Title. To the Chief Musician a Psalm of David, the servant of the Lord, who spake unto the Lord the words of this song in the day that the Lord delivered him from the hand of all his enemies, and from the hand of Saul. We have another form of this Psalm, with significant variations (2 Samuel 22:1-51), and this suggests the idea that it was sung by David at different times when he reviewed his own remarkable history, and observed the gracious hand of God in it all. Like Addison’s hymn beginning, “When all thy mercies, O my God, “this Psalm is the song of a grateful heart overwhelmed with a retrospect of the manifold and marvellous mercies of God. We will call it The Grateful Retrospect. The title deserves attention. David, although at this time a king, calls himself, “the servant of Jehovah, “but makes no mention of his royalty; hence we gather that he counted it a higher honour to be the Lord’s servant than to be Judah’s king. Right wisely did he judge. Being possessed of poetic genius, he served the Lord by composing this Psalm for the use of the Lord’s house; and it is no mean work to conduct or to improve that delightful part of divine worship, the singing of the Lord’s praises. Would that more musical and poetical ability were consecrated, and that our chief musicians were fit to be trusted with devout and spiritual psalmody. It should be observed that the words of this song were not composed with the view of gratifying the taste of men, but were spoken unto Jehovah. It were well if we had a more single eye to the honour of the Lord in our singing, and in all other hallowed exercises. That praise is little worth which is not directed solely and heartily to the Lord. David might well be thus direct in his gratitude, for he owed all to his God, and in the day of his deliverance he had none to thank but the Lord, whose right hand had preserved him. We too should feel that to God and God alone we owe the greatest debt of honour and thanksgiving.
If it be remembered that the second and the forty-ninth verses are both quoted in the New Testament (Hebrews 2:13 Romans 15:9) as the words of the Lord Jesus, it will be clear that a greater than David is here. Reader, you will not need our aid in this respect; if you know Jesus you will readily find him in his sorrows, deliverance, and triumphs all through this wonderful psalm.
Division. Psalms 18:1-3 are the proem or preface in which the resolve to bless God is declared. Delivering mercy is most poetically extolled from Psalms 18:4-19; and then the happy songster Psalms 18:20-28, protests that God had acted righteously in thus favoring him. Filled with grateful joy he again pictures his deliverance and anticipates future victories Psalms 18:29-45; and in closing speaks with evident prophetic foresight of the glorious triumphs of the Messiah, David’s seed and the Lord’s anointed.
The Treasury of David.
The conqueror’s feet had been shod by a divine hand, and the next note must, therefore, refer to them.
He maketh my feet like hinds’ feet, and setteth me upon my high places. Pursuing his foes the warrior had been swift of foot as a young roe, but, instead of taking pleasure in the legs of a man, he ascribes the boon of swiftness to the Lord alone. When our thoughts are nimble, and our spirits rapid, like the chariots of Amminadib, let us not forget that our best Beloved’s hand has given us the choice favour. Climbing into impregnable fortresses, David had been preserved from slipping, and made to stand where scarce the wild goat can find a footing; herein was preserving mercy manifested. We, too, have had our high places of honour, service, temptation, and danger, but hitherto we have been kept from falling. Bring hither the harp, and let us emulate the psalmist’s joyful thanksgiving; had we fallen, our wailings must have been terrible; since we have stood, let our gratitude be fervent.
He maketh my feet like hinds’ feet, and setteth me upon my high places: that is, he doth give swiftness and speed to his church; as Augustine interprets it, transcendendo spinosa, et umbrosa implacamenta hujus saeculi, passing lightly through the thorny and shady incumbrances of this world. “He will make me walk upon my high places.” David saith, “He setteth me upon high places.” For, consider David, as he then was, when he composed this Psalm, it was at the time when God had delivered him from the hand of all his enemies, and from the hand of Saul. For then God set his feet on high places, setting his kingdom, and establishing him in the place of Saul. Edward Marbury.
He maketh my feet like hinds’ feet: מְשַׁוֶּה רַגְלַי כָּאַיָּלוֹת. Celerity of motion was considered as one of the qualities of an ancient hero. Achilles is celebrated for being πὀδας ὠκύς. Virgil’s Nisus is hyperbolically described, Et ventis et fulminis ocior alis; and the men of God, who came to David, “Men of might, and men of war fit for the battle, that could handle shield and buckler, “are said to have had “faces like the faces of lions, “and to have been “as swift as the roes upon the mountains.” 1 Chronicles 12:8. Asahel is described as “light of foot as a wild roe” (2 Samuel 2:18); and Saul seems called the roe (in the English translation, “the beauty) of Israel.” 2 Samuel 1:19. It has been said that the legs of the hind are straighter than those of the buck, and that she is swifter than he is; but there is no sufficient proof of this. Gataker gives the true account of it when he says, “The female formula is often used for the species.” This is not uncommon in Hebrew. The female ass obviously stands for the ass species. Genesis 12:16 Job 1:3, 42:12. Some (at the head of whom is Bochart, Hierozoicon, P.I.L. 2 c 17), have supposed the reference to be to the peculiar hardness of the hoof of the roe, which enables it to walk firmly, without danger of falling, on the roughest and rockiest places. Virgil calls the hind aeri-pedem, brass footed. Others suppose the reference to be to its agility and celerity. There is nothing to prevent our supposing that there is reference to both these distinguishing qualities of the hind’s feet. John Brown.
He maketh my feet like hinds feet, etc. He maketh me able to stand on the sides of mountains and rocks, which were anciently used as fastnesses in time of war. The feet of the sheep, the goat, and the hart are particularly adapted to standing in such places. Mr. Merrick has here very appositely cited the following passage from Xenophon; Lib. de Venatione: Επισκοπειν δει ἔχοντα τὰς κύνας τὰς μὲν ἐν ὂρεσι ἑοτῶσας λαφους See also Psalms 104:18, where the same property of standing on the rocks and steep cliffs, is attributed to the wild goat. Stephen Street, M.A., in loc., 1790.
Ver. 32-34. Trying positions, gracious adaptations, graceful accomplishments, secure abidings, grateful acknowledgment.
The Treasury of David.
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