2 Samuel 22 and 23: David

2 Samuel 22‑23  •  5 min. read  •  grade level: 9
The Spirit of God has put these two chapters together in a remarkable manner. Certainly such a conjunction is not after the manner of men. Chapter 22 consists, as is well known, of portions substantially given again in the book of Psalms. Thus Psalm 18 is made here more striking because it is put along with the last words, as they are called, of David, in chapter 23.
Now a comparison of these two will reward every spiritual mind. For what is the distinctive point of chapter 22? The identification of Israel's history with David as the type of the Messiah. Nothing can be more striking to any person that would patiently and intelligently meditate on the chapter, than the remarkable way in which the grand events of the history of Israel—their deliverance f r o m Egypt, their being brought through the Red Sea, the defeat of their enemies—are all blended with the Messiah, first entering into the sorrows and troubles of the people, then brought out of them at last to be their deliverer, the head not only of Israel but of the Gentiles. Here therefore we find a course of sorrow and of suffering that ends in joy and triumph.
How different is the character of chapter 23! "These be the last words of David. David the son of Jesse said, and the man who was raised up on high, the anointed of the God of Jacob, and the sweet psalmist of Israel, said, The Spirit of the LORD spake by me, and His word was in my tongue. The God of Israel said, the Rock of Israel spake to me, He that ruleth over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God. And he shall be as the light of the morning, when the sun riseth, even a morning without clouds [the anticipation of the day of Jehovah Himself]; as the tender grass springing out of the earth by clear shining after rain. Although my house be not so with God; yet He hath made with me an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things, and sure: for this is all my salvation, and all my desire, although He make it not to grow."
Thus we find two things- the bright expectation of the kingdom, with the solemn sense that the time was not yet come. No man felt it more than David. The fact that God put into his mouth the anticipations of the Messiah that he himself knew that he in a striking manner (the most so of any man up to that day) was made the progenitor and type of the Messiah—this very fact made his own shortcomings, errors, and sins more poignantly felt. Well he knew that those failures of himself were darkly shadowed out, and retributively brought to mind, in the grief and shame and dishonor of his house. Thus we find a double current in the heart of David—his faith bright and undimmed in the joy that was coming with the true king who would surely sit upon his throne; but meanwhile his was the softened spirit, the broken and the contrite heart of a man that knew what moral humiliation means as regarded himself and all his house. What in David could be more lovely in itself, or more suited to the actual state of things, than these two facts, both made true in his soul?
And should it not be the very same thing with us now?
Is it not important to see that the sense of our failure, as well as of what we are, is never meant to interfere with the brightness of our confidence in the Lord? Conscience must be exercised unhinderedly, and so must faith also. Grace provides for both in the believer's heart. It is excellent thus to look onward, the eye filled with the glory of the Lord Jesus, and the heart resting on His grace. But there should be the unsparing judgment of ourselves in the light, and consequently due and suited confession. Where this is, there will be the lowliness that becomes men who have no standing place but in grace. God forbid that this should be wanting in any Christian. It is hard to preserve the balance of truth, but at least it is well to desire it. Let us beware of having the appearance of one-sidedness. To be cast down with the constant sense we shame because of what we are, to hang our heads as bulrushes, is a poor testimony to the love of Christ, and to the victory God gives us through Him. But it is a worse state where the recognition of His grace is misused to enfeeble conscience and destroy sensibility as to sin, above all as to our own sins.
It is well that we should know that the path of faith is far removed from either of these two things. For we are entitled to enjoy the brightness of what Christ is and has done for us; but there is also the unfailing and never-to-be-forgotten sense of what it cost Him so to suffer for us.
David then anticipated the two things as perhaps no Old Testament saint, as far as I am aware, up to that day had ever done. It is evident too that, as he began with a very simple confidence in the Lord, so he went through a most heartbreaking process in his experience.
The kingdom is before him here. He sees clearly the judgment of the wicked. "The sons of Belial," as he says, "shall be all of them as thorns thrust away, because they cannot be taken with hands: but the man that shall touch them must be fenced with iron and the staff of a spear; and they shall be utterly burned with fire in the same place." This will never be till Jesus executes the judgment.