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Bible Commentaries

Bell's Commentary on the Bible

2 Samuel 23

Verses 1-7

  1. INTRO:
    1. Famous Last Words:
      1. Akiba ben Joseph (c.40-c.135) "The paper burns, but the words fly free." (at the stake, when the Torah was also burned)
      2. Max Baer (1909-1959) [American boxer, Heavyweight Champion 1934-5] "Oh God, here I go..."
      3. Thomas Becket (1119-1179) "I am ready to die for my Lord, that in my blood the Church may obtain liberty and peace."
      4. Henry Ward Beecher (1813-1887) "Now comes the mystery."
      5. Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806-1861) "Beautiful."
      6. Paul Claudel (1868-1955) "Doctor, do you think it could have been the sausage?"
      7. O. Henry (1862-1910) "Turn up the lights, I don't want to go home in the dark." (Quoting a popular song, 5 June 1910)
      8. Louis XIV (1638-1715) "Why are you weeping? Did you imagine that I was immortal?" (Noticing as he lay on his deathbed that his attendants were crying.)
      9. William Wallace (1270-1305) "Freedom" [Ascribed to him in the film Braveheart]
      10. Pancho Villa (1878-1923) "Don't let it end like this. Tell them I said something."
        1. Some serious, some contemplative, some humorous.
    2. Now these are the last words of David. (vs.1)
      1. At least 73 psalms in the Book of Psalms are assigned to David.
      2. But this last one is found only here in 2 Samuel 23:1-7.
      3. The phrase “the last words of David” means his last inspired written words from the Lord. (probably written during the closing days of his life)
        1. The death of David doesn’t take place till 1 Kings 2.
    3. The theme is Godly leadership & making the right choices!
      1. It might have been written for his son Solomon, but it has much to say to all of us.
      2. Ch.21-24 serve as an appendix to 2 Samuel, & seems to focus on both the divine & human sides of leadership.
      3. A leader’s decisions may have serious consequences, as proved by the sins of Saul(ch.21) & David(ch.24).
      4. Leaders must depend on the Lord & give Him the glory.
      5. And its about right choices!
    4. (Deck of cards illustration 51+1) In the beginning, it seemed God stacked the deck in Adam’s favor.
      1. Every choice but one was the right choice! [there was only 1 wrong choice available]
      2. In the moment he made that choice he choose another path, one that did not include the presence of God. (Adapted from Seizing Your Divine Moment, McManus.)
        1. Like Adam, we chart our course & navigate our journey w/the choices we make.
          1. Either moving us toward God & all the pleasures that come w/Him; or steer us away from Him to a life of shame & fear.
        2. We know while Adam was hiding, God set out in search for Him (lost/pursuit/grace/hope)
        3. Even when we are lost in the great jungle of life, God in His divine mercy pursues us & invites us, once again, to join His grand adventure! :)
    5. (Deck of cards illustration 1+51) Now it feels we are in a jungle of endless wrong choices & we are desperately searching for the elusive right one! [But that’s not the case at all!]
      1. Turn to Deut.30:11-14.
        1. It’s like God’s saying, “you can’t use the fact you don’t know what to do as an excuse, or it’s too difficult.”
        2. It’s not about reading Gods mind, but knowing His heart!
      2. Read Deut.30:19,20.
      3. 2 different paths in life: 1 a journey that parts ways from Him; the other, a journey in which He parts the way. 1 is the road to death; the other, the path to life.
        1. Key: The Lord is your life! - Now choose life!
    6. Outline: Privileges of Leadership & Responsibilities of Leadership.
  2. PRIVILEGES OF LEADERSHIP! (1,2)
    1. ​​​​​​​David never ceased to marvel that God would call him to become the king of Israel, to lead God’s people, fight God’s battle, help write God’s Word, & even through his descendants bring Messiah into this world.
    2. From the human standpoint: David was a nobody, a sheep herder, the youngest of 8 sons, from an ordinary Jewish family; nevertheless God selected him, & made him to become Israel’s greatest king.
      1. The Lord gave him skillful hands & a heart of integrity (Ps.78:70-72) & equipped him to know & do His will.
    3. Aren’t you surprised God has chosen you to lead your wife, your children, or your family? Chosen you to lead your business, your division, your branch, or your department at work? Chosen you to lead a ministry, to children, to youth, to adults?
    4. David didn’t promote himself to achieve greatness; it was the Lord who chose him & elevate him to the throne.
      1. The Lord spent 30 years training/preparing David.
        1. First w/the sheep in the pastures, then w/Saul in the army camp, & finally w/his own fighting men in the wilderness.
      2. Great leaders are trained in private before they go to work in public.
        1. Goethe wrote, “Talents are best nurtured in solitude, character is best formed in the stormy billows of the world.” [David had both]
        2. D. Martyn Lloyd Jones used to say, “It is a tragic thing when a young man succeeds before he’s ready for it.”
      3. This was the road for Moses, Joshua, Nehemiah, the apostles, & even Jesus!
        1. Its good to be educated by men, but it’s even more important to be trained by the Lord.
        2. Jesus was 30 years in preparing for 3 years service right?
    5. The anointed - A.W.Tozer said, Never follow any leader until you see the oil on his forehead.
  3. RESPONSIBILITIES OF LEADERSHIP! (3-7)
    1. ​​​​​​​The Spirit empowered David for battle, but He also inspired him to write beautiful psalms that still minister to hearts 3 millennial later.
      1. David makes it clear he was writing the Word of God, not just religious poetry.
      2. Peter even calls David a prophet in Acts 2:30.
    2. Leadership:
      1. (vs.1) Leaders must be called of God(raised up) & empowered by Him(anointed).
      2. (vs.2) Leaders must be taught the Word of God by the Spirit of God.
    3. (vs.3) Leaders must be men & women of character who fear God.
    4. (vs.3) Leaders must lead for God & not for self.
    5. (vs.3) Leaders must be just(rt.).
    6. (vs.3) Leaders must have a submissive attitude toward God (rule in the fear of God).
    7. (vs.4) Leaders should be like the dawning of a new day & the springing up of new grass after the rain.
    8. (Also 24:17) Leaders must have the welfare of their people on their heart.
      1. Even secular business specialists are comparing effective leaders to shepherds who care.
    9. (4) This metaphor depicts, what photographers & cinematographers call, The Golden Hour!
    10. This beautiful metaphor is depicting the work of the leader, Rain & Sunshine, together produce useful fruit instead of painful thorns. [title]
      1. David exemplified this principle in his own life. When he came to the throne it meant the dawning of a new day for Israel.
      2. And when Jesus came to earth it was the dawning of a new day for the world!
    11. (5) It seems the NIV has the best read, If my house were not right with God, surely he would not have made with me an everlasting covenant, arranged and secured in every part.
      1. ​​​​​​​David's house/dynasty was secure because of God’s covenant promises.
        1. This covenant is divine in its origin...He has made with me an everlasting covenant.
          1. ​​​​​​​Oh that great word He!
      2. The Lord providentially preserved Israel & David’s seed so that Jesus Christ could be born in Bethlehem, the City of David (which we’ll celebrate next month/Christmas)
    12. Ministry involves both sunshine & rain, bright days & cloudy days; but our leadership should produce gentle rain that brings life, not storms that destroy.
      1. Unspiritual leader produce thorns that irritate people & make progress very difficult.
    13. (6,7) (msg) But the devil’s henchmen are like thorns culled and piled as trash; Better not try to touch them; keep your distance with a rake or hoe. They’ll make a glorious bonfire!
      1. Actually I think vs.7a is actually Messiah ruling with a rod of iron.
    14. In David’s final words he reminds us, there are 2 different paths in life:
      1. 1 a journey that parts ways from Him; The other a journey in which He parts the way
      2. One, the road to death; The other, the path to life.
        1. Remember the Key from Deut.? The Lord is your life! - Now choose life!
        2. Today will you put away the baggage from your past?
        3. Today will you shake yourself free from the fear of the future unknown?
        4. Right now, choose life! Choose the path to life. How? Make HIM your life & the length of your days...starting today!
    15. In the end, will your life be defined as Useful Fruit, or Painful Thorns?

Verses 8-39

  1. INTRO:
    1. Tem/Mur Rescue Mission:Yearly Fund Raiser. Providing meals to the hungry this holiday season
    2. Geese flying in formation rotate their leadership. When one lead goose gets tired, it changes places with one in the wing of the V-formation and another flies point.
      Geese flying in formation as they do, creates an upward air current for one another. Each flap of the wings literally creates an uplift for the bird immediately following. By flying in a V-formation, the whole flock gets 71% greater flying range than if each goose flew on its own.
      The geese in the rear of the formation are the ones who do the honking. I suppose it’s their way of announcing that they’re following and that all is well. For sure, the repeated honks encourage those in front to stay at it.
      The natural instinct of geese is to work together. Whether it’s rotating, flapping, helping, or simply honking, the flock is in it together...which enables them to accomplish what they set out to do. [This morning...Leaders & working together!]
    3. One mark of real leaders is that they have devoted followers & not just self-seeking flatterers.
      1. Here we stand on our tip-toes looking back over a long list of 37 Elite Warriors (vs.39) who stood with David their leader through thick & thin; during the difficult years of exile & during his reign.
        1. Outline: 3 Chief Men(8-17); 2 out of 3 of a 2nd Rank (18-23); & The 30 (24-39).
        2. Basically the same story is told in 1 Chron.11. There are 16 more names given.
          1. Perhaps replacements or alternates. Maybe this group changed from time to time as men died & were replaced.
    4. Eph.6:13 (Weymouth Translation) Therefore put on the complete armour of God, so that you may be able to stand your ground on the day of battle, and, having fought to the end, to remain victors on the field [suit up, stand your ground, fight, remain, be victorious/or Charlie Sheen/Winning!]
      1. Who was David w/o all his elite warriors? Each of them were needed to accomplish all God wanted to accomplish!
      2. The triumph of the church as a whole depends upon the personal victory of every Christian! (otherwise, how can we be called the “body” of Christ?)
        1. Your victory, your life, your personal testimony, are important to the cause of God today.
          1. What happens on the streets of Cambodia, across the border in Burma, down down in the Amazon jungle of Peru, is not unrelated to what happens in your own personal relationship with God & your personal battle against the forces of darkness.
        2. Victory for the church on the whole world-front depends upon victory in your life & in mine; home & foreign situations cannot be detached.
        3. Example: If you have a long line of soldiers fighting shoulder-to-shoulder, can even one soldier relax & allow the line to be breached by the enemy w/o it effecting the whole?
  2. THREE CHIEF MEN! (8-17)
    1. ADINO, A.K.A. Bruce Lee! (8)
    2. Remember the Bruce Lee Martial Art Movies where there’d be a circle of guys all around him
      1. he, 1 by 1, takes them all on. Big pile of bodies at the end.
    3. 1st lesson, from Adino: Fight against all odds!
      1. Doesn’t God love those kind of odds 800-1...so He can receive the Glory?
      2. Elijah against 450 prophets of Baal; Gideon’s 300 vs. Mideon’s 120,000; 1 boy’s brown paper bag lunch vs. 5000+ hungry stomaches in Galilee.
    4. 2nd lesson, from Adino: When placed in a leadership position, lead well!
      1. Josheb-Basshebeth = lit. One who sits in the seat.
      2. If God has given you The Seat for your family...sit up straight & lead well!
      3. If God has given you The Seat as a ministry leader...lead boldly!
      4. If God has given you The Seat don’t whine about needing more $, more equipment, or more people...no the key is in dedication, commitment & abandonment to God.
    5. ELEAZAR, G.I. Joe w/Kung-Fu Grip! (9,10) [Hasbro, 1974]
    6. His hand stuck (lit. was soldered) to the sword.
    7. 3rd lesson, is from Eleazar: Fight till you Cramp! [have a stubborn grip]
      1. Ministering with Jesus is often tiring. Often others retreat when work needs to be done. Keep swinging! Don’t grumble about being the only one. Fight till you Cramp!
    8. Many others were retreating not Eleazar. But, they did come back for the spoil!
      1. Of course they did. But like his leader David, he wasn’t selfish about sharing the spoils of battle because the victory had come from the Lord!
    9. SHAMMAH, Defender of the Lentils! (11,12)
    10. 4th lesson, is from Shammah: Stand your ground!
    11. Standing your ground in a field of Lentils! [but why take a stand for a field of Lentils?]
      1. Because you must take a stand When the enemy of our soul comes running in!
      2. Because you must take a stand When everyone else goes running out!
      3. Because you must take a stand When you know...The Lord Is There!
        1. Ezek.48:35 Jehovah Shammah (The Lord is There!).
        2. “There”(or Shammah) stands There. He stands his ground in a field of Lentils.
    12. 5th lesson, also from Shammah: Stand in His power not yours only!
      1. Note: vs.10,11 The great victories achieved are ascribed to the Lord.
        1. Eleazar (God is Helper) - Shammah (The Lord is There)
        2. Eph.6:10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.
    13. THE THREE TOGETHER! (13-17)
    14. It was Harvest time, which meant there had been no rain & the cisterns were empty.
      1. No water available in the cave, & David thirsted for the bottled Perrier water from Bethlehem that he used to drink when he was a boy.
      2. The 3 traveled 12 miles, broke through enemy lines, & came back with the water.
    15. 6th lesson, is from The Three: Be in close proximity to your Commander!
      1. ​​​​​​​Those men were so close to David that his whispered desires became their marching orders!
        1. Oh that we would be as near Christ! [close enough - brave enough]
    16. David’s hands accomplished many things as he held a sword, a sling, a spear, a scepter, a harp. But, the finest thing he did was while holding a cup of water.
      1. Jesus changed water into wine. David changed an ordinary cup of water into a drink offering to the Lord.
        1. Thats how you turn a cave into a temple!
        2. Offering it to the Lord, like he watched the priests do on occasion.
        3. Drink offerings always accompanied other offerings (never independent).
          1. It was an act of dedication that symbolized a person’s life poured out in the service of the Lord. The 3 men had given themselves as a sacrifice to the Lord to serve David.
          2. So David added his offering to theirs.
      2. Note: what this reveals was true character.
      3. Mother Theresa said, We can do no great things, only small things with great love.
    17. Careful, if you have become bitter and sour, it is because when God gave you a blessing you hoarded it. Yet if you had poured it out to Him, you would have been the sweetest person on earth. (My Utmost for His Highest, 9/3)
  3. 2 OF 3, OF A 2ND RANK! (18-23)
    1. ​​​​​​​ABISHI! (18,19)
    2. A courageous man who took out 300 enemy soldiers.
      1. Sometimes he had more zeal than wisdom: he wanted to kill king Saul; offered to cut off Shimei’s head for cursing David.
      2. Yet, he was the one that saved David’s life from a giant.
    3. 7th lesson, from Abishi: We are not only to stand, but to wrestle!
      1. ​​​​​​​Eph.6:11-13 NLT Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we are not wrestling against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil.
      2. Every man, woman, & child of God is engaged somewhere in the depths of his soul in a spiritual battle.
        1. There he has to fight with everything that he possesses, not only to maintain his stand (in the passive sense) but, as Paul emphasizes, to wrestle.
        2. This is the language of personal conflict, toe-to-toe with the enemy of our souls to resist in the name of the Lord.
        3. Somehow it is easy for many though to avoid the sense of battle & conflict & to take their ease! Woe to you who are at ease in Zion. Amos 6:1
        4. When was the last time you fought a battle against sin, alone on your knees?
        5. Are you engaged in spiritual warfare? - In your home life? In your personal walk with God? In your prayer life? In your testimony among your colleagues at the office? In your witness with your family at home? Are you standing your ground today? In the position where God has put you? Are you resisting the enemy, or are you in retreat?
    4. BENAIAH! [Ben-EYE-ya] (20-23)
    5. He was actually born to serve as a priest, but became a soldier. (1 Chron.27:5).
      1. Met a man named Sang-wan my 2nd time in Burma. He who was a Buddhist Priest for 20 years & then became a soldier for the Shan State army.
        1. Why? “To help protect my people.”
      2. In the bible, there are many priests who became prophets, such as Jeremiah, Ezekiel, & John the Baptist; but Benaiah is the only priest named who became a soldier.
    6. 8th lesson, from Benaiah: Fight through ALL Fears!
      1. ​​​​​​​Benaiah was another man of dauntless Courage.
    7. F.W. Boreham said, Benaiah met the worst of enemies (a lion); in the worst of places (in a pit); under the worst of conditions (on a snowy day)…& he won! (Famous Sermon by F.W. Boreham.)
    8. How do we fight through ALL fears?
      1. We are told to take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
      2. But too often we have our focus on the armor: the belt, body-armor, shoes, shield, helmet, sword.
      3. But it should be on the character: the truth, righteousness, peace, faith, salvation, word.
    9. How do we fight through ALL fears? By holding onto the vital protection provided in the very character of the Lamb of God! (His integrity, His righteousness, His peace, His faith, the salvation He provides, His Word that is trustworthy)
      1. You can’t use His Word with power unless you have the character of Jesus in your heart!
      2. He wants to fit you with a complete set of armor...of His holy character!!!
  4. THE THIRTY! (24-39)
    1. ​​​​​​​THE THIRTY!
    2. Note the last name mentioned...Uriah in vs.39.
      1. All the more the tragedy of David taking the life, of not just one of his soldiers, but one of his Top 30 to cover up his sin.
    3. All people are created equal before God, but all people are not equal in gifts & abilities.
      1. Some have greater gifts & opportunities than others.
      2. However, the fact that we can’t achieve like “the first three” shouldn’t keep us from doing less than our best & perhaps establishing a “second three.”
        1. God doesn’t measure us by what He helped others do, but by what He wanted us to do with the abilities & opportunities He graciously gave us. (Warren Wiersbe, Be Restored, pg.153.)
    4. Before the great story of the walls of Jericho falling down, Joshua was walking the perimeter & he came across a man w/His sword drawn. Joshua yelled out, “Are You for us or for our adversaries?” To which came the response, “No, but as Commander of the army of the Lord I have now come.” And Joshua fell on his face & worshipped & said, “What does my Lord say to His servant?” [a Christophany] (Joshua 5:13-15) {men’s ministry going through}
      1. Joshua didn’t meet S.S. Jesus, or baby Jesus in a manger; but Sword Drawn Warrior Son of God.
      2. See, the situation was under the control of the Captain of an invisible host, who could easily defeat the enemy. Joshua gladly handed over the battle to Him.
      3. Best question ever asked & one we should ask each day, “What does my Lord say to His servant?” or “What do you want your servant to do?” (NLT)
  5. LESSONS!
    1. ​​​​​​​Look what David’s followers were willing to do for their king! (and they had just met David)
      1. What are you willing to do for your King?
    2. True Leaders are not afraid to surround themselves with people of ability & then give them opportunity to let them shine!
      1. David obviously didn’t do the job alone; he had help of many devoted followers.
      2. The diversity of these men speaks well of his leadership (some from Judah, his tribe; a few from Benjamin, Saul’s tribe; & others from neighboring nations)
    3. Last week we talked about good leadership tips to follow.
      1. This week, we add to that list...All leaders need to follow David’s example by letting their followers know how much they appreciate them & the sacrifices they make.
    4. God noted each man individually, & had their names recorded in His Book/Word.
      1. And God will one day reward each one for the ministry they performed.
      2. David’s name is mentioned a 1000 times in Scripture...most of these men only once or twice. However, when they meet the Lord, “then each one’s praise will come from God.” (1 Cor.4:5)
    5. Eph.6:10-18 MSG And that about wraps it up. God is strong, and he wants you strong. So take everything the Master has set out for you, well-made weapons of the best materials. And put them to use so you will be able to stand up to everything the Devil throws your way. This is no afternoon athletic contest that we’ll walk away from and forget about in a couple of hours. This is for keeps, a life-or-death fight to the finish against the Devil and all his angels. Be prepared. You’re up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it’s all over but the shouting you’ll still be on your feet. Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation are more than words. Learn how to apply them. You’ll need them throughout your life. God’s Word is an indispensable weapon. In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Keep your eyes open. Keep each other’s spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out.
    6. Prayer: May we be like the geese whose natural instinct is to work together: rotating, flapping, helping, or honking. Help us to fly together...and enable us to accomplish what You have set out for us to do.
Copyright Statement
These files are the property of Brian Bell.
Text Courtesy of Calvary Chapel of Murrieta. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Bell, Brian. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 23". "Bell's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/cbb/2-samuel-23.html. 2017.