Psalm 18 – “A Psalm of Thanks, Confidence, and Praise”

Hebrew-English Text
I. Summary
The psalmist thanks God for defeating his enemies and for bringing him to a position of greatness.

II. Photo
The psalmist puts his trust in God: “With You, I can rush a barrier, with my God, I can scale a wall.” (v. 30)

III. Select Verses    
2b-3: I adore you, O LORD, my strength, O LORD, my crag, my fortress, my rescuer, my God, my rock in whom I seek refuge, my shield, my mighty champion, my haven.
4-7: All praise! I called on the LORD and was delivered from my enemies. Ropes of Death encompassed me; torrents of Belial terrified me; ropes of Sheol encircled me; snares of Death confronted me.  In my distress I called on the LORD, cried out to my God; in His temple He heard my voice; my cry to Him reached His ears.
8-14: Then the earth rocked and quaked; the foundations of the mountains shook, rocked by His indignation; smoke went up from His nostrils, from His mouth came devouring fire; live coals blazed forth from Him. He bent the sky and came down, thick cloud beneath His feet. He mounted a cherub and flew, gliding on the wings of the wind. He made darkness His screen; dark thunderheads, dense clouds of the sky were His pavilion round about Him. Out of the brilliance before Him, hail and fiery coals pierced His clouds. Then the LORD thundered from heaven, the Most High gave forth His voice — hail and fiery coals.
40-41: You have girded me with strength for battle, brought my adversaries low before me, made my enemies turn tail before me; I wiped out my foes.
51: He accords great victories to His king, keeps faith with His anointed, with David and his offspring forever.

IV. Outline
1-2a. Historical superscription
2b-3. Invocation, proclamations of love and trust
4-6. Account of trouble
7. Account of prayer
8-16. Description of god’s appearance
17-20. Account of salvation
21-25. Assertion of innocence
26-28. Pedagogic lesson
29-30. Proclamation of confidence
31-46. Thanks, praise, and confidence.
47-49. Blessing, account of salvation
50. Vow
51. Wish

V. Comment
Psalm 18, which is the third longest psalm in the psalter, contains many elements of the Thanksgiving genre. A parallel text occurs in 2 Samuel 22 and Craigie writes: “In general terms, the texts are the same, though there are numerous minor divergencies between them. There can be no certainty as to which may be the oldest and most authentic of the two texts; it is clear that they represent two variant traditions (perhaps northern and southern?) in the history of the psalm’s transmission. In terms of certain forms and characteristics (e.g. orthographic forms), 2 Sam 22 appears to be the most archaic text, but that is partly to be expected. The text in the Psalter was clearly utilized in the context of Israel’s worship long after the time of its initial composition, and the modernizing of such matters as orthography would be expected, whereas the text in 2 Sam 22 would have a more static history from the time of its incorporation into one of the sources of the Books of Samuel. But it does not follow that the text of Samuel is always the best text, or the nearest to the original. It may not even be proper to talk of an “original” if the initial transmission/composition was oral and the psalm was itself composed orally, in which case a number of variants may represent oral alternatives going back to the earliest period of the text’s history.” (171-172)

VI. Works Used
(see “Commentaries” page)
Collins, John J. “Introduction to the Hebrew Bible,” (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2004).
Craigie, Peter C. “Psalms 1-50” Word Biblical Commentary vol. 19 (Waco, Texas: Wordbooks, 1983).
Gerstenberger, Erhard S. “Psalms Part 1 with an Introduction to Cultic Poetry” Forms of Old Testament Literature (Michigan: Eerdmans, 1988).
Photo taken from