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David's Psalm of Thanksgiving for Victory over All His Enemies - 2 Samuel 22
In the following psalm of thanksgiving, David praises the Lord as his deliverer out of all dangers during his agitated life and conflicts with his foes (2 Samuel 22:2-Numbers :). In the first half he pictures his marvellous deliverance out of all the troubles which he passed through, especially in the time of Saul's persecutions, under the image of an extraordinary theophany (vv. 5-20), and unfolds the ground of this deliverance (2 Samuel 22:21-Hosea :). In the second half he proclaims the mighty help of the Lord, and his consequent victories over the foreign enemies of his government (vv. 29-46), and closes with renewed praise of God for all His glorious deeds (2 Samuel 22:47-Colossians :). The psalm is thus arranged in two leading divisions, with an introductory and concluding strophe. But we cannot discover any definite system of strophes in the further arrangement of the principal divisions, as the several groups of thoughts are not rounded off symmetrically.
The contents and form of this song of praise answer to the fact attested by the heading, that it was composed by David in the later years of his reign, when God had rescued him from all his foes, and helped his kingdom to victory over all the neighbouring heathen nations. The genuineness of the psalm is acknowledged to be indisputable by all the modern critics, except J. Olshausen and Hupfeld,
(Note: Even Hitzig observes ( die Psalmen, i. p. 95): “There is no ground whatever for calling in question the Davidic authorship of the psalm, and therefore the statement made in the heading; and, in fact, there is all the more reason for adhering to it, because it is attested twice. The recurrence of the psalm as one of Davidic origin in 2 Samuel 22 is of some weight, since not the slightest suspicion attaches to any of the other songs of sayings attributed to David in the second book of Samuel (e.g., 2 Samuel 3:33-Nahum :; 2 Samuel 5:8; 2 Samuel 7:18-Joel :; 2 Samuel 23:1-Judges :). Moreover, the psalm is evidently ancient, and suited to the classical period of the language and its poetry. 2 Samuel 22:31 is quoted as early as Proverbs 30:5, and 2 Samuel 22:34 in Habakkuk 3:19. The psalm was also regarded as Davidic at a very early period, as the ' diaskeuast ' of the second book of Samuel met with the heading, which attributes the psalm to David. No doubt this opinion might be founded upon 2 Samuel 22:51; and with perfect justice if it were: for if the psalm was not composed by David, it must have been composed in his name and spirit; and who could have been this contemporaneous and equal poet?” Again, after quoting several thoroughly Davidic signs, he says at p. 96: “It is very obvious with how little justice the words of 2 Samuel 22:51, relating to 2 Samuel 7:12-Nehemiah :, 2 Samuel 7:26, 2 Samuel 7:29, have been pronounced spurious. Besides, the psalm can no more have concluded with למשׁיחו (2 Samuel 22:51) than with 2 Samuel 22:50; and if David refers to himself by name at the commencement in 2 Samuel 23:1, and in the middle in 2 Samuel 7:20, why should he not do the same at the close?”)
who, with hypercritical scepticism, dispute the Davidic origin of the psalm on subjective grounds of aesthetic taste. This psalm is found in the Psalter as Ps 18, though with many divergences in single words and clauses, which do not, however, essentially affect the meaning. Commentators are divided in opinion as to the relation in which the two different forms of the text stand to one another. The idea that the text of 2 Samuel. rests upon a careless copy and tradition must decidedly be rejected: for, on the one hand, by far the larger portion of the deviations in our text from that of the Psalter are not to be attributed to carelessness on the part of copyists, but are evidently alterations made with thoughtfulness and deliberation: e.g., the omission of the very first passage (2 Samuel 22:1), “I will love Thee, O Lord, my strength;” the change of צוּרי אלי (my God, my strength, or rock) into צוּרי אלהי (the God of my rock), as “the God of the rock” occurs again in 2 Samuel 22:47 of the text before us; or the substitution of ויּרא (He was seen, 2 Samuel 22:11) for ויּדא (He did fly), etc. On the other hand, the original reading has undoubtedly been retained in many passages of our text, whilst simpler and more common forms have been substituted in that of the Psalms; e.g., in v. 5, מות משׁבּרי instead of מות fo d חבלי ; in v. 8, השּׁמים מוסדות (the foundations of the heavens) for הרים מוסדי (the foundations of the hills); in v. 12, השׁרת־מים for חשׁכת־מים ; in v. 16, ים אפיקי for מים אפיקי ; in v. 28, תּשׁפּיל על־רמים ועניך for תּשׁפּיל רמות וענים ; in v. 33, דּרכּו תמים ויּתּר for דּרכּי תמים ויּתּן ; and in v. 44, לראשׁ תּשׁמרני for לראשׁ תּשׂימני , and several others. In general, however, the text of the Psalms bears the stamp of poetical originality more than the text before us, and the latter indicates a desire to give greater clearness and simplicity to the poetical style. Consequently neither of the two texts that have come down to us contains the original text of the psalm of David unaltered; but the two recensions have been made quite independently of each other, one for the insertion of the psalm in the Psalter intended for liturgical use, and the other when it was incorporated into the history of David's reign, which formed the groundwork of our books of Samuel. The first revision may have been made by David himself when he arranged his Psalms for liturgical purposes; but the second was effected by the prophetic historian, whose object it was, when inserting David's psalm of praise in the history of his reign, not so much to give it with diplomatic literality, as to introduce it in a form that should be easily intelligible and true to the sense.
The heading is formed precisely according to the introductory formula of the song of Moses in Deuteronomy 31:30, and was no doubt taken from the larger historical work employed by the author of our books. It was probably also adopted from this into the canonical collection of the Psalter, and simply brought into conformity with the headings of the other psalms by the alteration of דּוד וידבּר (and David said) into דּבּר עשׁר לדוד יהוה לעבד (“Of David, the servant of the Lord, who spake:” Eng. ver.), and the insertion of למנצּח (“to the chief musician:” Eng. ver.) at the head (see Delitzsch on the Psalms). “ In the day,” i.e., at the time, “ when Jehovah had delivered him.” Deliverance “ out of the hand of Saul ” is specially mentioned, not because this was the last, but because it was the greatest and most glorious, - a deliverance out of the deepest misery into regal might and glory. The psalm is opened by ויּאמר in both texts.
2 Samuel 22:2-Numbers : form the introduction.
2 Jehovah is my rock, my castle, and my deliverer to me;
3 My Rock-God, in whom I trust:
My shield and horn of my salvation, my fortress and my refuge,
My Saviour; from violence Thou redeemest me.
4 I call upon the praised one, Jehovah,
And I am saved from my enemies.
This introduction contains the sum and substance of the whole psalm, inasmuch as David groups the many experiences of divine deliverance in his agitated life into a long series of predicates, in all of which he extols God as his defence, refuge, and deliverer. The heaping up of these predicates is an expression both of liveliest gratitude, and also of hope for the future. The different predicates, however, are not to be taken as in apposition to Jehovah, or as vocatives, but are declarations concerning God, how He had proved himself faithful to the Psalmist in all the calamities of his life, and would assuredly do so still. David calls God וּמצרתי סלעי (my rock, and my castle) in Psalms 31:4 as well (cf. Psalms 71:4). The two epithets are borrowed from the natural character of Palestine, where steep and almost inaccessible rocks afford protection to the fugitive, as David had often found at the time when Saul was pursuing him (vid., 1 Samuel 24:22; 1 Samuel 22:5). But whilst David took refuge in rocks, he placed his hopes of safety not in their inaccessible character, but in God the Lord, the eternal spiritual rock, whom he could see in the earthly rock, so that he called Him his true castle. לי מפלטי (my deliverer to me) gives the real explanation of the foregoing figures. The לי (to me) is omitted in Psalms 18:2, and only serves to strengthen the suffix, “my, yea my deliverer.' “ My Rock-God,” equivalent to, God who is my Rock: this is formed after Deuteronomy 32:4, where Moses calls the Lord the Rock of Israel, because of His unchangeable faithfulness; for zur , a rock, is a figure used to represent immoveable firmness. In Psalms 18:3 we find צוּרי אלי , “my God” (strong one), “my rock,” two synonyms which are joined together in our text, so as to form one single predicate of God, which is repeated in 2 Samuel 22:47. The predicates which follow, “ my horn and my salvation-shield,” describe God as the mighty protector and defender of the righteous. A shield covers against hostile attacks. In this respect God was Abraham's shield (Genesis 15:1), and the helping shield of Israel (Deuteronomy 33:29; cf. Psalms 3:4; Psalms 59:12). He is the “horn of salvation,” according to Luther, because He overcomes enemies, and rescues from foes, and gives salvation. The figure is borrowed from animals, which have their strength and defensive weapons in their horns (see at 1 Samuel 2:1). “ My fortress: ” misgab is a high place, where a person is secure against hostile attacks (see at Psalms 9:10). The predicates which follow, viz., my refuge, etc., are not given in Psalms 18:3, and are probably only added as a rhythmical completion to the strophe, which was shortened by the omission of the introductory lines, “I love thee heartily, Jehovah” (Psalms 18:1). The last clause, “ My Saviour, who redeemest me from violence, ” corresponds to אחסה־בּו in the first hemistich. In Psalms 18:4, David sums up the contents of his psalm of thanksgiving in a general sentence of experience, which may be called the theme of the psalm, for it embraces “the result of the long life which lay behind him, so full of dangers and deliverances.” מהלּל , “ the praised one,” an epithet applied to God, which occurs several times in the Psalms (Psalms 48:2; Psalms 96:4; Psalms 113:3; Psalms 145:3). It is in apposition to Jehovah, and is placed first for the sake of emphasis: “I invoke Jehovah as the praised one.” The imperfects אקרא and אוּשׁע are used to denote what continually happens. In 2 Samuel 22:5 we have the commencement of the account of the deliverances out of great tribulations, which David had experienced at the hand of God.
5 For breakers of death had compassed me,
Streams of wickedness terrified me.
6 Cords of hell had girt me about,
Snares of death overtook me.
7 In my distress I called Jehovah,
And to my God I called;
And He heard my voice out of His temple,
And my crying came into His ears.
David had often been in danger of death, most frequently at the time when he was pursued by Saul, but also in Absalom's conspiracy, and even in several wars (cf. 2 Samuel 21:16). All these dangers, out of which the Lord delivered him, and not merely those which originated with Saul, are included in 2 Samuel 22:5, 2 Samuel 22:6. The figure “ breakers or waves of death ” is analogous to that of the “ streams of Belial.” His distress is represented in both of them under the image of violent floods of water. In the psalm we find מות חבלי , “snares of death,” as in Psalms 116:3, death being regarded as a hunger with a net and snare (cf. Psalms 91:3): this does not answer to well to the parallel נחלי , and therefore is not so good, since שׁאול חבלי follows immediately. בליּעל ( Belial), uselessness in a moral sense, or worthlessness. The meaning “mischief,” or injury in a physical sense, which many expositors give to the word in this passage on account of the parallel “death,” cannot be grammatically sustained. Belial was afterwards adopted as a name for the devil (2 Corinthians 6:15). Streams of wickedness are calamities that proceed from wickedness, or originate with worthless men. קדּם , to come to meet with a hostile intention, i.e., to fall upon (vid., Job 30:27). היכל , the temple out of which Jehovah heard him, was the heavenly abode of God, as in Psalms 11:4; for, according to 2 Samuel 22:8., God came down from heaven to help him.
8 Then the earth swayed and trembled,
The foundations of the heavens shook
And swayed to and fro, because He was wroth.
9 Smoke ascended in His nose,
And fire out of His mouth devoured,
Red-hot coals burned out of Him.
10 And He bowed the heavens and came down,
And cloudy darkness under His feet.
Jehovah came down from heaven to save His servant, as He had formerly come down upon Sinai to conclude His covenant with Israel in the midst of terrible natural phenomena, which proclaimed the wrath of the Almighty. The theophany under which David depicts the deliverance he had experienced, had its type in the miraculous phenomenon which accompanied the descent of God upon Sinai, and which suggested, as in the song of Deborah (Judges 5:4-Deuteronomy :), the idea of a terrible storm. It is true that the deliverance of David was not actually attended by any such extraordinary natural phenomena; but the saving hand of God from heaven was so obviously manifested, that the deliverance experienced by him could be poetically described as a miraculous interposition on the part of God. When the Lord rises up from His heavenly temple to come down upon the earth to judgment, the whole world trembles at the fierceness of His wrath. Not only does the earth tremble, but the foundations of the heavens shake: the whole universe is moved. In the psalm we have “the foundations of the hills” instead of “ the foundations of the heavens,” - a weaker expression, signifying the earth to its deepest foundations. The Hithpael יתגּעשׁ , lit., to sway itself, expresses the idea of continuous swaying to and fro. לו חרה כּי , “ for it (sc., wrath) burned to him,” it flamed up like a fire; cf. Deuteronomy 32:22; Deuteronomy 29:19. “Smoke,” the forerunner of fire, “ ascended in His nose.” The figurative idea is that of snorting or violent breathing, which indicates the rising of wrath. Smoke is followed by fire, which devours out of the mouth, i.e., bursts forth devouring or consuming all that opposes it. The expression is strengthened still further by the parallel: “ red-hot coals come out of Him,” i.e., the flame of red-hot coals pours out of Him as out of a glowing furnace (cf. Genesis 15:17). This description is based entirely upon Exodus 19:18, where the Lord comes down upon Sinai in smoke and fire. We are not to picture to ourselves flashes of lightning; for all these phenomena are merely the forerunners of the appearance of God in the clouds, which is described in 2 Samuel 22:10, “He bowed the heavens” to come down. ערפל , which is frequently connected with ענן , signifies cloudy darkness, or dark clouds. The substratum of this description is the fact that in a severe storm the heavens seem to sink down upon the earth with their dark clouds. The Lord draws near riding upon black thunder-clouds, “that the wicked may not behold His serene countenance, but only the terrible signs of His fierce wrath and punishment” (J. H. Michaelis).
11 He rode upon a cherub and flew hither,
And appeared upon the wings of the wind.
12 He made darkness round about Him as pavilions,
Water-gathering, thick clouds.
13 Out of the splendour before Him
Burned red-hot coals of fire.
These three verses are a further expansion of 2 Samuel 22:19, and 2 Samuel 22:11 of 2 Samuel 22:10. The cherub is not a personified earthly creature, for cherubim are angels around the throne of God (see at Genesis 3:22). The poetical figure “riding upon the cherub” is borrowed from the fact that God was enthroned between the two cherubim upon the lid of the ark of the covenant, and above their outspread wings (Exodus 25:20-Ecclesiastes :). As the idea of His “dwelling between the cherubim” (2 Samuel 6:2; 1 Samuel 4:4; Psalms 80:2) was founded upon this typical manifestation of the gracious presence of God in the Most Holy place, so here David depicts the descent of Jehovah from heaven as “riding upon a cherub,” picturing the cherub as a throne upon which God appears in the clouds of heaven, though without therefore imagining Him as riding upon a sphinx or driving in a chariot-throne. Such notions as these are precluded by the addition of the term ויּעף , “did fly.” The “ flying ” is also suggested by the wings of the cherubim. As the divine “ shechinah ” was enthroned above the ark of the covenant upon the wings of the cherubim, David in his poetical description represents the cherub and his wings as carrying the throne of God, to express the thought that Jehovah came down from heaven as the judge and saviour of His servants in the splendour of His divine glory, surrounded by cherubim who stand as His highest servants around His throne, just as Moses in his blessing (Deuteronomy 33:2) speaks of Jehovah as coming out of myriads of His holy angels. The elementary substratum of this was the wings of the wind, upon which He appeared. In the psalm we have ויּדא , from דּאה , to soar (Deuteronomy 28:39; Jeremiah 48:40), which suggests the idea of flying better than ויּרא (He was seen), though the latter gives the real explanation. In 2 Samuel 22:12 and 2 Samuel 22:13, the “cloudy darkness under His feet” ( 2 Samuel 22:10) is still further expanded, so as to prepare the way for the description of thunder and lightning in 2 Samuel 22:14. God in His wrath withdraws His face from man. He envelopes himself in clouds. The darkness round about him is the black thunder-cloud which forms His hut or tent. The plural succoth is occasioned by the plural סביבתיו , “His surroundings:” it is used with indefinite generality, and is more probably the original term than סכּתו in the psalm. The “ darkness ” is still further explained in the second clause, מים חשׁרת , water-gatherings. חשׁרה ( ἁπ. λεγ. ) signifies, according to the Arabic, a gathering or collection. The expression used in the psalm is מים חשׁכת , water-darkness, which, if not less appropriate, is at any rate not the original term. שׁחקים עבי , clouds of clouds, i.e., the thickest clouds; a kind of superlative, in which a synonym is used instead of the same noun.
The splendour of the divine nature enveloped in clouds breaks through the dark covering in burning coals of fire. The coals of fire which burst forth, i.e., which break out in flame from the dark clouds, are the lightning which shoots forth from the dark storm-clouds in streams of fire.
14 Jehovah thundered from the heavens,
And the Most High gave His voice.
15 He sent arrows, and scattered them;
Lightning, and discomfited them.
16 Then the beds of the sea became visible;
The foundations of the world were uncovered,
Through the threatening of Jehovah,
By the snorting of the breath of His nostrils.
God sent lightning as arrows upon the enemies along with violent thunder, and threw them thereby into confusion. המם , to throw into confusion, and thereby to destroy, is the standing expression for the destruction of the foe accomplished by the miraculous interposition of God (vid., Exodus 14:24; Exodus 23:27; Joshua 10:10; Judges 4:15; 1 Samuel 7:10). To the thunder there were added stormy wind and earthquake, as an effect of the wrath of God, whereby the foundations of the sea and land were laid bare, i.e., whereby the depth of the abyss and of the hell in the interior of the earth, into which the person to be rescued had fallen, were disclosed.
(Note: In 2 Samuel 22:13-Nehemiah : the text of the Psalms deviates greatly and in many instances from that before us. In v. 13 we find אשׁ וגחלי בּרד עברוּ עביו instead of אשׁ גּחלי בּערוּ ; and after v. 14 אשׁ וגחלי בּרד is repeated in the psalm. In v. 15 we have רב וּברקים for בּרק , and in v. 16 מים אפיקי for ים אפיקי . The other deviations are inconsiderable. So far as the repetition of אשׁ וגחלי בּרד at the end of v. 14 is concerned, it is not only superfluous, but unsuitable, because the lightning following the thunder is described in v. 15, and the words repeated are probably nothing more than a gloss that has crept by an oversight into the text. The מים אפיקי in v. 16 is an obvious softening down of the ים אפיקי of the text before us. In the other deviations, however, the text of the Psalms is evidently the more original of the two; the abridgment of the second clause of v. 13 is evidently a simplification of the figurative description in the psalm, and רב בּרקים in the 15th verse of the psalm is more poetical and a stronger expression than the mere בּרק of our text.)
17 He reached out of the height, He laid hold of me;
Drew me out of great waters:
18 Saved me from my enemy strong;
From my haters, because they were too strong for me.
19 They fell upon me in my day of calamity:
Then Jehovah became my stay,
20 And led me out into a broad place;
Delivered me, because He had pleasure in me.
The Lord stretched His hand from the height into the deep abysses, which had been uncovered through the threatening of the wrath of God, and drew out the sinking man. ישׁלח without יד is used to denote the stretching out of the hand, and in the sense of reaching out to a thing (as in 2 Samuel 6:6). רבּים מים (great waters) does not refer to the enemy, but to the calamities and dangers (waves of death and streams of Belial, 2 Samuel 22:5) into which the enemies of the Psalmist had plunged him. ימשׁני , from משׁה (Exodus 2:10), from which the name of Moses was derived, to whom there is probably an allusion made. As Moses was taken out of the waters of the Nile, so David was taken out of great (many) waters. This deliverance is still further depicted in a more literal terms in 2 Samuel 22:18. עז איבי , my enemy strong, poetical for my strong enemy, does not refer to one single enemy, namely Saul; but, as the parallel “my haters” shows, is a poetical personification of all his enemies. They were stronger than David, therefore the Lord had to deliver him with an almighty hand. The “ day of calamity ” in which the enemy fell upon him ( קדּם : see at 2 Samuel 22:6) was the time when David wandered about in the desert helpless and homeless, fleeing from the pursuit of Saul. The Lord was then his support, or a staff on which he could support himself (vid., Psalms 23:4), and led him out of the strait into the broad, i.e., into a broad space where he could move freely, because God had pleasure in him, and had chosen him in His grace to be His servant. This reason for his deliverance is carried out still further in what follows.
21 Jehovah rendered to me according to my righteousness,
According to the cleanness of my hands He recompensed me.
22 For I have observed the ways of Jehovah,
And have not wickedly departed from my God.
23 For all His rights are before my eyes;
And His statutes,-I do not depart from them.
24 And I was innocent towards Him,
And kept myself from mine iniquity.
גּמל signifies to do to a person good or evil, like the Greek εὖ and κακῶς πράττειν τινά . The righteousness and cleanness of hands, i.e., the innocence, which David attributed to himself, were not perfect righteousness or holiness before God, but the righteousness of his endeavours and deeds as contrasted with the unrighteousness and wickedness of his adversaries and pursuers, and consisted in the fact that he endeavoured earnestly and sincerely to walk in the ways of God and to keep the divine commandments. מן רשׁע , to be wicked from, is a pregnant expression, signifying to depart wickedly from God. לנגדּי , i.e., as a standard before my eye. In the psalm we find עמּו תמים , innocent in intercourse with the Lord, instead of לו תמים (see Deuteronomy 18:13); and for the fact itself, David's own testimony in 1 Samuel 26:23-Jeremiah :, the testimony of God concerning him in 1 Kings 14:8, and the testimony of history in 1 Kings 15:5. מעוני , from mine iniquity, i.e., from the iniquity which I might have committed.
25 Thus Jehovah repaid me according to my righteousness,
According to my cleanness before His eyes.
26 Towards the pious Thou showest thyself pious,
Towards the perfectly innocent Thou showest thyself innocent.
27 Towards the genuine Thou showest thyself genuine,
And towards the perverse Thou showest thyself crooked.
28 And afflicted people Thou helpest,
And Thine eyes are against the haughty; them Thou humblest.
The motive for deliverance, which was expounded in 2 Samuel 22:21-Jeremiah :, is summed up briefly in 2 Samuel 22:25; and then in 2 Samuel 22:26 and 2 Samuel 22:27 it is carried back to the general truth, that the conduct of God towards men is regulated according to the conduct of men towards God. The vav cons. in ויּשׁב expresses the logical consequence. כּברי is used instead of ידי כּבר in 2 Samuel 22:21, which is repeated in the psalm simply for the sake of variation. The truth that God treats every man in accordance with his conduct towards Him, is expounded in four parallel clauses, in which the conduct of God is expressed in verbs in the Hithpael, formed from the adjectives used to describe the conduct of men towards God. To the חסיד , the pious or devoted to God, He also shows himself pious; and innocent, blameless, to the תמים גּבּור , the man strong in innocence, who walks in perfect innocence. נבר , a Niphal participle, from בּרר , he who keeps himself pure, strives after purity of walk. תּתּבר , an anomalous contraction of תּתבּרר (Ps.), analogous to the formation of נבר for נברר . The form תּתּפּל for תּתפּתּל , to show one's self perverse of crooked, is still more anomalous. God shows himself so towards the perverse, by giving him up to his perverseness (Romans 1:28). This general truth is applied in 2 Samuel 22:28 to the congregation of God, in the contrast which it presents of humble and haughty, and is expounded from the conduct of God, as displayed in the history of Israel, towards these two classes of men, into which the nation was divided. In the psalm, therefore, we find אתּה כּי , for which the simple ו is substituted here, because the verse does not contain any actual reason for what goes before. עני עם , afflicted people, is used to denote the pious and depressed in the nation; רמים , the high, i.e., the haughty, or godless rich and mighty in the nation. תּשׁפּיל is to be taken as a relative: whom Thou humblest (see Ewald, §332, b.; and for the thought, Isaiah 2:11). In the psalm the unusual mode of expression in the second clause is changed into the more common phrase, “Thou bringest down high, i.e., proud looks” (cf. Proverbs 6:17; Proverbs 21:4; Proverbs 30:13; Psalms 131:1, etc.).
2 Samuel 22:29 commences the description of the help which David had already received from God in his conflict with the enemies of Israel, and which he would still receive.
29 For Thou art my lamp, O Jehovah!
And Jehovah maketh my darkness bright.
30 For through Thee I run troops,
And through my God I leap walls.
31 God - innocent is His way.
The word of Jehovah is refined,
A shield is He to all who trust in Him.
The explanatory כּי , with which the new description of the divine mercy commences, refers to the thought implied in 2 Samuel 22:28, that David belonged to the “afflicted people,” whom the Lord always helps. As the Lord delivered him out of the danger of death, because He took pleasure in him, so He also gave him power over all his enemies. For He was his lamp, i.e., He had lifted him out of a condition of depression and contempt into one of glory and honour (see at 2 Samuel 21:17), and would still further enlighten his darkness, i.e., “would cause the light of His salvation to shine upon him and his tribe in all the darkness of their distress” ( Hengstenberg). In the psalm the verse reads thus: “For Thou lightest (makest bright) my lamp (or candle), Jehovah my God enlighteneth my darkness;” the bold figure “Jehovah the lamp of David” being more literally explained. The figure is analogous to the one in Psalms 27:1, “The Lord is my light;” whilst the form ניר is a later mode of writing נר .
In the strength of his God he could run hostile troops and leap walls, i.e., overcome every hostile power. ארוּץ , not from רצץ , to smash in pieces, but from רוּץ , to run; construed with the accusative according to the analogy of verbs of motion.
He derives this confidence from the acts of God, and also from His word. האל (God) is written absolutely, like הצּוּר in Deuteronomy 32:4. The article points back to בּאלהי . Jehovah is the God ( האל ), whose way is perfect, without blemish; and His word is refined brass, pure silver (cf. Psalms 12:7). He who trusts in Him is safe from all foes. The last two clauses occur again in Agur's proverbs (Proverbs 30:5). The thought of the last clause is still further explained in 2 Samuel 22:32.
32 For who is God save Jehovah,
And who a rock save our God?
33 This God is my strong fortress,
And leads the innocent his way.
34 He makes my feet like the hinds,
And setteth me upon my high places;
35 He teacheth my hands to fight,
And my arms span brazen bows.
There is no true God who can help, except or by the side of Jehovah (cf. Deuteronomy 32:31; 1 Samuel 2:2). צוּר , as in 2 Samuel 22:2. This God is “my strong fortress:” for this figure, comp. Psalms 31:5 and Psalms 27:1. חיל , strength, might, is construed with מעוּזי , by free subordination: “my fortress, a strong one,” like עז מחסי (Psalms 71:7; cf. Ewald, §291, b.). יתּר for יתר , from תּוּר (vid., Ges . §72; Olshausen, Gram. p. 579), in the sense of leading or taking round, as in Proverbs 12:26. God leads the innocent his way, i.e., He is his leader and guide therein. The Keri דּרכּי rests upon a misunderstanding. There is an important difference in the reading of this verse in Ps 18, viz., “The God who girdeth me with strength, and makes my way innocent.” The last clause is certainly an alteration which simplifies the meaning, and so is also the first clause, the thought of which occurs again, word for word, in 2 Samuel 22:40, with the addition of למּלחמה איּלה or איּלת , the hind, or female stag, is a figure of speech denoting swiftness in running. “ Like the hinds: ” a condensed simile for “like the hinds' feet,” such as we frequently meet with in Hebrew (vid., Ges. §144, Anm.). The reference is to swiftness in pursuit of the foe (vid., 2 Samuel 2:18; 1 Chronicles 12:8). רגליו , his feet, for רגלי ( my feet) in the psalm, may be accounted for from the fact, that David had spoken of himself in the third person as the innocent one. “ My high places ” were not the high places of the enemy, that became his by virtue of conquest, but the high places of his own land, which he maintained triumphantly, so that he ruled the land for them. The expression is formed after Deuteronomy 32:13, and is imitated in Habakkuk 3:19. למּד is generally construed with a double accusative: here it is written with an accusative and ל , and signifies to instruct for the war. נחת , in the psalm נחתה , on account of the feminine זרועתי , is not the Niphal of חתת , to be broken in pieces, but the Piel of נחת , to cause to go down, to press down the bow, i.e., to set it. The bow of brass is mentioned as being the strongest: setting such a bow would be a sign of great heroic strength. The two verses (2 Samuel 22:34 and 2 Samuel 22:35) are simply a particularizing description of the power and might with which the Lord had endowed David to enable him to conquer all his foes.
36 And Thou reachest me the shield of my salvation,
And Thy hearing makes me great.
37 Thou makest my steps broad under me,
And my ankles have not trembled.
The Lord bestows the true strength for victory in His salvation. The shield of salvation is the shield which consists of salvation, of the helping grace of the Lord. ענתך , for which we find in the psalm ענותך , thy humility, i.e., God's condescending grace, does not mean “thy humiliation,” but “ thy hearkening,” i.e., that practical hearkening on the part of God, when called upon for help, which was manifested in the fact that God made his steps broad, i.e., provided the walker with a broad space for free motion, removing obstructions and stumbling-blocks out of the way. God had done this for David, so that his ankles had not trembled, i.e., he had not been wanting in the power to take firm and safe steps. In this strength of his God he could destroy all his foes.
38 I will pursue my enemies and destroy them,
I will not turn till they are consumed.
39 I will consume them and dash them in pieces, that they may not arise,
And may fall under my feet.
40 And Thou girdest me with strength for war,
Thou bowest mine adversaries under me.
41 And Thou makest mine enemies turn the back to me;
My haters, I root them out.
The optative form ארדּפה serves to make the future signification of ארדּף (in the psalm) the more apparent. Consequently it is quite out of the question to take the other verbs as preterites. We are not compelled to do this by the interchange of imperfects c. vav consec. with simple imperfects, as the vav consec. is not used exclusively as expressive of the past. On the contrary, the substance of the whole of the following description shows very clearly that David refers not only to the victories he has already won, but in general to the defeat of all his foes in the past, the present, and the future; for he speaks as distinctly as possible not only of their entire destruction (2 Samuel 22:38, 2 Samuel 22:39, 2 Samuel 22:43), but also of the fact that God makes him the head of the nations, and distant and foreign nations to him homage. Consequently he refers not only to his own personal dominion, but also, on the strength of the promise which he had received from God, to the increase of the dominion of the throne of his house, whilst he proclaims in the Spirit the ultimate defeat of all the enemies of the kingdom of God. This Messianic element in the following description comes out in a way that cannot be mistaken, in the praise of the Lord with which he concludes in 2 Samuel 22:47-Colossians :. ואשׁמידם , “ I destroy them,” is stronger than ואשּׂיגם , “I reach them” (in the psalm). In 2 Samuel 22:39 the words are crowded together, to express the utter destruction of all foes. In the psalm ואכלּם is omitted. ותּזרני for ותּאזּרני in the psalm is not a poetical Syriasm, and still less a “careless solecism” (Hupfeld), but a simple contraction, such as we meet with in many forms: e.g., מלּפנוּ for מאלּפנוּ (Job 35:11; cf. Ewald, §232, b.). The form תּתּה for נתתּה (in the psalm) is unusual, and the aphaeresis of the נ can only be accounted for from the fact that this much-used word constantly drops its נ as a radical sound in the imperfect (see Ewald, §195, c.). The phrase ערף לּי תּתּה is formed after Exodus 23:27. “Giving the enemy to a person's back” means causing them to turn the back, i.e., putting them to flight.
42 They look out, but there is no deliverer;
For Jehovah, but He answereth them not.
43 And I rub in pieces as the dust of the earth,
Like the mire of the streets I crush them and stamp upon them.
The cry of the foe for help is not attended to; they are annihilated without quarter. ישׁעוּ , to look out to God for help (with אל and על ; vid., Isaiah 17:7-Ruth :), is more poetical than ישׁוּעוּ , “they cry” (in the psalm); and כּעפר־ארץ is more simple than על־פּני־רוּח כּעפר (in the psalm), “I crush them as dust before the wind,” for the wind does not crush the dust, but carries it away. In the second clause of 2 Samuel 22:43, אדקּם is used instead of אריקם in the psalm, and strengthened by ארקעם אדקּם , from דקק , to make thin, to crush; so that instead of “I pour them out like mire of the streets which is trodden to pieces,” the Psalmist simply says, “I crush and stamp upon them like mire of the streets.” Through the utter destruction of the foe, God establishes the universal dominion to which the throne of David is to attain.
44 And Thou rescuest me out of the strivings of my people,
Preservest me to be the head of the heathen.
People that I knew not serve me.
45 The sons of the stranger dissemble to me,
Upon hearsay they obey me.
46 The sons of the stranger despair,
And tremble out of their castles.
By “ the strivings of my people ” the more indefinite expression in the psalm, “strivings of the people,” is explained. The words refer to the domestic conflicts of David, out of which the Lord delivered him, such as the opposition of Ishbosheth and the rebellions of Absalom and Sheba. These deliverances formed the prelude and basis of his dominion over the heathen. Consequently תּשׁמרני ( Thou preservest me to be the head of the nations) occurs quite appropriately in the second clause; and תּשׂימני , “Thou settest me,” which occurs in the psalm, is a far less pregnant expression. עם before ידעתּי לא is used indefinitely to signify foreign nations. Toi king of Hamath (2 Samuel 8:10) was an example, and his subjugation was a prelude of the future subjection of all the heathen to the sceptre of the Son of David, as predicted in Ps 72. In v. 45 the two clauses of the psalm are very appropriately transposed. The Hithpael יתכחשׁוּ , as compared with יכחשׁוּ , is the later form. In the primary passage (Deuteronomy 33:29) the Niphal is used to signify the dissembling of friendship, or of involuntary homage on the part of the vanquished towards the victor. אזן לשׁמוע , “ by the hearing of the ear,” i.e., by hearsay, is a simple explanation of אזן לשׁמע , at the rumour of the ears (vid., Job 42:5), i.e., at the mere rumour of David's victories. The foreign nations pine away, i.e., despair of ever being able to resist the victorious power of David. יחגּרוּ , “ they gird themselves,” does not yield any appropriate meaning, even if we should take it in the sense of equipping themselves to go out to battle. The word is probably a misspelling of יחרגוּ , which occurs in the psalm, חרג being a ἁπ. λεγ. in the sense of being terrified, or trembling: they tremble out of their castles, i.e., they come trembling out of their castles (for the thought itself, see Micah 7:17). It is by no means probable that the word חרג , which is so frequently met with in Hebrew, is used in this one passage in the sense of “ to limp,” according to Syriac usage.
In conclusion, the Psalmist returns to the praise of the Lord, who had so highly favoured him.
47 Jehovah liveth, and blessed is my rock,
And the God of my refuge of salvation is exalted.
48 The God who giveth me vengeance,
And bringeth nations under me;
49 Who leadeth me out from mine enemies,
And exalteth me above mine adversaries,
Delivereth me from the man of violence.
The formula חי־יהוה does not mean “let Jehovah live,” for the word יחי would be used for that (vid., 2 Samuel 16:16; 1 Samuel 10:24), but is a declaration: “the Lord is living.” The declaration itself is to be taken as praise of God, for “praising God is simply ascribing to Him the glorious perfections which belong to him; we have only to give Him what is His own” ( Hengstenberg). The following clauses also contain simply declarations; this is evident from the word ירוּם , since the optative ירם would be used to denote a wish. The Lord is living or alive when He manifests His life in acts of omnipotence. In the last clause, the expression צוּר (rock) is intensified into ישׁעי צוּר אלהי (the God of my refuge, or rock, of salvation), i.e., the God who is my saving rock (cf. 2 Samuel 22:3). In the predicates of God in 2 Samuel 22:48, 2 Samuel 22:49, the saving acts depicted by David in vv. 5-20 and 29-46 are summed up briefly. Instead of מוריד , “He causes to go down under me,” i.e., He subjects to me, we find in the psalm ויּדבּר , “He drives nations under me,” and מפלטי instead of מוציאי ; and lastly, instead of חמס אישׁ in the psalm, we have here חמסים אישׁ , as in Psalms 140:2. Therefore the praise of the Lord shall be sounded among all nations.
50 Therefore will I praise Thee, O Jehovah, among the nations,
And sing praise to Thy name.
51 As He who magnifies the salvation of His king,
And showeth grace to His anointed,
To David, and his seed for ever.
The grace which the Lord had shown to David was so great, that the praise thereof could not be restricted to the narrow limits of Israel. With the dominion of David over the nations, there spread also the knowledge, and with this the praise, of the Lord who had given him the victory. Paul was therefore perfectly justified in quoting the verse before us (2 Samuel 22:50) in Romans 16:9, along with Deuteronomy 32:43 and Psalms 117:1, as a proof that the salvation of God was intended for the Gentiles also. The king whose salvation the Lord had magnified, was not David as an individual, but David and his seed for ever-that is to say, the royal family of David which culminated in Christ. David could thus sing praises upon the ground of the promise which he had received (2 Samuel 7:12-Nehemiah :), and which is repeated almost verbatim in the last clause of 2 Samuel 22:51. The Chethib מגדיל is the Hiphil participle מגדּיל , according to Ps. 18:51; and the Keri מגדּול , “tower of the fulness of salvation,” is a singular conjecture.
The Keil & Delitzsch Old Testament Commentary is a derivative of a public domain electronic edition.
Keil, Carl Friedrich & Delitzsch, Franz. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 22". Keil & Delitzsch Old Testament Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the First Week of Advent