Bible Verse Explanations and Resources


Psalms 18:11

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

He made darkness his secret place - God is represented as dwelling in the thick darkness, Deuteronomy 4:11; Psalm 97:2. This representation in the place before us is peculiarly proper; as thick heavy clouds deeply charged, and with lowering aspects, are always the forerunners and attendants of a tempest, and greatly heighten the horrors of the appearance: and the representation of them, spread about the Almighty as a tent, is truly grand and poetic.

Dark waters - The vapors strongly condensed into clouds; which, by the stroke of the lightning, are about to be precipitated in torrents of rain. See the next verse.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

He made darkness his secret place - Herder has beautifully rendered this verse,

“Now he wrapped himself in darkness;

Clouds on clouds enclosed him round.”

The word rendered “secret place” - סתר sêther - means properly a hiding; then something hidden, private, secret. Hence, it means a covering, a veil. Compare Job 22:14; Job 24:15. In Psalm 81:7 it is applied to thunder: “I answered thee in the secret place of thunder;” that is, in the secret place or retreat - the deep, dark cloud, from where the thunder seems to come. Here the meaning seems to be, that God was encompassed with darkness. He had, as it were, wrapped himself in night, and made his abode in the gloom of the storm.

His pavilion - His tent, for so the word means. Compare Psalm 27:5; Psalm 31:20. His abode was in the midst of clouds and waters, or watery clouds.

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 encompassed with watery clouds.

Dark waters - Hebrew, darkness of waters. The allusion is to clouds filled with water; charged with rain.

Thick clouds of the skies - The word rendered skies in this place - שׁחקים shachaqiym - means, in the singular, dust, as being fine; then a cloud, as a cloud of dust; then, in the plural, it is used to denote clouds, Job 38:37; and hence, it is used to denote the region of the clouds; the firmament; the sky; Job 37:18. Perhaps a not-inaccurate rendering here would be, “clouds of clouds;” that is, clouds rolled in with clouds; clouds of one kind rapidly succeeding those of another kind - inrolling and piled on each other. There are four different kinds of clouds; and though we cannot suppose that the distinction was accurately marked in the time of the psalmist, yet to the slightest observation there is a distinction in the clouds, 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 intimate that clouds of all kinds rolled over the firmament, and that these constituted the “pavilion” of God.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
The first words, "I will love thee, O Lord, my strength," are the scope and contents of the psalm. Those that truly love God, may triumph in him as their Rock and Refuge, and may with confidence call upon him. It is good for us to observe all the circumstances of a mercy which magnify the power of God and his goodness to us in it. David was a praying man, and God was found a prayer-hearing God. If we pray as he did, we shall speed as he did. God's manifestation of his presence is very fully described, ver.
Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
Little appeared of man, but much of God, in these deliverances. It is not possible to apply to the history of the son of Jesse those awful, majestic, and stupendous words which are used through this description of the Divine manifestation. Every part of so solemn a scene of terrors tells us, a greater than David is here. God will not only deliver his people out of their troubles in due time, but he will bear them up under their troubles in the mean time. Can we meditate on ver. 18, without directing one thought to Gethsemane and Calvary? Can we forget that it was in the hour of Christ's deepest calamity, when Judas betrayed, when his friends forsook, when the multitude derided him, and the smiles of his Father's love were withheld, that the powers of darkness prevented him? The sorrows of death surrounded him, in his distress he prayed, Heb 5:7. God made the earth to shake and tremble, and the rocks to cleave, and brought him out, in his resurrection, because he delighted in him and in his undertaking.
Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
The gracious recompence of which David spoke, may generally be expected by those who act from right motives. Hence he speaks comfort to the humble, and terror to the proud; "Thou wilt bring down high looks." And he speaks encouragement to himself; "Thou wilt light my candle:" thou wilt revive and comfort my sorrowful spirit; thou wilt guide my way, that I may avoid the snares laid for me. Thou wilt light my candle to work by, and give me an opportunity of serving thee. Let those that walk in darkness, and labour under discouragements, take courage; God himself will be a Light to them.