2 Samuel 7:23
And what one nation in the earth is like thy people, even like Israel, whom God went to redeem for a people to himself, and to make him a name, and to do for you great things and terrible, for thy land, before thy people, which thou redeemedst to thee from Egypt, from the nations and their gods?
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(23) Whom God went to redeem.—The word here used for God in this its usual plural form is always construed with a singular verb when it refers to the true God. Here the verb is plural, because the thought is, “What nation is there whom its gods went to redeem?”

For you.—These words, which can only refer to Israel, seem strange in a prayer to God. They are omitted by the LXX., and changed into for them by the Vulg. If they are retained as they are, it must be understood that David for the moment turns in thought to the people, instead of to God whom he is immediately addressing.

For thy land.—The LXX. and the parallel passage (1Chronicles 17:21), instead of this have, “by driving out.” If the text here may be corrected in this way, there will be no occasion for inserting from before the nations, which is not in the Hebrew. This part of the verse will then read, to do great things and terrible, by driving out before thy people, which thou redeemedst to thee from Egypt, nations and their gods. The phrase, “great things and terrible,” in reference to the Exodus, is taken from Deuteronomy 10:21. The whole of this part of the prayer is evidently founded upon Deuteronomy 4:7; Deuteronomy 4:32-34.

2 Samuel 7:23. What one nation in the earth, &c. — He seems to have in view the words of Moses in Deuteronomy 4:7; Deuteronomy 4:34. To make him a name — That all the world might know and acknowledge his power and glory. To do for you great things and terrible, &c. — Instead of, for you, the Seventy, Vulgate, and Arabic read, for them. Or the words may be understood, according to Le Clerc’s interpretation, who supplies some words evidently intended to be supplied to perfect the sense, thus: To do for you great things, O Israel, and terrible for thy land, O God, by casting out the nations before thy people, &c. But the parallel place, 1 Chronicles 17:2, to which the reader is referred, will best explain the sense of this whole verse. From the nations and their gods — Some, by gods, understand their rulers; but their gods were no more able, nay, being mere imaginary beings, were less able to save the nations whom Jehovah drove out, than their kings and rulers.

7:18-29 David's prayer is full of the breathings of devout affection toward God. He had low thoughts of his own merits. All we have, must be looked upon as Divine gifts. He speaks very highly and honourably of the Lord's favours to him. Considering what the character and condition of man is, we may be amazed that God should deal with him as he does. The promise of Christ includes all; if the Lord God be ours, what more can we ask, or think of? Eph 3:20. He knows us better than we know ourselves; therefore let us be satisfied with what he has done for us. What can we say more for ourselves in our prayers, than God has said for us in his promises? David ascribes all to the free grace of God. Both the great things He had done for him, and the great things He had made known to him. All was for his word's sake, that is, for the sake of Christ the eternal Word. Many, when they go to pray, have their hearts to seek, but David's heart was found, that is, it was fixed; gathered in from its wanderings, entirely engaged to the duty, and employed in it. That prayer which is from the tongue only, will not please God; it must be found in the heart; that must be lifted up and poured out before God. He builds his faith, and hopes to speed, upon the sureness of God's promise. David prays for the performance of the promise. With God, saying and doing are not two things, as they often are with men; God will do as he hath said. The promises of God are not made to us by name, as to David, but they belong to all who believe in Jesus Christ, and plead them in his name.The nations and their gods - i e. the people and the idols of Canaan. 20. what can David say more unto thee?—that is, my obligations are greater than I can express. God went, to wit, into Egypt; an expression of God after the manner of men.

To make him a name; to advance the glory of his power and goodness, and other perfections. Compare Exodus 9:16.

And what one nation in the earth is like thy people, even like Israel,.... For the knowledge and worship of the true God among them, for laws and or given them, and for blessings of goodness bestowed upon them:

whom God went to redeem for a people to himself; the words are plural, "whom the gods went to redeem"; the Targum is,"they that were sent from the Lord,''meaning Moses and Aaron, of whom Jarchi interprets them, of the first of which it is said, "I have made thee a god unto Pharaoh", Exodus 7:1; but Kimchi and R. Isaiah understand it of the true God, only suppose, as the former, that the plural expression is used for the sake of honour and glory; whereas, no doubt, respect is had to the three divine Persons in the Trinity, who were all concerned in the redemption of Israel, see Isaiah 63:9, where mention is made of the Lord, and of the Angel of his presence, and of his holy Spirit, as engaged therein:

and to make him a name; either to get himself a name, and honour and glory in the world, to show forth his power and might, as well as his mercy and goodness, or to make his people famous, great, and glorious in the earth:

and to do for you great things and terrible; as he did in the land of Ham, at the Red sea, and in the wilderness, and in the land of Canaan, great things for his people, and terrible ones to their enemies:

for thy land; which is either spoken to God, whose was the land of Israel, and which he had chosen to dwell in, and had given to his people; or else to Israel, to whom the grant of this land was made, and who were put into the possession of it:

before thy people which thou redeemedst to thee from Egypt: that is, the great and terrible things were done in their sight, when they were redeemed from the bondage of Egypt, see Psalm 78:12,

from the nations, and their gods? meaning, that they were redeemed not only from Egypt, but the nations of the Canaanites were driven out before them; nor could their idols save them, but destruction came upon them as upon the gods of the Egyptians: some leave out the supplement "from", and interpret this of the persons redeemed, even of the nations and tribes of Israel, and their great men, their rulers and civil magistrates, sometimes called gods.

And what one nation in the earth is like thy people, even like Israel, whom God went to redeem for a people to himself, and to make him a name, and to do for {i} you great things and terrible, for {k} thy land, before thy people, which thou redeemedst to thee from Egypt, from the {l} nations and their gods?

(i) O Israel.

(k) And inheritance, which is Israel.

(l) From the Egyptians and their idols.

23. And what, &c.] For what, &c., a further reason for the last statement. Cp. Deuteronomy 4:7; Deuteronomy 4:32-38.

whom God went &c.] Better, which their god went to redeem. Elôhîm, the Heb. word for God, is a plural noun, but regularly takes a singular verb when it denotes the true God. Here the verb “went” is in the plural, which indicates that the gods of the nations are meant to be included. The sense is, ‘Where can any nation be found, which has been delivered by the deity it worships, as Israel was delivered from Egypt by Jehovah?’

for you] “You” can only refer to Israel, and an address to the people is quite out of place in David’s prayer to God. We must either omit for you with the LXX, or read for them, i.e. the nation, with the Vulgate.

for thy land] This gives no satisfactory sense, and “the nations and their gods” at the end of the verse has no proper construction in the existing text. It is best to emend the text by the help of the LXX, compared with 1 Chronicles 17:21, and read to drive out in place of for thy land. The close of the verse will then stand thus; “and to do great things and terrible, to drive out nations and their gods before thy people, which thou redeemedst for thyself out of Egypt.”

The construction, which began in the third person, in connexion with the relative clause, returns at the end of the verse to a direct address to God.

great things and terrible] The miracles of the Exodus, the journey through the wilderness, the Entry into Canaan. Cp. Deuteronomy 10:21 for the phrase.

Verse 23. - And what one nation, etc.? The translation should be, And who is like thy people, like Israel, the one nation upon earth which God went to redeem for himself to be his people, and to make for him a name, etc.? Israel both was and remains to this day a nation unique in its history, both in those early dealings of God with it, and also in its later history and its marvellous preservation unto this day. It is remarkable that in this place the word for "God," Elohim, is followed by a verb plural, the almost invariable rule in Hebrew being that, though Elohim is itself plural, it takes a verb singular whenever it refers to the true God. In the corresponding passage (1 Chronicles 17:21) the verb is in the singular. No adequate reason has been given for this deviation, but probably the usage in these early times was not so strict as it became subsequently. It is the influence of writing, and of the eye becoming conversant with writing, that makes men correct in their use of language and in the spelling of words. In the Syriac Church, God the Word and God the Holy Ghost were at first spoken of in the feminine gender, because "Word" and "Spirit" are both feminine nouns; but grammar soon gave way to soundness of thought and feeling. So probably in colloquial language Elohim was often used with a verb plural, but correct thinking forbade and overruled grammar. We may regard this, then, as one of the few passages in which the colloquial usage has escaped correction, and attach no further importance to it. For you. "You" is plural, and refers to the people. The Vulgate has "for them," which is in accordance with the greater exactness of modern grammar. But sudden changes of person are very common in Hebrew, which follows the rules of thought rather than of written composition; and so David speaks of Israel as you, because they seemed to him to be present. We must note, however, that in the words that follow, for thy land, and thy people, the pronoun is singular, and refers to God. From the nations and their gods. Both the Authorized Version and the Revised Version, by inserting "from," which is not in the Hebrew, take "nations" as in apposition with "Egypt;" but a moment's consideration shows that this is untenable, as "nations" is plural. But the whole verse is so full of grammatical difficulties as to make it extremely probable that the text is corrupt, and that we ought to supply the verb "to drive out," which is actually read in 1 Chronicles 17:21, or even to substitute it in the place of "for thy land," which is omitted in the parallel passage. The nations which God drove out had nothing to do with Egypt, but were the seven dominant tribes of Canaan; and the bestowal upon Israel of their territories was as essential a part of Jehovah's dealings with his people as the Exodus itself. Thus the reading will be, To drive out before thy people, whom thou purchasedst for thee from Egypt, nations and their gods. 2 Samuel 7:23"And where is (any) like Thy people, like Israel, a nation upon earth, which God went to redeem as a people for himself, that He might make Him a name, and do great things for you, and terrible things for Thy land before Thy people, which Thou hast redeemed for Thee out of Egypt, (out of the) nations and their gods?" מי does not really mean where, but who, and is to be connected with the words immediately following, viz., אחד גּוי (one nation); but the only way in which the words can be rendered into good English (German in the original: Tr.) is, "where is there any people," etc. The relative אשׁר does not belong to הלכוּ, "which Elohim went to redeem." The construing of Elohim with a plural arises from the fact, that in this clause it not only refers to the true God, but also includes the idea of the gods of other nations. The idea, therefore, is not, "Is there any nation upon earth to which the only true God went?" but, "Is there any nation to which the deity worshipped by it went, as the true God went to Israel to redeem it for His own people?" The rendering given in the Septuagint to הלכוּ, viz., ὠδήγησεν, merely arose from a misapprehension of the true sense of the words; and the emendation הוליך, which some propose in consequence, would only distort the sense. The stress laid upon the incomparable character of the things which God had done for Israel, is merely introduced to praise and celebrate the God who did this as the only true God. (For the thought itself, compare the original passage in Deuteronomy 4:7, Deuteronomy 4:34.) In the clause לכם ולעשׂות, "and to do for you," David addresses the people of Israel with oratorical vivacity. Instead of saying "to do great things to (for) Israel," he says "to do great things to (for you." For you forms an antithesis to him, "to make Him a name, and to do great things for you (Israel)." The suggestion made by some, that לכם is to be taken as a dativ. comm., and referred to Elohim, no more needs a serious refutation than the alteration into להם. There have been different opinions, however, as to the object referred to in the suffix attached to לארצך, and it is difficult to decide between them; for whilst the fact that לארצך נראות (terrible things to Thy land) is governed by לעשׂות (to do) favours the allusion to Israel, and the sudden transition from the plural to the singular might be accounted for from the deep emotion of the person speaking, the words which follow ("before Thy people") rather favour the allusion to God, as it does not seem natural to take the suffix in two different senses in the two objects which follow so closely the one upon the other, viz., "for Thy land," and "before Thy people;" whilst the way is prepared for a transition from speaking of God to speaking to God by the word לכם (to you). The words of Deuteronomy 10:21 floated before the mind of David at the time, although he has given them a different turn. (On the "terrible things," see the commentary on Deuteronomy 10:21 and Exodus 15:11.) The connection of נראות (terrible things) with לארצך (to Thy land) shows that David had in mind, when speaking of the acts of divine omnipotence which had inspired fear and dread of the majesty of God, not only the miracles of God in Egypt, but also the marvellous extermination of the Canaanites, whereby Israel had been established in the possession of the promised land, and the people of God placed in a condition to found a kingdom. These acts were performed before Israel, before the nation, whom the Lord redeemed to himself out of Egypt. This view is confirmed by the last words, "nations and their gods," which are in apposition to "from Egypt," so that the preposition מן should be repeated before גּוים (nations). The suffix to ואלהיו (literally "and its gods") is to be regarded as distributive: "the gods of each of these heathen nations." In the Chronicles (1 Chronicles 17:21) the expression is simplified, and explained more clearly by the omission of "to Thy land," and the insertion of לגרשׁ, "to drive out nations from before Thy people." It has been erroneously inferred from this, that the text of our book is corrupt, and ought to be emended, or at any rate interpreted according to the Chronicles. But whilst לארצך is certainly not to be altered into לגרשׁ, it is just as wrong to do as Hengstenberg proposes, - namely, to take the thought expressed in לגרשׁ from the preceding לעשׂות by assuming a zeugma; for עשׂה, to do or make, has nothing in common with driving or clearing away.
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