Psalm 18:34

ESV He trains my hands for war, so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze.
NIV He trains my hands for battle; my arms can bend a bow of bronze.
NASB He trains my hands for battle, So that my arms can bend a bow of bronze.
CSB He trains my hands for war; my arms can bend a bow of bronze.
NLT He trains my hands for battle; he strengthens my arm to draw a bronze bow.
KJV He teacheth my hands to war, so that a bow of steel is broken by mine arms.

What does Psalm 18:34 mean?

Again, David gives God the credit for his battle skills. Contrary to what some think, pacifism is not an inherently godly trait. While the Bible speaks of peacemaking (Matthew 5:9; Romans 12:18–19), ignoring insults (Matthew 5:39; Proverbs 12:16), and avoiding conflict (Proverbs 15:1; 1 Peter 3:17), it also notes that evil must sometimes be resisted physically (John 2:13–17; Genesis 9:6). David did not gain his military skill by accident, or despite his relationship to God. It was God, working to prepare David, who helped him develop those abilities (2 Samuel 8:1–8).

Bows are most often made of wood, but even in the ancient world, there were composite bows that included horn and sinew. Stronger materials made for a more powerful weapon, but also made the bow harder to use. David's reference here is not literal—bronze is not suitable for archery. The point of the metaphor is power—much as the reference in the prior verse was to speed and agility (Psalm 18:33).

The Hebrew root word nachuwshah is used in this verse and is related to metals like copper and bronze. This is also connected to a name eventually given to the serpent formed by Moses in the wilderness (Numbers 21:4–9; 2 Kings 18:4). The 17th century translators of the KJV rendered this as "steel." Though that metal existed in rare instances in David's era, it does not seem to fit this verse well.

Scripture provides reasons why God made such provision to keep David alive: it was part of the prophecy surrounding the Messiah. This Promised One was predicted to descend from David (2 Samuel 7:12–13). God even moved the Roman emperor Caesar Augustus to make a decree that took Jesus' adoptive earthly father, Joseph, from Nazareth to Bethlehem (Luke 2:1–4), where it was prophesied that the Messiah would be born. Micah 5:2 prophesies: "But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose goings forth is from old, from ancient days." Luke 2:6–7 and 11 reveal the fulfillment of Micah's prophecy. Mary gave birth in Bethlehem, the city of David, to the Savior, Christ the Lord.
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