Now these be the last words of David. David the son of Jesse said, and the man who was raised up on high, the anointed of the God of Jacob, and the sweet psalmist of Israel, said,
The Spirit of the LORD spake by me, and his word was in my tongue.
The God of Israel said, the Rock of Israel spake to me, He that ruleth over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God.
And he shall be as the light of the morning, when the sun riseth, even a morning without clouds; as the tender grass springing out of the earth by clear shining after rain.
Comparisons illustrating the prosperity of the righteous king.
Although my house be not so with God; yet he hath made with me an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things, and sure: for this is all my salvation, and all my desire, although he make it not to grow.
Although my house ... - The sense of this clause (according to the the King James Version) will be that David comparing the actual state of his family and kingdom during the later years of trouble and disaster with the prophetic description of the prosperity of the righteous king, and seeing how far it falls short, comforts himself by the terms of God's covenant 2 Samuel 7:12-16 and looks forward to Messiah's kingdom. The latter clause, "although he make it not to grow," must then mean that, although at the present time the glory of his house was not made to grow, yet all his salvation and all his desire was made sure in the covenant which would be fulfilled in due time. But most modern commentators understand both clauses as follows: "Is not my house so with God that He has made with me an everlasting covenant," etc.? "For all my salvation and all my desire, will He not cause it to spring up?" namely, in the kingdom of Solomon, and still more fully in the kingdom of Christ.
But the sons of Belial shall be all of them as thorns thrust away, because they cannot be taken with hands:
But the man that shall touch them must be fenced with iron and the staff of a spear; and they shall be utterly burned with fire in the same place.
These be the names of the mighty men whom David had: The Tachmonite that sat in the seat, chief among the captains; the same was Adino the Eznite: he lift up his spear against eight hundred, whom he slew at one time.
The duplicate of this passage is in 1 Chronicles 11, where it is in immediate connection with David's accession to the throne of Israel, and where the mighty men are named as those by whose aid David was made king. The document belongs to the early part of David's reign. The text of 2 Samuel 23:8-9 is perhaps to be corrected by comparison with 1 Chronicles 11:11-12.
Chief among the captains - There is great doubt about the exact meaning of this phrase.
(2) the word translated "captain," is of uncertain meaning, and the orthography repeatedly fluctuates throughout this and the duplicate passage in 1 Chronicles 11, between "Shalish" a captain, and "Sheloshah" three.
(3) if, however, the text of Chronicles be taken as the guide, then the sense of "captain" will not come into play, but the word will be a numeral throughout, either "three" or "thirty," and will describe David's band of thirty mighty men, with a certain triad or triads of heroes who were yet more illustrious than the thirty.
In the verse before us, therefore, for "chief among the captains," we should render, "chief of the thirty."
And after him was Eleazar the son of Dodo the Ahohite, one of the three mighty men with David, when they defied the Philistines that were there gathered together to battle, and the men of Israel were gone away:
Gone away - Rather, went up to battle (2 Samuel 5:19; 2 Kings 3:21, etc.) against them. These words and what follows as far as "troop" 2 Samuel 23:11 have fallen out of the text in Chronicles. The effect of this is to omit EIeazar's feat, as here described, to attribute to him Shammah's victory, to misplace the flight of the Israelites, and to omit Shammah altogether from the list of David's mighty men.
He arose, and smote the Philistines until his hand was weary, and his hand clave unto the sword: and the LORD wrought a great victory that day; and the people returned after him only to spoil.
And after him was Shammah the son of Agee the Hararite. And the Philistines were gathered together into a troop, where was a piece of ground full of lentiles: and the people fled from the Philistines.
Hararite - Interpreted to mean "mountaineer," one from the hill country of Judah or Ephraim.
But he stood in the midst of the ground, and defended it, and slew the Philistines: and the LORD wrought a great victory.
And three of the thirty chief went down, and came to David in the harvest time unto the cave of Adullam: and the troop of the Philistines pitched in the valley of Rephaim.
The feat at Bethlehem by three of the thirty was the occasion of their being formed into a distinct triad; Abishai 2 Samuel 23:18, Benaiah 2 Samuel 23:20, and a third not named, were probably the three.
In the harvest time - An error for "to the rock" (compare the marginal reference).
The troop of the Philistines - The word rendered "troop" occurs in this sense only here (and, according to some, in 2 Samuel 23:11), and perhaps in Psalm 68:11. In 1 Chronicles 11, as in 2 Samuel 23:16 the reading is "host" or "camp," which may be the true reading here.
Pitched - The same Hebrew word as "encamped" in 1 Chronicles 11:15.
Valley of Rephaim - Or Giants. See 2 Samuel 21:16 note.
And David was then in an hold, and the garrison of the Philistines was then in Bethlehem.
In an hold - In "the hold" 1 Chronicles 11:16 close to the cave of Adullam (marginal reference note). It shows the power and daring of the Philistines that they should hold a post so far in the country as Bethlehem.
And David longed, and said, Oh that one would give me drink of the water of the well of Bethlehem, which is by the gate!
A cistern of deep, clear, cool water, is called by the monks, David's Well, about three-quarters of a mile to the north of Bethlehem. Possibly the old well has been filled up since the town was supplied with water by the aqueduct.
And the three mighty men brake through the host of the Philistines, and drew water out of the well of Bethlehem, that was by the gate, and took it, and brought it to David: nevertheless he would not drink thereof, but poured it out unto the LORD.
Brake through the host - Their camp was pitched in the valley of Rephaim 2 Samuel 23:13; 1 Chronicles 11:15. It follows from this that the way from Adullam to Bethlehem lay through or across the valley of Rephaim.
Poured it out unto the Lord - It was too costly for his own use, none but the Lord was worthy of it. For libations, see Judges 6:20 note.
And he said, Be it far from me, O LORD, that I should do this: is not this the blood of the men that went in jeopardy of their lives? therefore he would not drink it. These things did these three mighty men.
Better as in 1 Chronicles 11:19.
And Abishai, the brother of Joab, the son of Zeruiah, was chief among three. And he lifted up his spear against three hundred, and slew them, and had the name among three.
Three - "The three" 2 Samuel 23:22. It was Abishai's prowess on this occasion that raised him to be chief of this triad.
Was he not most honourable of three? therefore he was their captain: howbeit he attained not unto the first three.
i. e., "Was he not the most honorable of the three of the second order, howbeit, he attained not to the three," the triad, namely, which consisted of Jashobeam, Eleazar, and Shammah. That two triads are mentioned is a simple fact, although only five names are given.
And Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, the son of a valiant man, of Kabzeel, who had done many acts, he slew two lionlike men of Moab: he went down also and slew a lion in the midst of a pit in time of snow:
Benaiah the son of Jehoiada - He commanded the Cherethites and Pelethites all through David's reign 2 Samuel 8:18; 2 Samuel 20:23, and took a prominent part in supporting Solomon against Adonijah when David was dying, and was rewarded by being made captain of the host in the room of Joab 1 Kings 1:8, 1 Kings 1:26, 1 Kings 1:32-40; 1 Kings 2:25-35; 1 Kings 4:4. It is possible that Jehoiada his father is the same as Jehoiada 1 Chronicles 12:27, leader of the Aaronites, since "Benaiah the son of Jehoiada" is called a "chief priest" 1 Chronicles 27:5.
Two lion-like men - The Hebrew word אריאל 'ărı̂y'êl, means literally "lion of God," and is interpreted to mean "an eminent hero." Instances occur among Arabs and Persians of the surname "lion of God" being given to great warriors. Hence, it is supposed that the same custom prevailed among the Moabites. But the Vulgate has "two lions of Moab," which seems to be borne out by the next sentence.
Slew a lion ... - Rather, THE lion, one of those described above as "a lion of God," if the Vulgate Version is right. Apparently in a severe winter a lion had come up from its usual haunts to some village in search of food, and taken possession of the tank or cistern to the terror of the inhabitants, and Benaiah attacked it boldly and killed it.
And he slew an Egyptian, a goodly man: and the Egyptian had a spear in his hand; but he went down to him with a staff, and plucked the spear out of the Egyptian's hand, and slew him with his own spear.
These things did Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, and had the name among three mighty men.
He was more honourable than the thirty, but he attained not to the first three. And David set him over his guard.
David set him over his guard - "Made him of his privy council," would be a better rendering. See 1 Samuel 22:14 note. This position, distinct from his office as captain of the Cherethites and Pelethites, is clearly indicated 1 Chronicles 27:34.
Asahel the brother of Joab was one of the thirty; Elhanan the son of Dodo of Bethlehem,
etc. The early death of Asahel 2 Samuel 2:32 would make it very likely that his place in the 30 would be filled up, and so easily account for the number 31 in the list. Compare throughout the list in 1 Chronicles 11.
Shammah the Harodite, Elika the Harodite,
Helez the Paltite, Ira the son of Ikkesh the Tekoite,
Abiezer the Anethothite, Mebunnai the Hushathite,
Zalmon the Ahohite, Maharai the Netophathite,
Heleb the son of Baanah, a Netophathite, Ittai the son of Ribai out of Gibeah of the children of Benjamin,
Benaiah the Pirathonite, Hiddai of the brooks of Gaash,
Abialbon the Arbathite, Azmaveth the Barhumite,
Eliahba the Shaalbonite, of the sons of Jashen, Jonathan,
Shammah the Hararite, Ahiam the son of Sharar the Hararite,
Eliphelet the son of Ahasbai, the son of the Maachathite, Eliam the son of Ahithophel the Gilonite,
Hezrai the Carmelite, Paarai the Arbite,
Igal the son of Nathan of Zobah, Bani the Gadite,
It is remarkable that we have several foreigners at this part of the list: Igal of Zobah, Zelek the Ammonite, Uriah the Hittite, and perhaps Nahari the Beerothite. The addition of Zelek to the mighty men was probably the fruit of David's war with Ammon 2 Samuel 8:12; 10; 2 Samuel 12:26-31.
Zelek the Ammonite, Naharai the Beerothite, armourbearer to Joab the son of Zeruiah,
Ira an Ithrite, Gareb an Ithrite,
Uriah the Hittite: thirty and seven in all.
Thirty and seven in all - This reckoning is correct, though only 36 "names" are given, the names of only two of the second triad being recorded, but 31 names are given from 2 Samuel 23:24 to the end, which, added to the two triads, or six, makes 37. Joab as captain of the whole host stands quite alone. In 1 Chronicles 11:41-47; after Uriah the Hittite, there follow sixteen other names, probably the names of those who took the places of those in the former list, who died from time to time, or who were added when the number was less rigidly restricted to thirty.