2 Samuel 22:44, 45
You also have delivered me from the strivings of my people, you have kept me to be head of the heathen…
David once more records how God had delivered him in and from the contests in which he had been involved; and declares that he had thus kept him "to be the head of the nations" (Revised Version), not only Israel, but foreign peoples. He, or, if not he, the Spirit which spake by him (2 Samuel 23:2), may have had in view the ultimate purpose of God respecting him and his posterity, viz. the exaltation of his great Son to be, in a wider sense than was applicable to David himself, "the Head of the nations." We may at least take the words as applicable to the Lord Jesus Christ.
I. THE OPPOSITION HE ENCOUNTERS. Like David, he has to withstand many "strivings of the people."
1. In his life on earth he was much opposed. He endured the "contradiction of sinners against himself" (Hebrews 12:3). "He came unto his own, and his own received him not" (John 1:11) - his own people, his own family (John 7:5). All classes, with a few exceptions, rejected him - Pharisees and Sadducees, elders and scribes, ecclesiastics and politicians, rulers and people. The multitude sought once to make him king (John 6:15), and, when he entered Jerusalem for the last time, welcomed him, in the hope that he was about to ascend the throne; but he would not be such a king as they desired, and they cared not to have such a King as he was to be. Hence they united with their superiors in saying, "We will not have this Man to reign over us" (Luke 19:14); and, to put an end to his pretensions, put him to death. They did not know that they were thus very effectually promoting his victories and reign.
2. He has met with various and constant opposition ever since. His cause has advanced in spite of perpetual strivings against it. Jews and Gentiles, kings and subjects, rich and poor, the intellectual and the ignorant, the refined and the coarse, have "set themselves.., against the Lord, and against his Anointed" (Psalm 2:2). He, too, can speak still of the "strivings of my people." As at first amongst the Jews, so since amongst Christians (so called), and amongst those in high positions in his Church, have been found his worst foes. Men are willing to bear his Name, to receive some of his doctrines, and even contend for them, to appropriate the comfort he gives; but to obey him, to let him rule in their minds and hearts and lives, in their homes, in their business, in their pleasures, in their social life, in their national affairs, - that is quite another matter. And those who strive earnestly to obey him themselves, and to induce others to do so, must be prepared for opposite "strivings," and even persecution. Nor do they wonder, seeing they find, more or less, in their own nature, elements of opposition to the rule of the Christ which explain the hostility of others.
IX. THE EXALTED POSITION HE NEVERTHELESS OCCUPIES. "Head of the nations." The answer of the Almighty to all the rebellious counsels and works of men is, "Yet have I set my King upon my holy hill of Zion" (Psalm 2:6). The kingdom of Christ is the kingdom of Jehovah; vain, therefore, must be all strivings against it. Its opponents can only dash themselves to pieces, but "he must reign" (1 Corinthians 15:25).
1. The extent of his dominion. "The nations," in a wider sense than was true of David. "All nations shall serve him" (Psalm 72:11). And not only all nations in existence at any one time, but all that may come into existence while the world endures.
2. The nature of his dominion.
(1) He is "Head of the nations" by right. By the appointment and gift of the Father (Psalm 2:7, 8; Matthew 28:18). As the result and reward of his own righteousness and self-sacrificing love (Philippians 2:8, 9). He redeemed men by his blood, to make them "a kingdom" (Revelation 1:5, 6; Revelation 5:9, 10, Revised Version). As truth, righteousness, and love are rightful rulers, however far they may be from actually ruling, so is it with our Lord.
(2) He actually rules over all nations. "He is Lord of all" (Acts 10:36). All authority on earth, as well as in heaven, has been given to him (Matthew 28:18). Whether men know him or not, acknowledge him or not, he is their King; he so orders, controls, and directs the affairs of the nations as to make them subserve the advancement and ultimate universal establishment of his spiritual reign.
(3) He has already a vast multitude of willing and obedient subjects in many nations. "A people which he knew not," gathered from the Gentiles, serves him; as well as many from the people whom he knew.
(4) Many render him feigned obedience (ver. 45, margin). It is an evidence of his great power among the nations that many find it to their interest, or credit, or convenience, to profess his Name, who are still opposed to him in heart. They call him Lord, though they do not the things which he says (Luke 6:46).
(5) All nations will at length own him as their Head, and heartily and lovingly submit to his sway. The prophecy will yet be fulfilled: "There followed great voices in heaven, and they said, The kingdom of the world is become the kingdom of our Lord, and of his Christ: and he shall reign forever and ever" (Revelation 11:15, Revised Version). In the assurance of this, let his people labour and give and pray with joyful hope for the extension of his reign in the earth. - G.W.
Parallel VersesKJV: Thou also hast delivered me from the strivings of my people, thou hast kept me to be head of the heathen: a people which I knew not shall serve me.
WEB: You also have delivered me from the strivings of my people. You have kept me to be the head of the nations. A people whom I have not known will serve me.