Psalm 18 - Great Praise from a Place of Great Victory - Page 6 (series: Lessons on Psalms

by John Lowe
(Woodruff, S.C.)

10 And he rode upon a cherub, and did fly: yea, he did fly upon the wings of the wind.

And he rode upon a cherub, and did fly. The cherub in the theology of the Hebrews was a metaphorical representation of power and majesty in the image of a being of a high and celestial nature, “whose form is represented as composed from the figures of a man, ox, lion, and eagle,” (Ezekiel 1; 10). Cherubs are first mentioned as guarding the gates of Paradise (See Genesis 3:24{20]); then as carrying the throne of God upon their wings through the clouds (Ezekiel 1; 10); and also as figurines or images made of wood and overlaid with gold, over the cover of the ark, in the inner sanctuary of the tabernacle, and of the temple (See Exodus 25:18{21]; 1 Kings 6:23-28). The Shekinah, or visible symbol of the presence of God rested between the two cherubim in the temple; and for this reason, God is represented as "dwelling between the cherubim," (See Exodus 25:22; Numbers 7:89; Psalm 80:1{22]; Psalm 99:1). The cherubim are not to be regarded as real created beings, or as an order of angels like the seraphim (Isaiah 6:2-3), but as imagery representing majesty, and emblematic of the power and glory of God. Here God is represented as "riding on a cherub;" that is, as coming from heaven on the clouds which are regarded here as a cherub (compare Ezekiel 1); He is viewed as if, He were seated on his throne while being carried along in majesty and power amidst the storm and tempest (See Isaiah 14:13; Isaiah 37:16{23]).

The Targum{9], Septuagint, Syriac, and Arabic versions translates it in the plural form, "cherubim"; and the meaning may be either the angels, who are viewed as horses and chariots, on whom Jehovah rides, and who He makes use of when executing his wrath and vengeance (Zechariah 6:5{24]); or the ministers of the Gospel, who are the living creatures in Revelation 4:7{25]; and answer to the "cherubim" in Ezekiel's visions. The impression given is of God using the ministry of angels in raising such storms and tempests as are described here, whether they are interpreted literally or figuratively, and especially God’s use of angels to bring about many of those great events which take place in the administration of His providence; and particularly His immediate intervention in the affairs of men which manifest the remarkable judgments by which he punishes sinful nations, or in the remarkable deliverances which he works out for his people. His judgments come swiftly, as if He did fly upon the wings of the wind.

And did fly—meaning He seemed to move rapidly on the flying clouds.
Yea, he did fly upon the wings of the wind, which may mean the speedy help and assistance God gave to His Son, and gives to His people; and the swift destruction of their enemies (Psalm 104:326). The words in 2 Samuel 22:11, say the very same thing, "and he was seen upon the wings of the wind"; both are true, both suit His purpose, and both picture His majesty. Wings are ascribed to the winds by the Heathen poets, and they are represented as winged on ancient monuments. Rapidity of motion adds to the grandeur of the scene. Rapid motion is represented by the flight of birds; hence, the term wings is applied to winds to denote the rapidity of their movement. The whole illustration s designed to represent the majesty with which God seemed to be borne along on the tempest. The Hebrew word is a peculiar one, used of the swooping of birds of prey (See Deuteronomy 28:49; Jeremiah 48:40; Jeremiah 49:22).

11 He made darkness his secret place; his pavilion round about him were dark waters and thick clouds of the skies.

He made darkness his secret place. The Hebrew word rendered "secret place" means “a hiding,” and “something hidden, private, and secret.” Hence, it means a covering, a veil; it is applied to thunder: "I answered thee in the secret place of thunder;" that is, in the secret place or hiding place—the deep, dark cloud, from where the thunder seems to come. Here the meaning seems to be that God was surrounded by darkness. He had, so to speak, wrapped himself in night, and made his abode in the gloom of the storm—“You have covered yourself with a cloud so that no prayer can get through” (Lamentations 3:44). One Bible scholar gives his interpretation thus: “He made darkness His veil round about Him; His tent He made of dark waters and black clouds.”
Jehovah is pictured in a secret place where He is hidden by wrapping Himself in darkness or in dark clouds; there He lies; not so that he cannot see what is done by others, as wicked men imagine, (Job 22:13{27]); but so that he cannot be seen by others. The Targum{9] interprets it, "he caused his Shekinah to dwell in darkness.'' When executing His judgments He did not allow himself to be seen. God's actions are always secret and mysterious.

His pavilion means His tent—“For in the time of trouble he will keep me safe in his tent: in the secret place of his tent he will keep me from men's eyes; high on a rock he will put me” (Psalm 27:5). The darkness of the rain-charged storm-cloud is the tent in which Jehovah shrouds His Majesty. His pavilion round about him were dark waters, and thick clouds of the skies; these served as a tent or tabernacle, in which He dwelt unseen by men—“And who has knowledge of how the clouds are stretched out, or of the thunders of his tent?” (Job 36:29).

This verse may be relevant to the dark period of the Jews, after their rejection and crucifixion of Christ; when God departed from them, left their house desolate, and left them without His presence and protection; when the light of the Gospel was taken away from them, and they were blinded; they had eyes, but could not see; and they exhibited a darkness of mind and hardness of heart. These were some of the dark, deep, and mysterious methods of divine Providence which is represented here by picturing God as being surrounded with darkness, dark waters, and thick clouds—“What then? What Israel sought so earnestly it did not obtain, but the elect did. The others were hardened, 8 as it is written: "God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes so that they could not see and ears so that they could not hear, to this very day” (Romans 11:7-8).

Round about him - Perhaps a more literal translation would be, "the things round about him—his tent (shelter, or cover)—were the darkness of waters, the clouds of the skies." The idea is that he seemed to be covered with watery clouds.

Dark waters. The Hebrew is “darkness of waters.” The allusion is to clouds filled with water; charged with rain. His abode was in the midst of clouds and waters, or watery clouds. Representing the Lord’s pavilion or tent as dark waters spreading all around Him is truly poetical and grand. And, since storms and tempests are often instruments of the divine displeasure, they are included here as the means of expressing it; and God, who has the whole artillery of the heavens at His command, and holds the reins of tornados and cyclones in His hand, and directs their course through the world when and how He pleases, is represented here as employing them against His enemies in the day of battle and war.

Thick clouds of the skies - The word rendered here as skies means, in the singular, fine dust or a cloud of dust; in addition, in the plural, it is used to denote clouds, Job 38:37{28]; and hence, it is used to denote the region of the clouds, the firmament, and the sky. Perhaps a more accurate rendering here would be, "clouds of clouds;" that is, clouds rolled in with other clouds; clouds of one kind rapidly invading those of another kind, and piled on each other. There are four different kinds of clouds; and though we cannot suppose that such a distinction could be made in the time of the psalmist, yet anyone watching the movement of clouds may, in time, make such a distinction, and it is possible that by the use of two terms here, both denoting clouds - one thick and dense, and the other clouds as resembling dust, the psalmist meant to insinuate that clouds of all kinds rolled over the firmament, and that these constituted the "pavilion" of God.

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