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Mizmor 018 - A Lifetime of Devotion

(א) לַמְנַצֵּחַ לְעֶבֶד ה' לְדָוִד אֲשֶׁר דִּבֶּר לַה' אֶת דִּבְרֵי הַשִּׁירָה הַזֹּאת בְּיוֹם הִצִּיל ה' אוֹתוֹ מִכַּף כָּל אֹיְבָיו וּמִיַּד שָׁאוּל:
(1) For the musician, by the servant of Hashem, by David, who spoke the words of this song to Hashem on a day that Hashem had delivered him from the hand of all his enemies and from the hand of Shaul.
NOTE: For a PDF of this mizmor, please click here. This will enable you to print out the entire text of the article. [Rev. 8]
Key Concepts of Mizmor 018 - A Lifetime of Devotion
This mizmor is a song of celebration and gratitude that David composed toward the end of his life to thank Hashem for having stood by him throughout a lifetime of strife. The original version of this song appears in the Book of Shmuel II (Chapter 22) as part of his life story. David himself made some changes in the mizmor when he incorporated it in Tehillim to serve as an inspiration for future generations.
In the mizmor David shows how his entire life was dominated by his relationship to Hashem. No matter what he achieved, whether it was escape from danger, defeat of enemies, or being elevated to royalty and the leadership of a nation, it was all Hashem’s doing.
When David speaks of overcoming his enemies, he does not mention them individually, except for King Shaul, his predecessor. Shaul stood out from the rest of his enemies because he was such a difficult adversary. Although his hatred of David was intense, Shaul was at heart a righteous man. David needed to demonstrate his own suitability to the position without directly attacking Shaul, who was still the king and had to be treated with deference.
Exploring the Mizmor
PART 1. INTRODUCTION. Here David identifies himself as the servant of Hashem because no matter where he went and no matter what he did, his thoughts were always of Hashem. He was a devoted servant to his Master. In a life filled with challenge, he never put his trust in his military or political skills, but only in Hashem.
(א) לַמְנַצֵּחַ לְעֶבֶד ה' לְדָוִד אֲשֶׁר דִּבֶּר לַה' אֶת דִּבְרֵי הַשִּׁירָה הַזֹּאת בְּיוֹם הִצִּיל ה' אוֹתוֹ מִכַּף כָּל אֹיְבָיו וּמִיַּד שָׁאוּל:
(1) For the musician, by the servant of Hashem, by David, who spoke the words of this song to Hashem on a day that Hashem had delivered him from the hand of all his enemies and from the hand of Shaul.
PART 2. MY STRENGTH. David begins his song by declaring that his relationship to Hashem is what gives meaning to his life:
(ב) וַיֹּאמַר אֶרְחָמְךָ ה' חִזְקִי: (ג) ה' סַלְעִי וּמְצוּדָתִי וּמְפַלְטִי אֵ־לִי צוּרִי אֶחֱסֶה בּוֹ מָגִנִּי וְקֶרֶן יִשְׁעִי מִשְׂגַּבִּי: (ד) מְהֻלָּל אֶקְרָא ה' וּמִן אֹיְבַי אִוָּשֵׁעַ:
(2) He said: I will [sing of my] love for You, Hashem, for You are my Strength. (3) Hashem is my Rock, my Fortress, and my Rescuer. My G-d, my Rock, I rely on Him. He is my Shield, the Horn of my Deliverance, my Uplifter. (4) I call unto Hashem with praise. I am saved from my enemies.
PART 3. DESPERATE TIMES. David now recalls the times when he was in desperate need for help.
(ה) אֲפָפוּנִי חֶבְלֵי מָוֶת, וְנַחֲלֵי בְלִיַּעַל יְבַעֲתוּנִי: (ו) חֶבְלֵי שְׁאוֹל סְבָבוּנִי, קִדְּמוּנִי מוֹקְשֵׁי מָוֶת: (ז) בַּצַּר לִי אֶקֲרָא ה', וְאֶל אֱלֹקַי אֲשַׁוֵּעַ, יִשְׁמַע מֵהֵיכָלוֹ קוֹלִי, וְשַׁוְעָתִי לְפָנָיו תָּבוֹא בְאָזְנָיו:
(5) Pangs of death encompassed me and the encampments of lawless men terrorized me. (6) Pains of the grave encircled me; snares of death confronted me. (7) ln my distress I would only call upon Hashem and to my G-d I would cry. From His abode He would hear my voice. My cry to Him would reach His ears.
PART 4. TEFILLOS ANSWERED. David remembers how Hashem answered his tefillos by punishing his foes. To help us visualize Hashem’s great power, David uses the symbolism of cataclysmic phenomena in nature.
(ח) וַתִּגְעַשׁ וַתִּרְעַשׁ הָאָרֶץ, וּמוֹסְדֵי הָרִים יִרְגָּזוּ, וַיִּתְגָּעֲשׁוּ כִּי חָרָה לוֹ: (ט) עָלָה עָשָׁן בְּאַפּוֹ, וְאֵשׁ מִפִּיו תֹּאכֵל, גֶּחָלִים בָּעֲרוּ מִמֶּנּוּ: (י) וַיֵּט שָׁמַיִם וַיֵּרַד, וַעֲרָפֶל תַּחַת רַגְלָיו: (יא) וַיִּרְכַּב עַל כְּרוּב וַיָּעֹף, וַיֵּדֶא עַל כַּנְפֵי רוּחַ: (יב) יָשֶׁת חֹשֶׁךְ סִתְרוֹ, סְבִיבוֹתָיו סֻכָּתוֹ, חֶשְׁכַת מַיִם עָבֵי שְׁחָקִים: (יג) מִנֹּגַהּ נֶגְדּוֹ, עָבָיו עָבְרוּ, בָּרָד וְגַחֲלֵי אֵשׁ: (יד) וַיַּרְעֵם בַּשָּׁמַיִם ה', וְעֶלְיוֹן יִתֵּן קֹלוֹ, בָּרָד וְגַחֲלֵי אֵשׁ:
(8) The earth heaved and shuddered, the foundations of the mountains shook, they quaked when His wrath flared. (9) Smoke rose from His nostrils, a devouring fire [issued] from His mouth, [flaming] coals blazed forth from Him. (10) He bent the heavens down and descended, with thick darkness beneath His feet. (11) He mounted a malach [angel] and swooped down; He glided on the wings of the wind. (12) He made darkness His concealment, surrounding His shelter. There was darkness from water of the clouds of heaven. (13) From out of the brilliant glow from before Him, His clouds passed across with hail and fiery coals. (14) Hashem thundered in the heavens, the Most High raised His voice with hail and fiery coals.
(טו) וַיִּשְׁלַח חִצָּיו וַיְפִיצֵם, וּבְרָקִים רָב וַיְהֻמֵּם: (טז) וַיֵּרָאוּ אֲפִיקֵי מַיִם, וַיִּגָּלוּ מוֹסְדוֹת תֵּבֵל, מִגַּעֲרָתְךָ ה', מִנִּשְׁמַת רוּחַ אַפֶּךָ: (יז) יִשְׁלַח מִמָּרוֹם יִקָּחֵנִי, יַמְשֵׁנִי מִמַּיִם רַבִּים: (יח) יַצִּילֵנִי מֵאֹיְבִי עָז וּמִשֹּׂנְאַי, כִּי אָמְצוּ מִמֶּנִּי: (יט) יְקַדְּמוּנִי בְיוֹם אֵידִי, וַיְהִי ה' לְמִשְׁעָן לִי:
(15) He sent forth His arrows and scattered them; He discharged lightning bolts and He terrified them. (16) The seabed became visible and the foundations of the earth were laid bare. By Your rebuke, Hashem, by the blowing of the breath of Your nostrils. (17) He sent His help from on high and took me, He drew me out of deep waters. (18) He saved me from my powerful foe and from my enemies, when they overpowered me. (19) They advanced to attack me on my day of disaster, but Hashem became my support.
PART 5. LESSONS LEARNED. David advises future generations that Hashem’s rescue cannot be taken for granted. Man needs to follow the path of Hashem to be worthy of His favor.
(כ) וַיּוֹצִיאֵנִי לַמֶּרְחָב, יְחַלְּצֵנִי כִּי חָפֵץ בִּי: (כא) יִגְמְלֵנִי ה' כְּצִדְקִי, כְּבֹר יָדַי יָשִׁיב לִי: (כב) כִּי שָׁמַרְתִּי דַּרְכֵי ה', וְלֹא רָשַׁעְתִּי מֵאֱלֹקָי : (כג) כִּי כָל מִשְׁפָּטָיו לְנֶגְדִּי, וְחֻקֹּתָיו לֹא אָסִיר מֶנִּי: (כד) וָאֱהִי תָמִים עִמּוֹ, וָאֶשְׁתַּמֵּר מֵעֲוֹנִי: (כה) וַיָּשֶׁב ה' לִי כְצִדְקִי כְּבֹר יָדַי לְנֶגֶד עֵינָיו:
(20) He brought me out to a wide-open space, He set me free for He was pleased with me. (21) Hashem rewarded me for my righteousness; He repaid me according to the cleanness of my hands. (22) For I have kept to Hashem’s ways. I did no intentional evil before my G-d. (23) For [I have kept] all His rational laws (mishpatim) before me. And I did not put His unexplained statutes (chukim) away from my thoughts. (24) I was sincerely committed to Him and I guarded against my sin. (25) Hashem repaid me for my righteousness, according to the cleanness of my hands before His eyes.
PART 6. THE WAYS OF HASHEMDavid turns to Hashem, declaring that He deals with man as man deals with Him. David then recalls that there are times when Hashem does the opposite of what people are expecting, and that is for good reason.
(כו) עִם חָסִיד תִּתְחַסָּד, עִם גְּבַר תָּמִים תִּתַּמָּם: (כז) עִם נָבָר תִּתְבָּרָר, וְעִם עִקֵּשׁ תִּתְפַּתָּל: (כח) כִּי אַתָּה עַם עָנִי תוֹשִׁיעַ, וְעֵינַיִם רָמוֹת תַּשְׁפִּיל: (כט) כִּי אַתָּה תָּאִיר נֵרִי, ה' אֱלֹקַי יַגִּיהַּ חָשְׁכִּי: (ל) כִּי בְךָ אָרֻץ גְּדוּד, וּבֵאלֹקַי אֲדַלֶּג שׁוּר:
(26) With the devoted (the chasid) You act devotedly, with the blameless man You act faultlessly. (27) With the pure You act purely, and with the devious You act with twisted turnings. (28) For You save a humble people but You bring low haughty eyes. (29) For, it is You Who lights my lamp. Hashem, my G-d, illuminates my darkness. (30) For with You I rush an [enemy] camp, and with my G-d I leap over a wall.
PART 7. IN PRAISE OF HASHEM. David now sings in praise of Hashem and His ways. Whatever Hashem does can be totally relied upon. David extends his praise of Hashem by describing how Hashem has given him all the resources he needs to follow in His ways and to overcome resha’im.
(לא) הָאֵ־ל תָּמִים דַּרְכּוֹ, אִמְרַת ה' צְרוּפָה, מָגֵן הוּא לְכֹל הַחֹסִים בּוֹ: (לב) כִּי מִי אֱלוֹקַּ מִבַּלְעֲדֵי ה', וּמִי צוּר זוּלָתִי אֱלֹקֵינוּ: (לג) הָאֵל הַמְאַזְּרֵנִי חָיִל, וַיִּתֵּן תָּמִים דַּרְכִּי: (לד) מְשַׁוֶּה רַגְלַי כָּאַיָּלוֹת, וְעַל בָּמֹתַי יַעֲמִידֵנִי: (לה) מְלַמֵּד יָדַי לַמִּלְחָמָה, וְנִחֲתָה קֶשֶׁת נְחוּשָׁה זְרוֹעֹתָי:
(31) G-d’s way is perfectly correct. Hashem’s word is unadulterated. He is a shield for all who seek refuge in Him. (32) For who is G-d other than Hashem? Who is a Rock except for our G-d? (33) The G-d Who girds me with might; He makes my way perfect. (34) He sets my feet as the deer and lets me stand firmly upon my high position. (35) He trains my hands for combat so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze.
PART 8. A WARRIOR’S GRATITUDE. David turns directly to Hashem with gratitude and exultation as he tells of how Divine help enabled him to overcome his enemy in battle.
(לו) וַתִּתֶּן לִי מָגֵן יִשְׁעֶךָ, וִימִינְךָ תִסְעָדֵנִי, וְעַנְוַתְךָ תַרְבֵּנִי: (לז) תַּרְחִיב צַעֲדִי תַחְתָּי, וְלֹא מָעֲדוּ קַרְסֻלָּי: (לח) אֶרְדּוֹף אוֹיְבַי וְאַשִּׂיגֵם, וְלֹא אָשׁוּב עַד כַּלּוֹתָם: (לט) אֶמְחָצֵם וְלֹא יֻכְלוּ קוּם יִפְּלוּ תַּחַת רַגְלָי: (מ) וַתְּאַזְּרֵנִי חַיִל לַמִּלְחָמָה, תַּכְרִיעַ קָמַי תַּחְתָּי:
(36) You have given me the shield of Your protection. Your right hand supports me and Your humility has enlarged me. (37) You widened my stride beneath me, my feet did not slip. (38) I pursued my foes and caught them. I did not return until they were completely vanquished. (39) I struck them, they could not get up; they lay fallen at my feet. (40) You girded me with strength for battle; You subdued my adversaries before me.
PART 9. A KING’S GRATITUDE. David began speaking as a warrior. Now he speaks as a king and military leader, defeating entire armies, but only through Hashem’s help.
(מא) וְאֹיְבַי נָתַתָּה לִּי עֹרֶף, וּמְשַׂנְאַי אַצְמִיתֵם: (מב) יְשַׁוְּעוּ וְאֵין מוֹשִׁיעַ, עַל ה' וְלֹא עָנָם: (מג) וְאֶשְׁחָקֵם כְּעָפָר עַל פְּנֵי רוּחַ, כְּטִיט חוּצוֹת אֲרִיקֵם: (מד) תְּפַלְּטֵנִי מֵרִיבֵי עָם, תְּשִׂימֵנִי לְרֹאשׁ גּוֹיִם, עַם לֹא יָדַעְתִּי יַעַבְדוּנִי: (מה) לְשֵׁמַע אֹזֶן יִשָּׁמְעוּ לִי, בְּנֵי נֵכָר יְכַחֲשׁוּ לִי: (מו) בְּנֵי נֵכָר יִבֹּלוּ, וְיַחְרְגוּ מִמִּסְגְּרוֹתֵיהֶם: (מז) חַי ה' וּבָרוּךְ צוּרִי, וְיָרוּם אֱלוֹקֵי יִשְׁעִי: (מח) הָאֵ־ל הַנּוֹתֵן נְקָמוֹת לִי, וַיַּדְבֵּר עַמִּים תַּחְתָּי: (מט) מְפַלְּטִי מֵאֹיְבָי, אַף מִן קָמַי תְּרוֹמְמֵנִי, מֵאִישׁ חָמָס תַּצִּילֵנִי:
(41) You made my enemies turn their backs and flee from me; I decimated my foes. (42) They cried out [to their gods], but there was no one to save them. [Then] to Hashem, but He did not answer them. (43) I had ground them up like dust in the wind. I had trod them flat like mud of the streets. (44) You delivered me from warring nations. [In doing so,] You made me the head of nations. [As a result, a distant] people that I did not know has been made to serve me. (45) Upon hearing they obey me. Foreign peoples cower before me. (46) Foreign peoples wilt. They tremble with fear within their fortified enclosures. (47) Hashem, lives! Blessed is my Rock. The G-d of my rescue is exalted. (48) The G-d Who grants me vengeance and leads nations below me. (49) You rescue me from my foes. You even raise me above my adversaries. You rescue me from the man of violence.
PART 10. CONCLUSION. As the king of the Jewish people, he is grateful for having been anointed by Hashem. He expresses his hope that the royal house of David has been firmly established and that Hashem’s favor will extend to his descendants for all time.
(נ) עַל כֵּן אוֹדְךָ בַגּוֹיִם ה', וּלְשִׁמְךָ אֲזַמֵּרָה: (נא) מַגְדִּיל יְשׁוּעוֹת מַלְכּוֹ, וְעֹשֶׂה חֶסֶד לִמְשִׁיחוֹ, לְדָוִד וּלְזַרְעוֹ עַד עוֹלָם:
(50) Therefore, I shall give thanks to You among the nations, Hashem. I will sing praise to Your Name. (51) Who performs great victories of deliverance for His king. He does kindness to His anointed one, to David, and to his offspring, forever.
Learning the Mizmor
(א) לַמְנַצֵּחַ לְעֶבֶד ה' לְדָוִד 
אֲשֶׁר דִּבֶּר לַה' אֶת דִּבְרֵי הַשִּׁירָה הַזֹּאת
This song has been prepared for the musician — לַמְנַצֵּחַ , who will perform it. It is a mizmor composed by the servant of Hashem, by David  לְעֶבֶד ה' לְדָוִד who spoke the words of this song to Hashem — אֲשֶׁר דִּבֶּר לַה' אֶת דִּבְרֵי הַשִּׁירָה הַזֹּאת .
בְּיוֹם הִצִּיל ה' אוֹתוֹ 
מִכַּף כָּל אֹיְבָיו וּמִיַּד שָׁאוּל:
He composed the song towards the end of his life on a day — -בְּיוֹם in which he recalled how Hashem had delivered him — הִצִּיל ה' אוֹתוֹ from the hand of all his enemies — מִכַּף כָּל אֹיְבָיו , and from the hand of Shaul — וּמִיַּד שָׁאוּל .
(ב) וַיֹּאמַר אֶרְחָמְךָ ה' חִזְקִי:
He said  וַיֹּאמַר : I will sing to express my love for You, Hashem — אֶרְחָמְךָ ה' . You are my Strength — חִזְקִי .
(ג) ה' סַלְעִי וּמְצוּדָתִי וּמְפַלְטִי
Hashem is my towering Rock — -ה' סַלְעִי to Whom I flee when I am beset by harmful forces. He is also my Fortress — וּמְצוּדָתִי built high up on the Rock. And He is my Rescuer — וּמְפַלְטִי , Who brings me up into safety.
אֵ־לִי צוּרִי אֶחֱסֶה בּוֹ
He is my G-d, my solid Rock — אֵ־לִי צוּרִי . I rely on Him — -אֶחֱסֶה בּוֹ to give me strength so that I am prepared for the battle with evil.
מָגִנִּי וְקֶרֶן יִשְׁעִי מִשְׂגַּבִּי:
And when I contend with evil He is my Shield — -מָגִנִּי to protect me, the Horn of my Deliverance — -וְקֶרֶן יִשְׁעִי to strike at evil, and my Uplifter — -מִשְׂגַּבִּי to help me overwhelm my enemies.
(ד) מְהֻלָּל אֶקְרָא ה' 
וּמִן אֹיְבַי אִוָּשֵׁעַ:
always call unto Hashem with praise — -מְהֻלָּל אֶקְרָא ה' even when I am not in distress. Then, when troubles arise, I am saved from my enemies — וּמִן אֹיְבַי -אִוָּשֵׁעַ without even having to ask for help.
(ה) אֲפָפוּנִי חֶבְלֵי מָוֶת 
וְנַחֲלֵי בְלִיַּעַל יְבַעֲתוּנִי:
I remember the times of great distress. Those were times when the pangs of death encompassed me — -אֲפָפוּנִי חֶבְלֵי מָוֶת and the hostile encampments of lawless men  -וְנַחֲלֵי בְלִיַּעַל terrorized me — יְבַעֲתוּנִי .
(ו) חֶבְלֵי שְׁאוֹל סְבָבוּנִי 
קִדְּמוּנִי מוֹקְשֵׁי מָוֶת:
I felt as though I had already died so that the pains of being in the grave encircled me — -חֶבְלֵי שְׁאוֹל סְבָבוּנִי and the snares of death confronted me — קִדְּמוּנִי מוֹקְשֵׁי מָוֶת .
(ז) בַּצַּר לִי אֶקְרָא ה'
וְאֶל אֱלֹקַי אֲשַׁוֵּעַ 
יִשְׁמַע מֵהֵיכָלוֹ קוֹלִי 
וְשַׁוְעָתִי לְפָנָיו תָּבוֹא בְאָזְנָיו:
ln my distress I would only call upon Hashem — -בַּצַּר לִי אֶקְרָא ה' and no other, and to my G-d I would cry — וְאֶל אֱלֹקַי אֲשַׁוֵּעַ . From His abode in Heaven He would hear my voice — -יִשְׁמַע מֵהֵיכָלוֹ קוֹלִי whenever I called. My cry to Him would reach His ears immediately — -וְשַׁוְעָתִי לְפָנָיו תָּבוֹא בְאָזְנָיו and He would help me.
(ח) וַתִּגְעַשׁ וַתִּרְעַשׁ הָאָרֶץ 
וּמוֹסְדֵי הָרִים יִרְגָּזוּ 
וַיִּתְגָּעֲשׁוּ כִּי חָרָה לוֹ:
And the earth heaved and shuddered  וַתִּגְעַשׁ וַתִּרְעַשׁ הָאָרֶץ , the foundations of the mountains shook — וּמוֹסְדֵי הָרִים יִרְגָּזוּ ; they quaked when His wrath flared — וַיִּתְגָּעֲשׁוּ כִּי חָרָה לוֹ .
(ט) עָלָה עָשָׁן בְּאַפּוֹ 
וְאֵשׁ מִפִּיו תֹּאכֵל 
גֶּחָלִים בָּעֲרוּ מִמֶּנּוּ:
Smoke rose from His nostrils — עָלָה עָשָׁן בְּאַפּוֹ , a devouring fire issued from His mouth — וְאֵשׁ מִפִּיו תֹּאכֵל , flaming coals blazed forth from Him — גֶּחָלִים בָּעֲרוּ מִמֶּנּוּ .
(י) וַיֵּט שָׁמַיִם וַיֵּרַד וַעֲרָפֶל תַּחַת רַגְלָיו:
He bent the heavens down — -וַיֵּט שָׁמַיִם וַיֵּרַד and swiftly descended to take revenge, with thick darkness — וַעֲרָפֶל beneath His feet — -תַּחַת רַגְלָיו so that the resha’im would be unable to see the threat until it was already upon them.
(יא) וַיִּרְכַּב עַל כְּרוּב וַיָּעֹף 
וַיֵּדֶא עַל כַּנְפֵי רוּחַ:
As a symbol of the speed with which he descended to help His people, He mounted a heavenly malach (angel) and swooped down — וַיִּרְכַּב עַל כְּרוּב וַיָּעֹף . He glided on the wings of the wind — וַיֵּדֶא עַל כַּנְפֵי רוּחַ .
(יב) יָשֶׁת חֹשֶׁךְ סִתְרוֹ 
סְבִיבוֹתָיו סֻכָּתוֹ
He made darkness His concealment — יָשֶׁת חֹשֶׁךְ סִתְרוֹ , so that the unworthy could not perceive Him. The darkness surrounded His shelter — -סְבִיבוֹתָיו סֻכָּתוֹ on earth, symbolized by the sukkah, within which the righteous are gathered in the light.
חֶשְׁכַת מַיִם עָבֵי שְׁחָקִים:
There was even darkness from clear water — חֶשְׁכַת מַיִם borne by the clouds of heaven — עָבֵי שְׁחָקִים , just as the darkness of Hashem’s anger came from the purity of His kedushah.
(יג) מִנֹּגַהּ נֶגְדּוֹ עָבָיו 
עָבְרוּ בָּרָד וְגַחֲלֵי אֵשׁ:
From out of the brilliant glow  -מִנֹּגַהּ that came from before Him — -נֶגְדּוֹ to save me, there came the darkness of His clouds  עָבָיו , which passed across — -עָבְרוּ to punish the resha’im, and the darkness was punctuated with hail and fiery coals — -בָּרָד וְגַחֲלֵי אֵשׁ like the eruption of a raging volcano.
(יד) וַיַּרְעֵם בַּשָּׁמַיִם ה' 
וְעֶלְיוֹן יִתֵּן קֹלוֹ בָּרָד וְגַחֲלֵי אֵשׁ:
And Hashem thundered in the heavens — וַיַּרְעֵם בַּשָּׁמַיִם ה' , the Most High raised His voice — -וְעֶלְיוֹן יִתֵּן קֹלוֹ accompanied by hail and fiery coals — בָּרָד וְגַחֲלֵי אֵשׁ .
(טו) וַיִּשְׁלַח חִצָּיו וַיְפִיצֵם 
וּבְרָקִים רָב וַיְהֻמֵּם:
He sent forth  -וַיִּשְׁלַח His arrows of lightning — -חִצָּיו and He scattered the enemy  וַיְפִיצֵם . He discharged lightning bolts — -וּבְרָקִים רָב and He terrified them — וַיְהֻמֵּם .
(טז) וַיֵּרָאוּ אֲפִיקֵי מַיִם 
וַיִּגָּלוּ מוֹסְדוֹת תֵּבֵל מִגַּעֲרָתְךָ ה' 
מִנִּשְׁמַת רוּחַ אַפֶּךָ:
The seabed became visible — -וַיֵּרָאוּ אֲפִיקֵי מַיִם and the foundations of the earth were laid bare — וַיִּגָּלוּ מוֹסְדוֹת תֵּבֵל , as in the Miracle at the Sea. All this was by Your rebuke, Hashem — -מִגַּעֲרָתְךָ ה' by the blowing of the breath of Your nostrils — -מִנִּשְׁמַת רוּחַ אַפֶּךָ to dry out the sea of troubles in which I was drowning.
(יז) יִשְׁלַח מִמָּרוֹם יִקָּחֵנִי 
יַמְשֵׁנִי מִמַּיִם רַבִּים:
He sent His help from on high — -יִשְׁלַח מִמָּרוֹם and took me — -יִקָּחֵנִי to safety. He drew me out of deep waters — יַמְשֵׁנִי מִמַּיִם רַבִּים .
(יח) יַצִּילֵנִי מֵאֹיְבִי עָז וּמִשֹּׂנְאַי 
כִּי אָמְצוּ מִמֶּנִּי:
He saved me from my powerful foe — יַצִּילֵנִי מֵאֹיְבִי עָז And He saved me from my enemies — -וּמִשֹּׂנְאַי when they overpowered me — כִּי אָמְצוּ מִמֶּנִּי .
(יט) יְקַדְּמוּנִי בְיוֹם אֵידִי 
וַיְהִי ה' לְמִשְׁעָן לִי:
They advanced to attack me — -יְקַדְּמוּנִי on my day of disaster — בְיוֹם אֵידִי , but Hashem became my support — וַיְהִי ה' לְמִשְׁעָן לִי .
(כ) וַיּוֹצִיאֵנִי לַמֶּרְחָב 
יְחַלְּצֵנִי כִּי חָפֵץ בִּי:
He brought me out to a wide-open space of freedom  -וַיּוֹצִיאֵנִי לַמֶּרְחָב where I was no longer trapped. He set me free for He was pleased with me — יְחַלְּצֵנִי כִּי חָפֵץ בִּי , His obedient servant.
(כא) יִגְמְלֵנִי ה' כְּצִדְקִי 
כְּבֹר יָדַי יָשִׁיב לִי:
Hashem rewarded me — -יִגְמְלֵנִי ה' for my righteousness — -כְּצִדְקִי in contrast to the evil of my enemies. He repaid me according to the cleanness of my hands — כְּבֹר יָדַי יָשִׁיב לִי , unsullied by sin.
(כב) כִּי שָׁמַרְתִּי דַּרְכֵי ה' 
וְלֹא רָשַׁעְתִּי מֵאֱלֹקָי:
For I have kept to Hashem’s ways  כִּי שָׁמַרְתִּי דַּרְכֵי ה' , doing the right thing because I am His servant and I want to do His will, not because it seemed the proper thing to do. I did no intentional evil before my G-d — וְלֹא רָשַׁעְתִּי מֵאֱלֹקָי , even when I was drawn to it.
(כג) כִּי כָל מִשְׁפָּטָיו לְנֶגְדִּי
For I have kept all His rational laws (mishpatim) constantly before me — כִּי כָל מִשְׁפָּטָיו לְנֶגְדִּי , even though I would not have been likely to forget them. I reviewed them regularly and did not rely on having studied them long ago.
וְחֻקֹּתָיו לֹא אָסִיר מֶנִּי:
And I did not put His unexplained statutes (chukim) away from my thoughts  וְחֻקֹּתָיו לֹא אָסִיר מֶנִּי  because I knew that I could not rely on my own reasoning to avoid violating them.
(כד) וָאֱהִי תָמִים עִמּוֹ 
וָאֶשְׁתַּמֵּר מֵעֲוֹנִי:
I was sincerely committed to Him — -וָאֱהִי תָמִים עִמּוֹ and I guarded myself against any tendency to justify my sin — -וָאֶשְׁתַּמֵּר מֵעֲוֹנִי by bending the interpretation of the halachah.
(כה) וַיָּשֶׁב ה' לִי כְצִדְקִי 
כְּבֹר יָדַי לְנֶגֶד עֵינָיו:
Hashem repaid me — -וַיָּשֶׁב ה' לִי for my righteousness — כְצִדְקִי , according to the cleanness of my hands before His eyes — כְּבֹר יָדַי לְנֶגֶד עֵינָיו , as judged by Him and not by other men.
(כו) עִם חָסִיד תִּתְחַסָּד 
עִם גְּבַר תָּמִים תִּתַּמָּם:
Hashem, You repay measure for measure. With the devoted person You act devotedly — עִם חָסִיד תִּתְחַסָּד , giving him more than he deserves. With the blameless man You act faultlessly — עִם גְּבַר תָּמִים תִּתַּמָּם .
(כז) עִם נָבָר תִּתְבָּרָר 
וְעִם עִקֵּשׁ תִּתְפַּתָּל:
With the pure You act purely — עִם נָבָר תִּתְבָּרָר , and with the devious You act with twisted turnings — וְעִם עִקֵּשׁ תִּתְפַּתָּל .
(כח) כִּי אַתָּה עַם עָנִי תוֹשִׁיעַ 
וְעֵינַיִם רָמוֹת תַּשְׁפִּיל:
But there are times when a just reward calls for the opposite of people’s behavior: For You save a humble people — כִּי אַתָּה עַם עָנִי תוֹשִׁיעַ , who see themselves as undeserving; but You bring low people with haughty eyes  וְעֵינַיִם רָמוֹת תַּשְׁפִּיל , who act as though they deserve the best out of life.
(כט) כִּי אַתָּה תָּאִיר נֵרִי 
ה' אֱלֹקַי יַגִּיהַּ חָשְׁכִּי:
For כִּי  when the world is shrouded in darkness, it is You Who lights my lamp  אַתָּה תָּאִיר נֵרִי  to bring me help. Hashem, my G-d, illuminates my darkness — ה' אֱלֹקַי יַגִּיהַּ חָשְׁכִּי  to dispel the gloom of distress.
(ל) כִּי בְךָ אָרֻץ גְּדוּד 
וּבֵאלֹקַי אֲדַלֶּג שׁוּר:
For with my trust in You — -כִּי בְךָ can overcome my own weakness and even rush an enemy camp  -אָרֻץ גְּדוּד without fear, and with my G-d I can leap over a wall — -וּבֵאלֹקַי אֲדַלֶּג שׁוּר to attack a fortress.
(לא) הָאֵ־ל תָּמִים דַּרְכּוֹ 
אִמְרַת ה' צְרוּפָה
Despite His unlimited power to do as He pleases, G-d’s way is perfectly correct — -הָאֵ־ל תָּמִים דַּרְכּוֹ under every condition; He deals with each person justly and exactly as he deserves. Hashem’s word is unadulterated  אִמְרַת ה' צְרוּפָה , without any elements of falsehood. He keeps His promises without fail.
מָגֵן הוּא לְכֹל הַחֹסִים בּוֹ:
Therefore, He is a reliable shield for all who seek refuge in Him — מָגֵן הוּא לְכֹל הַחֹסִים בּוֹ and who commit themselves to observe His Torah.
(לב) כִּי מִי אֱלוֹ־הַּ מִבַּלְעֲדֵי ה' 
וּמִי צוּר זוּלָתִי אֱלֹקֵינוּ:
For who is G-d other than Hashem — כִּי מִי אֱלוֹ־הַּ מִבַּלְעֲדֵי ה' ? Who can question His decrees? Only the One G-d Who created the world can establish its laws. Who is a Rock except for our G-d — וּמִי צוּר זוּלָתִי אֱלֹקֵינוּ ? Who can withstand His decrees if He has set our enemies against us? Only by observing His mitzvos and accepting Him as our G-d can we overcome them.
(לג) הָאֵ־ל הַמְאַזְּרֵנִי חָיִל 
וַיִּתֵּן תָּמִים דַּרְכִּי:
Only He is the G-d Who girds me with might  -הָאֵ־ל הַמְאַזְּרֵנִי חָיִל for He is the Source of might. And because His way is perfect He makes my way perfect — וַיִּתֵּן תָּמִים דַּרְכִּי .
(לד) מְשַׁוֶּה רַגְלַי כָּאַיָּלוֹת 
וְעַל בָּמֹתַי יַעֲמִידֵנִי:
He sets my feet to run as swiftly as the deer — -מְשַׁוֶּה רַגְלַי כָּאַיָּלוֹת when I pursue my enemies, and lets me stand firmly upon my high position — וְעַל בָּמֹתַי יַעֲמִידֵנִי .
(לה) מְלַמֵּד יָדַי לַמִּלְחָמָה 
וְנִחֲתָה קֶשֶׁת נְחוּשָׁה זְרוֹעֹתָי:
He trains my hands for the tactics of combat  -מְלַמֵּד יָדַי לַמִּלְחָמָה so that my arms can even bend a stiff bow of bronze  וְנִחֲתָה קֶשֶׁת נְחוּשָׁה זְרוֹעֹתָי .
(לו) וַתִּתֶּן לִי מָגֵן יִשְׁעֶךָ
You have given me what I need when I have to defend myself. You have given me the shield of Your protection  וַתִּתֶּן לִי מָגֵן יִשְׁעֶךָ and so I emerge unscathed from every battle.
וִימִינְךָ תִסְעָדֵנִי
And when I have to attack the enemy it is Your right hand that supports me  וִימִינְךָ תִסְעָדֵנִי .
וְעַנְוַתְךָ תַרְבֵּנִי:
And in condescending to watch out for me, Your humility  -וְעַנְוַתְךָ has magnified me  תַרְבֵּנִי , so that my limited forces are able defeat the more numerous foe.
(לז) תַּרְחִיב צַעֲדִי תַחְתָּי 
וְלֹא מָעֲדוּ קַרְסֻלָּי:
You widened my stride beneath me — -תַּרְחִיב צַעֲדִי תַחְתָּי so that my feet did not slip — -וְלֹא מָעֲדוּ קַרְסֻלָּי in battle.
(לח) אֶרְדּוֹף אוֹיְבַי וְאַשִּׂיגֵם 
וְלֹא אָשׁוּב עַד כַּלּוֹתָם:
I pursued my foes — -אֶרְדּוֹף אוֹיְבַי and caught them — וְאַשִּׂיגֵם . I did not find it necessary to return  -וְלֹא אָשׁוּב until they were completely vanquished — עַד כַּלּוֹתָם . Neither wind nor rain, neither heat nor cold forced me to interrupt my mission.
(לט) אֶמְחָצֵם וְלֹא יֻכְלוּ קוּם 
יִפְּלוּ תַּחַת רַגְלָי:
Even when I struck them  -אֶמְחָצֵם lightly, they fell and could not get up — וְלֹא יֻכְלוּ קוּם ; they lay fallen at my feet — -יִפְּלוּ תַּחַת רַגְלָי because of their own weakness.
(מ) וַתְּאַזְּרֵנִי חַיִל לַמִּלְחָמָה 
תַּכְרִיעַ קָמַי תַּחְתָּי:
You girded me with strength for battle — -וַתְּאַזְּרֵנִי חַיִל לַמִּלְחָמָה so that I could withstand the rigors of combat without tiring, You subdued my adversaries before me — תַּכְרִיעַ קָמַי תַּחְתָּי , weakening them so that I could more easily overcome them.
(מא) וְאֹיְבַי נָתַתָּה לִּי עֹרֶף 
וּמְשַׂנְאַי אַצְמִיתֵם:
You made my enemies turn their backs and flee from me — וְאֹיְבַי נָתַתָּה לִּי עֹרֶף ; I decimated my foes  וּמְשַׂנְאַי אַצְמִיתֵם .
(מב) יְשַׁוְּעוּ וְאֵין מוֹשִׁיעַ 
עַל ה' וְלֹא עָנָם:
They cried out — -יְשַׁוְּעוּ to their false gods, but no one came to save them — וְאֵין מוֹשִׁיעַ . Finally they cried out to Hashem — עַל ה' , but since they had scorned Him in the past, He did not answer them — וְלֹא עָנָם .
(מג) וְאֶשְׁחָקֵם כְּעָפָר עַל פְּנֵי רוּחַ 
כְּטִיט חוּצוֹת אֲרִיקֵם:
They ran in all directions; it was as though I had ground them up — וְאֶשְׁחָקֵם like dust in the wind — כְּעָפָר עַל פְּנֵי רוּחַ . They lost the ability to fight back; it was as though I had trod them flat like mud of the streets — כְּטִיט חוּצוֹת אֲרִיקֵם .
(מד) תְּפַלְּטֵנִי מֵרִיבֵי עָם 
תְּשִׂימֵנִי לְרֹאשׁ גּוֹיִם 
עַם לֹא יָדַעְתִּי יַעַבְדוּנִי:
You delivered me from warring nations  -תְּפַלְּטֵנִי מֵרִיבֵי עָם that constantly threatened my existence. In doing so You made me the head of nations — תְּשִׂימֵנִי לְרֹאשׁ גּוֹיִם . As a result, a distant people that I did not know has been made to serve me — עַם לֹא יָדַעְתִּי יַעַבְדוּנִי .
(מה) לְשֵׁמַע אֹזֶן יִשָּׁמְעוּ לִי 
בְּנֵי נֵכָר יְכַחֲשׁוּ לִי:
Upon hearing my orders they obey me — -לְשֵׁמַע אֹזֶן יִשָּׁמְעוּ לִי even when I am not there to enforce my will. Foreign peoples cower before me — בְּנֵי נֵכָר יְכַחֲשׁוּ לִי .
(מו) בְּנֵי נֵכָר יִבֹּלוּ 
וְיַחְרְגוּ מִמִּסְגְּרוֹתֵיהֶם:
Foreign peoples wilt like a leaf and lose courage — בְּנֵי נֵכָר יִבֹּלוּ . They tremble with fear — -וְיַחְרְגוּ within their fortified enclosures — מִמִּסְגְּרוֹתֵיהֶם .
(מז) חַי ה' וּבָרוּךְ צוּרִי
Who has done all this? Hashem, lives — חַי ה' ! Blessed is my Rock — וּבָרוּךְ צוּרִי . May He continue to protect me.
וְיָרוּם אֱלוֹקֵי יִשְׁעִי:
The G-d of my rescue is exalted — -וְיָרוּם אֱלוֹקֵי יִשְׁעִי and will remain so. The oppressors should be afraid because His loftiness is forever!
(מח) הָאֵ־ל הַנּוֹתֵן נְקָמוֹת לִי 
וַיַּדְבֵּר עַמִּים תַּחְתָּי:
Blessed is the G-d Who grants me the strength to take vengeance  הָאֵ־ל הַנּוֹתֵן נְקָמוֹת לִי  upon my enemies. He leads nations to take their place below me  וַיַּדְבֵּר עַמִּים תַּחְתָּי .
(מט) מְפַלְּטִי מֵאֹיְבָי 
אַף מִן קָמַי תְּרוֹמְמֵנִי
You rescue me from my foes — מְפַלְּטִי מֵאֹיְבָי ; You even raise me above my adversaries  אַף מִן קָמַי תְּרוֹמְמֵנִי .
מֵאִישׁ חָמָס תַּצִּילֵנִי:
You rescue me from the man of violence  -מֵאִישׁ חָמָס תַּצִּילֵנִי who hopes to kill me in whatever way he can because of his intense hatred of me.
(נ) עַל כֵּן אוֹדְךָ בַגּוֹיִם ה' 
וּלְשִׁמְךָ אֲזַמֵּרָה:
Therefore, because of this great deliverance, I shall give thanks to You among the nations who serve me, Hashem  -עַל כֵּן אוֹדְךָ בַגּוֹיִם ה' because it is all Your doing. I will sing praise to Your Name  -וּלְשִׁמְךָ אֲזַמֵּרָה in their presence because through their defeat they have increased the grandeur of Your Name.
(נא) מַגְדִּיל יְשׁוּעוֹת מַלְכּוֹ
I will acknowledge Hashem as the One Who performs great victories of deliverance for His king — מַגְדִּיל יְשׁוּעוֹת מַלְכּוֹ .
וְעֹשֶׂה חֶסֶד לִמְשִׁיחוֹ 
לְדָוִד וּלְזַרְעוֹ עַד עוֹלָם:
He does so, not as a reward and not because He has anointed me king, but out of kindness to His anointed one — וְעֹשֶׂה חֶסֶד לִמְשִׁיחוֹ , to David — לְדָוִד . And so may He do to his offspring, forever — וּלְזַרְעוֹ עַד עוֹלָם .
Living the Mizmor
Listed below are some of the thoughts that you might have in mind when you say the words of the mizmor as a tefillah and some of the lessons that you can draw from this mizmor.
Lessons for Life - Your Attitude.
[18:1] TOTAL DEVOTION. – לַמְנַצֵּחַ לְעֶבֶד ה' לְדָוִד – “For the musician, by the servant of Hashem, by David.” Aspire to identify yourself as an eved (servant) of Hashem, following David’s example. This means no matter where you go, no matter what you do, your thoughts should always be of Hashem, your Master.
Tefillos for Life - Your Gratitude.
[18:1] TODAY. – בְּיוֹם הִצִּיל ה' אוֹתוֹ – “On a day that Hashem had delivered him.” Your gratitude to Hashem for all that He has done for you over the course of your life should be fresh and vibrant, as though it happened today.
[18:3] FORTRESS. – ה' סַלְעִי וּמְצוּדָתִי – “Hashem is my Rock, my Fortress.” As you express your total reliance on Hashem, form images in your mind of His fortress-like strength as it pertains to you personally.
Tefillos for Life - Your Relationship with Hashem.
[18:2] LOVE. – אֶרְחָמְךָ ה' חִזְקִי – “I will [sing of my] love for You, Hashem, for You are my Strength.” As you express your love for Hashem in song, think how He provides you with the strength to face all challenges that life has to offer.
[18:4] UNCONDITIONAL BOND. – מְהֻלָּל אֶקְרָא ה' וּמִן אֹיְבַי אִוָּשֵׁעַ – “I call unto Hashem with praise. I am saved from my enemies.” Think of your feeling of love towards Hashem as being unconditional, based on lifelong gratitude. Thus, you want to praise Him even when you are not in distress. His love for you will then also be unconditional. He will save you from enemies without even having to ask for help.
Tehillos for Life - Public Acclaim .
[18:50] SANCTIFY THE NAME. – עַל כֵּן אוֹדְךָ בַגּוֹיִם ה' וּלְשִׁמְךָ אֲזַמֵּרָה – “Therefore, I shall give thanks to You among the nations, Hashem. I will sing praise to Your Name.” Share your experiences and your knowledge of Hashem with all people within the sound of your voice.
The primary sources used in the interpretation of the verses of this mizmor are listed below.
א - רש"י, רד"ק, רשר"ה, נר לרגלי
ב - רש"י, באר אברהם
ג - מלבי"ם, רשר"ה
ד - מלבי"ם
ה - מלבי"ם
ו - מלבי"ם
ז - רד"ק
ח - רש"י
ט - רש"י
י - מצודות, נר לרגלי
יא - נר לרגלי
יב - רד"ק, נר לרגלי
יג - רד"ק, נר לרגלי
יד - מצודות
טו - מצודות
טז - רש"י, רד"ק, מצודות
יז - רש"י, מצודות
יח - מצודות
יט - רש"י
כ - מצודות, נר לרגלי
כא - רש"י, רד"ק
כב - מלבי"ם
כג - רש"י, רד"ק, מלבי"ם, נר לרגלי
כד - רד"ק, מצודות, נר לרגלי
כה - מצודות
כו - רש"י, רד"ק, נר לרגלי
כז - אבן עזרא, מצודות
כח - מצודות, מלבי"ם
כט - מצודות, רד"ק
ל - מצודות, רד"ק
לא - רש"י, מצודות, רד"ק, נר לרגלי
לב - אבן עזרא, מצודות, רד"ק, נר לרגלי
לג - אבן עזרא, רד"ק
לד - אבן עזרא, רד"ק
לה - רש"י, מצודות, נר לרגלי
לו - מצודות, רד"ק, מלבי"ם
לז - רש"י, רד"ק
לח - מלבי"ם
לט - מצודות, מלבי"ם
מ - רד"ק, נר לרגלי
מא - רש"י
מב - רש"י, נר לרגלי
מג - רש"י, מלבי"ם
מד - מצודות
מה - רד"ק
מו - רש"י, אבן עזרא, רד"ק
מז - רש"י, נר לרגלי
מח - רש"י, רד"ק
מט - מצודות, רד"ק, נר לרגלי
נ - מצודות, רד"ק, נר לרגלי
נא - מצודות, רד"ק, נר לרגלי