Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
1. Now these be the last words of David--Various opinions are
entertained as to the precise meaning of this statement, which, it is
obvious, proceeded from the compiler or collector of the sacred canon.
Some think that, as there is no division of chapters in the Hebrew
Scriptures, this introduction was intended to show that what follows is
no part of the preceding song. Others regard this as the last of the
king's poetical compositions; while still others consider it the last
of his utterances as an inspired writer.
raised up on high--from an obscure family and condition to a throne.
the anointed of the God of Jacob--chosen to be king by the special
appointment of that God, to whom, by virtue of an ancient covenant, the
people of Israel owed all their peculiar destiny and distinguished
the sweet psalmist of Israel--that is, delightful, highly esteemed.
2. The Spirit of the Lord spake by me--Nothing can more clearly show
that all that is excellent in spirit, beautiful in language, or grand
in prophetic imagery, which the Psalms of David contain, were owing,
not to his superiority in natural talents or acquired knowledge, but to
the suggestion and dictates of God's Spirit.
3. the Rock of Israel--This metaphor, which is commonly applied by
the sacred writers to the Almighty, was very expressive to the minds of
the Hebrew people. Their national fortresses, in which they sought
security in war, were built on high and inaccessible rocks.
spake to me--either preceptively, giving the following counsels
respecting the character of an upright ruler in Israel, or
prophetically, concerning David and his royal dynasty, and the great
Messiah, of whom many think this is a prophecy, rendering the words,
"he that ruleth"--"there shall be a ruler over men."
4. as the tender grass springing out of the earth by clear shining
after rain--Little patches of grass are seen rapidly springing up
in Palestine after rain; and even where the ground has been long
parched and bare, within a few days or hours after the enriching
showers begin to fall, the face of the earth is so renewed that it is
covered over with a pure fresh mantle of green.
5. Although my house be not so with God; yet he hath made with me an
everlasting covenant, ordered in all things, and sure--"the light of
the morning," that is, the beginning of David's kingdom, was unlike the
clear brilliant dawn of an Eastern day but was overcast by many black
and threatening clouds; neither he nor his family had been like the
tender grass springing up from the ground and flourishing by the united
influences of the sun and rain; but rather like the grass that
withereth and is prematurely cut down. The meaning is: although David's
house had not flourished in an uninterrupted course of worldly
prosperity and greatness, according to his hopes; although great crimes
and calamities had beclouded his family history; some of the most
promising branches of the royal tree had been cut down in his lifetime
and many of his successors should suffer in like manner for their
personal sins; although many reverses and revolutions may overtake his
race and his kingdom, yet it was to him a subject of the highest joy
and thankfulness that God will inviolably maintain His covenant with
his family, until the advent of his greatest Son, the Messiah, who was
the special object of his desire, and the author of his salvation.
6. But the sons of Belial shall be all of them as thorns--that is, the
wicked enemies and persecutors of this kingdom of righteousness. They
resemble those prickly, thorny plants which are twisted together, whose
spires point in every direction, and which are so sharp and strong that
they cannot be touched or approached without danger; but hard
instruments and violent means must be taken to destroy or uproot them.
So God will remove or destroy all who are opposed to this kingdom.
8. These be the names of the mighty men whom David had--This verse
should be translated thus: He who sits in the seat of the Tachmonite
(that is, of Jashobeam the Hachmonite), who was chief among the
captains, the same is Adino the Eznite; he lift up his spear against
eight hundred, whom he slew at one time. The text is corrupt in this
passage; the number eight hundred should be three hundred
Under Joab he was chief or president of the
council of war. The first or highest order was composed of him and his
two colleagues, Eleazar and Shammah. Eleazar seems to have been left
to fight the Philistines alone; and on his achieving the victory, they
returned to the spoil. In like manner Shammah was left to stand alone
in his glory, when the Lord, by him, wrought a great victory. It is not
very easy to determine whether the exploits that are afterwards
described were performed by the first or the second three.
15, 16. the well of Beth-lehem--An ancient cistern, with four or five
holes in the solid rock, at about ten minutes distance to the north of
the eastern corner of the hill of Beth-lehem, is pointed out by the
natives as Bir-Daoud; that is, David's well.
Dr. ROBINSON doubts the
identity of the well; but others think that there are no good grounds
for doing so. Certainly, considering this to be the ancient well,
Beth-lehem must have once extended ten minutes further to the north,
and must have lain in times of old, not as now, on the summit, but on
the northern rise of the hill; for the well is by or
at the gate. I find in the description of travellers, that the
common opinion is, that David's captains had come from the southeast,
in order to obtain, at the risk of their lives, the so-much-longed-for
water; while it is supposed that David himself was then in the great
cave that is not far to the southeast of Beth-lehem; which cave is
generally held to have been that of Adullam. But
Adullam lay "in the valley"; that is, in the undulating plain at the
western base of the mountains of Judea and consequently to the
southwest of Beth-lehem. Be this as it may, David's men had in
any case to break through the host of the Philistines, in order to
reach the well; and the position of Bir-Daoud agrees well with this
[VAN DE VELDE].
19-39. the first three--The mighty men or champions in David's military
staff were divided into three classes--the highest, Jashobeam, Eleazar,
and Shammah; the second class, Abishai, Benaiah, and Asahel; and the
third class, the thirty, of which Asahel was the chief. There are
thirty-one mentioned in the list, including Asahel; and these added to
the two superior orders make thirty-seven. Two of them, we know, were
already dead; namely, Asahel
and if the dead, at the drawing up of the list, amounted to seven, then
we might suppose a legion of honor, consisting of the definite number
thirty, where the vacancies, when they occurred, were replaced by fresh