April 12 Reading: II Samuel 22-24 Commentary
“The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; the God of my strength, in whom I will trust; my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold and my refuge; my Savior, You save me from violence. I will call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised; so shall I be saved from my enemies.” (II Sam. 22:1-4)
II Samuel 22 – David’s Song of Praise
II Samuel 22 is a song of praise David offered to the Lord when he was delivered from all his enemies and the hand of King Saul (v. 1). It is recorded again in Psalm 18 with some variations. The lengthy poem is divided into several movements. The one commentary analyzes the segments this way:
1. “A statement of faith and a description of deliverance (vv. 1-6).
2. A poetic description of God’s battle for David’s deliverance (vv. 7-19).
3. A recital of the blessings of God on the righteous (vv. 20-27).
4. An offering of praise to the person of the Lord (vv. 28-36).
5. A recounting of battles and victories in the Lord (vv. 27-45).
6. Concluding praise for God’s work of deliverance (vv. 46-50).” (Thomas Nelson Study Bible, NKJV, 1997)
While David makes many powerful statements within the song, the essence of it’s theme is summed up in David’s opening statement:
“The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; the God of my strength, in whom I will trust; my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold and my refuge; my Savior, You save me from violence. I will call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised; so shall I be saved from my enemies.” (vv. 1-4)
Also noteworthy are verses 21-25 where David claims to “have kept the ways of the Lord” and had “not wickedly departed from my God” (v. 22). Of course, we know David sinned. But he repented of those sins and was forgiven by the Lord. He experienced the mercy of God (v. 26) and looked to the Lord as his “lamp” (v. 29).
II Samuel 23 – David’s Mighty Men
A listing of David’s valiant fighting men is given in II Samuel 23. The list and deeds of the men are listed again in I Chronicles 11:10-47. Of these, three attained to a higher level of notoriety than the others:
1. Josheb-Basshebeth, chief among the captains. People called him Adino the Eznite because he killed 800 men at one time (v. 8).
2. Eleazar. “He arose and attacked the Philistines until his hand was weary, and his hand stuck to the sword. The Lord brought about a great victory that day; and the people returned after him only to plunder” (v. 9-10).
3. Shammah. He fought the Philistines who “had gathered together into a troop where there was a piece of ground full of lentils. So the people fled from the Philistines. But he stationed himself in the middle of the field, defended it, and killed the Philistines” (v. 11-12).
These three men even risked their lives to get him some water from a special place just because he had asked for it (vv. 13-17).
The names of several others are mentioned who did great deeds but “did not attain to the first three” (v. 19). Abishai, the brother of Joab, “lifted his spear against 300 men, [and] killed them” (v. 18).
Also, Benaiah, son of Jehoiada, “…killed two lion-like heroes of Moab. He also had gone down and killed a lion in the midst of a pit on a snowy day. And he killed an Egyptian, a spectacular man. The Egyptian had a spear in his hand; so he went down to him with a staff, wrested the spear out of the Egyptian’s hand, and killed him with his own spear “ (vv. 20-21).
Finally, the rest of David’s fighting men are listed (vv. 24-39). Those noted include Uriah the Hittite, the husband of Bathsheba (see II Sam. 11-12).
II Samuel 24 -David Takes a Census
There are many things that make King David a likeable Bible character. One of them oddly enough is his sensitivity to the sin he committed. David wasn’t a perfect man, and once again committed a notable sin in Chap.24. For some reason, he decided to “number Israel and Judah” (v. 1).
Under normal circumstances, this would have been fine. In fact, God commanded Moses on two occasions to number the people (see Num. 1 and Num. 26). So this must have been considered a sin because, a) God did not command it, b) David was prideful in the kingdom he had built and/or, c) David had some ulterior motive for numbering his military men.
David’s commander Joab saw the error in this task. He said to David, “Now may the Lord your God add to the people a hundred times more than there are, and may the eyes of my lord the king see it. But why does my lord the king desire this thing?” (v. 3). But despite Joab’s objections, David’s word prevailed.
So Joab and his men went throughout all Israel and counted the men. After 9 months and 20 days, they returned to Jerusalem with the numbers. Israel’s count was 800,000 men and Judah’s count was 500,000 men who could draw a sword.
Judgment for David’s Sin
When David heard the numbers, something triggered his heart. He said, “I have sinned greatly in what I have done; but now, I pray, O Lord, take away the iniquity of Your servant, for I have done very foolishly.” (v. 10).
The next morning, the prophet Gad who was David’s seer, came to him. Gad told him the Lord offered him a choice of punishments for his sin. David could either:
1. Have the nation endure 7 years of famine.
2. Flee from his enemies for three months.
3. Endure a 3-day plague in the land (v. 13).
David chose to “fall into the hand of the Lord” instead of into the hands of man. He felt that ultimately, the Lord would show him and the nation mercy (v. 14). So that would be either choice one or choice three.
Although the text doesn’t specifically say, David must have chosen option three. Verse 15 tells us the Lord sent a plague for the appointed time and 70,000 men died. This plague was carried out by an angel, who the Lord stopped just as he was about to stretch out his hand to strike Jerusalem (v. 16). The “angel of the Lord was by the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite” (one of the original inhabitants of Jerusalem – see II Chron. 3:1) when the plague stopped.
An Altar of Repentance
David admitted his guilt and pleaded with the Lord to hold him accountable for his actions (v. 17). This once again shows David’s sensitivity to his own shortcomings.
Gad came a second time to David and told him to go “…erect an altar to the Lord on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite”, the very place where the Lord had stopped the plague (v. 18).
When Araunah saw David coming, he went and bowed down to the king (v. 20). When he found out what David wanted, Araunah offered to give the king anything he needed for the sacrifice (vv. 22-24). But David insisted that he buy what he needed saying, “…I will surely buy it from you for a price; nor will I offer burnt offerings to the Lord my God with that which costs me nothing” (v. 24).
So when David had offered the sacrifice, “the Lord heeded the prayers for the land, and the plague was withdrawn from Israel” (v. 25).
Questions to Consider:
“For you are my lamp, O Lord, and my God lightens my darkness. For by you I can run against a troop, and by my God I can leap over a wall. This God – his way is perfect…” – II Samuel 22:29-31
What barriers are you facing? What darkness looms as a shadow over your world? Whatever the impossible situation you are facing, there is hope, light, direction and strength that can be found in the Lord. His way is perfect. Let go and let him see you through.
What do you want your legacy to be? David’s thirty mighty men had their names written down for all history to remember because of their exploits for the kingdom and for the Lord (II Sam. 23). How will future generations remember you? Do you need to change something so that your name is remembered in a positive way?
What other points would you want to know about in our II Samuel 22-24 commentary? Email us here with questions or comments.