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20. David’s Song of Salvation (2 Samuel 22)

Introduction

As I approach the two psalms of David in 2 Samuel 22 (all) and 23 (verses 1-7), I am reminded of our dear family friends, Karl and Martha Lind. Karl is now in his 80's, suffering from heart and kidney failure and under hospice care. He is courageously dealing with his illness and awaiting his heavenly homecoming. My memories of Karl go back a long way, and some are vivid. When my wife Jeannette and I were married, we had very little money, and so by the fourth day of our honeymoon, we were spending the night in the guest room of the Lind's home. The next morning, Karl and Martha had prepared a lovely breakfast, and one of their sons, John, was given the task of announcing breakfast over the intercom. “Breakfast will be served in the dining room in five minutes,” John said, with all the formality he could muster as a teenager. Seconds later, before the intercom switch was released, there was a terrible crash as though every dish in the cupboard had broken to bits, followed by Karl's voice, “John!”

Karl is an excellent cook. In describing the way a less-than-expert cook went about his task, Karl summed it up this way: “When it's smokin', it's cookin'; when it's burnt, it's done.” A number of years ago Karl's pastor spoke on stewardship, and afterwards stood at the back door shaking hands with the people. As Karl approached him, the pastor (I'll call him “Chuck” to save embarrassment to anyone) looked expectantly, hoping Karl could give him a favorable report regarding his sermon. Never one to pull punches, Karl looked “Chuck” in the eye and commented, “Chuck, the way I look at it, your sermons cost me 25 bucks a crack. Frankly, Chuck, you and I both know they're not worth it.” That's Karl, our dear friend of many years.

Karl played a significant role in another of my childhood memories, the founding of a church in Auburn, Washington. My parents, along with Karl and Martha Lind and a number of others, were privileged to have a part in the founding of what was then called “Bible Baptist Church.” As a young boy in his pre-teens, I can vividly remember meeting in a funeral parlor (during church I looked around, wondering where they put the bodies),104 then a grange hall, and finally a converted theater, which became our first church building. With the strength God is giving Karl in what appears to be the closing chapter of his life, Karl has set out to record his recollection of the early days of the Bible Baptist Church of Auburn. At the end of his life, he is looking back, tracing the hand of God in earlier days.

That is what King David does in the two psalms at the close of 2 Samuel. Second Samuel 22 records David's reflections, penned at the outset of his reign as Israel's king.105 The first seven verses of chapter 23 are a second psalm; this one is perhaps David's last psalm. We are told that this inspired reflection at the end of his reign as Israel's king contains some of his last words as Israel's king. Together, these two psalms of David give us his inspired appraisal of the hand of God in his life as the King of Israel, from the outset of that reign to its closing days.

As I have already said -- and as you can see from most translations -- the words of reflection in our text are Hebrew poetry, two psalms if you would. In fact, 2 Samuel 22 is virtually identical with Psalm 18, with very minor variations. These psalms of David are songs. Second Samuel 22 is actually the longest of David’s psalms.106 In form and content, they are not new or unique, but follow in the tradition of earlier psalms.107 Some of these are:

  • Song of Israel by the sea (Exodus 15:1-18)
  • Song of Moses (Deuteronomy 32:1-43)
  • Song of Deborah (Judges 5)
  • Song of Hannah (1 Samuel 2:1-10)
  • Song of David (2 Samuel 22; Psalm 18)
  • Song of Habakkuk (Habakkuk 3:1-19)

Even a cursory reading of the songs above will demonstrate a resemblance with David's psalm, which is the subject of our study. In our text, the psalm is included as a part of a historical narrative.108 In the Book of Psalms (as Psalm 18), this same song is employed as a pattern for Israel's worship, a pattern which is as profitable to us as it was to the Israelites of old. It is here for us to sing (it may need to be set to music, since the melody is lost to us), to learn from, and to proclaim in worship.109 In 2 Samuel 23:1-2, we are reminded that these psalms are written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. They are to be taken very seriously, not only by the ancient reader, but by us as well.

A Summation of the Psalm

Usually a psalm is viewed as the distillation or condensation of a more complex set of truths or statements. I would not contest this, but I would point out that a psalm can also work the other way. Sometimes a psalm is the expansion of a simple thought, by way of parallelism and repetition. For example, David could have simply told us that God is our refuge, but instead, he employs the imagery of eight different terms to describe God in verses 2 and 3. The message of chapter 22 is really quite simple and can be reduced to a few sentences. I will attempt to do this in order to make the message of the psalm evident, and then to appreciate this message, we will give the verses more consideration.

1-3

I praise God because He is the One who keeps me safe.

4-20

When I call on Him, He rescues me. I was in a lot of trouble; I called on God, and He heard me, and saved me.

21-29

God saved me because of my righteousness.

30-46

God saved me by giving me the strength to fight and to prevail over my enemies.

47-50

Praise God!

51

God save(s) the king, His King, His anointed one.

Our Approach in This Lesson

As I was studying this text of Scripture, I looked at some sermons on this passage available on the Internet published by Peninsula Bible Church in California. Usually the sermons on this site are about half as long as mine. (Maybe this is because it takes me twice as long to say the same thing.) When I came to the lessons on Psalm 18, I believe this passage had been divided so that it took about six lessons to expound this psalm. And to think I am going to deal with it in one lesson! In this lesson, our main task is to expound the main thrust of the psalm, while avoiding many of the details, as profitable as they might be. I will attempt to follow the flow of David's thought to see what conclusions the inspired author/king draws for us.

The Message of the Psalm--David's Deliverer
(22:1-3)

1 And David spoke the words of this song to the LORD in the day that the LORD delivered him from the hand of all his enemies and from the hand of Saul. 2 He said, “The LORD is my rock and my fortress110 and my deliverer; 3 My God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold and my refuge; My savior, You save me from violence.

In the first verse of the psalm, we are given the historical background for this song of David. This psalm was written by David after God delivered him from the hand of his enemies and from the hand of Saul. It would seem then that the psalm was written shortly after Saul's death and at the outset of David's reign as king. David now occupies the throne, and from this vantage point, he reflects on God's gracious dealings in his life to fulfill His promise that he would be Israel's king.

The actual psalm begins with David's praise to God for who He is -- his refuge. Employing a handful of symbols, David speaks of God as his place of safety. He is David's rock (or lofty crag, v. 2). No doubt David had spent much of his time standing upon such crags, looking down from the lofty heights, knowing that he was virtually inaccessible to his enemies. God is David's “fortress” and his “stronghold.” He is David's “shield,” and the “horn of his salvation.” These are not mere images; these are the very means God employed to save David's life from the hand of his enemies. And now, David urges us to look behind these means which God employed to God Himself. It is God who delivers; it is He who is our protector and deliverer. He is our place of safety.

David's Danger, His Cry for Help, and His Deliverance
(22: 4-20)

4 “I call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised, And I am saved from my enemies. 5 “For the waves of death encompassed me; The torrents of destruction overwhelmed me; 6 The cords of Sheol surrounded me; The snares of death confronted me. 7 “In my distress I called upon the LORD, Yes, I cried to my God; And from His temple He heard my voice, And my cry for help came into His ears. 8 “Then the earth shook and quaked, The foundations of heaven were trembling And were shaken, because He was angry. 9 “Smoke went up out of His nostrils, Fire from His mouth devoured; Coals were kindled by it. 10 “He bowed the heavens also, and came down With thick darkness under His feet. 11 “And He rode on a cherub and flew; And He appeared on the wings of the wind. 12 “And He made darkness canopies around Him, A mass of waters, thick clouds of the sky. 13 “From the brightness before Him Coals of fire were kindled. 14 “The LORD thundered from heaven, And the Most High uttered His voice. 15 “And He sent out arrows, and scattered them, Lightning, and routed them. 16 “Then the channels of the sea appeared, The foundations of the world were laid bare By the rebuke of the LORD, At the blast of the breath of His nostrils. 17 “He sent from on high, He took me; He drew me out of many waters. 18 “He delivered me from my strong enemy, From those who hated me, for they were too strong for me. 19 “They confronted me in the day of my calamity, But the LORD was my support. 20 “He also brought me forth into a broad place; He rescued me, because He delighted in me.

Verse 4 sets down a principle, based upon the truth that God is David's refuge (verses 2-3), and demonstrated in God's various acts of deliverance (verses 5-20). In verse 4, David does not merely say, “I called upon the Lord . . . and He saved me.” He says, in effect, “Whenever I call upon the Lord for deliverance, He saves me.” He then goes on to describe in dramatic imagery the danger he was in (verses 5-6), and the deliverance God brought about (verses 8-20) in response to his cry for help (verse 7).

David employs the imagery of dangerous waters to describe the way his life was being threatened by his enemies. First, he describes himself as a man who is drowning in rough seas, not unlike Jonah.111 Then, the imagery changes from drowning in rough seas to being swept away by floodwaters (verse 5). He describes how close he is in terms of the cords of Sheol (or the grave; KJV renders “hell”) wrapping themselves about him, and the snares of death confronting him (verse 6). With his last breath, or on his third time going under as it were, David tells us he calls out to God for deliverance, and from His dwelling place, God hears his cry (verse 7).

David then describes his rescue by God in the imagery of a theophany (a manifestation of God to man). In many ways, David's imagery recalls the language of God's appearance at Mount Sinai when He gave the law through Moses:

16 So it came about on the third day, when it was morning, that there were thunder and lightning flashes and a thick cloud upon the mountain and a very loud trumpet sound, so that all the people who were in the camp trembled. 17 And Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain. 18 Now Mount Sinai was all in smoke because the LORD descended upon it in fire; and its smoke ascended like the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mountain quaked violently. 19 When the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder, Moses spoke and God answered him with thunder (Exodus 19:16-19).

It is also similar to words found in Deborah's “song:”

4 “LORD, when You went out from Seir, When You marched from the field of Edom, The earth quaked, the heavens also dripped, Even the clouds dripped water. 5 “The mountains quaked at the presence of the LORD, This Sinai, at the presence of the LORD, the God of Israel (Judges 5:4-5; see also Psalm 68:8; Habakkuk 3:3-15).

David called to God for deliverance, and God responded in a way that signaled His sovereignty over all creation. When God heard David's cry, He responded, as evidenced by all of His creation. God is angered by the enemies who have endangered His anointed king, and all of creation reflects God's anger. This is not just a description of a God who is eager to save His king, but a God who is intent upon destroying the enemies who threaten His king.

The first indication of divine intervention is that of an earthquake. The entire earth shook and quaked (verse 8). Smoke proceeds from the nostrils of God, and fire from his mouth consumes anything in its path. Coals of fire are kindled by it (verse 9). As God descends, the heavens bow down, and He stands upon thick darkness, an ominous foretaste of things to come (verse 10). He rides on the wings of the wind, thick clouds and darkness are around Him, and a white-hot brightness radiates ahead of Him (verses 12-13). God's voice is heard in the thunder, and bolts of lightening shoot out like arrows (verses 14-15). Upon His approach, the seas part, and the land below is exposed at His rebuke and the blast of His nostrils (verse 16). God reaches down and plucks His servant from the waters, delivering him from his strong enemy, and setting him down in a broad place on solid ground. Though David's enemies are stronger, God delivers him from their hand. He is David’s support112 when they confront him.

The Basis for David's Deliverance
(22:21-28)

21 “The LORD has rewarded me according to my righteousness; According to the cleanness of my hands He has recompensed me. 22 “For I have kept the ways of the LORD, And have not acted wickedly against my God. 23 “For all His ordinances were before me, And as for His statutes, I did not depart from them. 24 “I was also blameless toward Him, And I kept myself from my iniquity. 25 “Therefore the LORD has recompensed me according to my righteousness, According to my cleanness before His eyes. 26 “With the kind You show Yourself kind, With the blameless You show Yourself blameless; 27 With the pure You show Yourself pure, And with the perverted You show Yourself astute. 28 “And You save an afflicted people; But Your eyes are on the haughty whom You abase.

When God gave Israel the Law of Moses, He made it clear that obedience to His law would bring blessing (Deuteronomy 28:1-14), while disobedience would bring cursing and disaster (28:15-68).113 David was a man after God's heart. With few exceptions (see 1 Kings 15:5), David loved and lived by the law. He understood that those who would draw near to God are those who keep His law:

1 {A Psalm of David.} O Lord, who may abide in Your tent? Who may dwell on Your holy hill? 2 He who walks with integrity, and works righteousness, And speaks truth in his heart. 3 He does not slander with his tongue, Nor does evil to his neighbor, Nor takes up a reproach against his friend; 4 In whose eyes a reprobate is despised, But who honors those who fear the LORD; He swears to his own hurt and does not change; 5 He does not put out his money at interest, Nor does he take a bribe against the innocent. He who does these things will never be shaken (Psalm 15).

3 Who may ascend into the hill of the LORD? And who may stand in His holy place? 4 He who has clean hands and a pure heart, Who has not lifted up his soul to falsehood And has not sworn deceitfully. 5 He shall receive a blessing from the LORD And righteousness from the God of his salvation (Psalm 24:3-5).

David believed, as did all faithful Israelites, that God would punish the wicked and save the righteous who take refuge in Him:

35 I have seen a wicked, violent man Spreading himself like a luxuriant tree in its native soil. 36 Then he passed away, and lo, he was no more; I sought for him, but he could not be found. 37 Mark the blameless man, and behold the upright; For the man of peace will have a posterity. 38 But transgressors will be altogether destroyed; The posterity of the wicked will be cut off. 39 But the salvation of the righteous is from the LORD; He is their strength in time of trouble. 40 The LORD helps them and delivers them; He delivers them from the wicked and saves them, Because they take refuge in Him (Psalm 37:35-40).

In the Law of Moses, God made it clear to His people that He would bless them as they trusted in Him and kept His law (see Deuteronomy 7:12-16). On the other hand, it was also clear that their righteousness attained by their works was not the basis for God's grace:

4 “Do not say in your heart when the LORD your God has driven them out before you, 'Because of my righteousness the LORD has brought me in to possess this land,' but it is because of the wickedness of these nations that the LORD is dispossessing them before you. 5 “It is not for your righteousness or for the uprightness of your heart that you are going to possess their land, but it is because of the wickedness of these nations that the LORD your God is driving them out before you, in order to confirm the oath which the LORD swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. 6 “Know, then, it is not because of your righteousness that the LORD your God is giving you this good land to possess, for you are a stubborn people” (Deuteronomy 9:4-6).

David did not forget that he was a sinner, who needed forgiveness and grace:

3 There is no soundness in my flesh because of Your indignation; There is no health in my bones because of my sin. 4 For my iniquities are gone over my head; As a heavy burden they weigh too much for me. 5 My wounds grow foul and fester Because of my folly (Psalm 38:3-5).

David understood that God saves the righteous and condemns the wicked. It is for this reason that God hears David's cry for help and comes to his rescue from his wicked enemies. Not only does God save the righteous, He saves the afflicted, while He condemns the proud.

We will come back to the matter of David's righteousness later in the message, but I am reminded that the sin of Saul and his bloody house resulted in a three-year-long famine in the land of Israel. Not until this sin had been atoned for did God once again hear the prayers of His people and remove the famine (see 2 Samuel 21). So it is that David believes that if he trusts and obeys God, God will hear his prayers.

Divine Strengthening to Defeat Enemies
(22:29-46)

29 “For You are my lamp, O LORD; And the LORD illumines my darkness. 30 “For by You I can run upon a troop; By my God I can leap over a wall. 31 “As for God, His way is blameless; The word of the LORD is tested; He is a shield to all who take refuge in Him. 32 “For who is God, besides the LORD? And who is a rock, besides our God? 33 “God is my strong fortress; And He sets the blameless in His way. 34 “He makes my feet like hinds' feet, And sets me on my high places. 35 “He trains my hands for battle, So that my arms can bend a bow of bronze. 36 “You have also given me the shield of Your salvation, And Your help makes me great. 37 “You enlarge my steps under me, And my feet have not slipped. 38 “I pursued my enemies and destroyed them, And I did not turn back until they were consumed. 39 “And I have devoured them and shattered them, so that they did not rise; And they fell under my feet. 40 “For You have girded me with strength for battle; You have subdued under me those who rose up against me. 41 “You have also made my enemies turn their backs to me, And I destroyed those who hated me. 42 “They looked, but there was none to save; Even to the LORD, but He did not answer them. 43 “Then I pulverized them as the dust of the earth; I crushed and stamped them as the mire of the streets. 44 “You have also delivered me from the contentions of my people; You have kept me as head of the nations; A people whom I have not known serve me. 45 “Foreigners pretend obedience to me; As soon as they hear, they obey me. 46 “Foreigners lose heart, And come trembling out of their fortresses.

David has praised God for being his deliverer, his refuge (verses 2-3). Whenever he calls upon God for help, He hears and answers (verse 4) in ways which reveal His holiness and anger toward the wicked who oppose His servant and His sovereign power (verses 5-20). God comes to David's rescue from his enemies because of his righteousness and their wickedness (verses 21-28). It is possible that we might conclude from what has been said thus far that since “salvation is from the Lord” we are not a part of the process. Are we to sit idly by, watching God do everything? Sometimes that is exactly what God has us do, just to remind us that it is He who gives the victory. That is what happened at the exodus, when God drowned the Egyptians in the Red Sea. But very often God will have us play a role in His deliverance. In such cases, it is God who gives us the strength and ability to prevail over our enemies. David stood up to Goliath and prevailed, but it was God who gave the victory. In verses 30-46, David speaks of divine enablement, which strengthened him to stand against his enemies and prevail.

God's strength is not added to our strength; God's strength is given in place of our weakness. This is why David begins with the statement,

“For Thou art my lamp, O Lord;And the Lord illumines my darkness” (verse 29).

God enlightens David's darkness. God strengthens David in his weakness. This is just what Paul taught in the New Testament:

7 Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me -- to keep me from exalting myself! 8 Concerning this I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me. 9 And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. 10 Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong (2 Corinthians 12:7-10).

David describes the strength God supplies in terms of waging warfare. God's strength enables him to leap over a wall and to crush or overrun a troop of men (verse 30). Military strength begins in the mind. David had the moral courage to stand up to Goliath, as well as the God-given skill to strike him down with his sling. The basis for this strength of courage (let’s call it what it is -- faith) is God's Word. The Word of God is the source of David's faith, which enables him to fight. His Word is us about God, that He is our rock, our refuge (verses 31-33). He not only sets David on the high places (the place of military advantage), He gives David the sure-footedness which enables him to fight from this position (verse 34). God is the one who trains David's hands for battle, who gives him the strength to bend the difficult bronze bow (verse 35). He gives him the shield of His salvation, and then gives him firm footing with which to stand and fight (verses 36-37).

All of this is to enable David to pursue his enemies successfully so that they turn and run (verse 38). They do not escape, however, for God enables David to destroy (to pulverize, verse 43) those who oppose him (verses 39-43). Some of David's enemies -- perhaps even many of them -- appear to be fellow Israelites, but his enemies and his allies also include the Gentiles. In the closing verses of the psalm, the Gentiles become more prominent. Delivering David from the contentions of his own people (verse 44), God also strikes fear in the hearts of the nations (the Gentiles). As a result, God not only established David as king over Israel, He kept him as head over the nations. These Gentiles fear David, and if their submission to him is not genuine, they at least feign allegiance to him (verses 44-45). They lose heart and come trembling to him from their fortresses (verse 46).

Praise God! (Gentiles, Too!)
(22:47-50)

    47 “The LORD lives, and blessed be my rock; And exalted be God, the rock of my salvation,114 48 The God who executes vengeance for me, And brings down peoples under me, 49 Who also brings me out from my enemies; You even lift me above those who rise up against me; You rescue me from the violent man. 50 “Therefore I will give thanks to You, O LORD, among the nations, And I will sing praises to Your name.

God is David's refuge and defender. When he calls to Him for help, God hears and helps him. God will move heaven and earth to bring this help to David, though at times He saves him by giving him the strength to oppose and overcome his enemies. Now here is where things get very interesting. Just who are David's enemies? And who are those with whom he will praise God? Self-righteous Jews would have a quick and easy answer: “The Jews are those who are David's friends, who will join him in worshipping God; the Gentiles are the enemies of God, who deserve to be pulverized.” But this is not at all what David says.

David clearly indicates that a number of his enemies are those of his own people (see verse 44a), and that there are those from the nations who submit to him and will worship God with him (see verse 44b). The clearest statement comes in verse 50:

50 “Therefore I will give thanks to You, O LORD, among the nations, And I will sing praises to Your name (emphasis mine).

Some of the Jews oppose God by opposing David. Some of the Gentiles are those with whom David offers praise to God as the great Deliverer. Lest you think I am stretching the text, let me remind you that this is precisely the point Paul makes, using this text as one of his proofs:

7 Therefore, accept one another, just as Christ also accepted us to the glory of God. 8 For I say that Christ has become a servant to the circumcision on behalf of the truth of God to confirm the promises given to the fathers, 9 and for the Gentiles to glorify God for His mercy; as it is written, “THEREFORE I WILL GIVE PRAISE TO YOU AMONG THE GENTILES, AND I WILL SING TO YOUR NAME.” 10 Again he says, “REJOICE, O GENTILES, WITH HIS PEOPLE.” 11 And again, “PRAISE THE LORD ALL YOU GENTILES, AND LET ALL THE PEOPLES PRAISE HIM.” 12 Again Isaiah says, “THERE SHALL COME THE ROOT OF JESSE, AND HE WHO ARISES TO RULE OVER THE GENTILES, IN HIM SHALL THE GENTILES HOPE” (Romans 15:7-12).

Is God David's deliverer, David's refuge? Yes. But He is also the refuge and deliverer of all who trust in Him, including the Gentiles. All those who set themselves against God's king (David, or the Messiah), are the enemies of God, who will be pulverized by God's king.

God Save the King!
(22:51)

51 “He is a tower of deliverance to His king, And shows lovingkindness to His anointed, To David and his descendants forever.”115

David's conclusion is one full of hope and anticipation. David is God's anointed king, but his reign is soon to end. God has proven to be David's “tower of deliverance,” but it is not over because of the covenant God made with David, a covenant that he would have an eternal throne:

12 “When your days are complete and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your descendant after you, who will come forth from you, and I will establish his kingdom. 13 “He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. 14 “I will be a father to him and he will be a son to Me; when he commits iniquity, I will correct him with the rod of men and the strokes of the sons of men, 15 but My lovingkindness shall not depart from him, as I took it away from Saul, whom I removed from before you. 16 “Your house and your kingdom shall endure before Me forever; your throne shall be established forever””' (2 Samuel 7:12-16, emphasis mine).

Is David safe and secure because God is his refuge? Yes. In this final verse, David reveals that his confidence and security is much more long-lasting than just during his own lifetime. He knows that as God has shown lovingkindness to him, He will show it to his descendants, and thus these blessings of which he has spoken are eternal. God has not only kept His promise to David, protecting him from those who would destroy him, and establishing his throne, God will also install the One who fulfills the Davidic Covenant, God's anointed One, the Messiah.

Conclusion

In concluding this message, several things impress me as I reflect on this great psalm.

First, I see that David’s “successes” are ultimately God’s doing. As David reflects on his rise to the throne, he understands that his rise to power and prominence is due to divine grace. He recalls the peril he was in and the death that seemed inevitable and unavoidable, and he praises God as his rescuer, his refuge, his source of strength and success. It is not as though David did nothing and waited for God to do everything; rather in spite of all David did, he knew it was God who preserved his life and God who promoted him to be the King of Israel. David exemplifies true humility here. Let us learn from him. If a man of his stature and spiritual intensity can give God the glory, certainly we should as well. As Paul once put it,

For who regards you as superior? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it? (1 Corinthians 4:7)

Second, I see that David’s successes seem to be occasioned by his adversities and afflictions, many of which were brought about by his enemies. David praises God for His salvation. Often, this “salvation” was in the physical realm (God saved David’s life). When you look in the Gospels, you find the same thing. The ultimate “salvation” is that salvation which rescues us from eternal condemnation and brings about the forgiveness of our sins through the blood of Jesus Christ, assuring us of eternal life. But throughout the Gospels, our Lord is seen “saving” people in a very broad sense, which only strengthens His claim to be a greater Savior than this.

In the New Testament, the Greek word for saving is employed for a very broad range of “salvations.” The same (root) word is employed for the “saving” of the disciples from the storm at sea (Matthew 8:25), for the healing of the woman with a hemorrhage (Matthew 9:21-22), for the rescue of Peter as he sank into the sea after walking on the water (Matthew 14:30), for the request of Jairus that Jesus “heal” his daughter (Mark 5:23), for the healing of sicknesses of all kinds (Mark 6:56), for the restoring of the sight of a blind man (Mark 10:52), and for the casting out of a demon (Luke 8:36).

The lesson we are to learn is that God is our Savior in many ways, the greatest of which is the salvation He has provided through the shedding of the blood of Jesus Christ. The first and most important way we can experience God’s salvation is by receiving the free gift of salvation from the guilt and penalty of our sins, by trusting in the sacrificial death, burial, and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. And then, day by day, we must look to Him as our Deliverer, our Fortress, our Refuge, in whose care and keeping we are eternally secure.

It is in the context of suffering and adversity that we experience God’s saving grace (2 Corinthians 12:7-10). If this is the case (and it surely is), then we should view our afflictions in a very different way. While they are not pleasant, they produce the sweet fruit of divine intervention and the joy of enhanced fellowship with our Lord (Philippians 3:10). No wonder our Lord could say, “Blessed are those who mourn . . .” (Matthew 5:4).

Third, God’s rescue of the righteous is achieved by the exercise of God’s wrath. David speaks of his danger as coming from those who are his foes, those who seek his death (22:18-19, 38-46). When God is described as He comes to David’s rescue in verses 8-16, He comes with all nature at His bidding. He rides, as it were, on the wings of the wind (verse 11); He employs thunder and lightning (verses 14-15), and the earth quakes (verse 8). All this is the manifestation of God’s anger toward those sinners who oppose Him by opposing His chosen king (see verse 8). God rescues His servant by defeating and destroying the enemies of His servant.

David does not speak of God’s salvation apart from God’s condemnation. God saves David by destroying his enemies. There is nothing more frightening than finding yourself in opposition to a holy and righteous God. There is nothing more terrifying than coming to the realization – too late! – that you have set yourself against God’s anointed one, God’s “son” (see 2 Samuel 7:12-16). If that was true for the enemies of David, think about what it will be like for those who have rejected Jesus Christ, the “son of David” and the “Son of God.” There is no greater evil than to rebel against God by rejecting His Son.

Fourth, there is certainly one greater than David spoken of here in our text. When we read Psalm 22, we recognize that while this psalm was written by David, who was suffering at the hands of his enemies, there are things here which can speak only of Christ, David’s offspring. The same is true of Psalm 18 (2 Samuel 22). In the ultimate sense, it is the “Son of David,” Jesus Christ who is being described.

“But much in this psalm 'agrees better with Christ', as Calvin said, than with David; and in Romans 15:9 Paul needed no argument to support his treating verse 49 [Psalm 18; verse 50 in 2 Samuel 22] as part of a prophecy of Messiah.”116

Jesus Christ, God’s Son, was rejected by wicked men who put Him to death. It is Jesus whom God rescued from the dead, by raising Him from the dead. It is the enemies of our Lord whom the Father will destroy when He sends His Son back to the earth again. David’s song of salvation is just that -- a psalm which looks forward to the time when the “eternal throne” will be established on the earth, and when the enemies of our Lord will be pulverized and punished, while those who trust in Him will be saved. What a day that will be! The joy of His salvation is equaled by the terror of His righteous wrath.

Fifth, if God is our refuge, then there is no need to fear. I have frequently seen a bumper sticker (actually, it is most often a sticker on the rear window of a pickup truck) that reads, “No Fear.” I’m not sure what this means to those who employ it. Does it mean something like, “You don’t scare me, so don’t try to mess with me.” Or, does it mean something like, “I carry a loaded gun with me at all times”? Whatever it means, it does not begin to compare with the words of our Lord, “Fear not.” There is nothing in this world to compare with the safety and security of the saint:

“Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the LORD your God is the one who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you” (Deuteronomy 31:6).

When I saw their fear, I rose and spoke to the nobles, the officials and the rest of the people: “Do not be afraid of them; remember the Lord who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives and your houses” (Nehemiah 4:14).

I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people Who have set themselves against me round about (Psalm 3:6).

In God, whose word I praise, In God I have put my trust; I shall not be afraid. What can mere man do to me? (Psalm 56:4)

In God I have put my trust, I shall not be afraid. What can man do to me? (Psalm 56:11)

The LORD is for me; I will not fear; What can man do to me? (Psalm 118:6)

“Behold, God is my salvation, I will trust and not be afraid; For the LORD GOD is my strength and song, And He has become my salvation” (Isaiah 12:2).

“Do not be afraid of them, For I am with you to deliver you,” declares the LORD (Jeremiah 1:8).

“‘Do not be afraid of the king of Babylon, whom you are now fearing; do not be afraid of him,’ declares the LORD, ‘for I am with you to save you and deliver you from his hand’” (Jeremiah 42:11).

But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid” (Matthew 14:27).

And the Lord said to Paul in the night by a vision, “Do not be afraid any longer, but go on speaking and do not be silent” (Acts 18:9).

5 Make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, “I WILL NEVER DESERT YOU, NOR WILL I EVER FORSAKE YOU,” 6 so that we confidently say, “THE LORD IS MY HELPER, I WILL NOT BE AFRAID. WHAT WILL MAN DO TO ME?” (Hebrews 13:5-6)

To the one who has come to know and trust in Jesus Christ as Savior, there is nothing to fear. There is no need to fear God’s judgment, for our punishment has been borne by our Savior. There is no need to fear for our needs, for He has promised to care for us. There is no need to fear any circumstance in life, for He is for us. May this confidence be yours, as you trust in God’s salvation, Jesus Christ.

31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? 32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? 33 Who will bring a charge against God's elect? God is the one who justifies; 34 who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. 35 Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36 Just as it is written, “FOR YOUR SAKE WE ARE BEING PUT TO DEATH ALL DAY LONG; WE WERE CONSIDERED AS SHEEP TO BE SLAUGHTERED.” 37 But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:31-39).


104 When I spoke to Karl this week about my memories of the funeral parlor, he told me his wife Martha taught a Sunday School class in a room across the hall from the embalming room, so that the class had the constant smell of embalming fluid.

105 Our text tells us that this psalm is David’s response to God’s deliverance from the hand of his enemies and from the hand of Saul. I am therefore assuming it was written at the outset of his reign as king, shortly after Saul’s death. Further confirmation of my assumption comes from the fact that some scholars believe this psalm is one of the oldest of David’s psalms.

106 “Besides being the longest quotation attributed to David (365 words in Hebrew) and displaying the richest variety of vocabulary, the section is cast in a formal structure, a classic example of Hebrew poetry.” Robert D. Bergen, 1, 2 Samuel (Broadman and Holman Publishers, 1996), p. 450.

107 The song of Habakkuk is not earlier. It does resemble David’s psalm, however, as though this prophet were not only familiar with David’s psalm, but may have borrowed from it.

108 Bergen points out the prominent place this psalm is given at the end of Samuel: “This present section is clearly one of the highlighted passages in 2 Samuel, being given prominence in at least three ways. First, it -- along with 22:1-51 -- was placed at the core of the appendix’s chiastic structure: it thus functioned as part of the thematic centerpiece of this portion of 1, 2 Samuel. Second, it was designated an ‘oracle,’ a special speech-act category reserved for prophetic utterances of unusual significance. Finally, it was memorialized as the final utterance of ‘the man exalted by the Most High’ who became Israel’s greatest king.” Bergen, pp. 464-465.

109 “It is reported that Athanasius, an outstanding Christian leader of the fourth century, declared that the Psalms have a unique place in the Bible because most of Scripture speaks to us, while the Psalms speak for us.” Cited by Bernard Anderson, Out of the Depths: The Psalms Speak for Us Today (Philadelphia: The Westminster Press), p. x.

110 “Fortress (2) is the word used for the stronghold of Adullam (1 Sa. 22:1-5; cf. 23:14, 19, 29), and for the Jebusite fort that became ‘David’s city’ (5:9).” Robert P. Gordon, I & II Samuel: A Commentary (Grand Rapids: Regency Reference Library, Zondervan Publishing House, 1986), p. 304.

111 Is it any wonder that Jonah appears to borrow David’s words to describe his own situation in the sea (compare 2 Samuel 22:5 with Jonah 2:3-5)?

112 “David shifted the domain of poetic imagery in v. 19 from the sea to the meadow by drawing from his own pastoral background. In this verse he poetically described the Lord as being ‘a staff’ (v. 19; NIV, ‘support’) to him. The term employed here . . . refers to the large stick with a bowed top used by shepherds to pull sheep out of danger or off a wrong path.” Bergen, p. 456.

113 “. . . this psalm can be seen as a restatement of a central thesis of the Torah -- obedience to the Lord results in life and blessing. The message of the psalm may thus be summarized as follows: Because David scrupulously obeyed the Lord, the Lord rewarded him by responding to his pleas, delivering him during times of trouble and exalting him. For this the Lord is to be praised.” Robert D. Bergen, 1, 2 Samuel (Broadman and Holman Publishers, 1996), p. 451.

114 “References to the Lord as the Rock, the declaration that God ‘avenges’ (lit., ‘gives vengeance to’) David’s enemies and the statement that ‘the Lord lives’ link this latter portion of David’s last song with the latter portion of the song of Moses, especially Duet. 32:31-43. The similarity in vocabulary and themes suggests that the writer consciously attempted to produce an echo and a parallel between the final song of Moses and the final song of David.” Bergen, p. 462.

115 “A notable similarity exists between the final verse of Hannah’s song (1 Sam 2:10) and the final verse of David’s song. Both speak of the Lord assisting ‘his king’ and ‘his anointed’ and mention these two nouns in the same order. At the same time, there is a notable difference -- David names himself and his descendants as being the Lord’s kings, whereas Hannah made no such mention. The resulting effect of the apparently intentional contrast between the two verses is the affirmation that the house of David was in fact the fulfillment of Hannah’s prophetic word.” Bergen, p. 463.

“Thematically the psalm echoes and enlarges upon much that is in Hannah’s song (1 Sa. 2:1-10). Each climaxes with a reference to Yahweh’s faithfulness to his anointed king, but with the difference that, since the dynastic oracle has supervened (7:8-16), it is now the whole Davidic succession which is the object of his favour. Fittingly, the next section takes up this theme of the ‘everlasting covenant’ between Yahweh and David (cf. 23:5).” Gordon, p. 309.

116 Derek Kidner, Psalms 1-72: An Introduction and Commentary (Downers Grove: Inter-Varsity Press, 1973), vol. 1, p. 90.