He teaches my hands to war, so that a bow of steel is broken by my arms.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)So that a bow.—Better, and mine arms bend a bow of copper. For the copper bow comp. Job 20:24. Nechushah, χαλκὸς, is certainly not steel, whether the custom of hardening iron was known to the Jews or not (see Jeremiah 15:12, and art. “Steel,” in Smith’s Biblical Dict.). The LXX. and Vulgate have, “thou hast made mine arms a bow of copper.” For this test of strength we naturally compare the famous bow of Ulysses—
“So the great master drew the mighty bow,
And drew with ease.”—Odyssey, POPE’S trans.Psalm 18:34. He teacheth my hands to war — To him I owe all the military skill, or strength, or courage which I have. A bow of steel is broken by mine arm — Chandler renders it, Mine arms have bent the bow of steel. That David was able to bend and draw together even a brazen bow, or one of steel, and to use it in his wars, was a proof of his great strength. Dr. Delaney, however, certainly draws an unwarranted conclusion from these poetical expressions when he infers from them, “that David was the swiftest and strongest of all mankind.”Psalm 144:1. The skill which David had in the use of the bow, the sword, or the spear - all of which depends on the hands - he ascribes entirely to God.
So that a bow of steel is broken by mine arms - This is mentioned as an instance of extraordinary strength, as if he were able to break a bow made of metal. The original word rendered steel means properly brass. Wood was doubtless first used in constructing the bow, but metals came afterward to be employed, and brass would naturally be used before the manufacture of steel was discovered. Rosenmuller in loc.
a bow of steel, but to break it. Psalm 144:1; and so is all that spiritual skill, in making use of the whole armour of God against every enemy, sin, Satan, and the world; and even the wisdom and skill, counsel and instruction, which Christ as man and Mediator had, when it was the hour and power of darkness; when he was engaged with principalities and powers, and got the victory over them, were from the Lord: see Psalm 16:7;
so that a bow of steel is broken by mine arms; that is, the bow of an enemy falling into his hands, which might be literally true of David. It is in the Hebrew text, "a bow of brass"; and so Apollinarius renders it; which Kimchi and Ben Melech interpret strong iron, that is, steel; and so the Targum; see Job 20:24; Satan is an archer; his temptations are darts, and fiery ones; and his strong bow may be said to be broken by the arms of faith, when his temptations, under the influence of divine grace, are repelled and rendered ineffectual; and especially his bow was broken by Christ, not only in the wilderness, when he was vanquished by him; but in the garden, and on the cross, when Satan could find nothing in him, and get no other advantage over him, but to bruise his heel; when he himself had his head broke, his works ruined, and he himself destroyed. Some render the words, "mine arms have bent a bow of steel": that is, such skill and strength were given him that he was able to bend, draw, and shoot a bow or steel: the Targum is, "and hath strengthened mine arm as a bow of brass", or "steel"; and so the Syriac and Arabic versions; and to the same purpose the Septuagint, Vulgate Latin, and Ethiopic versions; or it may be rendered, "my arms have bent", or "made to descend (o), a bow of brass"; for when a bow is bent, the horns or corners of it are made to descend towards a man.He teacheth my hands to war, so that a bow of steel is broken by mine arms.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)34. The first line is borrowed in Psalm 144:1.
so that a bow of steel &c.] R.V., so that mine arms do bend a bow of brass. The ability to bend a metal bow (cp. Job 20:24) was a sign of supereminent strength. Readers of the Odyssey will recall Ulysses’ bow, which no one but himself could bend (Hom. Od. xxi. 409).Verse 34. - He teacheth my hands to war, so that a bow of steel is broken by mine arms (comp. Psalm 144:1). "A bow of steel" is a mistranslation, since nechusha (נְחוּשָׁה) is not "steel," but "brass," or rather "bronze "-and bows of steel were unknown to the ancients. Compare the comment on Job 20:24 ('Homiletic Commentary,' p. 352). Psalm 18:29. as imperfects; but the sequence of the tenses, which would bring this rendering with it, is in this instance interrupted, as it has been even in Psalm 18:28, by כּי. The lamp, נר (contracted from nawer), is an image of life, which as it were burns on and on, including the idea of prosperity and high rank; in the form ניר (from niwr, nijr) it is the usual figurative word for the continuance of the house of David, 1 Kings 11:36, and frequently. David's life and dominion, as the covenant king, is the lamp which God's favour has lighted for the well-being of Israel, and His power will not allow this lamp (2 Samuel 21:17) to be quenched. The darkness which breaks in upon David and his house is always lighted up again by Jahve. For His strength is mighty in the weak; in, with, and by Him he can do all things. The fut. ארץ may be all the more surely derived from רצץ ( equals ארץ), inasmuch as this verb has the changeable u in the future also in Isaiah 42:4; Ecclesiastes 12:6. The text of 2 Samuel 22, however, certainly seems to put "rushing upon" in the stead of "breaking down." With Psalm 18:31 the first half of the hymn closes epiphonematically. האל is a nom. absol., like hatsuwr, Deuteronomy 32:4. This old Mosaic utterance is re-echoed here, as in 2 Samuel 7:22, in the mouth of David. The article of האל points to God as being manifest in past history. His way is faultless and blameless. His word is צרוּפה, not slaggy ore, but purified solid gold, Psalm 12:7. Whoever retreats into Him, the God of the promise, is shielded from every danger. Proverbs 30:5 is borrowed from this passage.
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