Psalm 18:8

 

EXPOSITION

Verse 4-19. See Psalms on "Psalms 19:4" for further information.

Verse 8. There went up a smoke out of his nostrils. A violent oriental method of expressing fierce wrath. Since the breath from the nostrils is heated by strong emotion, the figure portrays the Almighty Deliverer as pouring forth smoke in the heat of his wrath and the impetuousness of his zeal. Nothing makes God so angry as an injury done to his children. He that toucheth you toucheth the apple of mine eye. God is not subject to the passions which govern his creatures, but acting as he does with all the energy and speed of one who is angry, he is here aptly set forth in poetic imagery suitable to human understandings. The opening of his lips is sufficient to destroy his enemies; and fire out of his mouth devoured. This fire was no temporary one but steady and lasting;

Coals were kindled by it. The whole passage is intended to depict God's descent to the help of his child, attended by earthquake and tempest: at the majesty of his appearing the earth rocks, the clouds gather like smoke, and the lightning as flaming fire devours, setting the world on a blaze. What grandeur of description is here! Bishop Mant very admirably rhymes the verse thus: --

"Smoke from his heated nostrils came, And from his mouth devouring flame;
Hot burning coals announced his ire, And flashes of careering fire."

 

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS

Verse 7-8. See Psalms on "Psalms 19:7" for further information.

Verse 7-9. See Psalms on "Psalms 19:7" for further information.

Verse 8. There went up a smoke out of his nostrils, (wkab !f[ hl[). Or there ascended into his nose, as the words literally rendered, signify. The ancients placed the seat of anger in the nose, or nostrils; because when it grows warm and violent, it discovers itself, as it were, by a heated vehement breath, that proceeds from them. Samuel Chandler, D.D., F.R. and A.S.S., 1766.

Verse 8-19. David calls the full force of poetical imagery to aid, to describe in a becoming manner the marvels of his deliverances. He means to say that they were as manifest as the signs of heaven and earth, as sudden and powerful as the phenomena in the kingdom of nature surprise terrified mortals. Deliverance being his theme, he might have taken the figure from the peaceable phenomena of the heavens. But since man heeds heaven more in anger than in blessing, and regards God more when he descends on earth in the storm than in the rainbow, David describes the blessed condescension of God by the figure of a tempest. In order to thoroughly appreciate the beauty and truthfulness of this figure, we should endeavour to realise the full power of an Oriental storm, as it is described in Psalms 29:1-11 . Solitary lightning precedes the discharge -- this is meant by the coals in Psalms 18:8 : the clouds approach the mountain summits -- the heavens bow, as Psalms 18:9 has it; the storm shakes its pinions; enwraped in thick clouds as in a tent, God descends to the earth; hail (not infrequently attending Eastern storms) and lightning issue from the black clouds, through the dissolving layers of which is seen the fiery splendour which hides the Lord of nature. He speaks, and thunder is his voice; he shoots, and flashes of lightning are his arrows. At his rebuke, and at the blast of his breath the earth recedes -- the sea foams up, and its beds are seen -- the land bursts, and the foundations of the world are discovered. And lo! an arm of deliverance issues forth from the black clouds, and the destructive fire grasps the wretched one who had cried out from the depths, pulls him forth, and delivers him from all his enemies! Yes, the hand of the Lord has done marvellous things in the life of David. But the eye of faith alone could perceive in them all the hand of God. Thousands whose experiences of the delivering hand of God are not less signal than those of David, stop short at the powers of nature, and instead of bending the knee before the All merciful God, content themselves to express with cold hearts their admiration of the changes of the destiny of man. Augustus F. Tholuck, D.D., Ph.D. --1856.

 

HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS

None.