Bible Commentary

2 Samuel 23

John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes

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Verse 1

[1] Now these be the last words of David. David the son of Jesse said, and the man who was raised up on high, the anointed of the God of Jacob, and the sweet psalmist of Israel, said,

Last words — Not simply the last that he spoke, but the last which he spake by the spirit of God, assisting and directing him in an extraordinary manner. When we find death approaching, we should endeavour both to honour God, and to profit others with our last words. Let those who have had experience of God's goodness, and the pleasantness of the ways of wisdom, when they come to finish their course, leave a record of those experiences, and bear their testimony to the truth of the promise.

Raised — Advanced from an obscure estate, to the kingdom. Whom, God singled out from all the families of Israel, and anointed to be king.

Psalmist — He who was eminent among the people of God, for composing sweet and holy songs to the praise of God, and for the use of his church in after ages: these seem not to be the words of David, but of the sacred penman of this book.

Verse 2

[2] The Spirit of the LORD spake by me, and his word was in my tongue.

His word — The following words, and consequently the other words and Psalms composed and uttered by me upon the like solemn occasions, are not to be looked upon as human inventions, but both the matter and the words of them are suggested by God's spirit, the great teacher of the church.

Verse 3

[3] The God of Israel said, the Rock of Israel spake to me, He that ruleth over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God.

Rock — He who is the strength, and defence, and protector of his people; which he manifests by directing kings and rulers so to manage their power as may most conduce to their comfort and benefit.

Ruleth — Here are the two principal parts of a king's duty, answerable to the two tables of God's law, justice towards men, and piety towards God, both which he is to maintain and promote among his people.

Verse 4

[4] And he shall be as the light of the morning, when the sun riseth, even a morning without clouds; as the tender grass springing out of the earth by clear shining after rain.

Shall be — These words are a farther description of the king's duty, which is not only to rule with justice and piety, but also with sweetness, and gentleness, and condescension to the infirmities of his people; to render his government as acceptable to them, as is the sun-shine in a clear morning, or the tender grass which springs out of the earth by the warm beams of the sun after the rain.

Verse 5

[5] Although my house be not so with God; yet he hath made with me an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things, and sure: for this is all my salvation, and all my desire, although he make it not to grow.

Altho' — Although God knows, that neither I, nor my children have lived and ruled as we should have done, so justly, and in the fear of the Lord; and therefore have not enjoyed that uninterrupted prosperity which we might have enjoyed.

Covenant — Notwithstanding all our transgressions whereby we have broken covenant with God, yet God, to whom all my sins were known, was graciously pleased to make a sure covenant, to continue the kingdom to me, and to my seed for ever, chap. 7:16, until the coming of the Messiah who is to be my son and successor, and whose kingdom shall have no end.

Ordered — Ordained in all points by God's eternal counsel; and disposed by his wise and powerful providence which will over-rule all things, even the sins of my house so far, that although he punished them for their sins, yet he will not utterly root them out, nor break his covenant made with me and mine.

Sure — Or, preserved, by God's power and faithfulness in the midst of all oppositions.

For this — Or, in this is, that is, it consists in, and depends upon this covenant.

Salvation — Both mine own eternal salvation, and the preservation of the kingdom to me and mine.

Tho' — Although God as yet hath not made my house or family to grow; that is, to increase, or to flourish with worldly glory as I expected; yet this is my comfort, that God will inviolably keep this covenant. But this refers also to the covenant of grace made with all believers. This is indeed an everlasting covenant, from everlasting, in the contrivance of it, and to everlasting, in the continuance and the consequence of it. It is ordered, well ordered in all things; admirably well, to advance the glory of God and the honour of the mediator, together with the holiness and happiness of believers. It is sure, and therefore sure, because well-ordered: the promised mercies are sure, on the performance of the conditions. It is all our salvation: nothing but this will save us, and this is sufficient. Therefore it should be all our desire. Let me have an interest in this covenant, and I have enough, I desire no more.

Verse 6

[6] But the sons of Belial shall be all of them as thorns thrust away, because they cannot be taken with hands:

But — Having in the foregoing verses described the nature, and stability of that kingdom which God had by a sure covenant settled upon him and his seed; and especially, upon the Messiah, who was to be one of his posterity; he now describes the nature and miserable condition, of all the enemies of this holy and blessed kingdom.

As thorns — Which men do not use to handle, but thrust them away. And so will God thrust away from himself, and from his people, and kingdom, all those who shall either secretly or openly set themselves against it.

Verse 7

[7] But the man that shall touch them must be fenced with iron and the staff of a spear; and they shall be utterly burned with fire in the same place.

Fenced — He must arm himself with some iron weapon, whereby he may cut them down; or, with the staff of a spear, or some such thing, whereby he may thrust them away from himself, that they do him no hurt.

Burnt — Or, if they do not cut them down or thrust them away they will burn and consume them.

The place — Or, in their place, where they grow or stand.

Verse 8

[8] These be the names of the mighty men whom David had: The Tachmonite that sat in the seat, chief among the captains; the same was Adino the Eznite: he lift up his spear against eight hundred, whom he slew at one time.

These — But this catalogue, though placed here, was taken long before, as is manifest from hence, that Asahel and Uriah are named here. And whereas there are some difference between this list, and that, 1 Chronicles 11:10-47, most of them are easily reconciled by these two considerations; 1. that nothing is more common than for one person to have divers names. 2. That as some of the worthies died, and others came in their stead; this must needs cause some alteration in the latter catalogue, 1 Chronicles 11:10-47, from this which was the former. Learn hence, how much religion tends to inspire men with true courage. David both by his writings and example greatly promoted piety among the grandees of the kingdom. And when they became famous for piety, they became famous for bravery.

Adino — This was his proper name.

Lift up — Which words are fitly supplied out of 1 Chronicles 11:11, where they are expressed.

One time — In one battle, which though it be strange, yet cannot seem incredible, supposing him to be a person of extraordinary strength and activity, and his enemies to be discouraged, and fleeing away.

Verse 9

[9] And after him was Eleazar the son of Dodo the Ahohite, one of the three mighty men with David, when they defied the Philistines that were there gathered together to battle, and the men of Israel were gone away:

Gone away — That is, fled away, 1 Chronicles 11:13, being dismayed at the approach of their enemies.

Verse 11

[11] And after him was Shammah the son of Agee the Hararite. And the Philistines were gathered together into a troop, where was a piece of ground full of lentiles: and the people fled from the Philistines.

Lentiles — Or barley, as it is 1 Chronicles 11:13. For both might grow in the same field, in divers parts of it. And this fact is ascribed to Eleazar, 1 Chronicles 11:12, but it is implied, that he had some partner or partners in it; for it is there said, 1 Chronicles 11:14 they set themselves, etc. So Eleazar might fight in that part where the barley was and Shammah where the lentiles were.

Verse 12

[12] But he stood in the midst of the ground, and defended it, and slew the Philistines: and the LORD wrought a great victory.

Lord wrought — How great soever the bravery of the instruments is, the praise of the achievement is to be given to God. These fought, but God wrought the victory.

Verse 15

[15] And David longed, and said, Oh that one would give me drink of the water of the well of Bethlehem, which is by the gate!

Said — Being hot and thirsty, he expresses how acceptable a draught of that water would be to him; but was far from desiring, or expecting that any of his men should hazard their lives to procure it.

Verse 16

[16] And the three mighty men brake through the host of the Philistines, and drew water out of the well of Bethlehem, that was by the gate, and took it, and brought it to David: nevertheless he would not drink thereof, but poured it out unto the LORD.

Would not — Lest by gratifying himself upon such terms, he should seem either to set too high a price upon the satisfaction of his appetite, or too low a price upon the lives of his soldiers.

Poured it — As a kind of drink offering, and acknowledgment of God's goodness in preserving the lives of his captains in so dangerous an enterprize; and to shew, that he esteemed it as a sacred thing, which it was not fit for him to drink.

Verse 17

[17] And he said, Be it far from me, O LORD, that I should do this: is not this the blood of the men that went in jeopardy of their lives? therefore he would not drink it. These things did these three mighty men.

These three — Jointly: then two of them are mentioned severally.

Verse 19

[19] Was he not most honourable of three? therefore he was their captain: howbeit he attained not unto the first three.

Attained not — He fell short of them in strength and valour.

Verse 21

[21] And he slew an Egyptian, a goodly man: and the Egyptian had a spear in his hand; but he went down to him with a staff, and plucked the spear out of the Egyptian's hand, and slew him with his own spear.

Pit — Where he put himself under a necessity, either of killing, or being killed.

Of snow — When lions are most fierce, both from the sharpness of their appetite in cold seasons, and from want of provisions.

Verse 25

[25] Shammah the Harodite, Elika the Harodite,

Harodite — In 1 Chronicles 11:27, Shammoth the Harorite. Concerning which, and other changes of the names, which will be observed, by comparing this catalogue with that, it will be sufficient to suggest, 1. that the same names of persons, or places, are differently pronounced according to the different dialects of divers places or ages. 2. That one man had often two names. 3. That David had more worthies than those here mentioned; and as some of these were slain in the former part of David's reign, as Asahel was; so others came up in their stead; and some were added to this number, as appears from 1 Chronicles 11:10-47, where they are named, but not numbered, as they were here; and where there is a greater number than is here expressed.

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