Keil and Delitzsch OT Commentary
David's Psalm of Thanksgiving for Victory over All His Enemies - 2 Samuel 22
In the following psalm of thanksgiving, David praises the Lord as his deliverer out of all dangers during his agitated life and conflicts with his foes (2 Samuel 22:2-4). In the first half he pictures his marvellous deliverance out of all the troubles which he passed through, especially in the time of Saul's persecutions, under the image of an extraordinary theophany (vv. 5-20), and unfolds the ground of this deliverance (2 Samuel 22:21-28). In the second half he proclaims the mighty help of the Lord, and his consequent victories over the foreign enemies of his government (vv. 29-46), and closes with renewed praise of God for all His glorious deeds (2 Samuel 22:47-51). The psalm is thus arranged in two leading divisions, with an introductory and concluding strophe. But we cannot discover any definite system of strophes in the further arrangement of the principal divisions, as the several groups of thoughts are not rounded off symmetrically.
The contents and form of this song of praise answer to the fact attested by the heading, that it was composed by David in the later years of his reign, when God had rescued him from all his foes, and helped his kingdom to victory over all the neighbouring heathen nations. The genuineness of the psalm is acknowledged to be indisputable by all the modern critics, except J. Olshausen and Hupfeld,
(Note: Even Hitzig observes (die Psalmen, i. p. 95): "There is no ground whatever for calling in question the Davidic authorship of the psalm, and therefore the statement made in the heading; and, in fact, there is all the more reason for adhering to it, because it is attested twice. The recurrence of the psalm as one of Davidic origin in 2 Samuel 22 is of some weight, since not the slightest suspicion attaches to any of the other songs of sayings attributed to David in the second book of Samuel (e.g., 2 Samuel 3:33-34; 2 Samuel 5:8; 2 Samuel 7:18-29; 2 Samuel 23:1-7). Moreover, the psalm is evidently ancient, and suited to the classical period of the language and its poetry. 2 Samuel 22:31 is quoted as early as Proverbs 30:5, and 2 Samuel 22:34 in Habakkuk 3:19. The psalm was also regarded as Davidic at a very early period, as the 'diaskeuast' of the second book of Samuel met with the heading, which attributes the psalm to David. No doubt this opinion might be founded upon 2 Samuel 22:51; and with perfect justice if it were: for if the psalm was not composed by David, it must have been composed in his name and spirit; and who could have been this contemporaneous and equal poet?" Again, after quoting several thoroughly Davidic signs, he says at p. 96: "It is very obvious with how little justice the words of 2 Samuel 22:51, relating to 2 Samuel 7:12-16, 2 Samuel 7:26, 2 Samuel 7:29, have been pronounced spurious. Besides, the psalm can no more have concluded with למשׁיחו (2 Samuel 22:51) than with 2 Samuel 22:50; and if David refers to himself by name at the commencement in 2 Samuel 23:1, and in the middle in 2 Samuel 7:20, why should he not do the same at the close?")
who, with hypercritical scepticism, dispute the Davidic origin of the psalm on subjective grounds of aesthetic taste. This psalm is found in the Psalter as Psalm 18, though with many divergences in single words and clauses, which do not, however, essentially affect the meaning. Commentators are divided in opinion as to the relation in which the two different forms of the text stand to one another. The idea that the text of 2 Samuel. ests upon a careless copy and tradition must decidedly be rejected: for, on the one hand, by far the larger portion of the deviations in our text from that of the Psalter are not to be attributed to carelessness on the part of copyists, but are evidently alterations made with thoughtfulness and deliberation: e.g., the omission of the very first passage (2 Samuel 22:1), "I will love Thee, O Lord, my strength;" the change of צוּרי אלי (my God, my strength, or rock) into צוּרי אלהי (the God of my rock), as "the God of the rock" occurs again in 2 Samuel 22:47 of the text before us; or the substitution of ויּרא (He was seen, 2 Samuel 22:11) for ויּדא (He did fly), etc. On the other hand, the original reading has undoubtedly been retained in many passages of our text, whilst simpler and more common forms have been substituted in that of the Psalms; e.g., in v. 5, מות משׁבּרי instead of מות fo d חבלי; in v. 8, השּׁמים מוסדות (the foundations of the heavens) for הרים מוסדי (the foundations of the hills); in v. 12, השׁרת־מים for חשׁכת־מים; in v. 16, ים אפיקי for מים אפיקי; in v. 28, תּשׁפּיל על־רמים ועניך for תּשׁפּיל רמות וענים; in v. 33, דּרכּו תמים ויּתּר for דּרכּי תמים ויּתּן; and in v. 44, לראשׁ תּשׁמרני for לראשׁ תּשׂימני, and several others. In general, however, the text of the Psalms bears the stamp of poetical originality more than the text before us, and the latter indicates a desire to give greater clearness and simplicity to the poetical style. Consequently neither of the two texts that have come down to us contains the original text of the psalm of David unaltered; but the two recensions have been made quite independently of each other, one for the insertion of the psalm in the Psalter intended for liturgical use, and the other when it was incorporated into the history of David's reign, which formed the groundwork of our books of Samuel. The first revision may have been made by David himself when he arranged his Psalms for liturgical purposes; but the second was effected by the prophetic historian, whose object it was, when inserting David's psalm of praise in the history of his reign, not so much to give it with diplomatic literality, as to introduce it in a form that should be easily intelligible and true to the sense.
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:The heading is formed precisely according to the introductory formula of the song of Moses in Deuteronomy 31:30, and was no doubt taken from the larger historical work employed by the author of our books. It was probably also adopted from this into the canonical collection of the Psalter, and simply brought into conformity with the headings of the other psalms by the alteration of דּוד וידבּר (and David said) into דּבּר עשׁר לדוד יהוה לעבד ("Of David, the servant of the Lord, who spake:" Eng. ver.), and the insertion of למנצּח ("to the chief musician:" Eng. ver.) at the head (see Delitzsch on the Psalms). "In the day," i.e., at the time, "when Jehovah had delivered him." Deliverance "out of the hand of Saul" is specially mentioned, not because this was the last, but because it was the greatest and most glorious, - a deliverance out of the deepest misery into regal might and glory. The psalm is opened by ויּאמר in both texts.
On the differences of the introductory superscription, see on Psalm 18:1. The relation of the prose accentuation of the Psalm in 2 Samuel 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. Psalm 18:7, Psalm 18:16, Psalm 18:31 with 2 Samuel 22:7, 2 Samuel 22:16, 2 Samuel 22:31); instead of Rebia mugrash, here Tiphcha (cf. Psalm 18:4 with 2 Samuel 22:4); instead of Pazer at the beginning of a verse, here Athnach (cf. Psalm 18:2 with 2 Samuel 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 Deuteronomy 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., Psalm 18 has this form in common with 2 Samuel 22.
And he said, The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer;2 Samuel 22:2-4 form the introduction.
2 Jehovah is my rock, my castle, and my deliverer to me;
3 My Rock-God, in whom I:trust:
My shield and horn of my salvation, my fortress and my refuge,
My Saviour; from violence Thou redeemest me.
4 I call upon the praised one, Jehovah,
And I am saved from my enemies.
This introduction contains the sum and substance of the whole psalm, inasmuch as David groups the many experiences of divine deliverance in his agitated life into a long series of predicates, in all of which he extols God as his defence, refuge, and deliverer. The heaping up of these predicates is an expression both of liveliest gratitude, and also of hope for the future. The different predicates, however, are not to be taken as in apposition to Jehovah, or as vocatives, but are declarations concerning God, how He had proved himself faithful to the Psalmist in all the calamities of his life, and would assuredly do so still. David calls God וּמצרתי סלעי (my rock, and my castle) in Psalm 31:4 as well (cf. Psalm 71:4). The two epithets are borrowed from the natural character of Palestine, where steep and almost inaccessible rocks afford protection to the fugitive, as David had often found at the time when Saul was pursuing him (vid., 1 Samuel 24:22; 1 Samuel 22:5). But whilst David took refuge in rocks, he placed his hopes of safety not in their inaccessible character, but in God the Lord, the eternal spiritual rock, whom he could see in the earthly rock, so that he called Him his true castle. לי מפלטי (my deliverer to me) gives the real explanation of the foregoing figures. The לי (to me) is omitted in Psalm 18:2, and only serves to strengthen the suffix, "my, yea my deliverer.' "My Rock-God," equivalent to, God who is my Rock: this is formed after Deuteronomy 32:4, where Moses calls the Lord the Rock of Israel, because of His unchangeable faithfulness; for zur, a rock, is a figure used to represent immoveable firmness. In Psalm 18:3 we find צוּרי אלי, "my God" (strong one), "my rock," two synonyms which are joined together in our text, so as to form one single predicate of God, which is repeated in 2 Samuel 22:47. The predicates which follow, "my horn and my salvation-shield," describe God as the mighty protector and defender of the righteous. A shield covers against hostile attacks. In this respect God was Abraham's shield (Genesis 15:1), and the helping shield of Israel (Deuteronomy 33:29; cf. Psalm 3:4; Psalm 59:12). He is the "horn of salvation," according to Luther, because He overcomes enemies, and rescues from foes, and gives salvation. The figure is borrowed from animals, which have their strength and defensive weapons in their horns (see at 1 Samuel 2:1). "My fortress:" misgab is a high place, where a person is secure against hostile attacks (see at Psalm 9:10). The predicates which follow, viz., my refuge, etc., are not given in Psalm 18:3, and are probably only added as a rhythmical completion to the strophe, which was shortened by the omission of the introductory lines, "I love thee heartily, Jehovah" (Psalm 18:1). The last clause, "My Saviour, who redeemest me from violence," corresponds to אחסה־בּו in the first hemistich. In Psalm 18:4, David sums up the contents of his psalm of thanksgiving in a general sentence of experience, which may be called the theme of the psalm, for it embraces "the result of the long life which lay behind him, so full of dangers and deliverances." מהלּל, "the praised one," an epithet applied to God, which occurs several times in the Psalms (Psalm 48:2; Psalm 96:4; Psalm 113:3; Psalm 145:3). It is in apposition to Jehovah, and is placed first for the sake of emphasis: "I invoke Jehovah as the praised one." The imperfects אקרא and אוּשׁע are used to denote what continually happens. In 2 Samuel 22:5 we have the commencement of the account of the deliverances out of great tribulations, which David had experienced at the hand of God.
2 Samuel 22:2-4This strophe is stunted by the falling away of its monostichic introit, Psalm 18:2. In consequence of this, the vocatives in Psalm 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 Psalm 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 2 Samuel 22:4 as in 2 Samuel 22:49 the non-assimilated מן (cf. 2 Samuel 22:14, Psalm 30:4; Psalm 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 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.3 The God of Israel saith,
The Rock of Israel speaketh to me:
A Ruler over men, just,
A Ruler in the fear of God.
4 And as light of the morning, when the sun rises,
As morning without clouds:
From shining out of rain (springeth) green out of the earth.
5 For is not my house thus with God?
For He hath made me an everlasting covenant,
Provided with all, and attested;
For all my salvation and all good pleasure,
Should He then not cause it to grow?
As the prophets generally preface their saying with "thus saith the Lord," so David commences his prophetic saying with "the God of Israel saith," for the purpose of describing it most emphatically as the word of God. He designates God "the God" and "The Rock" (as in 2 Samuel 22:3) of Israel, to indicate that the contents of his prophecy relate to the salvation of the people of Israel, and are guaranteed by the unchangeableness of God. The saying which follows bears the impress of a divine oracle even in its enigmatical brevity. The verbs are wanting in the different sentences of 2 Samuel 23:3 and 2 Samuel 23:4. "A ruler over men," sc., "will arise," or there will be. בּאדם does not mean "among men," but "over men;" for בּ is to be taken as with the verb משׁל, as denoting the object ruled over (cf. Genesis 3:16; Genesis 4:7, etc.). האדם does not mean certain men, but the human race, humanity. This ruler is "just" in the fullest sense of the word, as in the passages founded upon this, viz., Jeremiah 23:5; Zechariah 9:9, and Psalm 72:2. The justice of the ruler is founded in his "fear of God." אלהים יראת is governed freely by מושׁל. (On the fact itself, see Isaiah 11:2-3.) The meaning is, "A ruler over the human race will arise, a just ruler, and will exercise his dominion in the spirit of the fear of God."
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;5 For breakers of death had compassed me,
Streams of wickedness terrified me.
6 Cords of hell had girt me about,
Snares of death overtook me.
7 In my distress I called Jehovah,
And to my God Icalled;
And He heard my voice out of His temple,
And my crying came into His ears.
David had often been in danger of death, most frequently at the time when he was pursued by Saul, but also in Absalom's conspiracy, and even in several wars (cf. 2 Samuel 21:16). All these dangers, out of which the Lord delivered him, and not merely those which originated with Saul, are included in 2 Samuel 22:5, 2 Samuel 22:6. The figure "breakers or waves of death" is analogous to that of the "streams of Belial." His distress is represented in both of them under the image of violent floods of water. In the psalm we find מות חבלי, "snares of death," as in Psalm 116:3, death being regarded as a hunger with a net and snare (cf. Psalm 91:3): this does not answer to well to the parallel נחלי, and therefore is not so good, since שׁאול חבלי follows immediately. בליּעל (Belial), uselessness in a moral sense, or worthlessness. The meaning "mischief," or injury in a physical sense, which many expositors give to the word in this passage on account of the parallel "death," cannot be grammatically sustained. Belial was afterwards adopted as a name for the devil (2 Corinthians 6:15). Streams of wickedness are calamities that proceed from wickedness, or originate with worthless men. קדּם, to come to meet with a hostile intention, i.e., to fall upon (vid., Job 30:27). היכל, the temple out of which Jehovah heard him, was the heavenly abode of God, as in Psalm 11:4; for, according to 2 Samuel 22:8., God came down from heaven to help him.
2 Samuel 22:5-7The 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 Psalm 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 2 Samuel 22:5, 2 Samuel 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. Psalm 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; Isaiah 5:9), but is only a fragment of the more copious, fuller toned conclusion of the strophe which we find in the Psalter.
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.8 Then the earth swayed and trembled,
The foundations of the heavens shook
And swayed to and fro, because He was wroth.
9 Smoke ascended in His nose,
And fire out of His mouth devoured,
Red-hot coals burned out of Him.
10 And He bowed the heavens and came down,
And cloudy darkness under His feet.
Jehovah came down from heaven to save His servant, as He had formerly come down upon Sinai to conclude His covenant with Israel in the midst of terrible natural phenomena, which proclaimed the wrath of the Almighty. The theophany under which David depicts the deliverance he had experienced, had its type in the miraculous phenomenon which accompanied the descent of God upon Sinai, and which suggested, as in the song of Deborah (Judges 5:4-5), the idea of a terrible storm. It is true that the deliverance of David was not actually attended by any such extraordinary natural phenomena; but the saving hand of God from heaven was so obviously manifested, that the deliverance experienced by him could be poetically described as a miraculous interposition on the part of God. When the Lord rises up from His heavenly temple to come down upon the earth to judgment, the whole world trembles at the fierceness of His wrath. Not only does the earth tremble, but the foundations of the heavens shake: the whole universe is moved. In the psalm we have "the foundations of the hills" instead of "the foundations of the heavens," - a weaker expression, signifying the earth to its deepest foundations. The Hithpael יתגּעשׁ, lit., to sway itself, expresses the idea of continuous swaying to and fro. לו חרה כּי, "for it (sc., wrath) burned to him," it flamed up like a fire; cf. Deuteronomy 32:22; Deuteronomy 29:19. "Smoke," the forerunner of fire, "ascended in His nose." The figurative idea is that of snorting or violent breathing, which indicates the rising of wrath. Smoke is followed by fire, which devours out of the mouth, i.e., bursts forth devouring or consuming all that opposes it. The expression is strengthened still further by the parallel: "red-hot coals come out of Him," i.e., the flame of red-hot coals pours out of Him as out of a glowing furnace (cf. Genesis 15:17). This description is based entirely upon Exodus 19:18, where the Lord comes down upon Sinai in smoke and fire. We are not to picture to ourselves flashes of lightning; for all these phenomena are merely the forerunners of the appearance of God in the clouds, which is described in 2 Samuel 22:10, "He bowed the heavens" to come down. ערפל, which is frequently connected with ענן, signifies cloudy darkness, or dark clouds. The substratum of this description is the fact that in a severe storm the heavens seem to sink down upon the earth with their dark clouds. The Lord draws near riding upon black thunder-clouds, "that the wicked may not behold His serene countenance, but only the terrible signs of His fierce wrath and punishment" (J. H. Michaelis).
2 Samuel 22:8-10The 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 2 Samuel 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.
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.11 He rode upon a cherub and flew hither,
And appeared upon the wings of the wind.
12 He made darkness round about Him as pavilions,
Water-gathering, thick clouds.
13 Out of the splendour before Him
Burned red-hot coals of fire.
These three verses are a further expansion of 2 Samuel 22:19, and 2 Samuel 22:11 of 2 Samuel 22:10. The cherub is not a personified earthly creature, for cherubim are angels around the throne of God (see at Genesis 3:22). The poetical figure "riding upon the cherub" is borrowed from the fact that God was enthroned between the two cherubim upon the lid of the ark of the covenant, and above their outspread wings (Exodus 25:20-21). As the idea of His "dwelling between the cherubim" (2 Samuel 6:2; 1 Samuel 4:4; Psalm 80:2) was founded upon this typical manifestation of the gracious presence of God in the Most Holy place, so here David depicts the descent of Jehovah from heaven as "riding upon a cherub," picturing the cherub as a throne upon which God appears in the clouds of heaven, though without therefore imagining Him as riding upon a sphinx or driving in a chariot-throne. Such notions as these are precluded by the addition of the term ויּעף, "did fly." The "flying" is also suggested by the wings of the cherubim. As the divine "shechinah" was enthroned above the ark of the covenant upon the wings of the cherubim, David in his poetical description represents the cherub and his wings as carrying the throne of God, to express the thought that Jehovah came down from heaven as the judge and saviour of His servants in the splendour of His divine glory, surrounded by cherubim who stand as His highest servants around His throne, just as Moses in his blessing (Deuteronomy 33:2) speaks of Jehovah as coming out of myriads of His holy angels. The elementary substratum of this was the wings of the wind, upon which He appeared. In the psalm we have ויּדא, from דּאה, to soar (Deuteronomy 28:39; Jeremiah 48:40), which suggests the idea of flying better than ויּרא (He was seen), though the latter gives the real explanation. In 2 Samuel 22:12 and 2 Samuel 22:13, the "cloudy darkness under His feet" (2 Samuel 22:10) is still further expanded, so as to prepare the way for the description of thunder and lightning in 2 Samuel 22:14. God in His wrath withdraws His face from man. He envelopes himself in clouds. The darkness round about him is the black thunder-cloud which forms His hut or tent. The plural succoth is occasioned by the plural סביבתיו, "His surroundings:" it is used with indefinite generality, and is more probably the original term than סכּתו in the psalm. The "darkness" is still further explained in the second clause, מים חשׁרת, water-gatherings. חשׁרה (ἁπ. λεγ.) signifies, according to the Arabic, a gathering or collection. The expression used in the psalm is מים חשׁכת, water-darkness, which, if not less appropriate, is at any rate not the original term. שׁחקים עבי, clouds of clouds, i.e., the thickest clouds; a kind of superlative, in which a synonym is used instead of the same noun.
2 Samuel 22:11-13Instead of the pictorial ויּדא (Deuteronomy 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 2 Samuel 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. Exodus 10:21).)
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 splendour of the divine nature enveloped in clouds breaks through the dark covering in burning coals of fire. The coals of fire which burst forth, i.e., which break out in flame from the dark clouds, are the lightning which shoots forth from the dark storm-clouds in streams of fire.
The LORD thundered from heaven, and the most High uttered his voice.14 Jehovah thundered from the heavens,
And the Most High gave His voice.
15 He sent arrows, and scattered them;
Lightning, and discomfited them.
16 Then the beds of the sea became visible;
The foundations of the world were uncovered,
Through the threatening of Jehovah,
By the snorting of the breath of His nostrils.
God sent lightning as arrows upon the enemies along with violent thunder, and threw them thereby into confusion. המם, to throw into confusion, and thereby to destroy, is the standing expression for the destruction of the foe accomplished by the miraculous interposition of God (vid., Exodus 14:24; Exodus 23:27; Joshua 10:10; Judges 4:15; 1 Samuel 7:10). To the thunder there were added stormy wind and earthquake, as an effect of the wrath of God, whereby the foundations of the sea and land were laid bare, i.e., whereby the depth of the abyss and of the hell in the interior of the earth, into which the person to be rescued had fallen, were disclosed.
(Note: In 2 Samuel 22:13-16 the text of the Psalms deviates greatly and in many instances from that before us. In v. 13 we find אשׁ וגחלי בּרד עברוּ עביו instead of אשׁ גּחלי בּערוּ; and after v. 14 אשׁ וגחלי בּרד is repeated in the psalm. In v. 15 we have רב וּברקים for בּרק, and in v. 16 מים אפיקי for ים אפיקי. The other deviations are inconsiderable. So far as the repetition of אשׁ וגחלי בּרד at the end of v. 14 is concerned, it is not only superfluous, but unsuitable, because the lightning following the thunder is described in v. 15, and the words repeated are probably nothing more than a gloss that has crept by an oversight into the text. The מים אפיקי in v. 16 is an obvious softening down of the ים אפיקי of the text before us. In the other deviations, however, the text of the Psalms is evidently the more original of the two; the abridgment of the second clause of v. 13 is evidently a simplification of the figurative description in the psalm, and רב בּרקים in the 15th verse of the psalm is more poetical and a stronger expression than the mere בּרק of our text.)
2 Samuel 22:14-16Instead 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 Psalm 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 (Psalm 42:2; Joel 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.
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;17 He reached out of the height, He laid hold of me;
Drew me out of great waters:
18 Saved me from my enemy strong;
From my haters, because they were too strong for me.
19 They fell upon me in my day of calamity:
Then Jehovah became my stay,
20 And led me out into a broad place;
Delivered me, because He had pleasure in me.
The Lord stretched His hand from the height into the deep abysses, which had been uncovered through the threatening of the wrath of God, and drew out the sinking man. ישׁלח without יד is used to denote the stretching out of the hand, and in the sense of reaching out to a thing (as in 2 Samuel 6:6). רבּים מים (great waters) does not refer to the enemy, but to the calamities and dangers (waves of death and streams of Belial, 2 Samuel 22:5) into which the enemies of the Psalmist had plunged him. ימשׁני, from משׁה (Exodus 2:10), from which the name of Moses was derived, to whom there is probably an allusion made. As Moses was taken out of the waters of the Nile, so David was taken out of great (many) waters. This deliverance is still further depicted in a more literal terms in 2 Samuel 22:18. עז איבי, my enemy strong, poetical for my strong enemy, does not refer to one single enemy, namely Saul; but, as the parallel "my haters" shows, is a poetical personification of all his enemies. They were stronger than David, therefore the Lord had to deliver him with an almighty hand. The "day of calamity" in which the enemy fell upon him (קדּם: see at 2 Samuel 22:6) was the time when David wandered about in the desert helpless and homeless, fleeing from the pursuit of Saul. The Lord was then his support, or a staff on which he could support himself (vid., Psalm 23:4), and led him out of the strait into the broad, i.e., into a broad space where he could move freely, because God had pleasure in him, and had chosen him in His grace to be His servant. This reason for his deliverance is carried out still further in what follows.
2 Samuel 22:17-20The 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.
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.21 Jehovah rendered to me according to my righteousness,
According to the cleanness of my hands He recompensed me.
22 For I have observed the ways of Jehovah,
And have not wickedly departed from my God.
23 For all His rights are before my eyes;
And His statutes,-I do not depart from them.
24 And I was innocent towards Him,
And kept myself from mine iniquity.
גּמל signifies to do to a person good or evil, like the Greek εὖ and κακῶς πράττειν τινά. The righteousness and cleanness of hands, i.e., the innocence, which David attributed to himself, were not perfect righteousness or holiness before God, but the righteousness of his endeavours and deeds as contrasted with the unrighteousness and wickedness of his adversaries and pursuers, and consisted in the fact that he endeavoured earnestly and sincerely to walk in the ways of God and to keep the divine commandments. מן רשׁע, to be wicked from, is a pregnant expression, signifying to depart wickedly from God. לנגדּי, i.e., as a standard before my eye. In the psalm we find עמּו תמים, innocent in intercourse with the Lord, instead of לו תמים (see Deuteronomy 18:13); and for the fact itself, David's own testimony in 1 Samuel 26:23-24, the testimony of God concerning him in 1 Kings 14:8, and the testimony of history in 1 Kings 15:5. מעוני, from mine iniquity, i.e., from the iniquity which I might have committed.
2 Samuel 22:21-24Instead of כּצדקי, we find כּצדקתי here and in 2 Samuel 22:25, contrary to usage of the language of the Psalms (cf. Psalm 7:9 with 1 Kings 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 2 Kings 3:3, and frequently (cf. Deuteronomy 5:32). Instead of ואהי, the not less (e.g., Psalm 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 (Psalm 3:6; Psalm 7:5, Genesis 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 2 Samuel 22:26, 2 Samuel 22:27, it certainly is not original.
On כּצדקתי see 2 Samuel 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 ( equals תתתמם), and is rather a reflexive of the Hiph. הבר after the manner of the Aramaic Ittaphal (therefore equals 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 equals 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 2 Samuel 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 equals הפיל פנים (Jeremiah 3:12). But one would expect בּ instead of על, if this were the meaning. It is better to render it according to Psalm 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).
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.25 Thus Jehovah repaid me according to my righteousness,
According to my cleanness before His eyes.
26 Towards the pious Thou showest thyself pious,
Towards the perfectly innocent Thou showest thyself innocent.
27 Towards the genuine Thou showest thyself genuine,
And towards the perverse Thou showest thyself crooked.
28 And afflicted people Thou helpest,
And Thine eyes are against the haughty; them Thou humblest.
The motive for deliverance, which was expounded in 2 Samuel 22:21-24, is summed up briefly in 2 Samuel 22:25; and then in 2 Samuel 22:26 and 2 Samuel 22:27 it is carried back to the general truth, that the conduct of God towards men is regulated according to the conduct of men towards God. The vav cons. in ויּשׁב expresses the logical consequence. כּברי is used instead of ידי כּבר in 2 Samuel 22:21, which is repeated in the psalm simply for the sake of variation. The truth that God treats every man in accordance with his conduct towards Him, is expounded in four parallel clauses, in which the conduct of God is expressed in verbs in the Hithpael, formed from the adjectives used to describe the conduct of men towards God. To the חסיד, the pious or devoted to God, He also shows himself pious; and innocent, blameless, to the תמים גּבּור, the man strong in innocence, who walks in perfect innocence. נבר, a Niphal participle, from בּרר, he who keeps himself pure, strives after purity of walk. תּתּבר, an anomalous contraction of תּתבּרר (Ps.), analogous to the formation of נבר for נברר. The form תּתּפּל for תּתפּתּל, to show one's self perverse of crooked, is still more anomalous. God shows himself so towards the perverse, by giving him up to his perverseness (Romans 1:28). This general truth is applied in 2 Samuel 22:28 to the congregation of God, in the contrast which it presents of humble and haughty, and is expounded from the conduct of God, as displayed in the history of Israel, towards these two classes of men, into which the nation was divided. In the psalm, therefore, we find אתּה כּי, for which the simple ו is substituted here, because the verse does not contain any actual reason for what goes before. עני עם, afflicted people, is used to denote the pious and depressed in the nation; רמים, the high, i.e., the haughty, or godless rich and mighty in the nation. תּשׁפּיל is to be taken as a relative: whom Thou humblest (see Ewald, 332, b.; and for the thought, Isaiah 2:11). In the psalm the unusual mode of expression in the second clause is changed into the more common phrase, "Thou bringest down high, i.e., proud looks" (cf. Proverbs 6:17; Proverbs 21:4; Proverbs 30:13; Psalm 131:1, etc.).
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.2 Samuel 22:29 commences the description of the help which David had already received from God in his conflict with the enemies of Israel, and which he would still receive.
29 For Thou art my lamp, O Jehovah!
And Jehovah maketh my darkness bright.
30 For through Thee I run troops,
And through my God I leap walls.
31 God - innocent is His way.
The word of Jehovah is refined,
A shield is He to all who trust in Him.
The explanatory כּי, with which the new description of the divine mercy commences, refers to the thought implied in 2 Samuel 22:28, that David belonged to the "afflicted people," whom the Lord always helps. As the Lord delivered him out of the danger of death, because He took pleasure in him, so He also gave him power over all his enemies. For He was his lamp, i.e., He had lifted him out of a condition of depression and contempt into one of glory and honour (see at 2 Samuel 21:17), and would still further enlighten his darkness, i.e., "would cause the light of His salvation to shine upon him and his tribe in all the darkness of their distress" (Hengstenberg). In the psalm the verse reads thus: "For Thou lightest (makest bright) my lamp (or candle), Jehovah my God enlighteneth my darkness;" the bold figure "Jehovah the lamp of David" being more literally explained. The figure is analogous to the one in Psalm 27:1, "The Lord is my light;" whilst the form ניר is a later mode of writing נר.
2 Samuel 22:29-31Here in 2 Samuel 22:29 תּאיר has been lost, for Jahve is called, and really is, אור in Psalm 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 2 Samuel 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 Isaiah 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.
For by thee I have run through a troop: by my God have I leaped over a wall.In the strength of his God he could run hostile troops and leap walls, i.e., overcome every hostile power. ארוּץ, not from רצץ, to smash in pieces, but from רוּץ, to run; construed with the accusative according to the analogy of verbs of motion.
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.He derives this confidence from the acts of God, and also from His word. האל (God) is written absolutely, like הצּוּר in Deuteronomy 32:4. The article points back to בּאלהי. Jehovah is the God (האל), whose way is perfect, without blemish; and His word is refined brass, pure silver (cf. Psalm 12:7). He who trusts in Him is safe from all foes. The last two clauses occur again in Agur's proverbs (Proverbs 30:5). The thought of the last clause is still further explained in 2 Samuel 22:32.
For who is God, save the LORD? and who is a rock, save our God?32 For who is God save Jehovah,
And who a rock save our God?
33 This God is my strong fortress,
And leads the innocent his way.
34 He makes my feet like the hinds,
And setteth me upon my high places;
35 He teacheth my hands to fight,
And my arms span brazen bows.
There is no true God who can help, except or by the side of Jehovah (cf. Deuteronomy 32:31; 1 Samuel 2:2). צוּר, as in 2 Samuel 22:2. This God is "my strong fortress:" for this figure, comp. Psalm 31:5 and Psalm 27:1. חיל, strength, might, is construed with מעוּזי, by free subordination: "my fortress, a strong one," like עז מחסי (Psalm 71:7; cf. Ewald, 291, b.). יתּר for יתר, from תּוּר (vid., Ges. 72; Olshausen, Gram. p. 579), in the sense of leading or taking round, as in Proverbs 12:26. God leads the innocent his way, i.e., He is his leader and guide therein. The Keri דּרכּי rests upon a misunderstanding. There is an important difference in the reading of this verse in Psalm 18, viz., "The God who girdeth me with strength, and makes my way innocent." The last clause is certainly an alteration which simplifies the meaning, and so is also the first clause, the thought of which occurs again, word for word, in 2 Samuel 22:40, with the addition of למּלחמה. איּלה or איּלת, the hind, or female stag, is a figure of speech denoting swiftness in running. "Like the hinds:" a condensed simile for "like the hinds' feet," such as we frequently meet with in Hebrew (vid., Ges. 144, Anm.). The reference is to swiftness in pursuit of the foe (vid., 2 Samuel 2:18; 1 Chronicles 12:8). רגליו, his feet, for רגלי (my feet) in the psalm, may be accounted for from the fact, that David had spoken of himself in the third person as the innocent one. "My high places" were not the high places of the enemy, that became his by virtue of conquest, but the high places of his own land, which he maintained triumphantly, so that he ruled the land for them. The expression is formed after Deuteronomy 32:13, and is imitated in Habakkuk 3:19. למּד is generally construed with a double accusative: here it is written with an accusative and ל, and signifies to instruct for the war. נחת, in the psalm נחתה, on account of the feminine זרועתי, is not the Niphal of חתת, to be broken in pieces, but the Piel of נחת, to cause to go down, to press down the bow, i.e., to set it. The bow of brass is mentioned as being the strongest: setting such a bow would be a sign of great heroic strength. The two verses (2 Samuel 22:34 and 2 Samuel 22:35) are simply a particularizing description of the power and might with which the Lord had endowed David to enable him to conquer all his foes.
2 Samuel 22:32-35The variety of expression in 2 Samuel 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 ( equals מעוזי מעוז חיל), like Psalm 71:7; Leviticus 6:3; Leviticus 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 Psalm 71:7 (cf. Ezekiel 16:27; Ezekiel 18:7, and perhaps Habakkuk 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, Psalm 38:20; בּריתי יעקב my covenant with Jacob, Leviticus 26:42; מדּו בד his garment of linen, Leviticus 6:3; כּתבם המּתיחשׂים their ancestral register, Ezra 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, equals 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 Psalm 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 equals 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 equals 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," Habakkuk 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.
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.36 And Thou reachest me the shield of my salvation,
And Thy hearing makes me great.
37 Thou makest my steps broad under me,
And my ankles have not trembled.
The Lord bestows the true strength for victory in His salvation. The shield of salvation is the shield which consists of salvation, of the helping grace of the Lord. ענתך, for which we find in the psalm ענותך, thy humility, i.e., God's condescending grace, does not mean "thy humiliation," but "thy hearkening," i.e., that practical hearkening on the part of God, when called upon for help, which was manifested in the fact that God made his steps broad, i.e., provided the walker with a broad space for free motion, removing obstructions and stumbling-blocks out of the way. God had done this for David, so that his ankles had not trembled, i.e., he had not been wanting in the power to take firm and safe steps. In this strength of his God he could destroy all his foes.
2 Samuel 22:36-37The pentastich is stunted here by the falling away of the middle line of 2 Samuel 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 2 Samuel 22:40, 2 Samuel 22:48, תּחתּני with a verbal suffix, like בּעד in Psalm 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.
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.38 I will pursue my enemies and destroy them,
I will not turn till they are consumed.
39 I will consume them and dash them in pieces, that they may not arise,
And may fall under my feet.
40 And Thou girdest me with strength for war,
Thou bowest mine adversaries under me.
41 And Thou makest mine enemies turn the back to me;
My haters, I root them out.
The optative form ארדּפה serves to make the future signification of ארדּף (in the psalm) the more apparent. Consequently it is quite out of the question to take the other verbs as preterites. We are not compelled to do this by the interchange of imperfects c. vav consec. with simple imperfects, as the vav consec. is not used exclusively as expressive of the past. On the contrary, the substance of the whole of the following description shows very clearly that David refers not only to the victories he has already won, but in general to the defeat of all his foes in the past, the present, and the future; for he speaks as distinctly as possible not only of their entire destruction (2 Samuel 22:38, 2 Samuel 22:39, 2 Samuel 22:43), but also of the fact that God makes him the head of the nations, and distant and foreign nations to him homage. Consequently he refers not only to his own personal dominion, but also, on the strength of the promise which he had received from God, to the increase of the dominion of the throne of his house, whilst he proclaims in the Spirit the ultimate defeat of all the enemies of the kingdom of God. This Messianic element in the following description comes out in a way that cannot be mistaken, in the praise of the Lord with which he concludes in 2 Samuel 22:47-51. ואשׁמידם, "I destroy them," is stronger than ואשּׂיגם, "I reach them" (in the psalm). In 2 Samuel 22:39 the words are crowded together, to express the utter destruction of all foes. In the psalm ואכלּם is omitted. ותּזרני for ותּאזּרני in the psalm is not a poetical Syriasm, and still less a "careless solecism" (Hupfeld), but a simple contraction, such as we meet with in many forms: e.g., מלּפנוּ for מאלּפנוּ (Job 35:11; cf. Ewald, 232, b.). The form תּתּה for נתתּה (in the psalm) is unusual, and the aphaeresis of the נ can only be accounted for from the fact that this much-used word constantly drops its נ as a radical sound in the imperfect (see Ewald, 195, c.). The phrase ערף לּי תּתּה is formed after Exodus 23:27. "Giving the enemy to a person's back" means causing them to turn the back, i.e., putting them to flight.
2 Samuel 22:38-41The cohortative תּרדּפת, as frequently, has the sense of a hypothetical antecedent, whether it refers to the present, as in Psalm 139:8, or to the past as in Psalm 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 Exodus 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 Jeremiah 2:36, מלּף for מאלּף Job 35:11. Of the same kind is תּתּה equals נתתּה, an apocope taken from the mouths of the people, with which only רד, Judges 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.
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.42 They look out, but there is no deliverer;
For Jehovah, but He answereth them not.
43 And I rub in pieces as the dust of the earth,
Like the mire of the streets I crush them and stamp upon them.
The cry of the foe for help is not attended to; they are annihilated without quarter. ישׁעוּ, to look out to God for help (with אל and על; vid., Isaiah 17:7-8), is more poetical than ישׁוּעוּ, "they cry" (in the psalm); and כּעפר־ארץ is more simple than על־פּני־רוּח כּעפר (in the psalm), "I crush them as dust before the wind," for the wind does not crush the dust, but carries it away. In the second clause of 2 Samuel 22:43, אדקּם is used instead of אריקם in the psalm, and strengthened by ארקעם. אדקּם, from דקק, to make thin, to crush; so that instead of "I pour them out like mire of the streets which is trodden to pieces," the Psalmist simply says, "I crush and stamp upon them like mire of the streets." Through the utter destruction of the foe, God establishes the universal dominion to which the throne of David is to attain.
2 Samuel 22:42-43Instead 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, Isaiah 17:8; Isaiah 31:1. The two figurative expressions in 2 Samuel 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.
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.44 And Thou rescuest me out of the strivings of my people,
Preservest me to be the head of the heathen.
People that I knew not serve me.
45 The sons of the stranger dissemble to me,
Upon hearsay they obey me.
46 The sons of the stranger despair,
And tremble out of their castles.
By "the strivings of my people" the more indefinite expression in the psalm, "strivings of the people," is explained. The words refer to the domestic conflicts of David, out of which the Lord delivered him, such as the opposition of Ishbosheth and the rebellions of Absalom and Sheba. These deliverances formed the prelude and basis of his dominion over the heathen. Consequently תּשׁמרני (Thou preservest me to be the head of the nations) occurs quite appropriately in the second clause; and תּשׂימני, "Thou settest me," which occurs in the psalm, is a far less pregnant expression. עם before ידעתּי לא is used indefinitely to signify foreign nations. Toi king of Hamath (2 Samuel 8:10) was an example, and his subjugation was a prelude of the future subjection of all the heathen to the sceptre of the Son of David, as predicted in Psalm 72. In v. 45 the two clauses of the psalm are very appropriately transposed. The Hithpael יתכחשׁוּ, as compared with יכחשׁוּ, is the later form. In the primary passage (Deuteronomy 33:29) the Niphal is used to signify the dissembling of friendship, or of involuntary homage on the part of the vanquished towards the victor. אזן לשׁמוע, "by the hearing of the ear," i.e., by hearsay, is a simple explanation of אזן לשׁמע, at the rumour of the ears (vid., Job 42:5), i.e., at the mere rumour of David's victories. The foreign nations pine away, i.e., despair of ever being able to resist the victorious power of David. יחגּרוּ, "they gird themselves," does not yield any appropriate meaning, even if we should take it in the sense of equipping themselves to go out to battle. The word is probably a misspelling of יחרגוּ, which occurs in the psalm, חרג being a ἁπ. λεγ. in the sense of being terrified, or trembling: they tremble out of their castles, i.e., they come trembling out of their castles (for the thought itself, see Micah 7:17). It is by no means probable that the word חרג, which is so frequently met with in Hebrew, is used in this one passage in the sense of "to limp," according to Syriac usage.
In conclusion, the Psalmist returns to the praise of the Lord, who had so highly favoured him.
2 Samuel 22:44-46The 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 Psalm 144:2, and like מנּי equals מנּים Psalm 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 2 Samuel 22:45 are reversed, and not without advantage. The Hithpa. יתכּחשׁוּ instead of the Piel יכחשׁוּ (cf. Psalm 66:3; Psalm 81:16) is the reflexive of the latter: they made themselves flatterers (cf. the Niph. Deuteronomy 33:29 : to show themselves flattering, like the ישּׁמעוּ which follows here, audientes se praestabant equals 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 2 Samuel 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.
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.47 Jehovah liveth, and blessed is my rock,
And the God of my refuge of salvation is exalted.
48 The God who giveth me vengeance,
And bringeth nations under me;
49 Who leadeth me out from mine enemies,
And exalteth me above mine adversaries,
Delivereth me from the man of violence.
The formula חי־יהוה does not mean "let Jehovah live," for the word יחי would be used for that (vid., 2 Samuel 16:16; 1 Samuel 10:24), but is a declaration: "the Lord is living." The declaration itself is to be taken as praise of God, for "praising God is simply ascribing to Him the glorious perfections which belong to him; we have only to give Him what is His own" (Hengstenberg). The following clauses also contain simply declarations; this is evident from the word ירוּם, since the optative ירם would be used to denote a wish. The Lord is living or alive when He manifests His life in acts of omnipotence. In the last clause, the expression צוּר (rock) is intensified into ישׁעי צוּר אלהי (the God of my refuge, or rock, of salvation), i.e., the God who is my saving rock (cf. 2 Samuel 22:3). In the predicates of God in 2 Samuel 22:48, 2 Samuel 22:49, the saving acts depicted by David in vv. 5-20 and 29-46 are summed up briefly. Instead of מוריד, "He causes to go down under me," i.e., He subjects to me, we find in the psalm ויּדבּר, "He drives nations under me," and מפלטי instead of מוציאי; and lastly, instead of חמס אישׁ in the psalm, we have here חמסים אישׁ, as in Psalm 140:2. Therefore the praise of the Lord shall be sounded among all nations.
2 Samuel 22:47-49The צוּר thrust into 2 Samuel 22:47 is troublesome. וירם (without any necessity for correcting it to וירם) is optative, cf. Genesis 27:31; Proverbs 9:4, Proverbs 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 2 Samuel 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. (Psalm 140:2, Psalm 140:5; Proverbs 4:17), which is foreign to the genuine Davidic Psalms.
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.50 Therefore will I praise Thee, O Jehovah, among the nations,
And sing praise to Thy name.
51 As He who magnifies the salvation of His king,
And showeth grace to His anointed,
To David, and his seed for ever.
The grace which the Lord had shown to David was so great, that the praise thereof could not be restricted to the narrow limits of Israel. With the dominion of David over the nations, there spread also the knowledge, and with this the praise, of the Lord who had given him the victory. Paul was therefore perfectly justified in quoting the verse before us (2 Samuel 22:50) in Romans 16:9, along with Deuteronomy 32:43 and Psalm 117:1, as a proof that the salvation of God was intended for the Gentiles also. The king whose salvation the Lord had magnified, was not David as an individual, but David and his seed for ever-that is to say, the royal family of David which culminated in Christ. David could thus sing praises upon the ground of the promise which he had received (2 Samuel 7:12-16), and which is repeated almost verbatim in the last clause of 2 Samuel 22:51. The Chethib מגדיל is the Hiphil participle מגדּיל, according to Psalm 18:51; and the Keri מגדּול, "tower of the fulness of salvation," is a singular conjecture.
2 Samuel 22:50-51The change of position of יהוה in 2 Samuel 22:50, as well as אזמּר for אזמּרה, is against the rhythm; the latter, moreover, is contrary to custom, Psalm 57:10; Psalm 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 Psalm 61:4, Proverbs 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 2 Samuel 22:14 and the readings משׁבּרי, חשׁרת, and אפיקי ים there is scarcely anything in the text of 2 Samuel 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 Samuel 22 we have only a text that varies in some instances, but not a substantially new form of the text. The text in 2 Samuel 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 Samuel 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.
He is the tower of salvation for his king: and sheweth mercy to his anointed, unto David, and to his seed for evermore.