This chapter is a psalm, a psalm of praise; we find it afterwards
inserted among David's psalms
with some little variation. We have it here as it was first composed
for his own closed and his own harp; but there we have it as it was
afterwards delivered to the chief musician for the service of the
church, a second edition with some amendments; for, though it was
calculated primarily for David's case, yet it might indifferently serve
the devotion of others, in giving thanks for their deliverances; or it
was intended that his people should thus join with him in his
thanksgivings, because, being a public person, his deliverances were to
be accounted public blessings and called for public acknowledgments.
The inspired historian, having largely related David's deliverances in
this and the foregoing book, and one particularly in the close of the
foregoing chapter, thought fit to record this sacred poem as a memorial
of all that had been before related. Some think that David penned this
psalm when he was old, upon a general review of the mercies of his life
and the many wonderful preservations God had blessed him with, from
first to last. We should in our praises, look as far back as we can,
and not suffer time to wear out the sense of God's favours. Others
think that he penned it when he was young, upon occasion of some of his
first deliverances, and kept it by him for his use afterwards, and
that, upon every new deliverance, his practice was to sing this song.
But the book of Psalms shows that he varied as there was occasion, and
confined not himself to one form. Here is,
I. The title of the psalm,
2 Samuel 22:1.
II. The psalm itself, in which, with a very warm devotion and very
great fluency and copiousness of expression,
1. He gives glory to God.
2. He takes comfort in him; and he finds matter for both,
(1.) In the experiences he had of God's former favours.
(2.) In the expectations he had of his further favours. These are
intermixed throughout the whole psalm.
David's Song of Praise.
B. C. 1020.
1 And David spake unto the LORD the words of this song in the
day that the LORD had delivered him out of the hand of all his
enemies, and out of the hand of Saul:
I. That it has often been the lot of God's people to have many enemies,
and to be in imminent danger of falling into their hands. David was a
man after God's heart, but not after men's heart: many were those that
hated him, and sought his ruin; Saul is particularly named, either,
1. As distinguished from his enemies of the heathen nations. Saul
hated David, but David did not hate Saul, and therefore would not
reckon him among his enemies; or, rather,
2. As the chief of his enemies, who was more malicious and powerful
than any of them. Let not those whom God loves marvel if the world hate
II. Those that trust God in the way of duty shall find him a present
help to them in their greatest dangers. David did so. God delivered him
out of the hand of Saul. He takes special notice of this. Remarkable
preservations should be mentioned in our praises with a particular
emphasis. He delivered him also out of the hand of all his
enemies, one after another, sometimes in one way, sometimes in
another; and David, from his own experience, has assured us that,
though many are the troubles of the righteous, yet the Lord delivers
them out of them all,
We shall never be delivered from all our enemies till we get to heaven;
and to that heavenly kingdom God will preserve all that are his,
2 Timothy 4:18.
III. Those that have received many signal mercies from God ought to
give him the glory of them. Every new mercy in our hand should put a
new song into our mouth, even praises to our God. Where there is a
grateful heart, out of the abundance of that the mouth will speak.
David spoke, not only to himself, for his own pleasure, not merely to
those about him, for their instruction, but to the Lord, for his
honour, the words of this song. Then we sing with grace when we
sing to the Lord. In distress he cried with his voice
therefore with his voice he gave thanks. Thanksgiving to God is the
sweetest vocal music.
IV. We ought to be speedy in our thankful returns to God: In the day
that God delivered him he sang this song. While the mercy is fresh,
and our devout affections are most excited by it, let the
thank-offering be brought, that it may be kindled with the fire of
B. C. 1020.
2 And he said, The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my
3 The God of my rock; in him will I trust: he is my shield,
and the horn of my salvation, my high tower, and my refuge, my
saviour; thou savest me from violence.
4 I will call on the LORD, who is worthy to be praised: so
shall I be saved from mine enemies.
5 When the waves of death compassed me, the floods of ungodly
men made me afraid;
6 The sorrows of hell compassed me about; the snares of death
7 In my distress I called upon the LORD, and cried to my God:
and he did hear my voice out of his temple, and my cry did
enter into his ears.
8 Then the earth shook and trembled; the foundations of heaven
moved and shook, because he was wroth.
9 There went up a smoke out of his nostrils, and fire out of
his mouth devoured: coals were kindled by it.
10 He bowed the heavens also, and came down; and darkness was
under his feet.
11 And he rode upon a cherub, and did fly: and he was seen upon
the wings of the wind.
12 And he made darkness pavilions round about him, dark waters,
and thick clouds of the skies.
13 Through the brightness before him were coals of fire
14 The LORD thundered from heaven, and the most High uttered
15 And he sent out arrows, and scattered them; lightning, and
16 And the channels of the sea appeared, the foundations of the
world were discovered, at the rebuking of the LORD, at the blast
of the breath of his nostrils.
17 He sent from above, he took me; he drew me out of many
18 He delivered me from my strong enemy, and from them that
hated me: for they were too strong for me.
19 They prevented me in the day of my calamity: but the LORD
was my stay.
20 He brought me forth also into a large place: he delivered
me, because he delighted in me.
21 The LORD rewarded me according to my righteousness:
according to the cleanness of my hands hath he recompensed me.
22 For I have kept the ways of the LORD, and have not wickedly
departed from my God.
23 For all his judgments were before me: and as for his
statutes, I did not depart from them.
24 I was also upright before him, and have kept myself from
25 Therefore the LORD hath recompensed me according to my
righteousness; according to my cleanness in his eye sight.
26 With the merciful thou wilt shew thyself merciful, and
with the upright man thou wilt shew thyself upright.
27 With the pure thou wilt shew thyself pure; and with the
froward thou wilt shew thyself unsavoury.
28 And the afflicted people thou wilt save: but thine eyes
are upon the haughty, that thou mayest bring them down.
29 For thou art my lamp, O LORD: and the LORD will lighten my
30 For by thee I have run through a troop: by my God have I
leaped over a wall.
31 As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the LORD
is tried: he is a buckler to all them that trust in him.
32 For who is God, save the LORD? and who is a rock, save
33 God is my strength and power: and he maketh my way
34 He maketh my feet like hinds' feet: and setteth me upon my
35 He teacheth my hands to war; so that a bow of steel is
broken by mine arms.
36 Thou hast also given me the shield of thy salvation: and thy
gentleness hath made me great.
37 Thou hast enlarged my steps under me; so that my feet did
38 I have pursued mine enemies, and destroyed them; and turned
not again until I had consumed them.
39 And I have consumed them, and wounded them, that they could
not arise: yea, they are fallen under my feet.
40 For thou hast girded me with strength to battle: them that
rose up against me hast thou subdued under me.
41 Thou hast also given me the necks of mine enemies, that I
might destroy them that hate me.
42 They looked, but there was none to save; even unto the
LORD, but he answered them not.
43 Then did I beat them as small as the dust of the earth, I
did stamp them as the mire of the street, and did spread them
44 Thou also hast delivered me from the strivings of my people,
thou hast kept me to be head of the heathen: a people which I
knew not shall serve me.
45 Strangers shall submit themselves unto me: as soon as they
hear, they shall be obedient unto me.
46 Strangers shall fade away, and they shall be afraid out of
their close places.
47 The LORD liveth; and blessed be my rock; and exalted be
the God of the rock of my salvation.
48 It is God that avengeth me, and that bringeth down the
people under me,
49 And that bringeth me forth from mine enemies: thou also hast
lifted me up on high above them that rose up against me: thou
hast delivered me from the violent man.
50 Therefore I will give thanks unto thee, O LORD, among the
heathen, and I will sing praises unto thy name.
51 He is the tower of salvation for his king: and sheweth
mercy to his anointed, unto David, and to his seed for evermore.
Let us observe, in this song of praise,
I. How David adores God, and gives him the glory of his infinite
perfections. There is none like him, nor any to be compared with him
(2 Samuel 22:32):
Who is God, save the Lord? All others that are adored as deities
are counterfeits and pretenders. None is to be relied on but he. Who
is a rock, save our God? They are dead, but the Lord liveth,
2 Samuel 22:47.
They disappoint their worshippers when they most need them. But as
for God his way is perfect,
2 Samuel 22:31.
Men begin in kindness, but end not-promise, but perform not; but God
will finish his work, and his word is tried, and what we may trust.
II. How he triumphs in the interest he has in this God, and his
relation to him, which he lays down as the foundation of all the
benefits he has received from him: He is my God; as such he
cries to him
(2 Samuel 22:7),
and cleaves to him
(2 Samuel 22:22);
"and, if my God, then my rock"
(2 Samuel 22:2),
that is, "my strength and my power
(2 Samuel 22:33),
the rock under which I take shelter (he who is to me as the shadow of a
great rock in a weary land), the rock on which I build my hope,"
2 Samuel 22:3.
Whatever is my strength and support, it is the God of my rock that
makes it so; nay, he is the God of the rock of my salvation
(2 Samuel 22:47):
my saving strength is in him and from him. David often hid himself in
(1 Samuel 24:2),
but God was his chief hiding-place. "He is my fortress, in which I am
safe and think myself so--my high tower, or stronghold, in which
I am out of the reach of real evils--the tower of salvation
(2 Samuel 22:51),
which can never be sealed nor battered, nor undermined. Salvation
itself saves me. Am I in distress? he is my deliverer--struck at, shot
at? he is my shield--pursued? he is my refuge--oppressed? he is my
saviour, that rescues me out of the hand of those that seek my ruin.
Nay, he is the horn of my salvation, by which I am strongly
protected, and my enemies are strongly pushed." Christ is spoken of as
the horn of salvation in the house of David,
"Am I burdened, and ready to sink? The Lord is my stay
(2 Samuel 22:19),
by whom I am supported. Am I in the dark, benighted, at a loss? Thou
art my lamp, O Lord! to show me my way, and thou wilt dispel my
2 Samuel 22:29.
If we sincerely take the Lord for our God, all this, and much more, he
will be to us, all we need and can desire.
III. What improvement he makes of his interest in God. If he be mine,
1. In him will I trust
(2 Samuel 22:3),
that is, "I will resign myself to his direction, and then depend upon
his power, and wisdom, and goodness, to conduct me well."
2. On him I will call
(2 Samuel 22:4),
for he is worthy to be praised. What we have found in God that
is worthy to be praised should engage us to pray to him and give glory
3. To him will I give thanks
(2 Samuel 22:50),
and that publicly. When he was among the heathen he would neither be
afraid nor ashamed to own his obligations to the God of Israel.
IV. The full and large account he keeps for himself, and gives to
others, of the great and kind things God had done for him. This takes
up most of the song. He gives God the glory both of his deliverances
and of his successes, showing both the perils he was delivered from and
the power he was advanced to.
1. He magnifies the great salvations God had wrought for him. God
sometimes brings his people into very great difficulties and dangers,
that he may have the honour of saving them and they the comfort of
being saved by him. He owns, Thou hast saved me from violence
(2 Samuel 22:3),
from my enemies
(2 Samuel 22:4),
from my strong enemy, meaning Saul, who, if God had not
succoured him, would have been too hard for him,
2 Samuel 22:18.
Thou hast given me the shield of thy salvation,
2 Samuel 22:36.
To magnify the salvation, he observes,
(1.) That the danger was very great and threatening out of which he was
delivered. Men rose up against him
(2 Samuel 22:40,49)
that hated him
(2 Samuel 22:41),
a violent man
(2 Samuel 22:49)
namely, Saul, who was malicious in his designs against him and vigorous
in his pursuit. This is expressed figuratively,
2 Samuel 22:5,6.
He was surrounded with death on every side, threatened to be
overwhelmed, and saw no way of escape. So violently did the waves of
death beat upon him, so strongly did the cords and snares of death hold
him, that he could not help himself, any more than a man in the grave
can. The floods of Belial, the wicked one, and his wicked instruments,
made him afraid; he trembled to see not only earth, but death and hell,
in arms against him.
(2.) That his deliverance was an answer to prayer,
2 Samuel 22:7.
He has here left us a good example, when we are in distress, to cry
unto God with importunity, as children in a fright cry to their
parents; and great encouragement to do so, in that he found God ready
to answer prayer out of his temple in heaven, where he is continually
served and adored.
(3.) That God appeared in a singular and extraordinary manner for him
and against his enemies. The expressions are borrowed from the descent
of the divine Majesty upon Mount Sinai,
2 Samuel 22:8,9,
&c. We do not find that in any of David's battles God fought for him
with thunder (as in Samuel's time), or with hail (as in Joshua's time),
or with the stars in their courses (as in Deborah's time); but these
lofty metaphors are used,
[1.] To set forth the glory of God, which was manifested in his
deliverance. God's wisdom and power, his goodness and faithfulness,
his justice and holiness, and his sovereign dominion over all the
creatures and all the counsels of men, which appeared in favour of
David, were as clear and bright a discovery of God's glory to an eye of
faith as such miraculous interpositions would have been to an eye of
[2.] To set forth God's displeasure against his enemies, God so
espoused his cause that he showed himself an enemy to all his enemies;
his anger is set forth by a smoke out of his nostrils, and
fire out of his mouth
(2 Samuel 22:9),
(2 Samuel 22:13),
2 Samuel 22:15.
Who knows the power and terror of his wrath?
[3.] To set forth the extraordinary confusion which his enemies were
put into, and the consternation that seized them; as if the earth had
trembled and the foundations of the world had been discovered,
2 Samuel 22:8,16.
Who can stand before God when he is angry?
[4.] To show how ready God was to help him: He rode upon a cherub
and did fly,
2 Samuel 22:11.
God hastened to his succour, and came to him with seasonable relief,
though he had seemed at a distance; yet he was a God hiding
for he made darkness his pavilion
(2 Samuel 22:12),
for the amazement of his enemies and the protection of his own
(4.) That God manifested his particular favour and kindness to him in
(2 Samuel 22:20):
He delivered me, because he delighted in me. The deliverance
came not from common providence, but covenant-love; he was herein
treated as a favourite: so he perceived by the communications of divine
grace and comfort to his soul with these deliverances, and the
communion he had with God in them. Herein he was a type of Christ, whom
God upheld because he delighted in him,
2. He magnifies the great successes God had crowned him with. He had
not only preserved but prospered him. He was blessed,
(1.) With liberty and enlargement. He was brought into a large
(2 Samuel 22:20),
where he had room to thrive, and his steps were enlarged under
him, so that he had room to stir
(2 Samuel 22:37),
being no longer straitened and confined.
(2.) With military skill, and strength, and swiftness. Though he was
bred up to the crook, he was well instructed in the arts of war and
qualified for the toils and perils of it. God, having called him to
fight his battles, qualified him for the service. He made him very
ingenious (He teacheth my hands to war,
2 Samuel 22:35.
And this ingenuity was as good as strength, for it follows, "so that
a bow of steel is broken by my arms," not so much by main force as
by dexterity), and very vigorous and valiant. (Thou hast girded me
with strength to battle,
2 Samuel 22:40.
He gives God the glory of all his courage and ability for service), and
very expeditious: He maketh my feet swift like hinds feet
(2 Samuel 22:34),
which is of great advantage both in charging and retreating.
(3.) With victory over his enemies, not only Saul and Absalom, but the
Philistines, Moabites, Ammonites, Syrians, and other neighbouring
nations, whom he subdued and made tributaries to Israel. His wonderful
victories are here described,
2 Samuel 22:38-43.
They were speedy victories (I turned not again till I had
2 Samuel 22:38)
and complete victories. The enemies of Israel were wounded,
destroyed, consumed, fell under his feet, trampled upon, and
disabled to rise, and their necks lay at his mercy. They cried both to
earth and heaven for help, but in vain. There was none to save,
none that durst appear for them. God answered them, not for they
were not on his side, nor did they cry unto him till they were brought
to the last extremity. Being thus abandoned, they became an easy prey
to David's righteous and victorious sword, so that he beat them as
small as the dust of the earth, which is scattered by the wind and
trodden on by every foot.
(4.) With advancement to honour and power. To this he was anointed
before his troubles began, and at length, post tot discrimina
rerum--after all his dangers and disasters, he gained his point.
God made his way perfect
(2 Samuel 22:33),
gave him success in all his undertakings, set him upon his high
(2 Samuel 22:34),
denoting both safety and dignity. God's gentleness, his grace and
tender mercy, made him great
(2 Samuel 22:36),
gave him great wealth, and great authority, and a name like that of the
great men of the earth. He was kept to be the head of the
(2 Samuel 22:44);
his signal preservations evinced that he was designed and reserved for
something great--to rule over all Israel, notwithstanding the
strivings of the people, and so that those whom he had not
known should serve him, many of the nations that lay remote. Thus
he was lifted up on high, as high as the throne, above those
that rose up against him,
2 Samuel 22:49.
V. The comfortable reflections he makes upon his own integrity, which
God, by those wonderful deliverances, had graciously owned and
2 Samuel 22:21-25.
He means especially his integrity with reference to Saul and
Ishbosheth, Absalom and Sheba, and those who either opposed his coming
to the crown or endeavoured to dethrone him. They falsely accused him
and misrepresented him, but he had the testimony of this conscience for
him that he was not an ambitious aspiring man, a false and bloody man,
as they called him,--that he had never taken any indirect unlawful
courses to secure or raise himself, but in his whole conduct had kept
in the way of his duty,--and that in the whole course of his
conversation he had, for the main, made religion his business, so that
he could take God's favours to him as the rewards of his righteousness,
not of debt, but of grace. God had recompensed him, though not for his
righteousness, as if that had merited any thing at the hand of God, yet
according to his righteousness, which he was well pleased with, and had
an eye to. His conscience witnessed for him,
1. That he had made the word of God his rule, and had kept to it,
2 Samuel 22:23.
Wherever he was, God's judgments were before him as his guide;
whithersoever he went, he took his religion along with him, and though
he was forced to depart from his country, and sent, as it were, to
serve other gods, yet as for God's statutes, he did not depart from
them, but kept the way of the Lord and walked in it.
2. That he had carefully avoided the bye-paths of sin. He had not
wickedly departed from his God. He could not say but that he had taken
some false steps, but he had not deserted God, nor forsaken his way.
Sins of infirmity he could not acquit himself from, but the grace of
God had kept him from presumptuous sins. Though he had sometimes
weakly departed from his God. By this it appeared that he was
upright before God, or to God (in his sight, and with an
eye to him), that he kept himself from his own iniquity, not
only from that particular sin of killing Saul when it was in the power
of his hand to do it, but, in general, he was afraid of sin and
watchful against it, and made conscience of what he said and did. The
matter of Uriah is an exception
(1 Kings 15:5),
like that in Hezekiah's character,
2 Chronicles 32:31.
Note, A careful abstaining from our own iniquity is one of the best
evidences of our own integrity; and the testimony of our conscience for
us that we have done so will be such a rejoicing as will not only
lessen the griefs of an afflicted state, but increase the comforts of a
prosperous state. David reflected with more comfort upon his victories
over his own iniquity than upon his conquest of Goliath and all the
hosts of the uncircumcised Philistines; and the witness of his own
heart to his uprightness was sweeter though more silent music than
theirs that sang, David has slain his ten thousands. If a great
man be a good man, his goodness will be much more his satisfaction than
his greatness. Let favour be shown to the upright and his uprightness
will sweeten it, will double it.
VI. The comfortable prospects he has of God's further favour. As he
looks back, so he looks forward, with pleasure, and assures himself of
the kindness God has in store for all the saints, for himself, and also
for his seed.
1. For all good people,
2 Samuel 22:26-28.
As God had dealt with him according to his uprightness, so he will with
all others. He takes occasion here to lay down the established rules of
God's procedure with the children of men:--
(1.) That he will do good to those that are upright in their hearts. As
we are found towards God, he will be found towards us.
[1.] God's mercy and grace will be the joy of those that are merciful
and gracious. Even the merciful need mercy; and they shall obtain it.
[2.] God's uprightness, his justice and faithfulness, will be the joy
of those that are upright, just, and faithful, both towards God and
[3.] God's purity and holiness will be the joy of those that are pure
and holy, who therefore give thanks at the remembrance thereof. And, if
any of these good people be afflicted people, he will save them,
either out of their afflictions or by and after them. On the other
(2.) That those who turn aside to crooked ways he will lead forth
with the workers of iniquity, as he says in another psalm. With
the froward he will wrestle; and those with whom God wrestles are
sure to be foiled. Woe unto him that strives with his Maker! God
will walk contrary to those that walk contrary to him and be displeased
with those that are displeased with him. As for the haughty, his eyes
are upon them, marking them out, as it were, to be brought down; for
he resists the proud.
2. For himself. He foresaw that his conquests and kingdom would be yet
2 Samuel 22:45,46.
Even the sons of the stranger, that would hear the report of his
victories and the tokens of God's presence with him, would be possessed
with a fear of him, would be forced to submit to him, though feignedly,
and would be obedient to him. The successes which he had had he looked
upon as earnests of more and means of more. Who durst oppose him by
whom so many had been overcome? Thus the Son of David goes on
conquering and to conquer,
His gospel, which has been victorious, shall be so more and more.
3. For his seed: He showeth mercy to his Messiah
(2 Samuel 22:51),
not only to David himself, but to that seed of his for evermore. David
was himself anointed of God, not a usurper, but duly called to the
government and qualified for it; therefore he doubted not but God would
show mercy to him, that mercy which he had promised not to take from
him nor from his posterity
(2 Samuel 7:15,16);
on that promise he depends, with an eye to Christ, who alone is his
seed for evermore, whose throne and kingdom still continue, and
will to the end, whereas the seed and lineage of David are long since
Thus all his joys and all his hopes terminate, as ours should, in the
Matthew Henry "Verse by Verse Commentary for '2 Samuel' Matthew Henry Bible Commentary".