Psalm 18:9
He bowed the heavens also, and came down: and darkness was under his feet.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(9) Darkness.—Better, black cloud. The dark masses of rain-cloud are now gathered, and bend to the earth under the majestic tread of God. (Comp. Nahum 1:3, “and the clouds are the dust of his feet.” (Comp. Psalm 144:5.)

Psalm 18:9. He bowed the heavens — By producing thick and dark clouds, by which the heavens seemed to come down to the earth; and came down — Not by change of place, but by the manifestation of his presence and power on my behalf. In other words, he, as it were, made the heavens bend under him, when he descended to take vengeance on his and my enemies. And darkness was under his feet — The psalmist seems here to express the appearance of the Divine Majesty in a glorious cloud, descending from heaven, which, underneath, was substantially dark, but above bright, and shining with an amazing lustre; and which, by its gradual descent, would appear as if the heavens themselves were bending down and approaching toward the earth.18:1-19 The first words, I will love thee, O Lord, my strength, are the scope and contents of the psalm. Those that truly love God, may triumph in him as their Rock and Refuge, and may with confidence call upon him. It is good for us to observe all the circumstances of a mercy which magnify the power of God and his goodness to us in it. David was a praying man, and God was found a prayer-hearing God. If we pray as he did, we shall speed as he did. God's manifestation of his presence is very fully described, ver. 7-15. Little appeared of man, but much of God, in these deliverances. It is not possible to apply to the history of the son of Jesse those awful, majestic, and stupendous words which are used through this description of the Divine manifestation. Every part of so solemn a scene of terrors tells us, a greater than David is here. God will not only deliver his people out of their troubles in due time, but he will bear them up under their troubles in the mean time. Can we meditate on ver. 18, without directing one thought to Gethsemane and Calvary? Can we forget that it was in the hour of Christ's deepest calamity, when Judas betrayed, when his friends forsook, when the multitude derided him, and the smiles of his Father's love were withheld, that the powers of darkness prevented him? The sorrows of death surrounded him, in his distress he prayed, Heb 5:7. God made the earth to shake and tremble, and the rocks to cleave, and brought him out, in his resurrection, because he delighted in him and in his undertaking.He bowed the heavens also - He seemed to bend down the heavens - to bring them nearer to the earth. "He inclines the canopy of the heavens, as it were, toward the earth; wraps himself in the darkness of night, and shoots forth his arrows; hurls abroad his lightnings, and wings them with speed." Herder, Spirit of Hebrew Poetry (Marsh), ii. 157. The allusion is still to the tempest, when the clouds ran low; when they seem to sweep along the ground; when it appears as if the heavens were brought nearer to the earth - as if, to use a common expression, "the heavens and earth were coming together."

And came down - God himself seemed to descend in the fury of the storm.

And darkness was under his feet - A dark cloud; or, the darkness caused by thick clouds. Compare Nahum 1:3, "The Lord hath his way in the whirlwind and in the storm, and the clouds are the dust of his feet." Deuteronomy 4:11, "the mountain burned ... with thick darkness." Deuteronomy 5:22, "these words the Lord spake out of the thick darkness." Psalm 97:2, "clouds and darkness are round about him." The idea here is that of awful majesty and power, as we are nowhere more forcibly impressed with the idea of majesty and power than in the fury of a storm.

9. darkness—or, a dense cloud (Ex 19:16; De 5:22). He bowed the heavens, by producing thick and dark clouds, by which the heavens seem to come down to the earth.

Came down; not by change of place, but by the manifestation of his presence and power on my behalf. He bowed the heavens also, and came down,.... To execute wrath and vengeance on wicked men; which is always the sense of these phrases when they go together; see Psalm 144:6; The Targum is, "he bowed the heavens, and his glory appeared"; that is, the glory of his power, and of his mighty hand of vengeance; for not his grace and mercy, but his indignation and wrath, showed themselves; for it follows,

and darkness was under his feet; the Targum is, "a dark cloud", expressive of the awfulness of the dispensation to wicked men; who are not allowed to see the face of God, are debarred his presence, and denied, communion with him, and to whom everything appears awful and terrible, Psalm 97:2.

He bowed the heavens also, and came down: and {f} darkness was under his feet.

(f) Darkness signifies the wrath of God as the clear light signifies God's favour.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
9. The dark canopy of storm clouds, which is the pavement under His feet (Nahum 1:3), lowers as He descends to judgment. God is said to come down when He manifests His power in the world (Genesis 11:7; Genesis 18:21; Isaiah 64:1). The darkness, or better as R.V., thick darkness, in which He conceals Himself from human view, symbolises the mystery and awfulness of His Advent (Exodus 19:16; Exodus 20:21, 1 Kings 8:12; Psalm 97:2).Verse 9. - He bowed the heavens also, and came down (comp. Psalm 145:5). In a storm the clouds do actually descend, and the whole heaven seems to be bowed down to earth. God is said to "come down" to earth whenever he delivers the oppressed, and takes vengeance on their oppressors (see Exodus 3:8; 2 Samuel 22:10; Psalm 144:5; Isaiah 64. I, 3, etc.). And darkness was under his feet. A deep darkness commonly accompanies both earthquake and storm. When God actually descended on Mount Sinai, it was amid thunders and lightnings, and "a thick cloud" (Exodus 19:16), elsewhere called "thick darkness" (Deuteronomy 5:22). (Heb.: 18:2-4) The poet opens with a number of endearing names for God, in which he gratefully comprehends the results of long and varied experience. So far as regards the parallelism of the members, a monostich forms the beginning of this Psalm, as in Psalm 16:1-11; Psalm 23:1-6; Psalm 25 and many others. Nevertheless the matter assumes a somewhat different aspect, if Psalm 18:3 is not, with Maurer, Hengstenberg and Hupfeld, taken as two predicate clauses (Jahve is..., my God is...), but as a simple vocative-a rendering which alone corresponds to the intensity with which this greatest of the Davidic hymns opens-God being invoked by ה, ה, אלי, and each of these names being followed by a predicative expansion of itself, which increases in fulness of tone and emphasis. The ארחמך (with ā, according to Ew. ֗251, b), which carries the three series of the names of God, makes up in depth of meaning what is wanting in compass. Elsewhere we find only the Piel רחם of tender sympathising love, but here the Kal is used as an Aramaism. Hence the Jalkut on this passages explains it by רחמאי יתך "I love thee," or ardent, heartfelt love and attachment. The primary signification of softness (root רח, Arab. rḥ, rch, to be soft, lax, loose), whence רחם, uterus, is transferred in both cases to tenderness of feeling or sentiment. The most general predicate חזפי (from חזק according to a similar inflexion to אמר, בּסר, עמק, plur. עמקי Proverbs 9:18) is followed by those which describe Jahve as a protector and deliverer in persecution on the one hand, and on the other as a defender and the giver of victory in battle. They are all typical names symbolising what Jahve is in Himself; hence instead of וּמפלּטי it would perhaps have been more correct to point וּמפלטי (and my refuge). God had already called Himself a shield to Abram, Genesis 15:1; and He is called צוּר (cf. אבן Genesis 49:24) in the great Mosaic song, Deuteronomy 32:4, Deuteronomy 32:37 (the latter verse is distinctly echoed here).

סלע from סלע, Arab. sl‛, findere, means properly a cleft in a rock (Arabic סלע,

(Note: Neshwn defines thus: Arab. 'l-sal‛ is a cutting in a mountain after the manner of a gorge; and Jkt, who cites a number of places that are so called: a wide plain (Arab. fḍ') enclosed by steep rocks, which is reached through a narrow pass (Arab. ša‛b), but can only be descended on foot. Accordingly, in סלעי the idea of a safe (and comfortable) hiding-place preponderates; in צוּרי that of firm ground and inaccessibility. The one figure calls to mind the (well-watered) Edomitish סלע surrounded with precipitous rocks, Isaiah 16:1; Isaiah 42:11, the Πέτρα described by Strabo, xvi. 4, 21; the other calls to mind the Phoenician rocky island צור, Ṣûr (Tyre), the refuge in the sea.))

then a cleft rock, and צוּר, like the Arabic sachr, a great and hard mass of rock (Aramaic טוּר, a mountain). The figures of the מצוּדה (מצודה, מצד) and the משׂגּב are related; the former signifies properly specula, a watch-tower,

(Note: In Arabic maṣâdun signifies (1) a high hill (a signification that is wanting in Freytag), (2) the summit of a mountain, and according to the original lexicons it belongs to the root Arab. maṣada, which in outward appearance is supported by the synonymous forms Arab. maṣadun and maṣdun, as also by their plurals Arab. amṣidatun and muṣdânun, wince these can only be properly formed from those singulars on the assumption of the m being part of the root. Nevertheless, since the meanings of Arab. maṣada all distinctly point to its being formed from the root Arab. mṣ contained in the reduplicated stem Arab. maṣṣa, to suck, but the meanings of Arab. maṣâdun, maṣsadun, and maṣdun do not admit of their being referred to it, and moreover there are instances in which original nn. loci from vv. med. Arab. w and y admit of the prefixed m being treated as the first radical through forgetfulness or disregard of their derivation, and with the retention of its from secondary roots (as Arab. makana, madana, maṣṣara), it is highly probable that in maṣâd, maṣad and maṣd we have an original מצד, מצודה, מצוּדה. These Hebrew words, however, are to be referred to a צוּד in the signification to look out, therefore properly specula. - Fleischer.)

and the latter, a steep height. The horn, which is an ancient figure of victorious and defiant power in Deuteronomy 33:17; 1 Samuel 2:1, is found here applied to Jahve Himself: "horn of my salvation" is that which interposes on the side of my feebleness, conquers, and saves me. All these epithets applied to God are the fruits of the affliction out of which David's song has sprung, viz., his persecution by Saul, when, in a country abounding in rugged rocks and deficient in forest, he betook himself to the rocks for safety, and the mountains served him as his fortresses. In the shelter which the mountains, by their natural conformations, afforded him at that time, and in the fortunate accidents, which sometimes brought him deliverance when in extreme peril, David recognises only marvellous phenomena of which Jahve Himself was to him the final cause. The confession of the God tried and known in many ways is continued in Psalm 18:5 by a general expression of his experience. מהלּל is a predicate accusative to יהוה: As one praised (worthy to be praised) do I call upon Jahve, - a rendering that is better suited to the following clause, which expresses confidence in the answer coinciding with the invocation, which is to be thought of as a cry for help, than Olshausen's, "Worthy of praise, do I cry, is Jahve," though this latter certainly is possible so far as the style is concerned (vid., on Isaiah 45:24, cf. also Genesis 3:3; Micah 2:6). The proof of this fact, viz., that calling upon Him who is worthy to be praised, who, as the history of Israel shows, is able and willing to help, is immediately followed by actual help, as events that are coincident, forms the further matter of the Psalm.

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