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2 Samuel 22:38-44

Context

22:38 I chase my enemies and destroy them;

I do not turn back until I wipe them out.

22:39 I wipe them out and beat them to death;

they cannot get up;

they fall at my feet.

22:40 You give me strength for battle; 1 

you make my foes kneel before me. 2 

22:41 You make my enemies retreat; 3 

I destroy those who hate me.

22:42 They cry out, 4  but there is no one to help them; 5 

they cry out to the Lord, 6  but he does not answer them.

22:43 I grind them as fine as the dust of the ground;

I crush them and stomp on them like clay 7  in the streets.

22:44 You rescue me from a hostile army; 8 

you preserve me as a leader of nations;

people over whom I had no authority are now my subjects. 9 

1 tn Heb “you clothed me with strength for battle.”

2 tn Heb “you make those who rise against me kneel beneath me.”

3 tn Heb “and [as for] my enemies, you give to me [the] back [or “neck” ].” The idiom “give [the] back” means “to cause [one] to turn the back and run away.” See Exod 23:27 and HALOT 888 s.v. II ערף.

4 tc The translation follows one medieval Hebrew ms and the ancient versions in reading the Piel יְשַׁוְּעוּ (yÿshavvÿu, “they cry for help”) rather than the Qal of the MT יִשְׁעוּ (yishu, “they look about for help”). See Ps 18:41 as well.

5 tn Heb “but there is no deliverer.”

6 tn The words “they cry out” are not in the Hebrew text. This reference to the psalmists’ enemies crying out for help to the Lord suggests that the psalmist refers here to enemies within the covenant community, rather than foreigners. However, the militaristic context suggests foreign enemies are in view. Ancient Near Eastern literature indicates that defeated enemies would sometimes cry out for mercy to the god(s) of their conqueror. See R. B. Chisholm, “An Exegetical and Theological Study of Psalm 18/2 Samuel 22” (Th.D. diss., Dallas Theological Seminary, 1983), 271.

7 tn Or “mud” (so NAB, NIV, CEV). See HALOT 374 s.v. טִיט.

8 tn Heb “from the strivings of my people.” In this context רִיב (riv, “striving”) probably has a militaristic sense (as in Judg 12:2; Isa 41:11), and עַם (’am, “people”) probably refers more specifically to an army (for other examples, see the verses listed in BDB 766 s.v. עַם 2.d). The suffix “my” suggests David is referring to attacks by his own countrymen, the “people” being Israel. However, the parallel text in Ps 18:43 omits the suffix.

9 tn Heb “a people whom I did not know serve me.” In this context the verb “know” (יָדַע, yada’) probably refers to formal recognition by treaty. People who were once not under the psalmist’s authority now willingly submit to his rulership to avoid being conquered militarily (see vv. 45-46). The language may recall the events recorded in 2 Sam 8:9-10 and 10:19.



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