International Sunday School Lesson Study Notes
Lesson Text: 2 Samuel 23:1-7; 1 Chronicles 18:14 Lesson Title: Embodying God’s Justice
Many books and movies come to an end with a scene depicting a grieving family around a dying father, mother, or friend. In those final moments words are spoken, secrets are revealed and sometimes words of encouragement for those remaining are spoken. Although King David was not technically on his death bed, our text in 2 Samuel 23 record his last words spoken to the nation of Israel.
David, the youngest son of Jesse (1 Samuel 16:11) was a shepherd boy in Bethlehem. He was chosen by God at a young age to replace King Saul and was anointed by Samuel to be Israel’s second and greatest king (1 Samuel 16:12-13). His name means “Beloved.” He was a composer of psalms, Saul’s personal musician, and the closest and dearest friend of Saul’s son Jonathan. He was a man of great triumph as demonstrated in his battle with Goliath (1 Samuel 17) and also a man of great tragedy in the matter of Bathsheba and her husband, Uriah the Hittite (1 Kings 15:5).
Chapters 22-24 of 2 Samuel include two songs that summarize David’s life. These final words acknowledge and magnify God’s guidance and faithfulness throughout David’s life. Thoughtful poetic praise was an important part of David’s life especially in areas in which God had strengthened David and delivered him from the enemies of life. David certainly gave visible expression and evidence of God’s justice in his final words.
David Speaking (2 Samuel 23:1-2)
“Now these be the last words of David. David the son of Jesse said, and the man who was raised up on high, the anointed of the God of Jacob, and the sweet psalmist of Israel, said…” Our lesson text begins with the words, “Now these be the last words of David.” Though David spoke other words on his deathbed (1 Kings 2:1-9), these words are the “epitaph” that he wanted to characterize him for the ages. The word “said” is mentioned twice in this verse signifying David spoke with assurance and authority.
David’s “last words” are not so much about him as a man but rather about being a spokesman for God. These words that he describes as “last words” probably refer to the last inspired words and they were probably spoken to David’s son, Solomon. First, David speaks about himself as “the son of Jesse.” The name “Jesse” means, “Jehovah exists” or “firm.” “Jesse” was the son of Obed and had eight sons and two daughters by different wives (1 Samuel 17:12-14, 25). Isaiah speaks of the “stock of Jesse” a phrase indicating that it was from Jesse the Messiah would come (Isaiah 11). When David said he was “the son of Jesse” he was saying more than just the name of his earthly father.
Second, David identified himself as “…the man who was raised up on high.” These are words of modesty and humility. David had a humble beginning and he knew that he wasn’t worthy to be the king of Israel. God had certainly brought David a long way. He knows that God has “raised” him up to this exalted position (1 Samuel 17:55). The longer we live as Christians and the nearer we come to the end of life the more we should be humbled at the amazing grace of God that has saved us and caused us to be who we are and where we are in Christ.
Third, David speaks of himself as “the anointed of the God of Jacob.” Although it was the prophet Samuel who poured that holy oil on David in Jesse’s house that day in Bethlehem, David knew he was “the anointed of the God of Jacob.” Had God not intervened, it is obvious that Samuel would have anointed one of David’s brothers to be king. David knew there was more that had taken place in his life than just human choices and decisions. The hand of God was clearly evident and David was not ashamed to speak about it all of his life and especially in his final words.
Fourth, “the sweet psalmist of Israel” refers more to his character than to his occupation. Of course David was the composer of many beautiful psalms that we read and glean from every day. Of the 150 psalms in the book of Psalms, 73 are attributed to David. “Sweet” means “pleasant.” Everything David was in character is directly connected to the man God had made him. He had previously referred to himself as “the anointed of the God of Jacob.” “Jacob” reminds us that God can take anybody in any condition and change them. David now refers to himself as “the sweet psalmist of Israel.” The change from “Jacob” to “Israel” is David’s way of telling us that God had made great changes in his life just as He did when He changed “Jacob” to “Israel.”
Illus. It is reported that the last words of actress Joan Crawford were addressed to her housekeeper who had began to pray for her. Mrs. Crawford reportedly said, “Don’t you dare ask God to help me!” It is also reported that inventor Thomas Edison uttered the words, “It is very beautiful over there” as his last words. Last words are important. And the words David speaks magnify the God who saved him and the God he loved and served.
“The Spirit of the LORD spake by me, and his word was in my tongue” are marvelous and powerful words. In the context of these 15 words we hear David speaking about that miraculous event when the divine comes into contact with the human. “By me” and “my tongue” stand in contrast to “The Spirit of the LORD spake” and “his word was in.” The Scriptures are indeed the very Word of God, inerrant and perfectly given. Yet, God in His infinite wisdom employed humans such as David in the communication of His Word. The “mouth” uttering God’s “word” was human, but the message was divine; the voice was that of man, but the actual words those of God Himself (2 Peter 1:21).
“The Spirit of the LORD…” empowered David in his life and in all he wrote and said after he was anointed by Samuel. The Bible says, “Then Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the midst of his brethren: and the Spirit of the LORD came upon David from that day forward…” (1 Samuel 16:13). As a result of the power of God’s Spirit, God “spake by” David. That means God spoke through David as a human instrument.
David Describing (2 Samuel 23:3-4)
“The God of Israel said, the Rock of Israel spake to me, He that ruleth over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God.” Here David says God “spake to me.” This is different from “spake by me” in verse 2. “Spake to me” refers to a more personal word for David and his family.
“The God of Israel said, the Rock of Israel spake” are descriptive words of the source of the One speaking “by” David and speaking “to David.” Comparing God to a “rock” or stone is found in numerous other passages in Scripture (Genesis 49:24; Deuteronomy 32:4; Psalm 92:15; 1 Corinthians 10:4; Ephesians 2:19, 20; 1 Peter 2:4-8). When one thinks of a “rock” you think of stability and dependability. David, in his last words wanted to convey the message that all he said and all that was said to him by God was dependable.
“He that ruleth over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God” are beautiful words describing the qualities and character that must be in those who rule over people. One writer suggested that these words are so rich in meaning that they are worthy to be engraved on the hearts of man. These words describe the blessedness of the man who rules “in the fear of God.” A holy “fear of God” is the foundation for justice. Solomon said, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding” (Proverbs 9:10). Rulers and leaders must administer justice based on a holy reverence of Almighty God. Justice implies a sense of order in society and no society has order if they do not fear God. The more a society looses fear of God the more disorder and immorality increases.
Why does our society cry out for justice in some areas but yet cannot find justice in any area? The answer is we have lost our rulers who “fear God.” Would a presidential candidate publicly declare his or her support for homosexuality just to get elected? Would a governor publicly state his or her opposition to a marriage amendment that defined marriage as between a male and female just to maintain political power? If you live in America the answer is yes. Men and women in politics, religion, education, business, athletics and any other field will throw the truth of God to the wind in order to gain or maintain position and power in life. And the reason they do it is simply because they do not “fear God.” “He that ruleth over men must be just…” The word “must” means must. No exceptions. David of course was not a perfect man and neither are you and I. The qualities essential in the one who is to rule for God’s glory and His people’s good, are righteousness and dependence found alone in their perfection in that Blessed One who came not to do His own will, but the will of Him who sent Him (John 6:38). Jesus Christ is the perfect example of how God wants us to rule over men.
“And he shall be as the light of the morning, when the sun riseth, even a morning without clouds; as the tender grass springing out of the earth by clear shining after rain.” All of the words in this verse, “light, sun, morning, without clouds, tender grass, shinning and rain” speak of refreshment and renewal. “He” is speaking of the just ruler mentioned in verse 3. Again, the ultimate reference here is to Jesus Christ, the Messiah when he rules over men. However, the message for us today is rulers who discharge their duties faithfully and honestly are like “the light of the morning, when the sun riseth” and there is no “clouds” in their judgment. Their rule and judgment is like “tender grass springing out of the earth” after a shower of “rain.”
David’s words are consistent with the Proverb writer when he wrote, “A divine sentence is in the lips of the king: his mouth transgresseth not in judgment” (Proverbs 16:10). “A king who rules his people justly is as glorious as the sun rising in its strength to drive away the works of darkness, and give men, by precept and example, the light of clear knowledge of their duty. So a just and upright government calls into being countless forms of human activity, and fosters all that is morally beautiful, while it checks the blighting influences of unregulated passion and selfish greed.” (from The Pulpit Commentary, Electronic Database. Copyright © 2001, 2003, 2005, 2006 by Biblesoft, Inc. All rights reserved.)
Question: When was the last time you read the newspaper, watched the evening news, or listened to a decision from any judge or court and said, “That decision was like fresh growing grass after a much needed rain?”
David Participating (2 Samuel 23:5)
“Although my house be not so with God; yet he hath made with me an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things, and sure: for this is all my salvation, and all my desire, although he make it not to grow.”
After David spoke the words describing true justice he turned his thoughts to his own “house” and his own kingdom and concluded “my house be not so with God.” In other words, David knows that “his house” has not been justly ruled and certainly is not perfect. The two statements “my house be not so with God” and “although he make it not to grow” must be taken at face value. David is recognizing that he alone could never have made his house what it is. It was because God “hath made with me an everlasting covenant” and “ordered in all things” that David is saved and has the desires he has to please God and live for Him.
While there are great biblical and familiar words in this verse such as “covenant” and “salvation,” the key word is “yet.” Set the word “yet” over against the word “although” and you see the glorious thought David is conveying. Although David and his house has been anything but just, God had nevertheless entered into covenant with him. David knew that because of his personal sin and misconduct and also the misconduct of his family that they were less than what they could have been for God. David and his entire family had been favored by God in spite of their failures.
What David and his family are is because it has been “ordered” by God. It is God who makes families rich and who makes families poor (Psalm 107:40-41).
David Comparing (2 Samuel 23:6-7)
Verse 6-7 “But the sons of Belial shall be all of them as thorns thrust away, because they cannot be taken with hands. But the man that shall touch them must be fenced with iron and the staff of a spear; and they shall be utterly burned with fire in the same place.”
David concluded his words by comparing his blessed condition with that of the awful fate awaiting those who knew not the Lord. The grace of God had been sufficient and blessed David in spite of his personal failure and the grace of God had protected David in spite of his enemies. While David, though undeserving is enjoying the security of the “everlasting covenant” with God, “the sons of Belial shall be all of them as thorns thrust away.”
The word “Belial” means “no value.” The “sons of Belial” are those who have chosen to live their lives apart from God and therefore have lives of “no value.” They are worthless before God. Think of the multitudes living there today. They are “as thorns” good for nothing but to be “thrust away.” It is impossible to clear away thorns with bare “hands.” The only way to clear out thorns is to “be fenced with iron and the staff of a spear.” The meaning is these “thorns” or “worthless people” must be dealt with by an iron hook at the end of a spear, and then “utterly burned with fire in the same place.”
God is saying the vicious worthlessness which opposes righteous government must be treated like thorns, too prickly and sharp pointed for gentle dealing. While our Lord teaches us to love sinners and to pray for their salvation and respect them as men and women with eternal souls, He does not teach in the Old or New Testament that we are to gently tolerate their worthless values! God is saying, “Burn the thorns in the place they grow so they will never grow again.”
A similar word picture is used by our Lord in Matthew 13:36-46, “Then Jesus sent the multitude away, and went into the house: and his disciples came unto him, saying, Declare unto us the parable of the tares of the field. He answered and said unto them, He that soweth the good seed is the Son of man; The field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one; The enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels. As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world. The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.”
Those who reject the Lord’s salvation, provided through Jesus Christ the son of David, in His death, burial, and resurrection, face everlasting punishment in torment in the place called hell and the lake of fire (Revelation 19:20; 20:10, 14, 15).
Personal Note: America is filled today with rulers, politicians, magistrates, judges, preachers, and common people who seem to think their duty in life is to tolerate every one and every ones opinion and lifestyle. God in His sovereignty and wisdom has so ordained and appointed rulers to use their power to administer His justice upon wickedness. There are many sins and much evil in our land today such as homosexuality, adultery, fornication, abortion, idolatry and countless others that our justice system has refused to deal with. And these sins are not to be tolerated. They are so deadly that they are not to be touched by human hands. God wants them “utterly burned with fire in the same place.” Not by one on one hatred or crimes against individuals participating and promoting these sins. But by the justice system God has ordained and put in place. When God said, “And let not man put asunder” referring to divorce, He meant exactly what He said (Mark 10:9). No one, not David, his descendants, not you, not me, and not a judge or preacher is exempt from the judgment of God when we fail to uphold the just standards of God (Psalm 101:8).
David Executing (1 Chronicles 18:14)
“So David reigned over all Israel, and executed judgment and justice among all his people.”
The book of Chronicles is a record of the activities of the kings of Israel. In regard to David it is written that he “…reigned over all Israel, and executed judgment and justice among all his people.” Most of us remembered David for what he done to the lion, the bear, and to Goliath. Others remember his failure with Bathsheba or the many psalms he wrote. But in the Chronicles of the kings he is remembered for “executing judgment and justice.”
David’s warfare and his writings were all a part of his life and his kingship but they were only a part of his real purpose in life. God chose him to be king that he might help order and maintain peace in the land of Israel. When the sword had to be used in order to maintain that peace David was not afraid to use it. But when he withheld the sword as in the case of not killing King Saul when he had the opportunity, he demonstrated great wisdom and knew that justice was in the hands of God (1 Samuel 24).
David as a man and a king was not perfect. But in most situations in life he is a great example for all of us to follow. It is not always easy to “rule in the fear of God.” We should pray for those in authority instead of condemning (1 Timothy 2:1-2). We must also warn those in authority of their accountability to God (Ezekiel 33:9). And we should encourage those who are attempting to rule justly in a world disinterested in justice.
If a school principal, an honest judge, or just a plain Christian leads and makes decisions based on sound judgment and wisdom they can expect to be criticized in the main stream media. No area of journalism reveals inconsistency and intolerance more than when the subject of Christianity and biblical truth is reported. But rest assured, God will have the last laugh, not the comedians (Psalm 2:4).
May God give us the patience and love we need to continue to “rule in the fear of God” in the midst of our lost world. We must remember that those who freely use demeaning language and insulting words against God, His Word, and His people are spiritually blind and dead in trespasses and sin. We know their eternal destiny is separation from God forever. We also know that through the power of the cross and God’s saving grace, they can be redeemed.
Contact Information Office: 828-758-2818Click to contact me.
Physical Location311 Abington Rd. N.W. Lenoir, N. C. 28645
Mailing Address311 Abington Rd. N.W. Lenoir, N. C. 28645
Designed by TTM Consulting