Psalm 18:7
Then the earth shook and trembled; the foundations also of the hills moved and were shaken, because he was wroth.
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(7) The earth shook.—The sudden burst of the storm is the Divine answer to the sufferer’s prayer. For similar manifestations comp. Psalm 68:7-8; Psalm 77:14-20; Amos 9:5; Micah 1:3; Habakkuk 3:4; but here the colours are more vivid, and the language more intense. In fact, the whole realm of poetry cannot show a finer feeling for nature in her wrath. We first hear the rumbling of the earth, probably earthquake preceding the storm (for volcanic phenomena of Palestine see Stanley’s Sinai and Palestine, 124), or possibly only its distant threatening. Comp.

“Earth groans as if beneath a heavy load.”


Foundations also of the hills.—In Sam., “of the heavens”—i.e., the hills, called also “the pillars of heaven” (Job 26:11).

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 earth shook and trembled - The description which follows here is one of the most sublime that is to be found in any language. It is taken from the fury of the storm and tempest, when all the elements are in commotion; when God seems to go forth in the greatness of his majesty and the terror of his power, to prostrate everything before him. We are not to regard this as descriptive of anything which literally occurred, but rather as expressive of the fact of the divine interposition, as if he thus came forth in the greatness of his power. There is no improbability indeed in supposing that in some of the dangerous periods of David's life, when surrounded by enemies, or even when in the midst of a battle, a furious tempest may have occurred that seemed to be a special divine interposition in his behalf, but we have no distinct record of such an event, and it is not necessary to suppose that such an event occurred in order to a correct understanding of the passage. All that is needful is to regard this as a representation of the mighty interposition of God; to suppose that his intervention was as direct, as manifest, and as sublime, as if he had thus interposed. There are frequent references in the Scriptures to such storms and tempests as illustrative of the majesty, the power, and the glory of God, and of the manner in which he interposes on behalf of his people. See Psalm 144:5-7; Psalm 46:6-8; Psalm 29:1-11; Job 37:21-24; Job 38:1; Nahum 1:3; and particularly Habakkuk 3:3-16. The description in Habakkuk strongly resembles the passage before us, and both were drawn doubtless from an actual observation of the fury of a tempest.

The foundations also of the hills moved - The mountains seemed to rock on their foundations. In the corresponding place in 2 Samuel 22:8 the expression is, "The foundations of heaven moved and shook;" that is, that on which the heavens seem to rest was agitated. Many suppose that the expression refers to the mountains as if they bore up the heavens; but DeWette more properly supposes that the reference is to the heavens as a building or an edifice resting on foundations. Why the change was made in revising the psalm from the "foundations of the heavens" to the "foundations of the hills," it is impossible now to determine.

Because he was wroth - literally," Because it was inflamed (or enkindled) to him;" that is, because he was angry. Anger is often compared to a raging flame, because it seems to consume everything before it. Hence, we speak of it as "heated," as "burning." So we say of one that he is "inflamed by passion." The expression here is sublime in the highest degree. God seemed to be angry, and hence, he came forth in this awful manner, and the very earth trembled before him.

7, 8. God's coming described in figures drawn from His appearance on Sinai (compare De 32:22). Then God appeared on my behalf in a miraculous and glorious manner, and with the great terror and confusion of all mine enemies, which is here compared to an earthquake. The earthquake was so deep and violent, that it overthrew whole mountains by the roots; whereby he designs his lofty and potent enemies; such being oft compared to mountains, as Psalm 46:2,3 144:5 Isaiah 41:15, &c. Then the earth shook and trembled,.... As it did quickly after Christ called upon the Lord, and cried to his God upon the cross, Matthew 27:50; and so some time after, when his people were praying together, the place where they were assembled was shaken, Acts 4:31; as a token of God's presence being with them: and the shaking and trembling of the earth is often used as a symbol of the presence of God, and of the greatness of his majesty; as when he brought the children of Israel through the Red sea, went before them in the wilderness, and descended on Mount Sinai, which mountain then moved and quaked exceedingly; see Psalm 104:32; and it is easy to observe, that in this, and other parts of this majestic account of the appearance of God on the behalf of the person the subject of this psalm, and against his enemies, there are manifest allusions to the giving of the law on Mount Sinai; though it may be this shaking of the earth, and what follows, are to be understood in a figurative sense;

the foundations also of the hills moved and were shaken; and design the shaking of the earth and heavens, prophesied of in Haggai 2:6; and which is explained in Hebrews 12:26; of the removing the ordinances of the ceremonial law, that Gospel ordinances might remain unshaken; for in 2 Samuel 22:8; the words are, "the foundations of heaven moved and shook"; and the shaking and moving of the earth and mountains may denote the abolition and destruction of kingdoms and nations; and first of the civil polity of the Jews, and of their ecclesiastical state, which quickly ensued upon the death of Christ; and next of the ruin of Rome Pagan, and then of Rome Papal; which are both signified by an earthquake, and by the removal of mountains, Revelation 6:12;

because he was wroth; with the people of the Jews, for disbelieving and rejecting the Messiah; for setting themselves, and taking counsel together against him, and putting him to death; for these things God was angry with them, and wrath came upon them to the uttermost, and their nation, city, and temple were destroyed, Psalm 2:1; and with the Pagan empire and antichristian powers, Revelation 6:16.

{d} Then the earth shook and trembled; the foundations also of the hills moved and were shaken, because he was wroth.

(d) A description of the wrath of God against his enemies, after he had heard his prayer.

7. The paronomasia of the original in the first line might be preserved by rendering, Then the earth did shake and quake.

the foundations &c.] Render: And the foundations of the mountains trembled. The strong mountains were shaken to their very bases. Cp. Isaiah 24:18; Habakkuk 3:6. The text in 2 Sam. has “the foundations of heaven;” heaven as well as earth trembled. Its ‘foundations’ may be the mountains on which the vault of heaven seems to rest: cp. “the pillars of heaven” (Job 26:11): or more probably the universe is spoken of as a vast building, without any idea of applying the details of the metaphor precisely.

because he was wroth] The coming of Jehovah for the deliverance of His servant is necessarily a coming for the judgment of His enemies; and ‘wrath’ is that attribute of God’s character which moves Him to judgment. Cp. Revelation 6:16-17.

7–15. Forthwith David’s prayer is answered by the Advent of Jehovah for the discomfiture of his enemies. He manifests Himself in earthquake and storm. The majestic though terrible phenomena of nature are the expression of His presence. Nature in its stern and awful aspect is a revelation of His judicial wrath. We may call this an ‘ideal’ description of a Theophany; for though it is possible that David refers to some occasion when his enemies were scattered by the breaking of a terrible storm (cp. Joshua 10:11; Jdg 5:20 f.; 1 Samuel 7:10), we have no record of such an event having actually happened in his life; and in any case the picture is intended to serve as a description of God’s providential interposition for his deliverance in general, and not upon any single occasion. His power was exerted as really and truly as if all these extraordinary natural phenomena had visibly attested His Advent. Compare the accounts of the Exodus and the Giving of the Law. See Exodus 19:16-18; Jdg 5:4-5; Psalm 68:7-8; Psalm 77:16-18 : and cp. Psalm 50:2 ff., Psalm 97:2 ff., Psalms 114; Isaiah 29:6; Isaiah 30:27 ff; Isaiah 64:1 ff; Habakkuk 3:3 ff.

Psalms 29 should be compared as illustrating David’s sense of the grandeur and significance of natural phenomena.

The earthquake (Psalm 18:7); the distant lightnings (Psalm 18:8); the gathering darkness of the storm (Psalm 18:9-11); the final outburst of its full fury (Psalm 18:12-15); are pictured in regular succession.Verse 7. - Then the earth shook and trembled; or, quailed and quaked (Kay, who thus expresses the assonance of the Hebrew vat-tig'ash vat-tir ash). The psalmist must not be understood literally. He does not mean that the deliverance came by earthquake, storm, and thunder, but describes the discomfiture and dismay of his opponents by a series of highly poetical images. In these he, no doubt, follows nature closely, and probably describes what he had seen, heard, and felt. The foundations also of the hills moved and were shaken. In violent earthquakes, the earth seems to rock to its foundations; mountain ranges are sometimes actually elevated to a height of several feet; rocks topple down; and occasionally there are earth-slips of enormous dimensions. Because he was wroth. God's anger against the psalmist's enemies produced the entire disturbance which he is describing. (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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