Scripture reading – 2 Samuel 23; Psalm 57

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Our Scripture reading comprises the historical narrative of David’s life in 2 Samuel 23 and Psalm 57.

Psalm 57 – God is Our Refuge


The occasion of Psalm 57 is identified in its title: “To the chief Musician, Al-taschith [meaning, “do not destroy”], Michtam [a type of poem] of David, when he fled from Saul in the cave (1 Samuel 22:1; 24:1-3).

A Prayer for Mercy (Psalm 57:1-6)

Perhaps penned in the latter years of his reign, Psalm 57 reflected the mercies of God David experienced through the years. He recalled the years he was forced to flee and lived a fugitive’s life. When he hid in the wilderness and sought refuge in caves, he cried to the LORD, “Be merciful unto me, O God, be merciful unto me: for my soul trusteth in thee” (Psalm 57:1). 

Stalked by enemies, David found refuge “in the shadow” of God’s wings (Psalm 57:1b). When he cried to the LORD, He sent “forth his mercy and his truth” (Psalm 57:3). Like savage lions, his enemies ravaged him with their words, and “their tongue [was] a sharp sword” (Psalm 57:4). His adversaries schemed to entrap him; yet, David testified they perished in their own wicked devices (Psalm 57:6).

A Song of Praise and Thanksgiving (Psalm 57:5, 7-11)


Despite the sorrows and humiliations, David’s foremost desire was that the LORD would be exalted and glorified “above all the earth” (Psalm 57:5). He testified, “My heart is fixed [set; ready], O God, my heart is fixed: I will sing and give praise” (Psalm 57:7).

With a heart full of praise and thanksgiving, David desired not only Israel but all nations of the earth to know the mercies of the Lord. He vowed, “I myself will awake early. 9I will praise thee, O Lord, among the people: I will sing unto thee among the nations” (Psalm 57:8b-9).

2 Samuel 23 – The Last Words and Testament of King David

Our study of David’s life is at its climax as we turn in the Scriptures to 2 Samuel 23. We have been privileged to examine the soul of David, the man whom God declared “a man after [His] own heart” (Acts 13:22; 1 Samuel 13:14). The king was far from perfect; however, his tenderness toward the LORD and his love for God’s Word and Law, is an inspiration to sincere believers of every generation.

 Now these be the last words of David.” (2 Samuel 23:1-7)

The opening phrase of 2 Samuel 23 moves me emotionally. As a pastor, I have been an honored guest at the bedside of many dying saints. I have seen how the imminence of death stirs in a soul a reflection on things that genuinely matter in the light of eternity. Death’s shadow removes things that once held pride and affection. Trophies, honors, plaques, and memorials have no value when life’s end is near.

For all his achievements, the accolades that summed up David’s life were not as the giant slayer or the victor over the Philistines. Instead, his final introduction was stated simply: “The son of Jesse…the man who was raised up on high, the anointed of the God of Jacob, and the sweet psalmist of Israel” (2 Samuel 23:1). Though honored to have served as the king of Israel, David was privileged to be “the sweet psalmist of Israel…[by whom] the Spirit of the Lord spake…[and whose] word was in [his] tongue” (2 Samuel 23:2)

As with many psalms, 2 Samuel 23:3-7 imparts wisdom and adoration. David identified the LORD as “the Rock of Israel.” He recalled God’s appeal: “He that ruleth over men must be just, Ruling in the fear of God” (2 Samuel 23:3). Simple but profound!

Imagine how different our world would be if people desired ” just ” leaders who ruled according to God’s Law. Oh, the joy of the nation led by men and women who ruled “in the fear of God.” Such leaders would “be as the light of the morning, when the sun riseth” (2 Samuel 23:4a). Their rule would dispel darkness and ignorance and be an example to people.

The Great Men Behind the Great King (2 Samuel 23:8-39)

Time and space restrain an exhaustive study of the balance of 2 Samuel 23. Still, it is worth noting that David took time to acknowledge those men who had been his “mighty men” (2 Samuel 23:9-39). 2 Samuel 23:13 gives the number of David’s great warriors as “thirty,” and yet, the chapter ends stating there were “thirty and seven in all” (2 Samuel 23:39). How might that be? Was the number thirty or thirty-seven an error? Also, there are thirty-six men named, and not thirty-seven.

Some will disagree with my assessment of the dilemma concerning the number of David’s mighty men. However, I believe an acceptable explanation is this: When some of David’s mighty men perished in battle (for instance, Uriah the Hittite, 2 Samuel 23:39), he would have chosen other men to take their place. Also, I believe the thirty-seventh man, and the one not named, was Joab, the brother of Abishai, whom I think was in a league of his own.

Thirty-seven mighty men from different backgrounds, but all who dedicated their lives to serve David. The “son of Jesse” was the great warrior king. Yet, he was content to be remembered as the man with whom God established “an everlasting covenant” (2 Samuel 23:5).

Perfect man? No, but that is the kind of leader God uses (1 Corinthians 1:26-29).

1 Corinthians 1:26–2926For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called:

27But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;

28And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are:

29That no flesh should glory in his presence.

Copyright © 2023 – Travis D. Smith

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