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Bible Commentaries
2 Samuel 22

The Pulpit CommentariesThe Pulpit Commentaries

Verses 1-51



This song, which is identical with Psalms 18:1-50; though with many verbal differences, is so universally acknowledged as a genuine composition of King David, that the objections taken by one or two critics serve only to give us greater security by reminding us that the other side has been carefully argued. The differences between its form here and in the Book of Psalms suggest many important considerations with regard to textual criticism. From the absence of manuscripts, we have very scanty means of judging of the correctness of the ordinary Hebrew text. We have, indeed, abundant proof that the Jews took extreme care of their sacred text in the early centuries of our era; but we nevertheless find, most frequently in names, mistakes which have arisen from the carelessness of scribes, and especially from the confusion by them of similar letters. Thus the Sibbechai of 2 Samuel 21:18 becomes Mebunnai in 2 Samuel 23:27, owing to some scribe having mistaken two letters in the name. And as the similarity between them exists, not in the old Hebrew writing, but in the square character substituted after the exile, the confusion must be subsequent to that date. In comparing the two texts of this psalm, we find similar instances of confusion of letters in 2 Samuel 23:11, 42, 43; we find words transposed in 2 Samuel 23:5, 2 Samuel 23:6; and clauses repeated or omitted in 2 Samuel 23:13, 2 Samuel 23:14. In short, all the phenomena with which we are familiar in the textual criticism of the New Testament are also found here. And may we not add that they end in the same result? The general sense and meaning remain much the same. The variations of reading do not affect the teaching of Holy Scripture on any important point. It may be asked, then—Why should we notice them at all? And why urge them upon the attention of scholars? The answer is that there exist flaws and blemishes in the Massoretic, that is, the ordinary Hebrew, text, and that the removal of them is prevented by the strange idea which accords infallibility to the Massorites, and will not concede to the far more difficult problem of the ancient Hebrew text that which is granted as a matter of course to the comparatively modern Greek text of the New Testament. And thus the Old Testament is neglected, and left outside that careful and minute study so lavishly expended on the New, and so rich in useful results.

Of the date when David wrote this psalm there can be little doubt. It was at the close of his first great series of victories, after Toi, the Hittite King of Hamath, had sent to him an embassy of congratulation (2 Samuel 8:9, 2 Samuel 8:10), referred to very triumphantly in verses 45, 46. But there is no trace in it of the sorrow and shame that clouded over his latter days; and no man whose conscience was stained with sins so dark as those of adultery and murder could have written words so strongly asserting his integrity and the cleanness of his hands as are found in 2 Samuel 23:21-25. The psalm belongs to David's happiest time, when he had won for Israel security and empire. It is written from first to last in a tone of jubilant exultation, caused, as we may well believe, by Nathan's acceptance of his purpose to build the temple, and by the solemn appointment of David as the theocratic king. If it were arranged according to time and matter, it would be placed immediately after 2 Samuel 8:1-18; as it is evidently David's thanksgiving for the benefits and blessings just promised to him and his seed.

But the scribes inserted it here, not so much because of its historical value, as because it is a national thanksgiving for the founding of that empire by which Israel became verily the theocratic people, and the type upon earth of the kingdom of the Messiah. The prophet who compiled the Books of Samuel rejoiced in David's victories, not because they gave Israel worldly dominion, but because they were a fulfilment of past prophecy, and a necessary part of the preparation for the religious position which Israel was to hold. Such as it had been under the judges, Israel would have been no fit home for the prophetic light. It could not have grown and developed, nor the race have become a Church fit to be the teacher of all mankind. And in this hymn the Church expresses her joy at the high office and extended usefulness to which God has seen fit to call her. The spiritual exposition of the psalm will naturally be sought in commentaries on the Book of Psalms. But such matters as its outward form, and the differences between the two texts, will not be out of place here.

2 Samuel 22:1

David spake. The introduction was probably written by the prophet who compiled the Books of Samuel. The scribe who collected the Book of Psalms would be a priest, and he has repeated it with one or two additions, the most important of which is that the psalm was written "by David the servant of Jehovah." This title; meaning the minister or vicegerent of Jehovah, is one so high that it would certainly not have been given to David in his lifetime; nor was it even until Moses was dead that he was honoured with this rank (Deuteronomy 34:5). But what was David's right to this title, which put him on a level with Moses? It was this: In adding to the sacrificial ritual enacted by Moses a daily service in the temple of sacred minstrelsy and songs, David was acting with higher powers than were ever exercised by any other person. For though, as we have seen, Samuel was the originator of these services in his schools, yet. there is a wide difference between private and public services; and David made his anthems part of the national liturgy. But it would only be when the halo of long use had gathered round his holy psalmody that David would be placed on in equality with Moses, and his authority a institute a new ritual for the nation be recognized.

2 Samuel 22:2-4

Jehovah is my Cliff and my Stronghold and my Deliverer:
The God of my rock, in whom I take refuge;
My Shield and the Horn of my salvation,
My Fastness and my Place of refuge:
My Saviour: thou savest me from violence.
I call upon Jehovah, the praised One,
And I am saved from my enemies."

The Syriac in 2 Samuel 22:2 inserts, "Fervently do I love thee, Jehovah my Strength;" but it probably only borrows the words from Psalms 18:1. For we may well believe that it was at a later period of his life, after deeper and more heart searching trials, that David thus felt his love to Jehovah only strengthened and made more necessary to him by the loss of his earthly happiness. In Psalms 18:3, The God of my rock is changed in Psalms 18:2 into "My God my Rock" (Authorized Version, "strength")—probably an intentional alteration, as being far less rugged and startling than this bold metaphor of the Deity being his rock's God. In the original the words present each its distinct idea. Thus in Psalms 18:2 the rock is a high cliff or precipice. It is the word sela, which gave its name to the crag city of Idumea. Fortress really means a rock, difficult of access, and forming a secure retreat. It is entirely a natural formation, and not a building. In Psalms 18:3 rock is a vast mountainous mass (Job 18:4), and, as it suggests the ideas of grandeur and immovable might, it is often used for God's glory as being the Strength and Protection of his people. Next follow two ordinary metaphors, the shield for defence, and the horn for attack; after which David, who had so often sought safety among the cliffs and fastnesses of the mountains, returns to the same circle of thoughts, and calls God his High Tower, the word signifying, not a building, but a height, a lofty natural stronghold; and finally his Refuge, a place of safe retreat among the mountains. This and the rest of the verse are omitted in Psalms 18:2. In Psalms 18:4 the words are as literally translated above, and signify, "Whenever call, I am saved." In all times of difficulty, prayer brings immediate deliverance.

2 Samuel 22:5-7

"For the breakers of death surrounded me;
Torrents of wickedness [Hebrew, 'of Belial'] terrified me;
Cords of Sheol surrounded me;
Snares of death came suddenly upon me.
In my distress I cried unto Jehovah,
And to my God I cried.
And he heard my voice out of his palace,
And my cry was in his ears."

Instead of breakers—waves dashing violently on rocks—Psalms 18:4 has "cords of death;" translated "sorrow" in the Authorized Version. But "cords of death" mean the fatal snares of the hunter, and are not in keeping with "torrents of wickedness." "Belial," literally, "worthlessness," is by many supposed, from the context to mean herd "destruction," that is, physical instead of moral wickedness. So in Nahum 1:11 "a counsellor of Belial" means a ruinous, destructive counsellor. Sheol is the world of the departed, and is equivalent to "death." Cried is the same verb twice used. In Psalms 18:6 it is altered, in the former part of the verse unto "I called"—a change probably suggested by the more fastidious taste of a later age. For temple we should translate palace, or heavenly temple. It is not the temple in Jerusalem, which was not yet built, but God's heavenly dwelling, that is meant. Instead of the terse ellipse, "And my cry in his ears," the full but heavy phrase, "My cry before him came into his ears," is substituted in Psalms 18:6.

2 Samuel 22:8-10

"And the earth quaked and trembled;
The foundations of the heavens shook,
And quaked because he was wroth.
A smoke went up in his nostril,
And fire out of his mouth devoured;
Red hot cinders burned from him.
And he bowed the heavens and came down,
And darkness was under his feet."

In describing the manifestation of God for his deliverance, David bore in mind and repeated the description of God's descent to earth given in Exodus 19:16, Exodus 19:18. But the poetic vigour of David's imagination intensities the imagery, and makes it more grand and startling. Not merely is there the earthquake and the volcano and the storm cloud, but the dim form of the Almighty is present, with the smoke of just anger at unrighteousness ascending from his nostrils, and the lightnings flashing forth to execute his wrath. But David certainly intended that these metaphors should remain ideal; and it was quite unnecessary for the Targum carefully to eliminate all such expressions as seem to give the Almighty bureau shape. In so doing it merely changes poetry into prose. But even more dull and commonplace is the explanation given by some modern commentators, that all that is meant is that David was once saved by a thunderstorm from some danger or other. Really this glorious imagery, taken from all that is grandest on earth, is intended to magnify to us the spiritual conception of God's justice coming forth to visit the earth and do right and equity. In Exodus 19:8 for "the foundations of the heavens," we find in Psalms 18:7 "the foundations of the hills." The former is the grander metaphor, and signifies the mighty mountain ranges, like those of Lebanon, on which the skies seem to rest. The smoke signifies hailstorms and, perhaps, also the rain driven in wreaths along the ground by the wind. Red hot cinders burned from him describes the flashing lightnings that were shot forth like the coals from the refiner's furnace when heated to the full. It is to be regretted that the Revised Version retains the bathos of the old rendering, that God's fiery breath set coals on fire.

2 Samuel 22:11-13

"And he rode upon a cherub, and did fly;
And he was seen upon the wings of the wind.
And he made darkness booths round about him;
Gathering of waters, thickenings of clouds.
Out of the brightness before him
Coals of fire burned."

In 2 Samuel 6:2 Jehovah is described as sitting upon the cherubim; his presence there, called by the rabbins his Shechinah, that is, dwelling, being indicated by a cloud of light. In this psalm the cherub is his chariot, on which he rides forth to judgment. He was seen. There can be little doubt that the right reading is preserved in Psalms 18:10, where we find a verb signifying the swooping down of a bird of prey upon its quarry (Deuteronomy 28:49; Jeremiah 48:40). The two words differ only in the substitution of r for d, and these letters are so similar in Hebrew that they are constantly interchanged. Booths; made of branches of trees, and forming a temporary abode. So the dark storm clouds are gathered round the Almighty to veil his awful form from sight as he goes forth for judgment. Gathering of waters; probably the right reading, instead of which in the psalm we find "dark waters." The gathering of waters would describe the massing of the rain clouds. The difference here also consists only in one letter. Out of the brightness, which closely surrounds the Deity in the midst of the black mass of the tempest, the lightning flashes forth. This brightness is the Shechinah (see above), to which St. Paul also refers where he says that God's dwelling is in "the unapproachable light" (1 Timothy 6:16).

2 Samuel 22:14-16

"Jehovah thundered from heaven,
And the Most High uttered his voice.
And he sent forth arrows, and scattered them [the evil doers];
Lightning, and terrified them.
And the sea beds became visible,
The foundations of the world were laid bare,
At the rebuke of Jehovah,
By the breath of the wind of his nostril."

Terrified. The verb signifies" to strike with sodden terror and alarm" (see Exodus 14:24; Joshua 10:10). It describes here the panic caused by the lightning, and by the violent throes of nature, so powerfully described in 2 Samuel 22:16. Laid bare. This is the meaning of the word "discovered" in the Authorized Version. When the version was made, it was equivalent to "uncovered," but has now changed its signification.

2 Samuel 22:17-20

"He stretched forth his hand from on high; he took me,
He drew me out of many waters.
He delivered me from my strong enemy,
From them that hated me; for they were too mighty for me.
For they attacked me in the day of my misfortune.
But Jehovah became my Staff,
And he brought me forth into a wide place
He delivered me, because he had pleasure in me."

In the midst of this fearful convulsion of nature, while all around are stricken with panic, David sees a hand stretched out from above, ready to deliver him from the overwhelming flood of hatred and peril. Attacked me. The word does not signify "to prevent," or" anticipate," but "to assail" So in 2 Samuel 22:6, "The snares of death assailed me;" and in Isaiah 37:33, "The King of Assyria shall not attack this city with shield." It is the same verb in all these places. Staff; in the Authorized Version, "stay." But it means something to lean upon, and is rightly translated "staff" in Psalms 23:4. A wide place; in opposition to the straits of affliction. He had pleasure in me. In 2 Samuel 15:26 this confidence is gone, and David doubts whether the favour of Jehovah had not been forfeited by him.

2 Samuel 22:21-25

"Jehovah hath requited me according to my righteousness,
According to the cleanness of my hands hath he recompensed me.
For I have kept the ways of Jehovah,
And sinned not so as to depart from my God.
For all his judgments have been kept in sight,
And from his statutes I have not departed.
I was also perfect towards him,
And was on my guard against my sin.
Therefore hath Jehovah recompensed me according to my righteousness,
According to my cleanness in his eyesight."

It is impossible to suppose that these verses could have been written after David's fall. For while be acknowledges in them a tendency to sin, he affirms that he had been on his guard against it, and that he had ever kept God's statutes present before his view. However complete may be the penitent's recovery, yet can he never again be "perfect," the word applied to an animal without blemish, and therefore fit for sacrifice. The crime remains a blemish, even though the intense sorrow for the sin may make it the means of even attaining to a higher stage of spirituality and devotion. In 2 Samuel 22:22 the words literally are, "I have not sinned away from God," sin necessarily removing the sinner away from that nearness to God which is the privilege of the saint.

2 Samuel 22:26-28

"With the pious man thou wilt show thyself pious;
With the perfect man thou wilt show thyself perfect;
With the pure thou wilt show thyself pure;
And with the crooked thou wilt show thyself perverse.
And the afflicted people thou wilt save;
And thine eyes are upon the haughty, to bring them down."

Having affirmed his integrity, and that God therefore had pleasure in him and rewarded him, David now asserts that this is the unfailing rule of God's dealings with men. The general current of their lives is so ordered as to be in harmony with their characters. It is not by luck or good fortune that prosperity attends the righteous, nor is it by chance that things go awry with the fraudulent, but it is by the law of God's providence. Pious. The Hebrew word means "pious" in the original sense of the word, which includes kindness to men as well as love to God. Perverse. In the Authorized Version "unsavoury." Really it is the same word as that used in Psalms 18:26, and signifies "thou wilt make thyself twisted," only the form is archaic, as is the case with some other words here. Experience confirms the psalmist's verdict. For constantly a strange perversity of fortune and an untowardness of events are the lot of those whose hearts are crooked. Afflicted. The word in the original includes the idea of humility, and so leads naturally on to the thought of the abasement of the proud. In the psalm the somewhat harsh expression used here has been softened into the more easy phrase, "The haughty eyes thou wilt bring down."

2 Samuel 22:29-31

"For thou, Jehovah, art my Lamp;
And Jehovah will make my darkness light.
For by thee do I run upon a troop;
In my God I leap over a wall.
God—his way is perfect;
The word of Jehovah is purified.
He is a Shield to all that trust in him."

Lamp. The lamp burning in the house is the proof of life and activity present there; and thus the extinguishing of the lamp means ruin and desolation (Job 21:17). So David is called "the lamp of Israel" (2 Samuel 21:17), because the active life of the nation centred in him. In a still higher sense the life and being of his people centres in God, and without him the soul is waste and void, like the universe before God said, "Let there be light." I run. To the warrior in old time speed was as important as strength, and thus Homer constantly calls Achilles "fleet of foot." It was his fleetness which gave Asahel a high place among the mighties (2 Samuel 2:18), and to this quality David now refers. The troop signifies a light armed band of marauders, whom with God's aid David could overtake, and stop in their course of rapine. The wall means fortifications like those of Jerusalem (2 Samuel 5:7). Sieges were tedious affairs in old time, but David had captured that city with a rapidity so great that the metaphor in the text is most appropriate. Purified; or, refined. This does not mean that it is proved by experience and found true, but that it is absolutely good and perfect like refined gold (see Psalms 12:6).

2 Samuel 22:32-34

"For who is God, save Jehovah?
And who is a rock, save our God?
God is my strong Fortress,
And he guideth the perfect in his way.
He maketh my feet like the hinds,
And upon my high places he cloth set me."

God; Hebrew, El; the Mighty One, used several times in this psalm. In the second clause the word is Elohim, the ordinary name of God. The psalmist's question is a strong assertion that Jehovah alone is God, and that he alone is a Rock of safety for his people. He guideth, etc. In Psalms 18:32 "He maketh my way perfect," like his own. The phrase here is probably that which David wrote, as being less usual, and it signifies that God will direct the upright man in his good way. Hinds. David's feet are swift as hinds, an animal famous for its speed and sureness of foot. My high places. The tops of the mountains are the favourite resort of the antelope (2 Samuel 1:18); and so with David, the possession of such rocky citadels as Bozez and Seneh (1 Samuel 14:4) made him master of the whole country.

2 Samuel 22:35-37

"He teaeheth my hands to war;
And mine arms can bend a bow of bronze.
And thou hast given me thy saving shield;
And thy hearing of me hath made me great.
Thou hast enlarged my steps under me;
And my feet have not slipped."

Bow of bronze. In Job 20:24 we also read of bows made of this metal, or compound of metals, which was a far more ancient material for weapons than steel. The bending of such a bow was proof of great strength, and the last artifice of Penelope, to save herself from the suitors, was to promise her hand to the man who could bend Ulysses' bow. Thy hearing of me; in Psalms 18:35, and Authorized Version and Revised Version here, "thy gentleness." The words in the Hebrew are very nearly alike, but the Septuagint notices the difference, and translates "hearing" in this place, but "chastisement" in the psalm. The Vulgate has "gentleness" or "mildness" here, and "discipline" in the psalm. The Syriac alone has "discipline" in both places. My feet; literally, ankle bones, the weakness of which causes men to totter.

2 Samuel 22:38-40

"I have pursued my enemies and destroyed them;
Neither did I turn again until I had consumed them.
And I have consumed them, and smitten them through, and they arose not;
Yea, they fell under my feet.
For thou hast girded me with strength unto the battle;
Thou hast made them that rose against me to bow under me."

In the Psalms, for destroyed we find "overtaken," and the second "I have consumed them" is omitted. This exultation of David at the result of his wars is in accordance with the harsh treatment inflicted by him upon the vanquished. His enemies were God's enemies, whom he must consume. The "new commandment" of Christianity forbids and condemns this delight in conquest. Verses 41-43.—

"And mine enemies thou hast made to turn upon me their back,
Even those that hate me; and have utterly destroyed them.
They looked, but there was none to save,
Even to Jehovah, but he answered them not.
And I beat them small as the dust of the earth;
As the mire of the streets I stamped upon them, I trode them down."

Those that hate me. The sentence is to be completed from the previous clause, "my haters" and "my enemies" being equivalent. There are several small variations between the text here and in Psalms 18:1-50; such as "they cried" for they looked; and "I emptied them out" for I stamped upon them, the difference in both cases consisting in a single letter.

2 Samuel 22:44-46

"And thou hast delivered me from the strivings of my people;
Thou hast protected me that I might be head of the nations.
A people whom! knew not have become my servants;
Children of strangers have submitted themselves to me;
At the hearing of the ear they obeyed me.
The children of the strangers faded away;
They fled trembling out of their fastnesses."

People, in the singular, means the Jewish people as opposed to the nations, that is, the heathen world. The strivings here referred to are the long dissensions which followed Ishbosheth's death, and delayed for many the appointment of David as king of Israel. He now feels that the watchful which had protected him during that dangerous period had a higher purpose than the union of the twelve tribes under one head. He was to be the founder also of that empire over the nations which symbolized the gift of the heathen world to Christ. And this empire had been extended to people previously unknown to David. Such might be the case with Hadarezer, King of Zobah, but it more especially referred to Toi, and the Hittite kingdom of Hamath (2 Samuel 8:9). It was not from force of arms, but from the hearing of the ear, that is, from the wide extended fame of David's conquests, that Toi sent ambassadors to offer allegiance and presents. They fled trembling. This is certainly the sense in Psalms 18:45, where, however, there is a transposition of letters. Probably it is the sense here. But if we might go to the cognate languages for an explanation of a rare word, it would mean "came limping out of their fastnesses," as men worn out with fatigue and exhaustion.

2 Samuel 22:47-49

"Jehovah liveth; and blessed be my Rock,
And exalted be the God of the rock of my salvation,
Even the God that giveth me avengements,
And bringeth down peoples under me.
And bringeth me forth from my enemies.
Yea, thou liftest me up above those that rise up against me;
From the violent man thou deliverest me."

In Psalms 18:46 we find simply "the God of my salvation." Perhaps there seemed to the compiler to be some confusion in calling Jehovah, first David's Rock, and then the God of his rock (but see note on Psalms 18:3). Avengements, in the plural. In the Law the sanctions were chiefly temporal, and therefore the saints of old watched anxiously for, and were strengthened by observing, the constantly recurring proofs of God's righteous government of men. Peoples, in the plural; heathen nations. The violent man may especially be Saul, as is supposed in the title prefixed to this song in the Book of Psalms. There probably it is general, and includes all who were bitter in their hostility to David.

2 Samuel 22:50, 2 Samuel 22:51

"Therefore will I praise thee among the nations,
And to thy Name will I sing.
Great deliverance giveth he to his king,
And showeth grace to his messiah—
To David, and to his seed forever."

Great deliverance; literally, he maketh great the salvation of his king; that is, he rescueth him marvellously again and again. The K'ri substitutes tower, but it has no support either from the versions or from Psalms 18:1-50; though admitted into the Authorized Version. The difference between the two words "making great" and "tower" is, in the Hebrew, trifling. To his messiah. This mercy was shown to David as the anointed theocratic king, whose rule was the symbol of that of Christ.


2 Samuel 22:1-4

Songs of deliverance.

The facts are:

1. David composes a song at the end of all the deliverances which during his life God had wrought for him.

2. He describes God as being to him a Rock, a Fortress, a Shield, a High Tower, a Place of Refuge, and represents him as being actively his Deliverer and Saviour.

3. He, in looking on to the future, resolves to trust in him who had been so much to his life in the past, and expects to be saved from his enemies.

4. He, reviewing the past, feels that God is worthy of the praise expressed in this song. There is a. beautiful congruity in the place of this song being at the close of the most detailed and protracted narrative of personal history to be found in the Old Testament, and even in the entire Bible with the exception of that referring to Christ—seeing that that history was one of most strange vicissitudes, and full of dangers. The story of David's life is so necessarily occupied with events as they appeared to men and as they pertain to visible history, that this song is a true supplement, inasmuch as it brings into view the deep spiritual feelings that influenced him in the midst of those events, and so furnishes a key to the religious life of the great king. This song of deliverances reminds us of the song Moses when Israel triumphed over Pharaoh and his hosts at the Red Sea (Exodus 15:1-27), of the song of the ransomed as they were to return to Zion with everlasting joy on their heads (Isaiah 35:10), and of the still more wonderful new song by the redeemed from all nations and kindreds of the earth (Revelation 5:9-13; Revelation 14:1-3). In these historic and prophetic instances we have illustrations of songs of deliverance ever rising from grateful hearts, establishing thus with the past and the future a community of religious experience which is at once a fruit and an evidence of the Divine redemption wrought out by our Saviour. Taking the experience of David as our guide, we may observe—

I. THE PERILS OF LIFE ARE SOMETIMES SO EXTREME AS TO INDUCE IMMENSE EFFORTS TO ESCAPE THEM. History tells us some of the perils of David's life, both when Saul pursued him with relentless cunning and cruelty, and when, as king, kindred, friend, and foe, and also the unseen powers of darkness, sought his ruin. The subsequent references in 2 Samuel 22:5, 2 Samuel 22:6 give his impression of the greatness of his distress; and the allusions to "rock," "high tower," and "fortress" remind us of the time when his extremity was such that he climbed the craggy cliff or hid himself in the inaccessible clefts of the rocks. No man was so near to death as was David, and no good man came nearer to moral and spiritual destruction than did he in the case of Bathsheba and Uriah. This is the common lot of men on earth, though some find their perils less than those of their fellows. In business affairs, in statesmanship, in special enterprises, in matters of health, in common intercourse with men, and in spiritual experience, there are seasons when it seems to be a question of a few hours whether we make wreck or escape. Then comes a strain, a demand on our fullest resources, corresponding to that on David when Saul sought his life, or when spiritual destruction was in the train of Bathsheba's unholy love.

II. NO HIGH CHARACTER RAISES US ABOVE LIABILITY TO THESE EXTREME PERILS. The world is infested with evil, and the best characters find that, as mortal, fallible men, they are liable to the exigencies of life, and as good men they are objects of attack by the powers of darkness. David was an honest, sincere, devout man, and specially dear to God when Saul hunted his life; and he was superior to many before the horrible temptation to depart from purity fell upon his soul. Character is a defence against some dangers, else were it of little worth; but danger to our calling, our enterprises, our health, our moral position—subtle and serious—cannot but be our earthly lot. Even our Lord knew the tempter's power in the bitterness of poverty; and he warned the best men around his Person to expect peril to earthly interests, and to watch lest at any time even their devouter hearts should be overcharged with surfeiting and drunkenness and the cares of this life (Luke 21:34; cf. Luke 16:0).

III. TRULY RELIGIOUS MEN WILL USE EVERY EFFORT TO ESCAPE THESE PERILS. In his reference to "rock," "refuge," and "fortress," David at once carries us back to the time when he used his utmost endeavours to escape from Saul by climbing the rocks and taking refuge among the fastnesses of the mountains (1 Samuel 22:1, 1Sa 22:5; 1 Samuel 23:14, 1 Samuel 23:15). David acted as though all depended on himself. The cave, the cliff, the gorge, the lofty peak, were sought to cover him as a "shield," or to raise him as on a "high tower." So far as the two men were concerned, it was a case of skill against skill, endurance against endurance. So, also, in the more spiritual conflicts of his life, he laboured hard to save himself from destruction. Prayer, meditation on the Divine Law, taking heed to his steps, going to the house of the Lord, were so many forms of personal exertion to escape the foes of his highest life. So is it with the followers of Christ. They strive daily to ward off the ills which threaten their temporal interests, and when peril becomes extreme, they stir up all their energies to maintain their head high above all impending evils; and what is true of temporal is true also of spiritual interests—they give all diligence to make their calling sure.

IV. THE VISIBLE MEANS OF SAFETY USED BY RELIGIOUS MEN ARE AN INDEX OF AN INVISIBLE RESOURCE. It is just here that we get at the heart of David's meaning. A spectator, observing how he set his skill against that of Saul, how he baffled the cruel persecutor by feats of daring among the caves and clefts of the rock, might conclude that success was decided by a mere balance of ingenuity and agility—the rock, the cave, were his defence. But no; he used these visible things, but all the time his soul was resting in the protection of God. There was a double exercise of energy—that which expressed itself in agility of movement among the mountain fastnesses, and that which expressed itself in calm trust in the care of God. God was his Rock, his Shield, his Fortress. As Elijah saw chariots of fire where others saw nothing but vacant air, so he saw the Eternal Rock, and in him made his refuge. The same double exercise of energy was at work in his strenuous efforts to maintain his piety. It was not prayer, use of the Divine Law, and watchfulness that he trusted in, but the ever present and faithful God. Herein is the characteristic of a truly godly man. An inner spiritual activity accompanies all the external forms. His soul goes out after the living God. He finds safety in the invisible Rock of Ages. God in Christ is his actual Hiding place.

V. THE BEST THINGS IN. NATURE ARE BUT SYMBOLS AND SHADOWS OF EXCELLENCE IN GOD. The rock and the high tower were the very best things nature afforded to David in his dreadful season of trial. Those wilds then answered indeed a noble purpose. But David saw in their protecting powers only a shadow of the real protecting power of which he was in need. All the saving virtues of the mountain fastnesses were to him the index of the boundless resources that lie in God. He is the Rock. Throughout Scripture there seems to be an effort to set forth, if possible, the reality and vastness and sufficiency of the treasures which are in God for us. Thus Christ is represented as being the chief and best of all things in nature—among stars, the Bright and Morning Star; among fruit bearing trees, the luxurious Vine; of members of the body, the Head. Nature can only indicate what wealth of resources we have in him. His riches are unsearchable (Ephesians 3:8).

VI. A REVIEW OF PAST SIGNAL DELIVERANCES ENCOURAGES CONFIDENCE IN RESPECT TO THE FUTURE. Reviewing the wonderful deliverances wrought for him, David says, "In him will I trust;" "I shall be saved from mine enemies." The conflict of life was not over. New dangers will arise, and other enemies will fill the ranks of the fallen. But experience of God's merciful help keeps the spirit calm, and every triumph in the past by his favour is a guarantee that he will be a very present Help in every time of need. How could David doubt the goodness and power of God after so rich an experience of his aid? If for no other reason than the confidence it inspires, an occasional deliberate review of what great things God has done for us is very desirable. Doubt and fear spring from too much attention to ourselves. Security lies in the covenant of God, and not in our own powers, and a remembrance of actual help received is a reading afresh of the many Divine ratifications of the covenant. The din and hurry of daily life are adverse to reflective habits. It is well to make positive efforts at certain stages of life to resist the hindrances to reflection, and allow to pass before the mind the varied instances in which God has rescued us from impending ruin, both temporal and spiritual.

VII. A RATIONAL BASIS FOR PRAISE IS LAID IN A CONSIDERATION OF GOD'S GREAT DELIVERANCES. It is not without solid reason that David says, "I will call on the Lord, who is worthy to be praised." There are manifold reasons why praise should be rendered to God, but here the basis in view is that found by a consideration of the various acts of mercy he has shown. David's deliverance from Saul, from the treachery of Doeg and Ahithophel, from the sorrows and shame of the banishment from throne and city, and from the more fearful woes of backsliding, were indeed events never to be forgotten. They meant to him life, joy, honour, instead of death and disgrace. All that is valuable in life, in distinction, in personal holiness, and victory over spiritual evil, appealed to his generous nature to acknowledge in thankful form the great things which God had done. It is the wont of some agnostic writers to represent the requirement of praise to God as essentially immoral—as a low representation of God as selfishly egotistic. It might be enough to say that agnostics have no right to speak of essential morality, since on their principles there can be no such thing. But apart from that, it overlooks the real teaching of Scripture and the natural action of human hearts. Men are not condemned for not praising God, but for being lovers of sin in thought, feeling, and deed. Their condition necessarily involves a condemnation, as surely as an anarchical state involves, by its condition, its own destruction. Their not rendering acknowledgments to God for his mercies is only a symptom of the real evil, and not the actual cause of condemnation. A heart true to generous and pure instincts will always admire power blended with goodness, and be thankful for good placed within reach by that beneficent power. "Praise is comely."

VIII. THE DELIVERANCES WROUGHT FOR US BY GOD ARE ONLY PRELIMINARY BLESSINGS. All through these verses David speaks of deliverance, of being saved from certain evils, and God as a Deliverer, a Saviour. This, of course, is a negative good; it is doing something that he may not die, and not be lost. But it is only a superficial view to say that this was all that David was thinking of His present position as honoured king, ruling over a united nation, and blessed with a moral elevation superior to any other man then living, is the counterfoil to this negative aspect. There was no need to say in words what he now was. His life tells that side of the record of God's mercy and power. He refers to the deliverances as blessings preliminary to his positive elevation to honour and distinction. Being delivered from the hand of Saul, he was made king in succession; being saved from the banishment consequent on Absalom's rebellion, of course he was positively restored; being rescued from the sin of backsliding, of course he was reinstated in the Divine favour and holiness of life. This is the correct and New Testament view of the great deliverance, or salvation, wrought for us by Christ. We are delivered from the curse and guilt of sin; but that is the negative good, preliminary, necessary to the implied positive elevation to sonship and eternal holiness. He saves from condemnation, but does not leave us as merely liberated souls. He gives us therewith "power to become the sons of God." He makes us "kings and priests unto God." The positive aspect of salvation means elevation, progress, conformity of nature to the Divine will.

2 Samuel 22:5-19

God's answer to the cry of distress.

The facts are:

1. David represents death, the grave, and ungodly men, under various figures, as causing him deep distress.

2. He states that, on crying unto God out of the greatness of his distress, his voice entered even into his ears.

3. He thus indicates, in strong figurative language, the tokens of God's attention to his cry.

(1) Some manifest signs of his displeasure against his foes (2 Samuel 22:8, 2 Samuel 22:9).

(2) A speedy and yet mysterious condescension to the need of his servant (2 Samuel 22:10, 2 Samuel 22:11).

(3) The blending of concealed purpose with distinct manifestations of the reality of his interposition (2 Samuel 22:12-14).

(4) The pressure of his agencies on David's enemies (2 Samuel 22:15).

(5) The thorough rending of all barriers by his mighty power so as to effect deliverance for his servant (2 Samuel 22:16-19). David represents his condition as one of isolated anguish—he is cut off from God and man, standing in a position of peril and suffering, from which there is no chance of escape. Doubtless there were several occasions in his checkered life when this was true; but he describes them in the terms more strictly appropriate to the time when, being pursued by Saul and his emissaries, he took refuge in mountains. Like one standing on a slight elevation when the floods are gathering around, he sees only, on every side, death as waves eager to sweep him away. The ungodly men with Saul rush on as a torrent from which there is no escape. The sorrows arising from the thought of all his youthful and patriotic aspirations being soon buried in a premature grave, and a once promising life being cut off as a worthless thing, gather irresistibly around his soul. Whichever way he turns, to the cliffs or the plain, to the ravine or the cave, he sees that death is there spreading out snares to catch him. Neither God nor man is nigh to rescue. Life's great and holy purposes are being crushed and blighted forever. No one cares for his soul. It was then, when destruction was inevitable, that, as a last desperate resort, he poured out his anguish before God and cried for help. The help came, and the fact and form of the interposition are the theme of his song. Here we notice—

I. PROVIDENCE PERMITS MEN TO COME INTO GREAT EXTREMITIES. David's life was especially providential. He was from his youth the child of Providence, and yet, for no other traceable reason than his patriotism and his goodness, he was persecuted by Saul, a jealous, suspicious king, even to the degree that life was despaired of. All the forces of society and of nature seemed to go against him, and meanwhile the God of his youth and early manhood was silent and apparently far away. Our only interpretation of the facts is that God allows his servants sometimes to be brought very low. He does not give them the immunity from pain and peril which their relative goodness and fidelity would seem to warrant. Yet this is not the result of mere arbitrariness or neglect. It is part of an educational purpose, and inseparable from a government of men free in their deeds of wrong. The latent qualities of the righteous and their powers for future use can often be best developed by means of adverse events which throw them more absolutely on God than under smooth and easy conditions they ever could be. We need not be surprised if we fall into manifold trials (1 Peter 4:12).

II. THE EXTREMITIES OF LIFE DEVELOP THE FULL STRENGTH OF PRAYER. David had been accustomed, like all pious men, to pray, but now he cried unto God. There was a reserve store of prayer in him which now became developed. He realized as never before his need of God, his helplessness, apart from pure Divine interposition and aid, to accomplish the purpose for which he had been selected by Samuel. There was more faith in him than he had been aware of, and now it was brought into exercise. This was the first gain in the educational process. In the spiritual life, as in the physical and mental, our capacities become atrophied if not well used, and circumstances that draw them forth in unusual degree enrich us with a permanent legacy of increased power. There is a natural tendency to inertia, which the stress of our environment urges us to overcome. How great is the power placed in our hands by the privilege of prayer, who can tell? There are indications of its greatness in particular instances recorded in the Bible and known in modern life. It availeth much. It is the human agency by which the exercise of the Almighty Power has conditioned its own exercise. How seldom do we cry unto God as though we really wanted him and his aid!

III. THE INTERPOSITION OF GOD ON BEHALF OF HIS PEOPLE IS A REALITY IN LIFE. David contrasts in thought his position and that of his enemies. He was apparently left alone by God and man; they were prosperous, numerous, strong, and eager as rolling waves. Death was before and behind him, so that he could not move; they were free to act, and no one to put them in peril. But a change came; the cry of distress had entered into the very ear of God, and, as though there were a sudden change in the Divine relationship to human forces, rescue came. To David the interposition was as real as the previous peril and agony. It was not mere faint heartedness in Saul, not accidental diversion of his thoughts, not a simple refusal of his men to go further in pursuit of the victim of his malice; it was God who had somehow so acted on men and things as to bring about deliverance. The strong figures used by David in 2 Samuel 22:8-12 express the conviction that God had come to his help, not simply by the action of normal laws, but by the invisible contact of the eternal energy with those laws, wondrously subordinating them to a special design. The true believer still sees God in his great deliverances. The answer to prayer is a great reality. God can and does get at his suffering children. Men see not the invisible hand, but those who cry to God recognize it. The profoundest matters of life are objects of faith, and in faith, as in intention, there is a transcendent knowledge passing all demonstration and all communication.

IV. A REVIEW OF DIVINE INTERPOSITIONS BRINGS OUT TO THE EYE OF FAITH THEIR STRONG CHARACTERISTICS. David here reflects on the deliverances wrought for him in answer to earnest prayer, and their characteristics appear to him to be best represented by the bold and vigorous language in 2 Samuel 22:8-16. Among these we may notice:

1. A twofold revelation—to himself, as the God of power actually stooping to his help, and holding in his hand the most terrible and most subtle forces of nature; and to his enemies, as the great God causing his voice so to be heard in the course of things as to reveal his wrath and impress men with a sense of his greatness and majesty.

2. An assurance blended with uncertainty. The coming down and the Divine brightness brought assurance unmistakable; but the darkness and mystery of his movements indicated that his methods of working out a saving purpose were beyond human penetration.

3. Use of appropriate agencies for frustrating wicked purposes. The Divine "arrows" were so directed by unerring wisdom as to scatter those who hitherto were bent on pursuit.

4. Thoroughness in clearing away all natural obstacles to the perfecting of the deliverance. So thorough was the reserve to be that the swollen torrents and deep places were to be entirely made bare of water in order to render escape complete. We may look at our deliverances as from enemies human or fiendish, and we shall find that God does make himself known as our Friend, and causes our foes to feel his displeasure. We know that he helps, but we know not all his ways. He brings influences to bear on our foes, so that they are weakened, and what he does he does perfectly, clearing away whatever may hinder our safety. The same general truths will hold good if we look at our many deliverances from spiritual peril. He sets himself against evil, and comes to our sorrowing soul. He lets us know enough for our cheer, but does not throw full light on all his methods. He brings the mighty influences of his Word and Spirit to destroy the power of sin, and by the tremendous work of Christ clears away every obstacle to our full salvation.


1. When we come into great troubles let us take comfort that in this matter we are sharing in an experience which, in the case of some of the best of men, has developed a more earnest spirit of prayer.

2. The records of God's dealings with his saints shows that there is no distress too deep for him to reach and remedy.

3. There is no place on earth but that the voice of prayer is free to enter into God's holy temple and even to his ear.

4. Although for a season during the prosperity of those who persecute the pious it may seem as though they were exempt from displeasure, yet God is angry with them, and will in some significant way cause them to know it.

5. However desperate our case, we may rest assured that God is in possession of all the means of gaining access to our need, and of scattering whatever evils threaten us with ruin.

6. There are no powers, however deep seated and established, but that, if we trust in God, he will clear them out of the way, so that we may find a position of safety, and consequent elevation to honour and blessedness.

2 Samuel 22:20-30

God's righteousness in saving the righteous.

The facts are:

1. David states that, in delivering him from his enemies, God recognized his uprightness and purity.

2. He affirms that, as a matter of fact, he had in his conduct endeavoured to live according to the will of God.

3. He declares the general truth that, in thus rescuing him the upright, and showing disfavour to the perverse persecutor, there was exemplified the principle of the usual Divine procedure.

4. He ascribes the successes of the past, not to himself, however upright, but to God, his Light in darkness and his Strength for deeds of daring. There is, in David's references to his own righteousness and purity, an appearance of what is now called, self-righteousness. He seems to violate the primary canons of Christian propriety and to establish a doctrine of merit. But this interpretation of his words is an utter misconception of his meaning, and proceeds from an ignorance of the historical circumstances he had in mind when penning the words. It is a wrong done to personal experiences of the Old Testament to approach their interpretation with certain prepossessions based on New Testament teaching with reference to our personal unworthiness before God on account of our essential sinfulness. David was not speaking of his state absolutely before God; he was not thinking of the question as to whether he or any one else was a sinner. His sole thought was of the distinct charges brought against him by such men as Doeg the Edomite, and believed by the foolish king Saul; and he was conscious that his being hunted by Saul was a grievous wrong, a treatment he did not deserve. He was the righteous man, for he loved Saul, showed him kindness, and. paid him honour; Saul and Doeg and others in the conspiracy were the unrighteous men, uttering falsehoods, using cruelty, and cherishing malice. God came as Judge between them, and by interposition showed his delight in what his servant had been and done in this particular matter, and his displeasure with Saul for his wicked conduct. He vindicates the gracious interposition of God on the ground that it is a righteous and glorious thing on the part of God to rescue those who suffer unrighteously, and to declare, by his rescue of them, his delight in them as compared with the men who cause their sufferings (cf. 1 Samuel 21:7; 1 Samuel 22:9-13, 1Sa 22:18-23; 1 Samuel 24:7-15; 1 Samuel 26:10-20). The vindication and illustration of God's righteousness in saving his people may be considered as follows.

I. THERE ARE SPECIAL INSTANCES IN WHICH IT MAY BE SAID THAT GOD SAVES THE RIGHTEOUS. In ordinary speech we say that God saves sinners. That is true in the sense that all men saved, whether temporally or spiritually, are, in their relation to him, sinful, or transgressors of the Law. But in relation to others and in relation to specific obligations which he may impose on them, they may be relatively righteous, and his saving them may be because they are so. Thus:

1. Those who are righteous in life, as compared with others, are saved from calamity and suffering. Noah was a righteous man, and therefore was spared, while the Flood carried away the wicked. Lot was a righteous man in comparison with the Sodomites, and therefore was delivered by Divine pressure put upon him from the destruction which befell the rest. Some of the better Churches in Asia were not doomed to the woe that was to come on others, because God "knew their works" (Revelation 2:1-29; Revelation 3:1-22.). The more holy and devoted to Christ we are, and the more minutely our lives are regulated by the laws of God as written in his Word and works, and in our own mental and physical nature, the more shall we be saved from woes that come upon others who violate laws physical, moral, and spiritual.

2. Those who suffer as being unrighteous, when all the time they are not so. This was the case of David, who was persecuted most bitterly by Saul on the ground that he hated his king and sought his life, when all the time he loved his king and guarded his life. It was as a righteous man in this particular that God saved him from distress. The same was true of Joseph in prison; of the Apostles Peter and Paul; yea, of our Saviour himself. And often still does God save his people from the reproach and sorrow brought on them by being represented as being other than they really are (Matthew 5:11, Matthew 5:12; 1 Peter 4:14-17).

3. Those who conform to the gospel law of salvation. Before God all are sinners, and condemned by their own consciences as also by the broken Law. But Christ has made full atonement for sin, and now therefore God, in his sovereign grace, has laid down a new law for us to keep, based upon his acceptance of Christ's perfect work, namely, that we exercise faith in Christ as our atoning Saviour. We are not to try and keep the Decalogue as a condition of being accepted; we cannot attain to the righteousness of the moral Law. We are not to plead the value of repentance and a future life better than the past; all that is indefinite, uncertain. But we are simply to have faith in Christ as set forth in the gospel, that is all that God requires for our acceptance; that is the newly created law, the sum of all obligations in reference to obtaining justification before God. In other words, we are to attain to the "righteousness of faith," the righteousness which consists in fulfilling the obligation created by gospel grace, and then there is no condemnation: we walk then as freed sons in the glorious liberty of the children of God.

II. IN ALL THESE INSTANCES IT IS CONSONANT WITH GOD'S NATURE TO SAVE THE RIGHTEOUS. God's treatment of Noah and Lot, and of all who keep his truth in the midst of prevailing degeneracy, marks his distinction of character on the basis of goodness. It is the Divine nature to love the good and hate the evil tendencies of men. When the persecuted are delivered, there is a vindication of character and a repressing of wrong which cannot but accord with God's natural love of justice. When he graciously accepts us on the condition that we have fulfilled all that he requires under the gospel order, and in our justification recognizes the "righteousness of faith" (Romans 3:25-28; Romans 4:5, Romans 4:6, Romans 4:11, Romans 4:13), he, accepting that kind of righteousness, that fulfilment of all obligation, maintains the honour of the violated Law under which we had lived, and glorifies the sacrificial work of his beloved Son. There is therefore nothing arbitrary in the "law of faith."

III. THESE SPECIAL INSTANCES OF SALVATION ARE IN ACCORD WITH THE GENERAL PRINCIPLE OF GOD'S GOVERNMENT. David was quite warranted in saying that when God, in the matter of the deliverance from the persecutions of Saul, recompensed him according to his righteousness (2 Samuel 22:25), he was simply acting in harmony with his general kindness to the merciful and upright, and his stern and repressive ways of providence toward the perverse (2 Samuel 22:26, 2 Samuel 22:27). The actual laws revealed in the Decalogue, in the civil institutions of Moses, in the precepts of the New Testament, in the constitution of the physical and mental worlds, all go for the good and against the wicked, whatever be the form or degree of the goodness or wickedness. It may be that, for reasons not yet made clear, the wicked triumph for a while and the righteous cry out in agony, "O Lord, how long!" but God's government is vast, intricate, and stretching far into the future, and there are forces at work by which at last the righteous shall be exalted and the wicked abased (Psalms 5:4-6, Psalms 5:11, Psalms 5:12; Psalms 37:6, Psalms 37:7, Psalms 37:23-40).

IV. THOSE WHO ARE SAVED BY GOD ON THE GROUND OF RIGHTEOUSNESS LAY NO CLAIM TO MERIT. The object of David in this passage is not to proclaim his own deeds and claim a right to God's favour, but rather to set forth the righteousness and goodness of God in saving those who conform to his will. He had kept the ways, the statutes, and the judgments of God (2 Samuel 22:23, 2 Samuel 22:24) in respect to his behaviour toward Saul,—he could honestly say that; and he considers it a matter of praise and glory to God that he manifested his love of what is just in coming to the rescue of such a one. To have allowed Saul to triumph would have been a reflection on Divine justice. In all this, therefore, there is no reference to merit in the sight of God, any more than Noah felt that he merited God's favour. It was in neither ease a question of the desert of the entire life, but of the state of the life in relation to other men. So in our personal salvation through faith, there is no claim of merit. It is all of grace. The "law of faith" is the creation of grace, and the heart to conform to it is of grace. The light in which we see spiritual things, and in which we rejoice, is not our own. The Lord is our Lamp, and he lightens our darkness (2 Samuel 22:29). If we are able to break through troops of spiritual foes, and leap over walls (2 Samuel 22:30) that hem us in, it is not because of our strength; it is only by our God, who of his free mercy supplies all our need.

2 Samuel 22:31-51

The facts are:

1. David asserts the exclusive perfection of God.

2. He states that his strength and power are from God, and that God teaches him to move and act with advantage in times of war and difficulty.

3. He refers to the help received through the graciousness of God, and the fact that thereby he was able to subdue all his enemies.

4. He alludes to the subjugation of the people to himself as the consequence of Divine help, and looks on to further triumphs over strangers.

5. He recounts the fact of his deliverance, and makes the final reference to them a flesh reason for thanksgiving.

Knowledge of God founded on experience.

From 2 Samuel 22:31 to 37 David seems to state some of the results arising out of his experience of God's dealing with him during the earlier portion of his life. He can now say with emphasis what at one time could only be said as a matter of general profession on the part of a pious Hebrew; and there is in 2 Samuel 22:31 an implied contrast with certain apprehensions entertained during those seasons of isolation and distress, when no one cared for his soul, and the course of providence seemed to be all against him. And in this respect others are like him; the more profound their personal experience in life, the more clear and sure are their conceptions of the ineffable perfections of God.

I. A KNOWLEDGE OF GOD IS MORE A QUESTION OF PERSONAL EXPERIENCE THAN OF SPECULATION. Among the Hebrews there were grand traditional beliefs and conceptions which placed their pure monotheism far above the theistic faiths of other nations, and David in early years inherited these, and could give beautiful expression to them. But the traditional and even reasoned views which he had acquired were not his greatest treasure. A long life of communion, service, conflict, and patient trust had caused him to see that experience was the most important element in this matter of knowledge of God. No doubt it is possible to reason up to God. The logical outcome of the principle of causation is God, and the moral nature of man is only intelligible on the hypothesis of a supreme personal Ruler. It is not true that speculative philosophy leads away from God. All its lines, when straightly pursued, converge on him. The question is one of personal relations, and it is not within the competence of a speculative inquirer to settle this great question regardless of the deep, ineradicable, and most sacred experience of which human nature is capable.

II. AS A MATTER OF FACT, EXPERIENCE GIVES A CLEARER, FULLER, AND MORE ASSURED KNOWLEDGE THAN ANY OTHER MEANS. Experience is of first importance in matters pertaining to spiritual things. We know the reality of unseen beings existing beneath the fleshly covering of the body more truly by the mysterious contact of our self with an invisible counterpart, than by any physiological or psychological arguments. There is an inexpressible knowledge in our conscious intuitions of other minds being in communion with our own, which is the more clear, sure, and satisfying, in that it is inexpressible in words. Likewise the personal experience of holy men brings them so near to the living God, so directly in contact with his Spirit, and gives them such clear and irresistible convictions of his Being and his glorious character, that to such men the light thrown on the question of the Divine existence and character by processes of reasoning seems very cold and dim. They can dispense with it for themselves. Like the Apostle John, they have tasted and handled and felt the Divine reality (1 John 1:1-3).

III. THE CLEARER AND MORE SURE KNOWLEDGE RELATES ESPECIALLY TO HIS EXCLUSIVE PERFECTIONS. After his deep and often trying experience, David could speak most confidently of God as "perfect" in all things. He alone was worthy of the name God. The points referred to are:

1. His methods.

2. His Word.

3. His care.

His methods of discipline, of guidance, of instruction, and of working out purposes seemed strange and obscure while David was in trial, but in the end he saw that all was perfect. So is it ever, The more we experience of his "ways," the more do we learn their wisdom, goodness, and justice. His "Word," considered as promise, covenant, revelation, or manifestation in Christ, requires personal experience to enable us to see how perfect it is. How hearty an "Amen" can multitudes give to this statement! His care is discovered by our experience through scenes of danger and peril to be indeed sufficient, suited to every emergency, and most gentle and considerate. As our "Buckler," "Shield," and "Rock," we know him more truly, as life advances and the heart becomes charged with unutterable experiences, to be perfect. How vain are all the negations and disputations of restless speculators to the soul rich in such experience!

IV. THE KNOWLEDGE OF GOD GAINED BY EXPERIENCE ISSUES IN DEVELOPMENT OF CHARACTER AND FITNESS FOR HIGHEST FORM OF WORK. The holy man enriched by such knowledge is not a mere knowing creature; he becomes a man of higher character and more extended activity. His way is made perfect; his feet are those of the hind; he rises to the best positions in the spiritual sphere; his hands are fit for warfare; he becomes calm and strong in the guarantee of a perpetual shield; and distinction in the highest society and fitness for the holiest service are the outcome of God's gracious dealings. As David, after all his strange experience of God's power and gentleness, was more strong in faith, more skilful in administration, more apt at spiritual warfare, and more conformed to the Divine will; so all who follow on to know the Lord more perfectly, and enter more deeply into the secret of the Lord, rise in spiritual character, and become more fit instruments for doing the purest form of work in the world.

The gentleness of God.

This beautiful saying of David's, in verse 36, is a wonderful illustration of the tenderness of his own heart, and of the deep and thoroughly evangelical thoughts he entertained of the character of God. There is much in this song to remind us of terrible power (verses 7-18); but it was to David the power and terribleness of One who pities the poor and needy, and, out of his deep compassion, throws the shield of his almightiness over them. In one respect this display of power is an expression of gentleness; it is tender care and loving kindness for the needy in their defensive aspect. It was gentleness that took David from the sheepcote to make him King of Israel; that succoured and consoled him when exiled in lonely mountains and heathen lands; that spared his soul and healed his wounds when he fell into his dreadful sin; that upheld his broken spirit when the crushing blow of rebellion came as chastisement for sin; that gradually fashioned his character in spite of adverse influences of the age, and made him a blessing to Israel; and that so toned his life that now in old age, instead of being a proud monarch boasting of his strength, he is constrained to ascribe all the glory of his life to God. It is the gentleness of God that elevates and ennobles all his people.

I. THIS QUALITY IS MOST CHARACTERISTIC OF GOD IN HIS DEALINGS WITH US. To it—called in the New Testament, love—we owe our redemption through Christ. The revelation of "righteousness," of which the Apostle Paul speaks (Romans 1:17), is made because of the deep love of God, his tender pity for his erring children. Our Saviour, who is the express Image of his Person, was, during his earthly course, the embodiment of all that is sweet, tender, pitiful, gentle. The bruised reed, the smoking flax, knew his gentleness. Weeping widows, fallen women, outcast lepers, despised sinners, little children, a sorrowing Mary at the cross, were only a few instances in which the infinite tenderness of his nature went forth in words and deeds of blessing. The spirit of his gospel is that of tender compassion for all men. In our personal experience the same spirit is revealed. He found us bruised, defiled, without hope; and he tenderly bound up our wounds, took away our guilt, and gave us power to become his sons. In our occasional lapses, how tender, how patient, and pitiful! When adversity has come, home laid desolate, or health taken away, how gently his hand has held us up and assuaged our grief! And when by the open grave, and broken down with sorrow, his all-sufficing gentleness has come and turned our sorrow into joy. O blessed gentleness! How dear and precious is our God to our often weary and sinful hearts!

II. THE INFLUENCE OF GOD'S GENTLENESS ON US IS TO ELEVATE OUR LIFE. It made David "great." That was its object, and he, appreciating its blessedness, found that it did secure its object. A knowledge of this as the distinguishing quality in God's dealings with men, tends in itself to raise our conceptions of God, and of the order of his government. The end for which his gentleness found expression in the work of Christ is that we may be raised from our low estate, and be heirs of his own glory. When we open our hearts to his gentle Spirit, we, like the prodigal, rise from our degradation and become reinstated as beloved and honoured children. In seasons of calamity it gives us strength to endure and to wait, and a deep consciousness of its reality often throws over the character a more than earthly beauty; and when his love has done all its blessed work in us, we shall rise to a far more glorious position than that occupied by David when, as king, he reached the highest honour attainable among men (John 17:24).

III. THE REMEMBRANCE OF HIS GENTLENESS IN THE PAST IS AN ENCOURAGEMENT TO US FOR THE FUTURE. David was evidently able to look on to the future with perfect composure. The love of the past was pledge for the future. Our review of God's gracious dealings with us will cause us to sing of his loving kindness, and to fear no evil. Having given us his beloved Son, we are sure he will give us all things.

Life's warfare.

From verse 38 to verse 44 David takes a general survey of his life's conflicts, and is able to say at the close that his triumph over enemies is complete. The language is strong, and to modern ears fierce and vindictive; but we have to consider the position which he believed himself to hold under God, and which he believed to be imperilled by his adversaries. He was, and knew it well, the anointed of the Lord, set over the people as the representative of God, and for the distinct purpose of preparing the way for the realization of those vast promises of good to the world made to Abraham, and devoutly cherished by every enlightened Hebrew. Consequently, the personal element in his case largely disappeared. The attacks on him were attacks on God's government, an effort to frustrate God's purposes; and, believing those purposes to be the wisest and best, he regarded the attempt to put them aside as most wicked; indeed, as the crime of high treason against the Eternal King. That men who thus oppose the Lord's anointed, and are instrumental in committing so great a sin or doing so serious a mischief in the world, deserved the judgment which God allowed to come is obvious, or he would not have allowed it; and, admitting this, there is no obvious sin in David expressing in figurative terms his acquiescence and even satisfaction in that judgment. There is no sin in a man's spiritual vision being so high and wide that he sees justice, and is glad that justice is done. It is only when we introduce the more personal element, and judge by it alone, that David's words are felt to be improper. His life's warfare suggests ours, and that being led on by the Captain of our salvation.

I. THERE ARE STRONG AND BITTER FOES AROUND US. Cruel men under Saul's leading, Amalekites, Philistines, and rebels within the kingdom, sought the ruin of David, both personally and in his capacity as anointed king. No words can set forth adequately the number, strength, activity, and combinations of the spiritual foes that practically seek our spiritual life, and also oppose the claims and prerogatives of Christ. Every Christian life is a spiritual reproduction of David's temporal life; and in the antagonism of our own Christian experience we have a miniature view of the great conflict going on between the King in Zion and the principalities and powers of darkness and the countless forces that lie concealed in the depths of human depravity.

II. THE CONFLICT IS PROTRACTED AND CHARACTERIZED BY VICISSITUDES. From the day that Saul entertained a wicked jealousy of his powers (1 Samuel 18:8) till the revolt of Sheba, David had to be on his guard, and in some form or other defend his person and his right to the kingdom. Now he is in deepest distress, and now rescued by the interposition of God. Sorrow and joy were his portion. The lesson for us is obvious. Our warfare is lifelong. As long as there is lurking evil within the domain of our nature, as long as strong and subtle temptations come upon us, and the great enemy seeketh our life, so long we must stand in the whole armour of God, and watch and strive (Ephesians 6:10-17). And, also, we have our seasons of anguish and desolation, our faintings and fears, our falls and wounds, as well as our songs of triumph and joy. The Apostle Paul wrote at the close of his toils and conflicts as one who had suffered much and accomplished much. What is true of us personally is true in a way of the great Church militant; there are, as history reveals, times of sore defeat and sorrow and apparent abandonment, and times again of magnificent triumphs.

III. THERE IS, THROUGH THE CONFLICT, ABIDING TRUST IN GOD AND USE OF GIFTS. The language in which David describes the issue of his conflicts reveals that all through he cherished unceasing faith in God, and used well the fingers to fight which Providence had trained. In darkest seasons his hope was in God. Not armies, but God, formed his Refuge, Strength, and Defence (verses 40, 41). Saving the great lapse, when for a time the soul was estranged from its Source of blessing, there was a calm and unshaken confidence that the great purpose for which he was called to the throne would be realized, and this rendered moral support to all material means employed for subduing foes. It is the characteristic of our warfare that it is the "good fight of faith." From first to last, trust in the presence, help, and succour of God enters into the exercise of all watchfulness, prayerfulness, and resolute endeavours to subdue everything to Christ. Success in Christian warfare springs from a subtle blending of the most absolute faith in the almighty grace of God with the most energetic use of knowledge and resolve. By this combination also, the Church, in its corporate action, seeks to banish spiritual foes from the kingdom, and to extend Christ's supremacy over all people and lands.

IV. CERTAIN AND COMPLETE VICTORY IS THE ISSUE. If we Compare David when an outcast among the eaves of the mountains, or a wanderer among an alien people, dependent on heathen hospitality for his sustenance and protection (1 Samuel 27:1-7), with David at the close of his reign, dwelling in regal splendour, and in peace from all his foes, we can see how complete his triumph, and how tree in effect is the bold language of this song. Helpless, unbefriended by the Judge of all the earth, his oppressors are as the beaten dust and trampled mire. Aliens and the rebellious among his own people (verses 41-44) alike are brought low, and all their pride and strength has vanished. It is only when we come to the end of our Christian career that we can say this of all our foes; but it can even now be said of many in the past. The strongest language of David will be inadequate to express the completeness of the victory we shall at last obtain over all spiritual foes. As Israel saw no living Egyptian as they stood on the shore of the Red Sea, and as the multitude in Revelation 15:2-4 looked over the calm glassy scene of a former arena of conflict and peril, so we each shall, through Christ, be able to survey the past and see our enemies no more. More than conquerors, we shall sing the song of triumph. Sin and temptation, the horrible dangers, the slippery places, the roaring torrents, the deep waters, will have been overcome, and our sanctified nature will constitute a domain in which the voice of tumult is no more heard. Our personal triumph will be analogous to the triumph of Christ over all the evil forces that once opposed his blessed reign.

The glory of the accomplishment of life's purpose due to God.

In the section from verse 45 to verse 51 David looks on to what God will yet do for him; he reflects on what is now his happy position, and on the connection of this with the great deliverances of the past; and, thus taking a threefold view of his life, he ascribes all the glory of real and possible achievements unto God (verse 50). His own people and the heathen would regard him as a great king, and ascribe his wonderful successes to his superior prowess in war, and skill in administration. Not so the man of God. To his God he ascribes all the glory. Taking the particulars of David's life as means of illustration, we also may see that the accomplishment of our life's highest purpose is no occasion of praise to ourselves, but solely of glory to God.

I. GOD HAS CHOSEN US. David was called to leave the sheepfold, and raised by the distinct will of God to be what he subsequently came to be. Never does he forget this. It was all of free sovereign grace. No conquests over Philistines, no succession to Saul, no subjugation of people under him, no lofty piety for the enrichment of the world by its poetic utterances, would have had place but for the Divine choice. It is so of all men after God's own heart. He hath begotten them. He hath made them kings and priests unto himself. "We love him, because he first loved us." Whatever conquests we achieve in the spiritual life are an outcome of our having that life which, as clearly taught in the New Testament, is not of man, but of God (John 3:5-8).

II. IN OURSELVES WE ARE UNWORTHY OF ANY BLESSING. David knew and felt that there was no worthiness in him that he should be called to be king. Whatever moral and mental fitness there may have been in him as compared with others, it was all o! God, and constituted no more merit than the sweetness of the rose gives merit to the rose. And during his career he fell again and again, so that his spiritual condition was, so far as it depended on his watchfulness and care, not so perfect as it should have been. It was God's wonderful "gentleness" (verse 36), and not his superior spiritual qualities or natural force of character, that had made him what he was. The experience of good men is the same in all ages. The ancient patriarch (Genesis 18:27), the evangelical prophet (Isaiah 6:5), and the Christian apostle (Romans 15:10), are one with the "sweet psalmist of Israel" in confessing entire unworthiness of the least of God's mercies. Self-renunciation before God is essential to true godliness. All the honour and glory are due to him.

III. GOD PROVIDES THE MEANS BY WHICH OUR LIFE'S PURPOSE IS WROUGHT OUT. The natural gifts that distinguished David, and the wisdom to use them, and the disposition to use them for the right ends, were provided for him. The mountain fastnesses in which he found a shield from the oppressor, belonged to him who claims the "strength of the hills." The repressive influences brought to bear on the rebellious factions, and the concurrent events which issued in their death or depression, were ordered by a higher wisdom. The gift or non-withdrawal of the Holy Spirit on the occasion of the dreadful fall (Psalms 51:10, Psalms 51:11) was all of pure mercy. And thus it was through God alone that the tempted, tried, sorrowing king was enabled to pursue his course. In his case we have in miniature an illustration of the great provision which God makes for us. We are stewards only of gifts of God. The life and death of his beloved Son is the great Gift by which all else is guaranteed. He directs us to the Rock of Ages. His Spirit worketh within us to will and to do. The faith by which we cling to him in the dark and cloudy day is his own gift (Ephesians 2:8). If we conquer our spiritual foes, it is he who teacheth our hands to war and our fingers to fight. By him alone we are more than conquerors. If we arrive at last "perfect" in Zion, it is because be has led us on by ways we knew not.

IV. HE CONTROLS THE INFLUENCES AT WORK AGAINST US. The "strangers" and his own "people" are brought under him because there is an unseen power so working on them that their force is weakened and their will turned. The life of David is full of this Divine control of adverse influences. Saul and Doeg were baffled and restrained. Philistines at Gath (1 Samuel 27:4-7) were favourably disposed to him in the bitter time of his exile. The nation was made willing to accept him in place of the successors in the line of Saul. The wise counsel of Ahithophel was turned to foolishness, and when for a time the chastisement of rebellion seemed to crush his heart, the hour of deliverance came, and the people were made willing to welcome him once more to his beloved Jerusalem. So is it still. Land and sea, men and evil spirits, life and death, are all alike in the hands of God, and he can say, "Thus far, and no further;" "Touch not mine anointed." Our Lord is Lord also of all. Our highest interests are in his holy honda, and there is nothing, seen or unseen, that can sever us from the love of God that is in Christ our Lord (Romans 8:35-39). How natural, then, the words "Therefore, I will give thanks unto thee, O Lord" (verse 50)! "He" showeth mercy forevermore.

Additional topics

1. The influence of success in promoting success (verse 45).

2. The accelerated influences of the spiritual world analogous to the laws of motion (verse 45).

3. The inherent sense in all men of the majesty of righteousness (verse 45).

4. The power of reputed character and of deeds in extending personal influence over strangers (verse 46).

5. Foreshadows of the final collapse of the forces of evil before the victorious Christ (verse 46).

6. The ever-living God the Joy and Hope of the Christian amidst the vicissitudes of life (verse 47).

7. The adoration of God a natural expression of the sanctified heart, and its Christian element based on an experience of his mercy (verse 47).

8. The qualities of the rock as illustrating the Divine perfection (verse 47).

9. The reality of providential retribution for the oppression of the righteous and the needy, as seen in individuals and nations, and revealed in history and Scripture (verse 48).

10. The various methods by which God acts on human souls to bring them into submission to Christ (verse 48).

11. The Divine process of brining souls out from embarrassing circumstances, temporal and spiritual (verse 49).

12. The concurrence of Divine and human action in spiritual conquests (verse 49).

13. The setting forth of the wonders of redeeming mercy before men who profess no interest in Christ. How to do it (verse 50).

14. All the resources of the Divine nature in their pledged relation to the accomplishment of the purpose of Christ, the Anointed One (verse 51).

15. The inheritance of Christ's people in the resources belonging to him (verse 51).

16. The permanent character of the work of redemption (verse 51).


2 Samuel 22:1-51

(Psalms 18:1-50.).—(JERUSALEM.)

David's song of praise.

"And David spake unto Jehovah the words of this song," etc. (2 Samuel 22:1). It is a song of:

1. The anointed (messiah) of the Lord, his king (2 Samuel 22:51), his servant (Psalms 18:1-50; 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 16:1-28), 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 8:1-18.; 2 Samuel 10:0.). 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" (verse 51). Of this song, consider—

I. ITS SUBSTANCE; or, the reasons for praise.

1. The personal and intimate relationship of Jehovah to his servant (verses 2-4).

"Jehovah is my Rock, and my Fortress. and my, yea, my Deliverer,
My Rock God, in whom I trust," etc.

(Verses 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 Psalms 18:1-50. (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. (Psalms 18:5-20.) 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 (Psalms 18:20) 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."

(Psalms 18:5, Psalms 18:6.)

(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. (Psalms 18:7), "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 (Psalms 18:8, Psalms 18:9); 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 (Psalms 18:10-13); 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 (Psalms 18:14-16); finally, with distinguishing, condescending, and tender care (Psalms 18:36)—

"He reached from above, he laid hold of me,
He drew me out of great waters," etc.

(Psalms 18:17-20.)

"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. (Psalms 18:21-28.) "He delivered me because he delighted in me" (Psalms 18:20). 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 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 (Psalms 18:26, Psalms 18:27). "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" (Psalms 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. (Psalms 18:29-46.) 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 (Psalms 18:29-32). 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 (Psalms 18:33-37).

(3) He enables him to overcome his enemies and utterly destroy their power (Psalms 18:38-43).

(4) He extends and establishes his royal dominion, making him to be "head of the heathen" (Psalms 18:44-46). 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.

(Verses 47-51.)

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 (Psalms 18:7-17) 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."

(Psalms 18:50, 51.)

(See on this song, Chandler, Maclaren, W.M. Taylor, and commentaries on Psalms 18:1-50.) "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.

2 Samuel 22:24

(Psalms 18:23).—


"I kept myself from mine iniquity" (perversion, distortion, departure from the line of truth and rectitude). The life of a good man is a conflict (2 Samuel 10:12). "A man will never persevere in the practice of uprightness and godliness, unless he carefully keep himself from his inquiry" (Calvin). His self-preservation—


1. There is none greater than sin. Every other evil is slight compared with it.

2. Each man has "his besetting sin." "I kept myself," not merely against iniquity becoming my own, but against the iniquity which lies near to me, and to which I am specially liable from my constitution or condition (1 Samuel 24:5). A traitor within the fortress is a more dangerous foe than any other.

3. It besets him at all times, in all places, and by manifold "devices."

4. To be overcome by it is inexpressibly disastrous.


1. Due consideration of the danger. To be forewarned is to be forearmed.

2. Constant and resolute vigilance against the first approaches of the enemy (Hebrews 3:13).

3. The habitual practice of self-restraint and self-denial.

4. The daily exercise of the virtues and graces that are most opposite to the sins to which he is disposed (Galatians 5:16).

5. Familiar acquaintance with the Word or God (Ephesians 6:13-17).

6. Continual looking unto God for his effectual aid. "Kept [guarded] by the power of God through faith," etc. (1 Peter 1:5).

7. Unceasing prayer. "Keep yourselves in the love of God" (Jude 1:21); "Keep yourselves from idols" (1 John 5:21).

III. DESERVES TO BE SOUGHT WITH THE UTMOST EARNESTNESS, because of the advantages by which it is attended.

1. An assurance of personal sincerity (1 John 5:18; Hebrews 3:14). "The careful abstaining from our own iniquity is one of the best evidences of our own integrity; and the testimony of our conscience that we have done so will be such a rejoicing as will not only lessen the grief of an afflicted, state, but increase the comfort of an advanced state" (Matthew Henry).

2. An experience of Divine help, of which it is an indispensable condition.

3. An increase of moral strength.

4. A preparation for future victories. "To mortify and conquer our own appetites is more praiseworthy than to storm strong cities, to defeat mighty armies, work miracles, or raise the dead" (Scupoli).—D.

2 Samuel 22:26-28

(Psalms 18:25-27)

Divine rectitude.

Consider the righteousness of God as it appears in:

1. The supreme importance which he attaches to moral distinctions amongst men. Such distinctions are often made light of in comparison with wisdom, might, and riches (Jeremiah 9:23); and those who possess the latter despise and trample upon the ignorant, the weak, and the poor (2 Samuel 22:27). But God has chiefly respect to men in their moral attitude toward himself, their relation to the law of right, their personal character (1 Samuel 2:30). With him the great distinction is that between the righteous and the wicked (Psalms 34:15, Psalms 34:16). Whilst his infinite greatness dwarfs earthly power and honour into insignificance, his perfect righteousness exalts moral worth beyond measure.

2. The different treatment which he adopts toward men of different character. In himself he is always the same (1 Samuel 15:29); but the aspect which his character and dealings assume toward them is determined by their own character and conduct, and is the necessary manifestation of his unchangeable rectitude—on the one hand, toward the "loving," etc; full of love (all that is kind, desirable, and excellent); on the other, toward the "perverse," perverse (contrary, antagonistic, "as an enemy," Lamentations 2:5; Leviticus 26:23, Leviticus 26:24; Hosea 2:6), inflicting severe chastisement. "There is a higher law of grace, whereby the sinfulness of man but draws forth the tenderness of a father's pardoning pity; and the brightest revelation of his love is made to froward prodigals. But this is not the psalmist's view here, nor does it interfere with the law of retribution in its own sphere" (Maclaren).

3. The signal change which he makes in their relative positions; saving and exalting the oppressed and afflicted, and humbling the proud oppressor; his purpose therein being to vindicate, honour, and promote righteousness, and to restrain, correct, and put an end to iniquity (1 Samuel 2:8, 1 Samuel 2:10). "What is God doing now?" it was asked of Rabbi Jose, and the reply was, "He makes ladders on which he causes the poor to ascend and the rich to descend" (The Midrash).—D.

2 Samuel 22:31

(Psalms 18:30)

God's way, Word, and defence.

"I can overcome all opposition in and with my God" (2 Samuel 22:30); for:

1. His way is perfect. His providential dealings, especially in leading his servant forward in the conflict. Although ofttimes mysterious and different from what might have been expected, it is marked by perfect rectitude, perfect wisdom, perfect love; and is exactly adapted to effect his holy and beneficent purposes (Job 23:8-10; Psalms 77:19; Psalms 97:2).

2. His Word is tried (purified as silver and gold, without dross, and very precious). It is the chief means of preparation, instruction and help; "the sword of the Spirit." Its declarations are true, its directions good, its promises faithful (Proverbs 30:5; Psalms 12:6, Psalms 12:7). The more it is tested, whether by friends or foes, by examination or experience, the more it proves itself to be indeed the Word of God, and of unspeakable worth. "There is none like that; give it me" (1 Samuel 21:9).

3. His defence is sure; himself effectuating his Word, and being "a Shield to all that trust in him," affording certain, constant, and complete protection. Faith is the bond of union between men and God, the "taking hold of his strength," a necessary means of defence, and hence often called a shield (Ephesians 6:16; Hebrews 10:35); but it is God himself who is such in the highest sense (Jeremiah 51:20; Deuteronomy 33:29; Psalms 5:12). He is God alone (2 Samuel 22:32); the absolute, incomparable, perfect One; worthy to be trusted and praised (2 Samuel 22:4).—D.

2 Samuel 22:33

God is my Strength.

"The God who girdeth me with strength" (Psalms 18:32). Physical strength is derived from God. Much more is spiritual. It is obtained through faith. And every believer may say, "His strength is mine." Thereby:

1. I live—live unto God, "soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world" (Titus 2:12; Hebrews 2:4; Galatians 2:20).

2. I stand—stand fast in temptation, attack, danger (Romans 14:4; 2 Corinthians 1:24; Philippians 4:1).

3. I walk—walk forward, in the way of the Lord, surely, swiftly (2 Samuel 22:34), perseveringly (2 Corinthians 5:7; Isaiah 40:31).

4. I labour—labour with and for God, zealously, patiently, and not in vain (Isaiah 26:12; 1 Corinthians 15:58).

5. I endure—endure "hardness," afflictions, reproaches, yea, all things, supported and "strengthened with power through his Spirit in the inward man" (2 Timothy 2:3; Hebrews 11:27; Psalms 138:3).

6. I fight—fight "the good fight of faith," against his enemies, courageously and effectually (2 Samuel 22:35).

7. I overcome—overcome in life and death (1 Corinthians 15:57).—D.

2 Samuel 22:36

True greatness.

"Thy answering hath made me great." Is. 18:35, "Thy gentleness" (humility, meekness, condescending grace). True greatness consists not in external prosperity, nor in splendid achievements, but in moral and spiritual excellence. "The good alone are great." Notice—

I. ITS CONDITIONS, on the part of man.

1. Conscious weakness, the sense of utter helplessness in himself (1 Samuel 30:1-10; John 15:5; 2 Corinthians 12:10; Hebrews 11:34).

2. Believing prayer (2 Samuel 22:7). "By showing us our own nothingness, humility forces us to depend upon God; and the expression of that dependence is prayerfulness."

3. Ardent aspiration. "When sea water rises into the clouds it loses its saltness and becomes fresh; so the soul when lifted up to God" (Tamil proverb).

II. ITS BESTOWMENT; by "that practical hearkening on the part of God when called upon for help, which was manifested in the fact that God made his steps broad" (Keil).

1. In wonderful condescension (Psalms 138:6).

2. By manifold methods; preserving, instructing, strengthening, exalting those who trust in him.

3. With considerate adaptation to their nature and capacities. "The great God and Father, intent on making his children great, follows them and plies them with the gracious indirections of a faithful and patient love" (Bushnell, 'Christ and his Salvation'). "Like as father" etc. (Psalms 103:13).

III. ITS MANIFESTATION. As the effect of sunshine and rain, received and appropriated by a plant, appears in its abounding strength, beauty, and fruitfulness, so the effect of Divine grace appears in enlargement and elevation of mind, sincere and fervent love to God, a set purpose to do his will, eminence in "love, joy, peace, gentleness," etc. (Galatians 5:22), maturity of character (Hosea 14:5-7), holy and beneficent activity, growing conformity to the perfect Pattern of true greatness (Matthew 20:25-27). "Have the mind in you which was also in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 2:5).—D.

2 Samuel 22:50

(Psalms 18:49)

The praise of God among the heathen.

"Therefore will I give thanks unto thee, O Jehovah, among the heathen" (Romans 15:9). The purpose of God to below the blessings of salvation upon all nations was made known in the earliest ages (Genesis 12:3; Numbers 14:21; Deuteronomy 32:43). "From the beginning there existed a power to rise above the exclusiveness of Old Testament religion, namely, the vital germ of knowledge, that the kingdom of God would one day find its completion in a universal monarchy embracing all people" (Riehm, 'Messianic Prophecy'). In sympathy and cooperation with the Divine purpose David here speaks. That purpose is, in its highest sense, fulfilled in the extension of the kingdom of Christ (1 Samuel 2:10; 1 Samuel 5:3). This language is such as might be adopted by Christ himself (Psalms 2:8; Hebrews 2:9-13). It should be that of all his followers; to whom he said, "Go ye, therefore" (Matthew 28:18-20), "proclaim the good news to every creature" (Mark 16:15); "Ye are witnesses of these things" (Luke 24:48; Acts 1:8). As such it indicates—

I. A JOYFUL PROCLAMATION of the Word of truth, by which God is glorified in his Son (2 Samuel 7:14, 2 Samuel 7:26); pertaining to:

1. His marvellous doings, in conflict with the powers of evil and in victory over them, through humiliation, suffering, and sacrifice (Psalms 22:1-31.). "Make known his deeds among the people" (Psalms 105:1, Psalms 105:2; John 12:31, John 12:32).

2. His glorious exaltation and reign (2 Samuel 22:47). "Say among the heathen, The Lord is King" (Psalms 96:10; Philippians 2:9-11). His reign is righteous, beneficent, and universal.

3. His saving benefits—the remission of sins, deliverance from oppression, "righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost." "Praise him, all ye people: for his merciful kindness is great," etc. (Psalms 117:1, Psalms 117:2). "The means of bringing them to the knowledge of God is not the sword, but the proclamation of God's great deeds for his people. As David in his character of missionary to the heathen world praises his God's grace, so at bottom all missionary work among the heathen is, in the announcement of the Word of the God who is revealed in Christ, a continuous praise of the Name of the living God" (Erdmann).

II. A SACRED RESOLVE. "I will praise thee." This determination, or "vow of thanksgiving," ought to be made by every one who has himself received the knowledge of salvation, from:

1. A feeling of compassion for the urgent need of the heathen (Acts 16:9). He may not keep the "good tidings" to himself (1 Kings 7:9).

2. A conviction of duty, arising from acquaintance with the merciful purpose and express commands of the Lord.

3. An impulse of grateful love, on account of the condescending grace shown toward himself, constraining him to obey the Lord's will, promote his purpose, and glorify his Name. It will also lead him to employ every means in his power that "Christ may be magnified" (Philippians 1:20).

III. A CONFIDENT PERSUASION that the heathen will listen to "the joyful sound," freely submit themselves (2 Samuel 22:44-46), and join in the praise of God; founded on:

1. His power to effect his purposes.

2. His faithfulness in fulfilling his promises.

3. His past achievements (2 Samuel 22:48, 2 Samuel 22:49).

"They shall come and declare his righteousness" (Psalms 22:27-31). "Above eighteen centuries have verified the prediction of the permanency of his kingdom, founded as it was by no human means, endowed with inextinguishable life, ever conquering and to conquer in the four quarters of the world; a kingdom one and alone since the world has been, embracing all climes and times, and still expanding, unworn by the destroyer of all things, time; strong amid the decay of empires; the freshness and elasticity of youth written on the brow which has outlived eighteen centuries".—D.


2 Samuel 22:2-4

God the Refuge and Deliverer.

The psalm was composed as a thanksgiving for the safety and deliverances David had experienced when Saul so persistently sought to destroy him, and afterwards in the wars with the house of Saul, and with the heathen tribes that set themselves against him. It appears to belong to an earlier period than the place it occupies in the book would indicate. It is scarcely possible that David could have asserted his uprightness and innocence in the strong terms of 2 Samuel 22:21-25 after his great sins. These verses form the introduction to the psalm, and express in emphatic language the safety and salvation which David had found in God. The Christian may use the words of the similar perils to which he is exposed, and of others not immediately in the psalmist's view.

I. THE DANGERS TO WHICH WE ARE EXPOSED. Bodily, mental, spiritual. To reputation. From our own constitutional tendencies. From diseases and accidents. From the malice of men, and their favour. From prosperity and adversity. From solitude and society. From labours, rest, and pleasures. From Satan and his angels. From the broken Law and injured justice of God. Always and everywhere, under all circumstances and conditions, we are all exposed to perils.

II. THE SAFETY AND DELIVERANCE TO BE FOUND IN GOD. The psalmist labours to express his sense of the protection, safety, and deliverance which God had vouchssfed to him, yea, which God himself had been to him. The imagery he uses is taken chiefly from natural features of Palestine, with which he had become especially familiar as affording refuge and safety during the time that he was hunted by Saul. He calls him "my Rock," in the heights and recesses of which he had been safe from his foes; "my Fortress," his fortified castle, too high to be reached, too strong to be broken into; "my Deliverer," by whose aid he had escaped from many a peril; "the God of my Rock," equivalent to "my mighty God;" "my Shield and the Horn of my salvation," at once protecting him in battle and pushing his enemies to their destruction; "my high Tower," or lofty Retreat; "my Refuge and my Saviour." What the Almighty was to David he is to all his people. We may use similar language. Our dangers may not be so fearful in appearance, or so numerous, or so obvious; but they are as real and serious. And our safety and deliverance must come from "the Lord." The words of the text show that it is not only what he employs for our good, nor what he himself does, but what he is, that assures of safety. Not only does he afford protection and secure deliverance; he is our Protector and Deliverer. In his almightiness, love, knowledge, wisdom, universal presence, observation, and operation, we realize salvation. In Jesus Christ, his very righteousness has become our friend, and assures us of victory. The safety thus assured is not absolute immunity from trouble, but protection from the evil it might produce, and change of its character. The righteous are visited with calamities similar to those which befall the wicked, and in some conditions of society with calamities peculiar to themselves. But in their ease they lose their unfriendly character, and become visitations of a Father's love, means of deliverance from worse evils, and of obtaining greater good. The evil which they might do God will defend us from, if we trust and obey him. Nor are the righteous sure of absolute preservation from sin, though they would enjoy perfect immunity if they fulfilled the necessary conditions on their part. But they have a right to feel sure of preservation of' body and soul in this world, until their appointed work is done; and of final deliverance from all evils (2 Timothy 4:18). They should not desire more.


1. Faith. "In him will I trust" (2 Samuel 22:3). Confidence in God as our Friend, Protector, and Saviour. Especially as he is revealed to us in the gospel. Faith assures us of the Divine love, lays hold of the Divine strength, enables us to flee to God as our Refuge, to rise to the lofty Rock and Tower where we are above all adverse powers, and safe from their assaults, and gives the calmness needful for employing such means as tend to safety and victory. "All things are possible to him that believeth" (Mark 9:23).

2. Prayer. "I will call on the Lord …so shall I be saved from mine enemies" (2 Samuel 22:4). Faith prompts obedience, as in other respects, so in respect to prayer. Divine help and protection are promised to those who pray. "Call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me" (Psalms 50:15). The sense of peril, the knowledge that there is safety in God, and that his delivering power is exercised on behalf of those who seek him, cannot but lead the Christian to that earnest and believing prayer which prevails. The Apostle Paul, after pointing out other methods of ensuring victory over our enemies, adds, "Praying always," etc. (Ephesians 6:18).

IV. THE RETURN TO BE MADE FOR SAFETY AND DELIVERANCE REALIZED, AND ANTICIPATED. Praise. This psalm is one of the returns of praise which David made to his Deliverer, of whom he speaks in 2 Samuel 22:4 as "the Lord who is worthy to be praised." Many are ready to pray to God in danger, who forget or refuse to praise him when they have experienced deliverance. The Christian will not fail to give thanks, not only for what he has experienced of Divine protection, but for what he feels sure he shall experience, up to and including victory over death itself, "the last enemy," in view of whose approach he sings, "Thanks be to God, who giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Corinthians 15:26, 1 Corinthians 15:57).—G.W.

2 Samuel 22:4

God worthy to be praised.

The conjunction of ideas here is a little singular. "I will pray to the Lord, who is worthy to be praised.'" It may originate in the feeling that it is fitting that, when we seek new blessings from God, we should not be unmindful of those which he has already bestowed. Praise should accompany prayer (see Philippians 4:6, "prayer … with thanksgiving"). Add that the subjects of praise are encouragements to prayer. In the act of praising him we are reminding ourselves of the strong reasons we have for hopefully seeking further mercies from him.

I. GOD IS WORTHY TO BE PRAISED. Not merely to be feared, entreated, strictly obeyed, and submitted to. He is worthy of thankful and rejoicing obedience and submission. It is not fitting that he should be served sullenly or silently; or that prayer to him should be as a cry of a slave to his master, or of one oppressed to his oppressor, or as a request for help addressed to a stranger. We should speak to him with the confidence and love which his relation to us and past goodness are fitted to inspire. One way of ensuring this is to blend praise with prayer.

II. WHAT IT IS THAT RENDERS HIM WORTHY TO BE PRAISED. Some obtain praise who are not worthy of it in any measure; others, much more than they deserve. But God is worthy of and "exalted above all blessing and praise" (Nehemiah 9:5). Whether we consider his nature, his regard for his creatures, his works or his gifts, we must feel that it is impossible to render him praise worthy of him. But to the utmost of our power we should praise him for:

1. His glorious perfections. Especially his infinite moral excellences—his truth, holiness, righteousness, and love.

2. His wonderful works. In creation, providence, and grace.

3. Specially, his redeeming mercy. His kindness to us in Christ. The display of his perfections in the gift, the Person, and the work of our Lord and Saviour. The mercy he exercises in the forgiveness of sin, the admission of sinners into his family, and all the operations by which he brings his "many sons [and daughters] unto glory," (Hebrews 2:10). The gift of the Holy Spirit for this purpose. The final bliss and glory.

4. The goodness of God to ourselves. Not forgetting that he is "worthy to be praised" for the commonest blessings we enjoy, as well as those distinguishing blessings which we receive as his children through faith in Christ. And not only for the blessings which give us pleasure, but for those which give us pain, but are bestowed that we may become in a greater measure "partakers of his holiness" (Hebrews 12:10).


1. By all his creatures according to their capacity. All his inanimate and irrational creatures do praise him. Their existence, qualities, order, and (as to the living creatures) their happiness "show forth the excellences" of their Creator. "All thy works shall praise thee, O Lord" (Psalms 145:10; comp. Psalms 148:1-14.; Psalms 19:1-4). All intelligent beings ought to praise him; all the right minded of them do. Those who enjoy least of his bounty have much to thank him for, and often praise him more than those who enjoy most. We do not say that those who are suffering in hell the penalty due to their sins can be expected to praise him whose wrath abides so terribly upon them; although, if a somewhat fashionable doctrine be true, they have strong reasons for giving him thanks, since he is taking the wisest and best means to make them meet for the glory and joy in heaven which will at length be their portion!

2. Especially by his redeemed people. Who are the objects of his special regard and gracious operation, and to whom the work of praise on earth is peculiarly committed (Isaiah 43:21; 1 Peter 2:9). On some accounts the redeemed and regenerate have more reason to give thanks to God than those who have never sinned.

"They see
On earth a bounty not indulged on high,
And downward look for Heaven's superior praise …
They sang Creation, for in that they shared:
Creation's great superior, man, is thine;
Thine is redemption; they just gave the key,
'Tis thine to raise and eternize the song."


Nevertheless, angels do give thanks for redemption, and with good reason. For it is the work of the God whom they love; it enriches their conceptions of him; it enlarges their service of him; and it supremely and eternally blesses vast multitudes in whom they feel the deepest interest. It thus gratifies their desires, and adds to their wealth of knowledge, goodness, and happiness.


1. The kind. Clearly the best possible; which is not necessarily that which is most poetical or most musical, though in these respects man should do his best. But that is best of all which comes from the heart, and from a heart fullest of admiration, adoration, love, and gratitude. Much which professes to be praise of God is heartless mockery.

2. The duration. Forever and ever (Ephesians 3:21). While we have any being, in this world and the next (Psalms 145:1, Psalms 145:2; Psalms 146:2). For, as God is everlasting, the reasons for praising him can never end.—G.W.

2 Samuel 22:7

Prayer in distress heard.

The distress referred to is graphically described in 2 Samuel 22:5, 2Sa 22:6, 2 Samuel 22:17,2 Samuel 22:18. The interposition of God for the psalmist's deliverance is poetically depicted in 2 Samuel 22:8-20. The connecting link is given in this verse. David, in his danger and trouble, called on God, and therefore he was delivered. We have here—

I. DISTRESS. This may arise from various causes; such as:

1. Enemies. As in David's case, with the dangers of the battles fought against them. There are many forms less extreme in which the enmity of men may show itself and occasion pain or peril.

2. Circumstances. Worldly losses and anxieties.

3. Personal affliction. Of body or mind. Special distress from afflictions which implicate the nerves, and so the mind itself.

4. Death of dear friends.

5. Conviction of sin. (See Psalms 32:3, Psalms 32:4.) It would be well if this form of distress were more common.

6. Pressure of powerful temptation. The mighty and threatening uprising of inward corruptions, or the pressing solicitations of evil from without.

7. Fear of calamities or of death.

II. PRAYER. Natural for men to call upon God when they are in great trouble or danger. Yet all do not; and of many the prayers are unacceptable, because they lack the moral and spiritual elements of successful prayer (see Hosea 7:14). Prayer, to be acceptable, must be:

1. That of a righteous man. (2 Samuel 22:21-25; James 5:16; Psalms 66:18.) Yet the prayers of one who is stirred by his affliction to sincere repentance will be heard; for repentance is the beginning of righteousness.

2. Offered in faith. (Matthew 21:22.)

3. Importunate and persevering. (Luke 11:8, seq.; Luke 18:1-8.)

4. Accompanied, where practicable, with the use of appropriate means. David fought vigorously as well as prayed earnestly.

III. DELIVERANCE. The Almighty heard the psalmist's voice "out of his temple" (equivalent to "the heavens"), and, interposing in majesty and power, delivered him, discomfiting and scattering his foes. True prayer is always heard and answered; but the deliverance granted is often not according to our conceptions and desires, yet ever according to the perfect wisdom and goodness of our heavenly Father. Sometimes the causes of our distress are removed; sometimes they are allowed to continue, but the distress is allayed, and the causes turned into blessings. So it was with St. Paul's "thorn in the flesh," although he prayed earnestly and repeatedly (2 Corinthians 12:8-10) Spiritual deliverance, however, is always granted to those who truly seek it; and ultimately complete rescue from all that afflicts the Christian.

IV. GRATEFUL REMEMBRANCE AND THANKSGIVING. Although David's victories were wrought through the skill and valour of himself and his troops, he gives to God all the glory of them; for he knew that all was due to him. His example will be followed by the Christian, as he reviews life and calls to mind his distresses and deliverances. He will recognize the hand of God in all, and render praise to him who both furnishes the means of deliverance and exercises the power which renders them successful. Finally, let none wait for trouble before they begin to pray. Live in the habit of prayer, and you will be able, when trouble comes, to pray truly and successfully. Otherwise you may find yourself in the miserable condition of those described in 2 Samuel 22:42, who "looked even unto the Lord, but he answered them not."—G.W.

2 Samuel 22:17-20

Rescue from mighty foes.

In 2 Samuel 22:8-16 the psalmist depicts Jehovah as appearing in his glory for the deliverance of his servant. The picture may have been occasioned by a storm which, in one of his battles, had terrified his enemies and aided in their discomfiture (comp. Joshua 10:11; 1 Samuel 7:10). In the text he narrates the deliverance itself.

I. THE ENEMIES. Who were:

1. Malignant. "Hated me." There was not only opposition and contest, but personal hatred. Many of the Christian's foes have this quality in a high degree (John 17:14), notably their great leader and chief, Satan (equivalent to "adversary," 1 Peter 5:8).

2. Powerful. "My strong enemy … too strong for me." In physical strength, or military, or in numbers. David may have had in view such instances as those recorded in 2 Samuel 8:3-5 and 2 Samuel 21:15-17. The Christian's foes also are "powers" (Ephesians 6:12). Wherein consists the power of the enemies of the righteous?

(1) Their inherent vigour;

(2) their adaptation to our lower nature;

(3) their number.

3. Subtle. "They prevented me in the day of my calamity." They rushed upon him unexpectedly, when he was enfeebled by calamity, and poorly prepared for them. David may be thinking of the attack of the Syrians of Damascus, while he and his army were engaged with Hadadezer or exhausted by the contest with him (2 Samuel 8:5); or of the assault of the giant Ishbi-benob, while he was faint from fighting against the Philistines (2 Samuel 21:15, 2 Samuel 21:16). Thus, also, the Christian's foes often surprise him when he is preoccupied or distressed by troubles. The day of calamity is a day of spiritual danger.

4. In a measure successful. So that he became as a man struggling for life in "great waters". It seemed as if he must be swallowed up. Thus, also, the enemies of the Christian may do him much mischief, temporal and even spiritual; but there is a limit to their power. "For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him" (2 Chronicles 16:9).

II. THE DELIVERER. Jehovah, the Almighty, whose glorious interposition on behalf of his servant, in answer to his cry of distress, is described in the previous verses. They set forth:

1. His awful majesty.

2. His power over all the forces of nature.

3. The intensity of his interest in his troubled servants. How he rouses himself, as it were, for the rescue of those in whom he delights (2 Samuel 21:20).

4. His anger against their enemies. (2 Samuel 21:8, 2 Samuel 21:9.) With such a Friend, who can neither be surprised, evaded, or resisted, the righteous need not dread the might of any adversary, nor despair of deliverance from the direst troubles.


1. Supported him in his perils. "The Lord was my Stay."

2. He saved him from them. "He stretched forth his hand from on high; he laid hold of me; he drew me out of great waters; he delivered me," etc. God's hand can reach his servants in the lowest depths of trouble, and is strong to rescue them from the strongest of their foes.

3. He brought him into a condition of freedom and safety. "Into a large place," a broad, open space, where no "cords of Sheol," or "snares of death" (2 Samuel 21:6, Revised Version), would embarrass or endanger him; where he could move about with perfect freedom, and yet perfect security. Such help from on high is realized by God's people in this world; perfectly when the hand of their God lays hold of them and raises them from earth to heaven.

IV. THE PRAISE. (See homilies on 2 Samuel 21:2 2 Samuel 21:4, 2 Samuel 21:4, and 7.) The perfections and acts of Jehovah are of such a nature that to merely recite them is to praise him. We should acquaint ourselves as fully as possible with his excellences and works, that we may better praise him by declaring them; but our own experience of his power and goodness will give us the liveliest apprehension of them, and stimulate us to the most ardent praise.—G.W.

2 Samuel 22:21-25

God rewarding the righteous.

"He delivered me because he delighted in me," the psalmist had just said. The reasons of the Divine delight in him, and his consequent deliverance, are given in these verses. They at first startle us, as inconsistent with the humility which is part of the character of a godly man, and as peculiarly unsuitable in the mouth of one who had been guilty of adultery and murder. The latter part of the difficulty is removed if, as is most probable, the psalm belongs to the earlier period of David's reign, before his commission of those grievous sins. As to the former, we should hardly find the Apostle Paul writing in this strain; but rather referring all his successes to the exceeding grace of God (see 1 Corinthians 15:9, 1 Corinthians 15:10). His consciousness of sin in general, and of his special guilt on account of his persecution of Christians, prevented everything that savoured of boasting, at least before God. But even he, in appealing to men, did not shrink from reciting his excellences and devoted labours (see 2Co 1:12; 2 Corinthians 6:3-10; 2 Corinthians 11:5-31), though ready to call himself a "fool" for recounting them. And, after all, the truth that God does reward the righteous according to their righteousness is as much a doctrine of the New Testament as of the Old; and there are occasions when Christians may fittingly recognize and declare that the favour God is showing them is according to their righteousness; although the deeper consciousness of sin, and of entire dependence on the mercy of God, which is awakened by the revelations of the gospel, makes the Christian more reluctant to mention his virtues as a reason for the kindness of God to him. As the meritorious ground of such kindness, David would have been as far as St. Paul from regarding them. Notice—

I. THE PSALMIST'S CHARACTER. This he describes by various words and phrases, which only in part differ from each other.

1. Righteousness. Uprightness, rectitude, moral and spiritual goodness in general.

2. Cleanness of hands. Hands free from the stain of innocent blood, of "filthy lucre," etc.

3. Observance of God's ways. The ways he prescribes of thought, feeling, speech, and action. These are inquired after and followed by the good man.

4. Adherence to God. "Have not wickedly departed from my God"—from his presence, worship, the ways he prescribes, and in which he is to be found. Some degree of turning from God at times, every one who knows himself will be conscious of; but "wickedly" to depart from him, to do so consciously, deliberately, persistently, this is apostasy, the very opposite of godliness and righteousness. The Christian will esteem the slightest deviation from God as wicked; but he justly recalls his perseverance in the habits of piety and holiness, in spite of all temptations, with thankfulness.

5. Mindfulness of his Word, and persevering obedience to it. God's Word is "his statutes," what he has determined and appointed, and "his judgments," what he declares and prescribes as just and right. These the psalmist "kept before" him, and from them he "did not depart." And his attention and obedience to them were universal—they extended to "all" of them. One necessary quality of a true obedience. "Then shall I not be ashamed when I have respect unto all thy commandments" (Psalms 119:6).

6. Uprightness before God. With regard both to him and to men.

7. Avoidance of the besetting sin. "I have kept myself from mine iniquity." There is a particular sin to which each is specially prone. To keep one's self from that, by watchfulness, prayer, and resolute resistance, is special evidence of genuine piety.

8. Purity of life in general. "My cleanness," and that "in his eyesight," a very different thing from being pure in the eyes of men. Includes purity of heart as well as conduct, such as is so true and genuine as to bear the Divine inspection.

II. THE PSALMIST'S RECOMPENSE. In his preservation and deliverance from so many perils and enemies, he recognized the Divine reward of his righteousness, the Divine reply to the calumnies of his enemies, the Divine attestation of his innocence.

1. There is a real righteousness in the character of godly men. By this they are essentially distinguished from others. It is not a mere difference of taste.

2. The Divine recompense of such righteousness is certain. On account of:

(1) The character of God. "The righteous Lord loveth righteousness" (Psalms 11:7).

(2) His relation to the righteous. As their Father, etc.

(3) His promises.

(4) His almighty power. He is able to do all that is suitable to his nature, and that he has bound himself to do by his Word.

3. Those who receive such recompense should recognize and acknowledge it. The righteous do continually receive recompense for their righteousness; rewards, both spiritual, material, and social. But sometimes the happy results of their piety are very manifest, and then they should be specially noticed.

(1) To the glory of God. Praising him and inciting others to praise him.

(2) For encouragement of themselves and their brethren. Increasing their faith, and strengthening their determination to continue in their chosen course, and their assurance of ultimate, complete recognition and reward. For the whole reward is not yet. "Great is your reward in heaven" (Matthew 5:12); but on earth the "guerdon" may be

"Many a sorrow, many a labour,

Many a tear."

Finally, in the Lord Jesus Christ we have the perfect Example of righteousness and its recompense; how it may be tried, and how sure is its reward. In him, too, we behold the Source of righteousness for us, and the Pledge of its ultimate triumph.—G.W.

2 Samuel 22:26, 2 Samuel 22:27

Correspondence between the character of men and the conduct of God towards them.

The psalmist, having spoken of God's treatment of himself according to his righteousness, now shows that his case was no exception to the general rule of the Divine proceedings, but an illustration of it; that, universally, God renders to men according to their character and works.

I. THE MERCIFUL EXPERIENCE HIS MERCY. Our Lord declares the same truth, when he says, "Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy" (Matthew 5:7); and when he declares, "If ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you" (Matthew 6:14); and teaches us to pray, "Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors" (Matthew 6:12, Revised Version). But how does this consist with the doctrine of justification by faith? It must be in harmony with it, since both are Divine. If it do not accord with some human statements of the doctrine, it must be because these are erroneous or defective. Faith is not a mere assent to the truth, or reliance on the atonement of Christ and the mercy of God in him; but it involves acceptance of Christ as Teacher and Lord as well as Redeemer, and therefore a willing obedience to his instructions, of which part is that we should be forgiving, and that only those who are shall be forgiven—only the merciful shall find mercy. Moreover, faith in the love of God in Christ works love in the heart; a faith which does not is of no avail. From another point of view, "repentance toward God" is as essential to salvation as "faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ" (Acts 20:21), and will be produced by it. It is vain, therefore, for the unmerciful to trust in the mercy of God, or to cry to him for mercy; his mercy is shown only to the merciful. But to them it is shown; and that not only in the forgiveness of their sins, but in the bestowment of all needful blessings. They also should bear in mind that their enjoyment of the love of God will be in proportion to the love which they cherish and display; and that every degree of selfishness will deprive them of some blessing.

II. THE UPRIGHT EXPERIENCE GOD'S UPRIGHTNESS. He is essentially upright, just, faithful; but the happy experience of his uprightness is for those who "walk uprightly" (Psalms 84:11)—those who are sincere and true hearted towards God and men. To these he will show himself upright by manifesting to them his favour, and fulfilling to them all his promises (comp. Psalms 92:12-15); while to others he will show the same quality by the execution of his threatenings.

III. THE PURE EXPERIENCE HIS PURITY. "Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God" (Matthew 5:8).

1. Genuine Christians are holy. Truly so, though not perfectly. They have been cleansed by the Word and Spirit of God, and "the blood of Jesus Christ his Son" (1 John 1:7). They have turned from sin, and it is their abhorrence. They watch and pray against it; and, when they fall into it, mourn with sincere grief. They cherish purity of heart, lip, and life. They desire and strive after perfect holiness.

2. To such God shows himself holy.

(1) He reveals to them his holiness. They are capable of such a revelation, because of their purity of heart. Sin blinds the soul, incapacitating it from discerning and appreciating the holy.

(2) He acts towards them holily. He requires holiness of them, and works it in them. All his dealings with them are in accordance with holiness, and have for their end to promote their sanctification. Hence he does not indulge his children, but, when necessary, afflicts them, that they may become more and more "partakers of his holiness" (Hebrews 12:10). He will not be satisfied until they perfectly reflect his image, and he can "present them holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight" (Colossians 1:22).


1. Sinners are froward. They are perverse, unreasonable, ungovernable, impracticable. They show this in their feeling and conduct towards God, his Word and ways. They will not submit to his instructions or obey his commands. They "walk contrary unto" him (Leviticus 26:21), do the opposite to that which he enjoins.

2. To them God shows himself froward. It is a bold expression, and therefore, perhaps, the translators of this book softened it into "unsavonry," or distasteful. But the same word is rightly translated in Psalms 18:26, "froward." The meaning is clear. God acts as if perverse towards the perverse. As they will not pay regard to his will, he will not to their desires and prayers. As they oppose him, he opposes them, thwarts their purposes, disappoints their hopes. As they "walk contrary unto" him, he "will also walk contrary unto" them (Leviticus 26:24). It is a universal truth, discernible:

(1) In nature. If we would have nature work good to us, we must learn and obey its laws. If we will not, they will work us harm.

(2) In the affairs of life—in business and association with men. If we will not ascertain and live according to the laws which should regulate our conduct, they will avenge themselves, inflicting pain, loss, perhaps utter ruin.

(3) In respect to religion and salvation. These originate in the benevolent will of God; and if we would experience their benefits, we must have humble and obedient regard to that will. We must ask of him, "What must I do to be saved?" and "What wilt thou have me to do?" If we choose to reject the Divine revelations and requirements, and in pride and perversity take a course opposed to them, the Almighty will not alter his plans to please us, but will bring upon us the just consequences of our frowardness. He will appear froward to the froward, in that, when they call upon him, he will not answer; when they seek him early, they shall not find him (see Proverbs 1:24-29). It is vain and foolish for man to assert his own proud, capricious will; he will find that there is another and stronger will, that will assert itself to his discomfiture and destruction, unless he repent.—G.W.

2 Samuel 22:28

God observing and humbling the proud.

"Thine eyes are upon the haughty, that thou mayest bring them down." The mention of "afflicted people" in the first clause of this verse renders it probable that the psalmist, in the second, referred to proud oppressors who had afflicted them. But the words express a general truth.

I. GOD'S OBSERVATION OF THE PROUD. "His eyes are upon the haughty."

1. He sees them; knows who they are, distinguishes them from others, overlooks none of them.

2. He sees through them, with those piercing eyes of his, that search the hearts of men However they may conceal or disguise their pride before men, they cannot before him.

3. He notices all the exercises and manifestations of their pride. Their self-complacency and self-laudation; their contempt of others, their insolence, their injustice, their oppression of the meek and humble, their self-assertion as towards him, their resistance and unsubmissiveness, etc.; all is open to his view; and he notes all for remembrance exposure, and punishment. If the proud did but realize that the eyes of the Infinite One were upon them, how ridiculous would their pride soon appear to themselves! how unbecoming and contemptible as well as impious! How would the things on which they pride themselves—their strength, intellect, knowledge, wealth, honours, mastery of men, virtues, etc; shrivel into insignificance as they looked upon them with the consciousness that God was looking on!

4. He keeps them ever in sight. So that nothing can escape his view, and they cannot elude him or do anything to the real injury of his servants.

II. HIS HUMILIATION OF THEM. At the fight time and in the most effectual way. "Every one that exalteth himself shall be abased" (Luke 18:14).

1. Jehovah sometimes brings down the haughty from the position which fosters or displays their pride. He may deprive them of that on which they pride themselves—their property, mental vigour, physical strength, reputation (by permitting them to fall into some disgraceful sin, or otherwise), power over others. He may bring reverses upon them in the full career of their prosperity or enterprises; snatch from them the coveted prize just as they are about to grasp it; rescue the humble victims of their oppressions. While reducing them to a lower level, he may exalt above them some whom they have despised. In the height of their glory he may strike them suddenly down. Pharaoh, Sennacherib, Nebuchadnezzar, Haman, Herod, are illustrations of the humbling which God may administer to the haughty. In every case of impenitent pride terrible humiliation comes at death and judgment.

2. He sometimes brings the proud down in their own esteem—humbles their spirit. This may be by such methods as have just been referred to; and the spirit may be humbled without being really changed. But the happiest humiliation is that which is wrought in the heart by the Word and Spirit of God, aided by such methods or apart from them. The man thus affected comes to see his true position as a creature and a sinner. He discerns and recognizes his entire dependence on God; that whatever he has he has received (1 Corinthians 4:7). He perceives and acknowledges the sin and folly of his pride, humbles himself before God on account of it, casts himself on his mercy, gladly accepts pardon and salvation as a free gift of God's grace in Christ Jesus; and thus receives a better exaltation than ever he had known or imagined before. Happy those haughty ones whom God thus brings down!

Then, eschew pride; and "be clothed with humility" (1 Peter 5:5, 1 Peter 5:6). This grace may best be learned at the cross of Christ. There we see our condition of evil and peril as sinners, our entire dependence for salvation on the mercy of God and the merits of his Son, our equality in respect to sin and salvation with the meanest of those we are tempted to despise. There also we have presented to our contemplation the noblest model of humility and self-humiliation (Philippians 2:5-8).—G.W.

2 Samuel 22:29

God the Lamp of his people.

The image of a lamp seems at first too humble to be employed of God. "The Lord God is a Sun" (Psalms 84:11) appears more suitable for One so great, who is the Light of the universe. Still, the humbler and homelier image is expressive. A lamp is of service where the sun is of none—in mines, dark cellars and dungeons, etc. Its light is more readily commanded and appropriated. We can say, "My lamp," we cannot so well say, "My sun." And so this image may convey to us more readily how God is a Light in the darkest places and obscurest recesses; available to each for his own particular needs and for the humblest uses of daily life. But the distinction need not and should not be pressed. The word is an image of light.

I. A FACT STATED. "Thou art my Lamp, O Lord."

1. He shines as a bright lamp.

(1) He is Light without darkness (1 John 1:5); essential, independent, unchangeable, and eternal Light. Not needing to be or capable of being replenished, as all other lamps, literal or figurative.

(2) He shines pre-eminently in his Son Jesus Christ.

(3) In and by his Word—its declarations, precepts, promises, threatenings. "The commandment is a lamp, and the Law is light" (Proverbs 6:23).

(4) By his Spirit, in the reason, conscience, and heart of man. Thus "the spirit of man is the lamp of the Lord" (Proverbs 20:27, Revised Version).

(5) In and by his people. He so shines on them as to make them lights.

2. He thus fulfils the various purposes of a lamp.

(1) Revealing. Himself, and in his light all other persons and things in their true nature and relations to him and each other (comp. Ephesians 5:13). Bringing into view what had been hidden in the heart, etc; by the darkness.

(2) Guiding. In the way that is right and safe, and leads to salvation (Psalms 119:105). He thus gives "the light of life" (John 8:12).

(3) Cheering (Psalms 4:6, Psalms 4:7; Psalms 97:11; comp. Esther 8:16).

3. He is a lamp to each believer. "My Lamp." Similarly," The Lord is my Light" (Psalms 27:1). The godly man accepts the Divine light, uses it in practical life, enjoys the comfort of it. Others reject it, and wander and stumble on in darkness.

II. AN ASSURANCE CHERISHED. "The Lord will lighten my darkness." From his knowledge of God and his promises, and his past experience, the psalmist felt assured that whatever darkness might come upon him. God would be his light in and through it, yea, would turn the darkness into light. Such an assurance may be cherished t)y all the people of God. He will lighten the darkness which may arise from:

1. Perplexity. As to Divine truth and as to the path of duty.

2. Sin. The memory of sins long past or recent; the consciousness of proneness to evil.

3. Spiritual gloom. When the lights of heaven seem blotted out, and God seems himself to have deserted the soul (Psalms 22:1, Psalms 22:2; Psalms 42:1-11.).

4. Troubles. Afflictions of body; bereavements, making dark the home; unkindness or unfaithfulness of friends; worldly losses. When all other lights go out, and leave in gloom, God remains, the Light of his friends, and will in due time lighten their darkness.

Let all, then, accept this glorious Lamp for their guidance and comfort. How blessed the world of which it is said, "There shall be no night there … for the Lord God giveth them light;" and again, "The glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the Light thereof" (Revelation 22:5; Revelation 21:23)!—G.W.

2 Samuel 22:31

Perfection of God's way and Word.

These words may be regarded as a brief summary of the lessons which David had learned from his varied experiences and meditations. They are the perfection of God's way, the unmixed truth of his Word, and the safety of all who flee to him for protection.

I. THE PERFECTION OF GOD'S WAY. "His way is perfect." This is true of all his proceedings, in every department of his operations. His ways in nature are to a large extent inscrutable; but we are sure they are infinitely wise and good. His method of redeeming and saving sinners is perfect. But here the reference is rather to the course of his providence—the way in which he leads, governs, protects, and delivers his servants.

1. The meaning of the assertion. That God's way is perfectly wise and good and holy, perfectly adapted to fulfil the purposes of his love towards his children, and leads to an end that is perfectly good. That, in comparison with the way we might have preferred, it is infinitely superior.

2. The grounds of the assertion. It expresses a conviction which springs from:

(1) Reason. Because God is perfect, his way must be. Perfect Wisdom and Goodness cannot err; unbounded power carries into effect the determinations of perfect Wisdom and Goodness.

(2) Revelation. Holy Writ is in most cases our first source of knowledge as to God and his ways; and it abounds in declarations adapted to assure us, in the midst of all our perplexities respecting the mysteries of Divine providence, that the ways of God are right and good, and will issue in good to those who love and obey him.

(3) Experience. Looking back on his own life, with its many difficulties, struggles, and perils, David could see enough of the way of God in it all to awaken in him a profound conviction that it was a perfect way. And no one who serves God can fail to recognize this truth in his own life, however much may remain at present dark and difficult,

(4) Observation. By which the experience of others becomes available for ourselves. In this we may include the recorded experience of others in biography and history, in the sacred or other books. The history of the Church and of individuals abounds in instances adapted to increase our confidence in the perfection of the Divine way, while leaving vast spaces of unsolved mystery.

3. The influence which this truth should have upon us.

(1) Thankfulness and praise.

(2) Unwavering confidence, however dark some of the Divine proceedings may be, whether towards ourselves or others.

(3) Cheerful submission to the guidance and government of God.

II. THE PURITY OF GOD'S WORD. It is "tried;" literally, "smelted," and so purified and refined, as metals by fire (comp. Psalms 12:6, "The words of the Lord are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times"). The meaning is that God's Word is thoroughly genuine, true, sincere, free from every particle of opposite qualities. The statement applies to every word of God—his declarations, revelations, precepts, promises, and threatenings. It is most probably made here as to his promises. These are all thoroughly true and reliable, free from error, free from deceit. For God:

(1) Cannot lie (Titus 1:2).

(2) Cannot mistake. Knows perfectly all the future, all possible hindrances to the accomplishment of his purposes, and his own power to conquer them.

(3) Cannot change. Not in purpose; not in power. Thus whatever tends to throw more or less of uncertainty upon human promises is absent from the Divine (see further on 2 Samuel 7:28). The Word of God is "tried" in another sense of the Hebrew word. It has been "tested," put to the proof, in ten thousands of instances, and has ever been found true. The experience of every believer testifies to its perfect truth; and the experience of the Church, and of the world in its connection with the Church, throughout all ages, gives the same assurance. Then:

1. Let us trust the Word of God with a confidence suited to its entire trustworthiness.

2. Let us be glad and thankful that, amidst so much that is unreliable, we have here a firm foundation on which to rest our life and hopes.

3. Let our Word correspond with that of God in its freedom from all insincerity and untruthfulness, if it cannot be free from the uncertainty which springs from ignorance, inability, or mutability.


1. The protection itself. "He is a Buckler [Shield] to all them that trust in him." Not only he secures protection, he is himself the Shield that protects. As a hen protects her chickens under her own wings (Psalms 91:4), so the Lord covers and defends his people with his own Being and perfections. Their enemies have to conquer him before they can injure them. They are under the guardianship of his knowledge, power, goodness, faithfulness; and these must fail before they can perish.

2. The persons who enjoy such protection. "All them that trust in him"—all, as the word is, who flee to him for refuge.

(1) It is one of the characteristics of the godly, that in their perils they flee for refuge to God. It is to God they flee; not to some merely imaginary being whom they call God—a God, for instance, who, however despised in the time of prosperity, is always at the call of men in trouble; too merciful to punish his foes severely; too tender hearted to disregard the cry of distress, although it come from impenitent hearts. Such confidence is vain. God's Word contains not a promise to the ungodly and unholy, however troubled they may be, unless the trouble subdue their hearts to a true repentance. But those who live by faith in God naturally turn to him in danger and distress.

(2) To them he is a Shield. Their faith itself, God-produced and God-sustained, is a shield (Ephesians 6:16); it inspires their prayers and struggles after safety; and in response to their confidence and their prayers the Almighty becomes their Defence, and they are safe.

(3) Their safety is according to their faith. Faith which is mixed with doubt is an occasion of peril. Intermittent faith brings intermittent safety. If for a time we flee from our Refuge, we are exposed defenceless to the assaults of our enemies, and shall be wounded and distressed. Then, "trust in him at all times" (Psalms 62:8); and let your prayer be, "Lord, increase our faith" (Luke 17:5), and, "Pray for us that our faith fail not" (see Luke 22:32).—G.W.

2 Samuel 22:32

Jehovah the only God, the only Rock.

David's experience of what Jehovah his God had been to him impels him triumphantly to contrast him with all other that men called gods.

I. JEHOVAH ALONE IS GOD. David was thinking of the idols worshipped by the nations around, which had proved themselves unable to protect their worshippers from his victorious arms. The question may be asked as to all other idols, and all persons and things that men serve as if they were gods—self, wealth, the world, etc.:

1. Which of them has perfections like those of Jehovah? He is the living God, the everlasting, infinite in power, wisdom, and love; perfect in holiness and righteousness. To whom besides can such attributes be ascribed? "There is none else" (Deuteronomy 4:39).

2. Which of them has done or can do works like his? "All the gods of the peoples are idols: but the Lord made the heavens" (Psalms 96:5, Revised Version; comp. Isaiah 45:18).

3. Which of them can help their worshippers as he can? They are "vain things, which cannot profit nor deliver; for they are vain" (1 Samuel 12:21).

4. Which of them, then, is worthy to receive homage such as is due to him? Fear, trust, love, worship, obedience. Yet the unregenerate do honour one or other of these vanities more than God. They, as truly as the heathen, "worship and serve the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever" (Romans 1:25, Revised Version).


1. God is a Rock. A term applied to him by Moses (Deuteronomy 32:4), and afterwards very frequently, especially in the Book of Psalms. God is to those who trust in him what a rock, lofty and difficult of ascent and access to strangers, is to a people invaded by powerful foes. In him they find safety and protection. And as a rock is marked by strength, stability, and permanence, so God is mighty to protect, unchangeable, a Rock of ages, "an everlasting Rock" (Isaiah 26:4, Revised Version), a Refuge available through each life and for all generations.

2. He alone is worthy of the name. There are other persons and things which minister strength and safety to men. "Wisdom is a defence, and money is a defence" (Ecclesiastes 7:12), friendship also, and civil government and military force, etc. But none besides God deserves the name of a Rock.

(1) They are limited in their worth; he, unbounded One or another of them may be a refuge against some dangers; he, against all. They may not be at hand in the time of most pressing need; he is always near.

(2) They are feeble and unstable; he, strong and firm.

(3) They are transient; he, everlasting.

(4) They are dependent; he, their independent Source. All their fitness and ability to aid us is from him; so that, when they are of service to us, it is he that is showing himself to be our Rock.


1. Accept thankfully the good they can do; but trust in the Lord alone with absolute and unwavering confidence.

2. Beware of resorting to God's gifts as a refuge from himself. From the thought of him; from the reproaches of a guilty conscience; from the penalties of his Law

3. If you reject or neglect God for others, bethink you what help they can give you when he executes his judgments upon you. (Judges 10:14; Jeremiah 2:28.)—G.W.

2 Samuel 22:33

Divine protection and guidance.

The experience of David, and the purpose of the psalm, naturally lead to repetition of declarations and images descriptive of the protection and guidance which had been vouchsafed to him. They are not unsuitable to record the convictions and feelings of every good man as he reviews the past and anticipates the future. This verse in the Revised Version reads, "God is my strong Fortress, and he guideth the perfect in his way."

I. GOD IS OUR STRONG FORTRESS. A fortress is a protection against enemies.

1. We have powerful foes. The world and the flesh, the devil and his angels, assault us continually, and would destroy, not only our peace, but our souls. They are too strong and numerous for our power and skill; and no creature power is sufficient for our defence.

2. God is our Almighty Protector. The Fortress into which we can flee, and where we are safe; which no enemy can scale or breach. His presence surrounds us; his power defends us. Yea, he is in our hearts to strengthen and protect us. Everywhere, and under all circumstances, we can resort to this Refuge, and defy our foes. We should therefore be ready to go anywhere and do anything at God's command. He may lead us where temptations are numerous and powerful; but obeying and trusting him, we are secure.

II. GOD IS OUR ALL WISE GUIDE. The reading and translation preferred by the Revisers gives a good sense, harmonizing with many statements of Holy Writ. "He guideth the perfect in his way," or, perhaps, "his [God's] way." The man who is "perfect" in the sense of "upright," sincere, true, righteous, wholehearted, may be assured of Divine guidance; while the insincere, hypocritical, double minded, shall be left to go astray. In the margin of the Revised Version, however, another reading and rendering are given, viz. "guideth my way in perfectness," which appears to be substantially in agreement with the Authorized Version, "maketh my way perfect."

1. God leads his people in their way. By his providence, Word, Spirit. In respect to the affairs of this life, and those of the soul and eternity. He guides them into the position he has chosen for them, and to and in the work he appoints for them. "The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord" (Psalms 37:23).

2. His lead is perfect. Such was the conclusion of the psalmist in reference to his own way. He could see that all had been ordered aright for the accomplishment of the Divine purposes respecting him. Such will be the conclusion of all God's servants at the last; and their faith in God will enable them to cherish this conviction now, notwithstanding all the perplexities in which they may be involved. The way in which they may be led may not be always pleasant; but it is:

(1) The best way. The way of holiness; the way in which they can gain most real good, serve and honour God most, be most useful, attain ultimately the greatest glory and felicity.

(2) The safe way. Sometimes a way which avoids enemies and perils; in other cases, a way through the midst of them, which God makes safe by his protection.

(3) The way that ends in eternal glory and blessedness. It is "the way of life which goeth upward" (Proverbs 15:24, Revised Version). "The end" is "everlasting life" (Romans 6:22). It may be asked how it comes to pass that those who have God for their Guide nevertheless make such grievous mistakes, and fall into so much trouble.

(1) The troubles which spring from want of worldly wisdom, as well as those which arise from circumstances, are under Divine guidance. It is the will of God that his people should suffer, and his benevolent purpose is often made manifest in the spiritual profit and greater usefulness of the sufferers.

(2) Even good men do not fully seek and follow the guidance of God. They too frequently choose their own way, and thus fall into mischief. But God, in his goodness, does not therefore forsake them. He leads those who are true at heart out of the evils into which they have brought themselves, turns their very sins and follies to account in training them for further service, and brings them safe home at last.

The lessons are:

1. Be thankful for such a Guide.

2. See to it that you ever honestly seek and submit to his guidance. By the study of his Word and providence, and by earnest prayer, inquire what is the way in which he would have you go; and, when you see it, walk in it.—G.W.

2 Samuel 22:36

Greatness from God's condescension.

"Thy gentleness hath made me great." David had been raised from a humble position to one of greatness. He had become great in arms, in royal dignity, in the extent of his dominion. In these words he ascribes all his greatness to the condescending goodness of God. The word translated "gentleness" is elsewhere used only of men, and signifies "humility" (Proverbs 15:33; Proverbs 18:12; Proverbs 22:4). But in speaking of God, we use the word "condescension" rather than "humility." Yet it is said of him (Psalms 113:6) that "he humbleth himself to behold the things that are in heaven and in the earth;" i.e. he stoops to regard them; it is condescension in him to notice them. The words of the text may be used by all Christians; especially by some of them.


1. All of them are made great. For they are made:

(1) Sons and daughters of the great God, brothers and sisters of Jesus the Son of God, having a nature corresponding with the names. They are "partakers of the Divine nature" (2 Peter 1:4), and therefore God like, in holiness, righteousness, and love.

(2) Wise with heavenly wisdom. A nobler wisdom than that of philosophers. "Taught of God" (John 6:45), who reveals to them what he hides from the worldly wise (Matthew 11:25).

(3) Powerful with the noblest power, that which is moral and spiritual, by which they "overcome the world" (1 John 5:4), rule their own spirits (Proverbs 16:32), and subdue others to the obedience of faith.

(4) Friends and associates of the best of God's creatures—holy angels and redeemed men; with whom they form one family (Ephesians 3:15).

(5) Heirs, and at length possessors, of a grand and enduring estate (1 Peter 1:4). These things are not mere names or fancies; they are solid and enduring realities, to have the lowest place and the humblest share in which is, in the nature of things, to be greater than the greatest of earthly dignitaries who have no part in them.

2. Some of them are made specially great. They realize, in a larger measure than others, the various elements of greatness mentioned above. They have more of God in them; and hence are richer in spiritual wisdom and goodness, exercise a wider and stronger influence, do a greater work, attain to greater honour and renown in this world and the next. Apostles, martyrs; eminent teachers, evangelists, missionaries, and reformers; monarchs, too, and statesmen, poets, etc; who are also devoted Christians. Such special greatness arises sometimes and in part from:

(1) Greater natural endowments. More of physical energy, or intellectual power, or emotional force, to begin with.

(2) Or greater opportunities, which may be such as rank and fortune give, or the state of things around them, or such as poverty, affliction, and persecution afford.

(3) Special earnestness, faithfulness, and diligence in the cultivation and employment of powers and opportunities (Luke 19:16-26).

(4) Special prayerfulness. Hence abundant impartation of the Holy Spirit, the Source and Sustainer of all spiritual excellence.

(5) Deeper humility. Without this all seeming greatness is not greatness at all "in the kingdom of heaven," and will shrivel into nothingness (Matthew 18:1-4; Luke 9:48; Luke 14:11).

II. TO WHAT SUCH GREATNESS IS TO BE ASCRIBED, AND IS ASCRIBED BY THOSE WHO ATTAIN TO IT. To the condescension of God. David recognized that all his greatness was owing to the goodness and power of God, and in their exercise on his behalf he discerned unspeakable condescension. Similar should and will be the feeling of all who are raised to spiritual greatness.

1. The work of God in their exaltation is a work of condescension. This appears as we consider:

(1) His greatness and holiness, and their littleness and sinfulness (Psalms 8:1-9.; Isaiah 57:15). God must stoop to reach and raise such creatures.

(2) His various operations upon and for them. When we consider what is involved in the Divine processes by which they are exalted, they resolve themselves into attention (so to speak) to, and animating or controlling influence over, a countless multitude of small matters. Yet we shall not be astonished at this when we remember that not a sparrow is forgotten by God, and that his children "are of more value than many sparrows" (Luke 12:6, Luke 12:7). Also that great results depend on small things; and that, in fact, to the Infinite Mind there is nothing great, nothing small.

(3) And pre-eminently, the incarnation and work of the Son of God. The self-humiliation of the eternal Word in becoming man (John 1:1-3, John 1:14), and of the God Man in lowly service to lowly people, patiently enduring the greatest indignities and most painful and ignominious sufferings, "obedient unto death, even the death of the cross" (Matthew 20:28; Luke 22:27; John 13:2-5; Philippians 2:6-8).

(4) The work of the Holy Spirit. Stooping to dwell in the hearts of the mean and sinful, bearing with neglect, waywardness, resistance, and disobedience.

2. The condescension thus displayed promotes spiritual greatness. Not only as it is exercised in the ways before mentioned, but:

(1) As it is apprehended and realized. The majesty, holiness, and justice of God tend to humiliate and repress the human spirit, and discourage aspiration and effort. At best it produces only a "spirit of bondage" (Romans 8:15). But under the influence of condescending love, love is enkindled, confidence is awakened, the heart expands and enlarges, is inspired with the freedom and courage which prepare for noble service of God and man, rises heavenward and yet looks on earth with kindlier eye, and more resolute purpose to labour and suffer for its good.

(2) As it incites to imitation. Contemplating the grandeur and beauty of the Divine condescension, we become transformed into its image. We learn to stoop to the lowly and even the degraded. We are content to serve in lowly offices, if thereby we can benefit our fellow men. It no longer seems strange that we should be required "to wash one another's feet" (John 13:14). And this is the way to become great. Yet we must not indulge the thought or assume the air of condescension, or we shall fail both to benefit others and to secure honour for ourselves. Rather let us accustom ourselves to think in how many and important respects we are on a level with those whose good we seek. This will produce in us genuine humility, and enable us to feel towards our brethren a brotherly sympathy which will banish the sense of superiority.—G.W.

2 Samuel 22:44, 2 Samuel 22:45

The head of the nations.

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" (Psalms 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" (Psalms 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" (Psalms 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 (Psalms 2:7, Psalms 2:8; Matthew 28:18). As the result and reward of his own righteousness and self-sacrificing love (Philippians 2:8, Philippians 2:9). He redeemed men by his blood, to make them "a kingdom" (Revelation 1:5, Revelation 1:6; Revelation 5:9, Revelation 5:10, 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. 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.

2 Samuel 22:47

Praise to God as the ever living Saviour.

The whole psalm is a song of praise to God, but some parts bear more distinctively this character. This verse is one of them.


1. Rock. (See on 2 Samuel 22:32.) "My Rock." The Rock to which I have fled, and where I have found safety and repose. The Rock in which I still trust and will trust with full assurance of its stability and security, whatever be the confidences of others. It is a blessed thing, in speaking of God, to be able to use this word "my," as expressive of personal experience, choice, and confidence.

2. The God of the Rock of my salvation; equivalent to "the God who is the Rock of my salvation," "my mighty Saviour." David had experienced salvation from enemies and dangers many times and in many ways; and he ascribes all to God. By whatever means and instruments, it was God who had delivered him. He had been manifested in his history as the God of salvation; and in saving him had shown himself a Rock, the Rock in which alone safety was to be found. The higher and better salvation which is presented to us in the gospel is from God. With him it originated; by him in Christ it is wrought. Christians joyfully recognize God as the God of salvation, the Rock of salvation. It is for men one of the most glorious and encouraging names of God. God the Creator, God the Preserver, God the Ruler, are glorious names; but unless to them could be added God the Saviour, they would afford no hope or comfort. It is this which renders all other names of God attractive and inspiring. Specially gladdening is it to be able to say, "The God of my salvation," the Rock of ages in which I find refuge, the God who has saved me and is saving me, and in whom I trust that he will fully save me, from the guilt, power, and consequences of my sins, and all the assaults of the deadly enemies of my soul.

II. THE DECLARATION MADE RESPECTING HIM. "The Lord liveth." Which expresses:

1. His real existence. In contrast with idols, which are dead, helpless, and unable to help.

2. His continued existence. In contrast with men, who die and pass away.

3. His manifested existence. He lives and works in the world, in the Church, in each believer. By his operations for the good of his people, he shows himself the living God.

4. The satisfaction which his servants feel in him as ever living.

(1) Joy that such a Being is their God. That they know and worship the true and living God.

(2) Confidence that his life renders all their interests secure for this world and the next. And not only their interests as individuals, but those of the whole Church of God. Because he lives, his Church cannot perish.

(3) Comfort under the death of Christian friends. He lives; and therefore their death was his act. It did not befall them because he had ceased to be or to be able to deliver. He lives, to support and comfort those who survive. He lives, to supply the place of the departed in the family, the Church, the world. He lives, and therefore they live and will live forever. For through Christ their life was and is rooted in his. He is their abiding Dwelling place.

III. THE PRAISE RENDERED TO HIM. "Blessed" (equivalent to "praised"), "exalted"

1. Praise is the utterance of exalted thoughts and feelings respecting him. Without these the language of praise is of no value.

2. To publish his praise by speech or writing is to exalt him in view of others.

3. Praise in such words as are here employed expresses the desire that all should exalt him by accepting, loving, obeying, and extolling him.

4. The publication of his praise is adapted to produce this result.

5. The exaltation of God should ever be sought in our services of praise. Some such services tend rather to the exaltation of musical composers, organists, and choirs.—G.W.

2 Samuel 22:50, 2 Samuel 22:51

Praising God among the nations.

In bringing to a close this grand psalm of praise, the royal writer looks around and forward. He reveals a purpose and expectation that his song will be heard among the nations at large, and he expresses his assurance that the kindness of God which he had experienced would be extended to his family down to the latest ages, yea, forevermore. The two verses are closely connected. Translate "nations" instead of "heathen;" and instead of "He is the Tower of salvation for his king," read, "Effecting great salvations [deliverances] for his king." Thus the verses will run. "Therefore I will give thanks unto thee, O Lord, among the nations, and to thy Name will I sing praises; who effecteth great deliverances for his king, and showeth loving kindness to his anointed, to David and to his seed forevermore."


1. His position. God's "king," "his anointed," the messiah (Christ) of God. David was literally anointed by Samuel as the future king of Israel, and had been prepared for and brought to the throne in marvellous ways. He recognized, as Saul had failed to do, that he was God's king and representative, ruling God's people in subjection to him. The position was far more honourable than that of any heathen monarch, however much wider his dominion.

2. His experience of the goodness and power of God. Protecting, delivering, giving victory, exalting to the throne, and preserving in it. "Therefore," because of all that I have hem recorded of the Divine favour to me, "I will give thanks," etc. Note the value of experience as a help and incentive to praise. It gives reality to our thoughts of God, and personal knowledge of his power and goodness. It stirs the heart to gratitude, and to a desire that all should know and praise him. It furnishes interesting subjects for praise.

3. The assurance be had of the future kindness of God to himself and his family. This assurance sprang from the promise of God by Nathan (2 Samuel 7:12-16), and which finds its ultimate and complete fulfilment in the exaltation of the Christ, the Son of David, to be King of all men, of all beings and things in heaven as well as earth. It was a great honour conferred on David and his family to be made rulers for many generations of the people in and through whom true religion was preserved, to be at length diffused through all the earth; it was a far greater for HIM to spring from them who should be the Saviour of all men, and the eternal King. For consider:

(1) His personal glory. Not only Son of David, but Son of God, filled "with all the fulness of the Godhead" (Colossians 2:9); the incarnate Word.

(2) The nature of his rule. Especially his spiritual reign—the reign of Divine truth, holiness, and love in the hearts and lives of men; the reign of peace and joy.

(3) Its extent. Far wider than that of David or Solomon. To include at length all nations (Psalms 72:8, Psalms 72:11).

(4) Its duration. "Forevermore." David discerned, in the Divine promise to him and his, enough to fill his heart with gladness and thankfulness; if he could have seen even as much as we are permitted to behold, his wonder and gratitude would have known no bounds.

II. THE SPHERE OF HIS PRAISE. "Among the nations."

1. The fulness of his gratitude moved him to make known God's goodness as widely as possible.

2. He desired to instruct other nations, and bring them to worship a God so able and willing to bless his worshippers. He may have felt a special obligation to instruct and benefit the peoples who had been brought into subjection to himself.

3. The interest which the nations at large had in what God had done and promised to him. See Romans 15:9, where verse 50 is quoted by St. Paul in proof that it was the purpose of God that the Gentiles should "glorify God for his mercy."—G.W.

Bibliographical Information
Exell, Joseph S; Spence-Jones, Henry Donald Maurice. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 22". The Pulpit Commentary. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/tpc/2-samuel-22.html. 1897.
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