2 Samuel 22:1-51
And David spoke to the LORD the words of this song in the day that the LORD had delivered him out of the hand of all his enemies…
And David spake unto Jehovah the words of this song, etc. (ver. 1). It is a song of:
1. The anointed (messiah) of the Lord, his king (ver. 51), his servant (Psalm 18., inscription). Like Moses and Joshua, David held a peculiar and exalted position in the kingdom of God under the Old Testament. He was "a man [unlike Saul] of God's own choosing" (1 Samuel 13:14; 1 Samuel 16:28), to fill the office of theocratic king, and to fulfil his purposes concerning Israel and the world; he was also specially fitted for his vocation, faithfully devoted to it, and greatly blessed in it. And in the consciousness of this he here speaks.
2. Praise to the Lord, on the ground of his perfections, his relations, his benefits; prompted by the desire to render to him the honour which is his due (1 Samuel 2:1-10). "To praise God means nothing else than to ascribe to him the glorious perfections which he possesses; for we can only give to him what is his own" (Hengstenberg). And, more especially, of:
3. Thanksgiving for past deliverance, from imminent perils, to which, as the servant of God, he was exposed through the hatred and opposition of his enemies. Of these Saul was the most formidable; and, after becoming King of Israel, David was attacked by numerous heathen nations, both separately and in combination (2 Samuel 5:17; 2 Samuel 8.; 10.). It was probably when "the Lord had given him rest round about from all his enemies" (2 Samuel 7:1), and after the promise of an everlasting kingdom (2 Samuel 7:12-16), that the song was uttered; though by some it is regarded as "a great hallelujah, with which he retired from the theatre of life." "Having obtained many and signal victories, he does not, as irreligious men are accustomed to do, sing a song of triumph in honour of himself, but exalts and magnifies God, the Author of these victories, by a train of striking and appropriate epithets, and in a style of surpassing grandeur and sublimity" (Calvin).
4. Confidence in future triumph over all the enemies of the kingdom of God; of which the success already attained is an assurance. God is praised, not only for what he is and has been to him, but also for what he will be to "David and his seed forever" (ver. 51). Of this song, consider -
I. ITS SUBSTANCE; or, the reasons for praise.
1. The personal and intimate relationship of Jehovah to his servant (vers. 2-4).
"Jehovah is my Rock, and my Fortress. and my, yea, my Deliverer,
My Rock God, in whom I trust," etc.
(Vers. 2, 3.)
(1) He stands in a peculiar relation (beyond that which he bears to all men) to those to whom he reveals his Name, whom he takes into his fellowship, and to whom he promises to be "their God." These things make it possible to say, "my God," and (along with his gracious acts) incite the personal and ardent affection expressed at the commencement of Psalm 18. (a liturgical variation of the song), "Fervently do I love thee, O Jehovah my Strength," etc.
(2) Nature, history, and experience furnish manifold emblems of his excellences, and of the blessings which he bestows on those who trust in him (1 Samuel 2:2; Deuteronomy 32:4; Genesis 15:1). These images were suggested by the physical aspect of Palestine, and by the perilous condition and special deliverances of David in his early life, as a fugitive and a soldier, beset by many foes.
(3) He is all-sufficient for the needs of his people, however numerous and great, for their rescue, defence, permanent security, and complete salvation.
"As worthy to be praised, do I call on Jehovah,
And (whenever I call) I am saved from mine enemies." Faith knows no past and no future. What God has done and will do is present to it.
2. His marvellous deliverance. (Vers. 5-20.) In a single comprehensive picture David describes the many dangers that encompassed him during his persecution by Saul, and the many providential interpositions (1 Samuel 23:24-28) that were made on his behalf.
(1) Even those whom God loves (ver. 20) are sometimes "greatly afflicted." and reduced to the utmost extremity (1 Samuel 30:1-10). -
"For breakers of death surrounded me,
Streams of Belial terrified me;
Cords of Sheol girt me about,
Snares of death overtook me."
(Vers. 5, 6.)
(2) Their extreme need impels them to rely upon God all the more entirely, and to call upon him all the more fervently; nor do they call in vain. "In my distress I called" etc. (ver. 7), "and he heard my voice (instantly) out of his (heavenly) temple."
(3) Very wonderful is the answer of God to their cry, in the discomfiture of their adversaries and their complete deliverance. "The means by which this deliverance was achieved were, as far as we know, those which we see in the Books of Samuel - the turns and chances of providence, his own extraordinary activity, the faithfulness of his followers, the unexpected increase of his friends. But the act of deliverance itself is described in the language which belongs to the descent upon Mount Sinai or the passage of the Red Sea" (Stanley). The unseen and eternal King was moved wish wrath, at which the whole creation trembled (vers. 8, 9); he approached in the gathering thunderclouds, and upon the wings of the wind, armed as "a man of war" (Exodus 15:3), and preceded by his arrows of lightning (vers. 10-13); then, in the full outburst of the tempest, with the thunder of his power, "hailstones and coals of fire," he scattered the enemy, and disclosed the depths from which the cry for help arose (vers. 14-16); finally, with distinguishing, condescending, and tender care (ver. 36) -
"He reached from above, he laid hold of me,
He drew me out of great waters," etc.
(Vers. 17-20.) It is true that the deliverance of David was not actually attended by any such extraordinary natural phenomena; but the saving hand of God from heaven was so obviously manifested that the deliverance experienced by him could be poetically described as a miraculous interposition on the part of God (Keil).
3. His righteous procedure. (Vers. 21-28.) "He delivered me because he delighted in me" (ver. 20). He acted toward David in accordance with his gracious choice of him to be his servant, and delivered him because he was "well pleased" with his faithful service; the ground of this deliverance being now stated more fully -
"Jehovah rendered me according to my righteousness,
According to the cleanness of my hands hath he recompensed me," etc. This language (comp. 1 Samuel 26:13-25) neither implies entire freedom from sin nor indicates a boastful spirit, but is expressive of sincerity, integrity, fidelity; in contrast with the calumnies and wickedness of enemies, in fulfilment of a Divine call, in obedience to the Divine will generally, and in the main course of life, as:
(1) An expression and justification of the ways of God in a particular instance.
(2) An illustration of the law of his dealings with men (vers. 26, 27). "The truth which is here enunciated is not that the conception which man forms of God is the reflected image of his own mind and heart, but that God's conduct to man is the reflection of the relation in which man has placed himself to God (1 Samuel 2:30; 1 Samuel 15:23)" (Delitzsch). "Jehovah is righteous; he loveth righteousness" (Psalm 11:7). This is a most worthy reason for praise.
(3) An admonition and encouragement; "with the design of inspiring others with zeal for the fulfilment of the Law."
"And oppressed people thou savest;
And thine eyes are against the haughty: them thou humblest."
4. His continued and effectual help. (Vers. 29-46.) The righteousness and faithfulness of God are further confirmed by the experience of David (after his deliverance from the hand of Saul) in his wars with the external enemies of the kingdom.
(1) Having rescued his servant from destruction, he calls him to active conflict with surrounding enemies (vers. 29-32). In the former part of the song, David is represented as a passive object of his aid; in the latter, as an active instrument for effecting his purposes.
(2) He prepares him for the conflict, and strengthens him in it (vers. 33-37).
(3) He enables him to overcome his enemies and utterly destroy their power (vers. 38-43).
(4) He extends and establishes his royal dominion, making him to be "head of the heathen" (vers. 44-46). Herein the Messianic element of the song specially appears. Not, indeed, that "it is a hymn of victory, spoken not in the person of the prophet himself, David, but in the Person of his illustrious Son and Lord" (J. Brown, 'The Sufferings and Glories of the Messiah'); nor that there is here a direct and conscious prediction of the future Christ; but that the assured triumph of "David and his seed" aver the nations, the extension of the theocratic kingdom, prefigured the more glorious victories of "the King Messiah." "David's history, from first to last, was a kind of acted parable of the sufferings and glory of Christ" (Binnie). "Prophecy reveals to us the foreknowledge of God; but typical institutions reveal, not only his foreknowledge, but his providential arrangements. The facts of history become the language of prophecy, and teach us that he with whom a thousand years are but as yesterday guides the operations of distant ages with reference to each other; and thus in a typical economy we trace not only the all-beholding eye, but the all-directing hand of the Deity; not only the Divine omniscience, but the Divine omnipotence. The foretold and minute resemblance between characters and transactions, separated from each other by an interval of a thousand years, is too striking an argument of the hand of God to be controverted or explained away" (Thompson, 'Davidica'). The kingdom of Christ, nevertheless, is of a higher nature, and established by other means, than the theocratic kingdom of David. "This was the foundation of that resplendent image of the Messiah which it required the greatest of all religions changes to move from the mind of the Jewish nation, in order to raise up instead of it the still more exalted idea which was to take its place - an anointed Sovereign conquering by other arts than those of war, and in other dominions than those of earthly empire" (Stanley). "Thus all David's hopes and all his joy terminate, as ours always should, in the great Redeemer" (Matthew Henry).
II. ITS SPIRIT; as it appears throughout the song, and particularly in its conclusion -
"Living is Jehovah, and blessed is my Rock;
Exalted is the Rock God of my salvation," etc.
1. Personal, appropriating faith. "Faith it is which gives its peculiar grandeur to David's song of triumph; his masterpiece, and it may be the masterpiece of human poetry, inspired or uninspired, What is the element in that ode, which even now makes it stir the heart like a trumpet? What protects such words (vers. 7-17) from the imputation of mere Eastern exaggeration? The firm conviction that God is the Deliverer, not only of David, but of all who trust in him; that the whole majesty of God, and all the powers of nature, are arrayed on the side of the good and the opprest" (C. Kingsley, 'David: Four Sermons').
2. Heartfelt delight in God.
3. Fervent gratitude.
4. Unreserved consecration to his service, his honour, his glory.
"Therefore will I give thanks unto thee,
O Jehovah, among the heathen;
And sing praises unto thy Name."
(Vers. 50, 51.) (See on this song, Chandler, Maclaren, W.M. Taylor, and commentaries on Psalm 18.) "David, King of Judah, a soul inspired by Divine music and much other heroism, was wont to pour himself forth in song; he with a seer's eye and heart discerned the Godlike among the human! struck tones that were an echo of the sphere harmonies, and are still felt to be such. Reader, art thou one of a thousand, able still to read the psalms of David, and catch some echo of it through the old dim centuries; feeling far off in thine own heart what it once was to other hearts made as thine?" (Carlyle, 'Miscellaneous Essays'). - D.
Parallel VersesKJV: And David spake unto the LORD the words of this song in the day that the LORD had delivered him out of the hand of all his enemies, and out of the hand of Saul:
WEB: David spoke to Yahweh the words of this song in the day that Yahweh delivered him out of the hand of all his enemies, and out of the hand of Saul: