2 Samuel 22:1-51
1 Samuel begins with a song (Hannah’s song after the birth of Samuel) and 2 Samuel ends with a song; both serve to flag up key truths we are meant to notice in the stories sandwiched between these bookends. So this song helps us see the lessons we should have learnt from reading this account of David’s life. One commentator writes:
“David’s history could have been narrated as that of a great and powerful king. This chapter, however, is concerned that it should be understood as the action of a great and powerful God.”
That surely is spot on – David is here giving God all the glory for rescuing him from every danger and overthrowing every enemy. It’s truths about God we are to learn.
But also truths about God’s Christ, or Anointed One. Hannah’s song had pointed us there (1 Samuel 2:10, which Vaughan preached on recently), and David’s song ends on a similar note (see v.51), now filled out with echoes of God’s great promises to David in 2 Samuel 7 (Study 2). We have said before that David is not simply a model believer, but a model of the Messiah, foreshadowing (albeit imperfectly, as we saw last time) the Lord Jesus. That’s important because I think in reading this chapter we need to be careful to avoid going straight from David’s experience to our own, but rather to go from David to Christ and then to us. Of course there are truths here that we can lay hold of directly for ourselves, but we do better to see how it is fulfilled in Christ, and then how in Him we can apply it to ourselves.
It’s a long chapter so don’t try and dig out every detail. Try and grasp the shape, the main points. It is probably best to read a section at a time. I would suggest three sections –
That surely is the theme of the opening section. The opening couple of verses, with their piling up of descriptions of God, focus our attention on God and all that He has proved himself to David to be. The images of refuge, fortress, shield, stronghold etc all suggest a God in whom we can trust in times of danger; and David goes on to describe how he had made God his refuge – calling out to Him in his severe distress. David had cause to feel the very real threat of death at many times in his life – at the hands of Philistines, or Saul, or Absalom. The book has described many deliverances, though never in the way described here in vv.8-16. The poetry is surely to help us understand what kind of God this is who came to the rescue – and after the awesome description of God’s approach, isn’t v.17 wonderful? But I think too the language encourages us to look beyond the rescues described in the book to another rescue: when God truly “came down”. Jesus could sing this, couldn’t he? – the cords of the grave coiled round him, he knew a distress beyond any even David knew, and God delivered him, raising him from death, because he delighted in him. And so, wonderfully, we too can sing this – his rescue of us through Christ was no less magnificent and awesome, no less personal, no less prompted by his delight in us.
After our previous study, we might well wonder how David could speak like this. Was he self-deluded? Had he forgotten all about Bathsheba and Uriah? Surely not, nor has the writer of 2 Samuel allowed us to forget, because most of the intervening chapters have described the messy fallout of that event. When David speaks of his righteousness he is not claiming sinless perfection, but saying the direction of his life has always been to follow God. He had not turned from God in apostasy. And David makes clear that what he had known in his experience is a general truth for everyone – God rewards the righteous (vv.26-28). There is blessing in obedience.
But of course there is One who can claim the full literal truth of these words, One who kept Himself utterly from sin, and has been rewarded by God. Christ can sing these words; and in Him so can we – for we have His righteousness now and are clean. We share in Christ’s reward. And it is also true that we know God’s blessing, His reward, as we live in obedience – lives of faithfulness, purity, humility.
David describes how God had given him victory over his enemies, how God had exalted him even over other nations. But prophetically of course this points forward to Christ’s exaltation, with all nations put under His feet. His victory was won at the cross, He has now been given authority over all nations and His kingdom is growing throughout the world through the preaching of the Gospel, and one day every knee will bow before Him when He is exalted in all the earth. Our response should be to join in Christ’s praise of God, for He is our shield and refuge, our Rock, our Saviour. And actually he strengthens us (v.33), trains and equips us (vv.35,36), gives us victory and shows unfailing kindness, and will one day glorify us.