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Bible Commentaries

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

2 Samuel 22



Verse 2

2. Rock… fortress… place of refuge — The poet uses a profusion of metaphors in order to extol most gratefully that Divine Goodness and Power to whom he owes all his salvation. The rocks and strongholds of his native land, which sheltered and defended him so often when persecuted by Saul, furnish appropriate imagery for his song, and forcibly represent that Divine Spiritual Rock who was David’s fortress and hiding-place in his darkest times of trial.

Even mine — This addition intensifies the thought of David’s personal realization of the mercies received from his God.

Verse 3

3. God of my rock — My rock, God; that is, God, who is to me a rock of defence and security.

Horn of my salvation — An allusion to the power of those animals whose horn is their great weapon of defence. So both shield and horn represent Jehovah as the mighty Defender. Compare the imagery of Hannah’s song. 1 Samuel 2:1-2.

Verse 5

5. Breakers of death — Death stared him in the face, like an angry sea whose billows rolled around and broke close upon him.

Torrents of wickedness — He compares his wicked foes to those mountain torrents that, after a rain, rush like an avalanche down through the rocky gorges, and sweep away every thing before them.

Verse 6

6. Bands of Sheol — The dark under-world seemed to open upon him, and reach out those bands which bind and drag down mortals into its oblivion. Job 14:20-21.

Snares of death — Death, like a hunter, seemed to David to have set snares all along the path where he was to go.

Verse 8

8. Quakes and shakes — There is a similar play upon the words in the Hebrew — gaash and raash. From this verse on to 2 Samuel 22:17, the poet pictures his deliverance by the imagery of a sublime theophany drawn from the history of the scene at Sinai. Compare Exodus 19:16-21. So overwhelming was David’s subjective view of the magnitude and grandeur of his deliverance from all his foes, that in his gratitude and glory he finds no ordinary language adequate to express his emotions of triumphant joy. We are not to understand that this sublime theophany was a literal historical fact in David’s life, but rather a highly-wrought poetical picture of his many and great deliverances as they were apprehended by his soul at a moment of great spiritual exultation.

Foundations of the heavens — A stronger expression than foundation of the hills, used in the corresponding passage in Psalms 18. The ideal pillars which support the skies are supposed to move and quake when God comes down in anger to smite David’s wicked enemies.

Verse 9

9. Smoke through his nostrils — Expressive of the violent snortings, or bursts of wrath, as of the enraged war-horse.

Hot coals glowed — Flamed out in glowing brightness from Him as he sped on his path of vengeance. Compare 2 Samuel 22:13.

Verse 10

10. Bows down the heavens — Bent down the firmament so as to form a broad descending way for his coming.

Verse 11

11. Rides upon a cherub — Jehovah communed with Moses from between the two cherubim that spread their wings over the mercy-seat.

Exodus 25:22. So here he is represented as moving forth upborne on a cherub’s wing. Compare Ezekiel’s vision, where the outspread wings of the cherubim support the firmament on which rests the throne of the Divine Glory. Ezekiel 1:23; Ezekiel 1:26.

Wings of the wind — An allusion to some sweeping tempest, an element often used as the Lord’s minister of judgment. Comp. Judges 5:4, note.

Verse 12

12. Darkness… waters… clouds — All these constitute his dwelling, tent, or pavilion, when he moves forth in the dispensations of his providence. His judgments are a great deep, and founded in reasons oft hid from the minds of men.

Verse 15

15. Sends arrows — Jehovah’s arrows are the forked lightnings, as indicated in the next line of the parallelism.

Verse 16

16. Beds of the sea — Jehovah’s judgments are conceived of as so terrible and mighty as to lay bare, by earthquake and thunder, the bottom of the sea and the interior of the earth. Tristram observes that much of the imagery of this psalm may have been furnished David during his sojourn at En-gedi. 1 Samuel 23:29. There he would have recollections of the fate of Sodom, which the bitumen, and the sulphur, and the salt of the Dead Sea, would suggest. There he would often gaze upon the dark waters below, and the rent channels of the old world waters above, and an earthquake, such as these regions often experience, might have revealed to his eye the beds of the dark sea and the foundations of the mountains.

Verse 17

17. Sends from the height — Or, reaches forth his hand from the lofty seat above the clouds, where his Majesty is represented as appearing.

Great waters — Those billows of death and torrents of wickedness by which, according to 2 Samuel 22:5, he was surrounded.

Verse 18

18. Strong enemy… haters — Not only Saul, but all those bitter enemies that first and last hated the soul of David, (2 Samuel 5:8, note,) not at all excepting Goliath.

Mightier than I — David never gloried in personal strength, but trusted in the God who in early life delivered him from the lion and the bear.

Verse 19

19. Day of my misfortune — While he was a fugitive and an outlaw, and also afterwards, when rebellion broke out in his own family.

Verse 21

21. My righteousness — “The righteousness and cleanness of hands, that is, the innocence, which David attributed to himself, were not perfect righteousness or holiness before God, but the righteousness of his endeavors and deeds as contrasted with the unrighteousness and wickedness of his adversaries and pursuers, and consisted in the fact that he endeavored earnestly and sincerely to walk in the ways of God, and to keep the divine commandments.” — Keil.

Verse 22

22. Ways of Jehovah — The ways of truth and duty which Jehovah has marked out. To attend to these ways is to walk in them.

Not wickedly departed — Foully apostatised. He does not mean that he had never sinned, but that he had never wilfully rejected and turned away from the divine service.

Verse 23

23. His judgments — His decisions and dispensations, that showed his views of right and wrong.

Statutes — The established laws and usages of his covenant with Israel.

Verse 24

24. Upright towards him — Correct and true in my relations to him.

My iniquity — The iniquity into which I am ever prone to run. These words show that David does not utter these professions of innocence as a claim of absolute purity and perfection, for the expression, my iniquity, indicates a consciousness of human infirmity. The righteousness and innocence which he here and elsewhere pleads have reference to his deportment towards his enemies, and his observance of the religious ordinances of Israel. The testimony of sacred history is, that “David did that which was right in the eyes of the Lord, and turned not aside from any thing that he commanded him all the days of his life, save only in the matter of Uriah the Hittite.” 1 Kings 15:5; see note. That matter of Uriah, and other sins of David’s life, affected not the righteousness of his deportment towards his foes, nor his habitual observance of the statutes of the Lord; and as his object in this triumphal Psalm is to praise God for his deliverance from all his enemies, it was in keeping with his purpose not to speak of his own private sins, but to show the righteousness of his cause, and his integrity in all his conflicts with enemies. To make these things prominent served both to honour David and magnify Jehovah.

Verse 26

26. With the kind thou… kind — The statements of 2 Samuel 22:26-28 are an expansion of the proposition of 2 Samuel 22:25, that God rewards men according to their righteousness.

Verse 28

28. People of affliction — Families or nations bowed down under oppression or beset with foes.

Verse 29

29. For — This connective serves here to explain more fully how the preceding propositions (2 Samuel 22:25-28) were true in David’s case.

Verse 30

30. Run a troop גדוד, a band of warriors. The allusion is to forcing one’s way through a hostile army. The thought may be either that, being surrounded by hostile troops, he runs through them and escapes, or that, being himself the attacking party, he forces his way, and runs triumphantly into and through the ranks of the foe.

Leap a wall — Mount fortifications and bulwarks, so as to take the enemies’ defences by storm.

Verse 31

31. The Almighty — He who thus helps David is not a heathen divinity, but emphatically the Almighty God, whose ways are absolutely perfect.

Pure — The Hebrew word is used of the smelting and refining of metals in the furnaces. Thus the word of God is pure, having been tried by David and others in many a fiery ordeal.

Verse 34

34. Like the hinds — Nimble and swift. This was a great accomplishment to a warrior.

My heights — Mine both by divine gift and by right of conquest, so that on them I now stand in triumph and in safety.

Verse 36

36. Shield of thy salvation — The protection and defence which salvation from God affords.

Thy condescension — Thy clemency and self-humiliation in deigning to notice me so much. Such favour openly bestowed makes me great in the sight of all men.

Verse 37

37. Broad my steps — A broad way for my steps, so that I have ample room for walking without danger.

Verse 38

38. I pursue… destroy — These verbs are in the future tense in the Hebrew, but we translate them in the present tense as designating not so much what David expects or threatens to do, as the confident assurance of what he is now able to do by the help of God.

Verse 41

41. Causest to give me the back — The word rendered back means properly the back of the neck. The meaning is, that God had made David’s foes turn their backs to him and fly. Compare a parallel expression in Exodus 23:27. In all this passage it is noticeable how devoutly David ascribes all his successes and victories to God.

Verse 44

44. Feuds of my people — Such as the rebellions of Absalom and Sheba.

Head of the nations — David was the mightiest conqueror and king of his age.

People I do not know — Of whom Toi, king of Hamath, and his people were an example. 2 Samuel 8:10.

Verse 45

45. Sons of the stranger — People of foreign parts. Alexander renders, “the sons of outland.”

Fawn upon me — Cringingly, but with deceptive hearts, they pretend submission.

At the hearing of the ear — At the thrilling report of David’s victories.

Verse 46

46. Fall away — Wither and fade away like decaying leaves.

Verse 48

48. Gives vengeance to me — Executes merited punishment on my enemies. Thus to Jehovah belongs vengeance. Deuteronomy 32:35; Romans 12:19.

Verse 49

49. Man of violence — A special allusion to Saul, but including all his savage foes.


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Bibliography Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 22:4". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". 1874-1909.

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