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Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

Psalms 18



Verse 1

Psalm 18:1-50. “The servant of the Lordwhich 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. 2 Samuel 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.

I will love thee — with most tender affection.

Verse 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 Deuteronomy 33:17; Luke 1:69).

tower — literally, “high place,” beyond reach of danger.

Verse 3

to be praised — for past favors, and worthy of confidence.

Verse 4

sorrows — literally, “bands as of a net” (Psalm 116:3).

floods — denotes “multitude.”

Verse 5

death — and hell (compare Psalm 16:10) are personified as man‘s great enemies (compare Revelation 20:13, Revelation 20:14).

prevented — encountered me, crossed my path, and endangered my safety. He does not mean he was in their power.

Verse 6

He relates his methods to procure relief when distressed, and his success.

temple — (Compare Psalm 11:4).

Verse 7-8

God‘s coming described in figures drawn from His appearance on Sinai (compare Deuteronomy 32:22).

Verse 8
his nostrils — bitter in His wrath (compare Psalm 74:1).

by it — that is, the fire (Exodus 19:18).

Verse 9

darkness — or, a dense cloud (Exodus 19:16; Deuteronomy 5:22).

Verse 10

cherub — angelic agents (compare Genesis 3:24), the figures of which were placed over the ark (1 Samuel 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 Psalm 104:3, Psalm 104:4).

did fly — Rapidity of motion adds to the grandeur of the scene.

Verse 11

dark waters — or, clouds heavy with vapor.

Verse 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 (Joshua 10:11; Psalm 78:47).

Verse 13

The storm breaks forth - thunder follows lightning, and hail with repeated lightning, as often seen, like balls or coals of fire, succeed (Exodus 9:23).

Verse 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.

Verse 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.

Verses 16-19

from above — As seated on a throne, directing these terrible scenes, God -

sent — His hand (Psalm 144:7), reached down to His humble worshipper, and delivered him.

many waters — calamities (Job 30:14; Psalm 124:4, Psalm 124:5).

Verse 18

prevented — (Psalm 18:3).

Verse 19

a large place — denotes safety or relief, as contrasted with the straits of distress (Psalm 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.

Verses 20-24

The statements of innocence, righteousness, etc., 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.

Verse 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 (1 Samuel 24:6). That David does not allude to all his conduct, in all relations, is evident from Psalm 51:1, etc.

Verses 25-27

God renders to men according to their deeds in a penal, not vindictive, sense (Leviticus 26:23, Leviticus 26:24).

merciful — or, “kind” (Psalm 4:3).

Verse 26

froward — contrary to.

Verse 27

the afflicted people — that is, the humbly pious.

high looks — pride (Psalm 101:5; Psalm 131:1).

Verse 28

To give one light is to make prosperous (Job 18:5, Job 18:6; Job 21:17).

thou — is emphatic, as if to say, I can fully confide in Thee for help.

Verse 29

And this on past experience in his military life, set forth by these figures.

Verses 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” (Psalm 12:6). Shield (Psalm 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.

Verses 33-36

God‘s help farther described. He gives swiftness to pursue or elude his enemies (Habakkuk 3:19), strength, protection, and a firm footing.

Verse 35

thy gentleness — as applied to God - condescension - or that which He gives, in the sense of humility (compare Proverbs 22:4).

Verse 36

enlarged my steps — made ample room (compare Proverbs 4:12).

Verses 37-41

In actual conflict, with God‘s aid, the defeat of his enemies is certain. A present and continued success is expressed.

Verse 39

that rose up against me — literally, “insurgents” (Psalm 3:1; Psalm 44:5).

Verse 40

given me the necks — literally, “backs of the necks”; made them retreat (Exodus 23:27; Joshua 7:8).

Verse 42

This conquest was complete.

Verses 43-45

Not only does He conquer civil foes, but foreigners, who are driven from their places of refuge.

Verse 44

submit, etc. — (compare Margin) - that is, show a forced subjection.

Verse 46

The Lord liveth — contrasts Him with idols (1 Corinthians 8:4).

Verse 47-48

avengeth me — His cause is espoused by God as His own.

Verse 48

liftest me up — to safety and honors.

Verse 49-50

Paul (Romans 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 Psalm 18:50 justifies this view in its distinct allusion to the great promise (compare 2 Samuel 7:12). In all David‘s successes he saw the pledges of a fulfillment 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.


Copyright Statement
These files are a derivative of an electronic edition prepared from text scanned by Woodside Bible Fellowship.
This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.

Bibliography Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Psalms 18:4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". 1871-8.

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