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Bible Commentaries
2 Samuel 23

Grant's Commentary on the BibleGrant's Commentary

Verses 1-39

In the last words of David (vs.1-7) we see far more clearly than in Chapter 22 the sharp distinction between David personally and David's Son Messiah. The first verse presents David himself as son of Jesse, raised up to the throne of Israel as the anointed of the God of Jacob, and the sweet psalmist of Israel. All of this blessing given to him is mainly for the purpose of his bearing witness to the future King of Israel, the Lord Jesus.

Verse 2 shows that David was not only writing from the viewpoint of his having learned in experience the ways of God, but rather from that of having had a direct revelation from the Spirit of the Lord, who spoke by David, His word being on his tongue. It was the God of Israel, the Rock of Israel who spoke.

"The ruler over men shall be just, ruling in the fear of God." In comparison with other rulers, this was in measure true of David. But there were many things in which he fell short of this, as we have seen in this book, and as he confesses in verse 5. in Christ in His lowly humiliation we find perfect righteousness, perfect truth: He has proven His character in His experiences of sorrow and rejection. This same truth and justice Will shine out in beautiful magnificence when He takes His throne over all creation. As Man He will rule in the fear of God, in perfect consistency with the character of the God of Israel and of the universe.

"He shall be like the light of the morning when the sun rises, a morning without clouds, like the tender grass springing out of the earth, by clear shining after rain. This advent of the Lord Jesus at the beginning of the millennium is also depicted in Malachi 4:2 as "the Sun of Righteousness" arising "with healing in His wings." In a very real sense the sun reigns over the earth: without it everything would be left in a total deep-freeze at absolute zero, and in darkness. The rule of the sun is by no means simply the rule of authority, but provides welcome light and warmth, as well as living chemical action that produces growth in vegetation.

If there were no rain, no moisture at all, of course the sun's heat could become unbearable, with everything dried up and desolate. The rain is typical of the refreshing showers of the word of God, without which our own souls would be dried up and parched. But when once the rain has come, followed by the clear shining of the sun, how good it is to see the fresh green grass springing up from the earth. Thus, the coming of the Lord Jesus in glory will be like such a day, with Israel springing forth in spiritual prosperity, the word of God being precious to them, and the coming of their Messiah a marvellous joy.

Sadly, in verse 5 David has to acknowledge that his house is not so with God: he could not in any way quality as this just person ruling in the fear of God. Yet in spite of this, God had made with David an everlasting covenant, ordered in perfection, and absolutely sure. In this David saw all his salvation and his every desire, and asks the question, "Will He not indeed make it grow?" (NASB). For what is of God will grow, while men's works will come to nothing, as verses 6 and 7 indicate. The sons of Belial ("worthlessness") are as unwelcome thorns, discarded because they cannot be handled with human hands. Contact with such men requires a heavy defensive armour, with a spear also to take the offensive. But such harmful influences will not be tolerated in God's kingdom: they will be burned with fire.


Nearing the end of David's history, it is appropriate that this chapter provides a picture of the judgment seat of Christ, at which every work for Him will be rewarded. The commendations of these mighty men of David teach us that what victories we may accomplish for the Lord will receive full recognition at His judgment seat. Their weapons were of course carnal, or fleshly, and their victories were not spiritually profitable, as ours should be. The armour of the Christian is seen in Ephesians 6:10-18, and this involves the self-discipline that keeps the flesh from exerting itself, but allows the Spirit of God liberty to produce proper spiritual fruit in our lives. All the details here will not be found easy to interpret, though there is no doubt that they are significant of what is commendable in the way in which a believer meets his conflicts. One man stands out in the first place, Adino, the Eznite. He is called "The Tacmonite who sat in the seat." When we consider that in Ephesians 6:12 our warfare is seen to be "in the heavenlies," then the connection with Ephesians 2:6 is most striking. Here we are told that believers are "raised up together" and made to "sit together in the heavenlies in Christ Jesus." This is our place "in Christ." All believers have this, and yet all believers do not enjoy it and act consistently with it. If so, we should experience far more real triumph over evil in our lives. Let us be like Adino in a practical way, sitting in the seat of our heavenly position, thus overcoming the world and its seductions.

Eleazar is seen in the second place of honor (vs.9-10), a man who did not retreat when the rest of Israel retreated, but boldly carried on the battle with the Philistines alone, and for so long that his hand struck to the sword he was using. By his energy of faith the Lord accomplished a great victory, for the Lord honors the faith of one who will not be intimidated by the enemy even when no one else stands with him. The people afterward returned after him to reap the benefits of his faith.

The third one of the most outstanding three was Shammah (vs.11-12). The Philistines attacked with the object of either taking for themselves a field of lentils or destroying it. Shammah took his stand in the middle of the field and killed the attackers, thereby giving the Lord the victory. This illustrates the faithfulness of a believer in fighting to keep the food of the word of God from being stolen from God's people. May we stand firmly and decidedly against anything that will deprive the saints of God of the food of His word that is so necessary for their sustenance.

Three other men are now spoken of (vs.13-16) who show their devotedness to David himself in an unusual way. The garrison of the Philistines had taken possession of Bethlehem while David was in exile in the cave of Adullam. Saul did not have the energy to expel the Philistines from Bethlehem (the house of bread), and David expressed the longing for a drink of water from the well of Bethlehem. No doubt there was no thought in his mind of expecting anyone to take this seriously enough as to risk their lives in order to secure a drink of water for him, and he certainly gave no command as to this. Yet these three mighty men, purely out of devotedness to David, were willing to venture their lives in breaking through the army of the Philistines with the object of drawing water from the well of Bethlehem. They did so successfully and brought the water to David.

This is a refreshing picture of the faith that delights to please the Lord in a spirit of willing self-sacrifice. David however appreciated their devotion more than he desired the water. He considered that he was not worthy of so great devotion, and he poured the water out as a drink offering to God, who alone is worthy of such sacrifices (vs.16-17).

Abishai, the brother of Joab, has a significant place as chief of these three men. Sadly, Joab himself is not mentioned as being given any honor at all in this final summation of David's mighty men. He was a capable warrior who gained many victories, but his one fatal flaw was the fact that his motives were proven to be selfish. It was not God's honor that he sought, but his own. David knew this, and advised Solomon that Joab must be put to death (1 Kings 2:5-6). Joab's treachery could not be ignored because of his many victories.

Benaiah is another one of the second three, a man who showed unusual courage whether in fighting men or beasts. Certainly the exploits of both of these are typical of spiritual victories, little as we may be able to interpret their significance. We are not told the name of the third man of this group, but we are reminded in verse 23 that the first three are accorded higher honor than the second three or all that follow them. These are mentioned by name only, and any spiritual lessons to be learned from them can be gleaned only from the meanings of their names.

Bibliographical Information
Grant, L. M. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 23". Grant's Commentary on the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/lmg/2-samuel-23.html. 1897-1910.
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