2 Samuel 23


The last words of David, 1-7.

The names and exploits of has thirty-seven worthies, 8-39.


Verse 1. These be the last words of David.] I suppose the last

poetical composition is here intended. He might have spoken many

words after these in prose, but none in verse. Other meanings are

given; this I prefer.

The words of this song contain a glorious prediction of the

Messiah's kingdom and conquests, in highly poetic language.

The sweet psalmist of Israel] This character not only belonged

to him as the finest poet in Israel, but as the finest and most

Divine poet of the whole Christian world. The sweet psalmist of

Israel has been the sweet psalmist of every part of the habitable

world, where religion and piety have been held in reverence.

Verse 2. The Spirit of the Lord spake by me] Hence the matter of

his writing came by direct and immediate inspiration.

His word was in my tongue.] Hence the words of this writing

were as directly inspired as the matter.

Verse 3. The Rock of Israel] The Fountain whence Israel was


He that ruleth over men must be just] More literally,

moshel baadam tsaddik, He that ruleth in man is the just one;

or, The just one is the ruler among men.

Ruling in the fear of God.] It is by God's fear that Jesus

Christ rules the hearts of all his followers; and he who has not

the fear of God before his eyes, can never be a Christian.

Verse 4. He shall be as the light of the morning] This verse is

very obscure, for it does not appear from it who the person is of

whom the prophet speaks. As the Messiah seems to be the whole

subject of these last words of David, he is probably the person

intended. One of Dr. Kennicott's MSS. Supplies the word

Yehovah; and he therefore translates, As the light of the

morning ariseth Jehovah (see below) He shall be the Sun of

righteousness, bringing salvation in his rays, and

shining-illuminating the children of men, with increasing

splendour, as long as the sun and moon endure.

As the tender grass] The effects of this shining, and of the

rays of his grace, shall be like the shining of the sun upon the

young grass or corn, after a plentiful shower of rain.

Verse 5. Although my house be not so with God] Instead of

ken, so, read kun, established; and let the whole verse be

considered as an interrogation, including a positive assertion;

and the sense will be at once clear and consistent: "for is not my

house (family) established with God; because he hath made with me

an everlasting covenant, ordered in all, and preserved? For this

(He) is all my salvation, and all my desire, although he make it

(or him) not to spring up." All is sure relative to my spiritual

successor, though he do not as yet appear; the covenant is firm,

and it will spring forth in due time. See the observations at the

end of the chapter. See Clarke on 2Sa 23:39.

Verse 6. But the sons of Belial shall be all of them as thorns]

There is no word in the text for sons; it is simply Belial, the

good-for-nothing man, and may here refer-first to Saul, and

secondly to the enemies of our Lord.

As thorns thrust away] A metaphor taken from hedging; the

workman thrusts the thorns aside either with his bill or hand,

protected by his impenetrable mitten or glove, till, getting a

fair blow at the roots, he cuts them all down. The man is fenced

with iron, and the handle of his bill is like the staff of a

spear. This is a good representation of the dubbing-bill, with

which they slash the thorn hedge on each side before they level

the tops by the pruning-shears. The handle is five or six feet

long. This is a perfectly natural and intelligible image.

Verse 8. These be the names of the mighty men] This chapter

should be collated with the parallel place, 1Ch 11:11-47; and see

Kennicott's First Dissertation on the printed Hebrew text, pages


The Tachmonite that sat in the seat] Literally and properly,

Jashobeam the Hachmonite. See 1Ch 11:11.

The same was Adino the Eznite] This is a corruption for he lift

up his spear. See 1Ch 11:11.

Eight hundred, whom he slew at one time.] THREE hundred is the

reading in Chronicles, and seems to be the true one. The word

chalal, which we translate slain, should probably be translated

soldiers, as in the Septuagint, στρατιωτας; he withstood three

hundred SOLDIERS at one time. See the note on David's lamentation

over Saul and Jonathan, See Clarke on 2Sa 1:21, and

Kennicott's First Dissertation, p. 101. Dr. Kennicott observes:

"This one verse contains three great corruptions in the Hebrew

text: 1. The proper name of the hero Jashobeam is turned into two

common words, rendered, that sat in the seat. 2. The words, he

lift up his spear, hu orer eth chanitho, are

turned into two proper names wholly inadmissible here:

hu Adino haetsni, he was Adino the Eznite; it being nearly

as absurd to say that Jashobeam the Hachmonite was the same with

Adino the Eznite, as that David the Beth-lehemite was the same

with Elijah the Tishbite. 3. The number eight hundred was probably

at first three hundred, as in 1Ch 11:11." See

Kennicott, ubi supr.

Verse 9. When they defied the Philistines that were there

gathered] This is supposed to refer to the war in which David slew


Verse 11. A piece of ground full of lentiles] In 1Ch 11:13 it

is a parcel of ground full of barley. There is probably a mistake

of adashim, lentiles, for seorim, barley, or

vice versa. Some think there were both lentiles and barley in

the field, and that a marauding party of the Philistines came to

destroy or carry them off, and these worthies defeated the whole,

and saved the produce of the field. This is not unlikely.

Verse 13. And three of the thirty] The word shalishim,

which we translate thirty, probably signifies an office or

particular description of men. Of these shalishim we have here

thirty-seven, and it can scarcely be said with propriety that we

have thirty-seven out of thirty; and besides, in the parallel

place, 1Ch 11:11-47, there are

sixteen added. The captains over Pharaoh's chariots are termed

shalishim, Ex 14:7.

The Philistines pitched in the valley of Rephaim.] This is the

same war which is spoken of 2Sa 5:17, &c.

Verse 15. The water of the well of Bethlehem] This was David's

city, and he knew the excellence of the water which was there; and

being near the place, and parched with thirst, it was natural for

him to wish for a draught of water out of that well. These three

heroes having heard it, though they received no command from

David, broke through a company of the Philistines, and brought

away some of the water. When brought to David he refused to drink

it: for as the men got it at the hazard of their lives, he

considered it as their blood, and gave thereby a noble instance of

self-denial. There is no evidence that David had requested them to

bring it; they had gone for it of their own accord, and without

the knowledge of David.

Verse 16. Poured it out unto the Lord.] To make libations, both

of water and wine, was a frequent custom among the heathens. We

have an almost similar account in Arrian's Life of Alexander:

"When his army was greatly oppressed with heat and thirst, a

soldier brought him a cup of water; he ordered it to be carried

back, saying, I cannot bear to drink alone while so many are in

want, and this cup is too small to be divided among the whole."

Tunc poculo pleno sicut oblatum est reddito: Non solus, inquit,

bibere sustineo, nec tam exiguum dividere omnibus possum.-ARRIAN,

lib. vi.

The example was noble in both cases, but David added piety to

bravery; he poured it out unto the Lord.

Verse 20. Two lion-like men of Moab] Some think that two real

lions are meant; some that they were two savage gigantic men;

others, that two fortresses are meant. The words

sheney ariel Moab may signify, as the Targum has rendered it,

yath terein rabrebey Moab, "The two princes

of Moab."

Verse 21. He slew an Egyptian] This man in 1Ch 11:23 is stated

to have been five cubits high, about seven feet six inches.

He went down to him with a staff] I have known men who, with a

staff only for their defence, could render the sword of the best

practised soldier of no use to him. I have seen even a parallel

instance of a man with his staff being attacked by a soldier with

his hanger; he soon beat the weapon out of the soldier's hand, and

could easily have slain him with his own sword.

We have a good elucidation of this in a duel between Dioxippus

the Athenian and Horratas a Macedonian, before Alexander: "The

Macedonian, proud of his military skill, treated the naked

Athenian with contempt, and then challenged him to fight with him

the ensuing day. The Macedonian came armed cap-a-pie to the place;

on his left arm he had a brazen shield, and in the same hand a

spear called sarissa; he had a javelin in his right hand, and a

sword girded on his side; in short, he appeared armed as though he

were going to contend with a host. Dioxippus came into the field

with a chaplet on his head, a purple sash on his left arm, his

body naked, smeared over with oil, and in his right hand a strong

knotty club, (dextra validum nodosumque stipitem praeferebat.)

Horratas, supposing he could easily kill his antagonist while at a

distance, threw his javelin, which Dioxippus, suddenly stooping,

dexterously avoided, and, before Horratas could transfer the spear

from his left to his right hand, sprang forward, and with one blow

of his club, broke it in two. The Macedonian being deprived of

both his spears, began to draw his sword; but before he could draw

it out Dioxippus seized him, tripped up his heels, and threw him

with great violence on the ground, (pedibus repente subductis

arietavit in terram.) He then put his foot on his neck, drew out

his sword, and lifting up his club, was about to dash out the

brains of the overthrown champion, had he not been prevented by

the king."-Q. Curt. lib. ix., cap. 7.

How similar are the two cases! He went down to him with a staff,

and plucked the spear out of the Egyptian's hands, and slew him

with his own spear. Benaiah appears to have been just such another

clubsman as Dioxippus.

Verse 23. David set him over his guard.] The Vulgate renders

this, Fecitque eun sibi David auricularium a secreto, "David made

him his privy counsellor;" or, according to the Hebrew, He put him

to his ears, i.e., confided his secrets to him. Some think he made

him a spy over the rest. It is supposed that the meaning of the

fable which attributes to Midas very long ears, is, that this king

carried the system of espionage to a great length; that he had a

multitude of spies in different places.

Verse 24. Asahel-was one of the thirty] Asahel was one of those

officers, or troops, called the shalishim. This Asahel, brother of

Joab, was the same that was killed by Abner, 2Sa 2:23.

Verse 25. Shammah the Harodite] There are several varieties in

the names of the following shalishim; which may be seen by

comparing these verses with 1Ch 11:27.

Verse 39. Uriah the Hittite: thirty and seven in all.] To these

the author of 1Ch 11:41 adds

Zabad son of Ahlai.

1Ch 11:42

-Adina the son of Shiza the Reubenite, a captain of the

Reubenites, and thirty with him.

1Ch 11:43

-Hanan the son of Maachah, and Joshaphat the Mithnite,

1Ch 11:44

-Uzzia the Ashterathite, Shama and Jehiel the sons of Hothan

the Aroerite,

1Ch 11:45

-Jediael the son of Shimri, and Joha his brother, the Tizite,

1Ch 11:46

-Eliel the Mahavite, and Jeribai, and Joshaviah, the sons of

Elnaam, and Ithmah the Moabite,

1Ch 11:47

-Eliel, and Obed, and Jasiel the Mesobaite.

THE 4th and 5th verses 2Sa 23:4, 5 are very obscure;

L. De Dieu gives them a good meaning, if not the true one:-

"The perpetuity of his kingdom David amplifies by a comparison

to three natural things, which are very grateful to men, but not

constant and stable. For the sun arises and goes down again; the

morning may be clear, but clouds afterwards arise; and the tender

grass springs up, but afterwards withers. Not so, said he, is my

kingdom before God; it is flourishing like all these, but

perpetual, for he has made an everlasting covenant with me,

though some afflictions have befallen me; and he has not made all

my salvation and desire to grow."

De Dieu repeats ke, the note of similitude, thrice; and

the following is his version:-

"The God of Israel said, the Rock of Israel spake unto me, (or

concerning me:) The just man ruleth among men; he ruleth in the

fear of God. And, as the sun ariseth with a shining light; as the

morning is without clouds by reason of its splendour; as, from

rain, the tender grass springeth out of the earth; truly so is not

my house with God: because he hath made an everlasting covenant

with me; disposed in all things, and well kept and preserved in

that order. Although he doth not make all my deliverance and

desire to grow, i.e., though some adversities happen to me and my

family; yet, that always remains, which, in the covenant of God

made with me, is in all things orderly, disposed, and preserved."

See Bishop Patrick on the place.

Once more I must beg the reader to refer to the First

Dissertation of Dr. Kennicott, on the present state of the printed

Hebrew text; in which there is not only great light cast on this

subject, several corruptions in the Hebrew text being

demonstrated, but also many valuable criticisms on different texts

in the sacred writings. There are two Dissertations, 2 vols. 8vo.;

and both very valuable.

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