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II Samuel Menu
II Samuel Chapter 23
Memory verses for this week:
Job 40:2 Shall he
that contendeth with the Almighty instruct him? he that reproveth
God, let him answer it.
Overview of II Samuel 23:
Chapter 23 of II Samuel is the beginning of the end of the double
books of Samuel. David’s “last words” are recorded. Then, there is a
listing of David’s mighty men.
I. Last Words of David
2 Sam 23:1 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,
2 Sam 23:2 The spirit of the LORD spake by me, and his word was
in my tongue.
The thought here may be that what is about to follow are the last
inspired words of David, or perhaps, the last that he wrote
after the completion of his part in the penning of the Psalms. David
acknowledged that he was anointed to his throne by the God of Jacob.
He also referred to himself as the “sweet psalmist of Israel.” It
was David who composed most of the Psalms. And indeed, they are
In verse 2, David proceeds, “The Spirit of the LORD spake by
me, and his word was in my tongue.“ Here is one of the clearest
indications of verbal inspiration by the Holy Spirit in the Old
Testament. It is in the direct context of him being the sweet
psalmist of Israel. Clearly implied is that God put His very words
in David’s mouth.
2 Sam 23:3 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.
2 Sam 23:4 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.
David continued. “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.” Once again, David indicated that God spoke
directly to him about what to write. In this case, God said to
David, “He that ruleth over men must be just, ruling in the
fear of God.”
Twin requirements for Godly leadership are set forth: (1)
just character and (2) ruling in the fear of God. David had
exemplified both over his years. The word translated as just (qydu
tsaddiyq) is the basic Hebrew word for ‘righteous.’ It
alludes to righteousness of principle. Thus, the two key
requirements for leadership are (1) righteousness and (2) having
the fear of God in perspective.
Such a wise ruler is likened to the beauty of a clear dawn and
the green grass after a soft rain. The greater thought is that a
leader who is just and rules in the fear of God will be most
desirable and sought after.
J. Vernon McGee said we need more men who have a fear of God in
It is obvious that the decisions made in our government
today—regardless of the party—are not made “in fear of God.”
They are made in fear of the voters. There is little effort
being made to please God in our government. I wish it could
be said that the United States of America is a Christian
nation. It is not.
I was rather amused by the comments being made by some
men who were out of work because of a decision made in
Washington by the Senate. Each man who was out of work said,
“I voted for that man because he said he was going to vote
for this project, and he voted against it.” Well, all the
politician wanted was to be elected to office. He didn’t
care anything about the men and their project. We need men
who will rule in the fear of God and, until we get them, we
are going to have corruption in high places.
2 Sam 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.
2 Sam 23:6 But the sons of Belial shall be all of them as thorns
thrust away, because they cannot be taken with hands:
2 Sam 23:7 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 had the humility to admit that his life had not always so
reflected that ideal.
“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
Notwithstanding the fact that David had miserably failed God, at
least in the matter of Bathsheba; nevertheless, God had confirmed
His covenant to him.
That, of course, was the Davidic Covenant. David’s reference here
to his ‘salvation’ likely does not only refer to his eternal
spiritual salvation, but also the deliverance for his posterity. God
promised him his descendants would reign in perpetuity upon his
throne. That was the desire of David’s heart even if at the moment
he could not see the fulfillment of it. In contrast, “ the sons
of Belial shall be all of them as thorns thrust away,
because they cannot be taken with hands.” Whereas a godly ruler
would be accepted as the morning sun and green grass, wicked rulers
would be received as thorns which cannot be handled. David continues
the analogy of wicked rulers being like thorns. Such plants must be
handled with implements of iron and then they are burned.
The thought likely is that once such type of rulers are in place,
they can only be removed by force.
II. David's Mighty Men
2 Sam 23:8 These be the names of the mighty men whom David had:
The Tachmonite that sat in the seat, chief among the captains; the
same was Adino the Eznite: he lift up his spear against eight
hundred, whom he slew at one time.
2 Sam 23:9 And after him was Eleazar the son of Dodo the Ahohite,
one of the three mighty men with David, when they defied the
Philistines that were there gathered together to battle, and the men
of Israel were gone away:
2 Sam 23:10 He arose, and smote the Philistines until his hand
was weary, and his hand clave unto the sword: and the LORD wrought a
great victory that day; and the people returned after him only to
2 Sam 23:11 And after him was Shammah the son of Agee the
Hararite. And the Philistines were gathered together into a troop,
where was a piece of ground full of lentiles: and the people fled
from the Philistines.
2 Sam 23:12 But he stood in the midst of the ground, and defended
it, and slew the Philistines: and the LORD wrought a great victory.
2 Sam 23:13 And three of the thirty chief went down, and came to
David in the harvest time unto the cave of Adullam: and the troop of
the Philistines pitched in the valley of Rephaim.
2 Sam 23:14 And David was then in an hold, and the garrison of
the Philistines was then in Bethlehem.
The record now shifts to list the mighty men who served under
David. These were all military men. They are distinguished by three
classes: the first and highest consisted of three who were general
officers. The second class also was of three who perhaps were
colonels of regiments. Finally, the third class of thirty were
captains of thousands and hundreds.
The first of David’s three mightiest men was a man by the name of
Adino who killed 800 enemy soldiers in one battle. The second in
this elite list was a man named Eleazar. The battle with the
Philistines mentioned is unclear. He evidently held his sword so
strongly that after the battle he had difficulty releasing it. The
third of David’s mightiest men was Shammah the son of Agee the
Hararite. He excelled in an otherwise undescribed battle with the
Philistines. He stood his ground when other comrades-in-arms fled.
Shammah defended his homeland. In so doing, he killed many
Philistines. Once again, note is made that the Lord wrought a great
victory through him.
Verse 13 picks up with another section of David’s elite warriors
being noted. This is a group of thirty officers just below in rank
the first three. “And three of the thirty chief went down, and
came to David in the harvest time unto the cave of Adullam: and the
troop of the Philistines pitched in the valley of Rephaim. 14 And
David was then in an hold, and the garrison of the Philistines was
then in Bethlehem. “
This evidently was after David had become king and not the
incident of David and Saul at the cave Adullam. Of interest is that
he is mentioned as being in the hold. The word so translated is (hdwum)
matsuw- dah (masada). It is here described as being at or
near the cave Adullam. The greater thought is of a place of military
Matthew Henry spoke of these mighty men under David.
The catalogue which the historian has here left upon
record of the great soldiers that were in David’s time is
intended, 1. For the honour of David, who trained them up in
the arts of exercises of war, and set them an example of
conduct and courage. It is the reputation as well as the
advantage of a prince to be attended and served by such
brave men as are here described. 2. For the honour of those
worthies themselves, who were instrumental to bring David to
the crown, settle and protect him in the throne, and enlarge
his conquests. Note, Those that in public stations venture
themselves, and lay out themselves, to serve the interests
of their country, are worthy of double honour, both to be
respected by those of their own age and to be remembered by
posterity. 3. To excite those that come after to a generous
emulation. 4. To show how much religion contributes to the
inspiring of men with true courage. David, both by his
psalms and by his offerings for the service of the temple,
greatly promoted piety among the grandees of the kingdom (1
Chr. 29:6), and, when they became famous for piety, they
became famous for bravery.
2 Sam 23:15 And David longed, and said, Oh that one would give me
drink of the water of the well of Bethlehem, which is by the gate!
2 Sam 23:16 And the three mighty men brake through the host of
the Philistines, and drew water out of the well of Bethlehem, that
was by the gate, and took it, and brought it to David: nevertheless
he would not drink thereof, but poured it out unto the LORD.
2 Sam 23:17 And he said, Be it far from me, O LORD, that I should
do this: is not this the blood of the men that went in jeopardy of
their lives? therefore he would not drink it. These things did these
three mighty men.
This incident is not otherwise noted in Scripture apart from a
similar summary record in I Chronicles 11. Rather than take
advantage of his men, David offered the water as an offering to God,
notwithstanding his yearning to drink thereof.
“ And he said, Be it far from me, O LORD, that I should do this:
is not this the blood of the men that went in jeopardy of their
lives? therefore he would not drink it. These things did these three
mighty men.” Rather than enjoy the water of Bethlehem, his home
town, David offered it as a sacrifice to God.
2 Sam 23:18 And Abishai, the brother of Joab, the son of Zeruiah,
was chief among three. And he lifted up his spear against three
hundred, and slew them, and had the name among three.
2 Sam 23:19 Was he not most honourable of three? therefore he was
their captain: howbeit he attained not unto the first three.
2 Sam 23:20 And Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, the son of a valiant
man, of Kabzeel, who had done many acts, he slew two lionlike men of
Moab: he went down also and slew a lion in the midst of a pit in
time of snow:
2 Sam 23:21 And he slew an Egyptian, a goodly man: and the
Egyptian had a spear in his hand; but he went down to him with a
staff, and plucked the spear out of the Egyptian's hand, and slew
him with his own spear.
2 Sam 23:22 These things did Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, and had
the name among three mighty men.
2 Sam 23:23 He was more honourable than the thirty, but he
attained not to the first three. And David set him over his guard.
Some think another set of three mighty warriors of David is
noted. Others think this may be the names of the three mentioned in
verses 15-17. However, the total mentioned are thirty seven (verse
39) and the arithmetic suggests that this is another trio. “And
Abishai, the brother of Joab, the son of Zeruiah, was chief among
three. And he lifted up his spear against three hundred, and
slew them, and had the name among three.” Abishai was David’s
nephew. However, he distinguished himself militarily by
singlehandedly killing three-hundred enemies combatants. The first
three evidently were those mentioned in verses 8-12. Of this second
level of officers, Abishai was chief.
In verse 20, the second of the three is noted and his exploits.
“And Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, the son of a valiant man, of
Kabzeel, who had done many acts, he slew two lionlike men of Moab:
he went down also and slew a lion in the midst of a pit in time of
The reference to “lionlike men” could refer to men who were like
It more likely refers to princes of Moab. However, he also killed
a lion in a pit during one winter. The corollary account in I
Chronicles 11:23-28 speaks of this Egyptian as a giant of a man.
1 Chr 11:23 And he slew an Egyptian, a man of great
stature, five cubits high; and in the Egyptian's hand was a
spear like a weaver's beam; and he went down to him with a
staff, and plucked the spear out of the Egyptian's hand, and
slew him with his own spear.
1 Chr 11:24 These things did Benaiah the son of Jehoiada,
and had the name among the three mighties.
1 Chr 11:25 Behold, he was honourable among the thirty,
but attained not to the first three: and David set him over
1 Chr 11:26 Also the valiant men of the armies were,
Asahel the brother of Joab, Elhanan the son of Dodo of
1 Chr 11:27 Shammoth the Harorite, Helez the Pelonite,
1 Chr 11:28 Ira the son of Ikkesh the Tekoite, Abiezer
Benaiah took this powerful man’s spear out his hand and killed
him with it. Benaiah became chief of David’s bodyguards. He was just
below the first tier of officers of David’s armies.
III. The Remaining 28 Mighty Men of Valor
2 Sam 23:24 Asahel the brother of Joab was one of the thirty;
Elhanan the son of Dodo of Bethlehem,
2 Sam 23:25 Shammah the Harodite, Elika the Harodite,
2 Sam 23:26 Helez the Paltite, Ira the son of Ikkesh the Tekoite,
2 Sam 23:27 Abiezer the Anethothite, Mebunnai the Hushathite,
2 Sam 23:28 Zalmon the Ahohite, Maharai the Netophathite,
2 Sam 23:29 Heleb the son of Baanah, a Netophathite, Ittai the
son of Ribai out of Gibeah of the children of Benjamin,
2 Sam 23:30 Benaiah the Pirathonite, Hiddai of the brooks of
2 Sam 23:31 Abialbon the Arbathite, Azmaveth the Barhumite,
2 Sam 23:32 Eliahba the Shaalbonite, of the sons of Jashen,
2 Sam 23:33 Shammah the Hararite, Ahiam the son of Sharar the
2 Sam 23:34 Eliphelet the son of Ahasbai, the son of the
Maachathite, Eliam the son of Ahithophel the Gilonite,
2 Sam 23:35 Hezrai the Carmelite, Paarai the Arbite,
2 Sam 23:36 Igal the son of Nathan of Zobah, Bani the Gadite,
2 Sam 23:37 Zelek the Ammonite, Nahari the Beerothite,
armourbearer to Joab the son of Zeruiah,
2 Sam 23:38 Ira an Ithrite, Gareb an Ithrite,
2 Sam 23:39 Uriah the Hittite: thirty and seven in all.
The twenty eight men rounding out David’s top thirty-seven men
are here noted.
It is thought that Asahel, mentioned in verse 24, was over these
twenty-seven men since there are actually twenty-eight names
mentioned. Perhaps the most poignant is the mention of Uriah the
Hittite in verse 39. When David had him murdered, he was not just a
common soldier, but one of David’s mighty men—an officer of David.
Those who have endeavored themselves for the good of the public
are worthy of double honor, both to be respected by their fellow
citizens and to be remembered by their posterity. Though our deeds
may not be recorded by men, they are recorded in heaven.
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Prov 4:18 But the path of the just is as the shining light, that
shineth more and more unto the perfect day.
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