David rejoices in the deliverances God wrought for him. (1-19) He takes the comfort of his integrity, which God had cleared up. (20-28) He gives to God the glory of all his mighty deeds. (29-50)
Verses 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, ( Hebrews 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.
Verses 20-28 Those that forsake the ways of the Lord, depart from their God. But though conscious to ourselves of many a false step, let there not be a wicked departure from our God. David kept his eye upon the rule of God's commands. Constant care to keep from that sin, whatever it be, which most easily besets us, proves that we are upright before God. Those who show mercy to others, even they need mercy. Those who are faithful to God, shall find him all that to them which he has promised to be. The words of the Lord are pure words, very sure to be depended on, and very sweet to be delighted in. Those who resist God, and walk contrary to him, shall find that he will walk contrary to them, ( Leviticus 26:21-24 ) . The gracious recompence of which David spoke, may generally be expected by those who act from right motives. Hence he speaks comfort to the humble, and terror to the proud; "Thou wilt bring down high looks." And he speaks encouragement to himself; "Thou wilt light my candle:" thou wilt revive and comfort my sorrowful spirit; thou wilt guide my way, that I may avoid the snares laid for me. Thou wilt light my candle to work by, and give me an opportunity of serving thee. Let those that walk in darkness, and labour under discouragements, take courage; God himself will be a Light to them.
Verses 29-50 When we praise for one mercy, we must observe the many more, with which we have been compassed all our days. Many things had contributed to David's advancement, and he owns the hand of God in them all, to teach us to do likewise. In verse Verse 32 , and the following verses, are the gifts of God to the spiritual warrior, whereby he is prepared for the contest, after the example of his victorious Leader. Learn that we must seek release being made through Christ, shall be rejected. In David the type, we behold out of trouble through Christ. The prayer put up, without reconciliation Jesus our Redeemer, conflicting with enemies, compassed with sorrows and with floods of ungodly men, enduring not only the pains of death, but the wrath of God for us; yet calling upon the Father with strong cries and tears; rescued from the grave; proceeding to reconcile, or to put under his feet all other enemies, till death, the last enemy, shall be destroyed. We should love the Lord, our Strength, and our Salvation; we should call on him in every trouble, and praise him for every deliverance; we should aim to walk with him in all righteousness and true holiness, keeping from sin. If we belong to him, he conquers and reigns for us, and we shall conquer and reign through him, and partake of the mercy of our anointed King, which is promised to all his seed for evermore. Amen.
Psalms 18:1-50 . "The servant of the LORD," which in the Hebrew precedes "David," is a significant part of the title (and not a mere epithet of David), denoting the inspired character of the song, as the production of one entrusted with the execution of God's will. He was not favored by God because he served Him, but served Him because selected and appointed by God in His sovereign mercy. After a general expression of praise and confidence in God for the future, David gives a sublimely poetical description of God's deliverance, which he characterizes as an illustration of God's justice to the innocent and His righteous government. His own prowess and success are celebrated as the results of divine aid, and, confident of its continuance, he closes in terms of triumphant praise. 2 Samuel 22:1-51 is a copy of this Psalm, with a few unimportant variations recorded there as a part of the history, and repeated here as part of a collection designed for permanent use.
1. I will love thee--with most tender affection.
2, 3. The various terms used describe God as an object of the most implicit and reliable trust.
rock--literally, "a cleft rock," for concealment.
strength--a firm, immovable rock.
horn of my salvation--The horn, as the means of attack or defense of some of the strongest animals, is a frequent emblem of power or strength efficiently exercised (compare Deuteronomy 33:17 , Luke 1:69 ).
tower--literally, "high place," beyond reach of danger.
3. to be praised--for past favors, and worthy of confidence.
4. sorrows--literally, "bands as of a net" ( Psalms 116:3 ).
5. death--and hell (compare Psalms 16:10 ) are personified as man's great enemies (compare Revelation 20:13 Revelation 20:14 ).
prevented--encountered me, crossed my path, and endangered my safety. He does not mean he was in their power.
6. He relates his methods to procure relief when distressed, and his success.
temple--(Compare Psalms 11:4 ).
7, 8. God's coming described in figures drawn from His appearance on Sinai (compare Deuteronomy 32:22 ).
8. smoke out . . . his nostrils--bitter in His wrath (compare Psalms 74:1 ).
by it--that is, the fire ( Exodus 19:18 ).
9. darkness--or, a dense cloud ( Exodus 19:16 , Deuteronomy 5:22 ).
10. cherub--angelic agents (compare Genesis 3:24 ), the figures of which were placed over the ark ( 1 Samuel 4:4 ), representing God's dwelling; used here to enhance the majesty of the divine advent. Angels and winds may represent all rational and irrational agencies of God's providence (compare Psalms 104:3 Psalms 104:4 ).
did fly--Rapidity of motion adds to the grandeur of the scene.
11. dark waters--or, clouds heavy with vapor.
12. Out of this obscurity, which impresses the beholder with awe and dread, He reveals Himself by sudden light and the means of His terrible wrath ( Joshua 10:11 , Psalms 78:47 ).
13. The storm breaks forth--thunder follows lightning, and hail with repeated lightning, as often seen, like balls or coals of fire, succeed ( Exodus 9:23 ).
14. The fiery brightness of lightning, in shape like burning arrows rapidly shot through the air, well represents the most terrible part of an awful storm. Before the terrors of such a scene the enemies are confounded and overthrown in dismay.
15. The tempest of the air is attended by appropriate results on earth. The language, though not expressive of any special physical changes, represents the utter subversion of the order of nature. Before such a God none can stand.
16-19. from above--As seated on a throne, directing these terrible scenes, God--
sent--His hand ( Psalms 144:7 ), reached down to His humble worshipper, and delivered him.
many waters--calamities ( Job 30:14 , Psalms 124:4 Psalms 124:5 ).
18. prevented--( Psalms 18:3 ).
19. a large place--denotes safety or relief, as contrasted with the straits of distress ( Psalms 4:1 ). All his deliverance is ascribed to God, and this sublime poetical representation is given to inspire the pious with confidence and the wicked with dread.
20-24. The statements of innocence, righteousness, &c., refer, doubtless, to his personal and official conduct and his purposes, during all the trials to which he was subjected in Saul's persecutions and Absalom's rebellions, as well as the various wars in which he had been engaged as the head and defender of God's Church and people.
23. upright before him--In my relation to God I have been perfect as to all parts of His law. The perfection does not relate to degree.
mine iniquity--perhaps the thought of his heart to kill Saul ( 1 Samuel 24:6 ). That David does not allude to all his conduct, in all relations, is evident from Psalms 51:1 , &c.
25-27. God renders to men according to their deeds in a penal, not vindictive, sense ( Leviticus 26:23 Leviticus 26:24 ).
merciful--or, "kind" ( Psalms 4:3 ).
26. froward--contrary to.
27. the afflicted people--that is, the humbly pious.
high looks--pride ( Psalms 101:5 , 131:1 ).
28. To give one light is to make prosperous ( Job 18:5 Job 18:6 , 21:17 ).
thou--is emphatic, as if to say, I can fully confide in Thee for help.
29. And this on past experience in his military life, set forth by these figures.
30-32. God's perfection is the source of his own, which has resulted from his trust on the one hand, and God's promised help on the other.
tried--"as metals are tried by fire and proved genuine" ( Psalms 12:6 ). Shield ( Psalms 3:3 ). Girding was essential to free motion on account of the looseness of Oriental dresses; hence it is an expressive figure for describing the gift of strength.
33-36. God's help farther described. He gives swiftness to pursue or elude his enemies ( Habakkuk 3:19 ), strength, protection, and a firm footing.
35. thy gentleness--as applied to God--condescension--or that which He gives, in the sense of humility (compare Proverbs 22:4 ).
36. enlarged my steps--made ample room (compare Proverbs 4:12 ).
37-41. In actual conflict, with God's aid, the defeat of his enemies is certain. A present and continued success is expressed.
39. that rose up against me--literally, "insurgents" ( Psalms 3:1 , 44:5 ).
40. given me the necks--literally, "backs of the necks"; made them retreat ( Exodus 23:27 , Joshua 7:8 ).
42. This conquest was complete.
43-45. Not only does He conquer civil foes, but foreigners, who are driven from their places of refuge.
44. submit, &c.--(compare Margin)--that is, show a forced subjection.
46. The Lord liveth--contrasts Him with idols ( 1 Corinthians 8:4 ).
47, 48. avengeth me--His cause is espoused by God as His own.
48. liftest me up--to safety and honors.
49, 50. Paul ( Romans 15:9 ) quotes from this doxology to show that under the Old Testament economy, others than the Jews were regarded as subjects of that spiritual government of which David was head, and in which character his deliverances and victories were typical of the more illustrious triumphs of David's greater Son. The language of Psalms 18:50 justifies this view in its distinct allusion to the great promise (compare 2 Samuel 7:12 ). In all David's successes he saw the pledges of a fulfilment of that promise, and he mourned in all his adversities, not only in view of his personal suffering, but because he saw in them evidences of danger to the great interests which were committed to his keeping. It is in these aspects of his character that we are led properly to appreciate the importance attached to his sorrows and sufferings, his joys and successes.