Psalms 18:14

18:14 He shot his arrows and scattered them,

many lightning bolts and routed them.

Psalms 77:17-18

77:17 The clouds poured down rain;

the skies thundered.

Yes, your arrows flashed about.

77:18 Your thunderous voice was heard in the wind;

the lightning bolts lit up the world;

the earth trembled and shook.


tn 2 Sam 22:15 omits the pronominal suffix (“his”).

tn The pronominal suffixes on the verbs “scattered” and “routed” (see the next line) refer to the psalmist’s enemies. Some argue that the suffixes refer to the arrows, in which case one might translate “shot them far and wide” and “made them move noisily,” respectively. They argue that the enemies have not been mentioned since v. 4 and are not again mentioned until v. 17. However, usage of the verbs פוּץ (puts, “scatter”) and הָמַם (hamam, “rout”) elsewhere in Holy War accounts suggests the suffixes refer to enemies. Enemies are frequently pictured in such texts as scattered and/or routed (see Exod 14:24; 23:27; Num 10:35; Josh 10:10; Judg 4:15; 1 Sam 7:10; 11:11; Ps 68:1).

sn Lightning is a common motif in in OT theophanies and in ancient Near Eastern portrayals of the storm god and warring kings. See R. B. Chisholm, “An Exegetical and Theological Study of Psalm 18/2 Samuel 22” (Th.D. diss., Dallas Theological Seminary, 1983), 190-92.

tn Heb “lightning bolts, many.” 2 Sam 22:15 has simply “lightning” (בָּרָק, baraq). The identity of the word רָב (rav) in Ps 18:14 is problematic. (1) It may be a form of a rare verb רָבַב (ravav, “to shoot”), perhaps attested in Gen 49:23 as well. In this case one might translate, “he shot lightning bolts and routed them.” Other options include (2) understanding רָב (rav) as an adverbial use of the adjective, “lightning bolts in abundance,” or (3) emending the form to רַבּוּ (rabbu), from רָבַב (ravav, “be many”) or to רָבוּ (ravu), from רָבָה (ravah, “be many”) – both a haplography of the vav (ו); note the initial vav on the immediately following form – and translating “lightning bolts were in abundance.”

sn Arrows and lightning bolts are associated in other texts (see Pss 77:17-18; 144:6; Zech 9:14), as well as in ancient Near Eastern art (see R. B. Chisholm, “An Exegetical and Theological Study of Psalm 18/2 Samuel 22” [Th.D. diss., Dallas Theological Seminary, 1983], 187).

tn Heb “water.”

tn Heb “a sound the clouds gave.”

tn The lightning accompanying the storm is portrayed as the Lord’s “arrows” (see v. 18).

tn The prefixed verbal form may be taken as a preterite or as an imperfect with past progressive force.

sn Verses 16-18 depict the Lord coming in the storm to battle his enemies and subdue the sea. There is no record of such a storm in the historical account of the Red Sea crossing. The language the psalmist uses here is stereotypical and originates in Canaanite myth, where the storm god Baal subdues the sea in his quest for kingship. The psalmist has employed the stereotypical imagery to portray the exodus vividly and at the same time affirm that it is not Baal who subdues the sea, but Yahweh.