Psalm 18:40

ESV You made my enemies turn their backs to me, and those who hated me I destroyed.
NIV You made my enemies turn their backs in flight, and I destroyed my foes.
NASB You have also made my enemies turn their backs to me, And I destroyed those who hated me.
CSB You have made my enemies retreat before me; I annihilate those who hate me.
NLT You placed my foot on their necks. I have destroyed all who hated me.
KJV Thou hast also given me the necks of mine enemies; that I might destroy them that hate me.

What does Psalm 18:40 mean?

Continuing his praise of God for his victories, David recalls how God arranged for him to be victorious.

This verse uses a Hebrew expression which is not easily translated into English. An extremely literal rendering would be similar to "give the back of the neck to me." This presents several closely related possible meanings. In any form of combat, being behind the enemy is a tremendous benefit, which might be David's main meaning. Another possibility, connected to the prior verses, is an enemy who has been beaten down such that David can strike, grasp, or push down on their neck. Most likely, it is meant to depict an enemy turning to run away at top speed, as seen in Exodus 23:27. In any case, David's point is that God provided him with outstanding advantages against his foes.

As Christians, if we yield ourselves to God and turn down solicitations to do evil, our enemy, the Devil, will flee from us as surely as David's enemies fled from him. James 4:7 counsels us: "Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you."

David also refers to his physical enemies as those who hated him. Jesus told us we should not be surprised if the world hates us because the Lord chose to separate us from the world (John 15:18). Of course, while David's battles were often physical, those of a Christian are primarily spiritual (John 18:36; Ephesians 6:12). The "world" Jesus refers to is not the material world but the evil world system that follows the dictates of the Devil. Romans 12:2 commands us not to be conformed to the evil world system, but to be transformed by the renewing of our minds.

If we choose not to conform to the world but to confront its evil thought patterns and practices, we will be as victorious over the world that hates us as David was over those who hated him.
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