2 Samuel 22:40
For you have girded me with strength to battle: them that rose up against me have you subdued under me.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
2 Samuel

DAVID’S HYMN OF VICTORY

2 Samuel 22:40 f11 - 2 Samuel 22:51
.

The Davidic authorship of this great hymn has been admitted even by critics who are in general too slow to recognise it. One of these says that ‘there is no Israelite king to whom the expressions in the psalm apply so closely as to David.’ The favourite alternative theory that the speaker is the personified nation is hard to accept. The voice of individual trust and of personal experience sounds clear in the glowing words. Two editions of the hymn are preserved for us,-in Psalm 18:1 - Psalm 18:50 and 2 Samuel 22:1 - 2 Samuel 22:51. Slight variations exist in the two copies, which may probably be merely accidental. Nothing important depends on them. The text begins with the closing words of a description of God’s arming the singer for his victories, and goes on to paint the tumult of battle and the rout of the foe {2 Samuel 22:40 f11 - 2 Samuel 22:43}; then follows triumphant expectation of future wider victories {2 Samuel 22:44 - 2 Samuel 22:46}; and that leads up to the closing burst of grateful praise {2 Samuel 22:47 - 2 Samuel 22:51}.

I. We are not to forget that what is described in 2 Samuel 22:40 f11 - 2 Samuel 22:43 is a literal fight, with real swords against very real enemies. We may draw lessons of encouragement from it for our conflict with spiritual wickednesses, but we must not lose sight of the bloody combat with flesh and blood which the singer had waged. He felt that God had braced his armour on him, had given him the impenetrable ‘shield’ which he wore on his arm, and had strengthened his arms to bend the ‘bow of steel.’ We see him in swift pursuit, pressing hard on the flying foe, crushing them with his fierce charge, trampling them under foot. ‘I did beat them small as the dust of the earth.’ His blows fell like those of a great pestle, pulverising some substance in a mortar. ‘I did stamp them as the mire of the streets,’-a vivid picture of trampling down the prostrate wretches, for which Psalm 18:1 - Psalm 18:50 gives the less picturesque variant, ‘did cast them out.’ In their despair the fugitives shriek aloud for God’s help, and the Psalmist has a stern joy in knowing their cries to be unheard.

Now, such delight in an enemy’s despair and destruction, such gratification at the vanity of his prayers, are far away from being Christian sentiments, and the gulf is not wholly bridged by the consideration that David felt himself to be God’s Anointed, and enmity to him to be, consequently, treason against God. His feelings were most natural and entirely consistent with the stage of revelation in which he lived. They were capable of being purified into that triumph in the victory of good and the ruin of evil without which there is no vigorous sympathy with Christ’s conflict. They kindle, by their splendid energy and condensed rapidity, an answering glow even in readers so far away from the scene as we are. But still they do belong to a lower level of feeling, and result from a less full revelation than belongs to Christianity. The light of battle which blazes in them is not the fire which Jesus longed to kindle on earth.

But we may well take a pattern from the stern soldier’s recognition that all his victory was due to God alone. The strength that he put forth was God’s gift. It was God who subdued the insurgents, not David. The panic which made the foe take to flight was infused into them by God. No name but Jehovah’s was to be carved on the trophy reared on the battlefield. The human victor was but the instrument of the divine Conqueror. Such lowly reference of all our power and success to Him will save us from overweening self-adulation, and is the surest way to retain the power which He gives, and which is lost most surely when we take the credit of it to ourselves.

II. The enemies thus far have been from among his own subjects, but in 2 Samuel 22:44 - 2 Samuel 22:46 a transition is made to victory over ‘strangers’; that is, foreign nations. The triumph over ‘the strivings of my people’ heartens the singer to expect that he will be’ head of the nations.’ The other version of the hymn {Psalm 18:1 - Psalm 18:50} reads simply ‘the people.’

The picture of hasty surrender ‘as soon as they hear of me’ is graphic. His very name conquers. ‘The strangers shall submit themselves unto me’ is literally ‘shall lie,’ or yield feigned obedience. They ‘fade away’ as if withered by the hot wind of the desert. ‘They shall come limping’ {as the word here used signifies}, as if wounded in the fight, for which Psalm 18:1 - Psalm 18:50 reads ‘trembling.’

Now this vision of extended conquests, based as it is on past smaller victories, carries valuable lessons. David here lays hold of the great promises to his house of a wide dominion, and expects the beginnings of their fulfilment to himself. And he did extend his conquests beyond the territory of Israel. But we may take the hope as an instance in a particular direction of what should be the issue of all experience of God’s mercies. ‘To-morrow shall be as this day, and much more abundant.’ Smaller victories will be followed by greater. Our reception of God’s favouring help should widen our anticipations. Our gratitude to Him should be ‘a lively sense of favours to come.’ Progressive victory should be the experience of every believer.

We may see, too, dimly apparent through the large hope of the Psalmist-King, the prophecy of the worldwide victories of his Son, in whom the great promises of a dominion ‘from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth,’ are fulfilled.

III. 2 Samuel 22:46 - 2 Samuel 22:51 make a noble close to a noble hymn, in which the singer’s strong wing never flags, nor the rush of thought and feeling ever slackens. In it, even more absolutely than in the rest of the psalm, his victory is all ascribed to Jehovah. He alone acts, David simply receives. To have learned by experience that’ He lives,’ and is ‘my Rock,’ and to gather all the feelings excited by the retrospect of a long life into ‘Blessed be my Rock,’ is to have reaped and garnered the richest harvest which earth can yield. So at last sings the man whose early years had been full of struggles and privations. A morning of tempest has cleared into sunny evening calm, as it will with us all if the tempest blows us into our true shelter.

This psalm begins with a rapturous heaping together of the precious names of God, as the singer has had them revealed to him by experience. Foremost among these stands that one, ‘my Rock,’ which is caught up again in this closing burst of thanksgiving. That great Rock towers unchangeable above fleeting things. The river runs past its base, the woods nestling at its feet bud, and shed their pride of foliage, but it stands the same. David had many a time hid in ‘the clefts of the rocks’ in his years of wandering, and the figure is eloquent on his lips.

These closing strains gather together once more the main points of the previous verses, his deliverance from domestic foes, and his conquests over external enemies. These are wholly God’s work. True thankfulness delights to repeat its acknowledgments. God does not weary of giving, we should not weary of praising the Giver and His gifts. We renew our enjoyment of our long-past mercies by reiterating our thankfulness for them. They do not die as long as gratitude keeps their remembrance green.

But the Psalmist’s experience impels him to a vow {2 Samuel 22:50}. He will give thanks to God among the nations. God’s mercies bind, and, if rightly felt, will joyfully impel, the receiver to spread His name as far as his voice can reach. Love is sometimes silent, but gratitude must speak. The most unmusical voice is tuned to melody by God’s great blessings received and appreciated, and they need never want a theme who can tell what the Lord has done for their souls. ‘Then shall. . . the tongue of the dumb sing.’ A dumb Christian is a monstrosity. We are ‘the secretaries of His praise,’ and have been saved ourselves that we may declare His goodness.

2 Samuel 22:51 has been supposed by some to be a liturgical addition, on the ground that, if David were the author, he would not be likely to name himself thus. But there does not seem to be anything unnatural in his mentioning himself by name in such a connection, and the reference to his dynasty, based as it is on Nathan’s promise, is most fitting. The last thought about his mercies which the humble gratitude of the Psalmist utters is that they were not given to him for any good in himself, nor to be selfishly enjoyed, but that they were bestowed on him because of the place that he filled in the divine purposes, and belonged to ‘his seed’ as truly as to himself. So lowly had his prosperity made him. So truly had he sunk himself in his office, and in the great things that God meant to do through him and his house. We know better than David did what these were, and how the promise on which he rested his hopes of the duration of his house is fulfilled in his Son, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and who bears God’s name to all the nations.22:1-51 David's psalm of thanksgiving. - This chapter is a psalm of praise; we find it afterwards nearly as Ps 18. They that trust God in the way of duty, shall find him a present help in their greatest dangers: David did so. Remarkable preservations should be particularly mentioned in our praises. We shall never be delivered from all enemies till we get to heaven. God will preserve all his people, 2Ti 4:18. Those who receive signal mercies from God, ought to give him the glory. In the day that God delivered David, he sang this song. While the mercy is fresh, and we are most affected with it, let the thank-offering be brought, to be kindled with the fire of that affection. All his joys and hopes close, as all our hopes should do, in the great Redeemer.This song, which is found with scarcely any material variation as Psalm 18, and with the words of this first verse for its title, belongs to the early part of David's reign when he was recently established upon the throne of all Israel, and when his final triumph over the house of Saul, and over the pagan nations 2 Samuel 22:44-46, Philistines, Moabites, Syrians, Ammonites, and Edomites, was still fresh 2 Samuel 21. For a commentary on the separate verses the reader is referred to the commentary on Psalm 18.

The last words of David - i. e., his last Psalm, his last "words of song" 2 Samuel 22:1. The insertion of this Psalm, which is not in the Book of Psalms, was probably suggested by the insertion of the long Psalm in 2 Samuel 22.

David the son of Jesse said ... - The original word for "said" is used between 200 and 300 times in the phrase, "saith the Lord," designating the word of God in the mouth of the prophet. It is only applied to the words of a man here, and in the strikingly similar passage Numbers 24:3-4, Numbers 24:15-16, and in Proverbs 30:1; and in all these places the words spoken are inspired words. The description of David is divided into four clauses, which correspond to and balance each other.

CHAPTER 22

2Sa 22:1-51. David's Psalm of Thanksgiving for God's Powerful Deliverance and Manifold Blessings.

The song contained in this chapter is the same as the eighteenth Psalm, where the full commentary will be given [see on [278]Ps 18:1, &c.]. It may be sufficient simply to remark that Jewish writers have noticed a great number of very minute variations in the language of the song as recorded here, from that embodied in the Book of Psalms—which may be accounted for by the fact that this, the first copy of the poem, was carefully revised and altered by David afterwards, when it was set to the music of the tabernacle. This inspired ode was manifestly the effusion of a mind glowing with the highest fervor of piety and gratitude, and it is full of the noblest imagery that is to be found within the range even of sacred poetry. It is David's grand tribute of thanksgiving for deliverance from his numerous and powerful enemies, and establishing him in the power and glory of the kingdom.

No text from Poole on this verse. For thou hast girded me with strength to battle: them that rose up against me hast thou subdued under me. See Gill on Psalm 18:39. For thou hast {q} girded me with strength to battle: them that rose up against me hast thou subdued under me.

(q) He acknowledges that God was the author of his victories, who gave him strength.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
32 For who is God save Jehovah,

And who a rock save our God?

33 This God is my strong fortress,

And leads the innocent his way.

34 He makes my feet like the hinds,

And setteth me upon my high places;

35 He teacheth my hands to fight,

And my arms span brazen bows.

There is no true God who can help, except or by the side of Jehovah (cf. Deuteronomy 32:31; 1 Samuel 2:2). צוּר, as in 2 Samuel 22:2. This God is "my strong fortress:" for this figure, comp. Psalm 31:5 and Psalm 27:1. חיל, strength, might, is construed with מעוּזי, by free subordination: "my fortress, a strong one," like עז מחסי (Psalm 71:7; cf. Ewald, 291, b.). יתּר for יתר, from תּוּר (vid., Ges. 72; Olshausen, Gram. p. 579), in the sense of leading or taking round, as in Proverbs 12:26. God leads the innocent his way, i.e., He is his leader and guide therein. The Keri דּרכּי rests upon a misunderstanding. There is an important difference in the reading of this verse in Psalm 18, viz., "The God who girdeth me with strength, and makes my way innocent." The last clause is certainly an alteration which simplifies the meaning, and so is also the first clause, the thought of which occurs again, word for word, in 2 Samuel 22:40, with the addition of למּלחמה. איּלה or איּלת, the hind, or female stag, is a figure of speech denoting swiftness in running. "Like the hinds:" a condensed simile for "like the hinds' feet," such as we frequently meet with in Hebrew (vid., Ges. 144, Anm.). The reference is to swiftness in pursuit of the foe (vid., 2 Samuel 2:18; 1 Chronicles 12:8). רגליו, his feet, for רגלי (my feet) in the psalm, may be accounted for from the fact, that David had spoken of himself in the third person as the innocent one. "My high places" were not the high places of the enemy, that became his by virtue of conquest, but the high places of his own land, which he maintained triumphantly, so that he ruled the land for them. The expression is formed after Deuteronomy 32:13, and is imitated in Habakkuk 3:19. למּד is generally construed with a double accusative: here it is written with an accusative and ל, and signifies to instruct for the war. נחת, in the psalm נחתה, on account of the feminine זרועתי, is not the Niphal of חתת, to be broken in pieces, but the Piel of נחת, to cause to go down, to press down the bow, i.e., to set it. The bow of brass is mentioned as being the strongest: setting such a bow would be a sign of great heroic strength. The two verses (2 Samuel 22:34 and 2 Samuel 22:35) are simply a particularizing description of the power and might with which the Lord had endowed David to enable him to conquer all his foes.

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