2 Samuel

2 Samuel - Lesson 23A

Chapter 23:1-7

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**2 Samuel series originally taught by Stephen Armstrong. Chapter 20 onwards taught by Wesley Livingston**

  • Tonight, we move into Chapter 23 of 2 Samuel where we will only have time for 7 verses.

    • These 7 verses are what is known as “David’s last words” and what a fitting title for these verses.

      • However, before we begin 2 Samuel 23, I want us to first understand how biblical narratives speak to the believer in Christ today.

    • As we know, with any section of scripture, we study the scriptures to:

      • Grow in knowing more about our Savior, Jesus Christ,

      • Be conformed into Christ’s image,

      • And understand God’s Redemptive plan regarding all things.

        • If we were to boil it all down, all of scripture points to the Glory of God and His goodness.

    • Tonight’s text will, for some, be approached with interpretative difficulty.

      • For some pastors and theologians, they only see this section of the text as speaking about David as the ideal king and his reign over Israel.

      • However, as we will see, this poem speaks beyond David as the ideal King, and points to what David sees regarding the promised future of the eternal King and His Kingdom rule.

    • The struggle for many in this portion of scripture is David’s use of personal pronouns.

      • However, if we were to just stop our understanding there, we fail to see the whole of scripture and in turn miss the key point of the text.

      • The Apostle Peter mentions this point in how even prophecy comes not from one’s own interpretation, but by the Holy Spirit. (2 Peter 1:20-21)

    • Even as we walk through the New Testament, we find over and over again, Jesus mentioning that the Law and the prophets point to Him.

      • In John 5:39-40, Jesus says these words:

John 5:39 You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me; 
John 5:40 and you are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life.
  • Even today, some individuals ask the question, “Where does the Old Testament mention anything about Jesus?”

    • And to that I would say, “Let’s see what 2 Timothy 3:16-17 tells us about that”.

    • It’s there we see Paul mention that “All scripture is breathed by God and is profitable…”

    • In other words, both the Hebrew Scriptures and New Testament are God-breathed and inspired.

      • So, if Jesus mentions that the Hebrew scriptures point to Him in John 5, and the Hebrew bible is all that they had during that day…

      • Then it becomes clear, that all of the Hebrew bible in some way, shape, or form, points to Jesus and His arrival on the scene.

  • So, as we approach this text tonight, our approach is no different than that of the New Testament writers.

    • And that is by searching the scriptures, even in a biblical narrative, finding that it speaks to who Christ is, His nature, and character.

      • And in searching the scriptures, we must be willing to allow the Holy Spirit to guide our thinking and understanding.

      • So, with that being said, let’s open up a copy of the scriptures and I invite you to meet me in 2 Samuel 23:1.

2 Samuel 23:1 Now these are the last words of David. David the son of Jesse declares, The man who was raised on high declares, The anointed of the God of Jacob, And the sweet psalmist of Israel,
  • Although Chapter 23 begins with the phrase, “Now these are the last words of David”, it should not be seen as his “very last words” spoken before death.

    • David’s last breath is drawn in 1 Kings 2:10 after he has given his final instructions to his son, Solomon who will be king over a United Kingdom.

      • So the best way to understand his phrasing in 2 Samuel 23:1 would be that these are his final statements regarding his writings and kingship.

      • In other words, this final song of David would be, as one theologian put it, David’s final literary legacy to Israel.

    • It’s like your favorite author who you have followed for some time, and they finally release the book you have been longingly anticipating.

      • Only this time, they provide a final detail and that is this will be their last book and final interview.

      • So it would be the expectation of the reader to hold near every word spoken and written.

    • Within these final writings of David, what he is speaking about and referring to has become the topic of much debate within evangelical scholarship.

      • And that issue is in regard to the authorship and intent of the majority sum of the psalters in scripture written by David.

    • The root of this debate is based upon individuals viewing the psalms either as:

      • One, a stand-alone postexilic collection of writings during a time when there was no Davidic king.

      • Or two, the psalters point forward to a messianic hope of a fulfilment of the Davidic covenant to a true and better descendant of David, Jesus Christ.

    • The implications of these debates stir further trouble in matters of interpretation.

      • Because if someone sees these poetic words of David only as him speaking about himself, it causes the interpretation of the text to be a bit off-base.

      • And herein lies the issue we find in this section of our text tonight.

    • That if David, in verses 1-7 is merely talking about himself as an ideal king for Israel, then the anticipated hope in which he longs for, regarding the fulfillment of the Davidic promise, is lost.

      • Therefore, as we approach the text tonight and examine it in the original language, we will see that David is not talking about himself.

      • Rather, David is pointing the reader to a far greater King in whom Yahweh has promised, David has trusted, and longingly anticipates.

  • So, David states in his final public statement to Israel that he is in fact the writer of this poem.

    • In Hebrew, the text actually reads that this is “an oracle from David”.

      • That word “oracle” in Hebrew is ne’um which means a prophetic declaration.

      • Typically, in scripture, this word, ne’um, is followed by Yahweh. That is to say, this is the “declaration of Yahweh” or the utterance of the Lord.

      • However, we find in 2 Samuel 23 that the word ne’um is linked to the phrase “a man” which is only found in three other places in the Hebrew bible. (v.1)

      • Those other places outside of 2 Samuel 23 are Numbers 24:3-4, 15-16, and Proverbs 30:1.

    • And in these particular instances, they are all prophetic messages about the Messiah.

      • For example, check out Numbers 24:15-17.

Numbers 24:15 He took up his discourse and said,
“The oracle of Balaam the son of Beor,
And the oracle of the man whose eye is opened,
Numbers 24:16 The oracle of him who hears the words of God,
And knows the knowledge of the Most High,
Who sees the vision of the Almighty,
Falling down, yet having his eyes uncovered.
Numbers 24:17 “I see him, but not now;
I behold him, but not near;
A star shall come forth from Jacob,
A scepter shall rise from Israel,
And shall crush through the forehead of Moab,
And tear down all the sons of Sheth.
    • So with this context in mind, let’s continue to see if the text will confirm if David is talking about himself or the promised Messiah.

  • After David mentions in whom the oracle has been given to (himself, being the son of Jesse), he then states the following:

    • “The man who has raised on high declares, the anointed of the God of Jacob, and the sweet psalmist of Israel”.

    • So, from the remainder of verse one, it reads as if David is providing descriptions of himself. Again, it reads:

      • David the son of Jesse declares

      • “The man” who was raised on high declares

      • The anointed of the God of Jacob

      • The sweet psalmist of Israel

    • However, within this text there is what is called a textual variant that if it holds true actually assists in pointing out who David is truly talking about.

      • These varying differences of transcription lie between the Masoretic text and the Septuagint.

      • And the heart of the issue deals with the translation of one Hebrew word, and that is al which is translated here for “on High”.

      • “al” can mean height, according to, on account of, or concerning.

    • The difference between these two texts boils down to vowels and consonants.

      • Being that the original Hebrew language was only written in consonants, the Masoretic text added a system of vowels and accents to help standardize the pronunciation and interpretation.

      • Whereas the Septuagint, which is the Greek translation of the Old Testament, provides a straightforward approach to translation without compromising the strict adherence of the Hebrew structure.

    • So, with all that in mind, you can see how there would be varying approaches to the understanding of who David is talking about.

      • J.H. Sailhamer, who is considered a notable Hebrew scholar, provides this insight on the different readings:

“The effect of the difference in the length of the vowel is such that the title ‘anointed one’ in the Masoretic Text refers to King David, whereas in other, non-Masoretic versions of the text, David’s words are taken as a reference to Messiah.”
  • So here’s what we see from both versions of the text:

    • David has been exalted as King, he too is the anointed of God, as well as a psalmist over Israel.

    • But, from a Messianic perspective, David’s priority subject is not himself, but this greater King, one who is of God and is God.

    • And we will see this point fully, later on.

    • So, if we are to view the alternative reading of this textual variant for verse 1, according to one Messianic Jewish scholar named Michael Rydelnik, it would read as follows:

“The oracle of David son of Jesse
the oracle of the man raised up
concerning the Anointed (Messiah) of the God of Jacob
the Delightful One of the songs of Israel”
  • It becomes clearer that David is not the subject of his poem, but rather the Messiah is the subject and object of the poem.

    • You may say, “Pastor Wes, this is a bit of a far stretch, do you have other evidence?” I Do!

    • We are given external evidence in the Rabbinic Targum of Jonathan that interprets David’s last words being about the Jewish Messiah.

      • However, as we continue throughout the night, we will see the most important evidence comes to light.

      • And that internal evidence is scripture itself which will reveal how this poem is not about David, but about Messiah.

    • The question becomes: “How is it that David has been informed about Messiah in such an intimate way?”

      • And as we will see, it is the same way in which the Lord revealed to David regarding his future descendant in Psalm 110.

      • Check out verses 2-4.

2 Samuel 23:2 “The Spirit of the Lord spoke by me, And His word was on my tongue.
2 Samuel 23:3 “The God of Israel said, The Rock of Israel spoke to me, ‘He who rules over men righteously, Who rules in the fear of God,
2 Samuel 23:4 Is as the light of the morning when the sun rises, A morning without clouds, When the tender grass springs out of the earth, Through sunshine after rain.’
  • David provides the reader, in this section of the poem, with the means of how he has come to such detailed information regarding the future Messiah.

    • He mentions in verse 2 that his knowledge of the future Messiah had come through Divine Illumination, by the Holy Spirit.

      • And as we know, this very means of distributed knowledge and understanding of Divine things only comes by way of the Spirit Himself.

    • Another way to say what David expressed regarding how the Holy Spirit communicated to him, was that the Spirit spoke “through him”.

      • In other words, this knowledge did not originate from David but rather it was given to Him to speak.

      • Peter makes mention of how no prophecy of scripture comes by one’s own interpretation in 2 Peter 1:20-21. Check out the text:

2 Peter 1:20 But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, 
2 Peter 1:21 for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.
  • So, the very fact that David utters not his own words but a prophetic utterance of the Lord, connects directly to the use of the word ne’um in verse 1.

    • This is a prophetic utterance which shows us that David viewed himself, in this sense, as a prophet.

    • For the role of a prophet during that day was to utter the very messages of God to the people, and here David does this through poem (song).

    • And David is given this ability because he served as the Mashiach (Messiah) for Israel in the sense of its human-ruler and king.

      • Throughout our time in this study of 2nd Samuel, Pastor Steve and I both have been drawing similarities between David and Jesus…

      • That David being the King of Israel, during his day, was simply pointing to a true and better King and Kingdom, yet future.

      • And that the Messiah in whom David was pointing to was Jesus Christ, Himself.

      • And in this case only Jesus Christ could serve as prophet, in His first coming, priest in His current Session, and King in His Second Coming.

    • In addition, I mentioned last week how David speaking to his blamelessness and righteousness was not speaking about himself. (2 Samuel 22:20-51)

      • In other words, where David was corruptible and sinful, Jesus Christ was incorruptible and sinless.

      • As a matter of fact, Peter picks up on this typological connection in Acts 2:29-31. Check out the text:

Acts 2:29 “Brethren, I may confidently say to you regarding the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. 
Acts 2:30 And so, because he was a prophet and knew that God had sworn to him with an oath to seat one of his descendants on his throne, 
Acts 2:31 he looked ahead and spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that He was neither abandoned to Hades, nor did His flesh suffer decay.
  • So, David too operated in the way of a prophet when instructed by the Lord.

    • And the Holy Spirit, through David, writing these very words in song was no different.

    • That David, under Divine inspiration would speak to and point to Christ as the Holy One and Righteous One to come.

    • And what a blessing it is for us to know that the very words of God have been theopneustos or breathed out, by God.

      • And that through the words of scripture, they serve to benefit our lives through teaching, reproof, correction, and training in righteousness.

      • For when we too submit to the leading of the Spirit of God, His very words conform us to the obedience of Christ and equip us to serve Him well.

    • Well, as David gets to verses 3-4, his point becomes fixed not upon his own kingship, but rather the One to come that would be perfect in His reign.

      • Friends, the reality is, if this section were speaking about David there would be a bit of confusion.

      • Because although David was a good king and attempted to rule righteously among all men, He did not rule in perfect righteousness.

      • We need not trace every step of his misdeeds, but if we are to be honest David fell short time and again.

    • David, in the Spirit, now speaks to two demands in which an ideal King for God would rule.

      • And that is One who rules righteously.

      • The Hebrew word is sad-diq which means innocent, upright, or just.

    • And the cause of such upright rule is due to this King ruling in the fear of God.

      • In other words, every decision, every judgement, every direction is exercised under the obedience and submission of the Lord.

      • Clearly, David is seeing a glimpse of someone, more specifically, the promised seed in whom the Lord told Him about in 2 Samuel 7.

    • David was told by the Lord that his promised seed, who would rule on his throne, would be:

      • 1. An Eternal descendant- 2 Samuel 7:12, 1 Chronicles 17:14

      • 2. Have an Eternal Kingdom – 2 Samuel 7:12,16

      • 3. Rule on an Eternal Throne. 2 Samuel 7:13, 1 Chronicles 17:12b,14

      • 4. Have an Eternal House – 2 Samuel 7:11, 13a,16; 1 Chronicles 17:10

  • Additionally, within the Old Testament, there were several things in which the people were told which were characteristics of Messiah.

    • Here are some scriptures that speak to what Messiah would be like:

      • 1. Messiah is true humanity – Genesis 3:15

      • 2. Messiah is God – Genesis 4:1

      • 3, Messiah is a Jew – Genesis 22:17-18

      • 4. Messiah is a King from the tribe of Judah – Genesis 49:10, Psalm 2, Psalm 89, Psalm 110; Zechariah 6:11-13

      • 5. Messiah is a Prophet – Deuteronomy 18

      • 6. Messiah is born of a virgin – Isaiah 7:14

      • 7. Messiah is eternal God, true humanity, and a King born in Bethlehem – Isaiah 9:6-7; Micah 5:2

      • 8. Messiah will have a forerunner – Isaiah 40:3

      • 9. Messiah would die for the sins of the world – Isaiah 53; Psalm 22

      • 10. Messiah is a priest – Psalm 110

    • Clearly, this King in whom David is talking about is unlike any king of Israel.

      • To further push the point, we need not go beyond 1 and 2 Kings to see the track records of kings throughout Israel’s history, both the Northern and Southern kingdoms, respectively.

      • And this reality settles in for David as he even introspectively and reflectively looks at his own life – “I haven’t met this standard”.

      • Yet, at the same time, he stands hopeful in the fact that what the Lord has told him regarding the Davidic Covenant is true!

    • David continues in verse 4 by describing this King in which the Lord is showing him, by the Holy Spirit.

      • David compares this king to the “light of the morning”, and a morning without clouds.

    • In other words, this future Messiah-King will radiate God’s Divine Glory and will provide light to all by way of His obedience to God.

      • This King will be a blessing to all who come under Him and will be the epitome of a caring and compassionate king.

    • The prophet Malachi spoke about the Messiah in a similar way in Malachi 4:2

      • Check out Malachi 4:2 beginning in verse 1 to provide context.

Malachi 4:1 “For behold, the day is coming, burning like a furnace; and all the arrogant and every evildoer will be chaff; and the day that is coming will set them ablaze,” says the Lord of hosts, “so that it will leave them neither root nor branch.” 
Malachi 4:2 “But for you who fear My name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings; and you will go forth and skip about like calves from the stall.
  • So, the prophet Malachi is speaking about the immense blessing and joy that will come through and by the Messiah in the Kingdom.

    • For those who ascribe to a Kingdom now, or the Kingdom is in our hearts, spiritually, fail to understand the literalness of these passages.

    • We don’t have to keep the news on for too long or look around the world today to see that there is no peace, healing, or blessing in our midst.

      • That is to say that based upon scripture, David was not spiritualizing about the future King or His Kingdom, but that this would be a literal reality in human history!

      • This is the hope that we have as believers!

      • That in Christ’s Second Coming, when Israel responds positively to her King, that we will enter the Kingdom with Him! (Mt.23:39)

Matthew 23:39 For I say to you, from now on you will not see Me until you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’”
    • And with that we (the Church-Age believers) will be beneficiaries of these future blessings alongside Israel and we will experience the glory of the Lord in the Millennium Kingdom!

    • So, although David does not yet see this glory of the King and the Kingdom, he believes that what God promised him in 2 Samuel 7 will come to pass.

      • And David expresses his profound confidence in the Lord and His word in verse 5. Check out the text.

2 Samuel 23:5 “Truly is not my house so with God? For He has made an everlasting covenant with me, Ordered in all things, and secured; For all my salvation and all my desire, Will He not indeed make it grow?
  • At first glance, this verse reads as if David were asking a rhetorical question.

    • More specifically, the way in which the text is phrased would seem as if David is suggesting that his household is right with the Lord apart from God alone.

      • So with this reading (translation), one can see how some commentators could assume David is seemingly arrogant.

      • However, we face yet another textual issue regarding translation from one language to another.

    • I want to re-read verse 5 again, but this time we will read the King James Version against the NASB 95 and see the differences.

2 Sam 23:5 (KJV) Although my house be not so with God; yet he hath made with me an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things, and sure: for this is all my salvation, and all my desire, although he make it not to grow.
    • Notice that most English translations such as the NASB, ESV, NIV translate this verse as a question.

      • Whereas the KJV and the NKJV, along with the Septuagint, translate this verse as a statement.

    • As Dr. Rydelnic points out in his work in the Moody Handbook of Messianic Prophecy on this verse:

      • “Translating this [verse 5] as a question is an attempt to harmonize these words with 2 Samuel 23:1 in the Masoretic Text.”

    • In other words, for the translators, making this text fit more of a David as king and subject of discussion, makes sense for verse 5 to be a question.

      • However, if we continue with the logic as the Masoretic text translators provided, it still begs the question:

      • If David is speaking about himself in these 7 verses, why then does he mention that his own house is not like the house in which he is describing about himself? Confused yet?

    • In other words, David can’t be writing about himself within this poem, but rather he is writing about someone else – Messiah.

      • This means that David’s first point in verse 5 is that his household is not deserving of the promise because of his own failure in not ruling righteously.

      • And as I mentioned earlier, we don’t have to go too far in the Book of Samuel, and we see David’s shortcomings and failures.

    • This further speaks to the reality that the promise of the Davidic Covenant doesn’t rest in David’s actions or merit, but rather God’s promise alone.

      • The same idea for justification by faith through grace holds true as well.

      • In that, our salvation in Christ rests not on our actions, deeds, or merit, but solely upon our faith being placed upon Christ alone.

    • So, from Old Testament to New Testament, there is no indication of salvation by works, just as David sees that God’s promise of the future Messiah was not based upon David’s righteousness!

      • And to that we should be in great thanks to the Lord!!!

    • It is later on in verse 5 that we see that David mentions that his hope is secured, not in himself, but upon God’s great promise!

      • Scripture tells us that all of God’s promises in Him are yes and amen.

      • The Apostle Paul mentions this reality in the New Testament in 2 Corinthians 1:20. Check out the text.

2 Corinthians 1:20 For as many as are the promises of God, in Him they are yes; therefore also through Him is our Amen to the glory of God through us.
  • So David wraps up his point at the end of verse 5 by saying, “Will He not indeed make it grow?” Notice, he ends with a question again.

    • As mentioned before, this is a matter of translation, so to resolve that we will look back at the KJV.

    • And it’s there that we read, “For this is all my salvation and all my desire, Although he make it not to grow.”

    • In Hebrew, the word for “not” is the word lo which is in the negative and gives the sense of “not yet”.

      • And we see those instances in places such as Genesis 15:16 and Jeremiah 37:4.

Gen.15:16  Then in the fourth generation they will return here, for the iniquity of the Amorite is not yet complete.”
Jeremiah 37:4 Now Jeremiah was still coming in and going out among the people, for they had not yet put him in the prison.
    • You may notice that the word yet in those particular text are italicized which means it is not in the original Hebrew but carries the sense of that meaning.

    • So, when we read the last line of 2 Samuel 23:5 with the proper Hebrew phrasing, it reads: “For this is all my salvation, and all my desire, Although he has not yet made it grow.”

      • In other words, I have not seen this promise fulfilled, yet I am hopeful in the fact that God has said it, therefore, He will bring it to fruition.

    • This is why it’s not by coincidence that the same Hebrew root word for grow (sprout) is the same as the Messianic title “Branch” in Jeremiah 23:5 for the Messiah.

      • Check out Jeremiah 23:5.

Jeremiah 23:5 “Behold, the days are coming,” declares the Lord,
“When I will raise up for David a righteous Branch;
And He will reign as king and act wisely
And do justice and righteousness in the land.
    • Here we find Jeremiah speaking about a ‘yet future’ moment regarding the Messiah-King who will then rule with Justice and righteousness in the land.

    • So, David speaks to the coming of this Messiah, the revelation of this coming King, the way in which He will rule and reign, and the promise that He will come.

      • This Psalm becomes a psalm of great hope and anticipation of the Second Coming of Christ.

      • That in His coming Kingdom, He will rule with great glory and bless those who are in Him.

      • Lastly, David provides the reader with a warning of sorts.

      • This warning speaks to both the power of the Messiah and the judgement that comes to those who are against Him.

      • Check out verses 6-7.

2 Samuel 23:6 “But the worthless, every one of them will be thrust away like thorns, Because they cannot be taken in hand;
2 Samuel 23:7 But the man who touches them Must be armed with iron and the shaft of a spear, And they will be completely burned with fire in their place.”
  • The text provides us with a contrasting moment regarding the blessings and joy of this Coming Messiah for those who trust in Him.

    • Yet in the latter half of the poem, we are shown the opposite response to the King.

      • It says that it will be that those who have not trusted in Him, and those who reject the King, will be thrust away like thorns.

    • You may notice the term ‘worthless’ is used here in verse 6.

      • This term should be familiar to us at this point because this is the same word that the writer of 2 Samuel used for Sheba.

      • That word ‘worthless’, beliy-ya-al (blee-ya-all), means wickedness or good for nothing.

    • And David says that they will be thrust away or better put, discarded.

      • The imagery here is similar to that of the parable of the wheat and the Tares in Matthew 13.

      • That where the wheat (believers) will be gathered to the barn, the opposite is true for the tares (non-believers).

    • The tares are discarded and burned which is representative of their judgement and separation from God ending in them being consumed by fire in hell.

      • So, David is drawing a line in the sand, in a sense.

      • You should choose the righteous King and His ways and not your own.

      • Choosing your own ways and desires ends in death and judgement by fire.

    • Furthermore, we see this reality in the Book of Revelation and how in Christ’s return, it will begin with great bloodshed and judgement upon the unbelieving world and kingdoms. (Revelation 16-19)

      • And after that, the Kingdom will be ushered in where Jesus will rule with all righteousness and justice.

    • So, although this poem speaks to the ways in which David as Yahweh’s King brought about justice and righteousness in partial ways, Jesus would bring about true justice and righteousness in all His ways.

  • David’s last words serve the reader with great anticipation and hope while also providing those who reject the King with stern warning.

    • That where those who value the King and follow the King increase in blessings from the King.

      • On the other hand, those who reject the king and sow division and wickedness towards the king, will heap great judgement.

      • And we see this ending fate in-fact for all of David’s enemies – none had a hopeful ending.

      • And this is declared for all who choose to reject the Lord’s Messiah.

    • What becomes such a note of mercy throughout all of this is that the Lord provides time for those who are far from Him to come to know Him.

      • That the Lord still extends mercy to His enemies until the very end.

      • And may I say that the salvation of the Lord is here, even today.

    • That there is still opportunity for men and women to escape an eternity from hell and separation from God by placing faith in the Lord Jesus.

      • Eternity is a long time. And what great sadness it will be if you had the opportunity to receive the greatest gift God has given to the world, yet you chose to reject Him.

      • Let’s Pray.


  • Kirkpatrick, A. F. The Second Book of Samuel, with Maps, Notes and Introduction. The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1890.

  • Rydelnik, Michael. “2 Samuel 23:1-7 David’s Last Words.” The Moody Handbook of Messianic Prophecy: Studies and Expositions of the Messiah in the Old Testament, edited by Edwin Blum, Moody Publishers, Chicago, IL, 2019, pp. 399–408.