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Los Lunas Cornerstone

Church of the Nazarene

A Song of Praise (2 Samuel 22)

    Today we’ll finish up the book of 2 Samuel with a song of praise that David wrote. As we’ll see today, it was a fitting song to place at the end of the Biblical accounts of David’s life, even though David wrote this song as young man much earlier in his life.
    In the chapters following what we looked at last week, Absalom, David’s son, took control of the capitol city of Jerusalem. Then, because he did not listen to the advice of David’s counselor, Ahithophel, Absalom made the key mistake of not pursuing David as David fled and hid in the countryside. This gave David time to organize those who might still be loyal to him.
    When Absalom finally did go after David, it was too late. David’s forces were given the victory. But despite Absalom’s coup and his treacherous behavior toward David, David still wanted his son’s life to be spared. His love for his son was not overshadowed by all that Absalom did. However, when we make poor choices, we sometimes have to go through painful consequences.
    Absalom’s death was a consequence for David’s sin, but also a consequence for Absalom’s own sins. David was allowed to keep his kingdom, but it came at great personal cost.
    As David grew older, he experienced many victories over different enemies that we see in 2 Samuel 19-21. He was a very successful military leader, and Israel experienced a time of prosperity unlike any it had ever known.
    2 Samuel 22 is where I’ll be reading from this morning. As I said already, it’s a song David wrote to praise the Lord for all His goodness. David initially wrote it after King Saul’s defeat, but the fact that it is placed here, at the end of the story of David’s life tells us a few things. It tells us that the person who wrote down 2 Samuel was inspired by God to include this song here at the end of David’s life rather than after Saul’s defeat. We can understand that this means that this song was just as relevant to the end of David’s life was it was to David’s younger years. As we’ll see this morning, in many ways, this song echoes David’s sentiments after Absalom’s defeat and subsequent military victories as well as it did earlier in David’s life, because the God who inspired this song of praise had not changed, does not change, and is always worthy of praise.
    Let’s look at 2 Samuel 22. “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. He said: “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. I called to the Lord, who is worthy of praise, and have been saved from my enemies. The waves of death swirled about me; the torrents of destruction overwhelmed me. The cords of the grave coiled around me; the snares of death confronted me.” (1-6).
    David used a lot of metaphors in his writings. You can see that throughout the psalms he wrote. He looked at the world around him and saw in his world things he could use to describe what God is like. He opens this song by describing the Lord as a rock, a fortress, a place of refuge. In ancient cities, like Jerusalem, Jericho, and many others, they were often chosen because of the geography around them. These cities used the geography around them to act as defensive measures against enemies. Hugh rocks, cliffs, ravines, and other features of the land were turned into fortresses to protect cities.
    David says the Lord is like this. He is a great rock that protects all who come to Him. It’s an especially fitting metaphor because when David was fleeing from Saul as well as when he was fleeing from Absalom, he found refuge in the rocks and strongholds of the land around him. David grew up taking shelter amongst the rocks as he was shepherding his flocks and the elements became unfriendly. David knew, perhaps better than anyone, the comfort and shelter that could be brought by the rocks around him. He knew this was how God is for those who run to Him.
    Not only was the Lord a place of security and defense against his enemies, but David calls the Lord the “horn of my salvation.” With David’s history as a shepherd, David calls to mind the horn of an animal, a ram perhaps. The horn was used not only to protect the horned animal against an attack, but it was also used to fight back an attacker. Like a shield, the horn is both a defensive and offensive weapon. David was praising God, not only for protecting him against his enemies, but also for striking them back.
    David talks about waves of death, torrents of destruction, cords of the grave coiled around him, and snares of death confronting him. When he was pursued, first by Saul and then by Absalom, David saw all the many ways death could come for him, but he also knew that his God is greater than death, and He not only protects those who run to Him, but He also strikes against those who try to hurt the ones who are His. God is our protector and avenger.
    “In my distress I called to the Lord; I called out to my God. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came to his ears. The earth trembled and quaked, the foundations of the heavens shook; they trembled because he was angry. Smoke rose from his nostrils; consuming fire came from his mouth, burning coals blazed out of it. He parted the heavens and came down; dark clouds were under his feet. He mounted the cherubim and flew; he soared on the wings of the wind. He made darkness his canopy around him—the dark rain clouds of the sky. Out of the brightness of his presence bolts of lightning blazed forth. The Lord thundered from heaven; the voice of the Most High resounded. He shot his arrows and scattered the enemy, with great bolts of lightning he routed them. 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.”
    In this section David talks about the might of the Lord, and even though it sounds like David is talking about God’s mighty dominion over the earth, again, he’s using metaphors: using the things he sees and understands around him to show God’s often hard-to-describe qualities.
    David talks about the earth trembling and quaking, and the foundations of heaven shaking. David wasn’t talking about an event he actually witnessed. There was no violent earthquake or massive storm. David is expressing that when God comes to the rescue of those who run to Him, to those that are the oppressors, it will seem like the whole earth responds in fear of the Lord’s anger. David uses the Hebrew words gaash and raash, to talk about pillars that hold the earth up, and that when God moves against His enemies, even the pillars that hold the earth together would fall.
    This is something that, even now, the enemies of God don’t understand. There is no length He won’t go to to protect those who call Him, “Father”.
    David wrote that smoke rose from his nostrils. We’ve talked some about David’s military success, that God gave him and the armies of Israel victory over the enemy nations that waged war against them. David, when he says that smoke rose from the Lord’s nostrils, is calling to mind the image of a war-horse, enraged, snorting violently and rearing for battle. David was expressing to those that would hear his song that the Lord was the one who fought on David’s behalf, with all the might and power He has.
    David says that the Lord soared down on the wings of the wind. He calls to mind the beginnings of a great storm, how the winds howl and scream. Many times throughout the Old Testament, a coming storm is used as a tool of the Lord’s judgment against His enemies. Judges 5:4 says, “When you, Lord, went out from Seir, when you marched from the land of Edom, the earth shook, the heavens poured, the clouds poured down water.” In this instance of the Lord using the weather to help defeat His enemies, there was a literal storm that He sent to make defeat for the enemies of Israel a reality.
    David calls this to mind to show that God will even use the elements, any part of creation He chooses, to help those who call upon His Name. There are scholars who believe that David was inspired by the imagery he saw during his travels at En-gedi, where he would have seen great chasms in the earth left by a great earthquake. He may have even seen the remnants of what happened at Sodom and Gomorrah. So, if He has to send storms, He’ll send storms. If He has to send an earthquake, He’ll send an earthquake. God’s protective might knows no bounds.
    “He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters. He rescued me from my powerful enemy, from my foes, who were too strong for me. They confronted me in the day of my disaster, but the Lord was my support. He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me.” (17-20).
    God reached down. He reaches His hand from His proper place, the throne in heaven, the place where His glory dwells, to reach David. David recognized that the Lord is not one who is content to sit on His lofty throne while His loved creation suffers. He cannot just stand by and let the innocent be oppressed. He cannot just watch as injustices happen. He must and does act. He is the God who saves.
    I love this picture of God and Adam on the ceiling of the Sistine chapel because I believe it is a beautiful depiction of the relationship between God and man. God here, in His heavenly home, has His hands outstretched, reaching, straining even, to reach us. He’s nearly coming out of His cloud to try to get to us.
    Man’s efforts are less than worthy of such a God. We are content to let God do all the work, and even when He does, we rarely run to Him with open arms. Nowhere is this more clearly shown than in the image of the cross. God did all the work. He came down to the earth, suffered a human life, suffered a horrible death on the cross, severe humiliation, and what was our thanks? We mocked Him, jeered at Him, called Him names, and even now, sneer at His gesture of ultimate love. He is the God who saves, even when we don’t want to be saved.
    But for those who do, we, like David, recognize a God who is stronger than we are, a God who delights in us, and loved us so deeply that He couldn’t just stay up on His cloud.
    “The Lord has dealt with me according to my righteousness; according to the cleanness 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, to the pure you show yourself pure, but to the devious you show yourself shrewd. You save the humble, but your eyes are on the haughty to bring them low. You, Lord, are my lamp; the Lord turns my darkness into light. With your help I can advance against a troop; with my God I can scale a wall.” (21-30).
    David talks about the way that the Lord has dealt with him, and from what we know about David and some of David’s choices, we know that he was not a righteous man. He sinned. We’ve talked about his sin and the consequences David had to pay because of his sin. Compared to the Lord, David was not righteous. No one is.
    But David wasn’t claiming that he was perfect or holy like the Lord is, rather, David was talking about the condition of his heart attitude before the Lord. Though David sometimes made choices that were sinful, in his heart, he tried to sincerely walk in the ways of God. He tried to keep God’s commands, even if he failed sometimes, it was the desire of his heart.
    David wrote that he had not turned from the ways of the Lord, was not guilty of turning from God, that he had kept himself from sin. Again, we know that’s not actually true, and David had gone against God’s commands. But David didn’t mean that he had never sinned, just that he Had never rejected and turned away from actively serving the Lord. He drew close to the Lord after he sinned and relied on the righteousness that God had to restore him.
    This is an important thing for us to remember. Like David, we have no righteousness compared to God. We can’t measure up, ever. Our righteousness is like filthy rags to the Lord. What is important is two things: the condition of our hearts’ attitudes, and being covered by God’s righteousness. Our hearts should be like David’s, inclined to the Lord, desiring to do what the Lord has asked. But we also must be covered by the Lord’s righteousness because we have none of our own. This only happens through the shed blood of Christ which atones for our sins. When our sins are forgiven, God COVERS us in His righteousness.
    The next section of this chapter covers verses 31-51. Here, David talks about the attitude he takes from a relationship with God. In verse 31 David talks about the flawlessness of the Lord’s Word. The word he uses is the same word used to talk about the refining of gold in the fire. When it’s been refined, it’s pure. David is saying that the Lord’s Word had proved itself to be true in David’s life through all the circumstances and challenges David had been through. David knew he could always count on the Word of God to be true, no matter what David went through.
    In verse 34 David says that the Lord makes his feet like the feet of a deer. To David, who was a skilled warrior, having feet like a deer was something to aspire to. Deer are agile and fast, both are traits a warrior desired. Through this metaphor, David talks about the assurance he gets from serving the Lord, that through the Word of God David gets everything that he needs to do his jobs well.
    In verse 38 David says he pursued and crushed all his enemies. That was definitely true, as God gave David many military victories. But the verbs David used in this sentence are future tense. He had so much confidence in God and his relationship with God that he knew beyond a doubt that when he needed God to deliver him, God would not fail to deliver. This was not prideful boasting in anything that David could do or any skill that David possessed, but rather a boasting in how great the Lord is.
    Finally in verse 44, David talks about God’s deliverance from the attacks of the peoples, people that were within his own nation. Again, David used the future tense to talk about future attacks from the people of his own nation. This was before Absalom’s rebellion, but David knew that one day that rebellion would come. Yet, even then, David’s confidence was sold. And that’s our final point: that God makes us STAND in CONFIDENCE.
    With all that David gained from his relationship with the Lord, all that we gain, it’s easy to see why the best response is to sing a song of praise.

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