Our lives are not a series of haphazard events. Rather, God is sovereign over every detail. In 2 Samuel 22, we read King David’s song of praise to God, which testifies to David’s personal experience of God’s intervention throughout his life. Alistair Begg explains how David’s poetic description of God’s sovereign activity reflects David’s theology—a true understanding of God and His purposes that we, too, need in order to properly understand ourselves and our place in time and history.
The following message by Alistair begg is made available by Truth for life. For more information. Visit us online. At truth For life dot org. And I invite you if you’re able to turn with me to 2nd Samuel and to chapter 22. And to follow along as I read The 1st 20 verses second Samuel 22 and verse one And David spoke to the Lord the words of this song on the day when the Lord delivered him from the hand of all his enemies and from the hand of Saul, he said, The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, My God! My rock in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold and my refuge, my savior. You saved me from violence. I call upon the Lord who is worthy to be praised and I am saved from my enemies. For the waves of death encompassed me. The torrents of destruction assailed me. The cords of shell entangled me. The snares of death confronted me in my distress. I called upon the Lord to my God! I called from his temple. He heard my voice and my cry came to his ears. Then the earth reeled and rocked. The foundations of the heavens trembled and quaked because he was angry. Smoke went up from his nostrils and devouring fire from his mouth, glowing coals flamed forth from him. He bowed the heavens and came down thick darkness was under his feet. He rode on a cherub and flew. He was seen on the wings of the wind. He made darkness around him, his canopy thick clouds, a gathering of water out of the brightness before him, coals of fire flamed forth. The Lord thundered from heaven, and the most high uttered his voice and he sent out arrows and scattered them lightning and routed them. Then the channels of the sea were seen. The foundations of the world were laid bare at the rebuke of the Lord, at the blast of the breath of his nostrils he sent from on high he took me. He drew me out of many waters. He rescued me from my strong enemy, from those who hated me, for they were too mighty for me. They confronted me in the day of my calamity. But the Lord was my support. He brought me out into a broad place. He rescued me because he delighted in me. Thanks be to God for his word. And we pray briefly as we turn to the bible father, what we know not teach us what we have not give us what we are not make us for your son’s sake. Amen Well, our text this morning is, if you like David’s version of then sings my soul my savior, God to thee. It is his great outpouring of praise, from the depth of his being. And you will perhaps recall those of you who have a good memory and a long memory that when we began these studies quite a while ago in first Samuel. At the very outset we were introduced to a song that was sung there. It was sung, you will remember by Hannah and it was essentially her prayer that poured out from her heart. And as we read that we said on that morning, there is much in this song that is an anticipation of all that is to follow. And that song, if you go back and check on it, you will find that it ends looking forward to God quotes, giving strength to his king and exalting the power of his anointed. And we said on that occasion, this whole journey that we now embark upon is going to answer the question, how is he going to accomplish this? And here we now find ourselves at the very end of the story and David is singing and now that which was anticipated in the song of First Samuel two is reflected upon the way in which God’s purpose has been fulfilled both in David and through David. And you will notice that we’re told that David actually spoke these words and he spoke them to the Lord. He addresses himself to God in fact some 18 which is a parallel passage to this. It is essentially the same text. Sam 18 begins in a very personal expression, I love you. Oh Lord, my strength and he is singing this. We’re told on the day when the Lord delivered him from his enemies and particularly from Saul. Well, of course that could almost be just about any day because he was constantly being pursued and Saul was the bugger bear of his life for so long. I think perhaps if you go back and look, you’ll find yourself in Second Samuel chapter seven where it actually says now when the king had rest, lived in his house and the Lord had given him rest had given him rest from all his enemies. And then it goes on there in chapter seven to give to David this great covenant promise of a kingdom that will come that will never come to an end and so on. We can’t say categorically, but I think we’re probably in the right direction. If we think in terms of 2nd Samuel seven. Now, the history that we have rehearsed over these years and I hope it hasn’t been too laborious. The history is now being addressed by way of testimony, by way of poetry and by way of theology. And as I thought about it this week, I thought, well, perhaps that can give to us the breakdown for our study this morning. We are considering David’s song of Salvation. And we’re noting first of all that he is testifying if your bible is open in front of you, let me encourage you to pay attention to the Mayes to the Mayes. My my my my my my my my my my my my I said, this is David’s version of mine mine, mine what he’s making clear to. is this something that we must actually pay careful attention to. He is not simply declaring an awareness of what is true of God. You’re not simply saying, I want to tell you things that are true of God. He is actually testifying to the power of that truth. The power of who God is as both experienced and enjoyed in his life. If you look again and you see the UN’s, they’re very clear to us, rock fortress deliverer, God stronghold, shield, salvation, refuge. And he loads these all up. It would be like a boy getting up in the morning. I want to tell his dad how much he meant to him. Dad, you’re my this year, my dad, you’re my next thing. You’re so many things to me, Dad. In other words, he almost falls over himself in trying to adequately say, I love you and that’s exactly what he’s doing here. He is building one on top of the other. He’s almost aware of the fact that he cannot adequately convey to God the depth of his gratitude, a gratitude again, that is not something that is merely cerebral. E something that is cognitive, something that is out there and true, but rather it is something that has become personally his And as we’ve been reading the bible and studying this, we’ve been recognizing the way in which God brings his word to us first to our minds in order that we might think clearly, and then home to the very epicenter of our being to our hearts. The control center of our existence that involves our mind and our emotions and our wills. All of that is gathered up here in this testimony and he begins in this way, not because it’s a sunny day and he’s having a fantastic time. No, he is reflecting. And you will see in the text in verse three that he is no stranger to violence. God is the one who saves him from violence. He is painfully aware of the fact that he has spent a large amount of his time hiding from his enemies and what he’s actually doing is he’s pointing at the fact that when he is overwhelmed, when he’s feeling as though the bottom has apparently dropped out of his world. He is calling, he is calling to the Lord. He says, I I call to the Lord. I called to the rock because here I find a solid place to put my feet. I call to the one who is a fortress because here I find a safe place in which to hide. Mhm. Now it’s not that he is undergoing as it were first world problems. It’s not that he has woken up in the morning said, can you believe that gas is $5.19 a gallon. What in the world are we going to do with our lives? I don’t know if we’re going to manage, Go to Europe. Try it there for a little while you come back and go, isn’t this fantastic to be living here where gas is only $5.19? No, it’s not that at all. Look at verse five, The waves of death encompassed me. The torrents of destruction assailed me. It’s not as if he’s troubled by minor difficulties. No, he is entangled. He says he snared the waves of death. Stare him down. You will remember, I hope that on one occasion when he’s talking with his friend Jonathan, he says to him in the midst of all of these extremities, he says, Jonathan, you know there is but a step between me and death. You can find that in for Samuel 20, there is but a step between me and death. That was the prevailing sense in which he was living. The fact that these people pursued him that Saul had it out for him. And that it would look from every human perspective as if he was absolutely finished. When you read the psalms his poems, this comes across clearly. He often talks in these terms. I was pushed back, he says, and I was falling. But what did he do? You know who you gonna call when the bottom drops out from your existence? Who you gonna call when you are confronted by the reality of a blood test that comes back exactly in the opposite direction that you had hoped? Who are you going to call? Who am I going to call? Is there anybody to call? Ghostbusters. No, no, he calls, he calls in my distress. I called upon the Lord to my God. I called you see, he actually believed him to be his rock, his fortress, his salvation, his strong tower. He believed and therefore he was confident that since God was this, then God would be be able for this. You see that the conviction of who God is and what God is gives a basis for his cry. There’s no point in crying to somebody who can’t hear. There’s no point in crying to somebody who can’t fix anything. No, he understands this. He cries to the only one who is able to hear his cry from his temple, we might say from heaven he heard my voice. My cry came to his ears. It’s wonderful, isn’t it? You have these little things now. We never had them when our Children were tiny monitors. They’re jelly nuisance actually in one sense. And I shouldn’t say that, but I just did so. But because you live your life on a knife edge for those things. Did you hear that? Was that it? No, that was the air conditioning. Are you sure? And I think that was a thing. I want to, you’re supposed to have it so they can just go to sleep and relax. The jolly thing keeps you awake half the night. I think I heard it nor the child isn’t remotely concerned because they know that you care. They know that if they cry you answer, I cried to him, He cried to the only one who is able to bring the waves of death and the torrents of destruction under control, who else can deal with this? You fast forward And you discover that the disciples who had been enlisted by this jesus of Nazareth and they’re discovering in ways beyond their comprehension, just who and what this person is. They as out of a background of the old testament, understood this about God, that God is the one who is able to deal with the torrents. He’s the one who is able to deal with the waves. They had that in their minds. And therefore on this occasion, when they find themselves out on the sea almost overwhelmed by it all. This jesus of Nazareth stands up and he bids the winds and the waves and the torrents of potential destruction to be absolutely calm. And the sea is calm. And they said what we would have said to who is this? That even the winds and the waves will bear. There’s only one person who can control the winds and the waves, the only one to whom we might cry, You know, I was thinking about it in terms of our view of everything, all of us live our lives with the changes and uncertainties and difficulties and disappointments. None of us can escape that and often will turn to music as a solo as people tell me all the time apart from the ones who try and encourage me by saying when I awaken the night I listen to your sermons and I’m asleep within a couple of minutes. I I always tell them the same thing. Listen, I read my notes on a saturday night and fell asleep. Why would it be any different for you on a sunday morning? But the fact of the matter is we often turn to music, don’t we? And the music that we turn to will either help or hinder. I know that I’m not mentioned groups like Pink Floyd, but I often do. I’m not sure what this song is actually about when I’ve listened to it. It’s called comfortably numb, comfortably known. Those of you who listen to this music will know it begins like this. Hello? Hello. Hello. Is there anybody out there? Just nod if you can hear me? You cry out in the night. Hello? Hello. Hello. Anybody out there listen to Isaiah seek the Lord while he may be found. Call upon him while he is near the Lord bestows riches on all who call upon him. Everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved. Is there anybody out there? Yes to him? David coles, that’s his testimony. Now we move from testimony to poetry. Some of you like poetry, others of you often I find men think poetry is a bit of a waste of space. And it was always rather daunting to have to do poetry interpretation at school. I confess I always looked for a couple of my friends who were very bright and sat next to them and derived the wisdom that was needed in order to make your way through the class. But anyway, here we are with poetry. A poetry that is describing for us. A dramatic intervention. That’s it, verses 8-16. What is going on here? Well, it is a poetic display. It is the history of David described in a dramatic metaphor. And what David is pointing out is that God is not indifferent to the fact that his enemies. That is David’s enemies have his life, in their view, in the hope that they can snuff it out. And we’re told very clearly in verse eight that when this great dramatic unfolding of things took place, the earth reeled and rocked. The foundations of the heavens trembled and quaked. Were told because God was angry because God was angry. Now when I read this this week, I found myself reflecting on the fact that people used to tell me when I was frightened by thunder and lightning as a boy. They used to say, oh, that’s just the clouds banging their heads together as if they had heads and so on. Well, it’s a picture, isn’t it? What is happening when the universe rocks and reels and rolls? What is happening when the seas lift up? What is happening in the midst of climate change? What is going on? Well, David here is pointing out in a dramatic way that God expresses himself in natural phenomena as well. Now you may find it very hard to think about it in these terms. The whole idea of God being angry because after all, God is love. We know that and it is because he is love that he is angry because he is love. He is angry on Father’s Day while I don’t want my father to be angry with me. But what father is not angry when he sees the impact of drugs taking a toll on his son or and his daughter, it is the extent of his love for his child that reveals itself in anger. What husband is not angry at those who would invade the unique territory of his relationship with his wife. You could never say that he truly loved unless he was genuinely angry at everything that threatened the well being. So what we discover is That the father God is angered because remember he has said his love upon his anointed one, David. And now those who pursue David and seek to bring him down are under the jurisdiction of his care. Woodhouse has a wonderful sentence on this. And I’ll quote it to you now, he says it is good news that God is angry about violence and hatred and death and destruction about cancer and war about starvation and cruelty. Would you rather that God didn’t care. So the paragraph and I’m not going to try and do the interpretation. That’s an assignment for you at home and you can come back and tell me the fruits of your diligent study. We simply need to recognize that this is a poetic description of events that have taken place in David’s life, in the battles and in the escapes in death and in deliverance. The experience of David is dramatized in such a way that it almost appears as though the events of the exodus. Remember when God brought his people out of bondage in Egypt, when he passed them through the sea, when he brought them into Sinai to that mountain where you have all this striking manifestation of the power of God again in a metaphorical way, in natural phenomenon. When you read this and you read David’s reflection, it’s almost as though David is saying, you know, the drama that was represented back. There is really the drama that has unfolded in the experience that has been mine. But you say, why didn’t he just right. The Lord intervened on my behalf. That would just be six words instead of 141 words? Well, it wouldn’t be much of a poem, would it? The Lord intervened on my behalf. Now you see what is happening here is he’s not simply informing us, we have walked this path with him. Those of us who have been studying. He’s not simply informing us of what has taken place. He is dramatizing what has taken place. He wants us to be grasped if you like by this. It’s this in contemporary terms. This would be like a fantastic video game. That’s all lights and flashing and drama and everything. And most of us has had also going, what in the world is this about? And the Children are going, well, it’s really obvious. You see this guy was over here. They were over there, they went over there, he went there and they were there and still, we don’t know what he’s talking about. And here we have it. David, ralph Davis says he wants us to understand the drama in all of its phosphorescent splendor. That’s nice. First for etten splendor. That’s what we have here. Look at what it says. For example, the picture. Do you pull the curtains in the morning? I sometimes I do. Sometimes my wife, does. You pull the curtains you open up to a day. That’s what it says here in verse 10. He pulled the curtains in the heavens. He bowed the heavens and he came down In Mold 14. He thundered from Heaven. You remember when we studied in second Samuel, There’s at least one occasion where just when it looks as though David is about to be grasped. Somebody comes with word that, that there is a there’s an army and there’s an enforcement and there’s word on the wind as it were, of this taking place. And all of a sudden saul turns in another direction. And David is safe metaphorically is isn’t the Lord funded from heaven. The natural phenomenon of thunder is interpreted in terms of the words that emerged from their lips, the upheavals of the earth, the zigzagging pattern of lightning. The God who parted the Red Sea is the one who saved David from his enemies. The God of Part of the Red Sea is the one who saved David from his enemies. David is able to look back and say, that’s what you did, that you are that kind of God, that you are that powerful. And I’ve actually seen it, he says, in my own life, when you parted the curtains and came down and helped me. Why is it so hard for us to wrestle with this? Because it is hard if we’re honest, some of you pride yourself on being very scientific and some of you, I guess are very scientific and you are schooled in that way and there is a benefit and a blessing to you. But there is an inherent danger in it. And the inherent danger is simply this. That we begin to think great thoughts about ourselves and very small thoughts about God. We begin to think that we are actually in control. Despite the fact that all of the hypotheses of science have to be repeated again and again and again in the hope that we’re actually onto something and that we have really no category for the dramatic intervention of that which actually perplexes us and may actually paralyze us. And I want to say to those of you who are in the world not of the arts, but in the world of the sciences, in the world of mathematics. You don’t need to somehow or another set aside this immense truth in order to as it were, safeguard God. Now, what you need to do is you need to be prepared to employ the same clarity that paul employed when he spoke to the intellectuals of Athens. And you remember how he began with them after he said, I can see you’re a religious people and so on. What’s his opening line? The God who made the world and everything in it. He gives to all mankind breath and everything. That’s his line, the guard who made the world everything in it, every one of you that I’m speaking to, he says, he is the one who gives you the breath to awaken in the morning. And on the day when you take your final breath, it will be by the Lord’s appointing. Now, that is a dramatic statement, isn’t it? Where does he get it from? Well, because he read his bible, he knew the prophet Isaiah. It is he that is God who sits above the circle of the earth and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers, who stretches out the heavens like a curtain and spreads in like a tent to dwell in, who brings princess to nothing and makes the rulers of the earth as emptiness. You see theology matters, theology matters a true understanding of God and his power and his purposes is actually necessary for us to have a proper understanding of ourselves and our place in time and our place in history. Well, we’ll leave the poetry there, come to our final point, which is this matter of theology, as I mentioned it versus 17 to 20 C. Now, what God has done, you will notice that the, if you like parenthetical section of verses 8 to 16 sits there and verse 17 essentially picks up from what he was saying in verse seven, there are seven ends from his temple, He heard my voice and my cry came to his ears and he picks up from there and he says, this is what happened he sent from on high. Now, something that I should mention now and we’ll come back to it next time. Is that this theological commentary on the history of David comes at this point, that the writer has chosen to include this song at the end of the narrative in order that we might understand all that has gone before. In light of this song. Now, this will become very, very important next week. If you read on, you will understand why? Yeah, it’s as if David is saying, you know, if you want to know, if you put it in the first person, David says, if you want to know and we do want to know how this whole deal went down. Let me tell you. And this is what he tells us. In verses 17-20, the events of my life. He says, haven’t been haphazard. I’m not the plaything of arbitrary forces. I’m not bouncing around like a cork on the ocean of life. I am not held in the grip of an impersonal fate. No, he says, my times are in his hands. He is sovereign over these things in every part of it. Look at that he sent from on high. And he took me, He sent from on high and he took me. Now you’re gonna have to flash back all the way to four. Samuel 16. Samuel shows up at the house of Jesse. I’m here. I’m looking for somebody, a potential king. While I have some sons, I could bring them out. You can read it for yourself again. You remember, one comes out and another comes out and another comes out and Simon says, he’s not the guy. It’s not the guy. It’s not the guy. Is there anybody else remember what jesse says, Well, There is one more the youngest. But behold, he is keeping the sheep, You might say he’s a good shepherd. Mhm. He sent from on high and he took me. He took me. Do you understand that? Your life our lives. The drama of history is not a series of haphazard eventualities. Despite what historians may say that God is sovereign over the affairs that he sweeps even my mistakes, my disappointments, my difficulties, my regrets into the unfolding drama of his purposes. And that’s what David is saying. Look, he not only took me, but he drew me out of many waters. For those who like stuff like this. Let me tell you that this vera. Pierre drew me out of many waters only appears one other place in the whole of the old Testament Exodus. Chapter two. Who is drawn out of the water with a little baby that was put in the basket. And what does it say that Miriam named him not Miriam. The mother, the daughter of pharaoh named him moses because she said I drew him out of water and the verb sounds like moses that his name was given to him Having been drawn out of water. And David says in the same way that he brought him out of the water. He has brought me out of lots of waters. He’s rescued me from my enemies. Verse 18. People who were too strong and too mighty for me to handle When I was trapped verse 19 in the day of my calamity. In the day of my calamity. He brought me out into a broad place. Now. The phrase there in the day of my calamity actually means when I was in a tight spot when I was in a tight spot, he brought me out and he set me in a broad place because he delighted in me the love of the father for us. He delighted in me. David says that knowing all that he was all of his messes. Even in the midst of his adultery, he did this, he says, do you hear my song? This is my song of salvation. He says, he did this. This is what God does, wow! His testimony of gods, theological purpose revealed in poetry points as ultimately to jesus himself, but it also gives to us the inevitable challenge. How how are we planning on facing the day of our calamity? You have made plans for various things in your life, I’m sure have you made a plan for the day of your calamity from the tight corner of death when finally somebody either destroys you by fire or traps you in a coffin? What is the plan? Is there anyone who can deal with that tight corner? Only one, the rock, the fortress, the deliverer, the savior, and what we learned here is that this whole story, this poetic manifestation of God’s goodness is actually not about David, it’s about God, it’s about the one who is worthy to be praised, He is worthy to be praised. He says, I want you to I want you to know this God. I want you to know God Blakey in an old commentary which I have on my shelves, records for us the impact of the battle of Agincourt which took place in the 15th century. Henry the fifth was the leader of his troops and did agincourt. The english one remarkable and unanticipated victory as a result of that, Henry the fifth said to his troops, that is prostrate ourselves before almighty God and let us take the words of the 115 Sam and say it to him not too high. So Lord, not to us, but to thy name, give glory. You see in this posture there is the only hope for life and death in this posture. There’s actually the only hope for the future of our nation. So we say to one another, come, let us worship God, let us bow before the Rock of our salvation. And having considered David song of Salvation, the inevitable question ought to be in mind. Am I able to sing that song? Do I have a song of Salvation to sing, Father, thank you. That your word is all that you declare it to be help us to weave through my many words and to hear your voice calling us Lord to the one who is our rock and our fortress, our deliver our salvation. Our biggest problem is the fact that we’re lost in relationship to you all the bits and pieces of our lives, the fragments, the jigsaw puzzle, trying to put it all back in the box to make the picture fit. And here we look at this and we realize you are the one who fixes things. You are the one who has provided for us in jesus. So bring us to an understanding of this, not what is true at arm’s length as it were, but in order that we might be able to say my my my my for jesus sake amen. This message was brought to you from truth for life, where the learning is for living, learn more about truth. For life with Alistair begg visit us online at Truth for life dot org.