************ Sermon on 2 Samuel 22:47 ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on January 25, 2004
2 Samuel 22:44-51
2 Samuel 22:47
"Anchored to the Rock"
The two Bible books that bear Samuel's name begin and end with poetry. At the beginning of 1 Samuel we see the song of Hannah (1 Sam 2). At the end of 2 Samuel we see the song of David (2 Sam 22). Hannah's song speaks in general terms about the salvation brought by the Lord; David's psalm very specifically tells of the deliverance and victory the Lord has given him. Hannah's song anticipates how God will strengthen His anointed servant; David's psalm looks back, praising the Lord for all that has been accomplished in his life.
I never realized until this past week that the psalm found in 2 Samuel 22 is very similar to Psalm 18, although there are a number of small changes. Where these differences do occur, the version in 2 Samuel tends to be a simplification of Psalm 18.
Evidently the writer of 2 Samuel picked an already well-known psalm and gave it an important place in his book because it gives a poetic summary of David's whole life. We are told in Samuel that
(2Sam 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.Perhaps the Israelites learned this psalm as a victory sung, sung in their worship and celebration ceremonies. And since victory over the enemies of Israel was the key characteristic of David's reign, this psalm fit in very well with what is written in 1 & 2 Samuel.
I The Enemies
Who are the enemies David is singing about in the psalm in front of us? From whom did he need saving?
Saul is mentioned by name. Do you remember how jealous and angry Saul became about David (1 Sam 18:8-9)? Or, how Saul tried to pin David to the wall with his spear (1 Sam 19:10). Or, how David fled and escaped from Saul when his own wife, the daughter of Saul, let him down through a window (1 Sam 19:12). Or, how Saul sent men to capture David time and again (1 Sam 19:18-24; 22:6-23; 23:7ff). Or, the time Saul had David cornered in a cave and didn't know it (1 Sam 24).
David also needed saving from his own son, Absalom – who won the hearts of the people away from David (2 Sam 15). Later on a man named Sheba led a rebellion against David (2 Sam 20).
During his entire reign David did battle against the Philistines. It started already with Goliath. Goliath was a giant: 9 feet tall, he wore armor that weighed 125 pounds, and he carried a spear whose tip alone weighed over 15 pounds. You remember how Goliath taunted or defied the ranks of Israel?! "Give me a man and let us fight each other" (1 Sam 17:10). And all the Israelites were dismayed and terrified.
Did you know, Goliath had brothers (or maybe they were close cousins). There was Ishbi-Benob – his bronze spear-head weighed 7.5 pounds and he said he was going to kill David (2 Sam 21:16-17). There was Saph (2 Sam 21:18). There was Lahmi (2 Sam 21:19 in light of 1 Chron 20:5). And, there was a nameless brother with six fingers on each hand and six toes on each foot who also taunted Israel (2 Sam 21:20-21). These giants, like Goliath, terrorized and taunted the Israelites during the reign of David.
All of these enemies. And sin. And pestilence. And famine. David was being attacked from every side. Enemies without. Enemies within his own people. Enemies within his own household. The enemy of sin within his own heart.
After all this you would think David would be fed up. You would think David would cry out, "Enough! I can't take it anymore!" Instead, he offers a psalm of praise to God. He sings and cries out:
(2Sam 22:47) "The LORD lives! Praise be to my Rock! Exalted be God, the Rock, my Savior!"
II God as Rock
A David calls God his Rock. More than once David found refuge in the rocks. He built his capitol city, Jerusalem, on Mount Zion. David knew that rocks were necessary to keep a fortress safe and secure. In the Ancient World sailors used rocks as anchors to hold ships in place so they wouldn't drift to shore or be broken apart in a storm. David thinks of God, then, as the fortress of his life. In the ups and downs of life it is God Who is the anchor of his soul. In the ups and downs of life it is God Who keeps him on solid ground and enables him to keep on going.
B David says, "The Lord lives." Throughout the Bible God is described as the "living God." Contrasted with the dead gods, the idol gods, of the heathen He is the living God.
God is the living God. He is the God Who is always there. He is the God Who hears and sees everything. He is the God Who is able to do anything for His people. He is the God Who loves and cares for His children.
C David describes God as "my Savior."
God saved David from King Saul. God saved David from Absalom and Sheba. God saved David from Goliath and his brothers and all the Philistines.
More than once God used "David's mighty men" to protect and save him. One of them, Jashobeam, raised his spear against three hundred men, whom he killed in one encounter. Another was Eleazar son of Dodai. When David's troops fled from the Philistines he took his stand in the middle of a barley field and struck the Philistines down. Another is Benaiah. 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 an Egyptian who was seven and a half feet tall. Although the Egyptian had a spear like a weaver's rod 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 (cf 1 Chronicles 11:10-47; 2 Sam 21:15ff; 2 Sam 23:8-39).
David knew and realized it was God at work saving him through his mighty men.
God is the Savior. He does awesome and mighty things to save His people. What kind of things is David thinking of besides the acts of his mighty men? Let me recite them for you. When He sent a great and mighty flood, God saved and protected believing Noah and his family. God gave an elderly Abraham and Sarah a child even though it was humanly impossible for Sarah to bear a child anymore. God sent the ten plagues upon Egypt in order to force Pharaoh to let His people go. God killed the Egyptian firstborn but passed over the households of His people. God led His people Israel through the midst of the Red Sea on dry ground while in the same sea He drowned Pharaoh and his whole host. God made the walls of Jericho fall down. God gave victory to Gideon and 300 men against a Midianite and Amalekite army of 140,000.
We look at God's greatness in all of these acts of redemption and we have to say the same thing God Himself said when Sarah laughed about bearing a child: "Is anything too hard for the Lord?" (Gen 18:14). Our God is so great, so strong and so mighty! Our God is an awesome saving God.
Since the days of David God has continued to show His greatness in the area of redemption. He made a virgin conceive and bear a son. On Good Friday He made three hours of darkness come upon the land at midday. He split the temple curtain from top to bottom. He opened the graves of many holy people and raised them to life. And, three days later He raised His Son from the grave.
We look at God's greatness in all of these acts of redemption and we have to say the same thing the angel said to Mary: "For nothing is impossible with God" (Luke 1:37). Our God is so great, so strong and so mighty! Our God is an awesome God.
And, we have to say that today God has continued to show His greatness in the area of redemption. He takes men and women who are dead in sin, and makes them alive in Christ Jesus. He takes men and women who are alcoholics, drug addicts, perverts, murderers, homosexuals, lesbians, and murderers and changes them into children of light. Our God is so great, so strong and so mighty! Our God is an awesome saving God.
D In the light of the New Testament, we know it is Christ that David is talking about. Like the mighty men of David, He is a warrior. He triumphs over His enemies and brings them down to defeat. We look ahead in the New Testament and we hear Jesus saying, "All authority in heaven and earth has been given to me" (Mt 28:18). And, "Take heart! I have overcome the world" (Jn 16:33b). He is the living one (even though He died). And He is the Savior!
Jesus is the mighty, living Savior David celebrates.
E David confesses the living God as His Rock and Savior. Yet, what do we read a few chapters later (2 Sam 24 & 25)? David denied his own confession when he sinned by counting the people. You need to realize that in counting the people David was not census taking, or doing voter registration, or trying to get tax information. All of this is quite harmless and in no way can be counted a sin.
David's sin was that he was taking delight in the size of his army. He was looking at Israel as a military machine fit and ready for war. And he was placing his trust in this machine and in his ability to lead it to victory. David gloried in the size of his army. He thought the strength and security and glory of his kingdom depended on the number of people and their readiness for war. David's trust was in armies, and in his leadership, but not in the living Lord, the Rock, the Savior!
Already David forgot that it was the Lord Who won battles and not the size of one's army. Already David forgot how Gideon and three hundred men, because of the Lord, destroyed thousands upon thousands of Midianites (Judges 7). How Samson, empowered by the Lord, singlehandedly killed a thousand Philistines with the jaw-bone of a donkey (Judges 15). How David as a boy, by the Lord's help, killed a bear, a lion, and great Goliath (1 Sam 17). Already David forgot it was God Who had given these mighty victories. David had misplaced his trust. He put his trust in numbers when he had only to remember Gideon, Samson, and Goliath to realize that numbers do not matter.
In doing what he did, David stooped down to the level of the heathens. It is the pagans who put their trust in kings and princes, in armies and swords. But the living God was supposed to be David's Rock and Savior.
F Are we at all like David? Do we ever put our trust in something or someone other than God?
Do we ever put our trust in ourselves? The businessman can too easily trust his knowledge, his management, and his hard work and forget it is God Who gives success. The factory worker or prison guard can put trust in the union, the seniority system, and the pension and health plan rather than trust in God. The athlete puts his trust in muscles rather than in God who gave him his ability. The farmer can put trust in his hard work, good equipment, and skillful crop rotation instead of in the God Who gives the harvest. The dairyman can put trust in his management and financial resources and skillful breeding. The student and teacher can rely on brains rather than on the God Who made the brain.
When we are sick we may put our trust in doctors, hospitals, medication, or some alternative treatment. When we think about the future we may put our trust in life, fire, or car insurance. When we plan a trip we may put our trust in a new car, new tires, or in the mechanic who looked the car over.
Now, don't get me wrong. I am not saying there is anything wrong with insurance. Nor am I saying it is wrong to trust in doctors or medicine or new tires. But our trust in these persons or things must never take the place of our trust in God. We must trust God first and foremost.
The Psalms have a lot to say about trust. They tell us what to trust and what not to trust:
(Ps 44:6-7) I do not trust in my bow, my sword does not bring me victory; (7) but you give us victory over our enemies, you put our adversaries to shame.Or, as David put it in the opening verses of the song in front of us this evening:
(Ps 49:13-14) This is the fate of those who trust in themselves, and of their followers, who approve their sayings. (14) Like sheep they are destined for the grave, and death will feed on them. The upright will rule over them in the morning; their forms will decay in the grave, far from their princely mansions.
(Ps 62:10) Do not trust in extortion or take pride in stolen goods; though your riches increase, do not set your heart on them.
(Ps 146:3,5) Do not put your trust in princes, in mortal men, who cannot save ... Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the LORD his God,
(2Sam 22:2-3) He said: "The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; (3) 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 men you save me.
In front of us this evening is a song. David is praising God. He is praising God because God has delivered him and strengthened him throughout the various trials over the years. And, the Lord alone, when it comes right down to it, is to be exalted. He alone is the living God Who is David's Rock and Savior!
Like David, we also want to thank and praise God. Not just for strength and security and salvation. But also for daily bread, health, Christian homes and families, friends. With David we want to say and sing:
(2Sam 22:47) "The LORD lives! Praise be to my Rock! Exalted be God, the Rock, my Savior!
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