrews 2:13; and as his people are enabled to do even under very distressing and discouraging circumstances, Job 13:15;

my buckler; or shield; who protects and defends them from their enemies, and preserves them from the fiery darts of Satan;

and the horn of my salvation; who pushes, scatters, and destroys their enemies, and saves them; a metaphor taken from horned beasts; so Christ, the mighty and able Saviour, is called, Luke 1:69;

and my high tower; such is the name of the Lord, whither the righteous run and are safe, Proverbs 18:10; and where they are above and out of the reach of every enemy; see Isaiah 33:16; in 2 Samuel 22:3, it is added, "and my refuge, my Saviour, thou savest me from violence". These various epithets show the fulness of safety in Jehovah, the various ways he has to deliver his people from their enemies, and secure them from danger; and the psalmist beholding and claiming his interest in him under all these characters, rendered him exceeding lovely and delightful to him; and each of them contain a reason why he loved him, and why, in the strength of grace, he determined to love him. God may be regarded in all these characters by Christ as man.

{a} The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower.

(a) He uses this diversity of names to show that as the wicked have many means to hurt, so God has many ways to help.

2. The imagery which David uses is derived from the features of a country abounding in cliffs and caves and natural strongholds, with which he had become familiar in his flight from Saul. The rock, or cliff (sela) where he had been so unexpectedly delivered from Saul (1 Samuel 23:25-28): the fortress or stronghold in the wilderness of Judah or the fastnesses of En-gedi (1 Samuel 22:4; 1 Samuel 23:14; 1 Samuel 23:19; 1 Samuel 23:29; 1 Samuel 24:22); “the rocks of the wild goats” (1 Samuel 24:2; 1 Chronicles 11:15); were all emblems of Him who had been throughout his true Refuge and Deliverer.

my God] El, and so in Psalm 18:30; Psalm 18:32; Psalm 18:47. See note on Psalm 5:4.

my strength &c.] Lit., my rock in whom I take refuge. Here first in the Psalter occurs the title Rock (tsûr), so often used to describe the strength, faithfulness, and unchangeableness of Jehovah. See Psalm 18:31; Psalm 18:46; Deuteronomy 32:4; Deuteronomy 32:15; Deuteronomy 32:18; Deuteronomy 32:30-31; 1 Samuel 2:2; Psalm 19:14; Psalm 28:1; &c. Here, as the relative clause shews, the special idea is that of an asylum in danger. Cp. Psalm 94:22; Deuteronomy 32:37.

my buckler &c.] As my shield He defends me: as the horn of my salvation He drives my enemies before Him and gives me the victory. The horn is a common symbol of irresistible strength, derived from horned animals, especially wild oxen. See Deuteronomy 33:17; and note the use of the phrase in Luke 1:69. Cp. Psalm 28:7-8.

my high tower] See note on Psalm 9:9. 2 Sam. adds, “and my retreat, my saviour, who savest me from violence.”

Verse 2. - The Lord is my Rock; or, my Cliff - my Sela - an expression used commonly of Petra. And my Fortress (comp. Psalm 144:2). Not only a natural stronghold, but one made additionally strong by art. And my Deliverer. A living Protector, not a mere inanimate defence. My God, my Strength; rather, my Rock, as the same word (tsur) is translated in Exodus 17:6; Exodus 33:21, 22; Deuteronomy 32:4, 15, 18, 31; 1 Samuel 2:2; 2 Samuel 23:3; Isaiah 26:4. It is the word from which the strong city, Tyro, derived its. name. In whom I will trust (comp. Dent. 32:37). My Buckler (comp. Genesis 15:1, where God announced himself as Abraham's "Shield;" and see also Deuteronomy 33:29; Psalm 3:2; Psalm 5:12; Psalm 84:11; Psalm 119:114; Psalm 144:2). The Horn also of my salvation (comp. Luke 1:69). The horn is the emblem at once of strength and of dignity. A "horn of salvation" is a source of excellency and might, whence "salvation" or deliverance comes to those who trust in it. And my high Tower (comp. Psalm 9:9, with the comment ad loc.). It is remarked that God, in this passage, receives seven epithets, "the mystic number which in sacred things symbolizes perfection" (Delitzsch). Psalm 18:2(Heb.: 18:2-4) The poet opens with a number of endearing names for God, in which he gratefully comprehends the results of long and varied experience. So far as regards the parallelism of the members, a monostich forms the beginning of this Psalm, as in Psalm 16:1-11; Psalm 23:1-6; Psalm 25 and many others. Nevertheless the matter assumes a somewhat different aspect, if Psalm 18:3 is not, with Maurer, Hengstenberg and Hupfeld, taken as two predicate clauses (Jahve is..., my God is...), but as a simple vocative-a rendering which alone corresponds to the intensity with which this greatest of the Davidic hymns opens-God being invoked by ה, ה, אלי, and each of these names being followed by a predicative expansion of itself, which increases in fulness of tone and emphasis. The ארחמך (with ā, according to Ew. ֗251, b), which carries the three series of the names of God, makes up in depth of meaning what is wanting in compass. Elsewhere we find only the Piel רחם of tender sympathising love, but here the Kal is used as an Aramaism. Hence the Jalkut on this passages explains it by רחמאי יתך "I love thee," or ardent, heartfelt love and attachment. The primary signification of softness (root רח, Arab. rḥ, rch, to be soft, lax, loose), whence רחם, uterus, is transferred in both cases to tenderness of feeling or sentiment. The most general predicate חזפי (from חזק according to a similar inflexion to אמר, בּסר, עמק, plur. עמקי Proverbs 9:18) is followed by those which describe Jahve as a protector and deliverer in persecution on the one hand, and on the other as a defender and the giver of victory in battle. They are all typical names symbolising what Jahve is in Himself; hence instead of וּמפלּטי it would perhaps have been more correct to point וּמפלטי (and my refuge). God had already called Himself a shield to Abram, Genesis 15:1; and He is called צוּר (cf. אבן Genesis 49:24) in the great Mosaic song, Deuteronomy 32:4, Deuteronomy 32:37 (the latter verse is distinctly echoed here).

סלע from סלע, Arab. sl‛, findere, means properly a cleft in a rock (Arabic סלע,

(Note: Neshwn defines thus: Arab. 'l-sal‛ is a cutting in a mountain after the manner of a gorge; and Jkt, who cites a number of places that are so called: a wide plain (Arab. fḍ') enclosed by steep rocks, which is reached through a narrow pass (Arab. ša‛b), but can only be descended on foot. Accordingly, in סלעי the idea of a safe (and comfortable) hiding-place preponderates; in צוּרי that of firm ground and inaccessibility. The one figure calls to mind the (well-watered) Edomitish סלע surrounded with precipitous rocks, Isaiah 16:1; Isaiah 42:11, the Πέτρα described by Strabo, xvi. 4, 21; the other calls to mind the Phoenician rocky island צור, Ṣûr (Tyre), the refuge in the sea.))

then a cleft rock, and צוּר, like the Arabic sachr, a great and hard mass of rock (Aramaic טוּר, a mountain). The figures of the מצוּדה (מצודה, מצד) and the משׂגּב are related; the former signifies properly specula, a watch-tower,

(Note: In Arabic maṣâdun signifies (1) a high hill (a signification that is wanting in Freytag), (2) the summit of a mountain, and according to the original lexicons it belongs to the root Arab. maṣada, which in outward appearance is supported by the synonymous forms Arab. maṣadun and maṣdun, as also by their plurals Arab. amṣidatun and muṣdânun, wince these can only be properly formed from those singulars on the assumption of the m being part of the root. Nevertheless, since the meanings of Arab. maṣada all distinctly point to its being formed from the root Arab. mṣ contained in the reduplicated stem Arab. maṣṣa, to suck, but the meanings of Arab. maṣâdun, maṣsadun, and maṣdun do not admit of their being referred to it, and moreover there are instances in which original nn. loci from vv. med. Arab. w and y admit of the prefixed m being treated as the first radical through forgetfulness or disregard of their derivation, and with the retention of its from secondary roots (as Arab. makana, madana, maṣṣara), it is highly probable that in maṣâd, maṣad and maṣd we have an original מצד, מצודה, מצוּדה. These Hebrew words, however, are to be referred to a צוּד in the signification to look out, therefore properly specula. - Fleischer.)

and the latter, a steep height. The horn, which is an ancient figure of victorious and defiant power in Deuteronomy 33:17; 1 Samuel 2:1, is found here applied to Jahve Himself: "horn of my salvation" is that which interposes on the side of my feebleness, conquers, and saves me. All these epithets applied to God are the fruits of the affliction out of which David's song has sprung, viz., his persecution by Saul, when, in a country abounding in rugged rocks and deficient in forest, he betook himself to the rocks for safety, and the mountains served him as his fortresses. In the shelter which the mountains, by their natural conformations, afforded him at that time, and in the fortunate accidents, which sometimes brought him deliverance when in extreme peril, David recognises only marvellous phenomena of which Jahve Himself was to him the final cause. The confession of the God tried and known in many ways is continued in Psalm 18:5 by a general expression of his experience. מהלּל is a predicate accusative to יהוה: As one praised (worthy to be praised) do I call upon Jahve, - a rendering that is better suited to the following clause, which expresses confidence in the answer coinciding with the invocation, which is to be thought of as a cry for help, than Olshausen's, "Worthy of praise, do I cry, is Jahve," though this latter certainly is possible so far as the style is concerned (vid., on Isaiah 45:24, cf. also Genesis 3:3; Micah 2:6). The proof of this fact, viz., that calling upon Him who is worthy to be praised, who, as the history of Israel shows, is able and willing to help, is immediately followed by actual help, as events that are coincident, forms the further matter of the Psalm.

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