Psalm 18 Bible Commentary

John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes

(Read all of Psalm 18)

Verse 1

[1] I will love thee, O LORD, my strength.

Love — Most affectionately, and with my whole soul; as the Hebrew word signifies.

Verse 2

[2] The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower.

Rock — To which I flee for refuge, as the Israelites did to their rocks.

Horn — It is a metaphor from those beasts whose strength lies in their horns.

Verse 4

[4] The sorrows of death compassed me, and the floods of ungodly men made me afraid.

Death — Dangerous and deadly troubles.

Floods — Their multitude, and strength, and violent assaults, breaking in upon me like a flood.

Verse 5

[5] The sorrows of hell compassed me about: the snares of death prevented me.

Sorrows — Which brought me to the brink of the grave.

Death — Had almost taken hold of me, before I was aware.

Verse 6

[6] In my distress I called upon the LORD, and cried unto my God: he heard my voice out of his temple, and my cry came before him, even into his ears.

Temple — Out of his heavenly habitation.

Verse 7

[7] Then the earth shook and trembled; the foundations also of the hills moved and were shaken, because he was wroth.

Then — Then God appeared on my behalf in a glorious manner, to the terror and confusion of all mine enemies, which is here compared to an earthquake.

Verse 8

[8] There went up a smoke out of his nostrils, and fire out of his mouth devoured: coals were kindled by it.

There went, … — All these seem to be figurative expressions, denoting the greatness of his anger.

Verse 9

[9] He bowed the heavens also, and came down: and darkness was under his feet.

Bowed — By producing thick and dark clouds, whereby the heavens seem to come down to the earth.

Came — Not by change of place, but by the manifestation of his presence and power on my behalf.

Verse 10

[10] And he rode upon a cherub, and did fly: yea, he did fly upon the wings of the wind.

Cherub — Or, upon the cherubim, upon the angels, who are also called God's chariots, Psalms 68:17, upon which he is said to sit and ride. All which is not to be understood grossly, but only to denote God's using the ministry of angels, in raising such storms and tempests.

Fly — As swiftly as the wind.

Verse 11

[11] He made darkness his secret place; his pavilion round about him were dark waters and thick clouds of the skies.

Darkness — He covered himself with dark clouds.

Waters — Watery vapours.

Verse 12

[12] At the brightness that was before him his thick clouds passed, hail stones and coals of fire.

At — His glorious and powerful appearance.

Passed — Or, passed away, vanished, being dissolved into showers.

Verse 14

[14] Yea, he sent out his arrows, and scattered them; and he shot out lightnings, and discomfited them.

Arrows — Lightnings.

Them — Mine enemies.

Verse 15

[15] Then the channels of waters were seen, and the foundations of the world were discovered at thy rebuke, O LORD, at the blast of the breath of thy nostrils.

Discovered — By mighty earthquakes, which overturned the earth, and made its lower parts visible.

Verse 18

[18] They prevented me in the day of my calamity: but the LORD was my stay.

Prevented — They had almost surprized me.

Verse 19

[19] He brought me forth also into a large place; he delivered me, because he delighted in me.

Brought — Out of my straits and difficulties, into a state of freedom and comfort. So he ascribes all his mercies to God's good pleasure, as the first spring of them.

Verse 20

[20] The LORD rewarded me according to my righteousness; according to the cleanness of my hands hath he recompensed me.

Righteousness — Just cause. The innocency of my actions towards Saul, from whose blood I kept my hands pure.

Verse 22

[22] For all his judgments were before me, and I did not put away his statutes from me.

Judgments — I diligently studied and considered them.

Verse 24

[24] Therefore hath the LORD recompensed me according to my righteousness, according to the cleanness of my hands in his eyesight.

Iniquity — From that sin which I was most inclined or tempted to.

Verse 25

[25] With the merciful thou wilt shew thyself merciful; with an upright man thou wilt shew thyself upright;

Upright — Thou metest to every one the same measure, which he meteth out to others; and therefore thou wilt perform mercy and truth, to those who are merciful and true to others.

Verse 26

[26] With the pure thou wilt shew thyself pure; and with the froward thou wilt shew thyself froward.

Pure — Free from the least mixture or appearance of unrighteousness, or unfaithfulness.

Froward — Thou wilt cross him and walk contrary to him.

Verse 28

[28] For thou wilt light my candle: the LORD my God will enlighten my darkness.

Lightest — Given me safety, and comfort, and glory, and posterity also.

Verse 29

[29] For by thee I have run through a troop; and by my God have I leaped over a wall.

Troop — Broken through the armed troops of mine enemies.

Wall — I have scaled the walls of their strongest cites.

Verse 30

[30] As for God, his way is perfect: the word of the LORD is tried: he is a buckler to all those that trust in him.

Perfect — His providence, though it may sometimes be dark, yet is always wise and just, and unblameable.

Tried — The truth of God's promises is approved by innumerable experiences.

Verse 31

[31] For who is God save the LORD? or who is a rock save our God?

Who — Our Lord is the only God, and therefore there is none, that can hinder him from accomplishing his own work.

Verse 32

[32] It is God that girdeth me with strength, and maketh my way perfect.

Perfect — Perfectly plain and smooth, and clear from impediments.

Verse 33

[33] He maketh my feet like hinds' feet, and setteth me upon my high places.

High-places — Confirms me in that high estate into which he hath advanced me.

Verse 35

[35] Thou hast also given me the shield of thy salvation: and thy right hand hath holden me up, and thy gentleness hath made me great.

Salvation — Thy protection, which hath been to me like a shield.

Held — Kept me from, falling into those mischiefs, which mine enemies designed.

Gentleness — Thy clemency, whereby thou hast pardoned my sins; thy grace and benignity.

Verse 36

[36] Thou hast enlarged my steps under me, that my feet did not slip.

Slipt — As they are apt to do in narrow and uneven ways.

Verse 43

[43] Thou hast delivered me from the strivings of the people; and thou hast made me the head of the heathen: a people whom I have not known shall serve me.

People — From contentions, and seditions, under Saul, and Ishbosheth, and Absalom.

Heathens — Of the Ammonites, Moabites, Edomites, Syrians, and others.

Not known — Even barbarous and remote nations.

Verse 44

[44] As soon as they hear of me, they shall obey me: the strangers shall submit themselves unto me.

Hear — As soon as they understand my will and pleasure, they shall instantly comply with it.

Verse 45

[45] The strangers shall fade away, and be afraid out of their close places.

Close places — Out of their strong holds, where they shall lurk for fear of me.

Verse 46

[46] The LORD liveth; and blessed be my rock; and let the God of my salvation be exalted.

The Lord — He and he only is the true living God.

Verse 48

[48] He delivereth me from mine enemies: yea, thou liftest me up above those that rise up against me: thou hast delivered me from the violent man.

Violent man — From Saul: whom for honour's sake he forbears to mention.

Verse 49

[49] Therefore will I give thanks unto thee, O LORD, among the heathen, and sing praises unto thy name.

Heathen — David is here transported beyond himself, and speaks this in special relation to Christ who was to be his seed, and of whom he was an eminent type, and by whom alone this was done. And therefore this is justly applied to him, and to his calling of the Gentiles, Romans 15:9.

Verse 50

[50] Great deliverance giveth he to his king; and sheweth mercy to his anointed, to David, and to his seed for evermore.

His king — To the king whom God himself chose and anointed, and to all his posterity; and especially to the Messiah, who is called David's seed, Acts 13:23; Romans 1:3.