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Psalms 18:30-39

Context

18:30 The one true God acts in a faithful manner; 1 

the Lord’s promise 2  is reliable; 3 

he is a shield to all who take shelter 4  in him.

18:31 Indeed, 5  who is God besides the Lord?

Who is a protector 6  besides our God? 7 

18:32 The one true God 8  gives 9  me strength; 10 

he removes 11  the obstacles in my way. 12 

18:33 He gives me the agility of a deer; 13 

he enables me to negotiate the rugged terrain. 14 

18:34 He trains my hands for battle; 15 

my arms can bend even the strongest bow. 16 

18:35 You give me your protective shield; 17 

your right hand supports me; 18 

your willingness to help 19  enables me to prevail. 20 

18:36 You widen my path; 21 

my feet 22  do not slip.

18:37 I chase my enemies and catch 23  them;

I do not turn back until I wipe them out.

18:38 I beat them 24  to death; 25 

they fall at my feet. 26 

18:39 You give me strength 27  for battle;

you make my foes kneel before me. 28 

1 tn Heb “[As for] the God, his way is blameless.” The term הָאֵל (hael, “the God”) stands as a nominative (or genitive) absolute in apposition to the resumptive pronominal suffix on “way.” The prefixed article emphasizes his distinctiveness as the one true God (cf. Deut 33:26). God’s “way” in this context refers to his protective and salvific acts in fulfillment of his promise (see also Deut 32:4; Pss 67:2; 77:13 [note vv. 11-12, 14]; 103:7; 138:5; 145:17).

2 sn The Lords promise. In the ancient Near East kings would typically seek and receive oracles from their god(s) prior to battle. For examples, see R. B. Chisholm, “An Exegetical and Theological Study of Psalm 18/2 Samuel 22” (Th.D. diss., Dallas Theological Seminary, 1983), 241-42.

3 tn Heb “the word of the Lord is purified.” The Lord’s “word” probably refers here to his oracle(s) of victory delivered to the psalmist before the battle(s) described in the following context. See also Pss 12:5-7 and 138:2-3. David frequently received such oracles before going into battle (see 1 Sam 23:2, 4-5, 10-12; 30:8; 2 Sam 5:19). The Lord’s word of promise is absolutely reliable; it is compared to metal that has been refined in fire and cleansed of impurities. See Ps 12:6.

4 sn Take shelter. See the note on the word “shelter” in v. 2.

5 tn Or “for.”

6 tn Heb “rocky cliff,” which is a metaphor of divine protection. See v. 2, where the Hebrew term צוּר (tsur) is translated “rocky summit.”

7 tn The rhetorical questions anticipate the answer, “No one.” In this way the psalmist indicates that the Lord is the only true God and reliable source of protection. See also Deut 32:39, where the Lord affirms that he is the only true God. Note as well the emphasis on his role as protector (Heb “rocky cliff,” צוּר, tsur) in Deut 32:4, 15, 17-18, 30.

8 tn Heb “the God.” The prefixed article emphasizes the Lord’s distinctiveness as the one true God (cf. Deut 33:26). See v. 30.

9 tn Heb “is the one who clothes.” For similar language see 1 Sam 2:4; Pss 65:6; 93:1. The psalmist employs a generalizing hymnic style in vv. 32-34; he uses participles in vv. 32a, 33a, and 34a to describe what God characteristically does on his behalf.

10 tn 2 Sam 22:33 reads, “the God is my strong refuge.”

sn Gives me strength. As the following context makes clear, this refers to physical and emotional strength for battle (see especially v. 39).

11 tn The prefixed verbal form with vav (ו) consecutive here carries along the generalizing force of the preceding participle.

12 tn Heb “he made my path smooth.” The Hebrew term תָּמִים (tamim, “smooth”) usually carries a moral or ethical connotation, “blameless, innocent.” However, in Ps 18:33 it refers to a pathway free of obstacles. The reality underlying the metaphor is the psalmist’s ability to charge into battle without tripping (see vv. 33, 36).

13 tn Heb “[the one who] makes my feet like [those of ] a deer.”

14 tn Heb “and on my high places he makes me walk.” The imperfect verbal form emphasizes God’s characteristic provision. The psalmist compares his agility in battle to the ability of a deer to negotiate rugged, high terrain without falling or being injured.

sn Habakkuk uses similar language to describe his faith during difficult times. See Hab 3:19.

15 sn He trains my hands. The psalmist attributes his skill with weapons to divine enablement. Egyptian reliefs picture gods teaching the king how to shoot a bow. See O. Keel, The Symbolism of the Biblical World, 265.

16 tn Heb “and a bow of bronze is bent by my arms”; or “my arms bend a bow of bronze.” The verb נָחַת (nakhat) apparently means “pull back, bend” here (see HALOT 692 s.v. נחת). The third feminine singular verbal form appears to agree with the feminine singular noun קֶשֶׁת (qeshet, “bow”). In this case the verb must be taken as Niphal (passive). However, it is possible that “my arms” is the subject of the verb and “bow” the object. In this case the verb is Piel (active). For other examples of a feminine singular verb being construed with a plural noun, see GKC 464 §145.k.

sn The strongest bow (Heb “bow of bronze”) probably refers to a bow laminated with bronze strips, or to a purely ceremonial or decorative bow made entirely from bronze. In the latter case the language is hyperbolic, for such a weapon would not be functional in battle.

17 tn Heb “and you give to me the shield of your deliverance.”

sn You give me your protective shield. Ancient Near Eastern literature often refers to a god giving a king special weapons. See R. B. Chisholm, “An Exegetical and Theological Study of Psalm 18/2 Samuel 22” (Th.D. diss., Dallas Theological Seminary, 1983), 260-61.

18 tc 2 Sam 22:36 omits this line, perhaps due to homoioarcton. A scribe’s eye may have jumped from the vav (ו) prefixed to “your right hand” to the vav prefixed to the following “and your answer,” causing the copyist to omit by accident the intervening words (“your right hand supports me and”).

19 tn The MT of Ps 18:35 appears to read, “your condescension,” apparently referring to God’s willingness to intervene (cf. NIV “you stoop down”). However, the noun עֲנָוָה (’anavah) elsewhere means “humility” and is used only here of God. The form עַנְוַתְךָ (’anvatÿkha) may be a fully written form of the suffixed infinitive construct of עָנָה (’anah, “to answer”; a defectively written form of the infinitive appears in 2 Sam 22:36). In this case the psalmist refers to God’s willingness to answer his prayer; one might translate, “your favorable response.”

20 tn Heb “makes me great.”

21 tn Heb “you make wide my step under me.” “Step” probably refers metonymically to the path upon which the psalmist walks. Another option is to translate, “you widen my stride.” This would suggest that God gives the psalmist the capacity to run quickly.

22 tn Heb “lower legs.” On the meaning of the Hebrew noun, which occurs only here, see H. R. Cohen, Biblical Hapax Legomena (SBLDS), 112. A cognate Akkadian noun means “lower leg.”

23 tn 2 Sam 22:38 reads “destroy.”

24 tn Or “smash them.” 2 Sam 22:39 reads, “and I wiped them out and smashed them.”

25 tn Heb “until they are unable to rise.” 2 Sam 22:39 reads, “until they do not rise.”

26 sn They fall at my feet. For ancient Near Eastern parallels, see O. Keel, The Symbolism of the Biblical World, 294-97.

27 tn Heb “clothed me.” See v. 32.

28 tn Heb “you make those who rise against me kneel beneath me.”

sn My foes kneel before me. For ancient Near Eastern parallels, see R. B. Chisholm, “An Exegetical and Theological Study of Psalm 18/2 Samuel 22” (Th.D. diss., Dallas Theological Seminary, 1983), 268.



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