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Psalms 18:40-50

Context

18:40 You make my enemies retreat; 1 

I destroy those who hate me. 2 

18:41 They cry out, but there is no one to help them; 3 

they cry out to the Lord, 4  but he does not answer them.

18:42 I grind them as fine windblown dust; 5 

I beat them underfoot 6  like clay 7  in the streets.

18:43 You rescue me from a hostile army; 8 

you make me 9  a leader of nations;

people over whom I had no authority are now my subjects. 10 

18:44 When they hear of my exploits, they submit to me. 11 

Foreigners are powerless 12  before me;

18:45 foreigners lose their courage; 13 

they shake with fear 14  as they leave 15  their strongholds. 16 

18:46 The Lord is alive! 17 

My protector 18  is praiseworthy! 19 

The God who delivers me 20  is exalted as king! 21 

18:47 The one true God 22  completely vindicates me; 23 

he makes nations submit to me. 24 

18:48 He delivers me 25  from my enemies;

you snatch me away 26  from those who attack me; 27 

you rescue me from violent men.

18:49 So I will give you thanks before the nations, 28  O Lord!

I will sing praises to you! 29 

18:50 He 30  gives his chosen king magnificent victories; 31 

he is faithful 32  to his chosen ruler, 33 

to David and his descendants 34  forever.” 35 

1 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.” Cf. Exod 23:27.

2 sn Those who hate me. See v. 17, where it is the Lord who delivered the psalmist from those who hated him.

3 tn Heb “but there is no deliverer.”

4 tn Heb “to the Lord.” The words “they cry out” are supplied in the translation because they are understood by ellipsis (see the preceding line).

sn They cry out. This reference to the psalmist’s 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.

5 tn Heb “I pulverize them like dust upon the face of the wind.” The phrase “upon the face of” here means “before.” 2 Sam 22:43 reads, “like dust of the earth.”

6 tc Ps 18:42 reads, “I empty them out” (Hiphil of ריק), while 2 Sam 22:43 reads, “I crush them, I stomp on them” (juxtaposing the synonyms דקק and רקע). It is likely that the latter is a conflation of variants. One, but not both, of the verbs in 2 Sam 22:43 is probably original; “empty out” does not form as good a parallel with “grind, pulverize” in the parallel line.

7 tn Or “mud.”

8 tn Heb “from the strivings of a people.” In this context the Hebrew term רִיב (riv, “striving”) probably has a militaristic sense (as in Judg 12:2; Isa 41:11), and עָם (’am, “people”) probably refers more specifically to an army (for other examples, see the verses listed in BDB 766 s.v. I עַם, עָם 2.d). Some understand the phrase as referring to attacks by the psalmist’s own countrymen, the “nation” being Israel. However, foreign enemies appear to be in view; note the reference to “nations” in the following line.

9 tn 2 Sam 22:44 reads, “you keep me.”

10 tn Heb “a people whom I did not know serve me.” In this context “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. 44-45). The language may recall the events recorded in 2 Sam 8:9-10 and 10:19.

11 tn Heb “at a report of an ear they submit to me.” The report of the psalmist’s exploits is so impressive that those who hear it submit to his rulership without putting up a fight.

12 tn For the meaning “be weak, powerless” for כָּחַשׁ (kakhash), see Ps 109:24. The next line (see v. 45a), in which “foreigners” are also mentioned, favors this interpretation. Another option is to translate “cower in fear” (see Deut 33:29; Pss 66:3; 81:15; cf. NIV “cringe”; NRSV “came cringing”).

13 tn Heb “wither, wear out.”

14 tn The meaning of חָרַג (kharag, “shake”) is established on the basis of cognates in Arabic and Aramaic. 2 Sam 22:46 reads חָגַר (khagar), which might mean here, “[they] come limping” (on the basis of a cognate in postbiblical Hebrew). The normal meaning for חָגַר (“gird”) makes little sense here.

15 tn Heb “from.”

16 tn Heb “their prisons.” The besieged cities of the foreigners are compared to prisons.

17 tn Elsewhere the construction חַי־יְהוָה (khay-yÿhvah) is used exclusively as an oath formula, “as surely as the Lord lives,” but this is not the case here, for no oath follows. Here the statement is an affirmation of the Lord’s active presence and intervention. In contrast to pagan deities, he demonstrates he is the living God by rescuing and empowering the psalmist.

18 tn Heb “my rocky cliff,” which is a metaphor for protection. See similar phrases in vv. 2, 31.

19 tn Or “blessed [i.e., praised] be.”

20 tn Heb “the God of my deliverance.” 2 Sam 22:48 reads, “the God of the rocky cliff of my deliverance.”

21 tn The words “as king” are supplied in the translation for clarification. Elsewhere in the psalms the verb רוּם (rum, “be exalted”), when used of God, refers to his exalted position as king (Pss 99:2; 113:4; 138:6) and/or his self-revelation as king through his mighty deeds of deliverance (Pss 21:13; 46:10; 57:5, 11).

22 tn Heb “the God.” See v. 32.

23 tn Heb “is the one who grants vengeance to me.” The plural form of the noun indicates degree here, suggesting complete vengeance or vindication.

sn Completely vindicates me. In the ancient Near East military victory was sometimes viewed as a sign that one’s God had judged in favor of the victor, avenging and/or vindicating him. See, for example, Judg 11:27, 32-33, 36.

24 tn Heb “he subdues nations beneath me.” On the meaning of the verb דָּבַר (davar, “subdue,” a homonym of דָּבַר, davar, “speak”), see HALOT 209-10 s.v. I דבר. See also Ps 47:3 and 2 Chr 22:10. 2 Sam 22:48 reads “and [is the one who] brings down nations beneath me.”

25 tn Heb “[the one who] delivers me.” 2 Sam 22:49 reads “and [the one who] brings me out.”

26 tn Heb “lifts me up.” In light of the preceding and following references to deliverance, the verb רום probably here refers to being rescued from danger (see Ps 9:13). However, it could mean “exalt, elevate” here, indicating that the Lord has given the psalmist victory over his enemies and forced them to acknowledge the psalmist’s superiority (cf. NIV, NRSV).

27 tn Heb “from those who rise against me.”

28 sn I will give you thanks before the nations. This probably alludes to the fact that the psalmist will praise the Lord in the presence of the defeated nations when they, as his subjects, bring their tribute payments. Ideally the Davidic king was to testify to the nations of God’s greatness. See J. H. Eaton, Kingship and the Psalms (SBT), 182-85.

29 tn Heb “to your name.” God’s “name” refers metonymically to his divine characteristics as suggested by his name, in this case “Lord,” the primary name of Israel’s covenant God which suggests his active presence with his people (see Exod 3:12-15).

30 tn Or “the one who.”

31 tn Heb “magnifies the victories of his king.” “His king” refers to the psalmist, the Davidic king whom God has chosen to rule Israel.

32 tn Heb “[the one who] does loyalty.”

33 tn Heb “his anointed [one],” i.e., the psalmist/Davidic king. See Ps 2:2.

34 tn Or “offspring”; Heb “seed.”

35 sn If David is the author of the psalm (see the superscription), then he here anticipates that God will continue to demonstrate loyalty to his descendants who succeed him. If the author is a later Davidic king, then he views the divine favor he has experienced as the outworking of God’s faithful promises to David his ancestor.



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