David's psalm of thanksgiving for God's powerful deliverance and manifold blessings, including prophetic declarations relative to the humiliation and exaltation of the Messiah, vv. 1-51.
And David spake unto the LORD the words of this song in the day that the LORD had delivered him out of the hand of all his enemies, and out of the hand of Saul:David spake unto the Lord the words of this song - This is the same in substance, and almost in words, with Psalm 18:1-50, and therefore the exposition of it must be reserved till it occurs in its course in that book, with the exception of a very few observations, and Dr. Kennicott's general view of the subject.
And he said, The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer;
The God of my rock; in him will I trust: he is my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my high tower, and my refuge, my saviour; thou savest me from violence.
I will call on the LORD, who is worthy to be praised: so shall I be saved from mine enemies.
When the waves of death compassed me, the floods of ungodly men made me afraid;When the waves of death compassed me - Though in a primary sense many of these things belong to David, yet generally and fully they belong to the Messiah alone.
The sorrows of hell compassed me about; the snares of death prevented me;
In my distress I called upon the LORD, and cried to my God: and he did hear my voice out of his temple, and my cry did enter into his ears.
Then the earth shook and trembled; the foundations of heaven moved and shook, because he was wroth.
There went up a smoke out of his nostrils, and fire out of his mouth devoured: coals were kindled by it.
He bowed the heavens also, and came down; and darkness was under his feet.
And he rode upon a cherub, and did fly: and he was seen upon the wings of the wind.He rode upon a cherub, and did fly - he was seen upon the things of the wind - In the original of this sublime passage, sense and sound are astonishingly well connected. I shall insert the Hebrew, represent it in English letters for the sake of the unlearned reader, and have only to observe, he must read from the right to the left.
רוח כנפי על וירא ויעף כרוב על וירכב ruach canphey al vaiyera vaiyaoph kerub al vayirkab wind the of wings the upon seen was he and; fly did and cherub upon rode he
The clap of the wing, the agitation and rush through the air are expressed here in a very extraordinary manner.
Other beauties of this kind will be noted in the exposition of the Psalm alluded to above.
I now subjoin Dr. Kennicott's remarks on this chapter: -
"The very sublime poetry contained in this chapter is universally admired, and yet it cannot be perfectly understood, till it is known Who is the speaker, who the person thus triumphant over mighty enemies, whose Sufferings occasioned such a dreadful convulsion of nature, and, who, upon his deliverance, inflicted such vengeance on his own people, and also became thus a king over the heathen. Should we be told that this person was David, it will be very difficult to show how this description can possibly agree with that character: but if it did in fact agree, yet would it contradict St. Paul, who quotes part of it as predicting the conversion of the Gentiles under Christ the Messiah. Romans 15:9; Hebrews 2:13; and see Peirce's Commentary, p. 50. Now if the person represented as speaking through this Divine ode be David only, the Messiah is excluded. In consequence of the difficulties resulting from each of these suppositions, the general idea has been that it relates both to David and to the Messiah as a prophecy of a double sense; first, as spoken by David of himself, and yet to be understood in a secondary sense, of the Messiah. But it must be remarked here, that if spoken only of David, it is not a prediction of any thing future, but a thanksgiving for favors past, and therefore is no prophecy at all. And farther, it could not be a prophecy descriptive of David unless the particulars agreed to David, which they evidently do not. If then David be here necessarily excluded from the single sense, he must be excluded also from the double sense, because nothing can be intended by any sacred writer, to relate to two persons, unless it be True of both; but it not being the case here as to David, we must conclude that this song relates only to the Messiah; and on this subject an excellent Dissertation, by the late Mr. Peirce, is subjoined to his comment on the Epistle to the Hebrews. It may be necessary to add here two remarks: the twenty-fourth verse now ends with, I have kept myself from mine iniquity, which words, it is objected, are not proper, if applied to the Messiah. But this difficulty is removed, in part, by the context, which represents the speaker as perfectly innocent and righteous; and this exactly agrees with the proof arising from the Syriac and Arabic versions, and also the Chaldee paraphrase, that this word was anciently מעונים ab iniquitatibus; consequently, this is one of the many instances where the ם final mem is improperly omitted by the Jewish transcribers. See my General Dissertation. Lastly, the difficulty arising from the title, which ascribes the Psalm to David, and which seems to make him the speaker in it, may be removed, either by supposing that the title here, like those now prefixed to several Psalms, is of no sufficient authority; or rather, by considering this title as only meant to describe the time when David composed this prophetic hymn, that when delivered from all his other enemies as well as from the hand of Saul, he then consecrated his leisure by composing this sublime prophecy concerning Messiah, his son, whom he represents here as speaking, (just as in Psalm 22, 40, and other places), and as describing,
1. His triumph over death and hell;
2. The manifestations of Omnipotence in his favor, earth and heaven, trembling at God's awful presence;
3. The speaker's innocence thus divinely attested;
4. The vengeance he was to take on his own people the Jews, in the destruction of Jerusalem; and,
5. The adoption of the heathen, over whom he was to be the head and ruler.
"Another instance of a title denoting only the time of a prophecy, occurs in the very next chapter; where a prophecy concerning the Messiah is entitled, The Last words of David; i.e., a hymn which he composed a little before his death, after all his other prophecies. And perhaps this ode in 2 Samuel 22, which immediately precedes that in 2 Samuel 23, was composed but a little while before; namely, when all his wars were over. Let it be added, that Josephus, immediately before he speaks of David's mighty men, which follow in this same chapter of Samuel, considers the two hymns in 2 Samuel 22 and 23, as both written after his wars were over - Jam Davides, bellis et periculis perfunctus, pacemque deinceps profundam agitans, odas in Deum hymnosque composuit. Tom. i., page 401."
And he made darkness pavilions round about him, dark waters, and thick clouds of the skies.
Through the brightness before him were coals of fire kindled.
The LORD thundered from heaven, and the most High uttered his voice.
And he sent out arrows, and scattered them; lightning, and discomfited them.
And the channels of the sea appeared, the foundations of the world were discovered, at the rebuking of the LORD, at the blast of the breath of his nostrils.
He sent from above, he took me; he drew me out of many waters;
He delivered me from my strong enemy, and from them that hated me: for they were too strong for me.
They prevented me in the day of my calamity: but the LORD was my stay.
He brought me forth also into a large place: he delivered me, because he delighted in me.
The LORD rewarded me according to my righteousness: according to the cleanness of my hands hath he recompensed me.
For I have kept the ways of the LORD, and have not wickedly departed from my God.
For all his judgments were before me: and as for his statutes, I did not depart from them.
I was also upright before him, and have kept myself from mine iniquity.
Therefore the LORD hath recompensed me according to my righteousness; according to my cleanness in his eye sight.
With the merciful thou wilt shew thyself merciful, and with the upright man thou wilt shew thyself upright.
With the pure thou wilt shew thyself pure; and with the froward thou wilt shew thyself unsavoury.
And the afflicted people thou wilt save: but thine eyes are upon the haughty, that thou mayest bring them down.
For thou art my lamp, O LORD: and the LORD will lighten my darkness.
For by thee I have run through a troop: by my God have I leaped over a wall.
As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the LORD is tried: he is a buckler to all them that trust in him.
For who is God, save the LORD? and who is a rock, save our God?
God is my strength and power: and he maketh my way perfect.
He maketh my feet like hinds' feet: and setteth me upon my high places.
He teacheth my hands to war; so that a bow of steel is broken by mine arms.
Thou hast also given me the shield of thy salvation: and thy gentleness hath made me great.
Thou hast enlarged my steps under me; so that my feet did not slip.
I have pursued mine enemies, and destroyed them; and turned not again until I had consumed them.
And I have consumed them, and wounded them, that they could not arise: yea, they are fallen under my feet.
For thou hast girded me with strength to battle: them that rose up against me hast thou subdued under me.
Thou hast also given me the necks of mine enemies, that I might destroy them that hate me.
They looked, but there was none to save; even unto the LORD, but he answered them not.
Then did I beat them as small as the dust of the earth, I did stamp them as the mire of the street, and did spread them abroad.
Thou also hast delivered me from the strivings of my people, thou hast kept me to be head of the heathen: a people which I knew not shall serve me.
Strangers shall submit themselves unto me: as soon as they hear, they shall be obedient unto me.
Strangers shall fade away, and they shall be afraid out of their close places.
The LORD liveth; and blessed be my rock; and exalted be the God of the rock of my salvation.
It is God that avengeth me, and that bringeth down the people under me,
And that bringeth me forth from mine enemies: thou also hast lifted me up on high above them that rose up against me: thou hast delivered me from the violent man.
Therefore I will give thanks unto thee, O LORD, among the heathen, and I will sing praises unto thy name.
He is the tower of salvation for his king: and sheweth mercy to his anointed, unto David, and to his seed for evermore.