Father Boylan’s Commentary on Psalm 18 for the 31st Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B)
Posted by Dim Bulb on October 30, 2012
Please note that the verse numbering here follows that of the NRSV which (unlike the NAB) does not assign verse numbers to Psalm titles. For this reason the NAB verse numbering is usually one verse ahead of the NRSV. For the readers convenience I’ve included the NAB verse numbers in square brackets [...]. With one exception links are to the NRSV.
A SONG OF THANKSGIVING AND TRIUMPH
THE royal poet will sing a song of heartfelt praise and thanks for the special favours and mercies which God has granted to him. He has been rescued from many perils, and raised to the highest honours. In Ps 18:1-6 [2-7] we have a sort of summary of the psalm. The poet was in extreme peril through the plotting of his foes: he called on the Lord for help and was rescued. In Ps 18:7-19 [8-20] he describes the manner of his rescue. In a thunderstorm the Lord came down, and overwhelmed, and scattered his enemies. In Ps 18:20-24 [21-25] we are told that the merciful intervention of the Lord was due to the poet’s piety, and loyalty to God’s Law; for (as is shown in Ps 18:25-30 [26-31]) to the pious God showeth favour, and dealeth out mercy. Once more (Ps 18:31-45 [32-46]) the singer returns to what God has done for him. He has protected him in battle, smitten his foes, and humbled strange peoples beneath his rule. The poem closes (Ps 18:46-50 [47-51]) with the solemnly expressed resolution of the psalmist to praise his Lord among the gentiles.
This poem appears also in II Kings, xxii, as a poem of David. Though the text of 2 Sam 22, differs in a number of small points from the psalm-text, it is obviously the same poem as the one we have here. The Davidic origin of Psalm 18 is thus assured in a very satisfactory fashion. Internally the poem points to such an author as David. The poet is a general, and a king, and a victorious leader, who subdues peoples hitherto unknown to Israel. All this suits David better than any other king of Israel. The description of the coming of God in the thunderstorm reminds one of Hebrew poetry of the most ancient period (cf. Judges 5:4-5, and the Song of Deborah generally). We may, therefore, confidently accept the Davidic authorship of this poem. The circumstances of its composition (i.e., the title, see verse 1 in the NAB) are described in 2 Sam 22, in the same way as here.