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The prosecution of David's history is interrupted through the whole of this Chapter, in order to introduce his Song, or Psalm of praise. It is not said when David wrote it; but it is said when he spake it, for the title of it expresses that it was when the LORD had delivered him out of the hand of all his enemies, and particularly out of the hand of Saul. It contains therefore, from beginning to end, manifold praises for manifold deliverances.
2 Samuel 22:1
(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:
We have this same Psalm, only with suitable variations, among the collection of David's Psalms, Psalms 18:1-19.18.5 0 th in number. In that collection, this first verse forms the title page to what follows. There is a great beauty, as well as a great expression of devotion, in what is here said-in the day meaning, that David suffered not the impression of the LORD's goodness to cool upon his mind, but while the fire of grace, which the LORD had kindled, burned within him, his soul went forth in the sacrifice of praise and love, to the great Author of his mercies, upon the Altar which sanctifieth the gift, even JESUS.
(2) ¶ And he said, The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; (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.
Do observe how David is labouring for expressions to show forth the wonderful perfections of GOD, and that that GOD, with all his perfections, is his GOD in covenant. Oh! it is sweet when faith makes an appropriating right of all that GOD hath, and is, as our own, when, like the bee, the flowers are not only visited by her, and sipped in the present moment, but she brings home to her little hive constant store for every occasion. Reader! see to it, in your own experience, that this is your case. When you not only contemplate a GOD in CHRIST, as the rock, and fortress, and deliverer of his people; but faith can add to it, he is the GOD of my rock, and in him do I trust.
(4) I will call on the LORD, who is worthy to be praised: so shall I be saved from mine enemies.
There are two sweet employments David resolves on in this verse, namely, to call upon the LORD: and secondly, because that LORD is so worthy of praise, that he will praise him. Reader! do not forget, that these are the natural, (I had almost said, but I would rather say), the gracious consequences of having relationship in, and interest with our GOD in CHRIST JESUS.
(5) When the waves of death compassed me, the floods of ungodly men made me afraid; (6) The sorrows of hell compassed me about; the snares of death prevented me;
There seems to be from this verse, David's entrance upon the whole subject of his life, in the many deliverances which the LORD had wrought out for him! He compares the many attacks of his enemies, to the image of floods pouring in upon the soul, to overwhelm it. Reader! it is precious to remark in our own experience, that, from the grace that is in CHRIST JESUS, many waters cannot quench love, neither all the floods drown it. No, blessed JESUS! thy love in the hearts of thy people, planted in their souls by thine own Almighty hand, is an incorruptible seed, that liveth and abideth forever. David uses two other similitudes to describe his trials by; the sorrows of hell, and the snares of death: meaning, that both hell and death joined in confederacy against him. And from the dangers of both, he had no more power to deliver himself, than sinners from the terrors of the chained in hell; nor, than dead men fast-bound in the grave. Reader! consider this in a spiritual sense, and how will it tend to heighten the deliverance from everlasting misery, and everlasting death, by the Person and salvation of the LORD JESUS CHRIST!
(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. (8) Then the earth shook and trembled; the foundations of heaven moved and shook, because he was wroth. (9) There went up a smoke out of his nostrils, and fire out of his mouth devoured: coals were kindled by it. (10) He bowed the heavens also, and came down; and darkness was under his feet. (11) And he rode upon a cherub, and did fly: and he was seen upon the wings of the wind. (12) And he made darkness pavilions round about him, dark waters, and thick clouds of the skies. (13) Through the brightness before him were coals of fire kindled. (14) The LORD thundered from heaven, and the most High uttered his voice. (15) And he sent out arrows, and scattered them; lightning, and discomfited them. (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. (17) He sent from above, he took me; he drew me out of many waters; (18) He delivered me from my strong enemy, and from them that hated me: for they were too strong for me. (19) They prevented me in the day of my calamity: but the LORD was my stay.
The preparatory verses, are all intended as introductory to what is here said. For, if such was David's misery; such his enemies; such his helplessness, and inability to cope with them; what grace must have been manifested in his deliverance by the LORD GOD of his salvation. The expressions of which David makes use, of the shaking of the earth, and the foundation of the heavens, are not to be understood literally; but, the mercies in which the LORD spake to him on those occasions, were as evident tokens of the LORD's kindness and regard to him, as if GOD had spoken by thunder, and manifested the part he took in it, by a voice from heaven. Reader! spiritually considered, when sinners are awakened, and converted, by the gracious operations of GOD the HOLY GHOST, do not their souls sometimes answer to those mercies, by the first apprehensions of the mind, as if their whole frames were convulsed, like the trembling of the earth, or the shaking of the heavens. Probably, in this high and beautiful style of expression, David had in view, Moses' account of the LORD's leading his chosen out of Egypt. The sacred writers, in more than one instance, seem to have had this in view. See Exodus 15:2-2.15.13 ; Habakkuk 3:2 ; to the end. Psalms 114:1 , to the end.
(20) He brought me forth also into a large place: he delivered me, because he delighted in me.
There is a great beauty in this verse, in that it clearly traces the cause, of divine favour; not to the circumstance of common providence, but to covenant love, to distinguishing grace, and mercy. Sweet thought! Who hath saved us, and called us, (saith Paul) with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, given us in CHRIST JESUS before the world began. 2 Timothy 1:9 .
(21) The LORD rewarded me according to my righteousness: according to the cleanness of my hands hath he recompensed me. (22) For I have kept the ways of the LORD, and have not wickedly departed from my God. (23) For all his judgments were before me: and as for his statutes, I did not depart from them. (24) I was also upright before him, and have kept myself from mine iniquity. (25) Therefore the LORD hath recompensed me according to my righteousness; according to my cleanness in his eye sight.
I desire the Reader particularly to observe how he reads those verses, in order that he may have a clear apprehension of David's meaning, in what be saith in them. He is here stating the ground of his innocency, as it related to his conduct towards his neighbor, and particularly as it referred to Saul. The title of the Psalm saith as much, that David spoke these words in the day that the LORD had delivered him out of the hand of all his enemies, and out of the hand of Saul. And, as far as his history informs us with respect to his conduct towards Saul, his whole behaviour was such that he might plead his innocency. So that when accused by men he could plead to GOD. But Reader! do not from hence imagine that David meant here, or in any other part of his life, that the LORD rewarded him according to his righteousness or, the cleanness of his hands, in the sight of GOD. Alas! David was so conscious of his sins, that he cries out, Enter not into judgment with thy servant, O LORD , for in thy sight shall no man living be justified. We may with humbleness of soul, ascribing at the same time the whole glory to GOD for the grace bestowed upon us in enabling us to perform it; we may bless GOD when we can appeal to him concerning our integrity between man and man; but with respect to our whole lives before GOD, every saint on earth must lay his hand upon his mouth, and say with Job, If I justify myself, mine own mouth shall condemn me: if I say I am perfect, it shall also prove me perverse. Though I were perfect, yet would I not know my soul. Job 9:20-18.9.21 . Reader! do mark this down in the memorandums of thy heart. Depend upon it, it is a solemn thing for a poor sinner, though looking up for acceptance and justification in the person and righteousness of JESUS, to stand before GOD.
(26) With the merciful thou wilt shew thyself merciful, and with the upright man thou wilt shew thyself upright. (27) With the pure thou wilt shew thyself pure; and with the froward thou wilt shew thyself unsavoury.
To a true believer in CHRIST, GOD'S righteousness is as dear and precious as his mercy, or his love; because he sees in JESUS, as the GOD-man, that righteousness fully glorified, and grace reigning through righteousness unto eternal life. So that to the pure all things are pure, Titus 1:15 .
(28) And the afflicted people thou wilt save: but thine eyes are upon the haughty, that thou mayest bring them down.
This is a sweet verse. The eyes of the LORD are to humble the proud, to raise up the afflicted. Reader! think of this in your thoughts of JESUS.
(29) For thou art my lamp, O LORD: and the LORD will lighten my darkness. (30) For by thee I have run through a troop: by my God have I leaped over a wall.
It is delightful to make improvement of JESUS upon all occasions, as the soul wants him. Amos I in distress, he will be my Comforter. Amos I in darkness, the LORD will be a light to me. Amos I shut up and cannot get out; by JESUS's arm I shall leap over the wall. Reader! depend upon it, that it is the great secret of religion to know how to use the LORD JESUS for all things, and to consider our wants, be they what they may, as only affording the better opportunity for the communication of his fulness.
(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. (32) For who is God, save the LORD? and who is a rock, save our God? (33) God is my strength and power: and he maketh my way perfect. (34) He maketh my feet like hinds' feet: and setteth me upon my high places. (35) He teacheth my hands to war; so that a bow of steel is broken by mine arms. (36) Thou hast also given me the shield of thy salvation: and thy gentleness hath made me great. (37) Thou hast enlarged my steps under me; so that my feet did not slip. (38) I have pursued mine enemies, and destroyed them; and turned not again until I had consumed them. (39) And I have consumed them, and wounded them, that they could not arise: yea, they are fallen under my feet. (40) For thou hast girded me with strength to battle: them that rose up against me hast thou subdued under me. (41) Thou hast also given me the necks of mine enemies, that I might destroy them that hate me. (42) They looked, but there was none to save; even unto the LORD, but he answered them not. (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. (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. (45) Strangers shall submit themselves unto me: as soon as they hear, they shall be obedient unto me. (46) Strangers shall fade away, and they shall be afraid out of their close places.
I beg the Reader in the perusal of these verses to keep his eye close to the mercies described, and his heart closer still to the view of David's referring all unto the will, and sovereignty, and goodness of GOD. He dwells largely on what the LORD had enabled him to do, and what the LORD had done for him. But he dwells much more largely on the LORD himself. Great things he speaks of the LORD's deliverances for him: but greater things of GOD himself, the GOD of his salvation. Reader! do not forget this. The LORD GOD in covenant engagements is forever doing great things for his people. But all this is designed to show us how infinitely more precious the LORD is himself. Carnal men will sometimes speak of GOD's works, for his providences are so plain and striking as to compel them to it. But gracious men sing of GOD himself. We may have other blessings from our GOD, and more gifts of his hand; but we never can have another JESUS. CHRIST is all and in all.
(47) The LORD liveth; and blessed be my rock; and exalted be the God of the rock of my salvation. (48) It is God that avengeth me, and that bringeth down the people under me, (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. (50) Therefore I will give thanks unto thee, O LORD, among the heathen, and I will sing praises unto thy name. (51) He is the tower of salvation for his king: and sheweth mercy to his anointed, unto David, and to his seed forevermore.
The concluding verse of this charming song becomes a key to all the rest. Here David runs the whole of divine mercies up to their source, as centered in the person of GOD's anointed. And as David was a type of CHRIST, we may here see how the whole, as a song of deliverance, is directly pointing to redemption-work from spiritual enemies, in the person, and by the conquest and victories to our LORD JESUS CHRIST. He is indeed the promised seed, the anointed, the only anointed of the FATHER, full of grace and truth. He hath already, and will finally and fully, at the great day of judgment, beat down all his foes before his face, and by the conquests of his grace in the hearts of his people he hath brought them down under him, and made them willing in the day of his power. Precious JESUS! give me, and give every Reader of thy people, to trace thy steps in the perusal of this divine chapter. GOD our FATHER hath given salvation unto thee his king, and hath given unto thee a name, which is above every name. And to thee, and thy spiritual seed in thee, the LORD will give blessings forevermore.
READER! let us not dismiss this chapter with all its precious contents from our minds, until that we have duly pondered the blessed things it contains; and as duly examined our own personal interest in them. Can you and I say with the same lively sentiments of praise and love, and gratitude, as David did, The LORD is my rock, my shield, my tower, my refuge, my Saviour. Oh! precious thought, when the soul hath a well grounded assurance of a covenant interest in JESUS.
But Reader! while we seek earnestly for these things, let us learn also from it, how all such as are called to an interest in JESUS, are called also to a fellowship and conformity in the trials of JESUS, and the persecution of enemies. Communion with our Great Head must necessarily subject every member of his mystical body to a participation in suffering. Waves of death, and floods of ungodly men, will compass us about. We wrestle with flesh, and blood, with evil angels, with ungodly men, with the rulers of the darkness of this world, with the Sauls, and, the Absaloms, and the Shimei's everywhere around. Oh! for grace to see, and faith to believe, that in GOD'S strength alone our victory must be wrought. JESUS will light our candle; JESUS himself will be our shield, our sun, our hiding place, our refuge.
But principally, in the review of this chapter, LORD give both Writer and Reader to contemplate JESUS, the Almighty David of his people, as conquering sin, death, hell, and the grave; and beating down all the foes of our salvation, which opposed the deliverance of his people. Yes! Almighty Conqueror! thou art all that is here; rehearsed, and infinitely more, to thy people! In thy complete and finished work, when thou camest forth for the salvation of thy chosen, thou didst triumph over all opposition; thou hast spoiled principalities and powers, and made a show of them openly, nailing them to thy cross. Blessed GOD! enable me to follow thee to victory, and continually to go forth in thy strength, and in thy name, making mention of thy righteousness, even thine only, saying I shall be more than conqueror through thee who has loved me.
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 22". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week of Advent