Psalm 18

Psalm 18[a]

Thanksgiving for God’s Help

1 For the director.[b] Of David, the servant of the Lord. He sang to the Lord the words of this song after the Lord had rescued him from the clutches of all his enemies and from the hand of Saul. 2 He said:

I love you, O Lord, my strength,
3 O Lord, my rock,[c] my fortress, my deliverer.
My God is my rock in whom I take refuge,
my shield and the horn of my salvation,
my stronghold.
4 I call upon the Lord, who is worthy of all praise;
and I am saved from my enemies.
5 The cords of death encompassed me,
and the torrents of destruction assailed me.
6 The cords of the netherworld ensnared me,
and the snares of death[d] rose up before me.
7 In my anguish I cried out to the Lord
and called to my God for help.
From his temple[e] he heard my voice,
and my cry to him reached his ears.
8 [f]The earth swayed and rocked;
the foundations of the mountains shook,
rocking because of his blazing anger.
9 Smoke poured forth from his nostrils,
while a scorching fire blazed out of his mouth
and kindled coals into flame.
10 He parted the heavens and came down;
dark clouds lay under his feet.
11 He rode upon a cherub,[g]
soaring swiftly on the wings of the wind.
12 He used the darkness as his covering,
and dense thunderclouds as his canopy.
13 From the radiance before him thick clouds emerged,
spewing hail and flashes of fire.
14 The Lord thundered from the heavens,
and the Most High let his voice be heard.
15 He shot his arrows[h] and scattered them,
hurled his lightning bolts and routed them.
16 Then the depths of the sea were exposed,
and the earth’s foundations were laid bare,
at the rebuke of the Lord,[i]
at the blast of wind from his nostrils.
17 He reached down from on high and snatched me up;
he drew me out of the watery depths.[j]
18 He delivered me from my powerful enemy,
and from my foes, who were too strong for me.
19 They assailed me in the day of my misfortune,
but the Lord came forward to uphold me.
20 He led me forth into the open field;
he set me free because he was pleased with me.
21 The Lord has dealt with me according to my righteousness;[k]
because my hands were pure, he has rewarded me.
22 For I have kept the ways of the Lord[l]
and refused to turn away from my God.
23 His laws are clearly known to me,
and I have not failed to observe his decrees.
24 I was blameless in his sight,
and I kept myself free of sin.
25 Therefore, the Lord has rewarded me according to my righteousness,
because of the cleanness of my hands in his eyes.
26 To the loyal, you show yourself to be loyal;
to the blameless, you show yourself to be blameless;
27 to the pure, you show yourself to be pure;
but to the perverse,[m] you show yourself to be shrewd.
28 For you save the humble,
but you bring down the haughty.
29 You, O Lord, are light for my lamp;[n]
O my God, you make my darkness turn to light.
30 With your help I can storm a rampart;
with my God to aid me, I can scale any wall.
31 The way of God is blameless,
and the Lord’s promise proves true;
he is a shield to all
who flee to him for safety.
32 Indeed, who is God except the Lord?
Who is the Rock besides our God?
33 It is God who clothes me with strength
and makes my way blameless.
34 He gives me the swift feet of a deer
and places me securely on the heights.
35 He trains my hands for war
and my arms to bend a bow of bronze.[o]
36 You have given me the shield of your salvation;
your right hand sustains me,
and your goodness makes me great.
37 You broadened the path beneath me
so that my feet have never stumbled.
38 I went after my enemies and overtook them;
I did not turn back until they were defeated.
39 When I knocked them down, they were unable to rise;
they fell down at my feet.
40 You clothed me with strength for the battle
and cast down my adversaries beneath me.
41 You made my enemies retreat before me,
so that I could scatter those who hated me.
42 They called for help, but there was no one to deliver them;
they called to the Lord, but no answer came.
43 I crushed them like fine dust before the wind;
I trod on them like mud in the streets.
44 You delivered me from a people in rebellion,
and you placed me in charge of the nations;
people I did not know have become my subjects.
45 As soon as they heard me, they obeyed;
foreigners groveled before me.
46 Then they became disheartened
and came forth trembling from their strongholds.
47 The Lord lives! Blessed[p] be my Rock!
Exalted be God, my Savior!
48 O God, you obtained vindication for me,
subjected nations under me,
49 and freed me from my enemies.
You exalted me over my adversaries
and delivered me from the violent.
50 For this, O Lord, I will praise you among the nations
and sing praise to your name.[q]
51 You have bestowed great victories on your king,
and you have shown kindness to your anointed,[r]
to David and his descendants forever.


  1. Psalm 18:1 This song of David occurs also in 2 Sam 22 with minor variations. It is composed of an introduction (vv. 1-4), a conclusion (vv. 47-51), and three major divisions: (1) the Lord’s deliverance of David from mortal enemies (vv. 5-20); (2) the moral grounds for the Lord’s help (vv. 21-30); and (3) the Lord’s help recounted (vv. 31-46).
    Already emerging in this splendid psalm, which is both a song of thanksgiving and a song of victory, is the image of the King-Messiah, Jesus, born of the house of David and beloved Son of the Father; he will conquer the forces of evil. This poem is a festal song expressing wonder and thanksgiving and glorifying God.
    To the extent that we can allow ourselves to be identified with Christ and become kings in him (see Ps 2), we can use this psalm to praise God the Father for the wonders that Paul celebrates in the hymn of the Letter to the Ephesians (1:3-15).
  2. Psalm 18:1 For the director: these words are thought to be a musical or liturgical notation.
  3. Psalm 18:3 Rock: a common symbol for God indicating his strength as a refuge or as a deliverer (see Pss 19:15; 31:3f; 42:10; 62:3, 8; 71:3; 73:26; 78:35; 89:27; 92:16; 94:22; 95:1; 144:1; Deut 32:15; Isa 17:10). See Jesus’ use of the word in Mt 16:18. Horn: a symbol of strength (see Deut 33:17; Jer 48:25); it often had Messianic overtones (see Ps 132:17; Ezek 29:21).
  4. Psalm 18:6 Cords of the netherworld . . . snares of death: the psalmist had been in the grip of death and a prisoner of the grave (see Ps 116:3; Job 36:8).
  5. Psalm 18:7 Temple: God’s heavenly dwelling where he is enthroned (see Pss 11:4; 113:5; Isa 6:1; 40:22).
  6. Psalm 18:8 In these powerful images the ancients sang of the presence and glory of God in creation and in events (see Pss 68:9f; 97:2-5; Ex 19:15-18; Jdg 5:4f; Job 36:29f; Isa 30:27f; Hab 3:3-15). The description gives a presentiment of the struggle at the end of time in which God triumphs.
  7. Psalm 18:11 Cherub: a winged being, represented at the entrance of Mesopotamian temples. Two cherubim stood on the Ark of the Covenant (see Ex 25:18; 1 Ki 6:23-28). God was regarded as enthroned on them (see Pss 80:2; 99:1) and riding upon the storm clouds (see Ps 104:3) or upon the cherubim.
  8. Psalm 18:15 Arrows: shafts of lightning (see Pss 77:18; 144:6; Hab 3:11).
  9. Psalm 18:16 The psalmist may be referring to the wondrous deed God accomplished at the Red Sea during the Exodus (see Ex 14:15-22).
  10. Psalm 18:17 Watery depths: symbols of great danger (see Pss 32:6; 40:3; 42:8; 66:12; 69:3, 15; 88:18; 130:1; Job 22:11; Isa 30:28; Jon 2:5f).
  11. Psalm 18:21 Righteousness: see note on Ps 1:5.
  12. Psalm 18:22 Ways of the Lord: see note on Ps 25:10.
  13. Psalm 18:27 God treats people the way they treat him and others. The perverse: those who stray from the straight way of the Lord. Show yourself to be shrewd: the Lord counters the evil acts of the wicked, one after the other.
  14. Psalm 18:29 Light for my lamp: a figure of life and happiness (see 1 Ki 11:36). Light: see note on Ps 27:1.
  15. Psalm 18:35 Bow of bronze: a bow difficult to bend that would shoot arrows with greater force.
  16. Psalm 18:47 Blessed: i.e., adored, praised, and thanked.
  17. Psalm 18:50 This text is cited by Paul (Rom 15:9) as a prediction of the conversion of the Gentiles. Name: see note on Ps 5:12.
  18. Psalm 18:51 You have shown kindness to your anointed: the Lord is mindful of his covenant with his anointed king and never ceases bestowing blessings upon him. This is even more true of the King and Anointed par excellence, Jesus Christ. Kindness: see note on Ps 6:5.

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