Despite the latter-day dangers David had to endure, the earlier scenes of fleeing from Saul were still considered some of the most ominous of his life. David’s song of thanksgiving in 2 Samuel 22 begins, “David spoke the words of this song to the LORD on the day the LORD rescued him from the hand of all his enemies and from the hand of Saul” (2 Sam 22:1). Several themes emerge from David’s song of thanksgiving in 2 Samuel 22, a poem marked by stylistic elements like metaphor, parallelism, and bookending.
David described the Lord as his rock (2 Sam 22:2-3; 47-51). Moses, also writing toward the end of his life, described the Lord as a rock (Deut 32:4). This metaphor conveys the reality that the Lord is steadfast and immovable, unbending to the circumstances of the day. When David celebrated the Lord as his rock, he was speaking about the personal attribute of God’s unwavering faithfulness as the king’s refuge (2 Sam 22:3). David boasted, “The LORD lives—may my rock be praised! God, the rock of my salvation, is exalted” (2 Sam 22:47).
David recounted how the Lord rescued him from those too strong for him (2 Sam 22:4-20). Many times, David called to the Lord and was saved from his enemies (2 Sam 22:4). David described God’s saving actions in hyperbolic language: “The earth shook and quaked; the foundations of the heavens trembled; they shook because He burned with anger. Smoke rose from His nostrils, and consuming fire came from His mouth; coals were set ablaze by it” (2 Sam 22:8-9). David’s point was that the Lord’s saving actions were so profound that even natural elements felt the effects of His covenant love for the king and the people of Israel.
David reflected on how the Lord had rewarded him for his righteous acts (2 Sam 22:21-25). David described himself in a holistic sense—from his heroism before Goliath to his merciful acts toward the descendants of Saul. In each of these, David kept himself from covenant unfaithfulness to the degree that He could confess, “The LORD repaid me according to my righteousness, according to my cleanness in His sight” (2 Sam 22:24, 25). David was not claiming absolute purity of life, as the incident with Bathsheba in 2 Samuel 11 makes plain.
David praised the Lord for granting him success in his endeavors (2 Sam 22:32-46). David viewed the Lord’s salvation as a very practical matter. He wrote, “You have given me the shield of Your salvation; Your help exalts me…I pursue my enemies and destroy them; I do not turn back until they are wiped out” (2 Sam 22:36, 38).
Psalm 31 parallels the themes of 2 Samuel 22 and has significance for the storyline of Scripture. Phrases of suffering in Psalm 31 help to explain Jesus’ final hours.
(1) The concluding phrase of Ps 31:13 (“When they conspired against me, they plotted to take my life”) may have been on Matthew’s mind when he recorded that on the morning following the arrest of Jesus, “when daybreak came, all the chief priests and the elders of the people plotted against Jesus to put Him to death” (Matt 27:1//Mark 15:1//Luke 22:6).
(2) While Jesus could sympathize with David, Jesus’ suffering went beyond that of Israel’s king. Hanging on the cross, Jesus was both an innocent victim of human hatred and the propitiation God provided for the sins of the world. Jesus’ final words were the words of David in Ps 31:5a: “Into your hand I entrust my spirit” (Luke 23:46//Matt 27:50//Mark 15:37).