22:1 words of this song. The remarkable poem in this chapter, inserted here by the unknown author of II Samuel, is (with certain significant exceptions) the same as the 18th psalm. David wrote many wonderful psalms, but this is the only one also inserted in the Bible’s historical books. This choice by the Holy Spirit must indicate its special significance as a testimony of the one who is both Creator and Savior.
22:2 my rock. These two words for “rock” (Hebrew cela and tsur, respectively) are the same as for the two rocks smitten by Moses (Exodus 17:6; Numbers 20:11), except that the order is reversed.
22:3 in him will I trust. David’s statement of faith—“in Him will I trust”—is inserted in the midst of this unique string of nine expressive metaphors applied to God by David. However, it is quoted in Hebrews 2:13 as coming from the lips of Christ in His human incarnation. The same is true of II Samuel 22:50, as quoted in Romans 15:9. These statements, taken from the beginning and concluding sections of David’s song of testimony, clearly tell us that its context goes far beyond David’s own personal experiences, though it applies there also. It is one of the “Messianic psalms,” both rehearsing the past actions and predicting the future experiences of God Himself, especially in His great works of redemption and judgment.
22:3 my saviour. This is the last of the nine great ascriptions to God. The word “Saviour” is yasha in the Hebrew, very close to the name “Jesus.” An Israelite might easily have read this climaxing assertion as “Jehovah is...my Jesus, [who] savest me from violence.”
22:6 sorrows of hell. The experience of being surrounded by the sorrows of hell (Hebrew sheol) can only be applied literally to Christ Himself, when He descended into Hades after His death on the cross. Thus David’s human sufferings are translated by the Spirit speaking by him (II Samuel 23:2) into the much greater sufferings of David’s greater Son, the Messiah.
22:8 shook and trembled. The terrible scenes described in II Samuel 22:8-17 go far beyond even any poetic license that David might properly use to describe his own personal deliverance from his enemies. They do, however, make sense in connection with the great earthquake and mid-day darkness at the scene of Christ’s crucifixion. But they seem to go even beyond this, for the physical convulsions experienced around the cross were only a foretaste of those that will soon occur when “He ariseth to shake terribly the earth” (Isaiah 2:19). In that great coming day of judgment, God “will shake the heavens, and the earth, and the sea, and the dry land” (Haggai 2:6). Similarly, in the distant past, there was a worldwide cataclysm at the time of the great Flood.
David’s experiences thus were a retrospective type of those experienced by Noah as he was saved through the trauma of a world first filled with violence, and then covered with the deep waters of judgment. As a result, both Noah and David become types of the incarnate Creator, testifying both to “the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow” (I Peter 1:11). We see, therefore, in these verses not only David’s deliverances, but also those of Noah in the past, Christ at the cross, and all the saints in the future.
22:11 cherub. The mighty angelic beings called cherubim (Satan himself was originally the highest of all—Ezekiel 28:14) are always associated with the presence of God as sovereign Creator.
22:11 wind. In the Hebrew, “wind” is the same as “spirit,” so this phrase could refer to “the wings of the Spirit.” In the Bible’s first reference to “the Spirit of God” (Genesis 1:2), He is seen as “moving” in the presence of the primeval waters, with the word the same as that for the fluttering movement of the wings of a great bird. The vibrating motion implies the generating of waves of energy, flowing out from the Spirit to energize the newly created cosmos. Similarly, the divine energy emanates from the Spirit here, but this time in destructive rather than creative power.
22:12 dark waters. The reference to “waters” and “darkness” in these verses seems to fit most naturally with David’s retrospective vision of the ancient judgment of the Flood. The references to “fire” (II Samuel 22:9,13) correlate with the breaking-up of the fountains of the great deep (implying volcanic eruptions) at the time of the Flood, and the reference to “lightning” (II Samuel 22:15) correlates to the sudden rains from heaven.
22:16 channels of the sea. The fact that there are “channels in the sea” is a discovery of modern oceanography. Ancient mariners knew much about the surface of the sea and its coasts, but had no means of probing its depths to map the ocean-bottom topography. This is one of many Biblical anticipations of modern science, testifying to the divine inspiration of the Bible.
22:17 out of many waters. Neither David nor Christ were drawn out of “many waters” in any literal sense, though this could be understood figuratively as applicable to either one. Noah, however, and those preserved by God in the ark were indeed really drawn by God out of many waters.
22:19 prevented. An archaic expression meaning “went before.”
22:50 praises unto thy name. A portion of this verse is quoted in Romans 15:9, as coming from the lips of Christ in prophecy. This again confirms the Messianic theme of David’s great song.
22:51 his anointed. The word “anointed” is in the Hebrew Messiah. Referring thus to David’s eternal Seed, this closing verse firmly establishes that David’s promised Seed is none other than the Messiah, or Christ.