Lange Commentary on the Holy Scriptures
David’s song of thanksgiving for the victories that the Lord gave him over his enemies through his deeds of might
1And David spake unto the Lord [Jehovah] the words of this song in the day that the Lord (Jehovah) had delivered him out of the hand of all his enemies, and out of the hand of Saul: 2And he said,
The Lord [Jehovah] is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer,
3The God of my rock [My Rock-God], in him will [om. will] I trust,
He is [om. he is] my shield and the horn of my salvation, my high tower [fortress], and my refuge,
My Saviour, thou savest me from violence.
4I will [om, will] call on the Lord [Jehovah] who is worthy to be praised,
So shall I [And I shall] be saved from mine enemies.
5When [For] the waves of death compassed me,
The floods of ungodly men [streams of wickedness] made me afraid,
6The sorrows [toils] of hell [Sheol] compassed me about,
The snares of death prevented [encountered] me.
7In my distress I called upon the Lord [Jehovah],
And cried to my God [And to my God I cried],
And he did hear [heard] my voice out of his temple [palace],
And my cry did enter [entered] into his ears.
8Then [And] the earth shook and trembled,
The foundations of heaven [the heavens] moved
And shook, because he was wroth.
9There went up a smoke out of [in] his nostrils
And fire out of his mouth devoured,
Coals were kindled by it [Ked-hot coals burned from him].
10He bowed the heavens also [And he bowed the heavens], and came down,
And darkness [cloud-darkness] was under his feet.
11And he rode upon a cherub, and did fly,
And he was seen [And appeared] upon the wings of the wind.
12And he made darkness pavilions round about him,
Dark waters [Gathering of waters], and [om. and] thick clouds of the skies.
13Through [Out of] the brightness before him
Were coals of fire kindled [Burned coals of fire].
14The Lord [Jehovah] thundered from heaven,
And the Most High uttered his voice.
15And he sent out arrows, and scattered them,
Lightning, and discomfited them.
16And the channels [beds] of the sea appeared,
The foundations of the world [earth] were discovered
At the rebuking of the Lord [Jehovah],
At [By] the blast of the breath of his nostrils.
17He sent [reached] from above [on high], he took me,
He drew me out of many [great] waters.
18He delivered me from my strong enemy,
And [om. and] from them that hated me, for they were too strong for me.
19They prevented [came upon] me in the day of my calamity,
But the Lord [And Jehovah] was my stay.
20He brought me forth also [And he brought me forth] into a large place,
He delivered me, because he delighted in me.
21The Lord [Jehovah] rewarded [rendered] me according to my righteousness,
According to the cleanness of my hands hath he recompensed me.
22For I have kept the ways of the Lord [Jehovah],
And have not wickedly departed from my God.
23For all his judgments were [are] before me,
And as for his statutes I did [do] not depart from them.
24I was also [And I was] upright before [perfect towards] him,
And have kept myself from my iniquity.
25Therefore the Lord [And Jehovah] hath recompensed me according to my righteousness,
According to my cleanness in his eyesight.
26With the merciful thou wilt show [showest] thyself merciful,
And [om. and] with the upright [perfect] man thou wilt show [showest] thyself upright [perfect].
27With the pure thou wilt show [showest] thyself pure,
And with the froward [perverse] thou wilt show [showest] thyself unsavory [perverse].
28And the afflicted people thou wilt save [savest],
But [And] thine eyes are upon [against] the haughty, that thou mayest bring them down.
29For thou art my lamp, O Lord [Jehovah],
And the Lord [Jehovah] will lighten [lightens] my darkness.
30For by thee I have run [I run] through a troop [troops],
By my God have I leaped over [I leap over] a wall [walls].
31As for God, his way is perfect;
The word of the Lord [Jehovah] is tried [pure],
He is a buckler to all them that trust in him.
32for who is God save the Lord [Jehovah]?
And who is a rock save our God?
33God is my strength and power [strong fortress].
And he maketh my way perfect.
34He maketh my feet like hinds’ feet (like the hinds),
And setteth me upon my high places.
35He teacheth my hands to war,
So that [And] a bow of steel is broken by mine arms [my arms bend a bow of bronze].
36Thou hast also [And thou hast] given me the shield of thy salvation,
And thy gentleness [hearkening] hath made me great.
37Thou hast enlarged my steps under me,
So that [And] my feet did not slip [my ankles did not tremble].
38I have pursued mine enemies, and destroyed them,
And turned not again until I had consumed them.
39And I have consumed them, and wounded [crushed] them,
That [And] they could [did] not arise,
Yea [And] they art fallen under my feet.
40For [And] thou hast girded me with strength to battle,
Them that rose up against me hast thou subdued under me.
41Thou hast also [And thou hast] given me the necks of mine enemies,
That I might destroy [And I destroyed] them that hate [hated] me.
42They looked, but there was none to save [and there was no saviour],
Even [om. even] unto the Lord [Jehovah], but [and] he answered them not.
43Then did [And] I beat them as small as the dust of the earth,
I did stamp [crushed] them as the mire of the street, and [om. and] did spread them abroad [stamped them].
44Thou also [And thou] 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 [om. shall] serve me.
45Strangers shall submit themselves unto me [Strangers fawn on me],
As soon as they hear, they shall be [are] obedient unto me.
46Strangers shall fade away,
And they shall be afraid out of their close places [strongholds].
47The Lord [Jehovah] liveth, and blessed be my rock,
And exalted be the God of the rock of my salvation.
48It is God [The God] that avengeth me,
And that [om. that] bringeth down the people [peoples] under me,
49And that [om. that] bringeth me forth from mine enemies,
Thou also [And thou] hast lifted me up on high above them that rose up against me [hast exalted me above my adversaries],
Thou hast delivered me from the violent man.
50Therefore will I give thanks unto thee, O Lord [Jehovah], among the heathen,
And I will sing praises unto thy name.
51He is the tower of salvation for his king,
And showeth mercy to his Anointed,
Unto [To] David and to his seed for evermore.
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
This song of praise and thanksgiving is (a few deviations excepted, which will be examined in the exposition) identical with Ps. 18. The superscription is substantially the same in the two productions. In the Psalm the opening words: “to the precentor, by the servant of Jehovah, by David,” are like the title of Ps. 36; then follows (in the form of a relative sentence: “who spake to Jehovah”) the historical introduction in the same words as in 2 Samuel 22:1 of our chapter (except only that the second “hand” is given by different words): “And David spake to the Lord the words of this song,” etc. The Davidic origin of the song, which is universally recognized (except by Olshausen and Hupfeld) is thus doubly attested. The redactor of our Books regards this as equally indubitable as in the other sayings and poems attributed to David, 3:33, 34; 5:8; 7:18–29; 23:1–7. The high antiquity of the song is favored by its use in Ps. 116, 144, and the quotation of 2 Samuel 22:31 in Prov. 30:5, and of 2 Samuel 22:34 in Hab. iii. 19; and especially the early recognition of its Davidic origin is shown by the fact that the author of the Books of Samuel found the superscription, which ascribes the song to David, already in the historical authority whence he took the narrative (comp. Hitzig on Psalms, I. 95 sqq.). The source, whence Ps. 18 also with its identical historical introduction was taken into the psalter (since it was evidently not taken from 2 Sam.) is doubtless one of the theocratic-prophetic historical works; from which Sam. has drawn. See the Introduction, pp. 31–35. The content also of the song puts its genuineness beyond doubt. The victories that God has given the singer over internal and external enemies, so that he is now a mighty king, the individual characteristics, which agree perfectly with the Davidic Psalms, and especially the singer’s designation of himself by the name David (2 Samuel 22:51), compel us to regard the latter as the author. “Certainly,” says Hitzig, “this opinion will be derived from 2 Samuel 22:51. And rightly; for, if the song was not by David, it must have been composed in his name and into his soul; and who could this contemporary and equal poet be?”—On the position of the song in this connection midway among the sections of the concluding appendix, see Introduction, pp. 21–23. The insertion of the episodes from the Philistian wars (21:15–22) gives the point of connection for the introduction of this song of victory, which David sang in triumph over his external enemies. And the reference at the close of this song (2 Samuel 22:51) to the promise of the everlasting kingdom (2 Sam. 7:12–16, 26, 29), which David now sees is assured by his victories, has obviously given the redactor the point of connection for David’s last prophetic song (23:1–7), wherein is celebrated the imperishable dominion of his house, founded on the covenant that the Lord has made with him. Noticeable also is the bond of connection between the two songs in the fact that David calls himself by name in 2 Samuel 22:51 and 23:1 just as in 7:20.—The time of composition (the reference in 2 Samuel 22:51 to 2 Sam. 7 being unmistakable) cannot be before the date when David, on the ground of the promise given him through Nathan, could be sure that his dominion despite all opposition was immovable, and that the throne of Israel would remain forever with his house. The words of the title: “in the day when the Lord had saved him from the hand of all his enemies” agree with the description of victories in 2 Samuel 22:29–46, and point to a time when David had established his kingdom by war, and forced heathen princes to do homage (comp. 2 Samuel 22:44–49). But, as God’s victorious help against external enemies is celebrated in the second part of the song, and the joyous tone of exultation shows that David’s heart is taken up with the gloriousness of that help, it is a fair assumption that the song was written not after the turmoil of Absalom’s conspiracy and the succeeding events (Keil), but immediately after the victorious wars narrated in chaps. 8 and 10. 2 Samuel 22:44, 45 may without violence be referred (Hitzig) to the fact related in 8:9 sqq., that Toi, king of Hamath, presented his homage to David through his son Joram. So the reference to 8:6, where the Syrians are said to have been conquered and brought gifts, is obvious. The conviction of the theocratic narrator (as expressed in the repeated remark, 8:6, 14: “the Lord helped David, wherever he went”) that David had the Lord’s special help in these wars with Syria and Edom, accords with the free, joyous praise of the Lord’s help in our song. The song was therefore very probably produced after the victories over the Syrians and Edomites, which were epoch-making for the establishment and extension of David’s authority. David composed it doubtless at the glorious end of this war, looking at the same time at God’s mercies to him in the early period of the Sauline persecution, and the internal wars with Saul’s adherents (2:8–4. 12), and making these subject-matter of praise and thanks to the Lord. The poet’s imagination, in its contemplation of the two principal periods of war, moves backwards, presenting first the external wars, which were the nearest, and then the internal, with Saul and his house. The designation of time “in the day” (i.e., at the time, as in Gen. 2:4 and elsewhere) “when the Lord had saved him from the hand of Saul,” points to the moment of David’s victory over all his enemies, when he could breathe freely and praise God.1—The form of the superscription is similar to that of the superscriptions of the songs that are inserted in the history in Ex. 15:1; Numb. 21:17; Deut. 31:30. In Ps. 18, as here, the song is introduced with the words: “and he said.”
2 Samuel 22:2–4. The prologue of the song. With an unusually great number of predicates, David out of his joyously thankful heart, praises the Lord for His many deliverances. The numerous designations of God in 2 Samuel 22:2, 3 are the summary statement of what, as the song exhibits in detail, the Lord has been to him in all his trials. In 2 Samuel 22:4 the thankful testimony to the salvation that God (as above designated in 2 Samuel 22:2, 3) has vouchsafed him, is set forth as the theme of the whole song. The opening words of Ps. 18 (2 Samuel 22:2 ): “I love thee, O Lord, my strength,” are wanting in our passage. The originality of this introduction, which the Syriac [of 2 Sam. 22] contains, and which “carries its own justification” (Thenius), is not to be doubted; it has here fallen out either “from illegible writing” (Thenius), or through mistake. “I deeply love2 thee;” David’s deep love to his God is the fruit of God’s manifestations of love to him. Luther: “Thus he declareth his deepest love, that he delighteth in our Lord God; for he feeleth that his benefits are unspeakable, and from this exceeding great delight and love it cometh that He giveth him so many names, as in what followeth.” These words of Ps. 18:2 have occasioned the noble hymns:3 “With all my heart, O Lord, I love Thee” (M. Schalling), and: “Thee will I love, my strength” (J. Scheffler).—The phrase: “my strength”4 denotes not the inner power of heart received by David from God (Luther), but (as is shown by the following names of God, which all refer to outward help) the manifestations of the might of God amid the trials brought on him by enemies.—My rock and my fortress; the same designation is found in Ps. 31:4  and 71:3. “My rock, properly cleft5 of a rock, which gives concealment from enemies,=he who conceals me to save me. So in Ps. 42:10  the strong God (אֵל), is called, over against pressing enemies, “my rock.”—My fortress,6 a place difficult of access from its height and strength, offering protection against ambush and attack, a watchtower. The natural basis for these figures is found in the frequent rock-clefts and steep, inaccessible hills of Palestine. Comp. Judg. 6:2; Job 39:27, 28; Isa. 33:16. The historical basis is furnished by David’s experiences in Saul’s time, when he was often obliged to betake himself to clefts and hills. Comp. 1 Sam. 22:5; 23:14, 19; 24:1, 23.—The meaning of these concrete figures is indicated in the added expression: My deliverer. Böttcher would change the pointing and read: “My deliverance;”7 but there is no good ground for this, either in the occurrence of this latter word in Ps. 55:9  and 144:2, or in the abstract expressions of 2 Samuel 22:4 . Rather the indication of the Lord’s personal, active help in the words saviour and savest, favors the reading “deliverer.”
2 Samuel 22:3. God of my rock, of my house, my rock-God. Ps. 18:3  has: “my strong God (אֵל), my rock;” these separated predicates are here united into one expression. The word “rock” (comp. stone in Gen. 49:24), denotes the firmness and unshakableness of God’s faithfulness, which is founded on the unchangeableness of His being (comp. Isa. 26:4 sqq.) and gives assurance of unendangered, certain security. So in Deut. 32:4, 37 God is called the rock as the God of faithfulness, whom one securely builds on and trusts (Ps. 92:16 ). Comp. 2 Samuel 22:47, where the name “rock-God” again occurs.—In whom I trust (the construction is relative). The “trust” as firm confidence answers to the rock-like firmness of the divine faithfulness, on which one may rely.—My shield, figure of covering against the attacks of enemies, protection against dangers. So in Gen. 15:1 God calls Himself Abraham’s shield, and in Deut. 33:29 He is the shield of the help [=the saving shield] of Israel. The figure is frequent in the Psalms; see 3:4 ; 7:11 [10, Eng. A. V.: defence]; 28:7; 59:12 , and elsewhere.—And horn of my salvation, denotes God’s might and strength, which gives not only protection, but also help and salvation in the overcoming of enemies. The figure refers not to the horns of the altar (Hitzig, Moll), as if protection were the only thing involved, but to the horns of beasts, in which their strength is shown in the victorious repulse of an attack [or, in making an attack] (see 1 Sam. 2:1, 10; Job 16:15; Ps. 75:5, 6, 11 [4, 5, 10]; 89:18 ; 92:11 ; 112:9; 148:1). The Lord is not only protection against attacks, but also “a trusty shield and weapon” (“ein’ gute wehr und waffe”) for victoriously combating and repelling them. Comp. Deut. 33:29, where the God of Israel is called the shield of their help and the sword of their excellency. The reference of the “horn” to a mountain-peak has small support from Isa. 5:1, and, as the comparison with the strength of horned beasts is so frequent, must be rejected.—My stronghold [Eng. A. V.: high tower], steep, lofty place, inaccessible and therefore safe, see Ps. 9:10 [9 Eng. A.V.: refuge]. And my refuge, my Saviour, who saves me from violence. These words are wanting in Ps. 18. Their insertion is not to be explained from the desire to give rhythmical completeness to the strophe left imperfect by the omission of the “I love Thee, Jehovah” (Keil), but from the effort (in accordance with the position of the song here in the midst of the history) to explain the preceding declarations about God in respect to the help actually given by Him. As a testimony to the deliverance vouchsafed David by God as his rock, etc., the words make the transition to 2 Samuel 22:4.—Most modern expositors regard all these appellatives as in apposition with “Jehovah,” putting the latter in the vocative (so also Hitzig and Delitzsch) [“O Jehovah, my rock… my Saviour, Thou savest me from violence”]. But as Hupfeld (on Ps. 18:3 ) -rightly remarks, this would produce too long and heavy an address. The “Jehovah” is therefore (with the older expositors and the ancient versions) to be taken as subject, and the appellations as declarations: “Jehovah is my rock and my fortress,” etc.
2 Samuel 22:4. As the praised one I call on the Lord, or: I call on the praised one, the Lord. The participle (מְחֻלָּל) does not mean “glorious” (Hengst., Hupf.), but (conformably to the frequent hallelujah)=“blessed,” Ps. 48:2 ; 96:4; 113:3; 145:3, comp. 1 Chr. 16:25; nor does it mean laudandus, “praiseworthy.” [The Participles may have the force of the Lat. Fut. Passive; Eng. A. V.: “worthy to be praised,” Vulg.: laudabilem; Sept.: ἀινετόν. The Chaldee (which paraphrases largely in 2 Samuel 22:3) takes it as active, and renders: “Said David, With praise I will pray before Jehovah.” Ewald (on Ps. 18) renders it: “worthy to be praised.”—TR.] It is not vocative, but Accusative, and is put at the beginning of the sentence for the sake of emphasis, as in 2 Samuel 22:2; 7:16; 10:7, 14, 17. David has actually praised the Lord in the preceding predicates; they form the content of the praise. The rendering: “Praised be Thou, I cry, O Jehovah” (G. Baur, Olshausen) does not accord with the following member: “and from my enemies I am saved.” The verbs are not (with many old expositors) to be taken as future: “I will call, shall be saved,” but as expressing undefined past time, comp. Ps. 3:5  [or, better as indefinite as to time, the Eng. general present.—TR.]. David prefaces his song with this general, all-embracing declaration (based on all his experiences of the Lord’s help), of which the sense is: “as often as (= when) I call on the Lord, I am saved;” and he now proceeds to exhibit its truth by the citation of his experiences. He bases his confident appeal to the Lord for help on His manifestations of might, wherein he recognizes and praises God as his deliverer.
2 Samuel 22:5–28. First part of the description of the divine manifestation of help, experienced by David in the time of Saul’s persecutions.
2 Samuel 22:5–7. From the description of the dangers that pressed on him (2 Samuel 22:5, 6), he proceeds to the avowal that he called on the Lord for help, and was heard (2 Samuel 22:7).
2 Samuel 22:5. For breakers of death had surrounded8 me. The “for” (lacking in Ps. 18:5 ) introduces the following as the ground of the declaration of 2 Samuel 22:4. Instead of “breakers” the Ps, has “cords (bands),” representing death under the image of a hunter, comp. Ps. 91:3. The “breakers” here correspond better to the “floods” of the next member. “Floods of wickedness;” the word (בְּלִיַּעַל) means properly “uselessness, worthlessness,” commonly found in an ethical sense: “wickedness,” comp. 16:7; 20:1; 23:6; 1 Sam. 2:12; 10:27; 25:17, 25. It is found also in the physical sense of “destruction, harm,” Nah. 1:11; Ps. 41:9 [8, Eng. A. V.: evil disease]. So it must be taken here also, on account of the parallels: “breakers of death, nets of hell, snares of death.” “Had terrified9 me” (suddenly come upon me). [Dr. Erdmann in his translation, renders: “floods of wickedness,” but his preceding statement requires: “floods of destruction,” (so Delitzsch).—TR.]
2 Samuel 22:6. Nets of hell [better: Sheol.10—TR.]—snares of death. From the figure of water-waves the poet passes to that of the hunter, under which is represented the suddenly and treacherously attacking power of death. “Snares of death fall on me” (קִדֵּם) comp. 2 Samuel 22:19; Ps. 17:13; Job 30:27.—The words of 2 Samuel 22:5, 6 describe not all the dangers of David’s life up to this time (Keil, Ew., Hupf., Thol.), but the snares and persecutions that befell him in Saul’s time. The description of peril of life agrees only with this time, which the title also expressly mentions. This view is favored also by the relation between the two sections, 2 Samuel 22:5–28 and 29–46, “in the first of which David is saved by God without effort on his part, while in the second, he is both object and instrument of the divine deliverance” (Hengst.). In the same direction Riehm (in Hupfeld) well remarks that David in the whole of the first part is only passive, not active (only God’s hand saves him), but in the second part on the contrary himself as a warrior, wards off his enemies.
2 Samuel 22:7. Looking back at those deadly dangers, David affirms that he was driven by them to call on God, and was heard by him. In my distress11 I called upon the Lord, and to my God I called. Instead of “called” the Ps. has “cried,” answering to the distress that forced such a cry from him. And he heard my voice out of his palace, out of God’s heavenly dwelling, as contrasted with the depth of distress on earth, out of which he sent up to God his cry for help. Comp. Ps. 16:4: “The Lord is in his holy palace, the Lord’s throne is in heaven.” Thence appears the Lord’s help. [Eng. A. V., not so well: “temple,” for, though heaven may be regarded as a temple, Jehovah is here represented as a king, enthroned in heaven and the word “temple” would most probably be understood by English readers of the earthly building consecrated to His service. The Hebrew word means both palace and temple.—TR.] And my cry into his ears. The Ps., has the fuller vivid description: “and my cry came before him, into his ears;” our passage has the advantage of more emphatic brevity (comp. Hengst., Rem.).
2 Samuel 22:8–20. Splendid poetical description of God’s help appearing in answer to his prayer, under the image of a terrible storm accompanied by an earthquake, the individual features being given with vivid coloring in accordance with the natural order of the phenomena. Comp. Tholuck, on Psalms, p. 91.—As the preceding description of distress refers not to the whole of David’s life, but only to the Sauline period, so this poetical description is not to be understood of a real storm (as in 1 Sam. 7:10) that terrified the enemy and saved David. Thenius, Ewald and Hitzig, indeed, so understand it, and refer it to a storm in a battle with the Syrians (2 Sam. 7:5), and similarly others. But, in the first place, the connection is against this; for the deliverance described in 2 Samuel 22:17–20 is clearly none other than the salvation from the distress pictured in 2 Samuel 22:5–7. Further, the figure (here poetically elaborated) of a terrible storm, is the standing form of representation of God’s glory and majesty in the revelation of His holiness and punitive justice, as in the fundamental passage, Ex. 19 (the legislation on Sinai). So are often represented God’s theophanies for the revelation of His anger, for the accomplishment of His judgments, for the deliverance of His people from their enemies and for new unfoldings of the glory of His kingdom; comp. besides Ex. 19:16–18, especially Judg. 5:4, 5; Isa. 29:6; 30:27–30; Joel 2:10, 11; 3:3 sq. [2:30, 31]; Nab. 1:3–6; Ps. 50:2, 3; 77:17–19 [16–18]; 97:2–5.—Certainly, “if the poet had meant by all this to say merely: ‘God even in the greatest need, has accorded me almighty help,’ the apparatus would in fact be too great” (Thenius). But the connection shows that he means to say more; looking at the fears and dangers of the gloomy time of Saul’s persecution, he will comprehensively set forth how the Lord visited His wrathful judgments on the enemy that so oppressed him, God’s servant, and in him endangered the cause of God’s kingdom, and how the Lord by His invincible might, saved him and gave victory to his cause. “The combination of the figure of 2 Samuel 22:17 sqq., with other and general features, suggests that it also has a general reference.” (Hupfeld). So Riehm (in Hupf., p. 465) remarks that the description has no historical reference, but by its poetical form, holds itself above the plane of concrete history.
2 Samuel 22:8. The earthquake is the sign of God’s approaching wrath; as the Lord descends from His temple in heaven to judgment on earth, the whole earth quakes before Him. There is probably in this an allusion to thunder as the voice of the approaching wrathful God, under the mighty peals of which heaven and earth shake; see Joel 2:10, 11; 4:16; [3:16]. Nah. 1:5. The effect is vividly represented in the text by paronomasia12 in three verbs (“the earth was shaking and quaking, the foundations of heaven quailing and shaking”).—The foundations of the heaven shake together with the earth. The Psalm, in which only the shaking of the earth is spoken of, has: “the foundations of the mountains.” The mountains rising up towards heaven are, according to the natural view, regarded as the foundation on which heaven rests; comp. Job 26:11, where they are called “the pillars of heaven.” “The text of 2 Sam., represents the whole universe as trembling before Him, in order to picture strongly the terribleness of the wrath of the Almighty; so Joel. 2:10, 11; 4:16 [3:16]; Isa. 13:13.” For he was wroth. The wrath of God is here expressly stated to be the cause of the trembling of heaven and earth.
2 Samuel 22:9. Elaboration of the preceding “he was wroth,” by the description of the approaching appearance of the wrath of God, under the figure of smoke and fire. Smoke rose in his nostril—not: “in His anger” (Sept., Vulg., Stier), but (in keeping with the parallel “mouth”) His nose, which is considered the seat of anger (so also in Greek and Latin writers); and so its snorting (comp. 2 Samuel 22:16), as in the case of an angry man, is the figure of God’s anger, which, as a heightening of the image, is compared to smoke, as in Ps. 74:1; 80:5 [4, Eng. A. V.; “be angry,” literally: “smoke”]; Deut. 29:19. And fire devoured out of his mouth. Fire is a standing image of God’s consuming anger (comp. Deut. 32:22). The smoke, as the natural accompaniment of fire, denotes the uprising and approach of God’s anger. For similar figure of smoke and fire see (besides the fundamental passage, Ex. 19:18), Isa. 65:5. The “out of his mouth” is parallel to “out of his nose.” The image of the mouth answers to the consuming force of the fire of wrath. The verb “devoured” is to be taken without an object (as “the enemy”); it stands absolutely (as in Ps. 50:3), only the consuming power of the fire being indicated. Glowing coals burned out of him; the “glowing coals” is parallel to the “devouring fire,” adding to the picture the feature of the flames that proceed from the fire. “Out of him,” that is, out of His mouth, as a burning oven, pour the flames of the sea of fire (comp. Gen. 15:17). The mouth is designated as the medium of the revelation of anger; because the fire of human anger pours from the heart through the mouth in angry words. The fire in the Lord’s mouth is symbolized “as one flaming in full glow” (Hupfeld). There is no reference here to flashes of lightning. “These are the later product (comp. 2 Samuel 22:13) of the flame of fire and anger, that is here just kindled” (Hengst.). But since the representation of a rising storm (breaking out afterwards in 2 Samuel 22:13 with thunder and lightning) is carried out in the poetical conception, so in the picture thus far the image of smoke and flaming fire is to be referred to the rising of the storm-cloud and the flaming of the sheet-lightning that announces the storm (Tholuck).
2 Samuel 22:10–12. Now follows the poetical description of the appearance of the Lord from heaven under the figures of the thickening and gathering clouds, on which the Lord sweeps on as on a throne, and of the storm-wind, on whose wings He rushes.
2 Samuel 22:10. And he bowed the heavens—a picture of the low-hanging storm-clouds, at whose approach the heaven seems to bend down to the earth. Comp. Ps. 144:5; Isa. 63:19.—And came down, the descent of the Lord from heaven to earth to execute judgment on David’s enemies, and deliver him. On the indication of God’s coming to judgment by His “descent from heaven,” comp. Gen. 11:7; 18:21; Isa. 64:1.—And cloud-darkness under His feet, i.e., He thus descended. The dark, black cloud13 (= darkness, 2 Samuel 22:12) is the symbol of the terror that the wrath of God carries with it; see Ex. 19:16 [Sinai]; 20:21; Deut. 5:19; Ps. 104:29 (a figure of the hiding of God’s face); Nah. 1:3 (“clouds are the dust of his feet”).
2 Samuel 22:11. And he rode on the cherub and flew.—As to the signification of the cherub, see on 1 Sam. 4:4. As the cherubim on the cover of the ark (Ex. 25:18 sqq.; 37:7 sqq.) are the bearers of the divine majesty and glory (6:2; 2 Kings 19:15; Ps. 80:2 ; 99:1; Isa. 37:16), so here also the cherub is the symbol of God’s almighty power and glory, as it appears in the creaturely world, and exhibits itself as the revelation of the highest and completest being (Winer, R.-W., s. v., Hengst. on Ps. 18:11 ). The “rode” is defined by the “flew.” The conception of flying is harmonized with that of riding on the cherub (as a chariot or throne) by the wings with which the cherub is provided.—And appeared on the wings of the wind; this, as the preceding, sets forth the majesty in which God appears in the creation in the elementary substratum of the wind, to hold judgment. Comp. Isa. 5:28; Nah. 1:3: “in tempest and storm is his way,” and Ps. 104:3, where, instead of the cherub, the clouds are conceived of as the vehicle, and the wings of the wind as the bearers of the appearance of His glory.—Instead of “appeared” Ps. 18:11  has “flew” (דָּאָה). The latter (which occurs also Deut. 28:49; Jer. 48:40; 49:22) carries out the figure of the wings of the wind; here, on the contrary, our “appeared” is, if not an elucidation (Keil, v. Leng.), a real statement instead of a poetical figure. But there is no necessity for regarding it as a scribal error (Stier, Thenius), or as a “vague, flat and inappropriate reading” (Hupfeld).
2 Samuel 22:12. Development of the second half of 2 Samuel 22:10, as 2 Samuel 22:11 is of the first half. And he made darkness around him booths [Eng. A. V.: pavilions]. The clouds mass more closely; their darkness grows blacker. The “darkness” is that of the clouds of 2 Samuel 22:10 b. He makes the cloud-darkness “booths, tents” for Himself. The Psalm has more fully: “he made darkness his secret place, his pavilion round about him darkness of waters, thick clouds of the skies.” On the “round about” comp. Ps. 97:2 (“clouds and darkness are around him”), and on the “booths [pavilions]” Job 36:29, where the clouds are called God’s tabernacle or tent.—Gathering of waters, cloud-thicket is further explanation of the “darkness” of the first clause. Instead of “gathering14 of waters” the Ps. has “darkness of waters” [which is here unnecessarily adopted by Eng. A. V.—TR.]; the former is obviously more picturesque.
2 Samuel 22:13–15. Issuing of lightning-flashes out of this darkness, and bursting of the storm amid thunder and lightning. Out of the brightness before him burned coals of fire. The expression “brightness before him” points back to the fire in 2 Samuel 22:9, the flames of sheet-lightning as symbol of the divine anger. Out of this fiery brightness before him “burned coals of fire,” i.e., darted the flashes of lightning, which are, as it were, the sharpening of that flaming fire-anger into separate fiery arrows (comp. 2 Samuel 22:15). The “brightness before him” is not the doxa [glory] of God embracing light and fire (Hupf., Del.), because in the connection only the fire of God’s anger is spoken of, and if the singer had here had in view the light in which God dwells (Ps. 104:2), he would necessarily have used the general term “glory” (חוֹד ,כָּבוֹד, δόξα). The natural basis of the poetical description is the blinding brightness of the flaming fire, which in a storm seems to cleave the clouds and send forth flashes of lightning.—To this refers the deviating text of the Psalm: “from the brightness before him his clouds passed away (or went to pieces),” comp. Job 30:15.
2 Samuel 22:14. The Lord thundered from heaven. Since lightning and thunder appear so close together, the storm is very near, God’s wrathful judgment bursts on the enemy. Instead of “from heaven” the Ps. has “in heaven.” God is here called the Most High as “the all-controlling, unapproachable judge” (Del.). The “giving [uttering] his voice” is poetical designation of thunder; see Job 37:3; Ps. 29:3 sqq., comp. Ex. 9:23; Ps. 46:7 ; 68:34 ; 77:18. The phrase “hailstones and coals of fire” found in the Ps. in this verse and the preceding, is wanting here.
2 Samuel 22:15. And he sent out arrows; the Ps. has: “his arrows.” These are the flashes of lightning (comp. 77:18) into which the foe-destroying fire of wrath concentrates and sharpens itself. The wrathful, punishing God is represented under the figure of a warrior armed with bow and arrows, as in many other passages, Ps. 7:13, 14 [12, 13]; 38:3 [2); Job 6:4; Deut. 32:23; Lam. 3:12,13.—And scattered them, that is, the enemies, comp. 2 Samuel 22:4, 18. The pronoun “them” does not refer to the arrows and lightning. The first effect is the scattering of the compact masses, into which the enemies had thrown themselves. Lightning, and discomfited (them). The Ps. has: “and lightnings much (innumerable)” [Eng. A. V. (with Kimchi) “shot out lightnings”]. The verb here is to be supplied from the preceding, as in 2 Samuel 22:12, 14, 42. “He discomfited” (so Jerome); the Ps. has: “and discomfited them,” from which the Qeri [margin] omits15 the suffix “them.” The further effect of the Lord’s interference is the complete destruction of the enemy; comp. Ex. 14:24; 23:27; Josh. 10:10; Judg. 4:15; 1 Sam. 7:10.
2 Samuel 22:16. And the beds16 of the sea became visible. The Ps. has the weaker expression: “brooks of water.” Uncovered were the foundations of the earth,17 that is, the bottom of the sea, the waters being blown away; a parallel description to the preceding. In addition to the thunder and lightning from above comes the storm-wind (which accompanies the storm) and the earthquake, which has already been pictured (2 Samuel 22:8) as an effect of God’s anger. By the rebuking of the Lord, that is, the expression of anger in the voice of the thunder (2 Samuel 22:14); comp. Ps. 104:7, where the waters of the chaos are affrighted at the rebuke of God (parallel to His thunder-voice). At the snorting of the breath of his nose, comp. 2 Samuel 22:9. The Psalm has the second person, turning in sudden address to Jehovah: “at thy rebuke and thy anger.” The “breakers of death” and the “streams of evil” have, according to 2 Samuel 22:5 overwhelmed David. Under the image of water-waves he has there depicted the dangers that threatened his life. This alone would prevent our supposing that we have here a mere poetic-hyperbolical delineation of the tumult of the waters as result of the storm, in order to fill out the picture (Hupf.). But the following account (2 Samuel 22:17) of deliverance “out of great waters” is still more opposed to this view. In his distress David was overwhelmed as by mighty water-floods. The Lord, revealing His anger against his enemies, saves him by laying bare the depths of the sea in which he had sunk, and uncovering the foundations of the earth by the storm-wind of His wrath (so Delitzsch). Thither descending from on high the Lord seized him and drew him forth from the waves, as is described in the following verses. There is therefore as little ground for the view of Hitzig, that the waves denote the host of the enemy, and the bottom the ground on which they stood and from which they were driven, as for that of Thenius, that the assumed battle was near a large inland sea (he conjectures the Bahr el Atebe near Damascus, about as large as the sea of Gennesaret), and that the description is thus to be taken “almost literally.” The interpretation of the “foundations of the earth” as Sheol (Hengst., Keil) is without support in the text.
2 Samuel 22:17–20. After the description of the descent of God from heaven to save, David now traces the deliverance itself, and praises the Lord for it.
2 Samuel 22:17. “He sent forth,” the word “hand” (Ps. 144:7) is to be supplied, as in 6:6; Ps. 57:4 = He reached out from on high, that is, from heaven. In spite of the “came down” of 2 Samuel 22:10, which refers to God’s throne in heaven, the poetical view holds fast to the conception of God’s elevation above men. “He drew me out of many waters.” The verb (מָשָׁה) occurs elsewhere only in Ex. 2:10 of Moses, whose name is formed18 from it, and whose deliverance from the waters of the Nile is here probably alluded to. Luther: “he made a Moses of me.” The “many waters” [better in Erdmann’s translation: “great waters”—TR.] are not enemies, but the deadly perils that had befallen him, comp. 2 Samuel 22:5; Ps. 32:6; 66:12; 69:2, 3 [1, 2]; Isa. 43:2, where water is a figure of great distress and danger.
2 Samuel 22:18. Here David first passes from his perils to his enemies. He delivered me from my enemy, the strong19 one. “The song here passes from the epic to a more lyric tone, and direct discourse takes the place of figurative” (Del.). The Sing. “my enemy” does not justify the supposition of an individual enemy, but from the following “my haters” is to be taken as collective, though the name Saul rightly stands as superscription to this whole picture of distress. Because they were stronger20 than I, had overpowered me. God’s saving interposition was necessary, since David in his weakness felt himself overpowered by his enemies—extreme impotence requires divine help.
2 Samuel 22:19. Elucidation of the last words of 2 Samuel 22:18. They fell on21 me in the day of my calamity. This is not a definite day, but the time of his helplessness in the Sauline persecution; their purpose was to finish him by a sudden attack, and so self-help was impossible. And the Lord became a stay to me. After deliverance comes support.22 Compare for the thought Psalm 23:4.
Verse 20. And he brought me forth into a large place, into a condition of freedom,23 in contrast with narrowness, straits. The “me”24 is emphatic. The words: He delivered me, here in conclusion embrace all that has been heretofore said of the process of deliverance. Observe the progression in the description up to this point: the dispersion and confounding of the enemy by the arrows of the lightning, the driving off of the water-waves and laying bare of their foundations by the storm; then the stretching forth of the hand, seizing, drawing out of the great waters, supporting the helpless man, bringing him out of straits into freeness, and thus completing the deliverance.—For He delighted in me—the ground of the Lord’s deliverance, over against the enemies, on whom had come God’s wrath and judgment. This delight of the Lord in Him (Ps. 22:9 ; 41:12 ) is based on his integrity, as is brought out in what follows. There follows, namely.
2 Samuel 22:21–28, the exhibition of the ground of his deliverance; it is his righteousness, according to which the Lord requited him.
2 Samuel 22:21. The declaration and avowal that God in saving him requited him according to his righteousness. The verb25 [Eng. A. V.: “reward”] (comp. Ps. 7:17 ) signifies to do something to a person, whether bad or good, but with reference to his conduct as ground, hence to requite.—Accordding to the cleanness of my hands he recompensed me.—The hands are the instrument of action, and “cleanness of hands” signifies the purity of his actions from sin and unrighteousness. Comp. 2 Samuel 22:25; Ps. 7:5 ; 24:4; 26:6; Job 9:30; 22:30. To this answers purity of mind (expressed in the “upright” of 2 Samuel 22:24), as source of purity of conduct. David often thus affirms his uprightness, for ex., 17:3–5. The truth of this testimony to himself is exhibited in his actual conduct as described in 2 Samuel 22:22–24, where he gives the ground (כִּי) for the declaration that he is “righteous” and “his hands clean.”—[On the ethical and religious significance of this claim to righteousness, see “Historical and Theological” to this chapter, paragraph 6.—TR.]
2 Samuel 22:22. He proved his righteousness by the affirmation: I have kept the ways of the Lord. “Have observed, held to,” so Job 22:15. “The ways of the Lord” are the rules of human conduct given in His law, which David’s enemies had wickedly transgressed.—And have not wickedly departed from my God, as he has kept God’s ways, so he has not sinned himself away from God Himself. The phrase is literally: “to be wicked from God,” that is, to fall away from God by wickedness. Not (as Grotius): “to be wicked against (מִן) God,” nor is it a designation of judgment or decision proceeding from God, as if the sense were: “I have not sinned according to God’s decision, according to His judgment I am guiltless” (Hupf.); comp. Job 4:17; Jer. 51:5. Against this is both the “keeping the Lord’s ways” in the first member, to which corresponds “not departing from” the Lord, and the following reference [2 Samuel 22:23] to his abiding in God’s statutes and judgments.
2 Samuel 22:23. “For26 all thy judgments are before me,” that is, as a guide in my ways.—And His statutes, I do not depart from them.27 The reading of the Psalm: “His statutes I do not put away from me,” is not elsewhere found, while our text is the usual expression for the conception. For the thought compare the divine testimony to David, 1 Kings 14:8: “who kept my commandments, and walked after me with all his heart,” and 15:5; “David did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, and departed not from all that He commanded him.” Comp. also David’s testimony concerning himself, 1 Sam. 26:23 sq.
2 Samuel 22:24. “And I was upright28 towards him,” that is, upright in soul, the “towards him” (לוֹ) expressing the immediate relation to God, in contrast with outward works, which are done for one’s own sake or for men’s. The “with him” of the Psalm expresses still more exactly cordial communion of life with God.—And guarded myself from my iniquity, the negative side of his moral character, of which he has just given the positive side: “I guarded against committing a sin, and so contracting guilt.” A similar hypothetical expression [i. e., if I sinned, I should be guilty] is found in Ps. 17:3 (Hupfeld), and so essentially Job 33:9: “there is no iniquity in me.” David declares that he constantly watches over and restrains himself; otherwise, the assumption is, he would have fallen into sin; this is an indirect testimony to indwelling sinfulness, whereby he might have been led to sinful deed, and against which such self-guarding was necessary. Comp. Psalm 51:7 , where David expressly declares his consciousness of sinfulness inborn in him, which is not the case here.—The historical proofs of David’s declaration of purity are given in *1 Sam. 24.26. though he at this moment may not have had all the individual facts in mind.
2 Samuel 22:22–24 exhibit the climax: 2 Samuel 22:22 proof of uprightness in outward walk, 2 Samuel 22:23 practice of righteousness in obedience to God’s commands as its norm, 2 Samuel 22:24, source of righteousness in a pious disposition directed towards God.
2 Samuel 22:25. Repetition of the affirmation of 2 Samuel 22:21 (the proof of his “righteousness” and “cleanness of hands” having been given in 2 Samuel 22:22–24) in the form of a logical conclusion: And so the Lord requited me, etc. Literally: “and requited me the Lord,” where the “and,” connecting this with the preceding, indicates a logical relation [the logical relation is indicated by the progress of the discourse, not by the Conjunction, in Hebrew or in Eng.—TR.]. Instead of “my cleanness” the Psalm has “the cleanness of my hands,” as in 2 Samuel 22:21.
2 Samuel 22:26, 27. General proposition, explaining and supporting the word: “the Lord requited me” by the truth, that God deports Himself to man as man to Him. This moral relation between God and man is carried out in four parallel members, “in which the divine conduct is expressed by reflexive verbs, formed from the adjectives expressing human conduct.” (Keil). The Imperfects express what is universal and necessary. The general truth that the manifestation of God’s retributive righteousness is conditioned by man’s position and conduct towards God, is set forth positively in 2 Samuel 22:26, 27 a in relation to the pious, and negatively in 2 Samuel 22:27 b in relation to the ungodly. Towards the pious [better: merciful—TR.], upright and clean, God shows Himself pious [merciful], upright and pure. The adjectives express qualities29 of man in relation to God; the “love” here expressed is not towards man, but towards God, (חָסִיד, Eng. A. V. merciful), and to such God shows Himself loving. [Rather the adjectives express general qualities without any statement that they refer only to God. The first of these adjectives means either “favored, beloved” or “merciful,” and the latter sense is more appropriate here.—TR.].—Towards the perverse thou showest thyself perverse, that is, requiting to the perverse man perverse things as the consequence of his sin, thou seemest to Him to be thyself perverse. The ungodly man, failing to recognize his own sin, thinks of God as unjust and cruel towards him. Comp. Lev. 26:23, 24; “if ye walk perversely towards me; I will walk perversely towards you.” Moral perversity in man produces perversity and confusion in his knowledge of God. [The thought here, however, is simply that God does evil to the man that does evil.—TR.].
2 Samuel 22:28 gives the ground and confirmation of the general truth in 2 Samuel 22:26, 27, by pointing to God’s actual conduct towards the two principal classes in the people, the humble and the proud, who represent concretely the preceding contrast between the upright (merciful, pure) and the perverse. The factual relation of this verse to the preceding is indicated in the Psalm by the initial “for thou,” while here the simple “and” is used, in order to avoid a too frequent recurrence of the causal conjunction, as 2 Samuel 22:29 begins with “for thou,” and 2 Samuel 22:30 with “for.” The word “people”30 is here limited (by the contrast with the “haughty” of the following clause) to a large community within the nation, characterized by the epithet “afflicted;” and the following contrast shows that they are also “humble.” “Thine eyes are against the haughty,” who oppress the poor and afflicted; “whom thou bringest down” (the verb is to be taken as relative, Ew. § 332 b, comp. Josh. 2:11; 3:12; 5:15). The Psalm has in the second member: “lofty eyes (elevated eye-brows, sign of haughtiness) thou bringest down.” Comp. Prov. 6:17; 21:4; 30:13; Ps. 101:5.
2 Samuel 22:29–46. Second part of the description of the help that David received from the Lord, namely, in wars against external enemies.—Looking back at these wars, he tells how through the Lord’s help he had overcome his enemies. But he looks also to the present and to the future, declaring what the Lord, after such aid, still is to him and ever will be. So in this section occur verbs of past, present and future times.
2 Samuel 22:29. First, he declares what the Lord (in connection with the exhibitions of grace in the Sauline persecution) is for him perpetually. The “for” attaches this verse as the ground or confirmation of the preceding, where David included himself among the “afflicted people,” the oppressed; the Lord has helped him “the afflicted one” out of the affliction brought on him by his enemies. All these experiences of divine help find their reason or ground in the fact that the Lord is his lamp.31 While “light” is always the symbol of good fortune and well-being (Job 18:5), the burning lamp denotes the source of lasting happiness and joyful strength; Job 18:6; 21:17; 29:3; Ps. 132:17; comp. Isa. 42:3; 43:17. The Psalm has the unusual expression: “thou makest light my lamp.”—What the lamp is for a man in his house, the source of joy and good fortune, this the Lord is for David: his lamp, the source of his well-being. This is the ground of David’s being called (21:17) the lamp of Israel. This is the ground of the declaration: “the Lord is my light.” (Ps. 27:1). The consequence of this is: The Lord enlightens my darkness. Darkness is the symbol of affliction—in contrast with light, without God, his lamp, he would have remained in wretchedness and ruin. His experiences are based on the general truth: it is the Lord who, as His lamp, makes even the darkness light about Him. Comp. Job 29:3. In the Psalm: “The Lord, my God, makes my darkness light.” This general declaration, proved by the past, is confirmed also for the future by setting forth the foe-conquering might which he, through the Lord’s help, has shown and will forever be able to show.
2 Samuel 22:30. For with thee I run against troops, with my God I leap over walls—literally: “in thee;” “David declares that he is ‘in God,’ and therefore has such power.” (Hengst). By “troops” David means the hostile bands that he has attacked on the battle-field, and by “walls” the fortified places that he has conquered. Such power of victory he has now also in his God. Since the verb “run” here properly takes an Accus., it is unnecessary to take the word in the sense “crush” (Ew., Olsh.).32 “Running” is represented as an essential quality of the warrior in 2 Samuel 22:34; 1, 19, 23; 2:18, and means (with the prep, “against” or “to”) hostile attack Job 15:26; 6:14; Dan. 8:6. [Eng. A. V., not so well: “run through”.—TR.]
2 Samuel 22:31. The word “God” is in apposition with the: “with my God” in 2 Samuel 22:30 (as in 2 Samuel 22:33, 48), not nominative Absolute [so Eng. A. V.], since then the Art. [Heb.: the God] would be unexplained: The God whose way is blameless, that is, whose government is perfect. This human quality of perfectness is transferred to God, and denotes His trustworthiness. The word of the Lord is purified, that is, without guile, pure, true, comp. Ps. 12:7 . God’s promises do not deceive. He is a shield to all that trust in Him. He offers sure protection against all dangers. The second and third members of this verse occur word for word also in Prov. 30:5. All these affirmations respecting God give the ground for the declaration in 2 Samuel 22:30, that he can do so great things in and with his God.
2 Samuel 22:32. The soleness of the Lord as such a God, is next stated as the ground (“for”) of the fact that His way is perfect, His word pure and His protection sure. The expression “rock” (comp. 2 Samuel 22:3) especially emphasizes the quality of trustworthiness, firmness as the foundation for immovable trust, and the ground of his help and protection. Parallel is 7:22; “for there is no one as thou, and there is no God beside thee.” Comp. Deut. 32. 31; 1 Sam. 2:2
2 Samuel 22:33 carries on the thought connected with the figure of the “rock.” The “God” here is in opposition with the “God” at the end of the preceding verse. The God who is my strong fortress. [Eng. A. V., not so well: “my strength and power.”]. On the “fortress” comp. Ps. 31:5 ; 27:1 [Eng. A. V.: “strength.”]. The noun “strength” defines “my fortress,” literally: “my fortress of strength,” as in Ps. 71:733—The Psalm has: “who girds me with strength,”=2 Samuel 22:40 a (with omission of “to battle.”).—And leads34 the perfect man on his way. The pronoun on “his way” refers not to God, but to the “perfect man,” as is required by the “his feet” [Eng. A. V.: “my feet”] of the next verse. The Psalm has: “who makes my way perfect.” [This is the marginal reading (Qeri) here also: “my way,” and seems to agree better with the context, in which the Psalmist is speaking of his own experiences.—TR.]
2 Samuel 22:34. He makes his feet like the hinds, that is, like hinds’ feet; Hab. 3:18. (On this abridged form of expression see Ges. § 144, Rem.) Hengstenberg.: “In Egyptian paintings also the hind is the symbol of fleetness.” Comp. 2:18; 1 Chr. 12:8. The Psalm: “my feet” [so Eng. A. V. here, after the margin]; the third personal pronoun is used here because the reference is to the “perfect (or innocent)” man [in 2 Samuel 22:33 according to the author’s translation]. The swiftness refers not to fleeing (De Wette), but to the pursuit of enemies. And on my high-places He sets me. The “high-places” are not those of the enemy, which he ascends as victor, and through faith declares beforehand to be his own (Hengst.), but “those of his own land, which he victoriously holds against his enemies” (Keil). Comp. Deut. 32:13
2 Samuel 22:35. He instructs my hands for war35 and my arms bend the bronze bow. Or, perhaps (with Hupf.): “He instructs my hands for war, and my arms to bend36 the bronze bow.” “The Egyptian weapons were almost all of bronze” (Hengst.). To bend the bronze37 bow is the sign of great strength; the thought expressed is: God has given him not only skill, but also strength for victorious war.
2 Samuel 22:36. From the figure of the bow David passes to that of the shield. As in attack, so in defence the Lord is his strength. And thou gavest me the shield of thy salvation, the shield that consists in God’s salvation, whereby He protects His people. Comp. Eph. 6:17: “helmet of salvation.” The following words in the Psalm: “and thy right hand supported me” are wanting here; they seem to have been omitted, not through error, but for brevity’s sake, as in general our song, compared with the Psalm, shows a preference for curt, pregnant expression. And thy hearing made me great. Hearing = favorable acceptance of a request. This “hearing”38(not “thy lowliness,” Hengst., or “thy toil,” Böttch.) answers to the “salvation” of the preceding clause; he received salvation through God’s granting his petition. The Psalm has: “thy humility, condescension” (comp. Ps. 113:6; Isa. 57:15; 66:1 sq.) [Eng. A. V., following the pointing of the Psalm, renders: “thy gentleness” (“meekness” would be a more accurate translation). Our text reads literally: “thy answering,” or “thy toiling, suffering,” neither of which gives a satisfactory sense in the connection. The reading of the Psalm is better.—TR.]
2 Samuel 22:37. Thou enlargedst my steps under39 me, gave me free room, so that I could advance without hindrance. Prov. 4:12 presents the contrasted condition of straitness and stumbling: “when thou goest, thy steps shall not be straitened, and when thou runnest, thou shalt not stumble,” comp. 2 Samuel 22:34. Hupfeld remarks rightly that we have not here merely the usual contrast of narrowness and wideness=distress and deliverance (Ps. 4:2 , comp. Ps. 31:9 ); the wide path (step) is prepared by the Lord for the successful termination of the battle, especially for the unhindered pursuit of the enemy (2 Samuel 22:38). And my ankles wavered not (elsewhere: “my feet, or steps, Ps. 26:1; 37:31), that is, thou gavest me the power so to go with free step. Wavering, as opposed to standing firm, comes from weakness in the knees or ankles.
2 Samuel 22:38–43. After this preparation and equipment for battle by the Lord’s strength, David destroyed the power of his enemies.
2 Samuel 22:38, 39. The act of pursuit and destruction is declared to be his own act. The verbs are to be taken in the Imperfect signification, since it is clear from 2 Samuel 22:40 sqq.40 that the reference is to the past. I pursued my enemies and destroyed them; the Psalm has the weaker expression: “overtook them” (Ps. 7:6 . comp. Ex. 15:9). In the Psalm there is an advance in the thought, here a simple synonymous parallelism (Hengst.). 2 Samuel 22:39 expresses the idea of total destruction by an aggregation of words: “and I destroyed them (wanting in the Psalm) and crushed them.” That they rose not; Psalm: “and they could not rise,” that is, in the hostile sense, rise to further contest. And they fell under my feet, = under me, 2 Samuel 22:40, 48; Ps. 44. 6; 47:4 . 2 Samuel 22:38 and 40 present a picture not of subjection and dominion (Hupf.), but of conquering enemies in battle by casting them down and passing over them.
2 Samuel 22:40, 41. David declares, however, that he received the victorious might only from the Lord, and gives Him praise therefor. And thou didst gird me… and didst bow my opponents under me;41 literally, “didst make them bend the knee.”—And my enemies, thou madest them turn the back to me; literally, “thou gavest42 them to me as neck [nape].”
2 Samuel 22:42, 43. The enemy look in vain to the Lord for help. They looked out to the Lord (comp. Isa. 17:7, 8); the Psalm has: “they cried.” The enemies are not to be regarded as Israelites, because they looked to the help of the Lord (Riehm in Hupf.); the heathen also in extreme need might well expect deliverance from the God of Israel, comp. 1 Sam. 5:7; 6:5; John 2:14—And I rubbed them to pieces (pulverized them) as dust of the earth, comp. Gen. 13:16; Isa. 40:12, their power was changed into impotence. The Psalm has: “as dust before the wind,” combining the two images of the beating the enemy to dust, and scattering them as dust is scattered by the wind, comp. Isa. 29:5; 41:2—As the dust of the streets I did trample43 and stamp them to pieces (the Psalm: “I emptied them out.”) The stamping of the dirt of the street is the symbol of a contemptuous treatment and rejection of what is in itself worthless. Comp. Isa. 10:6; Zech. 10:5. The description of the contest against the enemies under the guidance and help of the Lord is completed by the representation of their total destruction.
2 Samuel 22:44–46. The result of this conflict with enemies, namely, sovereign dominion over them, and their humble subjection under his royal power.
2 Samuel 22:44. Thou didst deliver me out of the wars of my people (or, of peoples). Since only external wars44 are spoken of in the preceding and succeeding context, it is not at all allowable to understand internal dissensions here (Hitz., Hengst., Del., Keil). That would break the connection, and destroy the continuity of advance in the description of David’s relation to external enemies up to the point of complete dominion over them by the Lord’s help.—The “wars of my people” are the wars that his people had to carry on against other nations under his lead; as he has previously spoken of them as his wars, so now he regards them as his people’s. He was doubtless led to this by thinking of his position as king and head of his people, from which position he saw as the result of his wars the subjection of the heathen nations to his royal authority.—If we take the form (עַמִּי) as plural,45 = “peoples,” then the “wars of peoples” are wars carried on by Israel with foreign nations, “wars between peoples,” in contrast with the internal conflicts, the fortunate conclusion of which has been before described (Riehm in Hupfeld).—David embraces all the Lord’s helps in these wars in this brief exclamation, in order to declare how, as a consequence, the Lord has made him head over these nations. Thou didst preserve me (in the Psalm more simply: didst make me) to be head of the heathen, preserved me that I should become their head. This reading connects the previous declaration of deliverance with the following statement of the servitude of the nations better than that of the Psalm, because it directs attention to David’s dangers in those wars.—A people (= peoples) that I knew not serves (serve) me.—The collective sense “peoples” (עַם) is to be taken here, as above, on account of the parallelism with the plural “nations” [Eng. A. V.: heathen]; not: “people, folks” (Hupfeld). “The Verb (Impf.) is to be rendered as Present, since the idea of the ‘head of the nations’ is developed” (Hupf.). Comp. chap. 8
2 Samuel 22:45. Sons of strangeness, that is, those strange (foreign) nations; the “foreign” answers to the “I knew not” of the preceding verse—fawn on me (lit.: lie46 to me), they pay fawning, hypocritical homage, while their heart is full of hate and rage [Eng. A. V.: submit to me].—At the hearing of the ear they obeyed me.—The usual explanation is: “at the mere report of me and my victories, before my arrival, they submitted themselves,” based on Job 42:5, where the “hearing of the ear” stands in contrast with the “seeing of the eyes;” against which is, that David in the immediately preceding statement of the “fawning” of the enemy, and in the above description of their subjection pre-supposes his personal presence, and the reflexive (Niphal47) verb “obeyed” exhibits personal obedience to a personal command. We therefore render (with Böttcher and Hupf.): “at the hearing of the ear (= when they heard the command) they showed themselves obedient to me,” comp. Isa. 11:3. Hengstenberg’s passive rendering: “who were heard to me by the hearing of the ear,” that is, of whom I knew previously only by hearsay, is forced and ambiguous. The two members of 2 Samuel 22:45 stand in the Psalm in the reverse order.
2 Samuel 22:46. Withered away, all physical strength and moral courage left them, they became dull and wretched (comp. Ex. 18:18). In the next clause the Psalm has “trembled” [ =came trembling], while our passage (unless it be an error of copyist for the Psalm-word48) has: “they hobble (their strength being broken) out of their enclosures (or, fortresses);” it is not to be rendered: “they gird themselves (in order to come forth)” (Hengst. [Phil.]), since this does not accord with the representation here given of voluntary subjection. The reference of the words to “prisons and bonds,” into which the strangers are thrown as “refractory” (Böttcher) is against the connection, which speaks only of unconditional obedience and complete subjection of enemies. Rather there is supposed here the wretched condition produced by a long siege; the enemy come out of the fastnesses, in which they have long been cooped up, in miserable condition, in order to submit themselves to the victor.—[Eng. A. V. adopts the Psalm-text: “shall be afraid,” and so Erdmann in his translation: “tremble,” and this is perhaps preferable, comp. Micah 7:17—In 2 Samuel 22:45, 46, Erdmann renders the verbs Present in his translation (fawn, obey, wither, tremble), while in the Exposition he makes them Aorist (fawned, etc.); the former is better—TR.]
2 Samuel 22:47–51. Conclusion of the song. On the ground of the deliverances he has experienced (here briefly recapitulated from the content in a number of epithets) David first again praises God (2 Samuel 22:47–49), as in the beginning of the song. To this phrase, which looks to the past, he adds the vow of thanksgiving (2 Samuel 22:50, 51), looking beyond Israel to the salvation to come to the heathen, and prophesying the fulfilment for all time of the promises given to him, God’s Anointed, and to his seed.
2 Samuel 22:47. “Living is the Lord” So must the phrase (הַי י׳) be rendered, and not optatively: “long live Jehovah,” transferring (as most modern expositors do) the usual formula of homage: “long live the king” (16:16; 1 Sam. 10:24; 1 Kin. 1:25, 39; 2 Kings 11:12) to God as king of Israel. That formula (יְחִי הַמֶּלֶךְ) relates to the mortality of the king. Our phrase is the standing oath-formula [as the Lord liveth, by the life of Jehovah], and always assumes life [vitality] to be exclusively an attribute of God. Here only the formula is not an oath, but a declaration: living is the Lord!—an exclamation in the tone of a doxology. Comp. 1 Tim. 6:16: “God, who alone has immortality.” God is here called living not in contrast with the idols of the heathen (v. Leng., Hengstenberg), to which there is no allusion in the context, but in reference to the enemies and dangers from which God saved him. And so the two following exclamations are simply declarations of the being of God as it has been revealed in the preceding experiences of the singer. Blessed (praised), my rock! (see 2 Samuel 22:2).—Exalted is the rock-God of my salvation—The Psalm has merely: “The God of my salvation.” The “exalted” is to be taken not subjectively (exalted by the praise offered Him), but objectively, exalted in His own majesty and might (Ps. 56:11 ; 21:14 ; 57:6, 12 [5, 11]). Not: “be he exalted”49 [so Eng. A. V.] The rock-God of my salvation=the rock-like God, who brings me salvation; comp. 2 Samuel 22:3. To the three declarations of what God is, answer, in 2 Samuel 22:48, 49 the statements of God’s deeds, wherein David has learned what He is to him, and wherein He has shown Himself to be the living, rock-firm and exalted God. Here God’s deeds of deliverance (as described in 2 Samuel 22:5–20, 29–46) are briefly brought together
2 Samuel 22:48. The God that avenges me.—This shows that God lives, inasmuch as He does not leave His servant as a guilty man in the power of the enemy, but manifests his innocence by executing vengeance50 for him. In Ps. 94:1 God is “the God of vengeance.” And subjects (lit.: makes come down) nations under me.—The Psalm has: “drives51 [or subdues] nations under me” (the expression is found elsewhere only in Psalm 47:4 )
2 Samuel 22:49. Who brought me forth from my enemies (comp. 2 Samuel 22:20)—Psalm: “delivered me.” [In 2 Samuel 22:48 Dr. Erdmann renders the verbs in past time (gave, subdued) in his translation; the time can be determined only from the context; here the present seems better—TR.] And from my adversaries thou liftedst me on high—that is, on a rock, pregnant construction for: thou liftedst me up and thereby savedst me from my enemies. The declaratory discourse here passes into address. From the man of violent deeds thou savedst me.—Instead of the unusual plural (Ps. 140:2, 5 [1, 4]) the Ps. has the Sing. “man [or, men] of violence.” Most expositors take the phrase collectively: “men of violences,” (as Prov. 3:31) of a whole class of enemies. But it accords better with this conclusion and with the whole content of the song to refer the phrase to Saul, who is also expressly mentioned in the superscription. In 2 Samuel 22:47 David declares in general what God is to him, and how He has announced and attested Himself to him in all His deeds of deliverance; then in 2 Samuel 22:48 he looks at God’s help against external enemies (“thou broughtest down nations under me”), comp. 2 Samuel 22:29–46; in 2 Samuel 22:49 he recalls the deliverances of the Sauline persecution. With the thought of Saul, whose rejection by the Lord was the cause of his enmity to the Lord’s Anointed called in in his stead, connects itself naturally in David’s mind (on the ground of the Lord’s choice) the thought of the salvation that God has bestowed on him as His Anointed, and—of this he is sure—will also further bestow on him and his seed. This salvation He will also proclaim among the heathen, that they along with Israel may share therein.
2 Samuel 22:50, 51. The “therefore” attaches the declaration in these verses as a consequence to the preceding summary laudation of God’s deeds of salvation. David here expresses a resolution and a vow ever to praise the Lord’s name. This vow of thanksgiving he so presents that he 1) expressly declares his praise (by the therefore) to be a thank-offering due to the Lord, also his rightful fruit from the preceding experiences of his salvation. To thy name will I sing.—The name of God is here the concept [or representative] of all His deeds of deliverance, whereby He has revealed Himself as his God and his people’s, as which David has hitherto praised him. 2) David declares the extent to which he will proclaim the praise of his God: I will praise thee, O Lord, among the nations,—The nations are not only to be subdued by force, but are now to learn to know the living God of Israel and His salvation; His praise is therefore not to be confined to the land of Israel, but to be proclaimed among the heathen. This presumes that He is the God of the heathen also, and that they are called to share in the salvation revealed to Israel. Comp. Ps. 9:12 ; 57:10 ; 96:3, 10; 105:1; Isa. 12:4. In proof of this truth Paul (Rom. 15:9) quotes this passage along with Ps. 117:1, and Deut. 32:43–3) As the ground of his vow David declares the Lord’s promise of good to Him, and his seed (2 Samuel 22:51). “Who makes great the salvation of his king,” literally: “salvations;” the plural indicating the manifoldness and richness of the salvation. The marginal reading: “fullness of salvation” is a singular conjecture,52 and must be rejected; it is obviously instead of the similar form,= “tower,” Ps. 61:4 ; Prov. 18:10 [Eng. A. V. also adopts this reading “tower,” against which, however, are all the ancient versions and the best Heb. manuscripts—TR.] The text,= “he who makes great,” is to be retained. It refers to the fullness of salvation (certainly to be expected on the ground of the divine promises) that the Lord will bestow in ever increasing richness on His king, the theocratic ruler that He has called and inducted, who regards himself only as God’s instrument. God’s “grace [mercy]” is the source of his “manifestations of salvation.” A threefold prophetic declaration of the future factual proof of this grace to His Anointed, is here expressed: a. David affirms that he is sure of it for himself; the “to David” stands independently, not, as Hengst. says, along with “and to his seed” as definition of the “to his anointed;” b. the promised salvation will, however, be extended to his seed also. The direct reference of these words to the promise in 2 Sam. 7:12–16 is apparent; on the ground of this promise David declares the certainty of continuance through his heirs, of the dominion of his house; c. the testimony of praise culminates in the prophecy of the everlasting duration of God’s manifestations of grace and blessing, which will be imparted to David, and his seed according to the promise. Comp. 2 Sam. 7:15, 16.
Hupfeld rejects these closing words: “to David and to his seed forevermore” as a later addition to the song (in so far as it is to be ascribed to David) on the following grounds: 1) David would not have spoken of himself by the phrase: “to David,” and 2) not David, but only a later adherent of the Davidic dynasty could have said: “and to his seed forevermore.” But these grounds are not valid; for in fact David does call himself by name in 23:1, and in the prayer 2 Sam. 7:20, 26; and how can the reference to his seed and its continuance be regarded as not Davidic, when David was assured of the perpetuity of the royal dominion of his family by the promise 2 Sam. 7:12 sqq.?—Thenius’ supposition, that the words may have been an afterwards added bit of flattery to David’s posterity, can be explained only by a complete ignoring of David’s hope based on that promise 2 Sam. 7, and receives at best meagre support from the very subjective argument that the two preceding clauses sufficed to express the author’s thought—Böttcher regards the whole of 2 Samuel 22:51 as a later addition in imitation of other Davidic conclusions to songs “as homage to the royal house.” But his affirmation that this does not accord with genuine Davidic productions is set aside by the fact that ideas, and even words here agree with David’s words in 2 Sam. 7. He further contends that by the retention of 2 Samuel 22:51 the probably significant number  is exceeded; but (apart from his “probably,”)—the untenableness of this conjecture is strikingly shown by his manipulation of 2 Samuel 22:3 into two verses in order (after the omission of 2 Samuel 22:51) to get 50 verses besides the superscription, while the retention of 2 Samuel 22:51 gives this number already.
On the mutual relation of the two recensions of this song in Ps. 18 and 2 Sam. 22, critics are very much divided. Hengstenberg’s view (which is that of the older expositors)—that the two texts are two different recensions of the same song by David himself, both equally authentic and good, the Psalm being the original, and the 2 Sam. the later—is altogether untenable in the face of the not few variations that are obviously unintended, accidental, and are to be referred to the carelessness of the written tradition or the uncertainty of the oral. Thus the carelessness of a transcriber is shown in the interchange of certain letters in 2 Samuel 22:11, 43 (ד and ר), 2 Samuel 22:33 (נ and ר), 2 Samuel 22:12 (ר and כ), and the omission of words in 2 Samuel 22:13, 36, where the text of the Psalm is complete.—The question as to the originality of the two texts is to be decided by examination of the intentional changes. And to such intentional changes is to be referred a long list of deviations in the Psalm-text as Sommer (Bibl. Abh. I. pp. 167–173, Bonn, 1846) has convincingly shown in detail. “We find,” he remarks,” occasional free change of text in order to remove possible difficulties, to make clear, by the expression, the antiquated writing, the grammatical forms, and, where it can be easily done, to put what is usual and known in place of what is peculiar in conception or language. For the same reason that the transcriber of the Psalm abandoned the ancient sparseness of vowel-letters (Ges. Lehrg. p. 51) and, where it seemed necessary, carefully inserted a Waw or Yod, he has resolved and regularly inflected the contracted verbal forms, and here and there separated a preposition from a noun, in order to facilitate the apprehension of the words (which were written without vowel-signs) and avoid possible misunderstandings.” (For particulars see Sommer, as above.) It does not however hence appear, that the preference is to be accorded to the Psalm-text that is given it by the latest critics, Gramberg (in Winer, Exeg. St. I. 1), De Wette, Hupfeld, Hitzig, Ewald, Olshausen,53 Delitzsch. But neither can the text of 2 Sam. 22 be regarded as the original, since it contains variations that are explained by careless transcription and tradition (Hupf.), and probably also by the fact that this psalm, incorporated in a historical book, shared the fate of all historical texts, care for poetic form and rhythm early yielding to regard for the mere sense (Hitzig). It is, however, characteristic of the text of 2 Sam. 22, that it contains not a few “licenses of popular language” (Del.), and that the defective mode of writing, which points to higher antiquity, is the prevailing one. On the other hand in the psalm-text (which Böttcher calls the “priest-recension” over against the 2 Sam. 22 as the “laic recension”) a later revision is unmistakable. “The vulgarisms, and in part the archaisms also, are there effaced; the whole style is more cultivated” (Böttch.). Therefore Von Lengerke’s view, that the two texts are of about equal value (comment, crit. de duplici Ps. 18 exemplo, Regiom. 1833, 4) cannot be looked on as proven, but the preference is to be given to the recension in 2 Sam. 22 on account of its stamp of higher antiquity, which Von Lengerke must admit is given it by its more sparing use of vowel signs. The two recensions are independent of one another, neither of them being the authentic; but 2 Sam. 22 is the older, whether it was taken from an older manuscript (Ewald), or, as Delitzsch supposes, belonged to the “Annals of David” (Dibre ha-yamim), one of the sources of the Books of Samuel. Böttcher: “Thus then, the text of Ps. 18 is, as a whole, completer and purer, but 2 Sam. 22 though somewhat more defective, yet in details truer to the original and archaic form”
HISTORICAL AND THEOLOGICAL
1. This longest and most artistic54 of David’s psalms that have come down to us is also one of the most important in respect to the history of God’s kingdom and salvation. For it embraces all God’s deliverances in David’s life before and after his accession to the throne, and extols them as proofs of the favor and faithfulness of his God, who chose him as his servant to this high royal dignity, and gave him the most glorious promises of the permanent duration of his kingdom in his seed. The pillars on which this great royal psalm rests are the two self-revelations of God to David, that determine His theocratic royal position: His call to be king in Saul’s stead, and the promise of the everlasting duration of his kingdom; the first supports that part of the Psalm that refers to the Sauline persecution, the second the part that describes God’s help against foreign enemies. Looking on these deliverances as fulfilments of the promise, he expressly refers to it at the close, and at the same time looks to the future with sure hope of the fulfilment of the promise in the imperishable dominion of his house. So Delitzsch [introductory remarks on Ps. 18; he compares the Ps. to the Assyrian monumental inscriptions—TR.
2. Because God’s deeds are incommensurable to for human feeling and apprehension, Davi’s thankful heart can find in language no adequate expression for them. Hence the exuberant aggregation of terms in 2 Samuel 22:2–4, which set forth the inverse relation of human capacity for praise to God’s manifestations of grace. “The poet begins a lay, in which he wishes to praise God for His help, the strength given him to do great deeds, his elevation to be king over nations, for all the blessings of his long and eventful life. Here at the outset the recollection of these exceeding mercies comes over his soul with overwhelming force; he can find no satisfactory term wherewith to call on he God of his salvation, and therefore piles term on term” (Sommer, as above, p. 152).
3. The praise of God’s name is not only fruit, but also root of prayer (2 Samuel 22:4); for the experiences of God’s grace and faithfulness, which impel to praise, also strengthen faith, are the foundations of hope for further mercies, assure the fulfilment of promises in the future, and warrant fervent prayer for new help under appeal to past blessings.
4. The cordial intercourse of prayer between the Old Testament saints and their covenant-God (comp. 2 Samuel 22:4–7) is the factual proof of the positive self-revelation of the personal, living God, without whose initiative such overspringing of the chasm between the holy God and sinful man were impossible, but also the most striking refutation of the false view that the religion of the Old Covenant presents an absolute chasm between God and man. The real life-communion between the heart that goes immediately to its God in prayer and the God who hears such prayer is, on the one hand, in contrast with the extra-testamental religion of the pre-Christian world alone founded on God’s positive-historical self-revelation to His people and the thereby established covenant-relation between them, and, on the other hand, as sporadic anticipation of the life-communion with God established by the New Testament Mediator, it is a factual prophecy of the religious-ethical life-communion (culminating in prayer) between man redeemed by Christ and His Heavenly Father.
5. Nature, as God’s creature and man’s fellow-creature, is the symbolical means for the figurative presentation of the personal self-revelation of God to man. The images derived from the light, which is God’s garment (Ps. 104:2), the cloud, which is called His tent (Job 36:29; Ps. 97:2), the thunder, in which His voice is heard (Ps. 18:14 ; Job 37:2), the lightning and fire-flames, wherein burns His wrath and punitive justice (Judg, 5:4; Isa. 30:27 sq.; Ps. 1. 2, 3; 68:8; 97:2), and the earthquake, the terror that precedes the revelation of His judgment (Ps. 67:19 ; 114:4; Joel 2:10; 4:16; Nah. 1:5; Isa. 24:18) exhibit those sides of the being of the self-revealing God to which natural phenomena, by virtue of their divine origin, are related. “This symbolism of nature rests on the conception that certain qualities in God’s being and work answer to it. Hence God is sometimes represented as present and efficient in these natural phenomena (not merely accompanied by them), and in bold and vivid expression the rousing and utterance of His anger is portrayed as the kindling of His light-nature in all the turns of fiery and flaming figures, even to the point that smoke issues from His wrath-snorting nose (Deut. 19:9; Es. 74:1; 80:5 ) and devouring fire from His mouth (comp. the description of the crocodile, Job 41:10 sqq.) from the burning coals within Him. Not in themselves, therefore, but only under certain circumstances and limitations do these phenomena of nature form in part the symbol, in part the means of the theophany” (Moll [in Lange’s Bible- Work] on Ps. 18, Doct. and Eth. 5).—“All nature stands in a relation of sympathy to man, in that it shares his curse and blessing, ruin and glory, and in a (so to speak) synergetic [co-operative] relation to God, in that it pre-announces and instrumentally accomplishes His mighty deeds” (Delitzsch on Ps. 18:8–10).
6. The law of God’s retributive righteousness is the fundamental law of the divine government of the world. The condition of man’s deliverance by God is life in righteousness before God, which pre-supposes full devotion of heart to God, and shows itself in earnest striving after faithful fulfillment of God’s commands. God bestows His salvation and blessing on the faithful righteous (comp. Deut. 28); on the apostate wicked he sends His judgments, and hears not their cry for help, because, they being in trouble, turn to Him not in living faith and trust, but in superstition. He who (like David), with heart, life and desire turned towards God, seeks and finds in life-communion with Him his highest good and complete satisfaction, may (with David), on the ground of this law of retributive righteousness, affirm that he has had help of the Lord, because God cannot leave without proof of His faithful mercy those who trust in Him and in His word without wishing to gain or lay claim to merit for themselves. Self-praise, indeed, and vain self-contemplation in such an appeal to one’s own righteousness is not lawful; and it is here excluded, since David expressly declares that pride is the object of the divine judgment (2 Samuel 22:28). Comp. Isa. 2:11; Prov. 6:17. This humble appeal to one’s righteous walk before God under God’s guidance is indeed at bottom only praise to God Himself. For the righteousness, wherein one walks before God, is God’s own work. “David owes his righteousness wholly to his faithful adherence to God, who preserves His servant from sins so that they do not rule over him.—He here dwells on his righteousness, not from vain self-contemplation, but to quicken himself and others to zeal in the fulfillment of the law.—The charge of pride of virtue, if it were true, would lie also against many expressions of Christian hymn-writers. So, for example, in Anton Ulrich’s fine hymn: Nun tret’ ich wieder aus der Ruh, the strophe: So ist getrost mein frischer Muth,—Mein Gott geht nimmer meinen Steg, wo ich nicht wandle seinen Weg [never goes my God my path, when I walk not in His way]” (Hengst. on Ps. 18:20).
7. To this truth of the retributive righteousness of God attaches itself as further ground for it (2 Samuel 22:26, 27) the thought of ethical reciprocal action between God in His ethical bearing towards man, and man in his ethical position in respect to God. There is no question here of an intellectual conception of God’s being, as if David meant to say: God appears to every man according as the man is disposed and constituted. Certainly the history of religion everywhere (Christian and non-Christian) proves that the views of God that the unaided reason arrives at are the reflection of the ethical condition of soul, which determines the intellect; the character of the knowledge of God depends on the ethical character of the whole life. Here, however, is expressed the truth that God’s objective, real conduct towards men according to His retributive righteousness corresponds exactly to man’s ethical conduct towards God, and by the reflection of this righteous conduct of God, as exhibited in His punitive judgments, in man’s perverted mind arises a caricature of God’s nature, which is more and more confirmed and filled out in the conception of the man that turns from God and continues to harden his heart against Him. Comp. Moll, on Ps. 17, Doct. and Eth. 6; who refers to 1 Sam. 26:33; Isa. 29:14; 31:3; Job 5:13; Prov. 3:34. [This last view, the perverted conception of God in men’s minds, while correct in itself, is not contained in this Psalm.—TR.].
8. In the gracious helps, wherein God reveals Himself to His people as the living one, faith in the living God grows to the ever completer knowledge of the truth that God is the Living One in the absolute sense, and finds involuntary utterance in the declaration: “Living is the Lord” (2 Samuel 22:47). The experiences and guidances of the lives of God’s children are the proof that God is a living God, who enters into their life with His light and His strength, with the consolation of His love and the help of His might. “That David is living, exalted and blest, shows that his God is living, exalted and to be blessed. He is the living proof of his livingness, exaltedness and praiseworthiness” (Hengst.).
9. The jubilant tone in which Old Testament piety speaks of revenge on enemies lacks the thorough sanctification and consecration, whose only source is in the holy love of God, poured out by the Holy Ghost (Rom. 5:5) in the hearts of those who are become children of God through faith in Jesus Christ, and can practice that love of enemies that was necessarily still foreign to the Old Testament standpoint. But while this difference between the standpoints of the Old and New Testaments is maintained, the relative truth and justification of these utterances of David on revenge on enemies (2 Samuel 22:48 sq.) must not be ignored. For David here speaks in the consciousness of his calling as theocratic king, who had to fight for the Lord’s people, and carry on the Lord’s wars; it is the Lord Himself that has taken the revenge and given it him; the victories that have laid at his feet the enemies of God’s kingdom are the Lord’s own deeds. And this is the prefigurement and symbol of God’s mighty deeds in the defence of the New Testament kingdom of grace, and of the conquest of the hostile world by the spiritual weapons of His word and the power of His Spirit, till after this conquest comes the triumphant kingdom of glory.
10. David affirms (2 Samuel 22:50 sq.) the universality of the salvation, whose original source is the glorious revelations of God to His chosen people; the God of Israel is also the God of the heathen. The means of bringing them to the knowledge of the living God is not the sword, but the proclamation of God’s great deeds for His people. As David, in his character of missionary to the heathen world, praises his God’s grace, so at bottom all missionary work among the heathen is, in the announcement of the word of the God who is revealed in Christ, a continuous praise of the name of the living God. In David’s word: “I will praise thee among the heathen,” the missionary idea of the universal, all-embracing salvation of God breaks over the bounds of national-theocratic particularism.—“As it was among the heathen that he himself most proudly sang Jahve’s praise, and by his whole life proclaimed to them His sole majesty (wherein he followed, only with far more power, Deborah’s example, Judg. 5:3), so from now on could and should every member of this congregation of Jahve take position towards the heathen” [Ewald, Gesch. [Hist, of Israel] III. 273, Rem.).
11. As the centre, whence the light of salvation was to shine on the heathen, David has in view God’s revelations of salvation and grace, as they were imparted to him, the Anointed of the Lord, and, according to the promise, 2 Sam. 7., were to be imparted to his seed that was destined to everlasting royal dominion. Bat the line, in which his prophetic glance at the end of the Song in the light of this promise looks into the future of this seed, runs in the historical fulfilment of this Messianic prophecy beyond the earthly throne of the Davidic house, and ends in “the Son of God, who was born of the seed of David according to the flesh” (Rom. 1:3), and is the Anointed of God in the absolute sense. In Rom. 15:9 Paul, quoting David’s words here (2 Samuel 22:50), declares him to be the Saviour, through whom, according to God’s mercy, the heathen also become partakers of salvation, and praise God therefor.
HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL
2 Samuel 22:1. [TAYLOR: Let us learn to thank God for our mercies and deliverances. When the crisis of some great agony is on us, there are no words which leap so readily to our lips as these: “God help me!” At such times we feel shut up to go to God, and we engage our friends to pray to Him on our behalf. But when the danger is past and the suffering is gone, how seldom we think of Him on whom, while they lasted, we called so passionately for relief Of the ten lepers whom Jesus cleansed, only one returned to give Him thanks.—HENRY: Every new mercy in our hand should put a new song into our mouth, even praises to our God.—TR.]
2 Samuel 22:2. Human speech cannot find words enough to praise sufficiently the fulness of the divine grace and the riches of God’s goodness. Comp. Rom. 11:33.—God not merely gives to them that trust in Him all that is necessary for them, but He Himself is to them all that they need. The Lord is to His people through His power a firm support, an invincible ally both in defence and in offence. [SPURGEON:55 “In Him will I trust.” Faith must be exercised, or the preciousness of God is not truly known; and God must be the object of faith, or faith is mere presumption.—TR. ]
2 Samuel 22:4 sq. The praise of God has its ground in the benefits received from God and in the experience of His salvation; it forms the foundation for new requests, it confirms the heart in childlike confidence, and it heightens the courage of faith.—The wholesome fruit of severe afflictions and sore conflicts is for the children of God so much the more unconditional confidence in God’s compassion, so much the more hearty supplication for God’s help, so much the more blessed experience of His hearing and delivering grace.—God speaks to men through the powers and gifts of His visible creation the language of His goodness and compassionate fatherly love, Matt. 5:45; but He also speaks through the mighty forces of nature the language of His wrath and His punitive righteousness.—BERL. B.: The Lord is such a soul’s rock; for it has no other steadfastness than God, who establishes Himself in it and confirms it in perfect immovableness, for it is the immovableness of God Himself.—LUTHER: David wishes hereby to instruct us that there is nothing so bad, so great, so vast, so mighty, so lasting that it cannot be overcome through the power of God, if we only trust therein; likewise that then especially should we have cause to hope for God’s power to become mighty in us, when many great, strong and persistent evils powerfully press upon us.—“I call on the Lord, who is worthy to be praised.” This is in time of trouble the noblest of doctrines, and thoroughly golden. It is incredible what a powerful means such praise to God is when danger assails. For as soon as you begin to praise God, so soon the evil becomes lessened, the consoled spirit waxes stronger, and there follows the calling on God with confidence.
2 Samuel 22:7. [LORD BACON (in Spurgeon): If you listen even to David’s harp, you shall hear as many hearse-like airs as carols. Prosperity is not without many fears and distastes; and adversity is not without comforts and hopes.—TR.]—CRAMER: It is God’s counsel and will that we should call on Him. Ps. 50:15.—CALVIN: In naming God his God, he distinguishes himself from the coarse despisers of God and from the hypocrites, who do indeed when pressed by need call confusedly on the heavenly divinity, but do not either with confidence or with one heart draw near to God, of whose fatherly grace they know nothing.—BERL. B.: If thy God has now heard thee, O thou afflicted king, instruct us also how it has gone therewith and with thy cry and prayer for deliverance. [SPURGEON: There was no great space between the cry and its answer. The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, but is swift to rescue His afflicted.—TR.]
2 Samuel 22:8 sq. SCHLIER: How poor we are when surrounded by cold, heartless nature, and how well off we are when everywhere we can see and mark the Lord’s hand. Let us see the Lord’s hand even in the events of common life.—STARKE: All God’s creatures testify of His glory, Ps. 19:2 sq.: all the elements have to be at His command.—SCHLIER: The Lord helps if we pray aright. [SPURGEON: Things were bad for David before he prayed, but they were much worse for his foes so soon as the petition had gone up to heaven.—TR.]
2 Samuel 22:18 sqq. HENGSTENBERG: “For they were too strong for me”—here it is assumed that our utter lack of might compels the Lord to make use of His almightiness for our benefit.—STARKE: Every victory comes from God; He is the true man of war. Exod. 15:3; Ps. 46:10 .—Human help commonly fails; but he who leans upon God as a strong staff is never put to shame. Ps. 23:4. BERL. B.: After all sufferings endured there is given the soul a holy freedom, and it gains through its trial a boundless enlargement. This it never recognizes until after the work is finished and God has delivered it from all its pains. And why has He delivered it from them? Because this soul has pleased Him.—S. SCHMID: Believers find their best consolation and motive to patience in the knowledge that they please God. 1 Pet. 3:14.
2 Samuel 22:21 sqq. HENGSTENBERG: With all the weakness common to men they yet fall apart into two great halves, between which a great gulf is fixed, the wicked and the righteous, and only the latter can be heard when they pray.—CRAMER: In all persecution, hostility and opposition we should labor to have always a good conscience; for that is our rejoicing, 2 Cor. 1:12; Acts 24:16.—STARKE: A beautiful description of a true Christian. Well for him that strives to attain it. The righteousness of pious Christians pleases God when it proceeds from faith. Rom. 5:1.—[SPURGEON: Before God, the man after God’s own heart was a humble sinner; but before his slanderers he could, with unblushing face, speak of the cleanness of his hands and the righteousness of his life.… There is no self-righteousness in an honest man’s knowing that he is honest, nor even in his believing that God rewards him in Providence because of his honesty, for such is often a most evident matter of fact …. It is not at all an opposition to the doctrine of salvation by grace, and no sort of evidence of a Pharisaic spirit, when a gracious man, having been slandered, stoutly maintains his integrity, and vigorously defends his character …. Read the cluster of expressions in this and the following verses as the song of a good conscience, after having safely outridden a storm of obloquy, persecution and abuse, and there will be no fear of our upbraiding the writer as one who sets too high a price upon his own moral character.—HENRY (2 Samuel 22:23): A careful abstaining from our own iniquity is one of the best evidences of our own integrity; and the testimony of our conscience that we have done so, will be such a rejoicing, as will not only lessen the griefs of an afflicted state, but increase the comforts of an advanced state. David reflected with more comfort upon his victories over his own iniquity, than upon his conquest of Goliath, and all the hosts of the uncircumcised Philistines; and the witness of his own heart to his uprightness was sweeter, though more silent music than theirs that sang, “David has slain his ten thousands.” If a great man be a good man, his goodness will be much more his satisfaction than his greatness.—TR.]—As we are disposed towards God, so is also God disposed towards us; and as we show ourselves towards Him so He also shows Himself towards us. 1 Sam. 2:30; 15:23; Matt. 10:33; Luke 6:37
2 Samuel 22:27. DELITZSCH: The pious man’s inward love God requites with intimate love, the honest man’s complete devotion with full communication of grace, the striving after purity by a disposition rich in undisturbed love (comp. Psa. 73:1), moral self-perversion by strange judgments, in that He gives up the perverse man to his perverseness (Rom. 1:28), and leads him along strange ways to final condemnation. (Isa. 29:14, comp. Lev. 26:23 sq.).—BERL. B.: For this very reason does that which is most righteous, seem to the perverse world to be perverse and unrighteous, because the world is perverse and this does not agree with its evil principles. God is in their estimation too righteous and exact, because He tests with the greatest accuracy the distortions of a dislocated conscience, and investigates such a case with the severest strictness, as the Gospel explains of Him who had buried His talent. [SPURGEON: The Jewish tradition was that the manna tasted according to each man’s mouth; certainly God shows Himself to each individual according to his character.—TR.]
2 Samuel 22:28. DELITZSCH: The church that is bowed down by sufferings experiences God’s condescension for her salvation, and her haughty oppressors experience God’s exaltation for their humbling.
2 Samuel 22:29. S. SCHMID: He whose light is the Lord, walks safe in his ways. John 11:9, 10.
2 Samuel 22:30 sq. Nothing in the world is so hard and heavy that we cannot get the better of it by God’s help. Rom. 8:37.—BERL. B.: All that is a hindrance to men is to God no hindrance.—O how hemmed in we are when in ourselves. Ah! how enlarged are we not, when we find ourselves in Thee, O my God. Then we run, and nothing can stop or overthrow us.—STARKE: If we have done great things, we must ascribe the honor not to ourselves but to God. Psa. 115:1.
2 Samuel 22:32. S. SCHMID: Well for the man that can in true faith call the Lord his God. Psa. 18:2, 3.
2 Samuel 22:33 sq. CRAMER: War is not in itself sinful nor blameworthy, and God makes righteous soldiers. Psa. 144:1.—S. SCHMID: Ye warriors of Jesus Christ, who have to contend with princes and mighty ones (Eph. 6:12), call God to your help, who will teach your hands to war.
2 Samuel 22:35. HENGSTENBERG: The outward conflict against the enemies of the kingdom of God is not in itself carnal, but becomes so only through the disposition in which it is conducted; just as the spiritual conflict is not in itself spiritual, but only when it is conducted with divine weapons alone, with the power which God supplies. With right does Luther find in our verse the promise, “that to preachers who are taught by God Himself, there is given an inexhaustible and invincible power to withstand all opposers.” This is therein contained not merely inasmuch as what holds of one believer, also holds of all others, but more directly too, inasmuch as David here speaks not merely of himself but of his whole family, which is completed in Christ, so that all he says refers in the highest and fullest sense to Christ and His kingdom, and His servants. [A doubtful principle, and a precarious inference.—TR.]
2 Samuel 22:36 sq. LUTHER: Who are we then, that we should either want to presume and undertake to protect the truth and overcome the enemies, or when we cannot succeed therein, that we should want to get angry about it? It depends upon divine grace how we are preserved and enlarged, not upon our undertakings and presumptuous fancy, that the glory may remain with God alone.
2 Samuel 22:38. LUTHER: And this has happened and still happens in all victories of the people of God, since in the beginning of the conflict the enemies appear to be superior and invincible; but so soon as the assault is made there is a growing strength; the enemies take to flight, and are slain; thereupon the church does not cease to follow up the conflict won and the victory gained, until it sweeps away all enemies.
2 Samuel 22:39. CALVIN: As the wars of David are common to us, it follows that to us there is promised an unconquerable protection against all onsets of the devil, all lusts of sin, all temptations of the flesh.—CRAMER: Christian knights must not practice hypocrisy with the enemies of God, or show them ill-timed compassion, but use earnestness and zeal against them. 1 Sam. 15:15; Psa. 139:21.
2 Samuel 22:40 sq. S. SCHMID: Nothing is more intolerable to the ungodly than when they are humbled under those over whom they have exalted themselves. [2 Samuel 22:42. SPURGEON: Prayer is so notable a weapon that even the wicked will take to it, in their fits of desperation. Bad men have appealed to God against God’s own servants, but in vain.—TR.]
2 Samuel 22:47. BERL. B.: The Lord lives! Hence comes all the satisfaction of a true and pure soul, because God is always living in him, and this life of God no one can hinder. Psa. 42:3 .—This alone constitutes the joy of a soul wholly penetrated by pure love. Its joy consists not in its salvation, but in the glory which from this salvation accrues to God. Exod. 15:2.
2 Samuel 22:50 sq. STARKE: A Christian should awake himself ever anew to the praise of God.—SCHLIER: The more we think on what the Lord has done for us, the more we gain courage and confidence for the future. Ingratitude makes men despairing and afraid; true gratitude produces consolation and courage. In thanksgiving we of course think of the Lord and His goodness; and when we think of the Lord, how should we not also be consoled? The more gratitude, so much the more confidence; and the more confidence, so much the more help for time and eternity.
[2 Samuel 22:1. Songs of deliverance. 1) A good man may have many enemies; a) external, b) internal (“None betray us into sin, like the foes we find within.”). 2) The Lord delivers him from one after another, and will at last deliver him from all. 3) His songs of deliverance; a) for every particular deliverance in the course of life, b) for the great deliverance in the hour of death, c) amid the complete security of the life eternal.
2 Samuel 22:5–20. Great trials and glorious deliverance. I. The trials. 1) Alarming assaults of wickedness (2 Samuel 22:5). 2) Imminent perils of death (2 Samuel 22:6). II. The cry for help. 1) ‘In distress’ (2 Samuel 22:7), men always cry out for help. 2) David calls on no human help but on Jehovah. 3) Invoking Him as ‘my God.’ 4) His cry was heard. III. The deliverance. 1) Sublime tokens of Jehovah’s appearing, in majesty and wrath (2 Samuel 22:8–14). 2) Enemies vanquished and scattered (2 Samuel 22:15). 3) The sorely tried one is delivered; a) from calamities in general (2 Samuel 22:16, 17), b) from powerful enemies choosing the time of calamity to assail (2 Samuel 22:18, 19). 4) He is brought into great freedom and prosperity (2 Samuel 22:20).—TR.]
[2 Samuel 22:20–28. A fearless profession of integrity. I. Delivered and rewarded because he pleased God (2 Samuel 22:20–21). II. How he professes to have acted (2 Samuel 22:22–24). 1) In general, keeping the ways of the Lord (2 Samuel 22:22). 2) Knowing and obeying His revealed will (2 Samuel 22:23). 3) Refraining from sin (2 Samuel 22:24). III. God’s retaliations, treating men exactly as they treat Him. (2 Samuel 22:26–28). (Such a line of thought is quite foreign to our ordinary preaching; but if properly guarded in the statement and application, it might be very wholesome.)
2 Samuel 22:32. Jehovah the only God, and God the only rock.
2 Samuel 22:47–50. Praise to the living God. 1) Jehovah liveth (2 Samuel 22:47)—not a mere nothing like the idols (Psa. 115:2–7)—not a mere idea like the Pantheist’s God—but living, personal, active, knowing all, ruling all. 2) As the living God, He delivers and preserves His people (2 Samuel 22:48, 49). 3) They should praise Him; a) bless Him themselves (2 Samuel 22:47), and b) make Him known among the nations that know Him not (2 Samuel 22:50).—TR.]
1 שִׁירָה instead of the usual שִׁיר; “from this already it appears that the historical part of the title is from another source.”—הִצִּיל introduces a relative sentence, which is in stat. const. with בְּיוֹם. Ges. § 116, 3. Comp. Ex. 6:28; Numb. 3:1; Ps. 138:3.
2 רחם, elsewhere only in Piel in sense of “pity,” here in Qal (as often in Aramaic) in sense of “hearty love,” for which the usual word is אָהַב.
3[“Herzlich lieb hab ich dich o Herr,” and “Ich will dich lieben, meine Stärke.”]
4 חִזְקִי, a ἁπ. λεγ.
5 סֶלַע “rock-cleft,” after Arab. שלע “to cleave.” [See Delitzsch on Pss. in loco; but this derivation is not certain.—TR.]
6 מְצוּדהָ, and so the masc. מְּצַד ,מָצוד. [See Del. on Psalms, and Fleischer’s note.—TR.]
7Böttcher: מִפְלָטִי.—The לִי (wanting in Ps. 18:3 , found in Ps. 144:2), is a strengthening of the suffix ִי-, and expresses deep feeling of the Lord’s gracious help to him personally.
8 אָפַף, not: “press, drive” (after the Arab.), but, after indubitable tradition (comp. אוֹפָן “a wheel”), “encircle, surround,” as poetic synonym of כִּתֵּר ,הִקִּיף ,סָבַב (Del. on Ps. 18).
9 יְבַעֲתֻנִי, Impf. interchanging with Waw. consec. and Impf., because it describes condition (Hupf.).
10[Sheol, the underworld, place of departed spirits.—TR.]
11 צַר, comp. Job 15:24. Literally: “in the distress to me,” that is, in this my distress; for the construction comp. Ps. 66:14; 106:44; 107:6 and elsewhere. This mode of expression is based on the common formula צַר־לִי “it is strait to me,” “I am in distress,” the preposition being preposed here to a whole sentence, as commonly to a noun (Hupf.).
12 רָגַז ,רָעַשׁ ,גָּעַשׁ.—The Qeri וַיִּתְגָּעַשׁ is doubtless an imitation of the following וַיִּתְגָּעֲשׁוּ (especially as גָּעַשׁ does not elsewhere occur in Qal), and is to be rejected, since then ארץ immediately afterwards would be Masc. and Fem. The ותגעש (Kethib) is, as in the Psalm-text, to be pointed וַתִּגְעַשׁ (forming complete paronomasia with the וַתִּרְעַשׁ), unless it be preferred to read (with several codices) וַתִּתְגָּעַשׁ according with the וַיִּתְגָּעֲשּׁוּ, = properly “to move hither and thither” (Hitzig).
13 עֲרָפֶל, often connected with עָנָן.
14The ἁπ. λεγ. חַשְׁרָה signifies (according to the Arabic) “gathering, aggregation”—עָב properly “thicket” (comp. Ex. 19:9).—שְׁחָקִים = the clouds as a connected whole (Hengst.).
15[Dr. Erdmann’s text has: “the Qeri hag taken the suffix,” and accordingly he writes it in parenthesis. This, however, is an oversight; the Kethib has the suffix, the Qeri omits it.—TR.]
16 אָפִיקּ = stream-bed from אָפַק “to contain,” hence of hollow bodies, = holder, pipe, canal, channel, dale, = αὐλός, αὐλών, then brook, properly (like נחל) the valley in which it flows (Hupf.).
17 תֵּבֵל, poetic designation of the earth, Ps. 89:12 ; 90:2; 93:1; 96:10—יִגָּלוּ by poetic license without ו, which is to be supplied from the preceding verb.
18[On the origin and meaning of the name Moses see Canon Cook’s Essay on Egyptian Words in the Pentateuch, in Bib.-Com., I. 482—TR.]
19 עָז, not adverbial Acc., but Adjective; comp. Psalm 143:10 [טוֹבָה].
20This form of comparison also in Psalm 131:1; 38:5 .
21 קִדֵּם, see 2 Samuel 22:6; Ps. 17:13.
22The Psalm has the usual less poetic לְמִשְׁעַן [which reading is found here also in some MSS. and EDD.—TR.]
23 מֶרְחָב (Ps. 118:5), in contrast with צַר, so the verb (Hiph.), Gen. 26:22; Ps. 4:2 ; 25:17; Prov. 18:16.
24 אתִי in contrast with the suffix in the Psalm, and answering to the לִי in 2 Samuel 22:19.
25 גָּמַל, in connection with שִלֵּם or חֵשִׁיב [so here], or with כְּצִדְקָתִי added; the Psalm has כְּצִדְקִי.—The Imperfects here express in general propositions general time, the so-called Present (Hupf.).
26 כִּי = but. “The establishment of one opposite gives the ground for the denial of the other” (Hengst.).
27 מִמֶּנּהָ Sing. instead of Plu., as 2 Kings 2:3; 13:2; 6; 10:29, 31 after חַטּאוֹת (Hitzig, Hupfeld).—לֹא־אָסוּר, comp. Deut. 5:29; 17:11; 28:14. The Psalm has לֹא אָסִיר מֶנִּי.
28[תָּמִים is more exactly; “perfect.” Comp. Job 1:1: “perfect and upright.” See 2 Samuel 22:26—TR.]
29 חָסִיד “loving” towards God, so תָּמִים “upright” towards God (comp. לוֹ in 2 Samuel 22:25), and נָבָר (Niph. Particip. of בָּרַר) purified, then “pure,” = בַּר, comp. the “pure heart, Ps. 24:4; 63:1, the pure mind.”—הִתְחַסָּד, Hithp. denom. from חֶסֶד or חָסִיד, found only here.—גִּבּוֹר תָּמִים “hero of innocence, upright hero.” גִּבּוֹר always = “hero.” תָּמִים often as here (comp. Hupf. on Ps. 15:4) abstract subst. = תֹּם “uprightness.” The Ps. has גְּבַר, infrequent poetical form for גֶּבֶר תָּמַם. in Hithp. is found elsewhere only Dan. 12:10 [it is found only in Ps. 18:26.—TR.].—תִּתָּבָר is for תִּתְבָּרַר, which form is found in the Psalm, “with broadened vowel before the tone-syllable, and besides, euphonic doubling of the ת as compensation for the contraction and for the maintenance of the rhythm” (Hupf.).
30 עַם עָנִי “oppressed, afflicted people,” = אָדָם ,אֲנָשִׁים, Ps. 3:7 ; Gen. 20:4.
31 נֵר “lamp,” as that which burns.
32 אָרוּץ with Acc. (as the following אֲדַלֶּג), object reached by the motion. Ew. and Olsh. unnecessarily take it from רָצַץ.—The Ps. has בְּךָ instead of בְּכָה, and אָרֻץ instead of אָרוּץ.
33 עזֹ after מַחֲסִי. On the construction see Ewald, § 291 b.
34 וַיַתֵּר from תּוּר = נָתר, Prov. 12:26, “lead,” = יָתֵר (comp. Ges. § 72, Rem. 2).
35 לְ instead of the usual double Acc. [after לִמֵּר]. נִחַת Piel Perf. of נָהַת “to cause to descend, press down.” The Ps. has the fem. נִחֳתָה on account of the זְרוֹעֹתַי, sing. Fem. with plu. subject of things or beasts (Ges. § 146, 3). Here the sing. masc. because the verb precedes.
36 נַחֵת Piel Infin.
37[This (or “copper”) is a better rendering than “brass” or “steel;” see Art. Brass in Smith’s Bib.-Dict—TR.]
38 עֲנוֹת, Sept. ὑπακοή. Olshausen conjectures עֶזְרָתְךָ, but “unnecessarily” (Hupf.). The Psalm: עַנְוָתְךָ.
39Instead of תַּחְתֵּנִי the Ps. has תַּחתִּי.
40Aorists followed by Perfects and Futures [they are not Futures, but Aorists.—TR.].—The lengthened form אֶרְדְּפָה may without ו consec. (as in Prov. 7:7) express past time, as is frequent in poetry, comp. 2 Samuel 22:12 here and in the Psalm (Böttch.).
41 תַּזְרֵנִי for תְּאַזְּרֵני (as in the Ps.) Piel with א omitted, as in יָרֶב for יַאֲרֶב (1 Sam. 15:5) and מַלְּפֵנִי for מְאַלְּפֵגִי (Job 35:11), Ew. § 232 b.—קָמִים עָלַי = קָמַי, Ps. 92:12 , comp. 2 Samuel 22:49; Ex. 15:7; Deut. 33:11. Even where the verb is found only with a Preposition, the Participle has sometimes a Genitive with it. Ges. § 135., 1, Rem.
42 תַּתָּה for נָתַתָּה (so in the Ps.), “an elsewhere impossible shortening, to be at the best excused by the fact that this verb drops its נ in the Imperf.” (Ew. § 195 c). Comp. יָרַד = רַד, Judg. 19:11.—נָתַן עֹרֶף, usually intrans. “to turn the back” (2 Chr. 29:6, comp. Josh. 7:8,12), here and Ex. 23:27 trans. “to make as neck” = to put to flight. Comp. Ps. 21:13  שׁית שֶׁכֶם “to make into a back (shoulder).”
43 אֲדִקֵּם, from דָּקַק “to make thin, crush.” The Ps.: אֲרִיקֵם.
44 ריב, properly “legal contest,” then “contest” in general; a “contest of peoples” must be war.
45As in Ps. 144:2, and מִנִּי “strings” for מִנִּים Psa. 45:9 . On such shortening of im to i (as the Dual יִם = to י=, Ezek. 13:18 יָדַי) comp. Ges. § 87, 1 b, Ew. § 177 a; Ewald regards the עַמִּי here as certainly a plural.—The Sing. עַם in the Psalm is not = “men, folks” (Hupf.), but is collective, as in the last clause of this verse, Job 34:30 and Isa. 42:6.
46Hithpael; the Ps. has Piel (and so Ps. 66.3; 81:16 ); Deut. 33:29 has Niphal. [It may be considered doubtful whether the notion of hypocrisy enters here; it is not improbably an oriental expression for complete submission.—TR.]
47Instead of the usual Qal; perhaps we should point it Qal. The Niph. occurs in this sense.—The Psalm has לְשֵׁמַע אֹזֶן instead of לִשְׁמוֹעַ א׳.
48The Psalm has the ἁπ. λεγ. חָרַג (Chald. חרגא) “to be frightened,” = רָגַז “tremble” (in Mic. 7:17 in the same connection). Our passage has חָגַר, perhaps error for חרג; if it be correct, it is not “gird” (which does not suit the connection), but (with Hitz., Del., Böttch., Then.) after the Aramaic, = “halt, hobble” (Talmud. חִגֵּר “lame”).
49This would require יָרֹם instead of יָרוּם.
50 נְקָמוֹת always in the plural. “To take” vengeance, נָתַן here and 4:8, עָשָׂה Judg. 11:36; Ezek. 25:17.
52 מִגְדּוֹל, after מִגְדָּו of Ps. 61:4. The text is מַגְדִּיל, Hiph. Participle of גָּדַל.
53[Justus Olshausen (to be distinguished from Hermann Olshausen, the commentator on the N. T.), writer of the Commentary on Psalms in the Condensed Exegetical Manual, a good grammarian, but hyperskeptical as a critic.—TR.]
54Amyraldus: “a most excellent specimen of the poetic art:” Hitzig: “an unequalled product of art and reflection.”
55[This and the other quotations from Spurgeon throughout the chapter are from his “Treasury of David.” a copious commentary on the Psalms, which does not aim at criticism or exact exegesis, but is rich in homiletical matter, original and selected.—TR.]
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: