2 Samuel 23:5
Although my house be not so with God; yet he has 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.
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(5) Although my house.—This verse is extremely difficult, and admits of two interpretations. That given in the English is found in the LXX., the Vulg., and the Syriac, and if adopted will mean that David recognises how far he and his house have failed to realise the ideal description set forth; yet since God’s promise is sure, this must be realised in his posterity. Most modern commentators, however, prefer to take the clauses interrogatively: “Is not my house thus with God? for He hath made with me an everlasting covenant, ordered in all, and sure. For all my salvation and all my desire, shall He not cause it to spring forth?” The Hebrew admits either rendering, but that of the ancient versions gives a higher idea of David’s spiritual discernment.

Ordered in all.—As a carefully drawn legal document, providing for all contingencies and leaving no room for misconstruction.

2 Samuel


2 Samuel 23:1 - 2 Samuel 23:7

It was fitting that ‘the last words of David’ should be a prophecy of the true King, whom his own failures and sins, no less than his consecration and victories, had taught him to expect. His dying eyes see on the horizon of the far-off future the form of Him who is to be a just and perfect Ruler, before the brightness of whose presence and the refreshing of whose influence, verdure and beauty shall clothe the world. As the shades gather round the dying monarch, the radiant glory to come brightens. He departs in peace, having seen the salvation from afar, and stretched out longing hands of greeting toward it. Then his harp is silent, as if the rapture which thrilled the trembling strings had snapped them.

I. We have first a prelude extending to the middle of 2 Samuel 23:3. In it there is first a fourfold designation of the personality of the Psalmist-prophet, and then a fourfold designation of the divine oracle spoken through him. The word rendered in 2 Samuel 23:1 ‘saith’ is really a noun, and usually employed with ‘the Lord’ following, as in the familiar phrase ‘saith the Lord.’ It is used, as here, with the genitive of the human recipient, in Balaam’s prophecy, on which this is evidently modelled. It distinctly claims a divine source for the oracle following, and declares, at the outset, that these last words of David were really the faithful sayings of Jehovah. The human and divine elements are smelted together. Note the description of the human personality. First, the natural ‘David the son of Jesse,’ like ‘Balaam the son of Beor’ in the earlier oracle. The aged king looks back with adoring thankfulness to his early days and humble birth, as if he were saying, ‘Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should proclaim the coming King.’ Then follow three clauses descriptive of what ‘the son of Jesse’ had been made by the grace of God, in that he had been raised on high from his low condition of a shepherd boy, and anointed as ruler, not only by Samuel and the people, but by the God of their great ancestor, whose career had presented so many points of resemblance to his own, the God who still wrought among the nation which bore the patriarch’s name, as He had wrought of old; and that, besides his royalty, he had been taught to sing the sweet songs which already were the heritage of the nation. This last designation shows what David counted God’s chief gift to him,-not his crown, but his harp. It further shows that he regarded his psalms as divinely inspired, and it proves that already they had become the property of the nation. This first verse heightens the importance of the subsequent oracle by dwelling on the claims of the recipient of the revelation to be heard and heeded.

Similarly, the fourfold designation of the divine source has the same purpose, and corresponds with the four clauses of 2 Samuel 23:1, ‘The Spirit of the Lord spake in [or “into”] me.’ That gives the Psalmist’s consciousness that in his prophecy he was but the recipient of a message. It wonderfully describes the penetrating power of that inward voice which clearly came to him from without, and as clearly spoke to him within. Words could not more plainly declare the prophetic consciousness of the distinction between himself and the Voice which he heard in the depths of his spirit. It spoke in him before he spoke his lyric prophecy. ‘His word was upon my tongue.’ There we have the utterance succeeding the inward voice, and the guarantee that the Psalmist’s word was a true transcript of the inward voice. ‘The God of Israel said,’ and therefore Israel is concerned in the divine word, which is not of private reference, but meant for all. ‘The Rock of Israel spake,’ and therefore Israel may trust the Word, which rests on His immutable faithfulness and eternal being.

II. The divine oracle thus solemnly introduced and guaranteed must be worthy of such a prelude. Abruptly, and in clauses without verbs, the picture of the righteous Ruler is divinely flashed before the seer’s inward eye. The broken construction may perhaps indicate that he is describing what he beholds in vision. There is no need for any supplement such as ‘There shall be,’ which, however true in meaning, mars the vividness of the presentation of the Ruler to the prophet’s sight. David sees him painted on the else blank wall of the future. When and where the realisation may be he knows not. What are the majestic outlines? A universal sovereign over collective humanity, righteous and God-fearing. In the same manner as he described the vision of the King, David goes on, as a man on some height telling what he saw to the people below, and paints the blessed issues of the King’s coming.

It had been night before He came,-the night of ignorance, sorrow, and sin,-but His coming is like one of these glorious Eastern sunrises without a cloud, when everything laughs in the early beams, and, with tropical swiftness, the tender herbage bursts from the ground, as born from the dazzling brightness and the fertilising rain. So all things shall rejoice in the reign of the King, and humanity be productive, under His glad and quickening influences, of growths of beauty and fruitfulness impossible to it without these.

The abrupt form of the prophecy has led some interpreters to construe it as, ‘When a king over men is righteous. . . then it is as a morning,’ etc. But surely such a platitude is not worthy of being David’s last word, nor did it need divine inspiration to disclose to him that a just king is a great blessing. The only worthy meaning is that which sees here, in words so solemnly marked as a special revelation closing the life of David, ‘the vision of the future and all the wonder that should be,’ when a real Person should thus reign over men. The explanation that we have here simply the ideal of the collective Davidic monarchy is a lame attempt to escape from the recognition of prophecy properly so called. It is the work of poetry to paint ideals, of prophecy to foretell, with God’s authority, their realisation. The picture here is too radiant to be realised in any mere human king, and, as a matter of fact, never was so in any of David’s successors, or in the whole of them put together. It either swings in vacuo, a dream unrealised, or it is a distinct prophecy from God of the reign of the coming Messiah, of whom David and all his sons, as anointed kings, were living prophecies. ‘The Messianic idea entered on a new stage of development with the monarchy, and that not as if the history stimulated men’s imaginations, but that God used the history as a means of further revelation by His prophetic Spirit.

III. The difficult 2 Samuel 23:5, whether its first and last clauses be taken interrogatively or negatively, in its central part bases the assurance of the coming of the king on God’s covenant {2 Samuel 7:1 - 2 Samuel 7:29}, which is glorified as being everlasting, provided with all requisites for its realisation, and therefore ‘sure,’ or perhaps ‘preserved,’ as if guarded by God’s inviolable sanctity and faithfulness. The fulfilment of the dying saint’s hopes depends on God’s truth. Whatever sense might say, or doubt whisper, he silences them by gazing on that great Word. So we all have to do. If we found our hopes and forecasts on it, we can go down to the grave calmly, though they be not fulfilled, sure that ‘no good thing can fail us of all that He hath spoken.’ Living or dying, faith and hope must stay themselves on God’s word. Happy they whose closing eyes see the form of the King, and whose last thoughts are of God’s faithful promise! Happy they whose forecasts of the future, nearer or more remote, are shaped by His word! Happy they who, in the triumphant energy of such a faith, can with dying lips proclaim that His promises overlap, and contain, all their salvation and all their desire!

If we read the first and last clauses negatively, with Revised Version and others, they, as it were, surround the kernel of clear-eyed faith, in the middle of the verse, with a husk, not of doubt, but of consciousness how far the present is from fulfilling the great promise. The poor dying king looks back on the scandals of his later reign, on his own sin, on his children’s lust, rebellion, and tragic deaths, and feels how far from the ideal he and they have been. He sees little token of growth toward realisation of that promise; but yet in spite of a stained past and a wintry present, he holds fast his confidence. That is the true temper of faith, which calls things that are not as though they were, and is hindered by no sense of unworthiness nor by any discouragements born of sense, from grasping with full assurance the promise of God. But the consensus of the most careful expositors inclines to take both clauses as questions, and then the meaning would be, ‘Does not my house stand in such a relation to God that the righteous king will spring from it? It is, in this view, a triumphant question, expressing the strongest assurance, and the next clause would then lay bare the foundation of that relation of David’s house as not its goodness, but God’s covenant {‘for He hath made’}. Similarly the last clause would be a triumphant question of certainty, asserting in the strongest manner that God would cause that future salvation for the world, which was wrapped up in the coming of the king, and in which the dying man was sure that he should somehow have a share, dead though he were, to blossom and grow, though he had to die as in the winter, before the buds began to swell. The assurance of immortality, and of a share in all the blessings to come, bursts from the lips that are so soon to be silent.

IV. But the oracle cannot end with painting only blessings as flowing from the king’s reign. If he is to rule in righteousness and the fear of the Lord, then he must fight against evil. If his coming causes the tender grass to spring, it will quicken ugly growths too. The former representation is only half the truth; and the threatening of destruction for the evil is as much a part of the divine oracle as the other. Strictly, it is ‘wickedness’-the abstract quality rather than the concrete persons who embody it-which is spoken of. May we recall the old distinction that God loves the sinner while He hates the sin? The picture is vivid. The wicked-and all the enemies of this King are wicked, in the prophet’s view-are like some of these thorn-brakes, that cannot be laid hold of, even to root them out, but need to be attacked with sharp pruning-hooks on long shafts, or burned where they grow. There is a destructive side to the coming of the King, shadowed in every prophecy of him, and brought emphatically to prominence in his own descriptions of his reign and its final issues. It is a poor kindness to suppress that side of the truth. Thorns as well as tender grass spring up in the quickening beams; and the best commentary on the solemn words which close David’s closing song is the saying of the King himself: ‘In the time of the harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather up first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them.’2 Samuel 23:5. Although my house be not so with God — Although God knows that neither I nor my children have lived and ruled as we should have done, so justly, and in the fear of the Lord; and therefore have not enjoyed that uninterrupted prosperity which we might have enjoyed. Covenant — Notwithstanding all our transgressions whereby we have broken covenant with God, yet God, to whom all my sins were known, was graciously pleased to make a sure covenant, to continue the kingdom to me, and to my seed for ever, 2 Samuel 7:16, until the coming of the Messiah, who is to be my son and successor, and whose kingdom shall have no end. Ordered in all things — Ordained in all points by God’s eternal counsel, and disposed by his wise and powerful providence, which will overrule all things, even the sins of my house so far, that although he punish them for their sins, yet he will not utterly root them out, nor break his covenant made with me and mine. Sure — Or, preserved, by God’s power and faithfulness in the midst of all oppositions. For this is all my salvation — That is, my salvation consists in, and depends on, this covenant; even both my own eternal salvation, and the preservation of the kingdom to me and mine. Although he make it not, &c. — Although God, as yet, hath not made my house or family to grow; that is, to increase, or to flourish with worldly glory as I expected; yet this is my comfort, that God will inviolably keep this covenant. But this refers also to the covenant of grace made with all believers. This is indeed an everlasting covenant, from everlasting, in the contrivance of it, and to everlasting, in the continuance and consequence of it. It is ordered, well ordered in all things; admirably well, to advance the glory of God, and the honour of the Mediator, together with the holiness and happiness of believers. It is sure, and therefore sure, because well ordered: the promised mercies are sure, on the performance of the conditions. It is all our salvation: nothing but this will save us, and this is sufficient. Therefore it should be all our desire. Let me have an interest in this covenant, and I have enough, I desire no more.23:1-7 These words of David are very worthy of regard. Let those who have had long experience of God's goodness, and the pleasantness of heavenly wisdom, when they come to finish their course, bear their testimony to the truth of the promise. David avows his Divine inspiration, that the Spirit of God spake by him. He, and other holy men, spake and wrote as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. In many things he had his own neglect and wrong conduct to blame. But David comforted himself that the Lord had made with him an everlasting covenant. By this he principally intended the covenant of mercy and peace, which the Lord made with him as a sinner, who believed in the promised Saviour, who embraced the promised blessing, who yielded up himself to the Lord, to be his redeemed servant. Believers shall for ever enjoy covenant blessings; and God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, shall be for ever glorified in their salvation. Thus pardon, righteousness, grace, and eternal life, are secured as the gift of God through Jesus Christ. There is an infinite fulness of grace and all blessings treasured up in Christ, for those who seek his salvation. This covenant was all David's salvation, he so well knew the holy law of God and the extent of his own sinfulness, that he perceived what was needful for his own case in this salvation. It was therefore all his desire. In comparison, all earthly objects lost their attractions; he was willing to give them up, or to die and leave them, that he might enjoy full happiness, Ps 73:24-28. Still the power of evil, and the weakness of his faith, hope, and love, were his grief and burden. Doubtless he would have allowed that his own slackness and want of care were the cause; but the hope that he should soon be made perfect in glory, encouraged him in his dying moments.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. 5. Although my house be not so with God; yet he hath made with me an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things, and sure—"the light of the morning," that is, the beginning of David's kingdom, was unlike the clear brilliant dawn of an Eastern day but was overcast by many black and threatening clouds; neither he nor his family had been like the tender grass springing up from the ground and flourishing by the united influences of the sun and rain; but rather like the grass that withereth and is prematurely cut down. The meaning is: although David's house had not flourished in an uninterrupted course of worldly prosperity and greatness, according to his hopes; although great crimes and calamities had beclouded his family history; some of the most promising branches of the royal tree had been cut down in his lifetime and many of his successors should suffer in like manner for their personal sins; although many reverses and revolutions may overtake his race and his kingdom, yet it was to him a subject of the highest joy and thankfulness that God will inviolably maintain His covenant with his family, until the advent of his greatest Son, the Messiah, who was the special object of his desire, and the author of his salvation. Although my house be not so with God; although God knows that neither I nor my children have lived and ruled as we should have done, so justly, and in the fear of the Lord; and therefore have not enjoyed that uninterrupted prosperity which we might have enjoyed; but our morning light, or the beginning of that kingdom promised to me and mine for ever, hath been overcast with many black and dismal clouds, and my children have not hitherto been like the tender grass springing out of the earth, and thriving by the influences of the sun and rain; but rather like the grass that withereth away, or is cut off before its due time.

Yet he hath made with me an everlasting covenant: not-withstanding all our transgressions whereby we have broken covenant with God, and the confusions and civil wars. which have threatened our dissipation and utter destruction; yet I comfort myself with this, that God, to whom all my sins were foreknown before I committed them, was graciously pleased to make a sure covenant, to give and continue the kingdom to me and to my seed for ever, 2 Samuel 7:16, until the coming of the Messias, who is to be my Son and successor, and whose kingdom shall have no end.

Ordered in all things; ordained in all points by God’s eternal and unchangeable counsel; and disposed by his wise and powerful providence, which doth and will overrule all things, even the sins and sufferings of my house, so far, that although he would punish them for their sins, yet he will not utterly root them out, nor break his covenant made with me and mine; as is said, Psalm 89:31-34. Sure, or preserved or observed, or kept, to wit, on God’s part, or by God’s power and faithfulness, in the midst of all the oppositions and uncertainties to which it seems to be exposed on our part. Compare Romans 3:3 2 Timothy 2:13. For, or therefore, as the Hebrew particle chi oft signifies; therefore, i.e. because God hath made such a covenant. This is, or, he is, he who hath made this covenant; or, in this is, i.e. it consists in and depends upon this covenant.

All my salvation; both my own eternal salvation, and the temporal salvation, or the preservation of the kingdom to me and mine.

All my desire, or, every desirable thing; the word desire being oft put for desired, or a desirable thing; as Psalm 21:2 78:29,30 Eze 24:16. David being deeply sensible, and having had large experience, of the vanity and uncertainty of all earthly things, here declares that the covenant made by God with him and his in the Messias, is the only happiness which he prizeth and desireth, in which he doth fully acquiesce.

Although he make it not to grow, i.e. my house, mentioned before. So the sense is, Although God as yet hath not made my house or family to grow, i.e. to increase, or to flourish with worldly glory and prosperity, as I expected; but hath for my sins cut off divers of my most eminent branches, and sorely afflicted my person and family; and although he may for the future deal in like manner with my sons and successors for the like miscarriages, which it is probable they may commit: yet this is my great support and comfort, that God will constantly and inviolably keep this covenant; and therefore, in the midst of all the shakings, and confusions, and interruptions which may happen in my house and kingdom, will preserve my line and family until the coming of the Messiah out of my loins, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom; who, as he is the desire of all nations, Haggai 2:7, so in a special manner is my desire, and the author of all my salvation. Although my house be not so with God,.... So bright, and flourishing, and prosperous as the government of the just ruler before described; or is not "right" (m) with God, meaning his family, in which great sins were committed, and great disorders and confusions brought into it, as the cases of Amnon, Absalom, and Adonijah showed; or "not firm" or "stable" (n), through the rebellion of one, the insurrection of another, and the usurpation of a third; yet he believed it would be firm and stable in the Messiah that should spring from him, promised in the everlasting covenant; though the Jewish writers understand this of the firmness and stability of his kingdom and government: "but my house is not so", &c. like the morning light, which increases by little and little, and like the morning, which sometimes is not cloudy, and sometimes is; sometimes the sun shines clearly, and sometimes not; or like the tender grass, which is sometimes flourishing, and after withers; but so is not my kingdom, it is a perpetual one, given and secured by an everlasting covenant; and such certainly is or will be the kingdom of the Messiah:

yet he hath made with me an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things, and sure; or, "for (o) he hath made", &c. the covenant by which the kingdom was settled on David and his seed was a covenant that would continue for ever, and would be kept, "observed", and "preserved" (p) in all the articles of it, and so be sure to his seed, particularly to the Messiah that should spring from him, in whom it was fulfilled, Luke 1:32; and the covenant of grace made with David's antitype, with Christ the head of the church, and the representative of it, and so with all his people in him, is an everlasting one: it was made with Christ from everlasting, as appears from the everlasting love of God, the source and spring of it; the earliness of the divine counsels on which it is formed, and blessings and promises of it, with which it is filled, which were before the world was; and from Christ being set up as the Mediator of it from everlasting: and it will continue to everlasting; it is a covenant that cannot be broken, will never be removed, nor give way to or be succeeded by another: it is "ordered in all things": to promote and advance the glory of all the three Persons in the Godhead, Father, Son, and Spirit; to secure the persons of the saints, and to provide everything needful for them for time and eternity: and it is "sure"; it stands upon a sure basis, the unchangeable will and favour of God, and is in the hands of Christ, the same today, yesterday, and for ever; its mercies are the sure mercies of David, and its promises are yea and amen in Christ, and are sure to all the seed. Though things may not be with them God-ward, as they desire, and could be wished for; though they may be attended with many sins and infirmities, the temptations of Satan, divine desertions, and various afflictions, and be guilty of many backslidings, yet covenant interest always continues; and so, though in the kingdom and interest of Christ in the world, there are, and may be, many things disagreeable; it may be attended with persecutions, heresies, scandals, &c. yet it shall continue and increase, and spread, and be an everlasting kingdom:

for this is all my salvation: all depends upon this covenant; the safety of David's family, and the security of the kingdom in it, and to his seed, till the Messiah came, depended on the covenant made with him respecting that; and the spiritual and eternal salvation of the Lord's people depends upon the covenant of grace; which was contrived, formed, and settled in it, in which the Saviour is provided, and the persons to share in his salvation are taken into it and secured, with all blessings both of grace and glory:

and all my desire; to see it fulfilled; as it is the desire of good men to be led more and more into it, to see their interest in it, to have the blessings and promises of it applied unto them, and to be saved by it, and not by the covenant of works; and there is all that in it that a believer can desire to make him comfortable here, or happy hereafter; and it is what gives him delight and pleasure in all his troubles: it may be supplied he is, as well as "this is", and be applied to Christ, the ruler over men, described, 2 Samuel 23:3; with whom the covenant of grace is made, in whom is the salvation of men; he is the author and the only author of it; in whom it is complete and perfect; "all" salvation is in him, and which they can claim as theirs; to whom is "all their desire"; and in whom is "all their delight", as it may be rendered; on account of the glory of his person, the fulness of his grace, and his suitableness as a Saviour; whom they desire to know more of, and have more communion with:

although he made it not to grow; though there may not be at present any growth of outward prosperity, or of inward grace, or even of the produce of the earth, Habakkuk 3:17; though the horn of David is not yet made to bud, or his family in growing and flourishing circumstances, or the Messiah, the man, the branch, does not yet shoot forth, though he certainly would; or, "for shall he not bud forth" he shall, Jeremiah 23:5.

(m) "non recta", Cocceius. (n) "Non est re firma", Vitringa in Jesaiam, c. xi. 1.((o) "quia", Pagninus, Montanus, Piscator. (p) "scrvatum", Tigurine version, Vatablus; "conservatum", Junius & Tremellius.

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 {d} grow.

(d) But that my kingdom may continue for ever according to his promise.

5.  For is not my house thus with God?

for an eternal covenant hath he made for me,

ordered in all and secured:

for all my salvation and all good pleasure

shall he not cause it to spring forth?

This seems to be the most probable rendering of an obscure passage. The meaning then will be: Is not my house in such a relation to God, because He has made an eternal covenant with me, that I may look for the righteous ruler to arise out of it, bringing with him all these attendant blessings?

“The eternal covenant” is the promise in ch. 2 Samuel 7:12 ff., to which David refers as the ground of his confidence in the fulfilment of this prophecy in and through his house. The epithets “ordered in all and secured” compare the covenant to a carefully drawn and properly attested legal document.

Finally he expresses his confidence that God will in due time cause the salvation promised to him and his house, and all His own good pleasure, to grow and prosper, using a metaphor suggested by that in 2 Samuel 23:4. Cp. Psalm 132:17; Jeremiah 33:15; and for God’s “good pleasure,” cp. Isaiah 53:10.Verse 5. - Although my house, etc. The rendering of the Authorized Version is that of the ancient versions, and is to be retained. David could not but feel that his house was too stained with sin upon sin for him to be able to lay claim to have been in fact that which the theocratic king was in theory, and which David ought to have been as the representative of Christ, and himself the christ, or anointed of Israel's God. But most modern commentators take the negatives as interrogative, and, therefore, as strong assertions.

"For is not my house so with God?
For he had made with me an eternal covenant,
Ordered in all things, and secure:
For all my salvation and all my desire,
Shall he not make it to grow?"
But surely David had failed in realizing the better purposes of his heart, and it was of God's good pleasure that the covenant, in spite of personal failure, remained firm and secure. 50 Therefore will I praise Thee, O Jehovah, among the nations,

And sing praise to Thy name.

51 As He who magnifies the salvation of His king,

And showeth grace to His anointed,

To David, and his seed for ever.

The grace which the Lord had shown to David was so great, that the praise thereof could not be restricted to the narrow limits of Israel. With the dominion of David over the nations, there spread also the knowledge, and with this the praise, of the Lord who had given him the victory. Paul was therefore perfectly justified in quoting the verse before us (2 Samuel 22:50) in Romans 16:9, along with Deuteronomy 32:43 and Psalm 117:1, as a proof that the salvation of God was intended for the Gentiles also. The king whose salvation the Lord had magnified, was not David as an individual, but David and his seed for ever-that is to say, the royal family of David which culminated in Christ. David could thus sing praises upon the ground of the promise which he had received (2 Samuel 7:12-16), and which is repeated almost verbatim in the last clause of 2 Samuel 22:51. The Chethib מגדיל is the Hiphil participle מגדּיל, according to Psalm 18:51; and the Keri מגדּול, "tower of the fulness of salvation," is a singular conjecture.

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