Psalm 18:8

ESV Smoke went up from his nostrils, and devouring fire from his mouth; glowing coals flamed forth from him.
NIV Smoke rose from his nostrils; consuming fire came from his mouth, burning coals blazed out of it.
NASB Smoke went up out of His nostrils, And fire from His mouth was devouring; Coals burned from it.
CSB Smoke rose from his nostrils, and consuming fire came from his mouth; coals were set ablaze by it.
NLT Smoke poured from his nostrils; fierce flames leaped from his mouth. Glowing coals blazed forth from him.
KJV There went up a smoke out of his nostrils, and fire out of his mouth devoured: coals were kindled by it.

What does Psalm 18:8 mean?

David continues his description of God's anger against his enemies (Psalm 18:7). The prior verse compared God's powerful response to an earthquake. Volcanic activity is often connected to quakes, and here David suggests imagery related to an erupting volcano. David poetically describes the scene as smoke rising from the Lord's nostrils, with all-consuming flames shooting out of His mouth. The "glowing coals" are probably a description of lava. Just as an erupting volcano's lava flow destroys everything in its path, so the Lord's erupting anger engulfs and destroys the wicked.

About 500 years before David wrote Psalm 18, Moses and the people of Israel sang praises to God for destroying the Egyptian cavalry in the Red Sea. They gave a poetic description of God much like David's description in this verse. They sang: "At the blast of your nostrils the waters piled up; the floods stood up in a heap" (Exodus 15:8). Near the end of his life, Moses warned the Israelites about the consequences of rebelling against the Lord. He quoted the Lord as saying, "For a fire is kindled by my anger, and it burns to the depths of Sheol, devours the earth and its increase, and sets on fire the foundations of the mountains" (Deuteronomy 32:22).

It is frightful to rebel against the Lord as Saul did by seeking to kill David, the Lord's anointed king.
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