Saturday, March 31, 2012

2 Samuel 21:15-22:51

15 Once again there was a battle between the Philistines and Israel. David went down with his men to fight against the Philistines, and he became exhausted. 16 And Ishbi-Benob, one of the descendants of Rapha, whose bronze spearhead weighed three hundred shekels and who was armed with a new sword, said he would kill David. 17 But Abishai son of Zeruiah came to David’s rescue; he struck the Philistine down and killed him. Then David’s men swore to him, saying, “Never again will you go out with us to battle, so that the lamp of Israel will not be extinguished.”
18 In the course of time, there was another battle with the Philistines, at Gob. At that time Sibbekai the Hushathite killed Saph, one of the descendants of Rapha.
19 In another battle with the Philistines at Gob, Elhanan son of Jair the Bethlehemite killed the brother of Goliath the Gittite, who had a spear with a shaft like a weaver’s rod.
20 In still another battle, which took place at Gath, there was a huge man with six fingers on each hand and six toes on each foot—twenty-four in all. He also was descended from Rapha. 21 When he taunted Israel, Jonathan son of Shimeah, David’s brother, killed him.
22 These four were descendants of Rapha in Gath, and they fell at the hands of David and his men.
2 Samuel 22
1 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. 2 He said:
“The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer;
3 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.
4 “I called to the LORD, who is worthy of praise,
and have been saved from my enemies.
5 The waves of death swirled about me;
the torrents of destruction overwhelmed me.
6 The cords of the grave coiled around me;
the snares of death confronted me.
7 “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.
8 The earth trembled and quaked,
the foundations of the heavens[l] shook;
they trembled because he was angry.
9 Smoke rose from his nostrils;
consuming fire came from his mouth,
burning coals blazed out of it.
10 He parted the heavens and came down;
dark clouds were under his feet.
11 He mounted the cherubim and flew;
he soared on the wings of the wind.
12 He made darkness his canopy around him—
the dark rain clouds of the sky.
13 Out of the brightness of his presence
bolts of lightning blazed forth.
14 The LORD thundered from heaven;
the voice of the Most High resounded.
15 He shot his arrows and scattered the enemy,
with great bolts of lightning he routed them.
16 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.
17 “He reached down from on high and took hold of me;
he drew me out of deep waters.
18 He rescued me from my powerful enemy,
from my foes, who were too strong for me.
19 They confronted me in the day of my disaster,
but the LORD was my support.
20 He brought me out into a spacious place;
he rescued me because he delighted in me.
21 “The LORD has dealt with me according to my righteousness;
according to the cleanness of my hands he has rewarded me.
22 For I have kept the ways of the LORD;
I am not guilty of turning from my God.
23 All his laws are before me;
I have not turned away from his decrees.
24 I have been blameless before him
and have kept myself from sin.
25 The LORD has rewarded me according to my righteousness,
according to my cleanness in his sight.
26 “To the faithful you show yourself faithful,
to the blameless you show yourself blameless,
27 to the pure you show yourself pure,
but to the devious you show yourself shrewd.
28 You save the humble,
but your eyes are on the haughty to bring them low.
29 You, LORD, are my lamp;
the LORD turns my darkness into light.
30 With your help I can advance against a troop;
with my God I can scale a wall.
31 “As for God, his way is perfect;
the LORD’s word is flawless.
He shields all who take refuge in him.
32 For who is God besides the LORD?
And who is the Rock except our God?
33 It is God who arms me with strength
and keeps my way secure.
34 He makes my feet like the feet of a deer
and causes me to stand on the heights.
35 He trains my hands for battle;
my arms can bend a bow of bronze.
36 You make your saving help my shield;
your help has made me great.
37 You provide a broad path for my feet,
so that my ankles do not give way.
38 “I pursued my enemies and crushed them;
I did not turn back till they were destroyed.
39 I crushed them completely, and they could not rise;
they fell beneath my feet.
40 You armed me with strength for battle;
you humbled my adversaries before me.
41 You made my enemies turn their backs in flight,
and I destroyed my foes.
42 They cried for help, but there was no one to save them—
to the LORD, but he did not answer.
43 I beat them as fine as the dust of the earth;
I pounded and trampled them like mud in the streets.
44 “You have delivered me from the attacks of the peoples;
you have preserved me as the head of nations.
People I did not know now serve me,
45 foreigners cower before me;
as soon as they hear of me, they obey me.
46 They all lose heart;
they come trembling from their strongholds.
47 “The LORD lives! Praise be to my Rock!
Exalted be my God, the Rock, my Savior!
48 He is the God who avenges me,
who puts the nations under me,
49 who sets me free from my enemies.
You exalted me above my foes;
from violent people you rescued me.
50 Therefore I will praise you, LORD, among the nations;
I will sing the praises of your name.
51 “He gives his king great victories;
he shows unfailing kindness to his anointed,
to David and his descendants forever.”

Points of Interest
  • ‘he became exhausted’--David isn’t as young as he used to be. He doesn’t have the stamina to fight a long battle anymore. This guy Ishbi-Benob is no Goliath--his spearhead is only half as heavy as Goliath’s was--and yet David can’t handle him on his own.
  • ‘These four were descendants of Rapha in Gath’--this chapter feels to me a bit like the tying up of loose ends. David has only four remaining enemies, these sons of Rapha. One by one, they are hunted down and defeated by the Mighty Men. And with the defeat of the last son of Rapha, David finally has complete peace on every side.
  • ‘the horn of my salvation’--the horns of an animal are a common image of strength in the Bible’s poetry.
  • ‘He mounted the cherubim’--you may or may not remember from the description of the ark of the covenant (2 Samuel 6) that cherubim are God’s angelic attendants. Apparently, at least for the purposes of this song, David imagines these angels as being in animal form. Not only are they God’s servants or guardians, but steeds God can ride as well. Some people think that the people of David’s day pictured the cherubim as being like sphinxes or griffins; but we’re not really sure.
Taking it Home
  • For you: Chapter 22 is like a medley of a number of David’s psalms, recounting the ways that God has worked over the course of David’s life. If you were to compile your own list of the ways God has helped you or the different seasons you’ve had with God what would it look like? Start at the beginning of your life--or maybe even just the beginning of this week--and reflect on what God has been doing in your life. If you’re still in the middle of a season where you haven't seen God ‘rescue you’ or don’t feel like he has brought you into a ‘spacious place,’ that’s okay; it doesn't have to be rosy. Use the time to be honest with God about how things are going, telling God the ways in which you really do need him to rescue you.
  • For your six: The image of God reaching down from on high to take a hold of us might be one of my favorites. It’s a comforting image of God looking out for us and a reminder that God is the one who willingly and actively pursues us. Pray that God would increase the ways that he is reaching out to your six. Pray that your six would see how God is working, and know that God sees them and is drawing them out of whatever deep waters they may be in.
  • For our church: David recounts how God took him from a place of angst, trouble, and heartache to a place that felt spacious, abundant, and resourced. Ask God to give our church a sense of that same abundance. Pray that we wouldn’t feel tired, down, over-responsible, and driven, but instead that we would feel connected to the bigness of God’s love and generosity. Pray that the decisions we make, programs we run, and initiatives we start would be based upon and would reflect God’s abundance.
  • For families: Look at the poster that your family made listing your Lent prayers (if you don’t have a poster, just talk about your prayers). Take time to praise God for the things he is doing to fulfill these prayers. Also, take time to praise God for all the other things he is doing that you maybe weren’t even praying for or expecting.