In 2 Samuel 22 David looks back on God’s faithfulness to him in the past, delivering him from his enemies. Here at the beginning of 2 Samuel 23, specifically vv. 1-7, David speaks on the future of God’s kingdom. In the opening three verses (vv. 1-3a) David is telling us that Yahweh has spoken to him, and David will declare what He has said, “The Spirit of Yahweh speaks by me; His word is on my tongue” (v. 2). David is God’s mouthpiece here, the king of Israel is prophet-like in making God’s word known. What tends to be one of the main themes of the prophets? The kingdom of God. The King of kings is sending forth his word on David’s tongue. We might describe these opening verses as the introduction, building up the climax, until we hear those words that Yahweh spoke by David. Let’s take a look.
“The God of Israel has spoken; the Rock of Israel has said to me” now here come those words, “When one rules justly over men, ruling in the fear of God, he dawns on them like the morning light, like the sun shining forth on a cloudless morning, like rain that makes grass to sprout from the earth” (vv. 3-4). David prophecies of a righteous ruler who will rule, and one who is not merely ruling over Israel but over mankind “one who rules justly over men” (v. 3a). This ruler, is guided by the fear of Yahweh and is likened to the morning light, sun, and the rain that refreshes and renews the grass. The draw of God’s kingdom, is God’s King who is all these things just mentioned and more! But as you read of Solomon in 1 Kings, and then Rehoboam and all the kings of the southern kingdom of Judah, you wonder who David could possibly have in mind. But he gives us a clue in the opening verses.
When you combine the clear references to Yahweh in the opening three verses with the prophecy David has just spoken, you get the perfect combo. Who better to come and rule justly, to bring light and refreshing, then the One who is “the Light of the World” (John 8:12) and can offer “living water” (John 4:10), Jesus, the Son of God! God in human flesh! He is in fact the mightiest of warriors having conquered the greatest of enemies: sin, death, and the devil. This kingdom of Messiah, is both restorative (see vv. 3b-4) and destructive, “But worthless men are like thorns that are thrown away, for they cannot be taken with the hand” (v.6). John the Baptist said of Jesus during John’s public ministry, “His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire” (Matt. 3:12). Resorative for some, wheat brought into the barn, and destructive for others, chaff being burned. So is the nature of God’s kingdom, therefore, “Repent!” (Matt. 3:2a).
What a group of mighty men David had serving him. From those who risked their lives to get him a drink of water (vv. 15-17), to the one who killed eight hundred men at once (v. 8). The super heroes of Hollywood have nothing on David’s mighty men. Let’s take a brief look at just one of these mighty men, one of the thirty.
“And Benaiah the son of Jehoiada was a valiant man of Kabzeel, a doer of great deeds. He struck down two ariels of Moab. He also went down and struck down a lion in a pit on a day when snow had fallen. And he struck down an Egyptian, a handsome man. The Egyptian had a spear in his hand, but Benaiah went down to him with a staff and snatched the spear out of the Egyptian’s hand and killed him with his own spear. These things did Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, and won a name beside the three mighty men. He was renowned among the thirty, but he did not attain to the three. And David set him over his bodyguard” (vv. 20-23). David’s bodyguard was made up of the Cherethites and the Pelethites (2 Sam. 20:23b).
So Benaiah struck down two ariels of Moab, what is that? The Hebrew word for “ariel” has a close sound to the Hebrew word for lion “aryeh.” Some conclude these were two warriors as strong as lions. Whether that is accurate we know that Benaiah actually killed a lion in a pit on a snowy day. And David wasn’t the only giant slayer. Benaiah struck down an Egyptian who was five cubits tall (or ~7’ 6”, see 1 Chron. 11:22-25) by taking the Egyptians spear, when all he had was a staff, and striking him down with it. The name, Benaiah, means “son of Yahweh.”
Here we have listed the faithful men, some who died (e.g. Uriah, v. 39), who were extremely loyal to the anointed king of Israel. May our allegiance to the glorious and resurrected King that David spoke of be marked by such loyalty and faithfulness, especially as we fight our enemy (see Ephesians 6:10-20).