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Psalms 18:14-29

Context

18:14 He shot his 1  arrows and scattered them, 2 

many lightning bolts 3  and routed them. 4 

18:15 The depths 5  of the sea 6  were exposed;

the inner regions 7  of the world were uncovered

by 8  your battle cry, 9  Lord,

by the powerful breath from your nose. 10 

18:16 He reached down 11  from above and took hold of me;

he pulled me from the surging water. 12 

18:17 He rescued me from my strong enemy, 13 

from those who hate me,

for they were too strong for me.

18:18 They confronted 14  me in my day of calamity,

but the Lord helped me. 15 

18:19 He brought me out into a wide open place;

he delivered me because he was pleased with me. 16 

18:20 The Lord repaid 17  me for my godly deeds; 18 

he rewarded 19  my blameless behavior. 20 

18:21 For I have obeyed the Lord’s commands; 21 

I have not rebelled against my God. 22 

18:22 For I am aware of all his regulations, 23 

and I do not reject his rules. 24 

18:23 I was innocent before him,

and kept myself from sinning. 25 

18:24 The Lord rewarded me for my godly deeds; 26 

he took notice of my blameless behavior. 27 

18:25 You prove to be loyal 28  to one who is faithful; 29 

you prove to be trustworthy 30  to one who is innocent. 31 

18:26 You prove to be reliable 32  to one who is blameless,

but you prove to be deceptive 33  to one who is perverse. 34 

18:27 For you deliver oppressed 35  people,

but you bring down those who have a proud look. 36 

18:28 Indeed, 37  you are my lamp, Lord. 38 

My God 39  illuminates the darkness around me. 40 

18:29 Indeed, 41  with your help 42  I can charge against 43  an army; 44 

by my God’s power 45  I can jump over a wall. 46 

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

2 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).

3 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.

4 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).

5 tn Or “channels.”

6 tc Ps 18:15 reads “water” (cf. Ps 42:1); “sea” is the reading of 2 Sam 22:16.

7 tn Or “foundations.”

8 tn Heb “from.” The preposition has a causal sense here.

9 tn The noun is derived from the verb גָּעַר (gaar), which is often understood to mean “rebuke.” In some cases it is apparent that scolding or threatening is in view (see Gen 37:10; Ruth 2:16; Zech 3:2). However, in militaristic contexts this translation is inadequate, for the verb refers in this setting to the warrior’s battle cry, which terrifies and paralyzes the enemy. See A. Caquot, TDOT 3:53, and note the use of the verb in Pss 68:30; 106:9; and Nah 1:4, as well as the related noun in Job 26:11; Pss 9:5; 76:6; 104:7; Isa 50:2; 51:20; 66:15.

10 tn 2 Sam 22:16 reads “by the battle cry of the Lord, by the blast of the breath of his nose.” The phrase “blast of the breath” (Heb “breath of breath”) employs an appositional genitive. Synonyms are joined in a construct relationship to emphasize the single idea. For a detailed discussion of the grammatical point with numerous examples, see Y. Avishur, “Pairs of Synonymous Words in the Construct State (and in Appositional Hendiadys) in Biblical Hebrew,” Semitics 2 (1971): 17-81.

11 tn Heb “stretched.” Perhaps “his hand” should be supplied by ellipsis (see Ps 144:7). In this poetic narrative context the three prefixed verbal forms in this verse are best understood as preterites indicating past tense, not imperfects.

12 tn Heb “mighty waters.” The waters of the sea symbolize the psalmist’s powerful enemies, as well as the realm of death they represent (see v. 4 and Ps 144:7).

13 tn The singular refers either to personified death or collectively to the psalmist’s enemies. The following line, which refers to “those [plural] who hate me,” favors the latter.

14 tn The same verb is translated “trapped” in v. 5. In this poetic narrative context the prefixed verbal form is best understood as a preterite indicating past tense, not imperfect.

15 tn Heb “became my support.”

16 tn Or “delighted in me.”

17 tn In this poetic narrative context the prefixed verbal form is best understood as a preterite indicating past tense, not imperfect.

18 tn Heb “according to my righteousness.” As vv. 22-24 make clear, the psalmist refers here to his unwavering obedience to God’s commands. In these verses the psalmist explains that the Lord was pleased with him and willing to deliver him because he had been loyal to God and obedient to his commandments. Ancient Near Eastern literature contains numerous parallels. A superior (a god or king) would typically reward a subject (a king or the servant of a king, respectively) for loyalty and obedience. See R. B. Chisholm, “An Exegetical and Theological Study of Psalm 18/2 Samuel 22” (Th.D. diss., Dallas Theological Seminary, 1983), 211-13.

19 tn The unreduced Hiphil prefixed verbal form appears to be an imperfect, in which case the psalmist would be generalizing. However, both the preceding and following contexts (see especially v. 24) suggest he is narrating his experience. Despite its unreduced form, the verb is better taken as a preterite. For other examples of unreduced Hiphil preterites, see Pss 55:14a; 68:9a, 10b; 80:8a; 89:43a; 107:38b; 116:6b.

20 tn Heb “according to the purity of my hands he repaid to me.” “Hands” suggest activity and behavior.

21 tn Heb “for I have kept the ways of the Lord.” The phrase “ways of the Lord” refers here to the “conduct required” by the Lord. In Ps 25 the Lord’s “ways” are associated with his covenantal demands (see vv. 4, 9-10). See also Ps 119:3 (cf. vv. 1, 4), as well as Deut 8:6; 10:12; 11:22; 19:9; 26:17; 28:9; 30:16.

22 tn Heb “I have not acted wickedly from my God.” The statement is elliptical; the idea is, “I have not acted wickedly and, in so doing, departed from my God.”

23 tn Heb “for all his regulations [are] before me.” The Hebrew term מִשְׁפָּטִים (mishpatim, “regulations”) refers to God’s covenantal requirements, especially those which the king is responsible to follow (cf. Deut 17:18-20). See also Pss 19:9 (cf. vv. 7-8); 89:30; 147:20 (cf. v. 19), as well as the numerous uses of the term in Ps 119.

24 tn Heb “and his rules I do not turn aside from me.” 2 Sam 22:23 reads, “and his rules, I do not turn aside from it.” The prefixed verbal form is probably an imperfect; the psalmist here generalizes about his loyalty to God’s commands. The Lord’s “rules” are the stipulations of the covenant which the king was responsible to obey (see Ps 89:31; cf. v. 30 and Deut 17:18-20).

25 tn Heb “from my sin,” that is, from making it my own in any way.

sn Kept myself from sinning. Leading a blameless life meant that the king would be loyal to God’s covenant, purge the government and society of evil and unjust officials, and reward loyalty to the Lord (see Ps 101).

26 tn Heb “according to my righteousness.”

27 tn Heb “according to the purity of my hands before his eyes.” 2 Sam 22:25 reads “according to my purity before his eyes.” The verbal repetition (compare vv. 20 and 24) sets off vv. 20-24 as a distinct sub-unit within the psalm.

28 tn The imperfect verbal forms in vv. 25-29 draw attention to God’s characteristic actions. Based on his experience, the psalmist generalizes about God’s just dealings with people (vv. 25-27) and about the way in which God typically empowers him on the battlefield (vv. 28-29). The Hitpael stem is used in vv. 26-27 in a reflexive resultative (or causative) sense. God makes himself loyal, etc. in the sense that he conducts or reveals himself as such. On this use of the Hitpael stem, see GKC 149-50 §54.e.

29 tn Or “to a faithful follower.” A “faithful follower” (חָסִיד, khasid) is one who does what is right in God’s eyes and remains faithful to God (see Pss 4:3; 12:1; 16:10; 31:23; 37:28; 86:2; 97:10).

30 tn Or “innocent.”

31 tn Heb “a man of innocence.”

32 tn Or “blameless.”

33 tn The Hebrew verb פָתַל (patal) is used in only three other texts. In Gen 30:8 it means literally “to wrestle,” or “to twist.” In Job 5:13 it refers to devious individuals, and in Prov 8:8 to deceptive words.

34 tn The adjective עִקֵּשׁ (’iqqesh) has the basic nuance “twisted, crooked,” and by extension refers to someone or something that is morally perverse. It appears frequently in Proverbs, where it is used of evil people (22:5), speech (8:8; 19:1), thoughts (11:20; 17:20), and life styles (2:15; 28:6). A righteous king opposes such people (Ps 101:4).

sn Verses 25-26 affirm God’s justice. He responds to people in accordance with their moral character. His response mirrors their actions. The faithful and blameless find God to be loyal and reliable in his dealings with them. But deceivers discover he is able and willing to use deceit to destroy them. For a more extensive discussion of the theme of divine deception in the OT, see R. B. Chisholm, “Does God Deceive?” BSac 155 (1998): 11-28.

35 tn Or perhaps, “humble” (note the contrast with those who are proud).

36 tn Heb “but proud eyes you bring low.” 2 Sam 22:28 reads, “your eyes [are] upon the proud, [whom] you bring low.”

37 tn Or “for.” The translation assumes that כִּי (ki)is asseverative here.

38 tn Ps 18:28 reads literally, “you light my lamp, Lord.” 2 Sam 22:29 has, “you are my lamp, Lord.” The Ps 18 reading may preserve two variants, נֵרִי (neriy, “my lamp”) and אוֹרִי (’oriy, “my light”), cf. Ps 27:1. The verb תָּאִיר (tair, “you light”) in Ps 18:28 would, in this case, be a corruption of the latter. See F. M. Cross and D. N. Freedman, Studies in Ancient Yahwistic Poetry (SBLDS), 150, n. 64. The metaphor, which likens the Lord to a lamp or light, pictures him as the psalmist’s source of life. For other examples of “lamp” used in this way, see Job 18:6; 21:17; Prov 13:9; 20:20; 24:20. For other examples of “light” as a symbol for life, see Job 3:20; 33:30; Ps 56:13.

39 tn 2 Sam 22:29 repeats the name “Lord.”

40 tn Heb “my darkness.”

41 tn Or “for.” The translation assumes that כִּי (ki) is asseverative here.

42 tn Heb “by you.”

43 tn Heb “I will run.” The imperfect verbal forms in v. 29 indicate the subject’s potential or capacity to perform an action. Though one might expect a preposition to follow the verb here, this need not be the case with the verb רוּץ (ruts; see 1 Sam 17:22). Some emend the Qal to a Hiphil form of the verb and translate, “I put to flight [Heb “cause to run”] an army.”

44 tn More specifically, the noun גְּדוּד (gÿdud) refers to a raiding party or to a contingent of troops.

sn I can charge against an army. The picture of a divinely empowered warrior charging against an army in almost superhuman fashion appears elsewhere in ancient Near Eastern literature. See R. B. Chisholm, “An Exegetical and Theological Study of Psalm 18/2 Samuel 22” (Th.D. diss., Dallas Theological Seminary, 1983), 228.

45 tn Heb “and by my God.”

46 sn I can jump over a wall. The psalmist uses hyperbole to emphasize his God-given military superiority.



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