University Bible Fellowship of
Bible Search 


2 Samuel 23:1-24:25
Key Verse: 23:3

In the last lesson we studied David’s song of praise. He praised, saying, “The LORD lives! Praise to my Rock. Exalted to God, the Rock, my Saviour.” In our spiritual warfare at each moment we should be aware that the LORD is my Rock, my fortress and my deliverer and call out to him and experience victory one after another for his honour and glory. May we sing praise to the LORD our God as David did. In this last lesson of 2 Samuel are contained the last words of David, David’s might men and their exploits, and David’s sin and God’s punishment upon Israel and his mercy. Through his study, may we go deeper into the heart of David, which is surely the result of his personal relationship with God.

First, David’s last (23:1-7). In verse 1 it is written, “These are the last words of David: ‘The oracle of David son of Jesse, the oracle of the man exalted by the Most High, the man anointed by the God of Jacob, Israel’s singer of songs:” This is David’s final literary legacy to Israel, not his final oral speech (see 1 Kings 2:1-10). Here David is introduced in four ways, “son of Jesse”, “the man exalted by the Most High”, “the man anointed by the God of Jacob”, and “Israel’s singer of songs.” This shows who David was and who has become. David was the youngest son of Jesse as a mere shepherd boy tending his father’s flock of sheep at Bethlehem. He was a lowly person in the eyes of people. He was not even invited to the interview when Samuel came to choose a king among Jesse’s eight sons. But God chose him and took him to train him for his purpose. He bore God’s divine discipline with faith in the sovereign God. When he loved God and obeyed God refusing people’s honour and recognition he was exalted by the Most High. He was anointed by the God of Israel king of God’s chosen, and he served God’s will in his own generation. He was also Israel’s singer of songs. We can doubt that he had a music talent, but we believe that he became a nation-wide singer, Israel’s singer of sons, in the course of singing praises to the LORD his God remembering God’s grace and the greatness of the LORD time after time. (tone-deaf). In short verse 1 is a concise and excellent description of God’s grace upon David. Mostly, people in their last days are filled with sorrow and with separation anxiety. But this description shows that the grace of God was growing deeper and wider in his heart in his last days. And the repeated expression, “the oracle of David” and “the oracle of the man,” shows that he is a prophet as well as a king (Acts 2:30). We see the spiritual weight of David’s words.

Then what did he say as his last words? In verses 2-3a, “The Spirit of the LORD spoke through me; his word was on my tongue. The God of Israel spoke, the Rock of Israel said to me:” So the words David was going to speak are actually the very words of God put on David’s tongue. There is triple emphasis on this. And the expression “his word was on my tongue” shows how much he loved the word of God and lived by the word, teaching it to others.

What are these words? It is written, “When one rules over men in righteousness, when he rules in the fear of God, he is like a light of morning at sunrise on a cloudless morning, like the brightness after rain that brings the grass from the earth.” David did not say many things but actually only one thing, which is about ruling. At the end of his life he must have reflected his life as a king, a ruler. In 2 Samuel 9:15, it is written about his ruling at the peak of David’s kingdom, “David reigned over all Israel, doing what was just and right for all his people.” This was a really beautiful description of David’s reign over his people, which is virtually Messiah’s reign (Isa. 9:7; Jer. 23:5). There was such a time in life of King David when he ruled his people doing wat was just and right. But also there was a terrible time when he lost the fear of the God and had his subject killed in a battle in an attempt to hide his sin. When he repented of his sin, the fear of God was restored in him. So at the time of Absalom’s revolt David did not fight a human battle but a spiritual battle in the fear of the LORD. Instead of confronting Absalom and his army he fled, and as he was fleeing, he said to Zadok, “Take the ark of God back into the city. If I find favour in the LORD’s eyes, he will bring me back and let me see it and his dwelling place again. But if he says, ‘I am not pleased with you,’ then I am ready; let him do to me in whatever seems good to him.” These are the words of the one who fears God.

Then in verse 4, “he is like the light of morning at sunrise on a cloudless morning, like the brightness after rain that brings the grass from the earth.” How shining and fresh the morning at sunrise on a cloudless morning is! And how bright the brightness after rain that brings the grass from the earth is! When David ruled, having the fear of God in his heart, he experienced such light of morning at sunrise without a hint of cloud and such brightness after rain making grass come out of the earth. In brief he experienced light and life, surely in close relationship with God. So the presence and reign of the one who rules in righteousness and in the fear of God makes the people bright like the cloudless morning and fresh like the green grass after rain. Under his ruling his people are renewed and gain new strength every day.

This ruling ultimately points to the reign of the Messiah. According to Isaiah 11:2-3, “…the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD will rest upon him, and he will delight in the fear of the LORD.” So David says in verse 5. “Is not my house right with God? Has he not made with me an everlasting covenant, arranged and secured in every part? Will he not bring to fruition my salvation and grant me my every desire?” When the Messiah came and taught people, they said, “A new teaching—and with authority!” (Mk 1:27). Through his teaching people were brought into the presence of God and came to have the holy fear of God. They were renewed in repentance and could begin a new life through forgiveness of sins and with the salvation of their souls. He said to an adulterous woman trembling before him, “Neither do I condemn you. Go now and leave your life of sin” (Jn 8:11). He called a tax collector Levi, and gave him a new life direction, saying, “Follow me” (Mk 2:14). He said to Simon Peter, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch” (Lk 5:4) and then, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will catch men” (Lk 5:10b). Through his death and resurrection Christ Jesus gave each believer a new self. So we have put on the new self, And the new self is to be renewed in his righteousness and in the fear of God. That is to live by faith with full trust in and obedience to him. He is our eternal king who rules with righteousness and justice forever (Isa 9:7). God’s purpose is that all nations may believe and obey him (Ro 16:26).

Evil men cannot stand before him. They are unrepentant sinners. So in verses 6 and 7, “Evil men ae all to be cast aside like thorns, which are not gathered with the hand. Whoever touches thorns uses a tool of iron or the shaft of a spear; they are burned up where they lie.”

When we think about human life and the world, one main problem is the lack of God-fearing rulers. May we grow in living in the fear of God because of his grace upon us. May he raise up God-fearing rulers who can bring people into the presence of God in this godless generation. In the presence of God people can be secure and truly alive. Proverbs 14:26 says, “He who fears the LORD has a secure fortress, and for his children it will be a refuge.”

Second, David’s mighty men (23:8-38). Truly loyal people gather around God-fearing rulers. It is notable that there were David’s mighty men when he ruled over men in righteousness and in the fear of God. Their exploits were clearly written in this part. Josheb-Basshebeth was chief of the Three; he raised his spear against eight hundred men, whom he killed in one encounter. Next to him was Eleazar as one of the three mighty men. While the men of Israel retreated before the gathering of the Philistines, he stood his ground and struck down the Philistines till his hand grew tired and froze to the sword. The LORD brought about a great victory through him. So he uplifted the morale of the army of Israel who shamefully retreated from the Philistines. Next to him was Shammah. When Israel’s troops fled from the Philistines, Shammah took his stand in the middle of a field full of lentils. How easy it is for anybody to run away when others are running away. But Shammah determined to fight with do or die spirit. He defended the fight and struck the Philistines down, and the LORD brought about a great victory.

Then there is a description of the life-risking exploit of the three mighty men. Hearing of David’s thirstiness, they broke through the Philistine lines, drew water from the well near the gate of Bethlehem and carried it back to David. But David could not drink it, knowing that the water was the blood of the men who went at the risk of their lives. They were the ones who were ready to do anything for David.

Then there are written the exploits of two other men, who were as famous as the Three, even held in greater honour than the Three or any of the Thirty. Abishai raised his spear against three hundred men, whom he killed. He became the commander of the Three, even though he was not included among them. Benaiah was a valiant fighter. He struck down two of Moab’s best men. He also went down into a pit on a snowy day and killed a lion. And he struck down a huge Egyptian. Although the Egyptian had a spear in his hand, Benaiah went against him with a club. He snatched the spear from the Egyptian’s hand and killed him with his own spear. David put him in charge of his body-guard. Then there is the list of name of the Thirty including Uriah the Hittite, which exposed David’s sin. Being clothed with God’s righteousness, David could have such loyal subjects.

When we think of David’s mighty and their great exploits, we are reminded of what Paul said to Timothy in 2 Timothy 2:3, “Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No one serving as a soldier gets involved in civilian affairs—he wants to please his commanding officer.” May God help us to be good and loyal soldiers of Christ Jesus to please him.

Third, David’s sin of counting the fighting men and God’s mercy (24:1-25). In verse 1, “Again the anger of the LORD burned against Israel, and he incited David against them, saying, ‘Go and take a census of Israel and Judah.’” This is a second outbreak of the divine wrath occurred after the three-year famine recorded in 21:1. However, this time nothing is written about why the anger of the LORD burned against Israel. Surely, it was because of their sin and he incited the king David to take a nation-wide census. So the king said to Joab and the army commanders with him, “Go throughout the tribes of Israel from Dan to Beersheba and enroll the fighting men so that I may know how many there are.” Here we see that through this inciting David’s hidden desire to boast about the size of his mighty army came to the surface. Such a census would cost a lot of money and labour and time, and so not an easy job to carry out. Joab knew that this was an unnecessary work and said, “May the LORD your God multiply the troops a hundred times over, and may the eyes of my lord the king see it. But why does my lord the king want to do such a thing?” The king’s word, however, overruled Joab and the army commanders; so they left the presence of the king to enroll the fighting men of Israel. After they had gone through the entire land, they came back to Jerusalem at the end of nine months and twenty days. Joab reported the number of the fighting men to the king: In Israel there were eight hundred thousand able-bodied men who could handle a sword, and in Judah five hundred thousand.

Then in verse 10, “David was conscience-stricken after he had counted the fighting men, and he said to the LORD, ‘I have sinned greatly in what I have done. Now, O LORD, I beg you, take away the guilt of your servant. I have done a very foolish thing.’” 1 Samuel 14:6b says, “Nothing can hinder the LORD from saving, whether by many or by few.” David also had written in Psalm 20:7, “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.” When he was a mere boy with no human power and strength, he fought against Goliath, the Philistine giant hero, saying, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the LORD Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.” At that time David fully depended on the LORD Almighty and God enabled him to defeat Goliath. However, at this time David depended on the number and power of his army, not relying on God. That was a terrible sin of pride, which God really hates. According to Proverbs 16:18, “Pride goes before destruction.” David realized the gravity of this sin committed in his foolishness and repented begging the LORD to take away his guilt. We have seen in the book of 2 Samuel David’s confession of his sins, saying, “I have sinned” two time, one time rebuked by Natan for his sin of adultery and murder (2 Sam. 2:13), and this time by his own realization. That was David’s good attitude before God although he sinned greatly against God.

Sin brings consequences amid God’s grace of forgiveness. As a punishment God put three options by sending the prophet Gad for David to choose one, three years of famine, three month of fleeing from his enemies, or three days of plague. David said to Gad, “I am in deep distress. Let us fall into the hands of the LORD, for his mercy is great; but do not let me fall into the hands of men.” So the LORD sent a plague on Israel and seventy thousand of the people from Dan to Beersheba died. When David saw the angel who was striking down the people, he said to the LORD, “I am the one who has sinned and done wrong. These are but sheep. What have they done? Let your hand fall upon me and my family.” In the midst of God’s punishment David showed his shepherd heart for the people.

On that day God said to David through Gad, “Go up and build an altar to the LORD on threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite.” Araunah wanted to give King David his threshing floor free of charge. But the king replied to Araunah, “No, I insist on paying you for it. I will not sacrifice to the LORD my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing.” So David bought the threshing floor and the oxen and paid fifty shekels of silver for them. David built an altar to the LORD there and sacrificed burnt offerings and fellowship offerings. Then the LORD answered prayer in behalf of the land, and the plague on Israel was stopped. In this way God’s punishment was removed and David’s relationship with God was restored in his mercy. In David’s life relationship with God was of the foremost importance despite his sins and shepherding God’s flock in that relationship with his own costly sacrifice.

This event shows that God’s punishment can be removed by the sacrifice on the altar. Later on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite became the place where the temple of the LORD would be built for numerous animal sacrifices for the sins of the Israelites and the place where the Son of God would be offered as an atoning sacrifice for the sins of all sinners, both the Jews and the Gentiles. This is the end of the book of 2 Samuel looking forward to the sacrifice of the Son of God Jesus Christ. In this grace may we consider our relationship with God most important and live in the fear of the Lord and be raised as God-fearing rulers.

UBF headquarters | Chicago UBF | UBF TV | Northwestern UBF | Washington UBF | New York UBF | Europe UBF  | Email Us | Site Admin