Read the Passage: 2 Samuel 22
Plea of David (22:1–16)
It is likely that not all the events recorded in the final chapters of the book of 2 Samuel happened chronologically at the end of David’s life. Yet, the psalm recorded in chapter 22 was surely composed by David near the end of his life, as he reflected upon God’s lifelong faithfulness to him. This song is also recorded at Psalm 18. Note that 2 Sam. 22:1, as well as the superscript of Psalm 18, indicates this song was written when God delivered David “from the hand of all his enemies and from the hand of Saul.” David begins this song by declaring his trust in God to deliver him from his enemies (cf. 2 Sam. 22:2–4). Following this, in retrospect, David recalls the utter hopelessness of his situation, which led him to cry out to God and to plead for deliverance. Note David’s distressing language here, as he refers to: waves of death, floods of ungodliness, sorrows of Sheol, and snares of death.
In 2 Sam. 22:8–16 David describes God’s arrival in order to answer his plea for deliverance. This passage is both historical, as it recounts God’s real past deliverance of David from his enemies, as well as prophetic, as it describes God’s future arrival on the earth to judge His foes. In this passage David writes of God’s majesty and anger as he mentions the earth shaking, the heavens quaking, dark waters and thick clouds in the skies, thunder from heaven, and divine lightning bolts vanquishing God’s enemies. Such language is reminiscent of God’s arrival on Mt. Sinai (cf. Exod. 19:16–20), Ezekiel’s later description of the arrival of God presence (cf. Ezek. 1:4–28), Habakkuk’s description of God’s coming in judgment (cf. Hab. 3:3–16), and Jesus’ teaching about the end-times, which includes His second coming to judge the earth (cf. Matt. 24:27–31).
Deliverance of God (22:17–28)
Whereas David had described God’s arrival in 2 Sam. 22:8–16, in 2 Sam. 22:17–20 David recounts God’s personal deliverance. It is important to note that in this passage David does not say that God delivered him from his trials, but that God delivered him within his trials. To be sure, following God and obeying His Word will keep believers from some trials to a degree; however, it will create others. God promises to deliver Christians within our trials, not from all trials (cf. Ps. 50:15). In 2 Sam. 22:21–28 David’s character is described, as he presents it as a rationale for God’s deliverance. In these verses David is not claiming that God delivered him because of his righteousness, as if David’s law-keeping put God into his debt. Rather, in this passage David describes the character of one who has been redeemed by God and David gives details about God’s care for His children (cf. 1 Pet. 5:7).
Details of Praise (22:29–51)
In the last half of his psalm of deliverance, in 2 Sam. 22:29–46 David discloses some details about God’s deliverance of him. In 2 Sam. 22:29–31 David writes that God and His Word are a source of light—that is, they help man to accurately see all things. Next, in 2 Sam. 22:32–37 David writes that God had practically empowered him for victory over his enemies, even writing, “He teaches my hands to make war” (2 Sam. 22:35). This is the idea that God will cause the way of the upright to flourish, as is defined by God. In 2 Sam. 22:38–46 David writes that not only did God deliver him from the oppression of his enemies, but also God gave David victory over his enemies. Indeed, David writes of complete victory over his enemies, as he notes that they have been destroyed, subdued, given over, and beaten. The picture is one of warfare, but it relates to all area of life.
In the final five verses of this chapter David concludes his psalm by praising God for His deliverance. Note that by way of structure of the books of 1–2 Samuel, the author begins with a psalm of praise—that is, Hannah’s prayer in 1 Sam. 2:1–10, and ends with a psalm of praise—that is, David’s song of deliverance in 2 Sam. 22:2–51. By way of comparison, note the similar elements between both psalms. Here in 2 Sam. 22:47–50 David recaps God’s deliverance of him, as he writes of his intent to declare God’s praise before all peoples. 2 Sam. 22:51 is a significant conclusion to this psalm, for here David writes that God “shows mercy to His anointed, to David and his descendants forevermore.” This statement shows that David understood he was in a covenant with God (cf. 2 Sam. 7), and recognized that this was the basis for God’s deliverance, not his own effort or works.
- How important is it that we offer praise to God for His work in our lives? Do you often take time to praise God for things such as answered prayer and common graces?
- Is it helpful for you to realize that, like us, biblical figures such as David experienced trials and seemingly hopeless situations?
- What does the writer of Hebrews mean when he writes, “For our God is a consuming fire” (Heb. 12:29)? Like David, can you testify that God has delivered you?
- When you ask God for deliverance, are you prone to justify your request based upon external acts of righteous or upon the internal reality of a relationship?
- In Ps. 37:25 David says, “I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread.” Does this mean that God always delivers his people?