2 Samuel 23

2 SAMUEL CHAPTER 23

David’s Last Words

        • NLT Illustrated Study Bible notes, “David’s last words were not necessarily the last words he actually spoke (see 1 Kgs 1:16, 29-30, 33-35; 2:1-9) but his final public expression of worship to God as king (cp 1 Sam 12:1-25). The language indicates that he was about to utter an oracle, a revelation from God (2 Sam 23:2).”

        • ESV Study Bible adds, “The ‘last word of David’ are a song praising God for establishing his house as the ruler; the song reflects back to God’s promise in 7:8-19. Like the wisdom psalms, it also contrasts the just ruler and worthless men. This psalm uses two different metaphors. One compares the righteous ruler to the morning light at sunrise and the shafts of sunrise on the grass after the rain; the other compares worthless men to uprooted thorns.”

      • These are David’s last words:

        • The oracle of David the son of Jesse, the oracle of the man whom God raised up, the one anointed by the God of Jacob, the sweet psalmist of Israel”:

        • Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges writes, “The oracle of David the son of Jesse: a peculiar word, generally used of a direct message from God through a prophet in the phrase rendered, ‘saith the Lord,’ and joined with the name of the human speaker only here and in Numbers 24:3-4; Numbers 24:15-16; Proverbs 30:1. It therefore marks these ‘last words’ as an utterance delivered by special divine inspiration...the God of Jacob] The use of the name Jacob, instead of the more familiar Israel, is chiefly poetical. It suggests more vividly the connexion of the nation with their great ancestor, and recalls more forcibly the covenant made with him by God. Cp. Psalm 20:1; Isaiah 2:3.”

        • Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary explains that there are a couple of different ways to understand the latter portion of the verse, “The sweet psalmist of Israel; or, sweet, or delightful, or amiable in the songs of Israel: either, first, As the object of them; he whom the people of Israel mentioned in their songs with joy and praise, as when they sung, Saul hath slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands; and many others which doubtless they made and sung concerning him, upon the occasion of his eminent victories, and the blessings of his wise and righteous government; some whereof we have in the Book of Psalms. Or, secondly, As the author of them, he who was eminent and famous among the people of God for the composing of sweet and holy songs to the praise of God, and for the use of his church in after-ages; for he did not only indite most of the Book of Psalms, by the direction of God’s Spirit; but also invented the tunes, or appointed tunes to which they were to be sung, and the instruments of music which were used in and with those holy songs, 1 Chronicles 25:1,6 Am 6:5.”

        • The Spirit of Yahweh speaks through me; His word is on my tongue. The God of Israel spoke; the Rock of Israel said to me, ‘The one who rules the people justly, ruling in the fear of God, he is like the light of the morning at sunrise on a cloudless morning, like the brightness after rain that makes grass sprout from the earth.’”

        • ESV Study Bible elaborates, “The Spirit of the Lord speaks by me shows that David represents himself as a prophet, whose songs and wise sayings come from God (cf Matt 22:43; Acts 1:16; 2:30; 4:25; Heb 4:7). The king who rules justly over men is one who rules in the fear of God, according to the divine statutes. Like the morning light, like the sun…like rain are images for bringing health and life. He in this verse is the just ruler of the previous verse, not God.”

      • Isn’t it true that my house is with God? For He has made an everlasting covenant with me, arranged in all its detail and secured. Will He not always deliver me and bring my desires to fruition?”

        • ESV Study Bible says, “This verse refers to the covenant God made with David in ch. 7 (see also Ps 89:29; 132:12). Ordered in all things and secure is probably legal terminology, stressing the validity of the covenant.”

        • NLT Illustrated Study Bible adds, “David is referring to the prophecy Nathan made about David and his descendants (7:12-16). Jesus is the everlasting king who is the ‘descendant of David’ (Matt 1:1).”

      • But evil men are like thorns that are thrown away, because they can’t be picked up by hand. The man who touches them must be armed with iron and a wooden spear shaft. They are entirely burned up right where they lie.

The Three: David’s Elite Commanders

          • ESV Study Bible writes, “This list of David’s mighty men begins formally with ‘These are the names of’ and ends with the total number, ‘thirty-seven in all’ (v. 39)…The list is divided into two groups: ‘the three’… and ‘the thirty’…Thirty four names are listing among ‘the thirty’: this could mean that (1) ‘thirty’ is a round number, or (2) the group began with thirty members and continued to be called ‘the thirty’ when others were added; or (3) the group remained at 30, but when some died they were replaced by other names on this list (the parallel list in 1 Chron 11:10-47 has 16 additional names in 1 Chron 11:41-47, probably for this reason)…”

        • NET Bible’s text critical notes offer an additional option for interpretation of “the three,” “The Hebrew word is sometimes rendered as ‘the three,’ but BDB is probably correct in taking it to refer to military officers (BDB 1026 s.v. In that case the etymological connection of this word to the Hebrew numerical adjective for ‘three’ can be explained as originating with a designation for the third warrior in a chariot.”

      • These are the names of David’s mighty warriors:

        • Jashobeam, a Hacmonite, was chief of the Three. He killed 800 men with his spear in one battle. Next in command was Eleazar, who was Dodai’s son and Ahoa’s grandson. He was one of the three warriors who were with David when they defied the Philistines who were gathered there for battle. When the men of Israel retreated, Eleazar stood his ground and fought the Philistines until his hand got so tired that it stuck to his sword. Yahweh brought about a great victory on that day. The men returned to Eleazar, but only to plunder the bodies.

        • I have aligned the names with the NLT rendering which sides with the names provided by the Chronicler in the parallel to this text in 1 Chr 11.

          • HCSB mentions a discrepancy in the text of this passage, “Adino the Eznite is listed in some English Bibles, but not others. The MT mentions him but the parallel verse in 1 Ch 11:11 does not. Because the name and the syntax of the verse are obscure, and because 1 Ch omits the name, many recent translators suspect a copyist error here and rely on the Chronicler’s reading.”

      • Next in command was Shammah, who was the son of Agee from Harar. The Philistines had assembled in Lehi, in an area where there was a field full of lentils. The men retreated from the Philistines, but Shammah took his stand in the middle of the field, defended it, and struck the Philistines down. Yahweh brought about a great victory.

        • At harvest time three of David’s thirty leading warriors went down to him at the cave of Adullam. A company of Philistines was camped in the valley of the Rephaim. At that time, David was in the stronghold and a Philistine garrison was in Bethlehem. David longed for water and said, “How I wish someone would bring me water to drink from the well by the gate at Bethlehem.” So the three mighty warriors broke through the Philistine forces, drew water from the well by the gate at Bethlehem, and brought it back to David. But David refused to drink it. He poured it out to Yahweh and said, “Yahweh, far be it from me that I should do this! It is the same as the blood of the men who risked their lives by going!” So he refused to drink it. These were examples of things the three warriors did.

          • NLT Illustrated Study Bible writes, “The cave of Adullam was a place of refuge for David from Saul (see 1 Sam 22:1). The valley of Rephaim was located between Bethlehem and Jerusalem (see 2 Sam 5:17-25).”

        • On David’s thirst, the same sources notes, “This Hebrew verb elsewhere carries the idea of excessive desire (see Num 11:4…; Ps 106:14, …). It is unclear whether David’s craving for water was excessive, but it certainly led to dangerous exploits.”

        • ESV Study Bible remarks, “The taste of the water differs from place to place, and of course the water that one grew up drinking tastes best. David’s words are not a command; it probably did not occur to him that someone might actually act on his words. This episode shows the love that his men had for their leader and his regard for them.”

        • On David’s refusal to drink the water, the same source adds, “This may at first seem wasteful of David, and ungrateful, but it is a gesture showing great value. He likens the water to the blood of his men, and for David to drink the water obtained at the risk of their lives would have been to take their blood lightly. But to pour it out before the Lord was a way of saying that he was not worthy of it, and he was offering it to the Lord instead. Such ‘drink offerings’ were often poured out before the Lord: see Gen 35:14; Num 15:7-10; 28:7-15; etc.”

The Thirty: David’s Mighty Men

      • Abishai, Zeruiah’s son and Joab’s brother, was chief of the Thirty. He fought and killed 300 men with his spear and won a reputation beside the Three. He was the most renowned of the Thirty and became their commander, though he wasn’t one of the Three.

        • This rendering is preferred by many English translations and, as noted in their footnotes, is the rendering of “Two Hebrew manuscripts” and the “Syriac Peshitta.” However, as NET Bible’s text critical notes explain, “…many medieval Hebrew mss, the LXX, and Vulgate in reading (hashlosha, ‘the three’) rather than the Kethib of the MT (hashalishi, ‘the third,’ or ‘adjutant’).” The result of that reading is that Abishai was commander of the Three, but not actually a member of the Three.

      • Benaiah, Jehoiada’s son, was a brave man from Kabzeel who performed great deeds. He killed the two sons of Ariel of Moab. He also went down into a pit on a snowy day and killed a lion. Armed with a club, he killed a handsome Egyptian man who was armed with a spear. Benaiah went down to him with his club, snatched the Egyptian’s spear from his hand, and killed him with his own spear. These were the things Jehoiada’s son Benaiah did, and he won a reputation beside the Three. He was renowned among the Thirty, but wasn’t one of the Three. David put him in charge of his bodyguard.

        • NLT Illustrated Study Bible writes, “Here are examples of the prowess of Abishai and Benaiah. Elsewhere, Abishai was intensely combative toward David’s enemies, especially Saul (1 Sam 26:6-9) and Saul’s kinsmen Shimei (2 Sam 16:9-11). Abishai had saved David’s life during one of the Philistine wars (21:16-17). Benaiah appeared first as commander of the mercenaries who served as David’s bodyguard, independent of the regular army (8:18; 20:23). He was also the leader of a 24,000-man division of the regular army that served the king in the third month of every year (1 Ch 27:5-6). He played a major role in Solomon’s ascension to the throne (1 Kgs 1:32-49) and became the commander of Solomon’s army, as Joab was for David.”

      • Also included in the Thirty were the following men:

        • Asahel, Joab’s brother

        • Elhanan, the son of Dodo from Bethlehem

        • Shammah from Harod

        • Elika from Harod

        • Helez from Pelon

        • Ira, the son of Ikkesh from Tekoa

        • Abiezer from Anathoth

        • Sibbekai from Hushah

        • Zalmon from Ahoah

        • Maharai from Netophah

        • Heled, the son of Baanah from Netophah

        • Ithai, the son of Ribai from Gibeah in the land of Benjamin

        • Benaiah from Pirathon

        • Hurai from the wadis of Gaash

        • Abi-albon from Arabah

      • Azmaveth from Bahurim

        • Eliahba from Shaalbon

        • Jashen’s sons

        • Jonathan, the son of Shagee from Harar

        • Ahiam, the son of Sharar from Harar

        • Eliphelet, the son of Ahasbai from Maacah

        • Eliam, the son of Ahithophel from Giloh

        • Hezro from Carmel

        • Paarai from Arba

        • Igal, the son of Nathan from Zobah

        • Bani from Gad

        • Zelek from Ammon

        • Naharai from Beeroth, the armor-bearer for Zeruiah’s son Joab

        • Ira from Jattir

        • Gareb from Jattir

        • Uriah the Hittite

      • There were 37 in all.

        • Again, note that I have aligned this rendering of the list of names with the NLT’s which generally follows the Chroniclers rendering in the 1 Chr 11 parallel of this list.

        • ESV Study Bible writes, “The sons of Jashen probably refers to two men, possibly twins…”

        • NLT Illustrated Study Bible makes the following observations:

          • Asahel, David’s nephew, was killed by Abner during the war between David and Ishbosheth (2:18-32). Asahel’s inclusion here suggests that parts of these lists go back to the beginning of David’s career. Elhanan son of Dodo should not be confused with Elhanan son of Jair (21:19; 1 Chr 20:5).”

        • The very last name mentioned is Uriah the Hittite. There is an earlier reference to his father-in-law, Eliam, father of Bathsheba (23:34; see 11:3). By contrast, the Chronicler, who never mentioned David’s sins against Bathsheba and Uriah, placed Uriah’s name inconspicuously in the middle of the list of David’s mighty men (1 Chr 11:10-47). This author not only described the sins (2 Sam 11:1-27) but puts emphasis on Uriah’s name by placing it at the end of this list. Uriah was no ordinary conscript but a loyal member of David’s elite guard, which makes David’s treachery against him all the worse.”

      • Only thirty-six names are mentioned, assuming that ‘Shammah…from Harar’ (23:11) is different from ‘Shammah from Harod’ (23:25), and that ‘Benaiah son of Jehoiada’ (23:20) is different from ‘Benaiah from Pirathon’ (23:30). Perhaps the thirty-seventh warrior was Joab, who is mentioned only peripherally (23:18, 37) and is absent from the list of names. Many commentators say that he is excluded because he was David’s chief military leader and did not need to be included. The omission could also represent David’s long and troubled association with Joab, who was eventually executed when Solomon carried out David’s deathbed command (1 Kgs 2:5-6, 28-34).”

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