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Bible Commentaries

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments

2 Samuel 23

 

 

Verses 1-39

2 Samuel 23:1. The last words of David; that is, the last song of an expiring muse; a bright spark rekindled before it burned out. All his hope was concentrated on Christ, called by Isaiah the sure mercies of David: Isaiah 55:4. This consoled him when he saw his walk defective: and in all our troubles the Redeemer is our only hope.

2 Samuel 23:5. Although my house be not so with God. Since the reformation, several commentators, biassed by peculiar opinions, have attempted to give a gloss on this text very repugnant to the sanctity of God. They would suggest, that although David and his house, (including all his future posterity) were not pure and holy before God, as they ought to be; yet in defiance of sin, he had made with them an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things and sure. This is very extraordinary: and it ill assorts with what is proved in the notes on the second chapter of the first of Samuel, viz. that every covenant God has contracted with man, has its conditions either expressed or implied. And it is more extraordinary still to force this gloss on the texts where the readings vary so much. The Septuagint, which was the copy generally quoted by the apostles, reads, “my house is not of that account with God, that he should make with me an everlasting covenant.” This appears to be the true reading, as it best agrees with the scope of the song, which professedly magnifies grace by speaking of the obscurity of Jesse’s house: and the reading of the Septuagint here is preferred by several of the more ancient critics.

2 Samuel 23:8. These be the names of the mighty men whom David had. Both the names and the number vary here from 1 Chronicles 11., and this variation is common to the Hebrew names and chronologies. We often find that one man has two names, and that grandfathers are often called fathers; but the list here might be taken at a different time from that in the Chronicles, or that some omitted here, feeling themselves aggrieved, might afterwards get enrolled in the tablet of honour.

2 Samuel 23:20. Slew a lion. Such an action always placed a man in the list of heroes.

REFLECTIONS.

We have now followed the hero of Israel to about the seventieth year of his life, and surely few princes called to sway the sceptre in difficult times, had either more distinguished virtues or fewer faults. As to his piety and prophetic character, still making the allowance due to a king, grace and talents shone in him with a most distinguished lustre. Inspired while young to pour forth the effusions of his heart in sacred songs, the divine endowments continued to old age. But in adversity, piety and confidence sustaining his soul, his compositions possess the most impressive excellence. When pursued by Saul, and when fleeing from Absalom, he uttered the sorrows of his heart in the best of psalms; and transferring all his hopes to a full deliverance by the Messiah, he frequently paints the sufferings of the Saviour more clearly than he himself was then able to comprehend. 1 Peter 1:10; 1 Peter 1:12. This divine endowment, the glory of his youth and the guide of his life, did not forsake him in hoary age. We have here his last psalm: and whether we consider the simplicity of the ideas, the beauty of the diction, or its close connection with the past life and future hopes of this illustrious man, it is a worthy close of sacred merit. He begins by avowing the obscurity of his birth, that he might ascribe the greater glory to God; but he regards his call to the throne as a link in the chain of mercies flowing from the covenant of Jacob’s God. Learn then, oh my soul, anointed of the Lord, to make his covenant promises the basis of thy faith, the support of thy life, and the refuge and retreat of thy retiring days.

David here bears testimony to his own inspiration. “The Spirit of the Lord spake by me, and his word was on my tongue:” and the testimony of the servant is confirmed by the Master. “All things must be fulfilled,” said Jesus, “which are written of me in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms.” Hence though many things in the psalms might be written without inspiration; yet we are here taught to regard the whole as composed under a sacred influence; and something of that sacred influence is still felt by the pious soul in reading the sacred page. May our hearts ever burn within us, while those things are expounded in our ears.

The first charge which God gave to David was to be just, and to rule in the fear of the Lord. Righteousness is both the glory of God, and of a king. National justice must never sustain a blot: bribery, partiality, and party decisions must never be known there. The ministers of justice, as well as the ministers of religion, must be able to look all mankind in the face. It is equally the interest of the wicked and of the righteous, of the prince and of the poor, that perfect purity should exist in the administration of equity and justice.

If these words be applied to the Messiah, of whom the victorious kingdom of David and the peaceful reign of Solomon were types, they are most strikingly true, and everywhere illustrated in his reign and government. He arose on the world as the sun shining without a cloud; and his church being watered with the grace of pentecost, flourished under his influence, just as the grass rapidly grows after the rain, when acted upon by the solar warmth. God is as the dew unto Israel, and the people flourish as the herb. Thus also he confirms his covenant with David, and with the faithful, while all their enemies, the sons of Belial, melt away.

While David retired with songs of triumph, and with all the glory of conquest, his worthies or generals shared his fame. Riches, honour, and happiness crowned their glorious career. So those who fight the good fight of faith, and endure to the end, shall sit on thrones in the presence of their Lord. God is not unrighteous to forget their work of faith and labour of love. The little efforts we make to resemble him and to advance his glory, shall one day be crowned with the fairest honours which heaven can give.

 


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Bibliography Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 23:4". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jsc/2-samuel-23.html. 1835.

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