Ps 18:1-50. "The servant of the Lord," which in the Hebrew precedes "David,"
is a significant part of the title (and not a mere epithet of David),
denoting the inspired character of the song, as the production of one
entrusted with the execution of God's will. He was not favored by God
because he served Him, but served Him because selected and appointed by
God in His sovereign mercy. After a general expression of praise and
confidence in God for the future, David gives a sublimely poetical
description of God's deliverance, which he characterizes as an
illustration of God's justice to the innocent and His righteous
government. His own prowess and success are celebrated as the results
of divine aid, and, confident of its continuance, he closes in terms of
triumphant praise. 2Sa 22:1-51 is a copy of this Psalm, with a few
unimportant variations recorded there as a part of the history, and
repeated here as part of a collection designed for permanent use.
1. I will love thee—with most tender
2, 3. The various terms used describe God as
an object of the most implicit and reliable trust.
rock—literally, "a cleft rock," for
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
33:17; Lu 1:69).
tower—literally, "high place," beyond
reach of danger.
3. to be praised—for past favors, and
worthy of confidence.
4. sorrows—literally, "bands as of a
5. death—and hell (compare Ps 16:10) are personified as man's great
enemies (compare Re 20:13, 14).
prevented—encountered me, crossed my
path, and endangered my safety. He does not mean he was in their
6. He relates his methods to procure relief
when distressed, and his success.
temple—(Compare Ps 11:4).
7, 8. God's coming described in figures drawn
from His appearance on Sinai (compare De 32:22).
8. smoke out … his nostrils—bitter
in His wrath (compare Ps 74:1).
by it—that is, the fire (Ex 19:18).
9. darkness—or, a dense cloud (Ex 19:16;
10. cherub—angelic agents (compare Ge 3:24), the figures of which were placed
over the ark (1Sa 4:4),
representing God's dwelling; used here to enhance the majesty of the
divine advent. Angels and winds may represent all
rational and irrational agencies of God's providence (compare Ps 104:3,
did fly—Rapidity of motion adds to the
grandeur of the scene.
11. dark waters—or, clouds heavy with
12. Out of this obscurity, which impresses the
beholder with awe and dread, He reveals Himself by sudden light and the
means of His terrible wrath (Jos 10:11; Ps 78:47).
13. The storm breaks forth—thunder
follows lightning, and hail with repeated lightning, as often seen,
like balls or coals of fire, succeed (Ex 9:23).
14. The fiery brightness of lightning, in
shape like burning arrows rapidly shot through the air, well represents
the most terrible part of an awful storm. Before the terrors of such a
scene the enemies are confounded and overthrown in dismay.
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.
16-19. from above—As seated on a throne,
directing these terrible scenes, God—
sent—His hand (Ps 144:7), reached down to His humble worshipper,
and delivered him.
many waters—calamities (Job 30:14;
Ps 124:4, 5).
18. prevented—(Ps 18:3).
19. a large place—denotes safety or
relief, as contrasted with the straits of distress (Ps 4:1). All his deliverance is ascribed to
God, and this sublime poetical representation is given to inspire the
pious with confidence and the wicked with dread.
20-24. The statements of innocence,
righteousness, &c., refer, doubtless, to his personal and official
conduct and his purposes, during all the trials to which he was
subjected in Saul's persecutions and Absalom's rebellions, as well as
the various wars in which he had been engaged as the head and defender
of God's Church and people.
23. upright before him—In my relation to
God I have been perfect as to all parts of His law. The perfection does
not relate to degree.
mine iniquity—perhaps the thought of
his heart to kill Saul (1Sa 24:6).
That David does not allude to all his conduct, in all relations, is
evident from Ps 51:1,
25-27. God renders to men according to their
deeds in a penal, not vindictive, sense (Le 26:23, 24).
merciful—or, "kind" (Ps 4:3).
26. froward—contrary to.
27. the afflicted people—that is, the
high looks—pride (Ps 101:5;
28. To give one light is to make
prosperous (Job 18:5, 6; 21:17).
thou—is emphatic, as if to say, I can
fully confide in Thee for help.
29. And this on past experience in his
military life, set forth by these figures.
30-32. God's perfection is the source of his
own, which has resulted from his trust on the one hand, and God's
promised help on the other.
tried—"as metals are tried by fire and
proved genuine" (Ps 12:6).
Shield (Ps 3:3).
Girding was essential to free motion on account of the looseness
of Oriental dresses; hence it is an expressive figure for describing
the gift of strength.
33-36. God's help farther described. He gives
swiftness to pursue or elude his enemies (Hab 3:19), strength, protection, and a firm
35. thy gentleness—as applied to
God—condescension—or that which He gives, in the sense of
humility (compare Pr 22:4).
36. enlarged my steps—made ample room
37-41. In actual conflict, with God's aid, the
defeat of his enemies is certain. A present and continued success is
39. that rose up against me—literally,
"insurgents" (Ps 3:1; 44:5).
40. given me the necks—literally, "backs
of the necks"; made them retreat (Ex 23:27; Jos 7:8).
42. This conquest was complete.
43-45. Not only does He conquer civil foes,
but foreigners, who are driven from their places of refuge.
44. submit, &c.—(compare
Margin)—that is, show a forced subjection.
46. The Lord liveth—contrasts Him with
47, 48. avengeth me—His cause is
espoused by God as His own.
48. liftest me up—to safety and
49, 50. Paul (Ro 15:9) quotes from this doxology to show that
under the Old Testament economy, others than the Jews were regarded as
subjects of that spiritual government of which David was head, and in
which character his deliverances and victories were typical of the more
illustrious triumphs of David's greater Son. The language of Ps 18:50 justifies this view in its
distinct allusion to the great promise (compare 2Sa 7:12). In all David's successes he saw the
pledges of a fulfilment of that promise, and he mourned in all his
adversities, not only in view of his personal suffering, but because he
saw in them evidences of danger to the great interests which were
committed to his keeping. It is in these aspects of his character that
we are led properly to appreciate the importance attached to his
sorrows and sufferings, his joys and successes.