What does Psalm 18:14 mean?
ESV: And he sent out his arrows and scattered them; he flashed forth lightnings and routed them.
NIV: He shot his arrows and scattered the enemy, with great bolts of lightning he routed them.
NASB: He sent out His arrows, and scattered them, And lightning flashes in abundance, and routed them.
CSB: He shot his arrows and scattered them; he hurled lightning bolts and routed them.
NLT: He shot his arrows and scattered his enemies; great bolts of lightning flashed, and they were confused.
KJV: Yea, he sent out his arrows, and scattered them; and he shot out lightnings, and discomfited them.
NKJV: He sent out His arrows and scattered the foe, Lightnings in abundance, and He vanquished them.
Verse Commentary:
Looking back on how God rescued him from his enemies (2 Samuel 22:1), David continues to poetically describe the power of God (Psalm 18:7–13). Here he evokes the frightening aspect of lightning. The sudden burst of light, heat, noise, and destruction makes lightning a useful symbol of God's unstoppable power.

When Elihu addressed Job, he said, "Behold, [God] scatters his lightning about him" (Job 36:30). He added that the Lord "covers his hands with the lightning and commands it to strike its mark. Its crashing declares his presence" (Job 36:32–33). Fear of lightning may cause people to take shelter, but the Lord owns the lightning and wears it like a glove. The victory David obtained over his enemies was like a fierce display of God's anger and power, as if it were lightning aimed at the enemy.

Of course, we should not think every lightning storm is aimed at those who oppose God, and people are not wrong to seek shelter in a lightning storm. However, lightning should remind us that God possesses awesome power and merits our praise.
Verse Context:
Psalm 18:1–19 expresses David's love for the Lord and his praise to God for delivering him from his enemies. This is very similar—perhaps an updated version—of David's song of praise recorded in 2 Samuel chapter 22. Psalms 3—5 recall David's prayer for deliverance from his foes and his trust in the Lord to deliver him from them. Psalms 48:1; 96:4; 145:3; and 150 also express praise to the Lord. An account of David's deliverance from his enemies is found in 2 Samuel 19—21. Other passages of Scripture that reveal God's deliverance of His people include Exodus 14; Joshua 10; Judges 7; 2 Kings 19:20–37; and Revelation 19:11–21.
Chapter Summary:
In 2 Samuel chapter 22, David expresses praise for all the times in his life where God gave him victory. That prayer or song is copied almost identically here. Psalm 18, itself, might have been adapted for use in public worship. David remembers dire situations where God rescued him. He dramatically recounts how God provided rescue and power. David also credits God with rewarding his obedience by making him a powerful and successful military leader. For these reasons, David commits himself to the praise and worship of the Lord.
Chapter Context:
This psalm is David's prayer to the Lord in which David praises the Lord for making him victorious over his enemies. Second Samuel 5, 8, and 10 are companion chapters, and 2 Samuel 22 provides another version of this psalm. Second Samuel 22:1 tells us David composed Psalm 18 on the day the Lord delivered him from his enemies and Saul. Second Samuel 19 reports David's victorious return to Jerusalem after David vanquished his enemies.
Book Summary:
The book of Psalms is composed of individual songs, hymns, or poems, each of which is a ''Psalm'' in and of itself. These works contain a wide variety of themes. Some Psalms focus on praising and worshipping God. Others cry out in anguish over the pain of life. Still other Psalms look forward to the coming of the Messiah. While some Psalms are related, each has its own historical and biblical context.
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