To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of David the servant of the Lord, who spoke to the Lord the words of this song on the day that the Lord delivered him from the hand of all his enemies and from the hand of Saul. And he said:
1 I will love You, O Lord, my strength.
2 The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer;
My God, my strength, in whom I will trust;
My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
3 I will call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised;
So shall I be saved from my enemies.
4 The pangs of death surrounded me,
And the floods of ungodliness made me afraid.
5 The sorrows of Sheol surrounded me;
The snares of death confronted me.
6 In my distress I called upon the Lord,
And cried out to my God;
He heard my voice from His temple,
And my cry came before Him, even to His ears.
7 Then the earth shook and trembled;
The foundations of the hills also quaked and were shaken,
Because He was angry.
8 Smoke went up from His nostrils,
And devouring fire from His mouth;
Coals were kindled by it.
9 He bowed the heavens also, and came down
With darkness under His feet.
10 And He rode upon a cherub, and flew;
He flew upon the wings of the wind.
11 He made darkness His secret place;
His canopy around Him was dark waters
And thick clouds of the skies.
12 From the brightness before Him,
His thick clouds passed with hailstones and coals of fire.
13 The Lord thundered from heaven,
And the Most High uttered His voice,
Hailstones and coals of fire.
14 He sent out His arrows and scattered the foe,
Lightnings in abundance, and He vanquished them.
15 Then the channels of the sea were seen,
The foundations of the world were uncovered
At Your rebuke, O Lord,
At the blast of the breath of Your nostrils.
16 He sent from above, He took me;
He drew me out of many waters.
17 He delivered me from my strong enemy,
From those who hated me,
For they were too strong for me.
18 They confronted me in the day of my calamity,
But the Lord was my support.
19 He also brought me out into a broad place;
He delivered me because He delighted in me.
20 The Lord rewarded me according to my righteousness;
According to the cleanness of my hands
He has recompensed me.
21 For I have kept the ways of the Lord,
And have not wickedly departed from my God.
22 For all His judgments were before me,
And I did not put away His statutes from me.
23 I was also blameless before Him,
And I kept myself from my iniquity.
24 Therefore the Lord has recompensed me according to my righteousness,
According to the cleanness of my hands in His sight.
25 With the merciful You will show Yourself merciful;
With a blameless man You will show Yourself blameless;
26 With the pure You will show Yourself pure;
And with the devious You will show Yourself shrewd.
27 For You will save the humble people,
But will bring down haughty looks.
28 For You will light my lamp;
The Lord my God will enlighten my darkness.
29 For by You I can run against a troop,
By my God I can leap over a wall.
30 As for God, His way is perfect;
The word of the Lord is proven;
He is a shield to all who trust in Him.
31 For who is God, except the Lord?
And who is a rock, except our God?
32 It is God who arms me with strength,
And makes my way perfect.
33 He makes my feet like the feet of deer,
And sets me on my high places.
34 He teaches my hands to make war,
So that my arms can bend a bow of bronze.
35 You have also given me the shield of Your salvation;
Your right hand has held me up,
Your gentleness has made me great.
36 You enlarged my path under me,
So my feet did not slip.
37 I have pursued my enemies and overtaken them;
Neither did I turn back again till they were destroyed.
38 I have wounded them,
So that they could not rise;
They have fallen under my feet.
39 For You have armed me with strength for the battle;
You have subdued under me those who rose up against me.
40 You have also given me the necks of my enemies,
So that I destroyed those who hated me.
41 They cried out, but there was none to save;
Even to the Lord, but He did not answer them.
42 Then I beat them as fine as the dust before the wind;
I cast them out like dirt in the streets.
43 You have delivered me from the strivings of the people;
You have made me the head of the nations;
A people I have not known shall serve me.
44 As soon as they hear of me they obey me;
The foreigners submit to me.
45 The foreigners fade away,
And come frightened from their hideouts.
46 The Lord lives!
Blessed be my Rock!
Let the God of my salvation be exalted.
47 It is God who avenges me,
And subdues the peoples under me;
48 He delivers me from my enemies.
You also lift me up above those who rise against me;
You have delivered me from the violent man.
49 Therefore I will give thanks to You, O Lord, among the Gentiles,
And sing praises to Your name.
50 Great deliverance He gives to His king,
And shows mercy to His anointed,
To David and his descendants forevermore.
The Holy Spirit states in Romans 15:9 and Hebrews 2:13, that the speaker here is the Messiah, and that the psalm predicts the sufferings of His first advent (vs.20-36), the glories of His second (vs.37-50), and the majesty of the resurrection which connects the two (vs. 1-19).
The Messiah was sinless, and He will in righteousness destroy out of His future kingdom all the workers of iniquity (Matthew 13:41, Revelation 12:12 and 19:1-5). This explains the seemingly self-righteous language of the speaker and His exultation over the destruction of His enemies. — Williams, page 309.
Another version of this psalm by David is recorded in 2 Samuel 22. It was rewritten slightly for public use.
servant of the Lord (heading) — used elsewhere in Scripture twice of Joshua, but otherwise almost exclusively of Moses or, prophetically, of the Messiah. The only other place it is used of David is in the heading of Psalm 36.
on the day that the Lord delivered him from the hand of all his enemies and from the hand of Saul (heading) — referring not to the day on which Saul died (1 Samuel 31:6), nor even the day on which David was finally enthroned king of all Israel (2 Samuel 5:3), but at that point much later in his reign where the iteration of this psalm is presented, in 2 Samuel 22, after his many victorious wars with the Philistines and others and after the revolts of Absalom (2 Samuel 18) and Sheba (2 Samuel 20). — Wechsler, pages 62-63.
I will love You (v.1) = racham = compassion, love very tenderly, as with a mother’s love
Verse 2 (or, at least the 2 Samuel version of it) is quoted in Hebrews 2:13.
horn of my salvation (v.2) — symbolizes strength and victorious power see Deuteronomy 33:17; 1 Kings 22:11; Luke 1:69 (where the term is used by Zacharias in reference to Jesus Christ). The reference here, I’m pretty sure, is to the strength of animals who can attack and defend themselves with their horns.
So shall I be saved from my enemies (v.3) — see Luke 1:71
pangs of death (v.4) = cords, ropes — giving the sense of being trapped or tied up — see Acts 2:24
bowed (v.9) = stretched out
He rode upon a cherub (v.10) — speed … hearkening to the imagery of the divine cloud of glory dwelling over the ark, which was crowned with cherubim [a type of angelic beings] — Wechsler, page 64
recompensed (v.24 = returned
merciful (v.25) = the Merciful One, a divine title
devious (v.26) = crooked, perverse
shrewd (v.26) = astute
the shield of Your salvation (v.35) — The Hebrew term for salvation (yesha) is one that often signifies comprehensive deliverance (i.e., both internal-spiritual and, ultimately, external-physical; cf., e.g., David’s use of the term in 2 Samuel 23:5; 1 Chronicles 16:35; Psalms 24:5; 25:5). Not surprisingly, therefore, it is this term that is employed in the name of David’s Seed, the Savior Himself, Jesus (Hebrew Yeshua, “he saves/will save; cf. Matthew 1:21). — Wechsler, page 65.
Verse 49 is quoted in Romans 15:9.
By this statement, in view of its citation in Romans 15:9, David means specifically that he will proclaim among the Gentiles (1) God’s faithfulness in upholding “the promises given to the fathers” (see Genesis 12:1-3; 15:8; 17:7-8, etc.), which includes God’s promise to David (see 2 Samuel 7:8-17), and (2) God’s mercy — both of which find their greatest expression in the person and work of Christ. — Wechsler, page 66.
There are a number of virtues and qualities, and happenings on earth and in heaven, and in the universe mentioned in this Psalm that could not be applicable to David, but are applicable to the Messiah, who was the Son of David according to the flesh.
Verse 5. The sorrows of Hades did not compass David, neither did the snares of death come upon him before he wrote this Psalm. Neither was it a prophecy of something he would go through when he died. It is applicable only to the Messiah.
Verse 7. The earthquake and the smoke from God’s nostrils accompanied by fire from God’s mouth was not an experience of David, but was the experience of David’s greater Son.
Verse 9. Darkness coming over the earth when the servant of God died was not the experience of David, but it did occur when Jesus of Nazareth was crucified.
Verse 10. “God riding upon a cherub and the wings of the wind” in order to reach His suffering Servant was not the experience of David. It is natural to think of God taking such concern for His Son.
Verses 12-15. Thick clouds, hail stones, coals of fire; the Lord God thundering in the heavens and shouting His voice through the universe, and sending out His arrows, fierce lightning, and channels of water over flowing, tell of things occurring in the universe when God’s Son went down into Hades. If the language is figurative it represents something far more terrible than is in view, but we see no reason for calling the language figurative.
Verse 20. The sufferer is rewarded according to His righteousness and cleanness of His hands. David could not claim a reward on this level, but he was inspired to look into the future and see the rewarding of the Messiah.
Verse 21. David could not claim that he had not departed from his God. No one but the greater Son of David — the Christ of God could make such a claim.
Verse 22. David could not have claimed never to have departed from God’s statutes.
Verse 23. David never claimed to have kept himself from all iniquity. He was a sinner saved by the grace of God.
Verse 24. Repeats verse 20, perhaps for emphasis.
Verse 32. David could not claim that he was perfect before God.
Verse 36. David could not claim that his feet never slipped. All Bible readers know the did slip. — Phillips, pages 39-42.