and I was delivered from my enemies.
the snares of death trapped me. 22
18:6 In my distress I called to the Lord;
I cried out to my God. 23
From his heavenly temple 24 he heard my voice;
he listened to my cry for help. 25
they heaved because he was angry.
fire devoured as it came from his mouth; 31
he hurled down fiery coals. 32
a thick cloud was under his feet.
in thick rain clouds. 39
18:12 From the brightness in front of him came
hail and fiery coals. 40
1 sn Psalm 18. In this long song of thanks, the psalmist (a Davidic king, traditionally understood as David himself) affirms that God is his faithful protector. He recalls in highly poetic fashion how God intervened in awesome power and delivered him from death. The psalmist’s experience demonstrates that God vindicates those who are blameless and remain loyal to him. True to his promises, God gives the king victory on the battlefield and enables him to subdue nations. A parallel version of the psalm appears in 2 Sam 22:1-51.
2 tn Heb “spoke.”
3 tn Heb “in the day,” or “at the time.”
4 tn Heb “hand.”
5 tn Heb “and from the hand of Saul.”
6 tn A number of translations (e.g., NASB, NIV, NRSV) assign the words “he said” to the superscription, in which case the entire psalm is in first person. Other translations (e.g., NAB) include the introductory “he said” at the beginning of v. 1.
7 tn The verb רָחַם (rakham) elsewhere appears in the Piel (or Pual) verbal stem with the basic meaning, “have compassion.” The verb occurs only here in the basic (Qal) stem. The basic stem of the verbal root also occurs in Aramaic with the meaning “love” (see DNWSI 2:1068-69; Jastrow 1467 s.v. רָחַם; G. Schmuttermayr, “rhm: eine lexikalische Studie,” Bib 51 : 515-21). Since this introductory statement does not appear in the parallel version in 2 Sam 22:1-51, it is possible that it is a later addition to the psalm, made when the poem was revised for use in worship.
8 tn Heb “my strength.” “Strength” is metonymic here, referring to the Lord as the one who bestows strength to the psalmist; thus the translation “my source of strength.”
11 tn Or “in whom.”
12 sn Take shelter. “Taking shelter” in the Lord is an idiom for seeking his protection. Seeking his protection presupposes and even demonstrates the subject’s loyalty to the Lord. In the psalms those who “take shelter” in the Lord are contrasted with the wicked and equated with those who love, fear and serve the Lord (Pss 5:11-12; 31:17-20; 34:21-22).
13 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 (cf. 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. Ps 18:2 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.
15 tn In this song of thanksgiving, where the psalmist recalls how the Lord delivered him, the prefixed verbal form is best understood as a preterite indicating past tense, not an imperfect.
16 tn Heb “worthy of praise, I cried out [to] the
17 tc Ps 18:4 reads “ropes,” while 2 Sam 22:5 reads “waves.” The reading of the psalm has been influenced by the next verse (note “ropes of Sheol”) and perhaps also by Ps 116:3 (where “ropes of death” appears, as here, with the verb אָפַף, ’afaf). However, the parallelism of v. 4 (note “currents” in the next line) favors the reading “waves.” While the verb אָפַף is used with “ropes” as subject in Ps 116:3, it can also be used with engulfing “waters” as subject (see Jonah 2:5). Death is compared to surging waters in v. 4 and to a hunter in v. 5.
19 tn The noun בְלִיַּעַל (vÿliyya’al) is used here as an epithet for death. Elsewhere it is a common noun meaning “wickedness, uselessness.” 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.
20 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 (ba’at) sometimes by metonymy carries the nuance “frighten,” but the parallelism (see “engulfed”) favors the meaning “overwhelm” here.
21 tn Heb “surrounded me.”
22 tn Heb “confronted me.”
25 tc Heb “and my cry for help before him came into his ears.” 2 Sam 22:7 has a shorter reading, “my cry for help, in his ears.” It is likely that Ps 18:6 MT as it now stands represents a conflation of two readings: (1) “my cry for help came before him,” (2) “my cry for help came into his ears.” See F. M. Cross and D. N. Freedman, Studies in Ancient Yahwistic Poetry (SBLDS), 144, n. 13.
26 sn The earth heaved and shook. The imagery pictures an earthquake in which the earth’s surface rises and falls. The earthquake motif is common in OT theophanies of God as warrior and in ancient Near Eastern literary descriptions of warring gods and kings. See R. B. Chisholm, “An Exegetical and Theological Study of Psalm 18/2 Samuel 22” (Th.D. diss., Dallas Theological Seminary, 1983), 160-62.
27 tn 2 Sam 22:8 has “heavens” which forms a merism with “earth” in the preceding line. The “foundations of the heavens” would be the mountains. However, the reading “foundations of the mountains” has a parallel in Deut 32:22.
28 tn In this poetic narrative context the prefixed verbal form is best understood as a preterite indicating past tense, not an imperfect. Note the three prefixed verbal forms with vav (ו) consecutive in the verse.
29 tn Heb “within”; or “[from] within.” For a discussion of the use of the preposition -בְּ (bÿ) here, see R. B. Chisholm, “An Exegetical and Theological Study of Psalm 18/2 Samuel 22” (Th.D. diss., Dallas Theological Seminary, 1983), 163-64.
30 tn Or “in his anger.” The noun אַף (’af) can carry the abstract meaning “anger,” but the parallelism (note “from his mouth”) suggests the more concrete meaning “nose” here. See also v. 15, “the powerful breath of your nose.”
31 tn Heb “fire from his mouth devoured.” In this poetic narrative context the prefixed verbal form is best understood as a preterite indicating past tense, not an imperfect. Note the two perfect verbal forms in the verse.
sn Fire devoured as it came from his mouth. For other examples of fire as a weapon in OT theophanies and ancient Near Eastern portrayals of warring gods and kings, see R. B. Chisholm, “An Exegetical and Theological Study of Psalm 18/2 Samuel 22” (Th.D. diss., Dallas Theological Seminary, 1983), 165-67.
33 tn The Hebrew verb נָטָה (natah) can carry the sense “[cause to] bend, bow down.” For example, Gen 49:15 pictures Issachar as a donkey that “bends” its shoulder or back under a burden. Here the
34 tn Or “rode upon.”
35 tn Heb “a cherub.” Because of the typical associations of the word “cherub” in English with chubby winged babies, the term has been rendered “winged angel” in the translation.
sn Winged angel (Heb “cherub”). Cherubs, as depicted in the OT, possess both human and animal (lion, ox, and eagle) characteristics (see Ezek 1:10; 10:14, 21; 41:18). They are pictured as winged creatures (Exod 25:20; 37:9; 1 Kgs 6:24-27; Ezek 10:8, 19) and serve as the very throne of God when the ark of the covenant is in view (Pss 80:1; 99:1; see Num 7:89; 1 Sam 4:4; 2 Sam 6:2; 2 Kgs 19:15). The picture of the
37 sn The wings of the wind. Verse 10 may depict (1) the Lord riding a cherub, which is in turn propelled by the wind current. Another option (2) is that two different vehicles (a cherub and the wind) are envisioned. Yet another option (3) is that the wind is personified as a cherub. For a discussion of ancient Near Eastern parallels to the imagery in v. 10, see M. Weinfeld, “‘Rider of the Clouds’ and ‘Gatherer of the Clouds’,” JANESCU 5 (1973): 422-24.
38 tc Heb “he made darkness his hiding place around him, his covering.” 2 Sam 22:12 reads, “he made darkness around him coverings,” omitting “his hiding place” and pluralizing “covering.” Ps 18:11 may include a conflation of synonyms (“his hiding place” and “his covering”) or 2 Sam 22:12 may be the result of haplography/homoioarcton. Note that three successive words in Ps 18:11 begin with the Hebrew letter samek: סִתְרוֹ סְבִיבוֹתָיו סֻכָּתוֹ (sitro sÿvivotayv sukkato).
39 tc Heb “darkness of water, clouds of clouds.” The noun “darkness” (חֶשְׁכַת, kheshkhat) is probably a corruption of an original reading חשׁרת, a form that is preserved in 2 Sam 22:12. The latter is a construct form of חַשְׁרָה (khashrah, “sieve”) which occurs only here in the OT. A cognate Ugaritic noun means “sieve,” and a related verb חָשַׁר (khashar, “to sift”) is attested in postbiblical Hebrew and Aramaic. The phrase חַשְׁרַת מַיִם (khashrat mayim) means literally “a sieve of water.” It pictures the rain clouds as a sieve through which the rain falls to the ground (see F. M. Cross and D. N. Freedman, Studies in Ancient Yahwistic Poetry [SBLDS], 146, n. 33).
40 tc Heb “from the brightness in front of him his clouds came, hail and coals of fire.” 2 Sam 22:13 reads, “from the brightness in front of him burned coals of fire.” The Lucianic family of texts within the Greek tradition of 2 Sam 22:13 seems to assume the underlying Hebrew text: מנגה נגדו עברו ברד וגחלי אשׁ, “from the brightness in front of him came hail and coals of fire” (the basis for the present translation). The textual situation is perplexing and the identity of the original text uncertain. The verbs עָבָרוּ (’avaru; Ps 18:12) and בָּעֲרוּ (ba’aru; 2 Sam 22:13) appear to be variants involving a transposition of the first two letters. The noun עָבָיו (’avayv, “his clouds,” Ps 18:12) may be virtually dittographic (note the following עָבְרוּ, ’avru), or it could have accidentally dropped out from the text of 2 Sam 22:13 by virtual haplography (note the preceding בָּעֲרוּ, which might have originally read עָבְרוּ). The noun בָּרָד (barad, “hail,” Ps 18:12) may be virtually dittographic (note the preceding עָבְרוּ), or it could have dropped out from 2 Sam 22:13 by virtual haplography (note the preceding בָּעֲרוּ, which might have originally read עָבְרוּ). For a fuller discussion of the text and its problems, see R. B. Chisholm, “An Exegetical and Theological Study of Psalm 18/2 Samuel 22” (Th.D. diss., Dallas Theological Seminary, 1983), 74-76.
41 sn Thunder is a common motif 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), 179-83.
tn Heb “offered his voice.” In this poetic narrative context the prefixed verbal form is best understood as a preterite indicating past tense, not an imperfect. Note the prefixed verbal form with vav (ו) consecutive in the preceding line.