New English Translation
8 Smoke ascended from[a] his nose;[b]
fire devoured as it came from his mouth.[c]
He hurled down fiery coals.[d]
9 He made the sky sink[e] as he descended;
a thick cloud was under his feet.
10 He mounted[f] a winged angel[g] and flew;
he glided[h] on the wings of the wind.[i]
- Psalm 18:8 tn Heb “within”; or “[from] within.” For a discussion of the use of the preposition ב (bet) here, see R. B. Chisholm, “An Exegetical and Theological Study of Psalm 18/2 Samuel 22” (Th.D. diss., Dallas Theological Seminary, 1983), 163-64.
- Psalm 18:8 tn Or “in his anger.” The noun אַף (ʾaf) can carry the abstract meaning “anger,” but the parallelism (note “from his mouth”) suggests the more concrete meaning “nose” here. See also v. 15, “the powerful breath of your nose.”
- Psalm 18:8 tn Heb “fire from his mouth devoured.” In this poetic narrative context the prefixed verbal form is best understood as a preterite indicating past tense, not an imperfect. Note the two perfect verbal forms in the verse.sn Fire devoured as it came from his mouth. For other examples of fire as a weapon in OT theophanies and ancient Near Eastern portrayals of warring gods and kings, see R. B. Chisholm, “An Exegetical and Theological Study of Psalm 18/2 Samuel 22” (Th.D. diss., Dallas Theological Seminary, 1983), 165-67.
- Psalm 18:8 tn Heb “coals burned from him.” Perhaps the psalmist pictures God’s fiery breath igniting coals (cf. Job 41:21), which he then hurls as weapons (cf. Ps 120:4).
- Psalm 18:9 tn The Hebrew verb נָטָה (natah) can carry the sense “[cause to] bend, bow down.” For example, Gen 49:15 pictures Issachar as a donkey that “bends” its shoulder or back under a burden. Here the Lord causes the sky, pictured as a dome or vault, to sink down as he descends in the storm.
- Psalm 18:10 tn Or “rode upon.”
- Psalm 18:10 tn Heb “a cherub.” Because of the typical associations of the word “cherub” in English with chubby winged babies, the term has been rendered “winged angel” in the translation.sn Winged angel (Heb “cherub”). Cherubim, as depicted in the OT, possess both human and animal (lion, ox, and eagle) characteristics (see Ezek 1:10; 10:14, 21; 41:18). They are pictured as winged creatures (Exod 25:20; 37:9; 1 Kgs 6:24-27; Ezek 10:8, 19) and serve as the very throne of God when the ark of the covenant is in view (Pss 80:1; 99:1; see Num 7:89; 1 Sam 4:4; 2 Sam 6:2; 2 Kgs 19:15). The picture of the Lord seated on the cherubim suggests they might be used by him as a vehicle, a function they carry out in Ezek 1:22-28 (the “living creatures” mentioned here are identified as cherubim in Ezek 10:20). In Ps 18:10 the image of a cherub serves to personify the wind (see the next line of the psalm).
- Psalm 18:10 tc 2 Sam 22:11 reads “appeared” (from רָאָה, raʾah); the relatively rare verb דָאָה (daʾah, “glide”) is more difficult and probably the original reading here in Ps 18.
- Psalm 18:10 sn The wings of the wind. Verse 10 may depict (1) the Lord riding a cherub, which is in turn propelled by the wind current. Another option (2) is that two different vehicles (a cherub and the wind) are envisioned. Yet another option (3) is that the wind is personified as a cherub. For a discussion of ancient Near Eastern parallels to the imagery in v. 10, see M. Weinfeld, “‘Rider of the Clouds’ and ‘Gatherer of the Clouds’,” JANESCU 5 (1973): 422-24.