Elon, North Carolina
How has God done something amazing in your life? Have you ever turned to God in a really desperate situation and turned to God and prayed? Have you ever had an incredible testimony of answered prayer?
David has one in this chapter. Psalm 50:15 summarizes this psalm very well. It is made up of four points which describe the Christian life.
An Amazing Promise
The Bible says, “Call on me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you will honor me.” (Psalm 50:15 NIV)
That is an amazing promise. There are four truths that make up Psalm 50:15.
1. We all have days of trouble.
Trouble comes in all kinds of different forms (financial trouble, medical trouble, car trouble, marriage trouble), but we all have it.
2. In days of trouble, we need to pray.
God wants us to pray. He tells us to pray to Him for answers.
3. There is a promise of deliverance when we pray.
God says, “I will deliver you.” This does not mean that we will all be delivered FROM trouble. David was delivered IN his trouble.
4. After God delivers us, we are to honor Him.
In II Samuel 22, we see David does just that. He has all kinds of trouble. He was at the lowest point in his life.
He turned to God in his trouble and prayed and God answered his prayers. He delivered him and David gave God the glory. He did not take credit for the victory. He did not praise his troops. He praised God who gave him the victory and delivered him from his enemies.
You can find this psalm in another place in the Bible. It is the same as Psalm 18. Psalm 18 is almost identical to II Samuel 22. It is a long psalm. It is fifty-one verses long.
It is not the longest psalm. That would be Psalm 119, which is one hundred seventy-six verses long, but it is long. There are only three psalms longer than Psalm 18.
Why is this chapter in the Bible twice? Why are two chapters of the Bible the same? This chapter must be important. It also helps us understand David a little better.
I & II Samuel deal with the life of King David. We have seen many sides of David. We have seen David the shepherd boy. We have seen David the warrior, David the fighter. We have seen David the king, David the politician.
In this chapter, we see David the writer. He is the writer of Scripture. David writes a psalm in this chapter. David wrote a lot of psalms. The author picked one and included it in II Samuel.
This psalm is also a song. It is a military song. It is a victory song. It is a a song of praise. We don’t know what it sounded like, but we know it was a song from the first verse of the chapter.
David sang to the Lord the words of this song when the Lord delivered him from the hand of all his enemies and from the hand of Saul. (II Samuel 22:1 NIV).
Music is an important part of worship. There are two extremes in church. All you have to do is to look around in any worship service and you will see two things.
Many people don’t sing at all in church. They just come to be entertained, not to give God anything. Some Christians sing in church, but they do not sing to God. Real worship is directed to God, not the congregation. He did not just sing; he sang TO THE LORD. David sang a song to God.
The book begins and ends with a song. It begins with the song of Hannah (I Samuel 2). It ends with the song of David (II Samuel 22). I & II Samuel was originally one book in Hebrew, not two. Those two songs are similar.
Both songs praise God for his deliverance (I Samuel 2:1; II Samuel 22:4). Both call God a rock and a horn (I Samuel 2:1-2; II Samuel 22:3). Both say that God alone is a rock (I Samuel 2:2; II Samuel 22:23)
When was it written? This song is at the end of II Samuel, so most assume that it was written at the end of his life. David is about seventy. He is about to die, and he looks back on his life and how God has worked in his life, but that is probably not correct.
It was probably written in the middle of his life. It might have been written just after he became king. There are two hints in the text when this was written.
The first hint is found in II Samuel 22:1.
David sang to the Lord the words of this song WHEN the Lord delivered him from the hand of all his enemies and from the hand of Saul (NIV).
The first hint is found in II Samuel 22:21-27.
The Lord has dealt with me ACCORDING TO MY RIGHTEOSNESS; according to the CLEANESS of my hands he has rewarded me. For I have kept the ways of the Lord; I am NOT GUILTY of turning from my God. ALL his laws are before me; I have NOT turned away from his decrees. I have been BLAMELESS before him and have kept myself from sin.
The Lord has rewarded me according to MY righteousness, according to MY cleanness in his sight… “To the faithful you show yourself faithful, to the blameless you show yourself blameless, 27 to the pure you show yourself pure (NIV)
Does that describe David at the end of his life? Could he really say that he was not guilty of turning from God and His decrees? No. He broke several of the Ten Commandments. Could he really say that he kept himself from sin?
No. David coveted and stole another man’s wife. He committed adultery and possibly rape. Could he really talk about the cleanness of his hands? No. His hands were full of blood. He committed cold-blooded murder of a righteous man.
Could David really talk about being blameless before God and pure? Not after the incident with Bathsheba. He was impure. This psalm must have been written BEFORE the time of his sin with Bathsheba.
Description of God
The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation. He is my stronghold, my refuge and my savior—from violent people you save me. (II Samuel 22:3 NIV)
What words would you use to describe God? David begins this song with a description of God. It is an eightfold description of God. How does David describe God?
What eight words does he use to describe God? God is described as a ROCK, a FORTRESS, a DELIVERER, a STRONGHOLD, a REFUGE, a SHIELD, a HORN and a SAVIOR.
David is not just a writer in this psalm. He is a poet. I am not crazy about poetry, but you cannot hate poetry too much. There is poetry in the Bible. The whole psalm is poetic.
God is not a literal rock. He is not a literal fortress, and he is not a literal horn. These are metaphors. These are pictures of who God is and what he does.
A shield is a defensive weapon. A horn is an offensive weapon. We know what a fortress and deliverer is but what does it mean that God is a rock? How could God be a rock?
In many ways God is not like a rock. Rocks are cold and inanimate. They are not living. They are inanimate. They do not have any feelings or emotions.
When we think of a rock, we think of a small little pebble that we might have in your driveway. Don’t think of a little pebble but a massive boulder the size of a house.
It is a picture of strength. It is a picture of stability. Rocks are solid. It is a picture of something that does not change. God never changes. Rocks can also be a place of refuge (“my rock in whom I take refuge”). David does not say, “God is a rock.” He says, God is “my rock.”
“The Lord is MY rock, MY fortress and MY deliverer; MY God is MY rock, in whom I take refuge, MY shield and the horn of MY salvation. He is MY stronghold, MY refuge and MY savior” (II Samuel 22:3 NIV)
Notice that worship has to be personal. David talks about what God has done for him personally. He has a personal relationship with God. David says some other things about God in this psalm.
1) God is our lamp
You, Lord, are my lamp; the Lord turns my darkness into light. (II Samuel 22:29 NIV).
We live in a dark world. Darkness has covered the earth and thick darkness the peoples (ESV). God turns darkness into light. Jesus is the light of the world (John 8:12). That is the story of salvation.
God transfers people from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of light at salvation. Just listen to a salvation testimony. Each story is different, because everyone’s darkness is different.
“No matter what difficult times you are going through, failures, or loneliness you might be facing, God will be your light in darkness”
2) God is our strength
He gives us strength to do the impossible. He gives us supernatural strength to do things that we can’t do on our own. With your help I can advance against a troop with my God I can scale a wall. (II Samuel 22:30 NIV).
What does that sound like? It sounds like the OT equivalent of “with God all things are possible” or “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” With God’s help, David was able to kill a huge giant that no one else would dare to fight.
Notice what he says a few verses later: It is God who arms me with strength and keeps my way secure. He makes my feet like the feet of a deer; he causes me to stand on the heights. He trains my hands for battle; my arms can bend a bow of bronze. (II Samuel 22:33-35 NIV). David does not take credit for his ability to fight or how strong he is. He gives God the credit.
3) God is perfect
“As for God, his way is perfect: (II Samuel 22:31 NIV). Deuteronomy 32:4 says, “He is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is he” (NIV). He is perfect and everything He does is perfect.
Many say that God is not fair. People blame God for things that happen in their life. They are angry and bitter and mad at God. The problem is that we do not have all of the facts. We can’t see the big picture.
God says that His ways are not our ways, and His thoughts are not our thoughts (Isaiah 55:8-9). Our problem is that we think we know better than God, like children think they know better than their parents. Creatures think they know more than their Creator.
4) God’s Word is flawless
The Lord’s word is flawless (II Samuel 22:31 NIV).
Every word of God is flawless; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him. 6 Do not add to his words, or he will rebuke you and prove you a liar (Proverbs 30:5-6 NIV).
The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul (Psalm 19:7 KJV).
The words of the LORD are flawless, like silver refined in a furnace, like gold purified sevenfold (Psalm 12:7 NIV).
God’s word is flawless. Every book, every chapter, every verse, every word in the original is flawless. That does not mean every translation is flawless. The problem is that we live in a day in which many do not believe this.
Skeptics deny it. College professors deny it. Liberal churches deny it. They would say that the Bible is not flawless. It has mistakes in it. It has errors in it (scientific errors, historical errors).
Jesus said something very different. Jesus did not say that the Bible is full of errors. He said, “your word is truth” (John 17:17 NIV). Truth is the opposite of error. He said that “Scripture cannot be broken” (John 10:35 ESV). It cannot be shown to be in error. It cannot be falsified. He said that every prophecy MUST be fulfilled (Luke 22:44).
Summary of the Song
1) David’s Trouble
He describes his trouble poetically as waves of death and cords of the grave. The waves of death swirled about me; he torrents of destruction overwhelmed me. 6 The cords of the grave coiled around me; the snares of death confronted me. (II Samuel 22:5-6 NIV).
His enemies are described as violent (II Samuel 22:3, 49). They are also described as powerful. He rescued me from my powerful enemy, from my foes, who were too strong for me. (II Samuel 22:18 NIV)
2) David’s Prayer
In His trouble he called to the Lord. In my distress I called to the Lord; I called out to my God. (II Samuel 22:7 NIV). Sometimes we forget to do that and deal with things ourselves.
3) God’s Answer
From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came to his ears. 8 The earth trembled and quaked, the foundations of the heavens shook; they trembled because he was angry. 9 Smoke rose from his nostrils; consuming fire came from his mouth, burning coals blazed out of it. 10 He parted the heavens and came down; dark clouds were under his feet. 11 He mounted the cherubim and flew; he soared on the wings of the wind. 12 He made darkness his canopy around him— the dark rain clouds of the sky.13 Out of the brightness of his presence bolts of lightning blazed forth. 14 The Lord thundered from heaven; the voice of the Most High resounded.15 He shot his arrows and scattered the enemy, with great bolts of lightning he routed them. 16 The valleys of the sea were exposed and the foundations of the earth laid bare at the rebuke of the Lord, at the blast of breath from his nostrils.
God is pictured as a fire-breathing dragon with smoke coming out of his nostrils and fire coming out of His mouth, thundering from heaven, shooting bolts of lightning at people. David could have simply said, “God answered my prayer.” Instead, he described this poetically. In this section David makes a strange statement. It raises an important question.
Did David Believe in Salvation by Works?
“The Lord has dealt with me according to my righteousness; according to the cleanness of my hands he has rewarded me. 22 For I have kept the ways of the Lord; I am not guilty of turning from my God. 23 All his laws are before me; I have not turned away from his decrees. 24 I have been blameless before him and have kept myself from sin. 25 The Lord has rewarded me according to my righteousness, according to my cleanness in his sight. (II Samuel 22:21-25 NIV)
Does David believe in salvation by grace? If so, why did he say that God dealt with David because of his righteousness? Is David proud and self-righteous? No. We need to understand three things here.
1. This has nothing to do with salvation
It is not dealing with salvation. That is not what he is talking about. He is talking about deliverance from physical enemies.
2. This has nothing to do with sinlessness
David is not saying that he is perfect. Blameless is not the same thing as sinlessness. We are commanded to be blameless. It is a condition for elders in the church. If it meant sinless, then we would not have any church leaders. None would qualify. None of us can be sinless in this life but we can be and should be blameless.
3. God rewards good behavior
He blesses obedience. He rewards it in the next life, and he rewards it in this life (Psalm 1:1-4). The Bible teaches, “Obey and you will be blessed. Disobey and you will be cursed.” He rewarded David for his behavior.
4. God also has grace for sinners
People sin. God can still use believers who sin, if they repent. Peter denied Christ publicly and repeatedly but God forgave him, used him and blessed him.
4) The Wicked’s Destruction
“I pursued my enemies and crushed them; I did not turn back till they were destroyed. 39 I crushed them completely, and they could not rise; they fell beneath my feet. 40 You armed me with strength for battle; you humbled my adversaries before me. 41 You made my enemies turn their backs in flight, and I destroyed my foes. 42 They cried for help, but there was no one to save them—to the Lord, but he did not answer. 43 I beat them as fine as the dust of the earth; I pounded and trampled them like mud in the streets. (II Samuel 22:38-43 NIV).
David completely destroys his enemies. Some believe that this is messianic. It is a picture of what Jesus, the Son of David, will do when He returns.
5) God’s Praise
The Lord lives! Praise be to my Rock! Exalted be my God, the Rock, my Savior! 48 He is the God who avenges me, who puts the nations under me, 49 who sets me free from my enemies. You exalted me above my foes; from a violent man you rescued me. 50 Therefore I will praise you, Lord, among the nations; I will sing the praises of your name. (II Samuel 22:47-50 NIV).