Psalm 18:43
Thou hast delivered me from the strivings of the people; and thou hast made me the head of the heathen: a people whom I have not known shall serve me.
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(43) People.—The parallelism favours the interpretation which takes “people” as equivalent to peoples—the Gentiles. But as in Samuel it is “my people,” explain it of the early political troubles of David. Notice also in Samuel “preserved,” instead of “made.”

Psalm 18:43-44. Thou hast delivered me from the strivings of the people — From the contentions, seditions, and tumults of my own people under Saul, and during the civil war raised by Abner in favour of Ishbosheth, when the tribes strove with each other; and from the invasions of the Philistines who attacked him soon after his accession to the throne. Thou hast made me the head of the heathen — Of the Ammonites, Moabites, Edomites, Syrians, and others, who were become tributary to him by his victories over them: see 2. Samuel Psalm 8:1; 1 Chronicles 18. A people whom I have not known — Whom I had no acquaintance with nor relation to, not even by thy promise or grant; that is, barbarous and remote nations, shall serve me — Shall be subject to me. As soon as they hear of me — At the fame of my name and victorious arms, or upon the first tidings of my coming toward them; they shall obey me — They shall instantly comply with my will, as soon as they understand it. The strangers shall submit themselves unto me — The Hebrew is literally, the sons of the strangers shall lie unto me; that is, shall submit themselves to me, not willingly and cheerfully, as they will pretend, but only out of fear and by constraint. By this it appears, that this is spoken with reference to David, and not (as some would have it) to Christ; because Christ’s people are a willing people, (Psalm 110:3,) and those whom he conquers freely obey him.

18:32, and the following verses, are the gifts of God to the spiritual warrior, whereby he is prepared for the contest, after the example of his victorious Leader. Learn that we must seek release being made through Christ, shall be rejected. In David the type, we behold out of trouble through Christ. The prayer put up, without reconciliation Jesus our Redeemer, conflicting with enemies, compassed with sorrows and with floods of ungodly men, enduring not only the pains of death, but the wrath of God for us; yet calling upon the Father with strong cries and tears; rescued from the grave; proceeding to reconcile, or to put under his feet all other enemies, till death, the last enemy, shall be destroyed. We should love the Lord, our Strength, and our Salvation; we should call on him in every trouble, and praise him for every deliverance; we should aim to walk with him in all righteousness and true holiness, keeping from sin. If we belong to him, he conquers and reigns for us, and we shall conquer and reign through him, and partake of the mercy of our anointed King, which is promised to all his seed for evermore. Amen.Thou hast delivered me from the strivings of the people - From the contentions of the people; or, from the efforts which they have made to overcome and subdue me. The allusion is to the efforts made by the people, under the guidance of their leaders. It is not "strivings" among his own followers, but the efforts, the strivings, the contentions of his enemies, who endeavored to obtain the mastery over him, and to subdue him.

Thou hast made me the head of the heathen - The head of the nations; that is, the nations round about. In other words, he had, by the divine aid, brought them into subjection to him, or so subdued them that they became tributary to him. The word "heathen" with us expresses an idea which is not necessarily connected with the original word. That word is simply nations - גוים gôyim. It is true that those nations were pagans in the present sense of the term, but that idea is not necessarily connected with the word. The meaning is, that surrounding nations had been made subject to him; or that he had been made to rule over them. David, in fact, thus brought the surrounding people under subjection to him, and made them tributary. In 2 Samuel 8 he is said to have subdued Philistia, and Moab, and Syria, and Edom, in all of which countries he put "garrisons," and all of which he made tributary to himself.

A people whom I have not known shall serve me - People that I had not before heard of. This is the language of confident faith that his kingdom would be still further extended, so as to embrace nations before unknown to him. His past victories, and the fact that his kingdom had been so established and was already so extended, justified the expectation that it would still be further enlarged; that the fame of his conquests would reach other nations, and that they would willingly yield themselves to him. After the victories which he had achieved, as celebrated in this psalm, that might be expected to follow as a matter of course. It is the triumphant exultation of a conqueror, and it seems to have been his expectation, not that his successors would extend the empire, but, that other nations would become voluntarily subject to him.

43-45. Not only does He conquer civil foes, but foreigners, who are driven from their places of refuge. From the strivings of the people; from contentions, and seditions, and tumults of my own people under Saul, and Ish-bosheth, and Absalom.

The head of the heathen; of the Ammonites, Moabites, Edomites, Syrians, and others.

Whom I have not known; whom I had no acquaintance with, nor relation to, no, not by thy promise or grant; even barbarous and remote nations.

Thou hast delivered me from the strivings of the people,.... In 2 Samuel 22:44, it is read "my people", meaning the people of Israel; either Saul and his men, who contended with David, and sought his life; or rather the tribes of Israel, who, after Saul's death, refused to acknowledge David as their king, but afterwards came and anointed him in Hebron. The words may very well be interpreted of the contentions of the Scribes and Pharisees with Christ, and of the opposition from sinners, which he for a while endured, but is now delivered from them all;

and thou hast made me the head of the Heathen; which, if understood of David, refers to the Philistines, Syrians, Moabites, and Edomites, being subdued by him, and becoming tributaries to him, 2 Samuel 8:1. But it best agrees with Christ, who is the head of his chosen ones among the Gentiles; the political head, King, and Governor of them, the Heathen being given him for his inheritance and possession; and which appeared in the first ages of Christianity, when the Gospel was first preached to the Gentiles by the apostles; and still continues, and will be more clearly seen in the latter day, when the Lord shall be King over all the earth. Christ was made the head of the Heathen, by the appointment and designation of his Father; and, in fact, was so when multitudes from among the Gentiles were converted and brought to the obedience of him. In 2 Samuel 22:44 it is, "thou hast kept me to be head of the Heathen"; which does not seem so much to intend the designation and constitution of him as such, but the continuation of him; and denotes the stability of his government in the Gentile world, of which there will be no end;

a people whom I have not known shall serve me; by whom are meant the Gentiles, who were not the people of God, were without Christ and without God, and without hope in the world: not that there are any people that can be unknown to Christ, as he is the omniscient God; nor were these unknown to him, in such sense as reprobates, nominal professors, and foolish virgins, are said not to be known by him, Matthew 7:23. For these people among the Heathen, who are or shall be brought to serve the Lord, are such who were the objects of his love and delight from everlasting; were in his Father's choice and in his own, and in the gift of his Father to him, and in the covenant of his grace; and therefore must be known by him; moreover, they are the purchase of his blood; and the sheep he knows, for whom he has laid down his life, and of whom he has such an exact and particular knowledge, that he can and does call them by name. But the sense is, these seemed not to be taken notice of and cared for by Christ; they were not owned and acknowledged by him as his people; the Jews were distinguished from all others; they only had the law, the word of God, and his ordinances; the Gentiles were suffered to walk in their own ways; they were neglected, and the times of their ignorance were overlooked and disregarded; so that they were treated as a people that were not known for many hundreds of years: but here it is predicted, that when the Gospel should come among them, and they be called by it, they should "serve" the Lord in righteousness and true holiness, with reverence and godly fear, from a principle of love, in his name and strength, and to his glory; see Isaiah 55:4.

Thou hast delivered me from the strivings of the people; and thou hast made me the head of the {g} heathen: a people whom I have not {h} known shall serve me.

(g) Who dwell round about me.

(h) The kingdom of Christ is prefigured in David's kingdom, who by the preaching of his word brings all to his subjection.

43. from the strivings of the people] 2 Sam. has “from the strivings of my people,” and the reference seems to be to the civil war and internal dissension which disturbed the early years of David’s reign, while Saul’s house still endeavoured to maintain its position. See 2 Samuel 3:1. Through all these conflicts he had been safely brought, and made the head of the nations, supreme among surrounding peoples, See 2 Samuel 8:1-14; Psalm 2:8.

thou hast made me] In 2 Sam. “thou hast preserved me to be the head of the nations.”

a people whom I have not known shall serve me] Rather, a people whom I knew not did serve meb. There is no reason for the sudden transition of the A.V. to the future here and in the two following verses. David is still thankfully recounting how God had raised him to his present eminence. There may be a special reference to the subjugation of the Syrians and their allies, whom he might well describe as “a people whom he had not known.” See 2 Samuel 8:6; 2 Samuel 10:19.

43–45. The establishment of David’s dominion at home and abroad.

Verse 43. - Thou hast delivered me from the strivings of the people. David now approaches his conclusion. In one verse he at once sums up his past deliverances and anticipates fresh glories. God has delivered him from the strivings of those who were hostile to him among his own people (see vers. 4-18), and has also given him victory over the heathen. In the future he will do even more. And thou hast made me the head of the heathen. The antithesis between "people" (עָם) and "heathen," or "nations" (גויָם), is unmistakable. The long series of David's victories have made him "head" over the latter. This is less clearly seen in the history of David's reign than in the description given of the state of the kingdom inherited from David by Solomon (1 Kings 4:21, 24). A people whom I have not known shall serve me. It is not clear that this was ever fulfilled literally in the person of David, and, we are entitled to explain it as a Messianic prophecy, parallel with that of Psalm 2:8. Psalm 18:43(Heb.: 18:44-46) Thus victorious in God, David became what he now is, viz., the ruler of a great kingdom firmly established both in home and foreign relations. With respect to the גּוים and the verb תּפלּטני which follows, ריבי עם can only be understood of the conflicts among his own people, in which David was involved by the persecution of Saul and the rebellions of Absolom and Sheba the son of Bichri; and from which Jahve delivered him, in order to preserve him for his calling of world-wide dominion in accordance with the promise. We therefore interpret the passage according to בּרית עם in Isaiah 49:8, and קנאת־עם in Isaiah 26:11; whereas the following עם comes to have a foreign application by reason of the attributive clause לא־ידעתּי (Ges. 123, 3). The Niph. נשׁמע in Psalm 18:45 is the reflexive of שׁמע, to obey (e.g., Exodus 24:7), and is therefore to be rendered: show themselves obedient ( equals Ithpa. in Daniel 7:27). לשׁמע אזן implies more than that they obeyed at the word; שׁמע means information, rumour, and שׁמע אזן is the opposite of personal observation (Job 42:5), it is therefore to be rendered: they submitted even at the tidings of my victories; and 2 Samuel 8:9. is an example of this. כּחשׁ to lie, disown, feign, and flatter, is sued here, as it is frequently, of the extorted humility which the vanquished show towards the conqueror. Psalm 18:46 completes the picture of the reason of the sons of a foreign country "putting a good face on a bad game." They faded away, i.e., they became weak and faint-hearted (Exodus 18:18), incapable of holding out against or breaking through any siege by David, and trembled, surrendering at discretion, out of their close places, i.e., out of their strongholds behind which they had shut themselves in (cf. Psalm 142:8). The signification of being alarmed, which in this instance, being found in combination with a local מן, is confined to the sense of terrified flight, is secured to the verb חרג by the Arabic ḥarija (root ḥr, of audible pressure, crowding, and the like) to be pressed, crowded, tight, or narrow, to get in a strait, and the Targumic חרנּא דמותא equals אימתא דמותא (vid., the Targums on Deuteronomy 32:25). Arab. ḥjl, to limp, halt, which is compared by Hitzig, is far removed as to the sound; and the most natural, but colourless Arab. chrj, to go out of (according to its radical meaning - cf. Arab. chrq, chr‛, etc. - : to break forth, erumpere), cannot be supported in Hebrew or Aramaic. The ירגּזוּ found in the borrowed passage in Micah, Micah 7:17, favours our rendering.
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