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Bible Commentaries

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

2 Samuel 22

Verses 1-51

C. David’s Praise of Yahweh ch. 22

"It has long been recognized that 2 Samuel 22 is not only one of the oldest major poems in the OT but also that, because Psalms 18 parallels it almost verbatim, it is a key passage for the theory and practice of OT textual criticism." [Note: Youngblood, p. 1064.]

This psalm records David’s own expression of the theological message the writer of Samuel expounded historically. Yahweh is King, and He blesses those who submit to His authority in many ways. 2 Samuel 22:21 is perhaps the key verse. David learned the truths expressed in this psalm and evidently composed it early in his career (2 Samuel 22:1).

This song shares several key themes with Hannah’s song (1 Samuel 2:1-10). Both David and Hannah used "horn" as a figure of strength at the beginning (2 Samuel 22:3; 1 Samuel 2:1) and "rock" as a figure for God (v. 2 Samuel 22:2; 1 Samuel 2:2). They both referred to divine deliverance (2 Samuel 22:3; 1 Samuel 2:1-2) and ended by equating God’s king with His anointed (2 Samuel 22:51; 1 Samuel 2:10). Thus these two songs form a kind of inclusio around the Books of Samuel and give them unity. Given the similarities, each makes its own unique statement as well. [Note: See Frank Moore Cross Jr., and David Noel Freedman, "A Royal Song of Thanksgiving-2 Samuel 22 = Psalms 18," Journal of Biblical Literature 72:1 (1953):15-34.]

This is a psalm of declarative praise for what God had done for David. It reflects David’s rich spiritual life. While David focused attention on the Lord more than on himself, his emphasis was on the blessings Yahweh had bestowed on him.

We can divide the passage into four sections: the Lord’s exaltation (2 Samuel 22:1-4), the Lord’s exploits (2 Samuel 22:5-20), the Lord’s equity (2 Samuel 22:21-30), and the Lord’s excellence (2 Samuel 22:31-51). [Note: Merrill, "2 Samuel," in The Old . . ., pp. 477, 480.]

The reference to God’s temple (2 Samuel 22:7) probably means heaven. "Arrows" (2 Samuel 22:15) is a figure for lightning bolts. God had drawn David out of the waters of affliction as Pharaoh’s daughter had drawn Moses out of literal dangerous waters (2 Samuel 22:17). God had rewarded David (not saved him) because of his righteous conduct (2 Samuel 22:21). Cleanness (Heb. bor) of hands (2 Samuel 22:21) is a figure describing moral purity that derives from the practice of washing the hands with soda (bor), probably some sodium compound used as a cleansing agent.

"The psalmist is not talking about justification by works, much less about sinless perfection, but about ’a conscience void of offence toward God and men’ (Acts 24:16)." [Note: Gordon, p. 306.]

God responds to people according to their conduct (2 Samuel 22:26-27). He is astute (shrewd) to the perverted (crooked, 2 Samuel 22:27) in the sense that He turns them into fools. [Note: Youngblood, p. 1073; Carlson, pp. 251-52.] The similes in 2 Samuel 22:43 picture David’s enemies as objects of humiliation and contempt. [Note: Youngblood, p. 1075.]

"It is . . . both serendipitous and satisfying that the Song of David, a psalm of impressive scope and exquisite beauty, should begin with ’The LORD’ (2 Samuel 22:2), the Eternal One, and end with ’forever’ (2 Samuel 22:51)." [Note: Ibid., p. 1077.]

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Bibliographical Information
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 22". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/dcc/2-samuel-22.html. 2012.