What does Psalm 18:35 mean?
ESV: You have given me the shield of your salvation, and your right hand supported me, and your gentleness made me great.
NIV: You make your saving help my shield, and your right hand sustains me; your help has made me great.
NASB: You have also given me the shield of Your salvation, And Your right hand upholds me; And Your gentleness makes me great.
CSB: You have given me the shield of your salvation; your right hand upholds me, and your humility exalts me.
NLT: You have given me your shield of victory. Your right hand supports me; your help has made me great.
KJV: Thou hast also given me the shield of thy salvation: and thy right hand hath holden me up, and thy gentleness hath made me great.
NKJV: You have also given me the shield of Your salvation; Your right hand has held me up, Your gentleness has made me great.
Verse Commentary:
David explains that he owes everything to God. God reached down to David and saved him. Also, God stretched out His mighty hand to support David, as he defended himself from enemies such as Saul (2 Samuel 22:1). In ancient literature, the right hand was symbolic of someone's greatest power and ability. Being "shielded" from harm and upheld by the power of God gave David tremendous confidence.

Interestingly, after making so many references to power and strength (Psalm 18:32–34), David says it was God's gentleness which made him great. In this context, that refers to David becoming the king of Israel. The Hebrew word translated as "gentleness" here can also imply "goodness, meekness, or humility." Another possible meaning is "condescension," which means to "look down" on someone. When two people are equals, condescension is insulting. When someone of vast power "condescends" to a less-formidable person, it's an act of charity. Certainly, God was good to do for David what He did, and He condescended to look down to David and make him great.

Even more so, God has also condescended to come to our assistance by providing salvation for us. Although He created the universe and everything it and sustains it, He bent down to us (Philippians 2:5–8), met our most critical need, and has made us "great." Our greatness is the status we enjoy by grace as "heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ" (Romans 8:17).
Verse Context:
Psalm 18:28–45 celebrates the Lord's goodness to David during his wilderness experience (2 Samuel 22:1). Second Samuel 22:29–46 is a companion passage, and 2 Samuel chapter 8 features several of David's victories. Other passages that focus on the victory God gives His people are Romans 8:28–39, 1 Corinthians 15:50–58, 2 Corinthians 1:8–11, 2:14–17, Ephesians 6:10–20, Philippians 1:12–26, 1 Peter 1:3–9, and 1 John 5:1–5.
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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