2Sa 22 // Psa 18. The superscription of Psa 18 reads: "OF
DAVID THE SERVANT OF THE LORD. HE SANG TO THE LORD THE WORDS OF THIS SONG WHEN
THE LORD DELIVERED HIM FROM THE HAND OF ALL HIS ENEMIES AND FROM THE HAND OF
SAUL. HE SAID...": Places the psa somewhere between 2Sa 6 and 2Sa 11 -- for it
is inconceivable that vv 22-24 were written after the time of David's great
lapse, and the allusions in the second half of the psa to the northern tribes
and Gentile enemies require that David be king in Jerusalem when writing these
Consider allusions to Deu 32; 1Sa 2 (song of Hannah); and Gen
ROCK: "Sela" = strength or refuge. Hence no further
need for "Selah" in Psa 18!
FORTRESS: Heb "metsudah" is a mighty fortress from
which military campaigns might be launched. It is applied to Zion in 2Sa
5:7,9,17 and 1Ch 11:5,7,16. Translated "bulwark" (Ecc 9:14; Deu 20:20),
"munition" (Isa 29:7; 33:16; Nah 2:1), "stronghold" (2Sa 5:7), and "castle" (1Ch
11:5,7). Thus God is both the place of defense (Sela), and the place from which
a victorious attack may be launched. In Pss, "metsudah" occurs in Psa 31:3;
66:11; 71:3; 91:2; 144:2.
ROCK: Heb "tsur", ref to altar rock on threshing floor
of Ornan: 2Sa 24:18-25. The title "Tsur" is used of God in vv 31,46; Psa 28:1;
62:2,7; 78:35; etc.
IN WHOM I TAKE REFUGE: Quoted conc Messiah in Heb 2:13.
This particular Heb word comes 24 times in Pss, an indication of Christ's need
to lean on God.
THE HORN OF MY SALVATION: Psa 132:17. Those in danger
of death at the hand of an avenger fled for mercy to the horns of the altar: 1Ki
1:50; 2:28; Exo 21:14.
STRONGHOLD: Heb "misgab".
REFUGE: Heb "menuch".
Christ's prayer on the mount.
Vv 5-7: Not easy to connect to David's reign, but easy
regarding the Lord Jesus. God is the "rock" (Psa 18:1,2,46) upon which man
builds his "house" of faith, so as to survive the "floods" (Psa 18:15 also). The
source of Christ's parable in Mat 7:24-27.
WAVES OF DEATH: Explained in Psa 118:27 as a figure for
sacrifice: esp the sacrifice of Christ (cp LXX and Act 2:24: "the pains of
THE WAVES OF DEATH ENTANGLED ME: Prob another hunting
metaphor: a circle of nets (cp Psa 17:9-13).
THE TORRENTS OF DESTRUCTION: A different figure of
speech, as in the "many waters" of Psa 18:16. Another Messianic psa applies it
very powerfully to the death of Christ: Psa 69:1,2,14,15.
DESTRUCTION: "Belial", one meaning of which may be "the
Lord of night" (cp 2Sa 23:6).
Vv 7-15: In answer to the desperate prayer God manifested
Himself in a marvelous "theophany": vivid brightness, intense darkness, and a
mighty voice, as at Sinai.
IN MY DISTRESS I CALLED TO THE LORD: True of both
Gethsemane (Heb 5:7) and Golgotha, but the context here requires the second of
I CRIED OUT TO MY GOD: "Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani"
FROM HIS TEMPLE HE HEARD MY VOICE: Hence the rending of
the veil of the temple -- from top to bottom, that is, by divine and not human
or "natural" agency (Mat 27:51; Mar 15:38; Luk 23:45).
HIS TEMPLE: Some time after 2Sa 6, when tabernacle was
set up in Zion. Heaven is the temple, or dwelling place, of Jehovah; but He
dwells also in the most holy place, to which David is turning his attention: Psa
11:4. In the sanctuary, God is surrounded by the thick darkness (v 11). In Psa
20:2,6; 2Ch 7:1; and Lev 9:24, "heaven" is parallel to God's "sanctuary". The
"door in heaven" (Rev 4:1) is // to the "heavenly places" (Eph 1:3) -- ie an
insight into the fortunes of God's saints, whom He protects and tries (Psa
(NT) Vv 8-16: An impressive manifestation of God; belongs to
the time of the Crucifixion. Esp important is the paradox of contrasting
phrases: there is both (a) darkness, and (b) vivid brightness. This is
reminiscent of Sinai but esp of Israel's deliverance from Egypt (Exo 14:20), and
also of God's covenant with Abraham (Gen 15:7). The Shekinah Glory of God was
darkness to the Egyptians, but brightness and light to the Hebrews. Now,
similarly, at the crucifixion: "darkness over all the land from the sixth to the
ninth hour" (Mat 27:45), expressing God's anger with His enemies. But there was
brightness and light for Jesus. JT (Phan 57) applies this paragraph to the
Second Coming. It is true, of course, that then Jesus will come "in the glory of
his Father" (Mat 16:27). But the context here (esp vv 4-6) calls for a different
A great earthquake is also coupled with the cherubim and the
salvation of God in Psa 68:7,8; 77:14-20; 114:6,7. This section bears a great
resemblance to Hab 3, in which the Holy One is pictured as coming in clouds. The
Psalmist (as Habakkuk also) sees a re-creation of God's glory in the march of
the avenging cherubim. Many other LD prophecies mention the cloud, poss the dark
cloud to obscure the Shekinah Glory of Jehovah: Joe 2:2; Zep 1:15; Eze 30:3; Isa
19:1; 25:5; Rev 1:7. The revelation of God in His glory is shown against the
background of an awesome storm.
THE EARTH TREMBLED AND QUAKED... BECAUSE HE WAS ANGRY:
"Trembled"/"quaked" = Heb "wayyigash/wayyirash". Earthquake is an expression of
the wrath of God: Job 9:5,6; Isa 2:19,21; Eze 38:18-20; Hag 2:6,21; Heb 12:26;
Act 16:25,26. There was no greater wrath than at the crucifixion of God's Son:
SMOKE: Shekinah cloud in Gen 15:17; Isa 6:4; Joe
CONSUMING FIRE CAME FROM HIS MOUTH: A further
expression of divine anger: Deu 32:22; cp also Rev 19:15. But not so for Jesus,
for whom it was the comforting presence of his Father.
BURNING COALS: Kindled a rededication in the crucified
malefactor, as with Isaiah the prophet: Isa 6:6,7 (and perhaps Rom
HE PARTED THE HEAVENS AND CAME DOWN: The thick rolling
clouds of the approaching storm would seem lit to bring heaven down to the
earth. So this is poss equivalent to "a door opened in heaven" (Rev 4:1).
Certainly it is the language of "theophany": a divine manifestation, as in Gen
11:5; 18:21; Exo 3:7,8; 19:11,18,20; Isa 64:1.
HE MOUNTED THE CHERUBIM: "He rode" (AV): cp 1Ch 28:18:
"the chariot of the cherubim". See Lesson, Cherubim.
HE SOARED: On eagles' wings: Eze 1:6-9.
THE WINGS OF THE WIND: But in Heb "wind" is also
"Spirit". Cp Deu 33:26; Psa 68:33; 104:3; Nah 1:3.
CANOPY: Protection for Joshua/Jesus: Psa 91:1,4. Heb
succoth, tabernacle, booth, "canopy" (RSV, NEB, NIV) -- from the Feast of
Tabernacles: Lev 23:34,42,43; Deu 16:13,16; Psa 31:20,21; Isa 4:6; Amo 9:11; Zec
DARK RAIN CLOUDS: To obscure the Shekinah Glory of the
Most Holy: cp Dan 7:13; Rev 1:7; 1Th 4:17; esp Deu 4:11; Job 22:14; Psa 27:5;
THE BRIGHTNESS OF HIS PRESENCE: Heb "nogah" always ref
the Shekinah Glory (Isa 4:5; 60:3,19; Eze 1:4,13, 27,28; 10:4; Hab 3:4,11). LXX
has a word for "far-shining, conspicuous from a distance". The only NT
occurrence is in Mar 8:25. But here the special force of the word is of
sacrifice accepted (Psa 80:1). What better assurance could Jesus have as he hung
on the cross? At the crucifixion Jesus was not really deserted by his Father.
Even the words which seem to point this way (Psa 22:1) are immediately set in
true perspective in Psa 22:24. Under the Law the evidence of the sacrifice was
always to be brought before the Lord -- blood poured out at the base of the
altar of burnt-offering, blood on the horns of the altar of incense, blood
before the veil, blood on the mercy-seat itself. In the death of Jesus, this
supreme sacrifice could not be brought into the temple, so instead the veil was
rent and the Glory of the Lord came to Jesus!
THE LORD THUNDERED: As in Joh 12:29, the Father spoke
reassuringly to His Son on the cross.
Note the parallelism: arrows with lightnings (cp Psa 77:17).
Jehovah is the God of war and the God of storm. The same word for lightning
occurs in other visions of the Shekinah Glory: Exo 19:16; Deu 32:41
("glittering"); Hab 3:4.
VALLEYS: Heb "aphikim", watercourses, constrained by
rocky channels. Similar to the Heb wadis, dry creek beds, which flow only
spasmodically, after great rains: Psa 42:1; Job 6:15; Isa 8:7. The rage of the
great storm spends itself in the flood torrents.
THE FOUNDATIONS OF THE EARTH (WERE) LAID BARE: This is
the earthquake of Mat 27:51,52. And by the resurrection of these saints on the
third day it was demonstrated that the merits of the Lord's sacrifice and the
power of his resurrection are not only prospective in their force (to apply even
to believers today), but also are retrospective, right back to Adam the
"foundation" of mankind (Rom 3:25; Heb 9:15; consider the sym of Jos
THE BLAST OF BREATH FROM HIS NOSTRILS: Cp Exo 15:8, the
song of Moses, where God with the blast of His nostrils parted the Red Sea.
Remarkably, this LXX word comes only in Act 9:1. What a ct! But Saul of Tarsus
certainly thought himself to be the righteous anger of God at work.
Vv 17-20 speak very clearly of an extraordinary deliverance.
But it is difficult to identify which. Perhaps the singular and plural in v 18
ref Saul and the later Gentile adversaries described in 2Sa 8.
NT: These vv, as describing the deliverance of Christ,
require no commentary. In v 18 the singular and plural are the power of Sin (Heb
2:14; Rom 7:17,20) and of Sin's disciples, the Jewish rulers (Joh
HE REACHED... TOOK HOLD... DREW OUT: Key words same as
in Exo 2:5,10: "Drew out" is "mashah"/Moses: deliverance of the Deliverer, so
that he might then deliver others!
A SPACIOUS PLACE: David is commemorating his
deliverance from the dens and caves of the rocks (Psa 18:36; Psa
HE RESCUED ME BECAUSE HE DELIGHTED IN ME: This is the
Divine answer to the derisive statement of Mat 27:43: "Let [God] deliver him,
now, if he will have him." He did! Cp also Psa 22:8.
Vv 21-25 (NT): Re Jesus, the refs to righteousness are
strictly and lit true: Joh 4:34; 6:38; 8:46; 1Pe 2:22; Heb 4:15; 7:26; 2Co 5:21;
1Jo 3:5; Isa 53:9,11. But so also are the words: "I kept myself from mine
iniquity" (AV), for there was in him the legacy of a propensity to sin which is
the lot of all who are in Adam. For the strange paradox of righteousness and
"sin" in the suffering Messiah, see Psa 25:11,15; 38:1,3,5,20; 40:8,10,12;
OT: Apt commentary on such passages as 1Sa 24:19. These
vv (21-25) describe the righteousness of David relative to his adversaries. But
there is that sinister phrase in v 24: "I kept myself from sin" -- it was only
through the effort of Abigail, in a desperate attempt to avert David's hostility
from her husband Nabal (1Sa 25:23), that even the righteous David was spared
from such guilt.
A principle developed in the Lord's prayer: "For if ye forgive
men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: but if ye
forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your
trespasses" (Mat 6:14,15; cp also Mat 18:33-35; Jam 2:13). And, conversely,
God's ways do not appear right to those who themselves are not upright: cp Mat
In this section of the psa there are several indirect
allusions to certain of the tribes of Israel. These refs are appropriate to the
gathering of all 12 tribes in loyalty to David: 2Sa 5:1-3.
TO THE CROOKED: Lev 26:23,24,27,28. Also, Pro
YOU SHOW YOURSELF SHREWD: "Will wrestle" -- an allusion
to Gen 32:24, the only other OT occurrence, to which Eph 6:12 also refers.
Consider Jesus' rebukes of Peter.
Vv 28-32: Vindication! David's own personal experiences are
traceable somewhat more readily.
NT: The vindication of God's Messiah leads on to a
sustained picture of triumph over his enemies.
Light/darkness symbolize prosperity/affliction or death. See
the usage in Job 21:17; 29:3; Pro 13:9; 20:20. The judgment of the wicked is
pictured as being cast into "outer darkness" (Mat 8:12; 22:13).
LAMP: David is called the "light (or candle: AV) of
Israel" in 2Sa 21:17 (cp 1Ki 11:36; 15:4). Psa 132:17 speaks of "a lamp for mine
anointed", in a psa which repeats David's resolve to see a worthy sanctuary of
the Lord in Zion. Cp Mic 7:8; Rev 21:23 (ct Rev 18:23).
Vv 30-41: Numerous comparisons in this section with the
prophecy of Jacob: troop (Psa 18:29; Gen 49:19); wall (Psa 18:29; Gen 49:22);
deer (Psa 18:33; Gen 49:21); bow (Psa 18:34; Gen 49:24); neck of enemies (Psa
18:40; Gen 49:8).
V 30: A vivid description of the shock-tactics, the
sudden assaults, used by General David against the Philistines. Cp also the
exploits of David's "mighty men" in 2Sa 23.
I CAN ADVANCE AGAINST A TROOP: Links with David's
victory over the marauding Amalekites in 1Sa 30:15,17. (As in v 33, David and
his men are seen to be fighting on foot, while from the time of Solomon onward
the kings of Israel resorted most often to chariots for war: 1Ki 22:34; 2Ki
NT: The angel of God striking down the soldiers
assigned to guard the tomb of Jesus, so that he might escape the "prison" of
death (Mat 28:2,4).
WITH MY GOD I CAN SCALE A WALL: Is this the taking of
the Jebusite stronghold (2Sa 5)? NT: Firstly, the "wall" of armed guards at the
tomb. Then, Eph 2:14 and context impart a splendid meaning to this enigmatic
phrase: the wall of legalistic separation between Jews and Gentiles, and of
course the wall of division between God and man.
ROCK... GOD: The altar of burnt-offering: 2Sa
Vv 33-46: The historical background to this section is, on the
whole, 2Sa 8: when David's new kingdom was in danger of being overwhelmed by a
host of enemies (see Psa 60 and comments). But here and there David seems to
look back to the evil days of Saul's hostility.
Vv 33-36, along with Isaiah's words (Isa 59:16,17), appear to
be the OT origin of Paul's exposition of the "armor of righteousness" (Eph
HE MAKES MY FEET LIKE THE FEET OF A DEER: To tread down
the wicked: Rev 1:15; Psa 58:10,11; Mic 4:1-3,11-13; Eze 1:7; Song 2:8; Eur
DEER: A beautiful wild creature. Its sureness of foot
and speed form the basis of this oft-used Scriptural figure. Moses, in Deu
32:13, speaks of God as "He (that) made him (Israel) to ride on the high places
of the earth." "Naphtali is a hind let loose" (Gen 49:21), or sent forth, to
preach the gospel (Rom 10:15; Isa 52:7). "How beautiful are his feet!"
MY ARMS CAN BEND A BOW OF BRONZE: Actual metal bows
(most likely, wooden bows strengthened with strips of metal) were often used in
Bible times (as in Job 20:24). // Gen 49:24, where it is said of 'Joseph' that
God makes his arms strong. More specifically, this is a description of Christ,
like Joseph the son favored over all his brethren, the son of man whom God made
strong for Himself (Psa 80:1,15,17).
YOU STOOP DOWN TO MAKE ME GREAT: "Thy gentleness hath
made me strong" (AV). Jacob, made lame by the angel, then made spiritually
strong again through prayer, lifted up to go forth with "enlarged" steps to meet
Esau: Gen 32.
Psa 18 (and 2Sa 22) is majestic and warlike throughout; its
theme is vengeance and victory. All the destructive elements of nature are
marshaled on the side of Omnipotence, but right in the midst of it we read of
the "gentleness", the "meekness", the "condescension" of the Almighty. What
better way to remind us that the awesome destructive power is but the outer
fringe of the garments of the Lord. The Lord is not really in the wind, the
earthquake, nor the fire (1Ki 19:11,12). They are but the passing manifestations
of His fury -- they endure only for the moment, but the still small voice of
gentle strength remains forever. Whirlwind and earthquake and flame -- those
great evidences of His might -- can pull down and purify and consume, but His
gentleness alone can build up and make great (see also Psa 113:4-6).
Note the progression of the battle (or better, the rout!):
pursue... overtake... destroy... crush (v 39)... But in the antitype again,
David's 30 mighty men of war (2Sa 23) are destined to give way to Christ's
"double portion" of 60 mighty men (Song 3:7,8), the symbolic Cherubim.
FELL BENEATH MY FEET: Psa 8:6; Mat 28:18; 1Co 15:27;
YOU ARMED ME WITH STRENGTH: Rev 1:13; 15:6. First we
must be girded with righteousness, as was Christ (Isa 11:5; Psa 132:9; Job
29:14; 1Pe 5:5; Eph 6 -- the whole armor of God). Then we may expect to be
girded with the strength of eternal life and Spirit.
This can only refer to David's enemies among his own people --
Saul, for example: 1Sa 28:6. Cp "the strivings of the people": LXX: contentions,
railings; and here the word for people is the word which normally describes
NT: How bitterly this was fulfilled in AD 70, and many
times since. Ct v 6.
FOREIGNERS COME CRINGING TO ME: Lit "shall yield
feigned obedience", or "come cringing" (NEB) -- which is precisely the situation
in Psa 2:2,3 when Messiah is already king on Mount Zion. Cp the figure of speech
in Psa 81:15; 66:3; Deu 33:29 mg.
God as the Avenger of David: "May the LORD judge between you
and me. And may the LORD avenge the wrongs you have done to me, but my hand will
not touch you" (1Sa 24:12).
NT: Here is an anticipation of the Son's ultimate
subjection to the Father: 1Co 15:28.
Jerusalem the holy city, under both David and Christ, is
lifted up above all surrounding nations and cities (Isa 2:2,3; Zec
14:4,5,10,16). The holy city is exalted above the man of violence, or the "man
of sin" (2Th 2).
Paul quotes this v in Rom 15:9 (along with Deu 30:43; Psa
117:1; Isa 11:10) as proof that Gentiles are to have a share in the gospel. The
implicit argument is this: If Gentiles are to take part willingly and gladly in
the great Messianic thanksgiving in the Kingdom, must not their thanksgiving
look back joyfully to their earlier redemption from ignorance and sin? The theme
is continued in Psa 19:4,6.
I WILL SING PRAISES TO YOUR NAME: Lit "To thy name will
I sweep the strings."
GREAT VICTORIES: "Salvations". An intensive plural
anticipating the name of Jesus, just as "Anointed" (here also) is the same as
Christ! Same combination in Psa 28:8.
HE SHOWS UNFAILING KINDNESS TO HIS ANOINTED, TO DAVID AND
TO HIS DESCENDANTS FOREVER: An allusion to the great promise made to David
in 2Sa 7:13. There can be but one true "Seed" of David (cp Gal 3:16).