Psalm 18:4

ESV The cords of death encompassed me; the torrents of destruction assailed me;
NIV The cords of death entangled me; the torrents of destruction overwhelmed me.
NASB The ropes of death encompassed me, And the torrents of destruction terrified me.
CSB The ropes of death were wrapped around me; the torrents of destruction terrified me.
NLT The ropes of death entangled me; floods of destruction swept over me.
KJV The sorrows of death compassed me, and the floods of ungodly men made me afraid.

What does Psalm 18:4 mean?

In the wilderness, when Saul and his forces pursued David (1 Samuel 23:15), David experienced great distress. At times he felt surrounded with no way to escape. This feeling is symbolized as cords—ropes or strings—that are wrapping around him. In those situations, it seemed death was imminent. Using another analogy, David compares this to the feeling of being caught in a flood or crashing waves. The sense of being overwhelmed and on the verge of death is terrifying. If it were not for God's rescue, David would surely have died.

The book of Job includes comments from three of Job's companions, whose words are mostly unhelpful. Eliphaz, one of these "comforters" (Job 2:11) told Job, "Snares are all around you, and sudden terror overwhelms you, or darkness, so that you cannot see, and a flood of water covers you" (Job 22:10–11). Of course, trouble came like a flood to both Job and David, not because they were guilty of some horrendous sin. They were both upright in God's sight, but testing caused them to see the Lord more clearly as their rescuer and Redeemer (Job 19:24–25).

Believers may become severely distressed by persecution and/or trials, but the Lord never forsakes His people. Isaiah 43:1–2 promises: "Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by my name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you" (Isaiah 43:1–2).

Those who trust fully in God have a promise to cling to in tough times. Hebrews 13:5 quotes the Lord as saying, "I will never leave you nor forsake you."
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