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2 Samuel 22:2-5

Context
22:2 He said:

“The Lord is my high ridge, 1  my stronghold, 2  my deliverer.

22:3 My God 3  is my rocky summit where I take shelter, 4 

my shield, the horn that saves me, 5  my stronghold,

my refuge, my savior. You save me from violence! 6 

22:4 I called 7  to the Lord, who is worthy of praise, 8 

and I was delivered from my enemies.

22:5 The waves of death engulfed me;

the currents 9  of chaos 10  overwhelmed me. 11 

1 tn Traditionally “is my rock”; CEV “mighty rock”; TEV “is my protector.” This metaphor pictures God as a rocky, relatively inaccessible summit, where one would be able to find protection from enemies. See 1 Sam 23:25, 28.

2 tn Traditionally “my fortress”; TEV “my strong fortress”; NCV “my protection.”

sn My stronghold. David often found safety in such strongholds. See 1 Sam 22:4-5; 24:22; 2 Sam 5:9, 17; 23:14.

3 tc The translation (along with many English versions, e.g., NAB, NIV, NRSV, NLT) follows the LXX in reading אֱלֹהִי (’elohi, “my God”) rather than MT’s אֱלֹהֵי (’elohe, “the God of”). See Ps 18:2.

4 tn Or “in whom.”

5 tn Heb “the horn of my salvation,” or “my saving horn.”

sn Though some see “horn” as referring to a horn-shaped peak of a hill, or to the “horns” of an altar where one could find refuge, it is more likely that the horn of an ox underlies the metaphor (see Deut 33:17; 1 Kgs 22:11; Ps 92:10). The horn of the wild ox is frequently a metaphor for military strength; the idiom “exalt the horn” signifies military victory (see 1 Sam 2:10; Pss 89:17, 24; 92:10; Lam 2:17). In the ancient Near East powerful warrior-kings would sometimes compare themselves to a goring bull that uses its horns to kill its enemies. For examples, see P. Miller, “El the Warrior,” HTR 60 (1967): 422-25, and R. B. Chisholm, “An Exegetical and Theological Study of Psalm 18/2 Samuel 22” (Th.D. diss., Dallas Theological Seminary, 1983), 135-36. 2 Sam 22:3 uses the metaphor of the horn in a slightly different manner. Here the Lord himself is compared to a horn. He is to the psalmist what the horn is to the ox, a source of defense and victory.

6 tn The parallel version of the song in Ps 18 does not include this last line.

7 tn In this song of thanksgiving, where David recalls how the Lord delivered him, the prefixed verbal form is best understood as a preterite indicating past tense (cf. CEV “I prayed”), not an imperfect (as in many English versions).

8 tn Heb “worthy of praise, I cried out [to] the Lord.” Some take מְהֻלָּל (mÿhullal, “worthy of praise”) with what precedes and translate, “the praiseworthy one,” or “praiseworthy.” However, the various epithets in vv. 1-2 have the first person pronominal suffix, unlike מְהֻלָּל. If one follows the traditional verse division and takes מְהֻלָּל with what follows, it is best understood as substantival and as appositional to יְהוָה (yÿhvah, “Yahweh”), resulting in “[to the] praiseworthy one I cried out, [to the] Lord.”

9 tn The noun נַחַל (nakhal) usually refers to a river or stream, but in this context the plural form likely refers to the currents of the sea (see vv. 15-16).

10 tn The noun בְלִיַּעַל (bÿliyyaal) is used here as an epithet for death. Elsewhere it is a common noun meaning “wickedness, uselessness” (see HALOT 133-34 s.v. בְּלִיַּעַל). It is often associated with rebellion against authority and other crimes that result in societal disorder and anarchy. The phrase “man/son of wickedness” refers to one who opposes God and the order he has established. The term becomes an appropriate title for death, which, through human forces, launches an attack against God’s chosen servant.

11 tn In this poetic narrative context the prefixed verbal form is best understood as a preterite indicating past tense, not an imperfect. (Note the perfect verbal form in the parallel/preceding line.) The verb בָּעַת (baat) sometimes by metonymy carries the nuance “frighten,” but the parallelism (note “engulfed” in the preceding line) favors the meaning “overwhelm” here.



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