Psalm 18:28-32

28. For thou shalt light my lamp, O Jehovah; my God shall enlighten my darkness. 29. For by thee1 I shall break through the wedge2 of a troop, and by my God I shall leap over a wall. 30. The way of God is perfect; the word of Jehovah is refined, [or purified;] he is a shield to all those who trust in him. 31. For who is God besides Jehovah? and who is strong except our God? 32. It is God who hath girded me with strength, and hath made my way perfect.


28. For thou shalt light my lamp. In the song in Samuel, the form of the expression is somewhat more precise; for there it is said not that God lights our lamp, but that he himself is our lamp. The meaning, however, comes to the same thing, namely, that it was by the grace of God that David, who had been plunged in darkness, returned to the light. David does not simply give thanks to God for having lighted up a lamp before him, but also for having converted his darkness into light. He, therefore, acknowledges that he had been reduced to such extremity of distress, that he was like a man whose condition was forlorn and hopeless; for he compares the confused and perplexed state of his affairs to darkness. This, indeed, by the transference of material things to things spiritual, may be applied to the spiritual illumination of the understanding; but, at the same time, we must attend to the subject of which David treats, that we may not depart from the true and proper meaning. Now, as he acknowledges that he had been restored to prosperity by the favor of God, which was to him, as it were, a life-giving light, let us, after his example, regard it as certain that we will never have the comfort of seeing our adversities brought to an end, unless God disperse the darkness which envelops us, and restore to us the light of joy. Let it not, however, be distressing to us to walk through darkness, provided God is pleased to perform to us the office of a lamp. In the following verse, David ascribes his victories to God, declaring that, under his conduct, he had broken through the wedges or phalanxes of his enemies, and had taken by storm their fortified cities.3 Thus we see that, although he was a valiant warrior, and skilled in arms, he arrogates nothing to himself. As to the tenses of the verbs, we would inform our readers once for all, that in this psalm David uses the past and the future tenses indifferently, not only because he comprehends different histories, but also because he presents to himself the things of which he speaks as if they were still taking place before his eyes, and, at the same time, describes a continued course of the grace of God towards him.

30. The way of God is perfect. The phrase, The way of God, is not here taken for his revealed will, but for his method of dealing towards his people. The meaning, therefore, is, that God never disappoints or deceives his servants, nor forsakes them in the time of need, (as may be the case with men who do not aid their dependants, except in so far as it contributes to their own particular advantage,) but faithfully defends and maintains those whom he has once taken under his protection. But we will never have any nearness to God, unless he first come near to us by his word; and, for this reason, David, after having asserted that God aids his people in good earnest, adds, at the same time, that his word is purified. Let us, therefore, rest assured that God will actually show himself upright towards us, seeing he has promised to be the guardian and protector of our welfare, and his promise is certain and infallible truth. That by the word we are not here to understand the commandments, but the promises of God, is easily gathered from the following clause, where it is said, He is a shield to all those who trust in him. It seems, indeed, a common commendation to say, that the word of God is pure, and without any mixture of fraud and deceit, like silver which is well refined and purified from all its dross. But our unbelief is the cause why God, so to speak, is constrained to use such a similitude, for the purpose of commending and leading us to form exalted conceptions of the steadfastness and certainty of his promises; for whenever the issue does not answer our expectation, there is nothing to which we are naturally more prone than forthwith to begin to entertain unhallowed and distrustful thoughts of the word of God. For a farther explanation of these words, we would refer our readers to our remarks on Psalm 12:6.

31. For who is God besides Jehovah? David here, deriding the foolish inventions of men, who, according to their own fancy, make for themselves tutelary gods,4 confirms what I have said before, that he never undertook any thing but by the authority and command of God. If he had passed beyond the limits of his calling, he could not with such confidence have said that God was on his side. Besides, although in these words he opposes to the true God all the false gods invented by men, his purpose, at the same time, is to overthrow all the vain hopes in which the world is wrapped up, and by which it is carried about, and prevented from resting in God. The question which David here treats of is not the bare title and name of God, but he declares that whatever assistance we need we should seek it from God, and from no other quarter, because he alone is endued with power:Who is strong except our God? We should, however, attend to the design of David, which I have first adverted to, namely, that, by confidently representing God as opposed to all his enemies, and as the leader, under whose standard he had valiantly fought against them, he means to affirm that he had attempted nothing according to his own fancy, or with an evil and condemning conscience.

32. It is God who hath girded. This is a metaphor taken either from the belt or girdle of a warrior, or from the reins, in which the Scripture sometimes places a man's vigor or strength. It is, therefore, as if he had said, I, who would otherwise have been feeble and effeminate, have been made strong and courageous by the power of God. He afterwards speaks of the success itself with which God had favored him; for it would not be enough for persons to have prompt and active courage, nor even to excel in strength, if their undertakings were not at the same time crowned with a prosperous issue. Irreligious men imagine that this proceeds from their own prudence, or from fortune; but David ascribes it to God alone:It is God who hath made my way perfect. The word way is here to be understood of the course of our actions, and the language implies, that whatever David undertook, God, by his blessing, directed it to a successful issue.

1 "Par ta vertu." -- Note, Fr. marg. "That is, by thy power."

2 Cuneum. A battalion or company of foot drawn up in the form of a wedge, the better to break the enemies' ranks.

3 The last clause, By my God have I leaped over a wall, is rendered by the Chaldee, "I will subdue fortified towers." Hammond renders it, "By my God I have taken a fort." In support of this view, he observes that the word rws, shur, from rws, shor, to look, signifies both a wall, from which to observe the approach of the enemy, and a watch-tower and fort; that if we take rws, shur, as meaning a wall, the verb gld, dalag, will be rightly rendered to leap over; but if rws, shur, means a fort, then the verb will mean to seize on it suddenly, and will therefore be best translated to take it.

4 "Qui se forgent a leur fantasie des dieux qui soyent leurs protecteurs et patrons." -- Fr. "Who, according to their own fancy, make for themselves gods to be their protectors and patrons."


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