Friday, October 15, 2021

2021.10.15 Hopewell @Home ▫ 2 Samuel 23:1–7

Read 2 Samuel 23:1–7

Questions from the Scripture text: What words are these (2 Samuel 23:1a)? Whose son is he (verse 1b)? What was done to him (verse 1c)? What does verse 1d call him? Verse 1e? Who has spoken by him (2 Samuel 23:2a)? Whose word (verse 2b)? By what mechanism? Who is the Spirit called in 2 Samuel 23:3a? And in verse 3b? What does He say about whom in verse 3c? How does this just ruling occur (verse 3d)? To what three things does 2 Samuel 23:4 compare such a ruler? What does David say about his (his house’s) worthiness (2 Samuel 23:5a)? But what has God done anyway (verse 5b)? What is this covenant like (verse 5c)? How has David come to think of this covenant (verse 5d)? Who will make it effective (verse 5e)? What does 2 Samuel 23:6 call those who are against David? How can’t they be removed? Why not? So how must they be removed (2 Samuel 23:7)? And what will happen to these “thorns” (cf. Ecclesiastes 7:6; Isaiah 9:18, Isaiah 33:12) when this is done?

We’re coming down to the wire in 2 Samuel, with just a couple key passages after this one, but this one introduces itself as “the last words of David.” It starts in the present, with roughly a third of the passage spent on the glory of this particular revelation through David in 2 Samuel 23:1-3b. It looks forward to the future, with the next third of it spent especially upon the coming reign of Christ in 2 Samuel 23:3–5. Then, it looks all the way to the end, with the final third of it spent on God’s perfect revenge, 2 Samuel 23:6-7.

God’s glorious revelation, 2 Samuel 23:1-3b. The text could have skipped from verse 1a all the way to verse 3c: “Now these are the last words of David… He who rules over men must be just…” It is already a very solemn statement: the dying words of one of the greatest mere men ever to have walked the earth. But there are six more “saying introduction” formulae, with two additional identifications of who David is. 

Where our translation reads, “says David” and “says the man,” the word is actually a noun, “the utterance of…” (or “the oracle of…”), which is a common formula introducing a prophecy in the Old Testament. The other four formulae speak directly of divine inspiration:

  • The Spirit of Yahweh spoke by me. The Spirit is a Person who talks. And one of the ways that He talks is by use of a prophet.
  • His word was on my tongue. This gives us an even clearer picture of one of the mechanisms of divine inspiration. The tongue is David’s, but the words are God’s. Most famously,  2 Timothy 3:16 says all Scripture is God-breathed. This is what we mean, when we call the doctrine “plenary verbal inspiration.” Full/every—word—breathed by God.
  • The God of Israel said
  • The Rock of Israel spoke to me. David is not only the deliverer of these words but a recipient.

The end of 2 Samuel 23:1 gives us two additional descriptions of David. Not only did God raise him up, but has given him the title “anointed” (anglicized from the Hebrew as “Messiah,” and from the Greek as “Christ”). David is a type (forward-looking picture) of the antitypical (the true One to Whom the type looks forward) Christ. God does this not merely for David, but for Jacob, for Israel—for the people whom He has brought into covenant with Himself. 

The second description is that David is “the singer of Israel’s songs” (the sweet psalmist of Israel, 2 Samuel 23:1e). Yes, he had the privilege of providing much of the material for the building of that earthly temple that anticipated Christ as God’s dwelling with man. But, he had the even greater privilege of producing a preponderance of those songs by which Israel (old and new) would sing about Christ and sing in union with Christ. What a glory to have God’s words, by God’s anointed, even for the singing of God’s songs!

God’s glorious reign2 Samuel 23:3-5. David here is describing the justness (2 Samuel 23:3c) and godliness (verse 3d) of the ideal king. And the people thrive under such a king. His reign is like a sunrise that gives light and joy and renewal (2 Samuel 23:4a–b). His reign is like the newly invigorated life and freshness brought by a good rain (verse 4c–d, a great blessing indeed in an arid climate that depended so much on those seasonal rains to finally come).

But David is not like some earthly potentate declaring the greatness of his past reign as he prepares to go the way of all the earth and leave his kingdom in less capable hands. In fact, he doesn’t see his hands as like that, or those of his descendants (household, 2 Samuel 23:5a). As much of the rest of the Old Testament will show, David’s line will be full of inadequate saints as well as exceeding scoundrels. 

How then will such a good reign ever come? Because God has made an everlasting covenant with David (2 Samuel 23:5b). David already knows the identity of the forever-king promised in 2 Samuel 7. He will be the king that comes not as David’s way of saving God’s people, but as God’s faithfully promised (verse 5b) and carefully planned (verse 5c) way of saving David (verse 5d). The great kingdom is not ending with David; rather it will grow divinely with Christ (verse 5e).

We would be silly and shortsighted if we thought, “how glorious it would have been to be one of David’s subjects!” No, at the end of his life, David was thinking, “how glorious it will be to be one of Jesus’s subjects!” And now we who believe in Him are enjoying that glory.

God’s glorious revenge2 Samuel 23:6-7.  But not all belong to Christ through faith, and not all rejoice at His kingship. There are those rebellious ones that Psalm 2 describes, who resist the Lord and His Christ. They are indeed thorny (2 Samuel 23:6a). Who can handle them (2 Samuel 23:6-7)? In many ages, including our own, this has been one of the great questions of God’s people. Foundations are destroyed; what can the righteous try (cf. Psalm 11:3)? God can handle them (2 Samuel 23:7b) and will handle them: the thornier they are, the hotter they burn (verse 7c)!

One of David’s great achievements was finally bringing down the Philistines and all Israel’s enemies (cf. 2 Samuel 3:18). This was such a great part of what it meant to be God’s great, anointed king that other than the account of how the temple site came to be selected (chapter 24), the only material that appears after these “last words” is the listing and achievements of the mighty men against the enemies of God and His people (2 Samuel 23:8-39). Some of these enemies would resurge. Others would arise. God’s vengeance through David was not final. 

Not so with great David’s greater Son. “When the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire He will take vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, when He comes, in that Day, to be glorified in His saints and to be admired among all those who believe” (2 Thessalonians 1:7–10). Or, in the words of 2 Samuel 23:7, “they shall be utterly burned with fire in their place.” How frightful is God’s glorious revenge—a terror to His enemies and consolation to His people!

Whose words are this Scripture passage, and all other passages of Scripture? What difference does that make for their authority? Their effectiveness? The greatness of the privilege of having them? Of what good things can you be sure, with Christ as your King? What great work of Christ in the last day can give you consolation when suffering under His enemies in the present day?

Sample prayer:  Our glorious, Triune God, You have given Your Son to be our glorious, messianic King. We praise You for the Word by which You declare Him to us, the perfection in which He rules over us, and the power with which He will avenge us! Forgive us for when we take Your Word lightly. Forgive us for when we fail to draw light and life from having Christ as our King. Forgive us for when we despair at the seeming successes of those who rebel against You. But, by this Your powerful Word, grant that Your Spirit would stir up our faith, which we ask in Your Name, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP11 “My Trust Is in the Lord” or TPH374 “All Hail the Power of Jesus’s Name”

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