Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament, by Carl Friedrich Keil and Franz Delitzsh, [1857-78], at sacred-texts.com
David's Hymnic Retrospect of a Life Crowned with Many Mercies
Next to a תּפּלּה of David comes a שׁירה (nom. unitatis from שׁיר), which is in many ways both in words and thoughts (Symbolae p. 49) interwoven with the former. It is the longest of all the hymnic Psalms, and bears the inscription: To the Precentor, by the servant of Jahve, by David, who spake unto Jahve the words of this song in the day that Jahve had delivered him out of the hand of all his enemies and out of the hand of Saûl: then he said. The original inscription of the Psalm in the primary collection was probably only לדוד למנצח לעבד ה, like the inscription of Psa 36:1-12. The rest of the inscription resembles the language with which songs of this class are wont to be introduced in their connection in the historical narrative, Exo 15:1; Num 21:17, and more especially Deu 31:30. And the Psalm before us is found again in 2 Sam 22, introduced by words, the manifestly unaccidental agreement of which with the inscription in the Psalter, is explained by its having been incorporated in one of the histories from which the Books of Samuel are extracted, - probably the Annals (Dibre ha-Jamim) of David. From this source the writer of the Books of Samuel has taken the Psalm, together with that introduction; and from this source also springs the historical portion of the inscription in the Psalter, which is connected with the preceding by אשׁר.
David may have styled himself in the inscription עבד ה, just as the apostles call themselves δοῦλοι Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ. He also in other instances, in prayer, calls himself "the servant of Jahve," Psa 19:12, Psa 19:14; Psa 144:10; Sa2 7:20, as every Israelite might do; but David, who is the first after Moses and Joshua to bear this designation or by-name, could to so in an especial sense. For he, with whom the kingship of promise began, marks an epoch in his service of the work of God no less than did Moses, through whose mediation Israel received the Law, and Joshua, through whose instrumentality they obtained the Land of promise.
The terminology of psalm-poesy does not include the word שׁירה, but only שׁיר. This at once shows that the historical portion of the inscription comes from some other source. בּיום is followed, not by the infin. הצּיל: on the day of deliverance, but by the more exactly plusquamperf. הצּיל: on the day (בּיום = at the time, as in Gen 2:4, and frequently) when he had delivered - a genitival (Ges. 116, 3) relative clause, like Psa 138:3; Exo 6:28; Num 3:1, cf. Psa 56:10. מיּד alternates with מכּף in this text without any other design than that of varying the expression. The deliverance out of the hand of Saul is made specially prominent, because the most prominent portion of the Psalm, Psa 18:5, treats of it. The danger in which David the was placed, was of the most personal, the most perilous, and the most protracted kind. This prominence was of great service to the collector, because the preceding Psalm bears the features of this time, the lamentations over which are heard there and further back, and now all find expression in this more extended song of praise.
Only a fondness for doubt can lead any one to doubt the Davidic origin of this Psalm, attested as it is in two works, which are independent of one another. The twofold testimony of tradition is supported by the fact that the Psalm contains nothing that militates against David being the author; even the mention of his own name at the close, is not against it (cf. Kg1 2:45). We have before us an Israelitish counterpart to the cuneiform monumental inscriptions, in which the kings of worldly monarchies recapitulate the deeds they have done by the help of their gods. The speaker is a king; the author of the Books of Samuel found the song already in existence as a Davidic song; the difference of his text from that which lies before us in the Psalter, shows that at that time it had been transmitted from some earlier period; writers of the later time of the kings here and there use language which is borrowed from it or are echoes of it (comp. Pro 30:5 with Psa 18:31; Hab 3:19 with Psa 18:34); it bears throughout the mark of the classic age of the language and poetry, and "if it be not David's, it must have been written in his name and by some one imbued with his spirit, and who could have been this contemporary poet and twin-genius?" (Hitzig). All this irresistibly points us to David himself, to whom really belong also all the other songs in the Second Book of Samuel, which are introduced as Davidic (over Saul and Jonathan, over Abner, etc.). This, the greatest of all, springs entirely from the new self-consciousness to which he was raised by the promises recorded in 2 Sam 7; and towards the end, it closes with express retrospective reference to these promises; for David's certainty of the everlasting duration of his house, and God's covenant of mercy with his house, rests upon the announcement made by Nathan.
The Psalm divides into two halves; for the strain of praise begins anew with Psa 18:32, after having run its first course and come to a beautiful close in Psa 18:31. The two halves are also distinct in respect of their artificial form. The strophe schema of the first is: 6. 8. 8. 6. 8 (not 9). 8. 8. 8. 7. The mixture of six and eight line strophes is symmetrical, and the seven of the last strophe is nothing strange. The mixture in the second half on the contrary is varied. The art of the strophe system appears here, as is also seen in other instances in the Psalms, to be relaxed; and the striving after form at the commencement has given way to the pressure and crowding of the thoughts.
The traditional mode of writing out this Psalm, as also the Cantica, 2 Sam 22 and Judg 5, is "a half-brick upon a brick, and a brick upon a half-brick" (אירח על גבי לבנה ולבנה על גבי אריח): i.e., one line consisting of two, and one of three parts of a verse, and the line consisting of the three parts has only one word on the right and on the left; the whole consequently forms three columns. On the other hand, the song in Deut 32 (as also Jos 12:9., Est 9:7-10) is to be written "a half-brick upon a half-brick and a brick upon a brick," i.e., in only two columns, cf. infra p. 168.
Psalm 18 according to the Text of 2 Samuel 22
On the differences of the introductory superscription, see on Psa 18:1. The relation of the prose accentuation of the Psalm in 2 Sam 22 to the poetical accentuation in the Psalter is instructive. Thus, for example, instead of Mercha mahpach. (Olewejored) in the Psalter we here find Athnach; instead of the Athnach following upon Mercha mahpach., here is Zakeph (cf. Psa 18:7, Psa 18:16, Psa 18:31 with Sa2 22:7, Sa2 22:16, Sa2 22:31); instead of Rebia mugrash, here Tiphcha (cf. Psa 18:4 with Sa2 22:4); instead of Pazer at the beginning of a verse, here Athnach (cf. Psa 18:2 with Sa2 22:2).
(Note: Vid., Baer's Accentsystem xv., and Thorath Emeth iii. 2 together with S. 44, Anm.)
The peculiar mode of writing the stichs, in which we find this song in our editions, is the old traditional mode. If a half-line is placed above a half-line, so that they form two columns, it is called לבנה על־גבי לבנה אריח על־גבי אריח, brick upon brick, a half-brick upon a half-brick, as the song Haazinu in Deut 32 is set out in our editions. On the other hand if the half-lines appear as they do here divided and placed in layers one over another, it is called אריח על־גבי לבנה ולבנה על־גבי אריח. According to Megilla 16b all the cantica in the Scriptures are to be written thus; and according to Sofrim xiii., Ps 18 has this form in common with 2 Sam 22.
This strophe is stunted by the falling away of its monostichic introit, Psa 18:2. In consequence of this, the vocatives in Psa 18:2. are deprived of their support and lowered to substantival clauses: Jahve is my Rock, etc., which form no proper beginning for a hymn. Instead of וּמפלּטי we have, as in Psa 144:2, ומפלטי־לי; and instead of אלי צוּרי we find אלהי צוּרי, which is contrary to the usual manner of arranging these emblematical names. The loss the strophe sustains is compensated by the addition: and my Refuge, my Saviour, who savest me from violence. In Sa2 22:4 as in Sa2 22:49 the non-assimilated מן (cf. Sa2 22:14, Psa 30:4; Psa 73:19) is shortened into an assimilated one. May לּי perhaps be the remains of the obliterated אלי, and אלהי, as it were, the clothing of the צוּרי which was then left too bare?
The connection of this strophe with the preceding by כּי accords with the sense, but is tame. On the other hand, the reading משׁבּרי instead of חבלי (even though the author of Psa 116:3 may have thus read it) is commended by the parallelism, and by the fact, that now the latter figure is not repeated in Sa2 22:5, Sa2 22:6. משׁברי are not necessarily waves that break upon the shore, but may also be such as break one upon another, and consequently אפפוּני is not inadmissible. The ו of ונחלי, which is not wanted, is omitted. Instead of the fuller toned from סבבוּני, which is also more commensurate with the closing cadence of the verse, we have here the usual syncopated סבּוּני (cf. Psa 118:11). The repetition of the אקרא (instead of אשׁוּע) is even more unpoetical than the repetition of חבלי would be. On the other hand, it might originally have been ויּשׁמע instead of ישׁמע; without ו it is an expression (intended retrospectively) of what takes place simultaneously, with ו it expresses the principal fact. The concluding line ושׁועתי בּאזניו is stunted: the brief substantival clause is not meaningless (cf. Job 15:21; Isa 5:9), but is only a fragment of the more copious, fuller toned conclusion of the strophe which we find in the Psalter.
The Kerמ here obliterates the significant alternation of the Kal and Hithpa. of גּעשׁ. Instead of וּמוסדי we have the feminine form of the plural מוסדות (as in both texts in Sa2 22:16) without ו. Instead of the genitive הרים, by an extension of the figure, we have השׁמים (cf. the pillars, Job 26:11), which is not intended of the mountains as of Atlasses, as it were, supporting the heavens, but of the points of support and central points of the heavens themselves: the whole universe trembles.
Instead of the pictorial ויּדא (Deu 28:49, and hence in Jeremiah), which is generally used of the flight of the eagle, we have the plain, uncoloured ויּרא He appeared. Instead of ישׁת, which is intended as an aorist, we meet the more strictly regular, but here, where so many aorists with ו come together, less poetical ויּשׁת. In Sa2 22:12 the rise and fall of the parallel members has grown over till it forms one heavy clumsy line: And made darkness round about Him a pavilion (סכּות). But the ἁπ. λεγ. חשׁרת, to which the signification of a "massive gathering together" is secured by the Arabic, is perhaps original. The word Arab. ḥšr, frequently used in the Koran of assembling to judgment, with the radical signification stipare, cogere (to crowd together, compress) which is also present in Arab. ḥšâ, ḥâš, ḥšd, is here used like ἀγείρειν in the Homeric νεφεληγρέτα (the cloud-gatherer).
(Note: Midrash and Talmud explain it according to the Aramaic "a straining of the clouds," inasmuch as the clouds, like a sieve, let the drops trickle down to the earth, falling close upon each other and yet separately (B. Taanth 9b: מחשרות מים על־גבי קרקע). Kimchi combines חשׁר with קשׁר. But the ancient Arabic ḥšr is the right key to the word. The root of חשׁך and חשׁכּה is perhaps the same (cf. Exo 10:21).)
Sa2 22:13 is terribly mutilated. Of עביו עררו ברד ו of the other text there are only the four letters בּערוּ (as in Sa2 22:9) left.
Instead of ויּרעם we find ירעם, which is less admissible here, where a principal fact is related and the description is drawing nearer and nearer to its goal. Instead of מן־שׁמים the other text has בּשּׁמים; in Psa 30:4 also, מן is retained without being assimilated before שׁ. But the fact, however, that the line בּרד וגחלי־אשׁ is wanting, is a proof, which we welcome, that it is accidentally repeated from the preceding strophe, in the other text. On the other hand, חצּים is inferior to חצּיו; וּברקים רב is corrupted into a tame בּרק; and the Ker ויּהם erroneously assumes that the suffix of ויפיצם refers to the arrows, i.e., lightnings. Again on the other hand, אפיקי ים, channels of the sea, is perhaps original; מים in this connection expresses too little, and, as being the customary word in combination with אפיקי (Psa 42:2; Joe 1:20), may easily have been substituted after it. At any rate ים and תּבל form a more exact antithesis. יגּלוּ instead of ויּגּלוּ is the same in meaning. The close of the strophe is here also weakened by the obliteration of the address to God: by (בּ instead of the מ of the other text) the threatening of Jahve, at the snorting of His breath of anger. The change of the preposition in this surge (so-to-speak) of the members of the verse is rather interruptive than pleasing.
The variant משּׂנאי instead of ומשׂאני is unimportant; but משׁען instead of למשׁען, for a support, is less pleasing both as it regards language and rhythm. The resolution of ויוציאני into אתי...ויּצא is a clumsy and needless emphasising of the me.
Instead of כּצדקי, we find כּצדקתי here and in Sa2 22:25, contrary to usage of the language of the Psalms (cf. Psa 7:9 with Kg1 8:32). Instead of the poetical אסיר מנּי (Job 27:5; Job 23:12) we have אסוּר ממּנּה (with the fem. used as a neuter), according to the common phrase in Kg2 3:3, and frequently (cf. Deu 5:32). Instead of ואהי, the not less (e.g., Psa 102:8) usual ואהיה; and instead of ואשׁתּמּר, the form with ah of direction which occurs very frequently with the first person of the fut. convers. in the later Hebrew, although it does also occur even in the older Hebrew (Psa 3:6; Psa 7:5, Gen 32:6; Job 19:20). And instead of עמּו we find לו, which does not commend itself, either as a point of language or of rhythm; and by comparison with Sa2 22:26, Sa2 22:27, it certainly is not original.
On כּצדקתי see Sa2 22:21. כּברי is without example, since elsewhere (כּפּים) בּר ידים is the only expression for innocence. In the equally remarkable expression גּבּור תּמים (the upright "man of valour"), גבור is used just as in the expression גּבּור חיל. The form תּתּבר, has only the sound of an assimilated Hithpa. like תּתּמּם (= תתתמם), and is rather a reflexive of the Hiph. הבר after the manner of the Aramaic Ittaphal (therefore = תּתּכרר); and the form תּתּפּל sounds altogether like a Hithpa. from תּפל (thou showest thyself insipid, absurd, foolish), but - since תּפלה cannot be ascribed to God (Job 1:22), and is even unseemly as an expression - appears to be treated likewise as an Ittaphal with a kind of inverted assimilation = תּתהפתּל (Bttcher). They are contractions such as are sometimes allowed by the dialect of the common people, though contrary to all rules. ואת instead of כּי at the beginning of Sa2 22:28 changes what is confirmatory into a mere continuation of the foregoing. One of the most sensible variations is the change of ועינים רמות to ועיניך על־רמים. The rendering: And Thine eyes (are directed down) upon the haughty that Thou mayst bring (them) low (Stier, Hengst., and others), violates the accentuation and is harsh so far as the language is concerned (תּשׁפּיל for להשׁפּלם). Hitzig renders it, according to the accents: And Thou lowerest Thine eyes against the proud, השׁפיל עימים = הפיל פנים (Jer 3:12). But one would expect בּ instead of על, if this were the meaning. It is better to render it according to Psa 113:6 : And Thou dost cast down Thine eyes upon the haughty, in which rendering the haughty are represented as being far beneath Jahve notwithstanding their haughtiness, and the "casting down or depressing of the eyes" is an expression of the utmost contempt (despectus).
Here in Sa2 22:29 תּאיר has been lost, for Jahve is called, and really is, אור in Psa 27:1, but not נר. The form of writing גיר is an incorrect wavering between נר and ניר. The repetition יהוה ויהוה, by which the loss of תאיר, and of אלהי in Sa2 22:29, is covered, is inelegant. We have בּכה here instead of בּך, as twice besides in the Old Testament. The form of writing ארוּץ, as Isa 42:4 shows, does not absolutely require that we should derive it from רוּץ; nevertheless רוּץ can be joined with the accusative just as well as דּלּג, in the sense of running against, rushing upon; therefore, since the parallelism is favourable, it is to be rendered: by Thee I rush upon a troop. The omission of the ו before בּאלהי is no improvement to the rhythm.
The variety of expression in Sa2 22:32 which has been preserved in the other text is lost here. Instead of המאזרני חיל we find, as if from a faded MS, חיל מעוּזי (according to Norzi מעוּזי) my refuge (lit., hiding) of strength, i.e., my strong refuge, according to a syntactically more elegant style of expression (= מעוזי מעוז חיל), like Psa 71:7; Lev 6:3; Lev 26:42; vid., Nהgelsbach ֗63, g, where it is correctly shown, that this mode of expression is a matter of necessity in certain instances.
(Note: In the present instance מעוז חילי, like מחסה עזּי in Psa 71:7 (cf. Eze 16:27; Eze 18:7, and perhaps Hab 3:8) would not be inadmissible, although in the other mode of expression greater prominence is given to the fact of its being provided and granted by God. But in cases like the following it would be absolutely inadmissible to append the suffix to the nom. rectum, viz., שׂואי שׁקר, Psa 38:20; בּריתי יעקב my covenant with Jacob, Lev 26:42; מדּו בד his garment of linen, Lev 6:3; כּתבם המּתיחשׂים their ancestral register, Ezr 2:62; and it is probable that this transference of the pronominal suffix to the nom. regens originated in instances like these, where it was a logical necessary and then became transferred to the syntax ornata. At the same time it is clear from this, that in cases like שׂנאי שׁקר, and consequently also שׂנאי חנּם, the second notion is not conceived as an accusative of more precise definition, but as a governed genitive.)
The form of writing, מעוּזי, seems here to recognise a מעוז, a hiding-place, refuge, = Arab. m‛âd, which is different from מעז a fortress (from עזז); but just as in every other case the punctuation confuses the two substantives (vid., on Psa 31:3), so it does even here, since מעוז, from עוּז, ought to be inflected מעוּזי, like מנוּסי, and not מעוּזי. Nevertheless the plena scriptio may avail to indicate to us, that here מעוז is intended to by a synonym of מחסה. Instead of (תמים דרכי) ויּתּן we have ויּתּר here; perhaps it is He let, or caused, my way to be spotless, i.e., made it such. Thus Ewald renders it by referring to the modern Arabic hllâ, to let, cause Germ. lassen, French faire = to make, effect; even the classic ancient Arabic language uses trk (Lassen) in the sense of j'l (to make), e.g., "I have made (Arab. taraktu) the sword my camp-companion," i.e., my inseparable attendant (lit., I have caused it to be such), as it is to be translated in Nldeck'e Beitrge zur Kenntniss der Poesie der alten Araber, S. 131.
(Note: Ibid. S. 133, Z. 13 is, with Fleischer, to be rendered: ye have made (Arab. trktm) my milk camels restless, i.e., caused them to be such, by having stolen them and driven them away so that they now yearn after home and their young ones.)
Or does התּיר retain its full and proper meaning "to unfetter?" This is more probable, since the usage of Hebrew shows no example of התּיר in the post-biblical signification "to allow, permit," which ought to form the transition to "to cause to be = to effect." Therefore we may compare on the contrary Koran ix. 15, challu sebı̂-lahum loose their way, i.e., let them go forth free, and render it: He unfettered, unbound, left to itself, let my way go on as faultless (unobstructed). Hitzig, following the Chethb דרכו, renders it differently: "and made the upright skip on his way." But תמים beside דרכו is to be regarded at the outset as its predicate, and התּיר means "to cause to jump up," Hab 3:6, not "to skip along." Nevertheless, the Chethb דרכו, which, from the following Chethb רגליו, bears the appearance of being designed, at any rate seems to have understood תמים personally: He unfettered (expedit) the upright his way, making his feet like etc. The reading ונחת instead of ונחתה, although admissible so far as the syntax is concerned (Ges. 147, a), injures the flow of the rhythm.
The pentastich is stunted here by the falling away of the middle line of Sa2 22:36 : and Thy right hand supported me. Instead of the expressive וענותך (and Thy condescension) we find here וענתך which, in accordance with the usage of the language, does not mean Thy being low (Hengst.), but rather: Thy labour (Bttch.), or more securely: Thine answering, lxx ὑπακοή (i.e., the actual help, wherewith Thou didst answer my prayer). Instead of תּחתּי we find, as also in Sa2 22:40, Sa2 22:48, תּחתּני with a verbal suffix, like בּעד in Psa 139:11; it is perhaps an inaccuracy of the common dialect, which confused the genitive and accusative suffix. But instances of this are not wanting even in the written language, Ges. 103, rem. 3.
The cohortative תּרדּפת, as frequently, has the sense of a hypothetical antecedent, whether it refers to the present, as in Psa 139:8, or to the past as in Psa 73:16 and here: in case I pursued. In the text in the Psalter it is ואשּׂיגם, here it is ואשׁמידם, by which the echo of Ex 15 is obliterated. And after עד־כלותם how tautological is the ואכלּם which is designed to compensate for the shortening of the verse! The verse, to wit, is shortened at the end, ולא־יכלו קום being transformed into ולא יקוּמוּן. Instead of יפּלוּ, ויפּלוּ is not inappropriate. Instead of ותּאזּרני we find ותּזרני, by a syncope that belongs to the dialect of the people, cf. תּזלי for תּאזלי Jer 2:36, מלּף for מאלּף Job 35:11. Of the same kind is תּתּה = נתתּה, an apocope taken from the mouths of the people, with which only רד, Jdg 19:11, if equivalent to ירד, can be compared. The conjunctive ו of ומשׂנאי stands here in connection with אצמיתם as a consec.: my haters, whom I destroyed. The other text is altogether more natural, better conceived, and more elegant in this instance.
Instead of ישׁוּעוּ we have ישׁעוּ, a substitution which is just tolerable: they look forth for help, or even: they look up expectantly to their gods, Isa 17:8; Isa 31:1. The two figurative expressions in Sa2 22:43, however, appear here, in contrast with the other text, in a distorted form: And I pulverised them as the dust of the earth, as the mire of the street did I crush them, I trampled them down. The lively and expressive figure כעפר על־פני רוח is weakened into כעפר־ארץ. Instead of אריקם, we have the overloaded glossarial אדקּם ארקעם. The former (root דק, דך, to break in pieces) is a word that is interchanged with the אריקם of the other text in the misapprehended sense of ארקּם. The latter (root רק, to stretch, to make broad, thin, and compact) looks like a gloss of this אדקם. Since one does not intentionally either crush or trample upon the dirt of the street nor tread it out thin or broad, we must in this instance take not merely כעפר־ארץ but also כטיט־חוצות as expressing the issue or result.
The various reading ריבי עמּי proceeds from the correct understanding, that ריבי refers to David's contentions within his kingdom. The supposition that עמּי is a plur. apoc. and equivalent to עמּים, as it is to all appearance in Psa 144:2, and like מנּי = מנּים Psa 45:9, has no ground here. The reasonable variation תּשׁמרני harmonises with עמּי: Thou hast kept me (preserved me) for a head of the nations, viz., by not allowing David to become deprived of the throne by civil foes. The two lines of Sa2 22:45 are reversed, and not without advantage. The Hithpa. יתכּחשׁוּ instead of the Piel יכחשׁוּ (cf. Psa 66:3; Psa 81:16) is the reflexive of the latter: they made themselves flatterers (cf. the Niph. Deu 33:29 : to show themselves flattering, like the ישּׁמעוּ which follows here, audientes se praestabant = obediebant). Instead of (אזן) לשׁמע we have here, in a similar signification, but less elegant, (אזן) לשׁמוע according to the hearing of the ear, i.e., hearsay. Instead of ויחרגוּ we find ויחגּרוּ, which is either a transposition of the letters as a solecism (cf. פּרץ Sa2 13:27 for פּצר), or used in a peculiar signification. "They gird (accincti prodeunt)" does not give any suitable meaning to this picture of voluntary submission. But חגר (whence Talmudic חגּר lame) may have signified "to limp" in the dialect of the people, which may be understood of those who drag themselves along with difficulty and reluctance (Hitz.). "Out of their closed placed (castles)," here with the suff. ām instead of êhém.
The צוּר thrust into Sa2 22:47 is troublesome. וירם (without any necessity for correcting it to וירם) is optative, cf. Gen 27:31; Pro 9:4, Pro 9:16. Instead of ויּדבּר we have וּמריד and who subdueth, which is less significant and so far as the syntax is concerned less elegant. Also here consequently תּחתּני for תּחתּי. Instead of מפלּטי we find וּמוציאי and who bringeth me forth out of my enemies, who surround me - a peculiar form of expression and without support elsewhere (for it is different in Sa2 22:20). The poetical אף is exchanged for the prose וּ, מן־קמי for מקּמי, and חמס (אישׁ) for חמסים; the last being a plur. (Psa 140:2, Psa 140:5; Pro 4:17), which is foreign to the genuine Davidic Psalms.
The change of position of יהוה in Sa2 22:50, as well as אזמּר for אזמּרה, is against the rhythm; the latter, moreover, is contrary to custom, Psa 57:10; Psa 108:4. While מדגל of the other text is not pointed מגדּל, but מגדּל, it is corrected in this text from מגדיל into מגדּול tower of salvation - a figure that recalls Psa 61:4, Pro 18:10, but is obscure and somewhat strange in this connection; moreover, migdol for migdal, a tower, only occurs elsewhere in the Old Testament as a proper name.
If we now take one more glance over the mutual relationship of the two texts, we cannot say that both texts equally partake of the original. With the exception of the correct omission of Sa2 22:14 and the readings משׁבּרי, חשׁרת, and אפיקי ים there is scarcely anything in the text of 2 Sam 22 that specially commends itself to us. That this text is a designed, and perhaps a Davidic, revision of the other text (Hengst.), is an assumption that is devoid of reason and appearance; for in 2 Sam 22 we have only a text that varies in some instances, but not a substantially new form of the text. The text in 2 Sam 22, as it has shown us, is founded upon careless written and oral transmission. The rather decided tendency towards a defective form of writing leads one to conjecture the greater antiquity of the copy from which it is taken. It is easy to understand how poetical passages inserted in historical works were less carefully dealt with. It is characteristic of the form of the text of the Psalm in 2 Sam 22, that in not a few instances the licences of popular expression have crept into it. There is some truth in what Bttcher says, when he calls the text in the Psalter the recension of the priests and that in the Second Book of Samuel the recension of the laity.
(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 Psa 16:1-11; Psa 23:1-6; Ps 25 and many others. Nevertheless the matter assumes a somewhat different aspect, if Psa 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 Pro 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, Gen 15:1; and He is called צוּר (cf. אבן Gen 49:24) in the great Mosaic song, Deu 32:4, Deu 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, Isa 16:1; Isa 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 Deu 33:17; Sa1 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 Psa 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 Isa 45:24, cf. also Gen 3:3; Mic 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.
(Heb.: 18:5-7) In these verses David gathers into one collective figure all the fearful dangers to which he had been exposed during his persecution by Saul, together with the marvellous answers and deliverances he experienced, that which is unseen, which stands in the relation to that which is visible of cause and effect, rendering itself visible to him. David here appears as passive throughout; the hand from out of the clouds seizes him and draws him out of mighty waters: while in the second part of the Psalm, in fellowship with God and under His blessing, he comes forward as a free actor.
The description begins in Psa 18:5 with the danger and the cry for help which is not in vain. The verb אפף according to a tradition not to be doubted (cf. אופן a wheel) signifies to go round, surround, as a poetical synonym of סבב, הקּיף, כּתּר, and not, as one might after the Arabic have thought: to drive, urge. Instead of "the bands of death," the lxx (cf. Act 2:24) renders it ὠδῖνες (constrictive pains) θανάτου; but Psa 18:6 favours the meaning bands, cords, cf. Psa 119:61 (where it is likewise חבלי instead of the הבלי, which one might have expected, Jos 17:5; Job 36:8), death is therefore represented as a hunter with a cord and net, Psa 91:3. בליּעל, compounded of בּלי and יעל (from יעל, ועל, root על), signifies unprofitableness, worthlessness, and in fact both deep-rooted moral corruption and also abysmal destruction (cf. Co2 6:15, Βελίαρ = Βελίαλ as a name of Satan and his kingdom). Rivers of destruction are those, whose engulfing floods lead down to the abyss of destruction (Jon 2:7). Death, Belı̂jáal, and Sheôl are the names of the weird powers, which make use of David's persecutors as their instruments. Futt. in the sense of imperfects alternate with praett. בּעת (= Arab. bgt) signifies to come suddenly upon any one (but compare also Arab. b‛ṯ, to startle, excitare, to alarm), and קדּם, to rush upon; the two words are distinguished from one another like berfallen and anfallen. The היכל out of which Jahve hears is His heavenly dwelling-place, which is both palace and temple, inasmuch as He sits enthroned there, being worshipped by blessed spirits. לפניו belongs to ושׁועתי: my cry which is poured forth before Him (as e.g., in Psa 102:1), for it is tautological if joined with תּבא beside ושׁועתי. Before Jahve's face he made supplication and his prayer urged its way into His ears.
(Heb.: 18:8-10) As these verses go on to describe, the being heard became manifest in the form of deliverance. All nature stands to man in a sympathetic relationship, sharing his curse and blessing, his destruction and glory, and to God is a (so to speak) synergetic relationship, furnishing the harbingers and instruments of His mighty deeds. Accordingly in this instance Jahve's interposition on behalf of David is accompanied by terrible manifestations in nature. Like the deliverance of Israel out of Egypt, Ps 68; Ps 77, and the giving of the Law on Sinai, Ex 19, and like the final appearing of Jahve and of Jesus Christ according to the words of prophet and apostle (Hab 3; Th2 1:7.), the appearing of Jahve for the help of David has also extraordinary natural phenomena in its train. It is true we find no express record of any incident in David's life of the kind recorded in Sa1 7:10, but it must be come real experience which David here idealises (i.e., seizes at its very roots, and generalises and works up into a grand majestic picture of his miraculous deliverance). Amidst earthquake, a black thunderstorm gathers, the charging of which is heralded by the lightning's flash, and its thick clouds descend nearer and nearer to the earth. The aorists in Psa 18:8 introduce the event, for the introduction of which, from Psa 18:4 onwards, the way has been prepared and towards which all is directed. The inward excitement of the Judge, who appears to His servant for his deliverance, sets the earth in violent oscillation. The foundations of the mountains (Isa 24:18) are that upon which they are supported beneath and within, as it were, the pillars which support the vast mass. געשׁ (rhyming with רעשׁ) is followed by the Hithpa. of the same verb: the first impulse having been given they, viz., the earth and the pillars of the mountains, continue to shake of themselves. These convulsions occur, because "it is kindled with respect to God;" it is unnecessary to supply אפּו, חרה לו is a synonym of חם לו. When God is wrath, according to Old Testament conception, the power of wrath which is present in Him is kindled and blazes up and breaks forth. The panting of rage may accordingly also be called the smoke of the fire of wrath (Psa 74:1; Psa 80:5). The smoking is as the breathing out of the fire, and the vehement hot breath which is inhaled and exhaled through the nose of one who is angry (cf. Job 41:12), is like smoke rising from the internal fire of anger. The fire of anger itself "devours out of the mouth," i.e., flames forth out of the mouth, consuming whatever it lays hold of-in men in the form of angry words, with God in the fiery forces of nature, which are of a like kind with, and subservient to, His anger, and more especially in the lightning's flash. It is the lightning chiefly, that is compared here to the blazing up of burning coals. The power of wrath in God, becoming manifest in action, breaks forth into a glow, and before it entirely discharges its fire, it gives warning of action like the lightning's flash heralding the outburst of the storm. Thus enraged and breathing forth His wrath, Jahve bowed the heavens, i.e., caused them to bend towards the earth, and came down, and darkness of clouds (ערפל similar in meaning to ὄρφνη, cf. ἔρεβος) was under His feet: black, low-hanging clouds announced the coming of Him who in His wrath was already on His way downwards towards the earth.
(Heb.: 18:11-13) The storm, announcing the approaching outburst of the thunderstorm, was also the forerunner of the Avenger and Deliverer. If we compare Psa 18:11 with Psa 104:3, it is natural to regard כּרוּב as a transposition of רכוּב (a chariot, Ew. 153, a). But assuming a relationship between the biblical Cherub and (according to Ctesias) the Indo-Persian griffin, the word (from the Zend grab, garew, garefsh, to seize) signifies a creature seizing and holding irrecoverably fast whatever it seizes upon; perhaps in Semitic language the strong creature, from כּרב = Arab. krb, torquere, constringere, whence mukrab, tight, strong). It is a passive form like גּבוּל, יסד, לבוּשׁ. The cherubim are mentioned in Gen 3:24 as the guards of Paradise (this alone is enough to refute the interpretation recently revived in the Evang. Kirchen-Zeit., 1866, No. 46, that they are a symbol of the unity of the living One, כרוב = כּרוב "like a multitude!"), and elsewhere, as it were, as the living mighty rampart and vehicle of the approach of the inaccessible majesty of God; and they are not merely in general the medium of God's personal presence in the world, but more especially of the present of God as turning the fiery side of His doxa towards the world. As in the Prometheus of Aeschylus, Oceanus comes flying τὸν πτερυγωκῆ τόνδ ̓ οἰωνόν γνώμῃ στομίων ἄτερ εὐθύνων, so in the present passage Jahve rides upon the cherub, of which the heathenish griffin is a distortion; or, if by a comparison of passages like Psa 104:3; Isa 66:15, we understand David according to Ezekiel, He rides upon the cherub as upon His living throne-chariot (מרכּבה). The throne floats upon the cherubim, and this cherub-throne flies upon the wings of the wind; or, as we can also say: the cherub is the celestial spirit working in this vehicle formed of the spirit-like elements. The Manager of the chariot is Himself hidden behind the thick thunder-clouds. ישׁת is an aorist without the consecutive ו (cf. יך Hos 6:1). חשׁך is the accusative of the object to it; and the accusative of the predicate is doubled: His covering, His pavilion round about Him. In Job 36:29 also the thunder-clouds are called God's סכּה, and also in Psa 97:2 they are סביביו, concealing Him on all sides and announcing only His presence when He is wroth. In Psa 18:12 the accusative of the object, חשׁך, is expanded into "darkness of waters," i.e., swelling with waters
(Note: Rab Dimi, B. Taanth 10a, for the elucidation of the passage quotes a Palestine proverb: נהור ענני זעירין מוהי חשׁוך ענני סגיין מוהי i.e., if the clouds are transparent they will yield but little water, if they are dark they will yield a quantity.)
and billows of thick vapour, thick, and therefore dark, masses (עב in its primary meaning of denseness, or a thicket, Exo 19:9, cf. Jer 4:29) of שׁחקים, which is here a poetical name for fleecy clouds. The dispersion and discharge, according to Psa 18:13, proceeded from נגהּ גגדּו. Such is the expression for the doxa of God as being a mirroring forth of His nature, as it were, over against Him, as being therefore His brightness, or the reflection of His glory. The doxa is fire and light. On this occasion the forces of wrath issue from it, and therefore it is the fiery forces: heavy and destructive hail (cf. Exo 9:23., Isa 30:30) and fiery glowing coals, i.e., flashing and kindling lightning. The object עביו stands first, because the idea of clouds, behind which, according to Psa 18:11, the doxa in concealed, is prominently connected with the doxa. It might be rendered: before His brightness His clouds turn into hail..., a rendering which would be more in accordance with the structure of the stichs, and is possible according to Ges. 138, rem. 2. Nevertheless, in connection with the combination of עבר with clouds, the idea of breaking through (Lam 3:44) is very natural. If עביו is removed, then עברו signifies "thence came forth hail..." But the mention of the clouds as the medium, is both natural and appropriate.
(Heb.: 18:14-16) Amidst thunder, Jahve hurled lightnings as arrows upon David's enemies, and the breath of His anger laid bare the beds of the flood to the very centre of the earth, in order to rescue the sunken one. Thunder is the rumble of God, and as it were the hollow murmur of His mouth, Job 37:2. עליון, the Most High, is the name of God as the inapproachable Judge, who governs all things. The third line of Psa 18:14 is erroneously repeated from the preceding strophe. It cannot be supported on grammatical grounds by Exo 9:23, since קול נתן, edere vocem, has a different meaning from the נתן קלת, dare tonitrua, of that passage. The symmetry of the strophe structure is also against it; and it is wanting both in 2 Sam. and in the lxx. רב, which, as the opposite of מעט Neh 2:12; Isa 10:7, means adverbially "in abundance," is the parallel to ויּשׁלח. It is generally taken, after the analogy of Gen 49:23, in the sense of בּרק, Psa 144:6 : רב in pause = רב (the ō passing over into the broader like עז instead of עז in Gen 49:3) = רבב, cognate with רבה, רמה; but the forms סב, סבּוּ, here, and in every other instance, have but a very questionable existence, as e.g., רב, Isa 54:13, is more probably an adjective than the third person praet. (cf. Bttcher, Neue Aehrenlese No. 635, 1066). The suffixes ēm do not refer to the arrows, i.e., lightnings, but to David's foes. המם means both to put in commotion and to destroy by confounding, Exo 14:24; Exo 23:27. In addition to the thunder, the voice of Jahve, comes the stormwind, which is the snorting of the breath of His nostrils. This makes the channels of the waters visible and lays bare the foundations of the earth. אפיק (collateral form to אפק) is the bed of the river and then the river or brook itself, a continendo aquas (Ges.), and exactly like the Arabic mesı̂k, mesâk, mesek (from Arab. msk, the VI form of which, tamâsaka, corresponds to התאפּק), means a place that does not admit of the water soaking in, but on account of the firmness of the soil preserves it standing or flowing. What are here meant are the water-courses or river beds that hold the water. It is only needful for Jahve to threaten (epitiman Mat 8:26) and the floods, in which he, whose rescue is undertaken here, is sunk, flee (Psa 104:7) and dry up (Psa 106:9, Nah 1:4). But he is already half engulfed in the abyss of Hades, hence not merely the bed of the flood is opened up, but the earth is rent to its very centre. From the language being here so thoroughly allegorical, it is clear that we were quite correct in interpreting the description as ideal. He, who is nearly overpowered by his foes, is represented as one engulfed in deep waters and almost drowning.
(Heb.: 18:17-20) Then Jahve stretches out His hand from above into the deep chasm and draws up the sinking one. The verb שׁלח occurs also in prose (Sa2 6:6) without יד (Psa 57:4, cf. on the other hand the borrowed passage, Psa 144:7) in the signification to reach (after anything). The verb משׁה, however, is only found in one other instance, viz., Exo 2:10, as the root (transferred from the Egyptian into the Hebrew) of the name of Moses, and even Luther saw in it an historical allusion, "He hath made a Moses of me," He hath drawn me out of great (many) waters, which had well nigh swallowed me up, as He did Moses out of the waters of the Nile, in which he would have perished. This figurative language is followed, in Psa 18:18, by its interpretation, just as in Psa 144:7 the "great waters" are explained by מיּד בּני נכר, which, however, is not suitable here, or at least is too limited.
With Psa 18:17 the hymn has reached the climax of epic description, from which it now descends in a tone that becomes more and more lyrical. In the combination איבי עז, עז is not an adverbial accusative, but an adjective, like רוּחך טובה Psa 143:10, and ὁ ἀνὴρ ἀγαθός (Hebrerbrief S. 353). כּי introduces the reason for the interposition of the divine omnipotence, viz., the superior strength of the foe and the weakness of the oppressed one. On the day of his איד, i.e., (vid., on Psa 31:12) his load or calamity, when he was altogether a homeless and almost defenceless fugitive, they came upon him (קדּם Psa 17:13), cutting off all possible means of delivering himself, but Jahve became the fugitive's staff (Psa 23:4) upon which he leaned and kept himself erect. By the hand of God, out of straits and difficulties he reached a broad place, out of the dungeon of oppression to freedom, for Jahve had delighted in him, he was His chosen and beloved one. חפץ has the accent on the penult here, and Metheg as a sign of the lengthening (העמדה) beside the ē, that it may not be read ĕ.
(Note: In like manner Metheg is placed beside the ee of the final closed syllable that has lost the tone in חפץ Psa 22:9, ותּחולל Psa 90:2, vid., Isaiah S. 594 note.)
The following strophe tells the reason of his pleasing God and of His not allowing him to perish. This כּי חפץ בּי (for He delighted in me) now becomes the primary thought of the song.
(Heb.: 18:21-24) On גּמל (like שׁלּם with the accusative not merely of the thing, but also of the person, e.g., Sa1 24:18), εὐ or κακῶς πράττειν τινά, vid., on Psa 7:5. שׁמר, to observe = to keep, is used in the same way in Job 22:15. רשׁע מן is a pregnant expression of the malitiosa desertio. "From God's side," i.e., in His judgment, would be contrary to the general usage of the language (for the מן in Job 4:17 has a different meaning) and would be but a chilling addition. On the poetical form מנּי, in pause מנּי, vid., Ew. 263, b. The fut. in Psa 18:23, close after the substantival clause Psa 18:23, is not intended of the habit in the past, but at the present time: he has not wickedly forsaken God, but (כּי = imo, sed) always has God's commandments present before him as his rule of conduct, and has not put them far away out of his sight, in order to be able to sin with less compunction; and thus then (fut. consec.) in relation (עם, as in Deu 18:13, cf. Sa2 23:5) to God he was תמים, with his whole soul undividedly devoted to Him, and he guarded himself against his iniquity (עון, from עוה, Arab. 'wâ, to twist, pervert, cf. Arab. gwâ, of error, delusion, self-enlightenment), i.e., not: against acquiescence in his in-dwelling sin, but: against iniquity becoming in any way his own; מעוני equivalent to מעותי (Dan 9:5), cf. מחיּי = than that I should live, Jon 4:8. In this strophe, this Psalm strikes a cord that harmonises with Psa 17:1-15, after which it is therefore placed. We may compare David's own testimony concerning himself in Sa1 26:23., the testimony of God in Kg1 14:8, and the testimony of history in Kg1 15:5; Kg1 11:4.
(Heb.: 18:25-28) What was said in Psa 18:21 is again expressed here as a result of the foregoing, and substantiated in Psa 18:26, Psa 18:27. חסיד is a friend of God and man, just as pius is used of behaviour to men as well as towards God. גּבר תמים the man (construct of גּבר) of moral and religious completeness (integri = integritatis, cf. Psa 15:2), i.e., of undivided devotion to God. נבר (instead of which we find בּר לבב elsewhere, Psa 24:4; Psa 73:1) not one who is purified, but, in accordance with the reflexive primary meaning of Niph., one who is purifying himself, ἁγνίζων ἑαυτόν, Jo1 3:3. עקּשׁ (the opposite of ישׂר) one who is morally distorted, perverse. Freely formed Hithpaels are used with these attributive words to give expression to the corresponding self-manifestation: התחסּד, התּמּם (Ges. 54, 2, b), התבּרר, and התפּתּל (to show one's self נפתּל or פּתלתּל). The fervent love of the godly man God requites with confiding love, the entire submission of the upright with a full measure of grace, the endeavour after purity by an unbeclouded charity (cf. Psa 73:1), moral perverseness by paradoxical judgments, giving the perverse over to his perverseness (Rom 1:28) and leading him by strange ways to final condemnation (Isa 29:14, cf. Lev 26:23.). The truth, which is here enunciated, is not that the conception which man forms of God is the reflected image of his own mind and heart, but that God's conduct to man is the reflection of the relation in which man has placed himself to God; cf. Sa1 2:30; Sa1 15:23. This universal truth is illustrated and substantiated in Psa 18:28. The people who are bowed down by affliction experience God's condescension, to their salvation; and their haughty oppressors, god's exaltation, to their humiliation. Lofty, proud eyes are among the seven things that Jahve hateth, according to Pro 6:17. The judgment of God compels them to humble themselves with shame, Isa 2:11.
(Heb.: 18:29-31) The confirmation of what has been asserted is continued by David's application of it to himself. Hitzig translates the futures in Psa 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 Psa 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, Kg1 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 (Sa2 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 (= ארץ), inasmuch as this verb has the changeable u in the future also in Isa 42:4; Ecc 12:6. The text of 2 Sam 22, however, certainly seems to put "rushing upon" in the stead of "breaking down." With Psa 18:31 the first half of the hymn closes epiphonematically. האל is a nom. absol., like hatsuwr, Deu 32:4. This old Mosaic utterance is re-echoed here, as in Sa2 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, Psa 12:7. Whoever retreats into Him, the God of the promise, is shielded from every danger. Pro 30:5 is borrowed from this passage.
(Heb.: 18:32-35) The grateful description of the tokens of favour he has experienced takes a new flight, and is continued in the second half of the Psalm in a more varied and less artificial mixture of the strophes. What is said in Psa 18:31 of the way and word of Jahve and of Jahve Himself, is confirmed in Psa 18:32 by the fact that He alone is אלוהּ, a divine being to be reverenced, and He alone is צוּר, a rock, i.e., a ground of confidence that cannot be shaken. What is said in Psa 18:31 consequently can be said only of Him. מבּלעדי and זוּלתי alternate; the former (with a negative intensive מן) signifies "without reference to" and then absolutely "without" or besides, and the latter (with ı̂ as a connecting vowel, which elsewhere has also the function of a suffix), from זוּלת (זוּלה), "exception." The verses immediately following are attached descriptively to אלהינוּ, our God (i.e., the God of Israel), the God, who girded me with strength; and accordingly (fut. consec.) made my way תמים, "perfect," i.e., absolutely smooth, free from stumblings and errors, leading straight forward to a divine goal. The idea is no other than that in Psa 18:31, cf. Job 22:3, except that the freedom from error here is intended to be understood in accordance with its reference to the way of a man, of a king, and of a warrior; cf. moreover, the other text. The verb שׁוּה signifies, like Arab. swwâ, to make equal (aequare), to arrange, to set right; the dependent passage Hab 3:19 has, instead of this verb, the more uncoloured שׁים. The hind, איּלה or איּלת, is the perfection of swiftness (cf. ἔλαφος and ἐλαφρός) and also of gracefulness among animals. "Like the hinds" is equivalent to like hinds' feet; the Hebrew style leaves it to the reader to infer the appropriate point of comparison from the figure. It is not swiftness in flight (De Wette), but in attack and pursuit that is meant, - the latter being a prominent characteristic of warriors, according to Sa2 1:23; Sa2 2:18; Ch1 12:8. David does not call the high places of the enemy, which he has made his own by conquest "my high places," but those heights of the Holy Land which belong to him as king of Israel: upon these Jahve preserves him a firm position, so that from them he may rule the land far and wide, and hold them victoriously (cf. passages like Deu 32:13; Isa 58:14). The verb למּד, which has a double accusative in other instances, is here combined with ל of the subject taught, as the aim of the teaching. The verb נחת (to press down = to bend a bow) precedes the subject "my arms" in the singular; this inequality is admissible even when the subject stands first (e.g., Gen 49:22; Joe 1:20; Zac 6:14). קשׁת נחוּשׁה a bow of brazen = of brass, as in Job 20:24. It is also the manner of heroes in Homer and in the Ram-jana to press down and bend with their hand a brazen bow, one end of which rests on the ground.
(Heb.: 18:36-37) Yet it is not the brazen bow in itself that makes him victorious, but the helpful strength of his God. "Shield of Thy salvation" is that consisting of Thy salvation. מגן has an unchangeable , as it has always. The salvation of Jahve covered him as a shield, from which every stroke of the foe rebounded; the right hand of Jahve supported him that his hands might not become feeble in the conflict. In its ultimate cause it is the divine ענוה, to which he must trace back his greatness, i.e., God's lowliness, by virtue of which His eyes look down upon that which is on the earth (Psa 113:6), and the poor and contrite ones are His favourite dwelling-place (Isa 57:15; Isa 66:1.); cf. B. Megilla 31a, "wherever Scripture testifies of the גבורה of the Holy One, blessed be He, it gives prominence also, in connection with it, to His condescension, ענותנוּתו, as in Deu 10:17 and in connection with it Deu 10:18, Isa 57:15 and Isa 57:15, Psa 68:5 and Psa 68:6." The rendering of Luther, who follows the lxx and Vulgate, "When Thou humblest me, Thou makest me great" is opposed by the fact that ענוה means the bending of one's self, and not of another. What is intended is, that condescension of God to mankind, and especially to the house of David, which was in operation, with an ultimate view to the incarnation, in the life of the son of Jesse from the time of his anointing to his death, viz., the divine χρηστότης καὶ φιλανθρωπία (Tit 3:4), which elected the shepherd boy to be king, and did not cast him off even when he fell into sin and his infirmities became manifest. To enlarge his steps under any one is equivalent to securing him room for freedom of motion (cf. the opposite form of expression in Pro 4:12). Jahve removed the obstacles of his course out of the way, and steeled his ankles so that he stood firm in fight and endured till he came off victorious. The praet. מעדו substantiates what, without any other indication of it, is required by the consecutio temporum, viz., that everything here has a retrospective meaning.
(Heb.: 18:38-41) Thus in God's strength, with the armour of God, and by God's assistance in fight, he smote, cast down, and utterly destroyed all his foes in foreign and in civil wars. According to the Hebrew syntax the whole of this passage is a retrospect. The imperfect signification of the futures in Psa 18:38, Psa 18:39 is made clear from the aorist which appears in Psa 18:40, and from the perfects and futures in what follows it. The strophe begins with an echo of Exo 15:9 (cf. supra Psa 7:6). The poet calls his opponents קמי, as in Psa 18:49, Psa 44:6; Psa 74:23, cf. קימנוּ Job 22:20, inasmuch as קוּם by itself has the sense of rising up in hostility and consequently one can say קמי instead of עלי קמים (קומים Kg2 16:7).
(Note: In the language of the Beduins kôm is war, feud, and kômānı̂ (denominative from kōm) my enemy (hostis); kōm also has the signification of a collective of kōmānı̂, and one can equally well say: entum waijânâ kôm, you and we are enemies, and: bênâtnâ kôm, there is war between us.)
The frequent use of this phrase (e.g., Ps 36:13, Lam 1:14) shows that קום in Psa 18:39 does not mean "to stand (resist)," but "to rise (again)." The phrase נתן ערף, however, which in other passages has those fleeing as its subject (Ch2 29:6), is here differently applied: Thou gavest, or madest me mine enemies a back, i.e., those who turn back, as in Exo 23:27. From Psa 21:13 (תּשׁיתמו שׁכם, Symm. τάξεις αὐτοὺς ἀποστρόφους) it becomes clear that ערף is not an accusative of the member beside the accusative of the person (as e.g., in Deu 33:11), but an accusative of the factitive object according to Ges. 139, 2.
(Heb.: 18:42-43) Their prayer to their gods, wrung from them by their distress, and even to Jahve, was in vain, because it was for their cause, and too late put up to Him. על = על; in Psa 42:2 the two prepositions are interchanged. Since we do not pulverize dust but to dust, כּעפר is to be taken as describing the result: so that they became as dust (cf. Job 38:30, כּאכן, so that it is become like stone, and the extreme of such pregnant brevity of expression in Isa 41:2) before the wind (על־פּני as in Ch2 3:17, before the front). The second figure is to be explained differently: I emptied them out (אריקם from הריק) like the dirt of the streets, i.e., not merely: so that they became such, but as one empties it out, - thus contemptuously, ignominiously and completely (cf. Isa 10:6; Zac 10:5). The lxx renders it λεανῶ from הרק (root רק to stretch, make thin, cf. tendo tenius, dehnen dnn); and the text of 2 Sam 22 present the same idea in אדיקם.
(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 Isa 49:8, and קנאת־עם in Isa 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 Psa 18:45 is the reflexive of שׁמע, to obey (e.g., Exo 24:7), and is therefore to be rendered: show themselves obedient (= Ithpa. in Dan 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 Sa2 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. Psa 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 (Exo 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. Ps 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 = אימתא דמותא (vid., the Targums on Deu 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, Mic 7:17, favours our rendering.
(Heb.: 18:47-49) The hymn now draws towards the end with praise and thanksgiving for the multitude of God's mighty deeds, which have just been displayed. Like the (צוּרי) בּרוּך which is always doxological, חי ה (vivus Jahve) is meant as a predicate clause, but is read with the accent of an exclamation just as in the formula of an oath, which is the same expression; and in the present instance it has a doxological meaning. Accordingly וירוּם also signifies "exalted be," in which sense it is written וירם (וירם = וירם) in the other text. There are three doxological utterances drawn from the events which have just been celebrated in song. That which follows, from האל onwards, describes Jahve once more as the living, blessed (εὐλογητόν), and exalted One, which He has shown Himself to be. From ויּדבּר we see that הנּותן is to be resolved as an imperfect. The proofs of vengeance, נקמות, are called God's gift, insofar as He has rendered it possible to him to punish the attacks upon his own dignity and the dignity of his people, or to witness the punishment of such insults (e.g., in the case of Nabal); for divine vengeance is a securing by punishment (vindicatio) of the inviolability of the right. It is questionable whether הדבּיר (synonym רדד, Psa 144:2) here and in Psa 47:4 means "to bring to reason" as an intensive of דּבר, to drive (Ges.); the more natural meaning is "to turn the back" according to the Arabic adbara (Hitzig), cf. dabar, dabre, flight, retreat; debira to be wounded behind; medbûr, wounded in the back. The idea from which הדביר gains the meaning "to subdue" is that of flight, in which hostile nations, overtaken from behind, sank down under him (Psa 45:6); but the idea that is fully worked out in Psa 129:3, Isa 51:23, is by no means remote. With מפלטי the assertion takes the form of an address. מן רומם does not differ from Psa 9:14 : Thou liftest me up away from mine enemies, so that I hover above them and triumph over them. The climactic אף, of which poetry is fond, here unites two thoughts of a like import to give intensity of expression to the one idea. The participle is followed by futures: his manifold experience is concentrated in one general ideal expression.
(Heb.: 18:50-51) The praise of so blessed a God, who acts towards David as He has promised him, shall not be confined within the narrow limits of Israel. When God's anointed makes war with the sword upon the heathen, it is, in the end, the blessing of the knowledge of Jahve for which he opens up the way, and the salvation of Jahve, which he thus mediatorially helps on. Paul has a perfect right to quote Psa 18:50 of this Psalm (Rom 15:9), together with Deu 32:43 and Psa 117:1, as proof that salvation belongs to the Gentiles also, according to the divine purpose of mercy. What is said in Psa 18:50 as the reason and matter of the praise that shall go forth beyond Israel, is an echo of the Messianic promises in Sa2 7:12-16 which is perfectly reconcileable with the Davidic authorship of the Psalm, as Hitzig acknowledges. And Theodoret does not wrongly appeal to the closing words עד־עולם against the Jews. In whom, but in Christ, the son of David, has the fallen throne of David any lasting continuance, and in whom, but in Christ, has all that has been promised to the seed of David eternal truth and reality? The praise of Jahve, the God of David, His anointed, is, according to its ultimate import, a praising of the Father of Jesus Christ.