Scripture Reading: 2 Samuel 22:1-15; 41-46
I will say that 2 Samuel 22 is a poignant declaration about God. It was a song composed by David, apparently during the last stage of his life. This sacred song was uttered by David in his late years. We know this for sure because in the next chapter, we have an account of his final words. So we can certainly conclude that it was David’s last song. However, there is more to it than just that: David has something to say about God. He wants to talk about this God.
Here is a man that started his close relationship with God as a youth at the age of 17, when Samuel poured oil upon him, which signifies the Spirit of God coming upon him. He was changed into another man who not only faced unbelievable victory, like his defeat of Goliath, but also numerous trials in his life before he even reached the age of 30. He then ascended the throne at the age of 30. He ruled Israel for the next 40 years. So you could say that David held a relationship with God for a good period of 53 years.
My relationship with God has been going on for 32 years: seven years serving God in Evangel Singapore and 25 years serving God in the Philippines. I also have something to say about God. How about you?
David had something to say about this God whom he had known for more than half a century. Many sacred songs are found in the Old Testament and they often have an instructive nature behind them. 2 Samuel Chapter 22 is one of those, and it can definitely be studied instructively by all of us.
I learned something significant from it which is why I chose to share this sermon. Before tackling 2 Samuel 22, let’s take for instance other instructive songs found in the bible. In Exodus 15, the children of Israel were delivered from the house of bondage and their enemies had drowned in the Red Sea. Miriam led them into a song of worship that ascended from their hearts. Moses himself ended his wandering in the wilderness with a song in Deuteronomy 32. Job also speaks of God giving ‘songs in the night’.
So why did David choose this song? Well I believe that David reviewed his own remarkable history and observed the gracious hand of God constantly throughout his life. David gratefully recounts the glorious acts of God on His behalf. What can we learn from David?
(1) David speaks of his enemies
One of the outstanding features of David’s career is the large number of his defeated enemies, both from the surrounding nations as well as among his own people, the chief of all being Saul – his most formidable, malicious and inveterate (hardened, chronic) enemy. Also, we must not forget Absalom; even his family members went against him. Matthew Henry commented about David’s life saying that ‘many were those who hated him’.
I am going to say something that may come as a surprise to you. One of the outstanding marks or traits of your life is the large number of enemies you have: be they those who surround you, those who are close to you and whom you treat as your own, those who go to the house of God with you or those who eat with you. Amongst these people are some of your most formidable, wicked, chronic and confirmed foes.
You may not like to hear this but we are all tried believers, constantly harassed by Satan. You ask ‘Why must my life be like this?’ Well, for one, this is not only a problem that you face but also one that Christ constantly encountered; “he was despised and rejected by men.” Secondly, it may be that God wants to display His faithfulness and power in preserving you more fervently and perhaps more conspicuously. Thirdly, this is generally what saints have experienced. Take heart from the experience of David. Take heart from someone who had 53 years of a relationship with God. Take heart from someone who is speaking at the end of his life and who wants to tell us something.
2 Samuel 22:1: ‘And David spake unto the LORD the words of this song in the day that the LORD delivered him out of the hand of all his enemies, and out of the hand of Saul.’
Now how does God deliver David? His deliverance has always come through various forms; sometimes this way, sometimes in another way. Sometimes He employs human instruments and other times He works out a victory for us without human instruments.
As we trace out the life of David we can see some evident traits: again and again, it looks as though his foes would surely prevail against him. Even in one occasion he says ‘I shall surely perish by the hand of Saul.’
Dear Brothers and Sisters, if we belong to Christ, the combined forces of hell shall never prevail against us. The united assaults of flesh cannot destroy us.
Just last Monday I was in a hurry to catch the 10 p.m. boat trip to Mindoro. I asked Pastor Ephraim to fetch me to the bus station at around 4 p.m. The bus finally left at 5 pm. Well, the bus was painfully slow and unfortunately, when the driver started increasing the speed above 80kph, the whole bus started shaking. I think there may have been something wrong with the triode bar. As a result, the driver had to constantly keep the bus at a laboriously slow speed to prevent all the shaking.
Anyway, I finally reached Kalibo at around 8.30 pm. Upon reaching Kalibo I was told that all the shuttle buses to Caticlan had already stopped. Poor me, I was sitting at one corner, wondering what to do. Then, a 40-year old man came and offered to fetch me to Caticlan with his China-made motor bike that that has an engine capacity of 100c.c. I was desperate then and being someone known to be a risk-taker, I decided, after much persuasion, to take a ride with him on his motorbike.
Well I made a wrong decision. When I sat behind him on his bike, it started raining. Through God’s grace, I endured all the ache and discomfort. I mean I had one big bag placed between him and me. I also had a heavy laptop strung on my shoulder. And I’m not exactly small in size. Just imagine how much space I had left. Also, I could not stretch because I was behind a motorbike. It was painfully difficult.
The story gets even more interesting. We travelled for 50 km at a miserable speed of 40kph, at a point where I kept wondering why it seemed as if he was crawling rather than driving. Then as we reached the crossing of Ibajay, from Pandan to Caticlan, there was a police check point. There were at least 7 to 8 policemen at the check point. I was shocked that my driver didn’t stop but instead, he went straight ahead, bypassing them. The next moment, I noticed a bright light behind me and realized that there was a police car chasing us. I thought I was about to be shot. Also, it dawned upon me that since I was sitting behind the driver, the first to be shot would be me and not him. Thank God the police did not fire at us. However, they were very angry. They insisted that I sit on his motorbike again and drive back to the check point. Well they started to meticulously check my bag and my laptop bag. I thank God that I carried my bible along with me. I told them that I am a missionary and I was on my way to Mindoro. I included the details of how I hired this motorbike driver to fetch me to Caticlan as there were no longer any available shuttle buses.
When they heard that I was a pastor, their hearts softened towards me. I started to enter into a nice, long conversation with one of them. This particular policeman was holding onto an M16 rifle, which I recognised very well because I had the same one during my military training. He then told me that it is indeed very dangerous to ride on a motorbike from Kalibo to Caticlan as the distance is about 66 km. He also told me that the motorbike driver was drunk. I was shocked at how clueless I was the whole time. Next he told me that this driver had no driving license and his motorbike was not registered which was why they had to impound his vehicle. The first thought that came into my mind was “I am now in the middle of nowhere, how am I going to reach Caticlan when it is already 11 p.m. in the night?”
God is amazing. He knows how to deliver us in spite of our foolishness. I noticed that among them, there was a young policeman. He looked the fiercest amongst the lot and judging from the first look, you would perhaps immediately presume that he is an officer. He also conversed with me and I was telling him that I came from Iloilo. Then this young policeman softened towards me and we started to have a nice conversation of how I should learn how to speak Ilonggo. He also reassured me and told me not to be nervous.
The young policeman informed me that I just had to wait for any incoming vehicle to hitch a ride to Caticlan. Unfortunately, it was already around 11 p.m. in the night. That was how slow the motorbike driver was going at. To my amazement, the next moment, he offers to fetch me to Caticlan with his brand new Toyota Innova. He told me that he is the chief of police of Nabas municipality.
To spice things up a bit more, all the other policemen decided to tag along as well and in the end, there were only about 2 to 3 policemen left at the checkpoint. So now, picture me inside the vehicle, sitting in the middle, surrounded by the driver (a policeman), the chief in the front seat, another policeman on my left, the assistant to the chief on my right and two more policemen behind us. Oh and by the way, they were all carrying their rifles and there I was with my bible in my bag. I couldn’t help but feel important that I was being so safely and securely escorted to Caticlan. God knows how to deliver us. He knows how to smoothen our path. I finally reached Caticlan and at around 4 a.m. I was able to take the ship to Mindoro. At 8 a.m. the ship reached Rojas, Mindoro and Pastor Lachica fetched me to his church in Pinamalayan and I was able to start the training on time at around 10 a.m.
I had a wonderful time ministering to the churches in Mindoro even though it was very tiring. I was staying in this lodging house and after two days of training, I had to leave for Batangas by road and ship again. I had to be in Batangas by 9 a.m. because I was to have training with the churches from Laguna, Bulacan and Batangas. The owner of the lodge told me that a shuttle bus would come to the lodge to fetch people to Calapan to take the boat. I just had to be ready by 2.30 a.m. So I told Pastor Lachica that he didn’t have to fetch me anymore. Well I did wake up and got ready by 2.30 a.m. I waited and waited until 3.30 and I was getting worried. I went to see the owner and she was frantically calling the shuttle bus station. I relented and told her I would just walk.
Imagine me walking in Pinamalyan at an ungodly hour of 3:30 in the morning, knowing next to nothing about the place. But I just continued walking, looking out for the place that was the most brightly lit up and heading towards that direction.
God was again so good to me. I noticed a tricycle driver who was delivering something coming towards me. I asked him for directions towards the shuttle bus stop and told him I would pay him to bring me there. He agreed and after 10 minutes, I reached the station. However, the whole street was silent and I wondered whether that fellow had understood me and brought me to the right place. Would I make it to Batangas in time? The shuttle bus trip would take 2 hours to Calapan and another 2 hours by ship again, to Batangas. It was already 4 a.m. in the morning.
Then lo and behold a shuttle bus came out of nowhere and stopped right in front of me. Inside, there were just two people: the driver and one passenger. God was so good that I reached Calapan at 5.45 a.m. and thankfully, there was a Montenegro ship leaving for Batangas at 6.00 a.m., just in time for me to catch it. I reached Batangas at 8:00 a.m. and took a bus to Lipa where I was able to minister to the people who were all waiting for me
(2) David speaks of thanksgiving to God.
The song is also a psalm that calls for thanksgiving. Well, that is the very least we can render to God for all that he has blessed us with.
I have recently been learning a very wonderful principle in life. We must not be lazy in fulfilling this delightful obligation; that is to consciously, deliberately and carefully give thanks to God for all his blessings and help. This gratitude must be promptly issued out in praise. We ought to present unto God a sacrifice of praise while His victory and mercies are fresh in our minds and our hearts, still duly affected by them.
I should make it a habit to always give thanks unto the Lord. I thanked God for allowing me to meet the Nabas Police Chief that escorted me to Caticlan. The Nabas Police Chief instructed the security guard at the pier to make sure that I got onto the ship to Rojas Mindoro. I slept for a while and at 3 a.m., he woke me up and escorted me to buy my ticket and directed me to where the ship was. I felt that God made them protect and guide me all the way till I reached Caticlan. I wrote my thanks in my journal during my devotion. I also thanked God for directing my steps so smoothly that I just had to transit from the shuttle bus in Pinamalayan to the Montenegro Ship and finally to another bus to Lipa Batangas. All the timings just fell into place, so accurately that I knew it was all God’s doing. This I have to thank God for.
Well, we are not slow in crying to God when imminent danger threatens us. Let us be just as prompt in acknowledging His goodness when His delivering hand is extended to us. What I am trying to say is that we should practice immediate and prompt praise whenever you experience a God’s deliverance.
In expressing praise to God, David piles words of gratitude in 2 Samuel 22:3 – ‘The God of my rock; in him will I trust: he is my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my high tower, and my refuge, my saviour; thou savest me from violence.’ We see how he uses a throng of words evoking a sense of his trust and confidence towards God: “rock, fortress, strength, shield, salvation, stronghold and refuge”.
David also recalled those days where he was a fugitive trying to escape Saul’s grip. When recollecting his experience while he faced his enemy, he utilises words that heighten his thoughts of peril and demise: “waves of death, sorrow of Sheol, and snares of death”. Obviously he hadn’t been killed, but he had gone through a deathlike experience. The memory of those experiences was so fresh that he described it in the perfect tense, one that we use when accounting for events that took place in the past but whose effects are still felt presently.
I feel that in our church, especially during worship time, altar calls and even prayer meetings, we should have time for individuals to express what they’re thankful for. We often fail to give credit to God for his part in what we are able to accomplish in life. When people pause to look back over the experiences of their lives, one of the most natural reflexes would be to thank God for His goodness in their lives.
Learn to celebrate God. I assure you that you will experience more help, more blessings, more deliverance, more miracles and more answers if you are a grateful child, always rendering praise and gratefulness to celebrate who Jesus is. Then God will allow more of his goodness to take place in your life and he will also be more merciful to you because you acknowledge his help. He will be gracious to you because you are gracious enough to be grateful to God.
(3) David’s recognition of God’s power
Another feature in this song is David’s recognition of God’s great power. David used imagery that depict the dominant picture of God’s power as exemplified through the phrases “shaking the earth”, “moving heaven’s foundations”, “smoking nostrils”, “a fire-breathing mouth”, “bending the heavens”, “riding the winds”, and “splitting the heavens with arrows, lightning and thunder”.
The question of God’s power is always relevant today. We have all recently read about and seen on television the earthquake that shook Christchurch New Zealand. The whole city of Christchurch was almost totally destroyed despite the earthquake only measuring a magnitude of 6.3 on the Richter scale. But one of the frequent announcements made on television regarding the incident was that the Church called the Cathedral, an icon of Christchurch, had collapsed. The news caught my attention because the first thing that they emphasised about the earthquake in New Zealand was that this church had collapsed. I was surprised as to why this earthquake made a church collapsed.
Then the next morning of that very day, I was reading the bible and God told me in 2 Samuel 22:8 ‘Then the earth shook and trembled; the foundations of heaven moved and shook, because he (God) was wroth’. God told me he had sent the earthquake. God told me that the first building to collapse was the church because the church did not live up to its purpose of preventing the judgment of God. God was angry and shook the earth. I was wondering why and I remembered that God spared Lot’s family in Sodom and Gomorrah because there was an Abraham. I believe the church in New Zealand had failed to be the Abraham and thus God caused the earthquake to happen, striking the church first.
Then just last Friday, I was praying at around 4 p.m. and I don’t know why but I was crying so profusely. I thought I was praying for my children as I believed God had led me to pray for them. However I realized later on that the Holy Spirit was crying inside me for something else. Then at around 5 p.m., I switched on the TV and immediately saw on television news describing the earthquake in Japan. The earthquake shook Japan at 2:47 p.m. which was 3:47 p.m. in our time and I was crying at 4 p.m.
The most interesting thing was that on Thursday, which was the day before the earthquake in Japan took place, I was sharing to the people in Lipa about the earthquake in New Zealand and about how the day is coming when we will experience some judgment of God like that of the movie entitled “2012”. I told them that we don’t have much time left and that the Mayan Calendar predicts an incumbent disaster in 2012. I reminded them that it was the astrologers, the three wise men (all unbelievers) who saw the birth of Christ. The Mayan Calendar (the astrologer of our days) believes that some catastrophic event will take place in our world.
Japan is one of the hardest grounds for Christianity. Doming asked me if there are Christians in Japan. I replied that only one percent of the population is born again. The epicentre of the earthquake was in the sea and it sent a tidal wave of ten metres high that travelled at a supersonic speed towards Japan. We can literally see 2 Samuel 22 being fulfilled: the “shaking earth”, “moving heaven’s foundation”, “smoking nostril”, “a fire-breathing mouth”, “bending the earth”, “riding the winds”, and “splitting the earth with arrows”. I was stunned. It was no different from the movie 2012 that we watched last year. The earthquake had a magnitude of 8.9, thousands of times stronger than the New Zealand earthquake. It activated a tsunami that was 10 metres high, going towards the coastland of Japan, hurling buildings and piles of cars as well as creating a whirlpool in the ocean where a big ship was trapped within it.
The earth literally split into two. There was fire everywhere as a result of the earthquake. An oil refinery plant was on fire, burning all night in the midst of the devastation. You see on television that the fire could not be stopped and that no fire engine could put it out. Japan’s electricity is provided by nuclear plant. There is a fear right now the there could be a leak.
Mankind must recognize the power of God, bow down to this power and serve this awesome God. I see 2 Samuel 22:8-9 literally being fulfilled. ‘Then the earth shook and trembled; the foundations of heaven moved and shook, because he was wroth. There went up a smoke out of his nostrils, and fire out of his mouth devoured: coals were kindled by it.’ 2 Sam 22:16 continues ‘And the channels of the sea appeared, the foundations of the world were discovered, at the rebuke of the LORD, at the blast of the breath of his nostrils.’
It was said that the axis of the earth permanently shifted by a car park lot and this made the Japanese islands move by around 2 meters as a result of the earthquake and this shift had even become permanent.
The question of God’s power is always relevant. In the midst of God’s love and grace we must not lose sight of His power.
(4) God giving a warrior’s power to the worshipper of God
2 Samuel 22:41-46 reads ‘Thou hast given me the necks of mine enemies, that I might destroy them that hate me. They looked, but there was none to save; even unto the LORD, but he answered them not. Then did I beat them as small as the dust of the earth, I did stamp them as the mire of the street, and did spread them abroad. Thou also hast delivered me from the strivings of my people; thou hast kept me to be the head of the heathen, a people which I knew not shall serve me. Strangers shall submit themselves unto me: as soon as they hear, they shall be obedient unto me. Strangers shall fade away, and they shall be afraid out of their close places.’
The last feature that I want to discuss is God giving a warrior’s victory and power to the worshipper of God. Let us be a worshipper of God. Let us be constant in always praising God with thanksgiving. That has been David’s underlying belief. Verses 31-35 lay the foundation, illustrating how it was God who gave a warrior’s success to the worshipper. David thanks God for allowing him to defeat all his enemies, delivering the people in their problems, keeping him as king, and giving him honour among the foreigners. All that David accomplished was possible because God was in it.
I was praying during my devotion, and God specifically spoke to me in 2 Samuel 22:44 which is why I decided to preach this sermon. It says ‘thou hast kept me to be head of the heathen: a people whom I knew not shall serve me. Strangers shall submit themselves unto me: as soon as they hear, they shall be obedient to me. Strangers shall fade away, and they shall be afraid out of their close places.’
My life is likened to that of a military officer. I have to fight battles to win territories to receive my rightful inheritance and blessing. Pastor Lily said my family’s calling is always to fight to obtain our inheritance and blessings. Our lives all these 25 years have always been beleaguered with warfare. Taking a general survey of my family’s life all these 25 years, I have to say it has always been filled with countless conflicts but in the end we always triumph over our enemies. The attacks on us have always been imperilled by adversaries, often fierce and vindictive. Their objectives were always to frustrate God’s purposes in our lives. But here God told me that he will give a warrior’s power to us when I worship Him and celebrate Him.
What will be the loot (booty, bounty) of my victories? Some translation says “Thou hast protected me that I might be head of the nations. A people whom I knew not have become my servants. Children of strangers have submitted themselves to me. I will have a vast multitude of willing obedient subjects in many nations.” “A people whom I knew not” may of course refer to the gentiles but literally people that are strangers to me will serve me as well as people who knew me. Yes many will feign obedience but they will fade away. God will give me souls for my inheritance. I will be made a head, a commander over them and they shall serve me. Wow! Isn’t that awesome. Let us serve God.