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Friday, December 8th, 2023
the First Week of Advent
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Bible Commentaries
2 Samuel 22

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - UnabridgedCommentary Critical Unabridged

Verse 1

And David spake unto the LORD the words of this song in the day that the LORD had delivered him out of the hand of all his enemies, and out of the hand of Saul:

David spake unto the Lord the words of this song (cf. Exodus 16:1 ; Deuteronomy 31:30 ), in the day that they had delivered him [ bªyowm (H3117)] - not any specified day, but generally, when, after that the Lord had delivered him.

Out of the hand of all his enemies, [ mikap (H3709) from the palm or hollow of the hand; used here poetically for yad (H3027), the hand] - i:e power or possession.

And out of the hand of Saul He is mentioned not as the last of Da id's persec tors bt rather as in the And out of the hand of Saul. He is mentioned, not as the last of David's persecutors, but rather as, in the spirit of bitter and implacable hostility, the greatest and most formidable of them all. The phrase means, especially out of the hand - i:e., the oppressive and sanguinary grasp of Saul. The form of expression was probably borrowed from Exodus 18:10, "Blessed be the Lord God, who hath delivered you out of the hand of the Egyptians, and out of the hand of Pharaoh."

Verse 2

And he said, The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer;

He said, The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer. This redundancy of images was intended to symbolize David's very strong sense of security in God. [ calª`iy (H5553), my rock.] This word, from which was derived Sela, the ancient name of Petra (hewn out of, and imbedded among, rocks), denotes not only a rock, but also excavations or fissures in the rock, so numerous in the mountain districts of Palestine that the Israelites at various periods of their early history (Judges 6:2; 1 Samuel 24:3; 1 Samuel 24:22) sought shelter there from foreign aggression. David's own personnel experience had furnished remarkable proofs of the safety afforded by these rocky caverns. [ uwmtsudaatiy (H4686), my fortress.] Matsudah is used generally for a fort or citadel, with which most of the rocky eminences of Palestine were surmounted, and specially for the stronghold of Zion (2 Samuel 4:7; 2 Samuel 4:9: 1 Samuel 22:4-5), and another fortress near Beth-lehem (2 Samuel 5:17; 2 Samuel 23:14; 1 Chronicles 11:16). The tropical application of these images, although sufficiently obvious, is shown by the addition of a third term, "my deliverer."

Verse 3

The God of my rock; in him will I trust: he is my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my high tower, and my refuge, my saviour; thou savest me from violence.

The God of my rock, [ tsuwriy (H6697)]. In this word, Tsur, the leading idea is strength and permanence. There are two words, then, in this introduction rendered in our language "rock;" but they are used in different senses-the former in the sense of concealment, while the latter bears that of immovable firmness. This clause would be better rendered 'my rock-God.' It is metaphorically applied to God in many passages of Scripture - Deuteronomy 32:4; Deuteronomy 32:18; Psalms 18:2; Psalms 71:3, "my strong habitation," - Hebrew, a rock of habitation to me; Psalms 92:15; Psalms 144:1, "my strength" - Hebrew, my rock; Isaiah 26:4, "everlasting strength" - Hebrew, the rock of ages; Daniel 11:39, "most strong holds-Hebrew, fortresses of munitions (margin), or fortresses of rocks (cf. Genesis 49:24, "the stone of Israel").

My shield, [ maaginiy (H4043)] - my buckler. The mageen was less, both in size and weight, than the [ tsinaah (H6793)] shield covering the whole body (Deuteronomy 33:29; Psalms 5:12; Psalms 84:9-11; Ephesians 6:14).

And the horn of my salvation - my saving horn, i:e., by which I am saved. The figure devoting might, power, is borrowed from the bull and other cattle which repel attacks by means of their horns, and it occurs frequently (Deuteronomy 23:17; 1 Samuel 2:10; Luke 1:69).

My high tower, [ misgabiy (H4869)] - my height. The ordinary word for tower is Migdol. But Misgab is used in poetry, as here, and denotes refuge on a high rock [from saagab (H7682), to be high]. Towers were built in the walls of cities, and placed at regular intervals, those at the angles being always the largest and strongest; sometimes a large tower stood by itself within the town (Judges 9:45; Judges 9:51), as a plane of resort to the inhabitants in time of danger, answering to the keep in our own castles (cf. 2 Kings 9:17). Towers were distinguished by their elevation. They were placed on an eminence, to which the ascent was by a flight of steps (cf. 2 Kings 9:1-37; Neb. 3:15). The Psalmist placed the 'higher tower' last in this series of epithets with great propriety, because it was always the last resort of the despairing inhabitants of a besieged city; and yet, although the metaphorical use of it in this passage is very clear, he has subjoined a plainer term, "my refuge." Since Eastern warriors have always been unskillful in conducting sieges, the towers afforded for the most part a complete security and defense to the inhabitants, except when fire was applied. And hence, the wise man, describing the safety of the righteous, notwithstanding he may be assaulted by adversity and foes which beset him in his pilgrimage on earth, uses a figure similar to this. "The name of the Lord is a strong, tower; the righteous runneth into it, and is safe: "Hebrew, is set aloft (margin) alike beyond the reach of the power of calamities to daunt or adversaries to overcome him (Proverbs 18:10: cf. Psalms 9:9, "a refuge" - Hebrew, a high place; 18:2; 28:1; 59:9, "my defense" - Hebrew, my high place; 144:2; Isaiah 25:12, "the high fort;" 32:16, "he shall dwell on high" - Hebrew, in heights, or high places.

My saviour; thou savest me from violence. These are omitted in Psalms 18:1-50. In this introduction God is invoked by seven figurative names-a favourite number with David; and as each one of them, whether suggested by the physical features of the land or by the approved methods of defense in war, were chosen from the author's perusal experience of the security these afforded, they must be accepted as expressing his permanent feeling-gratitude in the retrospect of the past, comfort and joy in the enjoyment of the present, and confidence in the prospect of the future. They were images most naturally suggested to the mind of a man like David, who was frequently compelled, for self-perservation, to take refuge in mountain strongholds, and whose piety, looking habitually beyond the material and the external to the spiritual, used the rocks and caves, forts and other scenes of his chequered life, as the vehicle by which his thoughts ascended to his divine protector.

Verse 4

I will call on the LORD, who is worthy to be praised: so shall I be saved from mine enemies.

I will call on the Lord who is worthy to be praised - i:e., who is a Being of transcendent excellence.

So shall I be saved from mine enemies. Some, taking the future for the past, translate the verse, 'I did call upon the Lord, so I was saved.' This translation is certainly more in accordance than that in our version with the whole drift of the song, which is a tribute of thanksgiving for mercies received. The connection between this and the preceding clauses is formed by the bond of faith. Any one who calls on the Lord must come, "believing that He is, and that He is the bountiful Rewarder of all them that diligently seek Him;" and thus, through his faith in the power and willingness of the Lord to deliver him, he will obtain that blessing.

Verse 5

When the waves of death compassed me, the floods of ungodly men made me afraid;

When (for) the waves of death compassed me, [ mishbªreey (H4867)] - breakers, furious billows (Psalms 42:8; Psalms 78:8; John 2:4) [Septuagint, suntrimmoi, dashing waves.] Death is here compared to the sea, whose agitated billows, rushing in among the rocks on the shore, hem in on all sides the helpless individual whom it overtakes. In like manner Shakespeare speaks of being involved in 'a sea of troubles.'

The floods of ungodly men made me afraid, [ nachªleey (H5158) bªliya`al (H1100)] - torrents of destruction terrified me (Gesenius). [Septuagint, cheimarroi anomias ethambeesan me, floods of iniquity, i:e., of wicked men (Deuteronomy 13:13; Deuteronomy 15:19: cf. 2 Samuel 23:6) - namely, Saul and his emissaries-overwhelmed me with astonishment.].

Verse 6

The sorrows of hell compassed me about; the snares of death prevented me;

The sorrows of hell compassed me, [ chebleey (H2256) Shª'owl (H7585)] - cords, noose of Sheol (Hades) enclosed me.

The snares of death prevented me, [ moqsheey (H4170) maawet (H4194)] - snares of death, i:e., deadly dangers, came upon me unawares (by surprise). Death is represented in this verse as a hunter, from whose artful, well-laid toils the prey cannot escape. It is quite common for other poets, by allusions to the ancient manner of hunting, to represent death as entrapping persons in her nets, and encompassing them on every side (Stat., lib. 5:, Sylv. 1:, line 156; Horace, lib. 3:, ode 24:, line 8).

Verse 7

In my distress I called upon the LORD, and cried to my God: and he did hear my voice out of his temple, and my cry did enter into his ears.

In my distress I called upon the Lord - literally, in the distress to me.

And cried to my God - "my," as standing to me in a covenant relation, and whom, having often addressed my prayer to him, I could approach in an enlightened knowledge of his character and confident reliance on his grace.

And he did hear my voice out of his temple, [ meeheeykaalow (H1964)] - from his palace. Joined with Yahweh, cheeykaal sometimes denotes the tabernacle (1 Samuel 1:9; 1 Samuel 3:3; Psalms 5:8); at other times the temple (2 Kings 24:13; 2 Chronicles 3:17; Jeremiah 50:28; Haggai 2:15; Zechariah 6:14-15); but here it is used poetically for heaven (cf. Psalms 11:4; Psalms 18:7; Psalms 29:9; Micah 1:2).

And my cry did enter into his ears, [ wªshawª`aatiy (H7775)] - cry for help. The latter clause of the parallelism merely repeats, though in a stronger manner, the sense of the former, intimating that the supplications of the Psalmist not only ascended to heaven, but actually reached the Hearer of prayer. Since David exhibits in one awful scene of elemental convulsion all the sufferings of his chequered life, so also he groups together in one all the prayers he offered, as well as the many remarkable deliverances with which he was favoured.

Verse 8

Then the earth shook and trembled; the foundations of heaven moved and shook, because he was wroth.

Then the earth shook and trembled. The imagery of this highly poetical passage is supposed by Dr. Chandler ('Life of David.' 2:, p. 211) to have been borrowed from 2 Samuel 5:20-24, and by Dean Stanley, from 2 Samuel 6:8.

The foundations of heaven moved and shook. No certain conclusion can be drawn as to the popular notions prevalent among the Hebrews from the bold imagery of the poets; but it is generally believed that, while as a nomadic people they conceived of the earth as a round tent, and the expanse of the firmament as its covering. they, on their permanent settlement in Canaan, viewed it as a splendid palace resting upon many pillars (cf. Psalms 75:3; Psalms 104:5; Proverbs 8:25-29: Rosenmuller's 'Geography,' 1:, Appendix 1:, A). But Gesenius supposes that by 'the foundations of the heavens' are rather meant lofty mountains, on which they seem to rest. Psalms 18:7 has, instead of "the foundations of heaven," "the foundations of the hills - i:e., subterranean rocks.

Because he was wroth, [ kiy (H3588) chaaraah (H2734) low (H3807a), because it was kindled to him; scil. 'ap (H639), anger (cf. 2 Samuel 19:43; Genesis 31:30; Genesis 34:7; 1 Samuel 15:11. The Septuagint has: hoti ethumoothee kurios autois, because the Lord was wroth with them-namely, David's enemies]. As to thunder being an expression of divine wrath, it was considered among the Hebrews (1 Samuel 2:10; 1 Samuel 7:10), and it is still popularly believed by multitudes in our own day, to be God's voice speaking in anger to the wicked.

Verse 9

There went up a smoke out of his nostrils, and fire out of his mouth devoured: coals were kindled by it.

There went up a smoke out of his nostrils. Here is a further expansion of the idea expressed in the preceding verse. [ `aashaan (H6227), poetically need for vapour, produced by the snorting of an enraged beast, and tropically for the divine wrath (cf. Isaiah 65:5); and so the Septuagint renders it as: anebee kapnos en tee orgee autou, a smoke ascended in his wrath.] And fire out of his mouth devoured. No object is mentioned as devoured by the fire; and the omission conveys more strongly the idea of fierce, raging all-consuming fire. [In the same manner Virgil ('AEneid,' 2:, line 758) speaks of ignis edax, and Homer ('Iliad,' b. 23:, line 182) of panta pur esthiei.]

Coals were kindled by it, [ gechaaliym (H1513), burning coals (opposed to pechaam (H6352), a black coal, Proverbs 26:21)] - were inflamed from it, namely, His mouth, which is the proper antecedent. Hengstenberg, on Psalms 18:1-50, denies that the figure, 'a smoke going up out of his nostrils' has any reference to the snorting of a furious beast; and, considering that smoke is a natural sequence of fire, views the imagery as drawn exclusively from the representation of Sinai as being all on fire at the publication of the law (Exodus 19:18). His critical judgment is founded on a partial view of the case. The description in Exodus refers to what took place on earth; whereas this is a poetical picture of what occurred in heaven. Besides, his interpretation does certainly account for the fire and the smoke, but entirely excludes the figures of the nose and the mouth. Several of the expressions, however, used in this passage are clearly borrowed from Exodus 19:1-25.

Verse 10

He bowed the heavens also, and came down; and darkness was under his feet.

He bowed the heavens also, and came down. The scene is now removed from heaven to earth. Isaiah wished that God would "rend the heavens, and come down" (2 Sam. 64:1 ). The figure used in this passage is less bold, but very graphic and pertinent to the occasion, because the verb, 'bowed down' is equivalent to 'made tend downward;' and accordingly, while in clear, severe, settled weather the clouds appear high, they approach on the eve of a storm nearer to the earth. 'He came down,' not by change of place, but by the manifestation of His presence and power on David's behalf. This 'bowing the heavens' was a prelude to 'His coming down.' This is entirely a scenic representation, which owed its existence to the imagination of the sacred bard. But it is the privilege of faith to realize the presence and the operation of the Divine Being in the greatest disorders, both of the material and the moral world, touching the secret springs, and guiding all events to their destined issue, whether for the destruction of His enemies or for the deliverance and benefit of His people.

And darkness was under his feet. The word here used is not the common one for "darkness." It is used chiefly in poetry, and signifies a dark cloud, dense gloom (Job 22:13; Isaiah 60:2). [The Septuagint renders it by gnofos (G1105), black, tempestuous darkness (see Hebrews 12:18).] The representation of 'darkness being under his feet' is borrowed partly from Exodus 19:16, and "there were thunders and lightnings, and a thick cloud upon the mount," and partly from Deuteronomy 5:22, "These words spake the Lord ... in the mount, out of the midst of the fire, of the cloud, and the thick darkness."

Verse 11

And he rode upon a cherub, and did fly: and he was seen upon the wings of the wind. And he road upon a cherub. A cherub in the Mosaic system is an ideal creature, which combined all the highest powers and properties of animal existences. It was, in fact, a personification of creation; and hence God is said poetically to have rode upon a cherub. The singular is used here in preference to the plural, cherubim, because as earthly kings in authority are represented as riding on some inferior animal, such as a horse, mule, etc., so Yahweh is described as borne, in his descent as a mighty sovereign, through the air by an imaginary being superior to man.

And he was seen upon the wings of the wind. The ancients, when they spoke allegorically of the wind, uniformly represented it as having "wings." It is an image exceedingly natural, and therefore common with all poets. But as used here, it is exegetical of the preceding clause of the verse, although the parallelism is not so complete or well-sustained as in Psalms 18:10, "And he rode upon a cherub, and did fly: yea, he did fly upon the wings of the wind" (cf. Psalms 68:17; Psalms 104:3). [It may be added that in the psalm the sublimity of the idea is heightened by the use of two separate verbs expressive of flight. In the first hemistich, wayaa`op (H5774), and he did fly as an ordinary bird; but in the second, wayeeraa' (H7200), yea, he did fly, is applied only to describe the rapid impetuosity of birds of prey (Deuteronomy 28:49; Jeremiah 48:40; Jeremiah 49:22).] This figurative representation denotes how quickly, in answer to the prayers of his servant, God came to the deliverance of David.

Verse 12

And he made darkness pavilions round about him, dark waters, and thick clouds of the skies.

He made darkness pavilions round about him, [ cukowt (H5521)] - booths; used here for a tabernacle of God (cf. Job 36:29; Psalms 97:2).

Dark waters, [ chashrat (H2841) mayim (H4325)] - gathering of waters; i:e., clouds. [In the parallel passage of Psalms 18:12, the phrase is cheshkat (H2824) mayim (H4325), darkness of waters, i:e., rain-clouds.]

And thick clouds of the skies, [ `aabeey (H5645) shªchaaqiym (H7834)] - thickness of clouds; i:e., a collective mass of dense portentous clouds (formed his pavilion or tent) (cf. Exodus 19:9, where similar phraseology is employed). In the manner of Oriental sovereigns, who withdrew into total, distant seclusion from the view of their subjects, God is described as surrounded by impenetrable darkness; because He is a Being who "dwells in light which is inaccessible, and full of glory."

Verse 13

Through the brightness before him were coals of fire kindled.

Through the brightness before him were coals of fire kindled - i:e., at the appearance of His glorious Through the brightness before him were coals of fire kindled - i:e., at the appearance of His glorious majesty.

Verse 14

The LORD thundered from heaven, and the most High uttered his voice.

The Lord thundered from heaven, and the Most High uttered his voice - namely, against my enemies (see the notes at last clause of 2 Samuel 22:8). The second clause is a mere echo of the first, because "the voice" of God frequently denotes thunder, (Exodus 9:28; Job 37:5; Psalms 29:1.)

Verse 15

And he sent out arrows, and scattered them; lightning, and discomfited them.

He sent out arrows, and scattered them, [ chitsiym (H2671)]. Arrows, when applied metaphorically to God, signify sometimes calamities inflicted upon men, such as famine, pestilence, etc.; at other times, lightnings (cf. Psalms 144:6; Habakkuk 3:11); and that this is the sense which the word bears here is obvious from the latter half of the parallelism, in which [ baaraaq (H1300), lightning, is taken collectively-lightnings] the statement is repeated in plain language.

Verse 16

And the channels of the sea appeared, the foundations of the world were discovered, at the rebuking of the LORD, at the blast of the breath of his nostrils.

And the channels of the sea, appeared. [ 'apiqeey (H650) denotes the channels of a brook or river; here the bottom of the sea.] This verse gives a general description of earthly disorder, without reference to any particular evil.

At the rebuking of the Lord, [ bªga`arat (H1606)]. This word is used specially of the rebuke of God upon his enemies, which occasioned their destruction at the Red Sea (Psalms 76:6; Psalms 104:7; Isaiah 50:2), or in any circumstances (Psalms 80:17).

At the blast of the breath of his nostrils - i:e., a violent tempestuous wind, the evidence and effect of His anger (Job 4:9; Psalms 18:16; Isaiah 30:33).

Verse 17

He sent from above, he took me; he drew me out of many waters;

He sent from above. The verb "sent" being followed by the exegetical clause, "He took me," is stated absolutely here and in Psalms 57:3. But where such an explanatory clause is wanting, the object of the verb is mentioned, as in Psalms 144:7,

He drew me out of many waters - referring to 2 Samuel 22:5, where there is a figurative description of David's enemies under the name of "waves" and "floods," and the verb [ yamsheeniy (H4871), from maashah (H4871)], to draw, naturally suggests the early history of Moses, from which this imagery is borrowed. 'Luther,' says Hengstenberg on Psalms 18:1-50, 'already called attention to this reference. It is the more important as Moses was a type of the Israelite people; the waters, an image of the hostile oppression in consequence of which Moses was exposed; and the event, a prophecy constantly fulfilling itself anew under similar circumstances.'

Verse 18

He delivered me from my strong enemy, and from them that hated me: for they were too strong for me.

He delivered me from my strong enemy. David's own weakness, contracted with the superior power of his enemies, was the reason of the divine interposition; and this contrast forms the leading idea in the two parallelistic portions of the verse. Perhaps the meaning would be better evolved by the following arrangement of the words:-`He delivered me from my enemy, because he was strong; and from them that hated me, because they were stronger than I.' The class from whom David had, through the help of Yahweh, been delivered comprised 'all them that hated him;' and chief among them was Saul, who, although not mentioned by name, was undoubtedly, as being formidable from his royal influence and from the number of his military emissaries, 'the strong enemy' in David's view.

Verse 19

They prevented me in the day of my calamity: but the LORD was my stay.

They prevented me in the day of my calamity, [ yªqadmuniy (H6923)] - they surprised me (see the notes at last clause of 2 Samuel 22:6). "In the day of my calamity" means during his persecution, when he more than once ran imminent risk of being captured or killed by surprise-when the missile was aimed at him by Saul (1 Samuel 18:11), when he was rescued by the artifice of his wife (1 Samuel 19:11-17), when the Ziphites betrayed him (1 Samuel 23:19-26), and when Saul entered the cave where David was hidden (1 Samuel 24:3).

Verse 20

He brought me forth also into a large place: he delivered me, because he delighted in me.

He brought me forth also into a large place, [ lamerchaab (H4800)] - into the wide place, into the breadth; i:e., He delivered me out of straits. This word is often used (cf. Psalms 4:2) to denote freedom and deliverance, in opposition to a state of confinement and difficulty (Gesenius). And thus the words, as applied to David, may be taken either in a literal or a metaphorical sense;-either as pointing to his deliverance from the caves and wild solitudes in which he had been compelled to seek refuge, or to the happy state of enlargement, of comfort, luxury, and royal dignity, to which he had been raised.

He delivered me, because he delighted in me, [ kiy (H3588) chaapeets (H2654) biy (H871a)] - for he loved or favoured me. David ascribes all his many and wonderful deliverances to the good pleasure and grace of Yahweh as the grand source of them; and he shows wisdom, as well as piety, in premising this remark; otherwise he might have laid himself open, by what follows, to the charge of claiming them as the reward of his personal merits.

Verse 21

The LORD rewarded me according to my righteousness: according to the cleanness of my hands hath he recompensed me.

The Lord rewarded me according to my righteousness ... Since I was engaged in a good cause, and, in my devoted adherence to it, acted sincerely and inflexibly on the principles of righteousness both toward God and toward Saul, my relentless enemy-so God, who bound Himself by solemn promise to succour and reward persons of this stamp, was pleased to protect and uphold me against the power and the machinations of my unjust oppressors.

According to the cleanness of my hands hath he recompensed me. And because I resolutely refused to free myself from all my troubles, by taking the life of Saul, when I was urged to do it, or by any unrighteous acts whatever, God was to pave the way for my deliverance in a far more honourable and effectual manner.

Verse 22

For I have kept the ways of the LORD, and have not wickedly departed from my God.

For I have kept the ways of the Lord - i:e., I have endeavoured to subordinate my judgment, my passions, and my interest, to the declared will of God.

And have not wickedly departed from my God - and, however infirm of purpose, or inconsistent in action at times, I have never openly trampled upon any of His statutes, much less have thrown off all regard to the authority and the honour of that God who is the chosen portion of my soul.

Verse 23

For all his judgments were before me: and as for his statutes, I did not depart from them.

For all his judgments were before me - i:e., the divine law (Psalms 19:9) was predominantly present to my mind. I studied and pondered them, that it might become the guide and directory of my whole life.

And as for his statutes, I did not depart from them - even when expelled from the enjoyment of religious ordinances, and expatriated from the society of God's people.

Verse 24

I was also upright before him, and have kept myself from mine iniquity.

I was also upright before him. In private, as well as in public, in the wildest and most sequestered solitude, as well as in the populous city, it was my reigning desire, my aim and endeavour, to walk so as to please God.

And have kept myself from mine iniquity - i:e., either from the influence of inherent corruption, that it might not acquire ascendancy over my heart, or drive me into acts of open and deliberate wickedness in my conduct; or, from perpetrating the iniquity to which natural feeling and the force of circumstances tended so powerfully to stimulate me as a man, a soldier, and a destined monarch-namely, of killing Saul, and so taking just revenge on this malignant and implacable enemy, as well as freeing myself from a life of constant perils and painful necessities (see the note at 2 Samuel 1:16).

Verse 25

Therefore the LORD hath recompensed me according to my righteousness; according to my cleanness in his eye sight.

Therefore the Lord hath recompensed me according to my righteousness - a repetition of what he stated at the beginning of section III. (see the notes at 2 Samuel 22:21). In the intermediate verses he had described the manner in which he had performed his own part, and now he bears his testimony to the faithfulness with which Yahweh had fulfilled His. From this record of God's method of dealing with himself, he adverts to it as a general law in the divine administration, that God is in a certain sense to men precisely what they are to Him-meting out to every one the measure he metes to others, and leaving him to reap the fruit of his own doings.

Verse 26

With the merciful thou wilt shew thyself merciful, and with the upright man thou wilt shew thyself upright.

With the merciful thou wilt show thyself merciful - thou wilt perform mercy and truth to those who are merciful and true to others, as, through the help of thy grace, I have been.

Verse 27

With the pure thou wilt shew thyself pure; and with the froward thou wilt shew thyself unsavoury.

No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verse 28

And the afflicted people thou wilt save: but thine eyes are upon the haughty, that thou mayest bring them down.

The afflicted people thou wilt save - Thou hast shown me, by the course of my personal experience, that thou wilt plead the cause of these who are subjected to unmerited wrongs, and deliver all who cry for deliverance in circumstances of suffering and persecution, like me and my followers. But thine eyes are upon the haughty, that thou mayest bring them down - Thou wilt humble the pride and check the presumptuous career of those who, like my enemies, flattered themselves that 'their mountain was standing strong, and that they never would be greatly moved.' 'The particular qualities specified are only given as examples, and might have been exchanged for others without altering the general sense. The form of expression is extremely strong and bold, but scarcely liable to misapprehension even in the last clause of 2 Samuel 22:27. No one is in danger of imagining that God can act perversely even to the most perverse. But the same course of proceeding which would be perverse in itself, or toward a righteous person, when pursued toward a sinner, becomes a mere act of vindicating justice. The resemblance of the last clause of 2 Samuel 22:27 to Leviticus 26:23-24, makes 'it highly probable that the whole form of this singular dictum was suggested by that passage, the rather as this song abounds in allusions to the Pentateuch, and in imitations of it,' (Professor Alexander on 'Psalms 18:1-50:')

In the preceding section of the song he describes himself as the humble object, the passive recipient, of the divine goodness and mercy; in this one he appears not as the object only, but also as the instrument of God's benefits. The former portion of the song was occupied exclusively with the dangers and deliverances connected with the Sauline persecution. That on which we are about to enter embraces other instances of deliverance by which his life was marked. The one recorded only tokens of the divine favour personal to himself, the other points to prospective blessings awaiting both him and his posterity.

Verse 29

For thou art my lamp, O LORD: and the LORD will lighten my darkness.

For thou art my lamp, O Lord. The light of a lamp was an image in common use among the Hebrews for prosperity; while its extinction betokened calamity (Esther 8:16; Job 18:5-6; Job 21:17; Job 29:3; Psalms 97:11; Psalms 132:17; Proverbs 24:20). But [ neeyriy (H5216)] the word here denoting a lamp is always applied metaphorically, as expressive of offspring (1 Kings 11:36; 1 Kings 15:4; 2 Kings 8:19; 2 Chronicles 21:7). The meaning then, is, the Lord had not only raised David from a state of obscurity to honour, of trouble to safety, of persecution to freedom and comfort, of inferiority to rank and glory, but conferred upon him, in addition to these personal benefits, the blessing and the dignity of a long-continued royal line.

And the Lord will lighten my darkness - i:e., whatever adversity may for a time befall my house, the Lord will appoint eventual prosperity. My family has been sadly diminished by the excision of several promising branches; but though my prospects have been greatly beclouded, 'the Lord will yet illumine my darkness:' others will, through the blessing of His kind providence, be raised to preserve my roof-tree flourishing in the land; and especially in the appearance of my last and greatest descendant, He will brighten every season of darkness and distress by the light of His salvation.

Verse 30

For by thee I have run through a troop: by my God have I leaped over a wall. For by thee I have run through a troop: by my God have I leaped over a wall.

For by thee I have run through a troop - i:e., broken through the thickest phalanx of my enemies [Septuagint, dramoumai monozoonos, will I run triumphant in war].

By my God have I leaped over a wall - i:e., scaled the battlements of the most strongly fortified cities and castles (cf. 2 Corinthians 2:14; Philippians 4:13).

Verse 31

As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the LORD is tried: he is a buckler to all them that trust in him.

As for God, his way is perfect, [ taamiym (H8549), complete, faultless; Septuagint, amoomos (G299), blameless]. Amid all the darkness that sometimes shrouds, and the severity that often marks, the course of His providence, His counsel is unerringly wise, just, and good.

The word of the Lord is tried, [ tsªruwpaah (H6884), subjected as metals to the fire, and proved to be genuine] - i:e., the truth of His promises, especially that grand promise, 2 Samuel 7:1-29, is infallibly certain, as my own experience and that of thousands besides can attest.

He is a buckler to all them that trust in him, [ maageen (H4043), shield, or buckler (see the notes at 2 Samuel 22:3)] - "that trust" i:e., believe in Him, or confide in Him (Genesis 15:1; Deut. 23:29 ). David has a particular predilection for this figurative designation of God (Psalms 3:3; Psalms 7:10; Psalms 18:2; Psalms 28:7).

Verse 32

For who is God, save the LORD? and who is a rock, save our God?

For who is God, save the Lord? and who is a rock, save our God? - "rock" (see the notes at 2 Samuel 22:2). The introductory [ kiy (H3588)] For, intimates that this verse furnishes the ground of the strong assurances which the preceding one contains; as if he had said, Since God is all that I have described Him to be, so He alone is such, and there is no other God, no other rock, in whom trust can be put. On this ground-namely, that of Yahweh being exclusively God-David rests his firm confidence in the fulfillment of the great promise, 2 Samuel 7:1-29.

Verse 33

God is my strength and power: and he maketh my way perfect.

God is my strength and power; and he maketh my way perfect - in the midst of all my weaknesses and errors, He enables me, by His grace, to perform all the duties and to bear all the trials of my royal station, so as to act in conformity with the principles and requirements of a theocratic ruler.

Verse 34

He maketh my feet like hinds' feet: and setteth me upon my high places.

He maketh my feet like hinds' feet; and setteth me upon my high places. The hind is the female of the roe (gazelle: see the notes at 2 Samuel 2:18; 1 Chronicles 12:8), and from the frequency of its representation on the ancient sculptures, was considered swifter than the male, both possessing the power of running equally along the level plain or up rugged sandstone hills, at a marvelous pace, so that successful pursuit of them up steep eminences is next to impossible. This is what is referred to here (cf. Habakkuk 3:19); the figure employed by the royal author implying that God, who had called him to engage in many military expeditions for the defense or enlargement of the kingdom of Israel, endowed him liberally with the possession of the qualities that were requisite in ancient warfare, especially swiftness in running from place to place, whether in pursuit or in adverse circumstances-agility to escape from enemies, so as to put himself on the "high places" - lofty heights and inaccessible fastnesses, where they could not reach him.

Virgil ('AEneid,' 7:) speaks of a warrior who was able 'cursu pedum praevertere ventos.' 'Many,' as De Wette, 'conceive that David is referring in this passage exclusively to speed in flight. But this is against the connection-the words, "He maketh my feet like binds' feet," occupy a middle position between equipment with strength and instruction in war-against the parallelism, and against the parallel passages, 2 Samuel 2:18; 1 Chronicles 12:8, where it is said of those who came out of the tribe of Gad to David, that their look was like that of lions, and their swiftness of foot like the gazelles on the mountains. A figurative element lies in what is said here of fleetness, which becomes quite obvious when we take it along with the last clause. David points to the quick and unrestrained course of his conquests, just as in 2 Samuel 22:29. And that by his being "set on high places," we are not to understand merely places of refuge in flight, may be gathered from other passages where that phrase occurs, "He made him ride on the high places" (Deuteronomy 32:13); "thou shalt tread upon their high places" (Deuteronomy 33:29), in which not secure flight, but resistless victory, is spoken of (Hengstenberg).

Verse 35

He teacheth my hands to war; so that a bow of steel is broken by mine arms.

He teacheth my hands to war; so that a bow of steel is broken by mine arms, [ qeshet (H7198) nªchuwshaah (H5154)] - a bow of brass (rather, bronze, a compound of copper and tin (cf. Job 20:24; Psalms 18:35). The bow held a prominent place among the military weapons of antiquity; and if a judgment may be formed of the shape or structure of those used in Western Asia, from the Assyrian, Babylonian, and Egyptian monuments, they were made of bronze, which is inferred from their being on the sculptures coloured red, and when undrawn, but strung, exhibited the figure of an obtuse angle rather than a curve, as if composed of two metallic shafts united. Of course, it required strength no less than skill to bend them. Thus, in the account of the bow of Ulysses, which none of the numerous suitors was able to draw, Homer says ('Odyssey,' lib. 21:,


`So the great master drew the mighty bow, And drew with ease; one hand aloft display'd The bending horns, and one the string essay'd.'

Ulysses having bent his bow, shot the arrows through the rings, and then turning to his son, Telemachus, addresses him in a glow of self-satisfied pride:

`Nor have I wrought thee shame; Nor erred this hand, unfaithful to its aim; Nor proved the toil too hard; nor have I lost, That ancient vigour, once my pride and boast.'(-Pope.)

Herodotus also relates ('Thalia,' 21:) that when Cambyses sent his spies into the country of Ethiopia, the king of that country, well aware of their object in coming, addressed them thus:-When the Persians can easily draw bows of such dimensions as this, then let them hope to invade Ethiopia. Having said this, he unstrung the bow, and handed it to them to carry to their king. These instances may suffice to show how much the bending of a metallic bow was considered to display the athletic power and military skill of a great warrior. The sentiment intended to be expressed by David is equivalent to that of Paul, Philippians 4:13: "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me."

Verse 36

Thou hast also given me the shield of thy salvation: and thy gentleness hath made me great.

Thou hast also given me the shield of thy salvation - i:e., thy saving shield, thine almighty defense.

And thy gentleness hath made me great, [ wa`anotªkaa (H6031)] - thy condescending kindness (as shown to inferiors: cf. 2 Samuel 7:18; Psalms 8:4; Isaiah 66:2).

Verse 37

Thou hast enlarged my steps under me; so that my feet did not slip. Thou hast enlarged my steps under me; so that my feet did not slip - i:e., Thou hast given ample room and verge enough, so that, like a pedestrian, I can more freely walk, without the risk of stumbling, in a rugged or precipitous path.

Verse 38

I have pursued mine enemies, and destroyed them; and turned not again until I had consumed them.

I have pursued mine enemies, and destroyed them. This refers to the course of uninterrupted conquest that had attended his arms in the wars undertaken against the enemies of Israel. The language seems borrowed (Exodus 15:9). 'David's kingdom was, is, and ever shall be a victorious kingdom. Any temporal limitation of this declaration is inadmissible, as David's celebration of the divine grace cannot be narrower than this grace itself, partly already bestowed on him, and partly held in promise, which found its culminating point in Christ' (Hengstenberg).

Verse 39

And I have consumed them, and wounded them, that they could not arise: yea, they are fallen under my feet.

No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verse 40

For thou hast girded me with strength to battle: them that rose up against me hast thou subdued under me.

For thou hast girded me with strength to battle. Warriors were accustomed to gird themselves with a broad belt, to keep up their long garments, to bind these and their armour close together, and to fortify their loins, that they might be stronger and more fitted for the strenuous efforts necessary to be made in the combat. But instead of arrogating to himself the gallant achievements and brilliant victories mentioned in the previous verses, David ascribes his military vigour and prowess to God, repeating the words he had formerly used, 2 Samuel 22:32.

Verse 41

Thou hast also given me the necks of mine enemies, that I might destroy them that hate me.

Thou hast also given me the necks of mine enemies. Conquerors sometimes made their captives, especially if they were persons of rank and eminence, lie prostrate on the ground, and then put a foot upon their neck, in token of complete humiliation. This act of insolent triumph over a vanquished foe was frequently practiced in ancient warfare (Isaiah 51:23), and the early Hebrews followed in this respect the war usage of their times (Joshua 7:8; Joshua 7:12). Numerous examples of this custom are found also on the Assyrian monuments. But milder and more humane victors contented themselves with putting a rope, or merely their hand, round the neck of a captured adversary, as a sign of their acquired right to them (Genesis 49:8; Exodus 23:27; Deuteronomy 28:48; Isaiah 10:27; Jeremiah 27:8; Lamentations 5:5).

Verse 42

They looked, but there was none to save; even unto the LORD, but he answered them not.

They looked, but there was none to save; even unto the Lord, but he answered them not. David is here speaking of the enemies of Israel, into whose land he carried his victorious arms, and who, in the extremity of their distress, besides invoking the aid of their idols, did, it appears, sometimes pray to Yahweh (see the notes at Jonah 1:14): but He did not hear favourably. The reason why He did not listen to their importunate cries was, that they were without the pale of the covenant and its promises-that, being pagans, they were enemies to God, and could not address Him in the exercise of that faith which alone can render prayer acceptable.

Verse 43

Then did I beat them as small as the dust of the earth, I did stamp them as the mire of the street, and did spread them abroad.

Then did I beat them as small as the dust of the earth. This language may be only expressive of that contempt in which ancient conquerors were accustomed to indulge in speaking of worthless foes; they would tread them underfoot as the dust (cf. Isaiah 10:6; Zephaniah 1:17; Zechariah 10:5). But it is literally true that they might be reduced as small as dust. The bodies of slain enemies that lie exposed without the rites of burial on the field or streets, soon become the prey of dogs and vultures (1 Kings 14:11; 1 Kings 16:4; 1 Kings 21:19-23), and the bones, stripped of all flesh, blanch in the warm climate, where they are not long in being crumbled to dust, and so trodden under the feet of their masters. It was this sad issue, doubtless, that David had in his mind when he penned this passage in the song.

Verse 44

Thou also hast delivered me from the strivings of my people, thou hast kept me to be head of the heathen: a people which I knew not shall serve me.

Thou also hast delivered me from the strivings of my people [ meeriybeey (H7379)] - from the contentions-not wars, but strifes [ `amiy (H5971)] - of my people; i:e., the civil broils occasioned by Saul, Ish-bosheth, Absalom, Shebah, and the Judahites' jealousy of the other tribes, at the king's restoration. From the evils and dangers attendant upon all of these, the providence of God, who had destined him for the throne, had happily provided a way of escape.

Thou hast kept me to be head of the pagan, [ gowyim (H1471), of nations; tishmªreeniy (H8104)] - thou hast watched, preserved me as a shepherd guards his sheep. This deliverance from domestic or intestine adversaries was a natural and necessary preliminary to his conquest and acquired supremacy over adjoining nations-namely, the Ammonites, Moabites, Edomites, Syrians, and others.

A people which I know not shall serve me - i:e., remote and barbarous nations, not specified by name in the covenant grant of the promised land.

Verse 45

Strangers shall submit themselves unto me: as soon as they hear, they shall be obedient unto me.

Strangers shall submit ... as soon as they hear, they shall be obedient unto me - literally, the children of an unknown land. "As soon as they hear" - on the report of my extending course of conquests. [ yitkachashuw (H3584) liy (H3807a), shall lie to me (cf. Deuteronomy 33:29; Psalms 66:3; Psalms 81:15), shall fawn upon or flatter me by professions of love and devotedness, which are only constrained tokens of homage, extorted from fear of the victor. An instance is furnished by the congratulatory message of Toi, king of Hamatch (2 Samuel 8:10). But yishaamª`uw (H8085) signifies 'are heard,' not 'are made to hear,' or 'obey;' and accordingly Hengstenberg maintains that it is both more grammatical, and more in the spirit of the parallelism, to render the clause, 'by the hearing of the ear these serve me,' or 'they who serve me are heard of me by the hearing of the ear.' I know them only by report.]

Verse 46

Strangers shall fade away, and they shall be afraid out of their close places. Strangers shall fade away, and they shall be afraid out of their close places.

Strangers shall fade away, [ yiboluw (H5034)] - shall wither or fall away; applied primarily in reference to leaves and flowers (Psalms 1:3; Psalms 37:2; Isaiah 1:30; Isaiah 28:1; Isaiah 40:7-8; Ezekiel 47:12), but similar to men (Exodus 18:18; Psalms 18:46; Psalms 37:2). The strangers shall decay in their hopes as well as in their strength.

And ... be afraid out of their close places, [ wªyachgªruw (H2296)] - and they gird themselves (Exodus 12:11; 2 Kings 4:29), and go forth [ mimicgªrowtaam (H4526)] from their strongholds; used, preterit, here for their fortified cities. Gesenius suggests (and Hitzig coincides with him), according to the Syriac, 'they creep or limp out of their strongholds.' This, however, is a forced and unusual meaning of the word. [In the parallel passage

(Psalms 18:46), the Hebrew text has: wªyachrªguw (H2727), and they are dismayed out of their strongholds; they came out from their fortresses tremblingly, and surrendered them (Micah 7:17: cf. 1 Samuel 16:4; Hosea 11:11).]

Verse 47

The LORD liveth; and blessed be my rock; and exalted be the God of the rock of my salvation.

The Lord liveth, [ chay (H2416) Yahweh (H3069)] - living be Yahweh, according to many interpreters, who consider there is here a transference to God of the acclamation usually made to earthly kings, 'O king, live for ever.' This expression, however, implying the liability to death, can only be proper to mortals, and seems most inappropriate to God. Besides, these words are the common form of Hebrew oath, and contain a strong affirmation, "as the Lord liveth." In that sense they must be taken here as describing the living God, in contrast to dead idols-imaginary beings, the creatures of superstitious fear. Thus, interpreted, the words form the commencement of a doxology.

And blessed be my rock - i:e., praised (see the notes at "rock," 2 Samuel 22:2).

Exalted be the God of the rock of my salvation - i:e., the divine rock of my salvation (cf. Isa. 18:10; Micah 7:7; Habakkuk 3:18), or the God who is my sure, unchangeable Saviour (Luke 1:47). God cannot receive any accessions either of power, majesty, or glory; but He can be magnified in the conceptions and by the praises of men. This doxology consists of three parts, conformable to the Mosaic blessing (Numbers 6:24-26).

Verse 48

It is God that avengeth me, and that bringeth down the people under me,

It is God that avengeth me, and bringeth down the people under me. The reference is to Saul and other malignant enemies, on whom he did not execute vengeance himself, but left it to Him to whom vengeance belongeth. God had effected that result, and David here acknowledges it with gratitude and joy, not as gratified by the punishment inflicted as on his personal enemies, but on the enemies of God, through his gratified by the punishment inflicted as on his personal enemies, but on the enemies of God, through his instrumentality.

Verse 49

And that bringeth me forth from mine enemies: thou also hast lifted me up on high above them that rose up against me: thou hast delivered me from the violent man.

And that bringeth me forth from mine enemies - literally, And bringing me out, leading me forth; i:e., saving me.

Thou also hast lifted me up on high above them that rose up against me. The change from the participle in the previous clause to the second person, forming a direct address to God, imparts beauty and energy to the diction.

Thou hast delivered me from the violent man, [ chamaaciym (H2555), plural, or chaamaac (H2555), singular (Psalms 18:46); 'iysh (H376), man of wrongs or wrong; an oppressor (cf. 2 Samuel 22:16; Psalms 140:1-4)] - the ideal type of a numerous class, who, although from delicacy left unnamed in the body of the song, is mentioned in the introductory verse. Thus, in winding-up this song of praise and thanksgiving for all his deliverances, David recapitulates them, as previously enumerated, in three groups - (1) From Saul; (2) from intestine insurgents; and (3) from foreign enemies.

Verse 50

Therefore I will give thanks unto thee, O LORD, among the heathen, and I will sing praises unto thy name.

Therefore I will give thanks unto thee, O Lord, among the pagan, [ bagowyim (H1471)] - among the nations. Thank Thee for what?-for my deliverance, and for my advancement to the theocratic throne. [ `al (H5921) keen (H3651)] wherefore-on which account, with references to all that he had described, bearing not only on his past and present experience of the divine goodness, but on the prospective blessings included in the covenant-I will thank Thee 'among the nations.' [The Septuagint has: dia touto exomologeesomai soi kurie en tois ethnesi.] Either - (1) in the assembled congregation of the Israelite tribes, to whom this word [ gowyim (H1471)] is sometimes applied (Joshua 3:17; Joshua 4:1; Ezekiel 2:3); (2) i:e., in the presence of those who from time to time resorted to Jerusalem on embassy of international importance, or before those of them to whom, as my tributaries, I may go or transmit correspondence; or, (3) among the pagan in the widest sense-as referring not to David personally, but to his royal successors, especially, to Christ.

Accordingly, this praise has ever since been given to God, wherever this song has been known and used in the churches; and in this extended spiritual view it is applied by Paul to the preaching of his gospel among the Gentiles (Romans 15:9), "that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy; as it is written, For this cause I will confess to thee among the Gentiles, and sing unto thy name."

Verse 51

He is the tower of salvation for his king: and sheweth mercy to his anointed, unto David, and to his seed for evermore.

He is the tower of salvation for his king. Here is a repetition of the figure used, 2 Samuel 22:3. "His king," the king whom He Himself chose and appointed.

And showeth mercy to his anointed. This phrase, being the special designation of the king of Israel, might be supposed limited in its application here to the author of the song; and therefore, in explanation of the comprehensive import of the term, he adds, "unto David, and to his seed for evermore," including all his royal posterity, and especially the Messiah, who is called David's seed (Acts 13:1; Romans 1:3; Galatians 3:16), his son (Psalms 89:27; Psalms 110:1, compared with Matthew 22:42), and the anointed king (Psalms 2:2). This song is a noble effusion of lyrical poetry. In the wide and discursive range of its survey all the salient points of David's life and experience are touched upon and described under a variety of bold and most striking images. As dedicated to a personal retrospect of the way by which David had been led, this song was a fitting hallelujah to be composed and sung at the close of his remarkable career. But, adapted also for public worship, it is a sublime, no less than a most appropriate, vehicle for the thanksgiving of devout worshippers; and containing as it does Messianic elements interspersed throughout, it has been, and will continue in future ages to be, one of the favourite songs of Zion.

Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 22". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jfu/2-samuel-22.html. 1871-8.
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