Thursday, June 8th, 2023
the Week of Proper 4 / Ordinary 9
the Week of Proper 4 / Ordinary 9
Pett's Commentary on the Bible Pett's Commentary
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Pett, Peter. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 22". "Pett's Commentary on the Bible ". https://studylight.org/
commentaries/ eng/ pet/ 2-samuel-22.html. 2013.
Pett, Peter. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 22". "Pett's Commentary on the Bible ". https://studylight.org/
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SECTION 10. A Final Summary (21:1-24:25).
This final summary of the Book of Samuel presents a fitting conclusion to the whole book and what it has been all about. Central to the summary, and at its core, is a vivid portrayal of the invisible power of the living God at work, presented in poetic form, which is assumed to have been active during all the incidents described in the book (2 Samuel 22:7-20). Together with this there is a description of His great faithfulness shown towards David in establishing the everlasting kingly rule of his house (2 Samuel 22:1 to 2 Samuel 23:6). Then, on either side of this glorious depiction of YHWH’s heavenly power at work, standing like earthly sentinels appointed to fulfil God’s purposes (the earthly equivalent of the Cherubim) are David’s mighty men, the men who were empowered by YHWH to watch over the purposes of God in David. They were the human instruments by which God’s purposes for David had been brought through to the end, the instruments who had always been there to aid him whenever the going got tough.
Acting as an outer layer to the sandwich are depictions of the failure of both the kings about whom the narratives have been speaking, depictions which bring out the reason for the failure and destiny of each, and which demonstrate what the consequences of such failures were. Saul is seen to have regularly failed because he never took sacred things seriously enough, imagining that he could shape them to suit his purpose or ignore them for his own convenience, and because he knew little of repentance, the consequence was the almost complete destruction of his house. David, in contrast, regularly failed after he had become king because of arrogance and apathy, but in he deepest heart he was concerned to please God, and he always deeply repented when he became aware of his sin. The end result was that he was always delivered from the final consequences of his sins, firstly because of the mercy and purposes of God, secondly as a result of temporary chastisement, and thirdly in consequence of the offering of a substitutionary and atoning offering. In the case cited here it resulted in the plague being stayed, and the consequence of their sin being removed from God’s people
The section also presents us with a brief overall summary of different aspects of David’s reign from its commencement, and it is no accident that the initial incident takes us back to the time of Saul. It thus begins with a description which summarises the sad legacy left by Saul, a legacy for which punishment had to come on Israel, in this case in the form of famine, together with a portrayal of the awful cost to Saul’s family of rectifying that error, something which almost leads to the destruction of his house (2 Samuel 21:1-14; compare 1 Samuel 9:1 to 2 Samuel 1:27). It continues on with a description of how once David was in power David’s mighty men had humiliated the pride of the Philistines (2 Samuel 21:15-22; compare 2 Samuel 5:17-25; 2 Samuel 8:1), and then describes in song YHWH’s continuing faithfulness towards David and towards Israel, which includes a celebration of the fact of His great promises to David (2 Samuel 22:1-51; compare 2 Samuel 7:1-29), calling to mind in the last words of David YHWH’s everlasting covenant with him (2 Samuel 23:1-7; compare 2 Samuel 7:8-17). This is then followed by a listing in detail of the particulars of David’s mighty men, who were from then on continually the backbone of his kingdom (2 Samuel 23:8-19; compare 2 Samuel 2:3 and often), guaranteeing his successes and dealing with any contingencies that arose, and it ends on a sombre note with a reminder that David by his sinfulness could similarly bring judgment on an Israel who had also sinned, here in the form of pestilence, although in his case YHWH would demonstrate His mercy by chastening but stopping short of total judgment. That was the difference between David’s rule and Saul’s. And the result in this case was David’s offering of thanksgiving for YHWH’s mercy, made at YHWH’s command, as a result of the cessation of the plague (2 Samuel 24:1-25; compare 2 Samuel 11:1 to 2 Samuel 20:26).
As will be observed all this follows the usual chiastic form:
Analysis of 21:1-24:25.
a YHWH judges Israel with famine because of the sin of Saul, a judgment which is only removed at the cost of the blood of the house of Saul (2 Samuel 21:1-14).
b David’s mighty men humiliate the pride of the Philistines (2 Samuel 21:15-22).
c The song of David (2 Samuel 22:1-15).
c The last words of David (2 Samuel 23:1-7)
b The list of David’s mighty men (2 Samuel 23:8-19).
a YHWH judges Israel with pestilence because of the sin of David, a judgment which is only removed in his case by the cost of the blood of a substitute (2 Samuel 24:1-25).
A Psalm About The God Who Delivers, And Of How He Has Delivered (2 Samuel 22:1-51 ).
Having revealed by the judgment on the house of Saul that God is a just God who deals severely with sin and judges those who go against His covenant (2 Samuel 21:1-14), and having described the earthly means (the mighty men) by which He had provided for the deliverance of both David and Israel (2 Samuel 21:15-22), the section now focuses in on the God of Deliverance Himself. Its purpose is to make clear that the background to all that has been described in the book of Samuel has been that of God acting invisibly but effectively in deliverance. It is that fact that has been the secret of David’s outwitting of Saul, and it that fact that has been the secret of all his victories over his enemies. Thus in the Psalm that now follows we are given an insider’s view of the effective, invisible activity of God working on David’s behalf.
This activity is depicted in terms of vivid and powerful natural phenomena, but it should be noted that it actually occurred, as far as men were concerned, invisibly to the naked eye, or even to human experience, for when the battle was on or the chase was taking place there was usually no visible storm. Rather the sun would usually have been shining blissfully in a cloudless sky. The activity was only visible to the eye of faith. But the point of the Psalmist is that whatever might be men’s physical apprehension of the situation at the time (and it might have been a beautiful summer’s day), when David called on the invisible God, He was immediately there, acting as powerfully as a magnificent storm, and sweeping all before Him. Earth might outwardly appear relatively quiet to those involved, but that was because men could not see the invisible. But to those who did see the invisible, the heavens became filled with powerful and violent activity, because YHWH was acting on David’s behalf (compare 2 Kings 6:17 where it is put in a slightly different way for Elisha and his servant). And the result was that his enemies, totally unaware of the powers at work against them and striving vainly against him, could not stand before him.
a YHWH has delivered David from his enemies and especially from Saul (2 Samuel 22:1).
b YHWH is David’s rock, fortress and shield and the horn of his salvation, his Saviour Who has saved him (2 Samuel 22:1-4)
c David cries in his need to YHWH, Who hears him, with the result that YHWH comes in His great power and splendour to act on David’s behalf (2 Samuel 22:5-13).
d YHWH routs the enemy by His power, and delivers David from his particular trouble (2 Samuel 22:14-20).
e This is because David has walked righteously before Him, the same is true for all who walk righteously (2 Samuel 22:21-28).
f YHWH is David’s lamp who enables him in all that he has to face (2 Samuel 22:29-30).
e He is a shield for all who take refuge in Him (2 Samuel 22:31-32).
d YHWH has made David powerfully effective in war, that is why his feet do not slip and his enemies flee before him (2 Samuel 22:33-40).
c And that is why his enemies are powerless before him, and no nation can stand before him (2 Samuel 22:41-46).
b Because YHWH is his rock and salvation none can be effective before him (2 Samuel 22:47-49).
a That is why he thanks God, because He gives great and everlasting deliverance to His king, to His Anointed (2 Samuel 22:50-51).
Note that in ‘a’ YHWH delivered David from all his enemies and especially from Saul (who sought him because he suspected that he was YHWH’s Anointed), and in the parallel he thanks YHWH for his deliverance because he is YHWH’s Anointed. In ‘b’ YHWH is David’s Rock, and is the horn of his salvation, and in the parallel He is David’s rock, and the rock of his salvation. In ‘c’ David cries in his need to YHWH and YHWH comes to him effectively and powerfully, and in the parallel that is why David is invincible. In ‘d’ YHWH routs the enemy by His almighty power, and in the parallel He makes David powerfully effective in war so that he routs all his enemies. In ‘e’ all who walk righteously are watched over by YHWH and in the parallel He is a shield for all who take refuge in Him. Centrally in ‘f’ YHWH is David’s lamp and sufficiency.
The whole point of the Psalm in context is in order to bring out that everything which was good that has happened to David he owes to YHWH, and that he is where he now is because of YHWH’s constantly revealed power, and because of His constant watch over him.
2 Samuel 22:1
‘ And David spoke to YHWH the words of this song in the day that YHWH delivered him out of the hand of all his enemies, and out of the hand of Saul.’
For a parallel ‘introduction’ to a Psalm see Deuteronomy 31:30. Note how this statement very much has 1 Samuel in mind. It is a reminder that Samuel is to be seen as one book, for the statement lays great emphasis on David’s deliverance from Saul (the previous chapter having already reminded us of the bloodthirstiness of Saul (2 Samuel 21:1)). But it also has in mind David’s later victories, for it emphasises that it has been by YHWH that he has been delivered out of the hands of all his enemies. The writer was by this emphasising that David wanted no glory to go to himself. Rather David was emphatically recognising that he owed all to YHWH and to His great demonstrations of invisible power. For David was only too well aware that when he and his men had trudged the hot and dusty desert as they had fled from Saul, it had been YHWH Who had been there, effectively working in his defence in supernatural power. And it had been the same when he had faced his other enemies. And he was duly grateful.
2 Samuel 22:2-4
‘ And he said:
“YHWH is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer, even mine,
God, my rock, in him will I take refuge,
My shield, and the horn of my salvation, my high tower, and my refuge,
My saviour, you save me from violence.
I will call upon YHWH, who is worthy to be praised,
So will I be saved from my enemies.”
Note how these verses pile one description on another as David seeks to express the confidence that he has in YHWH, a confidence matured by bitter experience. YHWH is his Rock, and his Fortress, and his Deliverer, yes, ‘even mine’. He was ever conscious of how unworthy he was that YHWH should be so good to him. The emphasis is on the fact that he is firmly established and totally safe. He is founded on YHWH as his Rock, he is safe in YHWH as his heavenly mountain fortress, and he looks to YHWH as his own personal Deliverer. Furthermore YHWH is the Rock in which he finds refuge, is his Shield and Protector, and is the One Whose mighty strength (horn) constantly saves him. He is his High Tower and Refuge. How could he possibly have been safer?
Note also the emphasis on salvation. ‘Refuge’, ‘salvation’, ‘Saviour’, ‘save me’, ‘so will I be saved’. His whole dependence for deliverance is in his God who saves him from violence and from his enemies and from all that he has to face. That is why He is worthy to be praised. The idea underlines the whole Psalm.
2 Samuel 22:5-7
“For the waves of death encompassed me,
The floods of worthlessness made me afraid,
The cords of Sheol were round about me,
The snares of death came on me.”
In my distress I called on YHWH,
Yes, I called to my God,
And he heard my voice out of his temple,
And my cry came into his ears.”
And he had needed YHWH’s protection because of the horrors that he had had to face, the waves of Death trying to drown him, the floods of the Ungodly/the Unworthy (Saul and his warriors/the hosts of Aram) filling him with fear, the cords of the Grave wrapping round him and binding him as he looked death in the face, and the snares of Death entangling him as he felt himself being slowly drawn in. He had felt as though he was constantly in danger of being both engulfed and ensnared. The description is vivid. It is the picture of a man fighting for his very existence, with death a hairsbreadth away.
No wonder then that he had often been distressed. But in that distress he had called on YHWH, yes, he had called on his God. And his God had heard him ‘out of His heavenly Temple’ (compare2 Samuel 11:4; 2 Samuel 11:4; Isaiah 6:1; Isaiah 29:6; Isaiah 63:15; Micah 1:2; Habakkuk 2:20). His cry had reached God’s ears. And the result was that God had come in majestic and awesome (even if in invisible, and outwardly unnoticeable) power. The Spirit of YHWH had manifested His powerful working effectively.
2 Samuel 22:8-13
“Then the earth shook and trembled,
The foundations of heaven quaked,
And were shaken, because he was angry.
There went up a smoke out of his nostrils,
And fire out of his mouth devoured,
Coals were kindled by it.”
“He bowed the heavens also, and came down,
And thick darkness was under his feet.
And he rode on a cherub, and did fly,
Yes, he was seen on the wings of the wind.
And he made darkness pavilions round about him,
Gathering of waters, thick clouds of the skies.
At the brightness before him,
Coals of fire were kindled.”
YHWH’s coming to David’s assistance is vividly portrayed in terms of a terrible storm (compare Judges 5:4). The violent thunder causes the earth to shake and reveals His anger. The lightning starts fires, the smoke of which, as it were, comes out of His nostrils. The darkness surrounds Him like a tent or pavilion and the wind swirls around Him, while the thick thunder clouds also gather around. Note how these pictures of the earth shaking, the mighty thunder, the vivid lightning, the smoke and the fire are all reminiscent of Sinai (Exodus 19:16; Exodus 19:18). It is the God of Sinai Who is acting on David’s behalf.
So the fierceness of God’s anger over the treatment of His Anointed is being expressed in terms of the quaking earth and the mountains shaking at their very bases, in the midst of the thick, swirling clouds that sometimes come down to cover the earth and with the fire and smoke, which result from bolts of lightning starting fierce fires on it, as the lightning strikes the very ground. It presents us with an awe-inspiring scene. And as we have seen there is surely a reference to the appearance of YHWH at Sinai in thunder, and quaking earth, and thick cloud, and smoke and fire (Exodus 19:16; Exodus 19:18). The God of Sinai was coming, even though invisibly, to David’s aid. As Saul sought to track down David and kill him he was, of course oblivious of such activity. Saul was totally unaware of the heavenly vengeance that he was bringing down on himself. To him the heavens seemed silent, and there was nothing further from his mind than the idea that YHWH was fighting for David. What he overlooked was the fact that the mills of God were grinding him, and that though they were grinding slowly, they would grind exceeding small, and with great power.
For the idea of YHWH riding on the cherub and flying see the vivid description of YHWH on His airborne throne borne by the cherubim in Ezekiel chapters 1 and 10. Compare also Psalms 104:3. (In earlier Canaanite literature Baal also was described as ‘the Rider of the clouds’).
Note the dual repetition of the kindling of ‘coals of fire’ (2 Samuel 22:9; 2 Samuel 22:13), perhaps a symbol of the coals of fire upon the altar (Isaiah 6:6). It may suggest that YHWH had in mind a sacrificial offering. But it may simply express God’s holy anger. Fire regularly indicates God’s anger (Psalms 97:3; Exodus 15:7; Deuteronomy 32:22; Hebrews 12:29).
There is also in all this very much a picture which contains the air of mystery. Note the emphasis on ‘darkness’, the darkness of the hiddenness, of His mysterious working. Darkness and thick clouds were ever His hiding place and His enveloping tent, His protection and His cover. For man was not allowed to see His direct activity, nor could man see God and live. All that they saw was the results.
2 Samuel 22:14-16
“ YHWH thundered from heaven,
And the Most High uttered his voice.
And he sent out arrows, and scattered them,
Lightning, and discomfited them.
Then the channels of the sea appeared,
The foundations of the world were laid bare,
By the rebuke of YHWH,
At the blast of the breath of his nostrils.”
But there is not just a revelation of YHWH’s power here. There is also reference to His warlike activity. He thunders from Heaven, He utters His voice, He sends out arrows of lightning, He opens up the sources of the sea , He lays bare the foundations of the earth, and all this occurs as a result of the rebuke of YHWH and the blast of the breath of His nostrils (compare Exodus 15:8). Here YHWH is acting in all His awe-inspiring mightiness and power on David’s behalf as he had at the Red Sea. No wonder David was victorious over all his enemies.
2 Samuel 22:17-20
“ He sent from on high, he took me,
He drew me out of many waters,
He delivered me from my strong enemy,
From those who hated me, for they were too mighty for me.
They came on me in the day of my calamity,
But YHWH was my stay.”
He brought me forth also into a large place,
He delivered me, because he delighted in me.”
David then remembers back to how YHWH had ‘sent from on High’, and drawn him out of the trials that seemed to be engulfing him. His strong enemy had been primarily Saul and his courtiers, who had hated him, and had appeared to be too mighty for him. And he had perhaps often asked himself, ‘what was he that he should constantly oppose the king?’ And each time their coming on him had been calamitous to him. But he had overcome because YHWH had been his stay. And YHWH had always brought him out into a large place, the place of deliverance. And He had done it because He had delighted in him. Thus all that he now enjoyed he owed to YHWH and His elective goodness and love. David was very conscious of YHWH’s love for him, a love which he full reciprocated (except during bad periods).
2 Samuel 22:21-25
“YHWH rewarded me according to my righteousness,
According to the cleanness of my hands has he recompensed me.
For I have kept the ways of YHWH,
And have not wickedly departed from my God.
For all his ordinances were before me,
And as for his statutes, I did not depart from them.
I was also perfect toward him,
And I kept myself from my iniquity.
Therefore has YHWH recompensed me according to my righteousness,
According to my cleanness in his eyesight.”
Many see these words as indicating a time before David had sinned in respect to Bathsheba and Uriah, and they ask how could he otherwise speak of the cleanness of his hands and of himself as not having departed from his God and as having kept himself from his iniquity? And it may possibly be so. But perhaps such thinking ignores the wonder of full forgiveness. How many of us constantly bring to mind our past, forgiven sins? Surely we do not, and should not. We have put them behind us, because God has put them behind Him (Isaiah 38:17). Many of us have sinned deeply in the past in different ways, but having been forgiven, we have rightly learned to accept forgiveness, and forget our forgiven sins and put them out of our memories. Having repented and been forgiven we have rightly seen ourselves as starting afresh on the way of righteousness. That may equally have been true of David here. He knew that his sins had been atoned for and forgiven.
For David is not representing himself here as having never sinned, but as having deliberately turned his back on his sins to follow YHWH’s will. Having truly repented of the past he sees himself as having had his hands made clean (‘cleanness (bor) of hands’ is a figure describing moral purity in terms of the practise of washing the hands with soda (bor)), and as having constantly kept the way of YHWH and as not having wickedly departed from Him, and that as an attitude of current daily life. Forgiveness often makes us more sensitive of sin, not less, and more determined to put it behind us, and that very forgiveness makes us aware that we have been made clean. His point is thus rather that his eyes are now fixed on YHWH’s commands so that he will not depart from His statutes, and will thus keep himself from iniquity. Indeed he recognises that YHWH has not recompensed him as he deserved, but as a forgiven sinner now seeking to do the right. And it is because of that determination to hunger and thirst after righteousness with all his heart that he has been made clean, and is therefore acceptable in God’s sight. This view of the matter finds confirmation in the next phrase where he emphasises the great mercy of God.
2 Samuel 22:26-28
“With the merciful you will show your merciful,
With the perfect man you will show yourself perfect,
With the pure you will show yourself pure,
And with the wayward you will show yourself perverse.
And the afflicted people you will save,
But your eyes are on the haughty, that you may bring them down.”
David recognises that it is a settled principle of the spiritual life that men will reap what they sow. Those who are merciful, will find mercy from God (compare Matthew 5:7). This statement suggests in itself how aware David was that he had especially received the mercy of God. Those who are truly developed in righteousness will discover that God’s righteousness is fully developed towards them, so that He acts towards them as the Righteous One.. Those who are pure will discover that God deals with them purely, and reveals His utter dependability and integrity.
In contrast those who are wayward will never be sure how God will deal with them. He will appear to be as ‘wayward’ in His dealings with them as they are with Him. This is the contrary side to God’s reciprocation. Not for David the idea that God will overlook sin in all. To him those who are wayward in respect of God’s ways must expect God to behave waywardly with them (Leviticus 26:23-24; Isaiah 29:9-12; Proverbs 3:34). And while He will certainly save those who are afflicted, He will also bring down those who are haughty. For He seeks always those who are of a humble and contrite spirit (Isaiah 57:15). David wants us all to recognise that God is responsive to what we are, and acts towards us as we act towards others, and that he therefore deals hardly with those who fail to walk in His ways. It is a general principle of the spiritual life. This is the normal way of things.
2 Samuel 22:29-30
“For you are my lamp, O YHWH,
And YHWH will lighten my darkness.
For by you I run upon a troop,
By my God do I leap over a wall.”
And because his heart is towards God with a desire to do His will David sees YHWH as his lamp Who will show him the way in which he must go. And the consequence of that is that he is confident that He will lighten his darkness, and show him the way forward. It is because God lights his way that he can successfully attack a troop, and can equally successfully leap over the walls of a resisting city. The twofold thought here is of success in warfare. He had not chosen warfare but it had been forced on him by YHWH. And he knew that his success in that warfare had also been of YHWH. To ‘run on a troop’ is to race at them, and then chase, attack and defeat them, as he had done with the Amalekites (1 Samuel 30:0), to leap over a wall described his taking of cities like the Jebusite city of Jerusalem. Such walls were no hindrance to him. He, as it were, simply leapt over them. And it was because YHWH was with him. He gave all the glory for his success to God.
2 Samuel 22:31-32
“As for God, his way is perfect,
The word of YHWH is tried,
He is a shield to all those who take refuge in him.”
“For who is God, save YHWH?
And who is a rock, save our God?”
And all this relies on the fact that the way of YHWH is ideal, and the word of YHWH, is tried and tested. Both are thus fully to be relied on. Nor can we go wrong in them if we follow Him in them, for He is a shield to all who take refuge in Him. Indeed the truth is that YHWH is the only God Who counts for anything, and as such He is the perfect and only foundational Rock for those who trust in Him. So with all his failings David’s heart was set firmly on the way of YHWH, and he trusted wholly in His upholding, and it was this that explained the greatness of his success.
2 Samuel 22:33-36
“God is my strong fortress,
And he guides the perfect in his way.
He makes his feet like hinds’ feet,
And sets me on my high places.
He teaches my hands to war,
So that my arms do bend a bow of bronze,
You have also given me the shield of your salvation,
And your gentleness has made me great.”
David was aware that it was not because of his own ability and strength that he had succeeded up until now. It was because YHWH was his strong fortress, his guaranteed protection, and because YHWH always guides those whose hearts are set on doing His will in the right way, in His way. For the ‘perfect’ are those who seek to do His will and are committed to His covenant. He makes their feet stable and firm however rough the pathway, in the same way as the hind never loses her footing on even the most precipitous mountain path. Or the thought may rather be of the speed at which the hind moves, but the parallel with God as his strong fortress suggests safety, security and sure-footedness.
And it was because his heart was set on doing YHWH’s will and fulfilling His covenant, that YHWH had set him on high places and was keeping him there. All his success was to be seen as due to YHWH. It was YHWH Who taught his hands to war, and enabled him to bend a bow of bronze (the toughest of bows to bend). And it was YHWH who had given him the shield of His salvation, and Who by His gentleness towards him had made him great. It was YHWH Who had kept him, who had continually saved him and Who had made him what he is.
2 Samuel 22:37-40
“You have enlarged my steps under me,
And my feet have not slipped.
I have pursued my enemies, and destroyed them,
Neither did I turn again until they were consumed.
And I have consumed them, and smitten them through,
So that they cannot arise, yes, they are fallen under my feet.
For you have girded me with strength for the battle,
You have subdued under me those who rose up against me.”
The consequence of all this was that David had been able, through YHWH’s enabling, to bestride his world. He had been able to make great strides, without his feet having slipped. He had been able to pursue his enemies and destroy them, never having to turn back until he had utterly defeated them, until they had fallen under his feet. And it was all because YHWH had girded him with strength for battle, and had Himself subdued those who rose up against him. He owed all his victories to YHWH.
2 Samuel 22:41-43
“ You have also made my enemies turn their backs to me,
That I might cut off those who hate me.
They looked, but there was none to save,
Even to YHWH, but he answered them not.
Then did I beat them small as the dust of the earth,
I did crush them as the mire of the streets, and did spread them abroad.”.
It was YHWH Who made all his enemies turn their backs on him and run, so that he was enabled to cut off all who hated him. And when they looked to YHWH they received no answer, because they only did so in a superstitious and ritualistic way (consider, for example, Saul, Abner, Absalom, and Sheba), otherwise they would have been responsive and obedient towards the one who was YHWH’s Anointed. The result was that David had been able to beat them into fine dust, and to crush them like men do when they walk on the mire of the streets, and then scatter it abroad (there were no regular rubbish collectors in those days).
2 Samuel 22:44-46
“ You have also 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.
The foreigners will submit themselves to me,
As soon as they hear of me, they will obey me.
The foreigners will fade away,
And will come trembling out of their close places.”
And all this applied both to the strivings of his own people against him (under Abner, Absalom and Sheba), and to peoples whom he had not known over whom YHWH had given him supremacy (e.g. the Aramaeans from ‘beyond the River), thus making him ‘the head of the nations’. It was YHWH Who had enabled him to defeat the Amalekites, the Philistines, the Moabites, the Ammonites, and the Aramaeans, with the result that other nations had submitted willingly without even a fight, before he had even approached them (e.g. Toi king of Hamath in 2 Samuel 8:10).
(Previously, of course, we have seen that it was through his mighty men (e.g. 2 Samuel 21:15-22), his invincible bodyguard (the Cherethites and the Pelethites), and his own private army, ‘his men’ that he mainly obtained victory. But now it is being made clear that they had succeeded only by His power, which was why they had been able to slay the ‘giants’. Everything was owed to YHWH Who had made David’s name great as He had promised).
2 Samuel 22:47-49
“YHWH lives, and blessed be my rock,
And exalted be God, the rock of my salvation,
Even the God who executes vengeance for me,
And who brings down peoples under me,
And who brings me forth from my enemies,
Yes, you lift me up above those who rise up against me,
You deliver me from the violent man.”
David now relates his victories to his prior commencing eulogy about YHWH as his Rock in verse 2. He has been delivered from all his enemies because YHWH lives, and because He is his Rock, even the Rock of his salvation. All his deliverances are owed to that solid Rock Who has made his feet firm and has brought down his enemies. It was YHWH Who had executed vengeance for him so that, for example, he had been able to leave Saul in God’s hands without smiting him himself. It was YHWH Who had brought down people under him, and had always brought him back from the presence of his enemies in triumph. It was YHWH Who had always lifted him up above those who rose against him, and who had delivered him from ‘the violent man’ (of whom Saul was the most obvious, but not the only, example) .
2 Samuel 22:50-51
“Therefore I will give thanks to you, O YHWH, among the nations,
And will sing praises to your name.
Great deliverance gives he to his king,
And shows lovingkindness to his anointed,
To David and to his seed, for evermore.”
And all this was because He was fulfilling His everlasting divine promises to His king and to His Anointed (2 Samuel 7:8-17; see also 1 Samuel 2:10; 1 Samuel 16:13) and was revealing towards him His covenant love (chesed - lovingkindness, covenant love). No wonder then that David expresses his thanks and praise to YHWH among the nations for all that He has so lovingly done for him. He will not fall short in making clear to all the power and love of YHWH.
It will be noted that the Book of Samuel originally began with a look forward to YHWH’s coming king and Anointed one (1 Samuel 2:10), a promise which has now found in David its partial fulfilment, but nevertheless only partial because 2 Samuel 7:8-17 looks forward to a greater fulfilment in an everlasting kingdom. That is what the book is about, the rise and establishment of YHWH’s Anointed.
We finish our commentary on the Psalm by again drawing attention to the wonderful way in which it commences with the idea of David’s total dependence on YHWH (2 Samuel 22:1-7), continues by revealing the almighty power of YHWH by which David was delivered (2 Samuel 22:8-20), and emphasises that that power is only revealed on behalf of those who keep His covenant and seek to do His will (2 Samuel 22:21-28). That has been why David has been made successful over all his enemies, with the result being complete victory for His chosen king and Anointed One both over the nations and in every other way (2 Samuel 22:29-51). David is making clear that he owes everything to YHWH.