Sunday, July 20, 2014

[Matt's Messages] "Worthy of Praise"

“Worthy of Praise”
The LORD Is My Rock: The Message of 2 Samuel
July 20, 2014 :: 2 Samuel 21:1-22:51

We’ve reached the end of 2 Samuel after nearly a year of working through both 1st and 2nd Samuel together. We’ve reached the part at the end of 2 Samuel that really seems out of place. Some scholars call it an “epilogue.” Some call it an “appendix.”

The reason is because the stuff we’re going to read in chapters 21 through 24 are not chronological. They don’t carry on the story of David, they go back and fill in the gaps of the picture of what we’ve already read.

But they aren’t just a bunch of tacked-on items, either. There is a lot of evidence that this is a carefully constructed section of 2 Samuel and not just some unnecessary appendix.

These chapters are God’s Word, as well, and we will give them our attention together.

Today, I want to look at chapters 21 and 22.

And mostly chapter 22 under the title, “Worthy of Praise.”

But first we need to look at the sad and strange stories of chapter 21 before we get there.

The title of this message is “Worthy of Praise” from chapter 22, verse 4. For many of us, a very familiar verse, “I call to the LORD, who is worthy of praise, and I am saved from my enemies.”

That was David’s experience. He was saved from His enemies by the LORD, and He gave praise to God.

In chapter 21, the first enemy we encounter is a severe famine. Chapter 21, verse 1.

“During the reign of David, there was a famine for three successive years; so David sought the face of the LORD.”

That would be a true enemy–a famine that lasted for 3 successive years. That would threaten the continuing existence of Israel.

And David could tell that this was a problem that had to be addressed through prayer.

We don’t know exactly when this happened, it was probably after David had shown hesed to Mephibosheth (chapter 9), but we do know that David sought the face of the LORD. And God answered.

“The LORD said, ‘It is on account of Saul and his blood-stained house; it is because he put the Gibeonites to death.’ [Do you remember the Gibeonites? They were introduced back in Joshua chapter 9.]

The king summoned the Gibeonites and spoke to them. (Now the Gibeonites were not a part of Israel but were survivors of the Amorites; the Israelites had sworn to spare them, but Saul in his zeal for Israel and Judah had tried to annihilate them.)

[Saul had broken his covenant. Broken Israel’s solemn promises in the name of the LORD. There must be some restitution. V3.]

David asked the Gibeonites, ‘What shall I do for you? How shall I make amends [literally: atonement] so that you will bless the LORD's inheritance?’

[And they ask for something huge and hard.]

The Gibeonites answered him, ‘We have no right to demand silver or gold from Saul or his family, nor do we have the right to put anyone in Israel to death.’ [Our courts don’t have that power even though it would be justice.]

‘What do you want me to do for you?’ David asked. They answered the king, ‘As for the man who destroyed us and plotted against us so that we have been decimated and have no place anywhere in Israel, let seven of his male descendants be given to us to be killed and exposed before the LORD at Gibeah of Saul–the Lord's chosen one.’ So the king said, ‘I will give them to you.’

The king spared Mephibosheth son of Jonathan, the son of Saul, because of the oath before the LORD between David and Jonathan son of Saul. [David is a king who does keep his promises, unlike Saul!]

But the king took Armoni and Mephibosheth, the two sons of Aiah's daughter Rizpah, whom she had borne to Saul, together with the five sons of Saul's daughter Merab, whom she had borne to Adriel son of Barzillai the Meholathite.

He handed them over to the Gibeonites, who killed and exposed them on a hill before the LORD. All seven of them fell together; they were put to death during the first days of the harvest, just as the barley harvest was beginning.”

Now, I’ll just say that I struggle to accept this.

Every indication in the text is that this is both legal and just. In a minute, we’ll see that after this God brings the rain.

But what a terrible cost to be inflicted on these men because of their grandfather’s sin.

But true justice and atonement is not a pretty thing. It involves blood and death.

So we don’t explain this away or turn away our eyes. This is terrible.

And so is sin. Saul broke covenant. In his zeal for Israel and Judah, he forgot what should have been his zeal for the LORD.  And he tried to exterminate the Gibbeonites.

And these men paid for it with their lives.

It’s profoundly sad, and it should remind us of the Cross.

When one man died a bloody, painful death to make atonement for our sins. Gruesome but real.

And real sad. V.10

“Rizpah daughter of Aiah took sackcloth and spread it out for herself on a rock. From the beginning of the harvest till the rain poured down from the heavens on the bodies [could we weeks?], she did not let the birds of the air touch them by day or the wild animals by night. [What a picture of motherly love!]

When David was told what Aiah's daughter Rizpah, Saul's concubine, had done, he went and took the bones of Saul and his son Jonathan from the citizens of Jabesh Gilead. (They had taken them secretly from the public square at Beth Shan, where the Philistines had hung them after they struck Saul down on Gilboa.)

David brought the bones of Saul and his son Jonathan from there, and the bones of those who had been killed and exposed were gathered up. They buried the bones of Saul and his son Jonathan in the tomb of Saul's father Kish, at Zela in Benjamin, and did everything the king commanded. After that, God answered prayer in behalf of the land.”

Saved from the enemy of famine.

Now, some other kinds of enemies. Some real bad dudes who belonged the family of Rapha who was apparently gigantic. V.15

“Once again there was a battle between the Philistines and Israel. David went down with his men to fight against the Philistines, and he became exhausted. And Ishbi-Benob, one of the descendants of Rapha, whose bronze spearhead weighed three hundred shekels and who was armed with a new sword, said he would kill David.”

Do you get the picture?

This is earlier in David’s reign. He’s fighting the Philistines and he had so many times. But this time, he’s gotten exhausted, and this really bad dude named Ishbi-Benob sees David and goes for the kill. He grabs his heavy spear and a new weapon, and threatens David and comes rushing at him in the battle.

It’s like a movie, right? It looks like it’s all over for King David. V.17

“But Abishai son of Zeruiah came to David's rescue; he struck the Philistine down and killed him. Then David's men swore to him, saying, ‘Never again will you go out with us to battle, so that the lamp of Israel will not be extinguished.’”

David was too valuable to go down like that. V.18

“In the course of time, there was another battle with the Philistines, at Gob. At that time Sibbecai the Hushathite killed Saph, one of the descendants of Rapha.

In another battle with the Philistines at Gob, Elhanan son of Jaare-Oregim the Bethlehemite killed Goliath the Gittite [another Goliath the Gittite–probably named after the one whom David had killed], who had a spear with a shaft like a weaver's rod.

In still another battle, which took place at Gath, there was a huge man with six fingers on each hand and six toes on each foot–twenty-four in all. He also was descended from Rapha. When he taunted Israel, Jonathan son of Shimeah, David's brother, killed him.  These four [bad guys] were descendants of Rapha in Gath, and they fell at the hands of David and his men.”

Now, there are probably several points to this section, some of which I don’t understand yet, but the basic point is that God consistently rescued and gave victory to David and his men.

And David knew that.  That’s why he wrote chapter 22.

It’s basically a psalm. In fact, it became a psalm. Most of chapter 22 of 2 Samuel also appears in the 18th Psalm!

And here’s the point of chapter 22. The LORD is worthy of praise because He has saved David over and over again.

Worthy of Praise.

Let’s look at verse 1.

“David sang to the LORD the words of this song when the LORD delivered him from the hand of all his enemies and from the hand of Saul.

[David wrote this after his kingdom had been established.]

He said: ‘The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation. He is my stronghold, my refuge and my savior–from violent men you save me. I call to the LORD, who is worthy of praise, and I am saved from my enemies.”

Are those familiar words?

This is a great song!

David lets loose with praise in this song.

He is so intent on giving God the glory that He deserves. He pulls out all of the stops.

“I call to the LORD, who is worthy of praise, and I am saved from my enemies.”

Point #1 this morning.

The LORD is worthy of praise.


I love all of the words that David piles onto each other to get across His praise of God. V.2 again.

‘The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation. He is my stronghold, my refuge and my savior...”

This is the verse from which we got the title of this entire sermon series.

“The LORD is my rock.”

He is so unchanging, so strong, so safe.

He’s a rock. And not just any rock–MY rock. Did you see “my” in there?

That’s a relationship word.

‘The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation. He is my stronghold, my refuge and my savior.”

He’s not saying that the LORD isn’t other people’s rock, as well. He’s just exuberantly delighting in the fact that he belongs to Him.

There is a great example here of delighting in our relationship with the Lord.

And at the bottom of it, David says that the LORD is worthy of his praise because He saved David again and again and again.

In verse 5 he tells the story. Now, just so you know, this is poetry. He’s going to go off the charts with his language. You aren’t supposed to take this literally, but everything he says is true when you get it. V.5

“‘The waves of death swirled about me; the torrents of destruction overwhelmed me. The cords of the grave coiled around me; the snares of death confronted me.

[That’s every time that David was in trouble. And David has lived a life in trouble. But not alone. Chased but not caught. And he cried out to God again and again. V.7]

In my distress I called to the LORD; I called out to my God. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came to his ears. The earth trembled and quaked, the foundations of the heavens shook; they trembled because he was angry. [Who is troubling my son?]

Smoke rose from his nostrils; consuming fire came from his mouth, burning coals blazed out of it. He parted the heavens and came down; dark clouds were under his feet. He mounted the cherubim and flew; he soared on the wings of the wind. He made darkness his canopy around him–the dark rain clouds of the sky.

Out of the brightness of his presence bolts of lightning blazed forth. The LORD thundered from heaven; the voice of the Most High resounded. He shot arrows and scattered the enemies, bolts of lightning and routed them. The valleys of the sea were exposed and the foundations of the earth laid bare at the rebuke of the LORD, at the blast of breath from his nostrils. He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters. He rescued me from my powerful enemy, from my foes, who were too strong for me. They confronted me in the day of my disaster, but the LORD was my support.”

Now, again, this is poetry. He’s not saying that God literally pulled back the curtains of heaven and dropped out and started attacking David’s enemies while riding an angel.

But David is saying that God rescued him.  God saved him again and again. And He did it powerfully. Mysteriously. Dreadfully. He is someone to fear.

David’s foes were too strong for him, but not too strong for David’s God.

He rescued me from my powerful enemy, from my foes, who were too strong for me. They confronted me in the day of my disaster, but the LORD was my support.”

“I call to the LORD, who is worthy of praise, and I am saved from my enemies.”

Who are your enemies? And has the LORD saved you from them?

The world, the flesh, and the devil are our enemies.

The external, internal, and infernal enemies.

And if you have called upon the LORD for salvation through Jesus Christ, He has saved you from your enemies. He has saved me from my enemies.

He is worthy of praise! Amen?

Here’s the application of #1.


The biggest take home I have for this whole chapter is that David wrote a song.

And he filled it full of the most exuberant, boisterous, high-spirited, extravagant, profuse, ebullient praise to the God who had saved Him.

How much more should you and I praise God all the time for our rescue?

Never stop singing about your rescue.

Those of us who went to Challenge still have the songs from Challenge ringing in our minds, and they were good songs to have in your mind!

One song said:

We are more than conquerors, through Christ
You have overcome this world, this life
We will not bow to sin or to shame
We are defiant in Your name
You are the fire that cannot be tamed
You are the power in our veins
Our Lord, our God, our Conqueror

Never stop singing about your rescue. Don’t let it get old.

Salvation is worth singing about.

Now, the second reason this song gives for why God is worthy of praise will probably surprise you.


God is worthy of praise because He delighted in me. V.20

“He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me. ‘The LORD has dealt with me according to my righteousness; according to the cleanness of my hands he has rewarded me. For I have kept the ways of the LORD; I have not done evil by turning from my God. All his laws are before me; I have not turned away from his decrees. I have been blameless before him and have kept myself from sin. The LORD has rewarded me according to my righteousness, according to my cleanness in his sight.”

Now, wait just one second!

Who wrote this?  King David.

And he says that he is blameless? That he has not done evil? That he has never turned away from God’s decrees?

And that God is rewarding Him with blessings that correspond to David’s righteousness?

David?  Of David and Bathsheba? Of David and Uriah?  That David?

Yes, that David.

God is worthy of praise because He rescued David because He delighted in David.

Now, David is not claiming to be sinless. Blameless is not sinless.

David is not claiming to be perfect.

David is claiming to love God.

David is claiming to have a heart for the heart of God.

Yes, David sinned and sinned egregiously.

But David also recognized his sin and repented.

David was grieved by his sin and repented.

The focus of David’s life was not his own sin, but God’s glory.

David had a heart for the heart of God.

We saw that again and again and again as we studied the 1st and 2nd Samuel.

He had not apostatized. He had not bailed. He had not turned away and stayed away.

David had a heart for the heart of God, and God had always loved him for it.

Here’s the principle. With faith-filled obedience comes blessing. But unbelieving disobedience comes danger.

And David, at this point in his story, can honestly say that he believes God and obeys God and loves God. That he has a heart for the heart of God.

Not that he deserves blessing as if he earned it, but that his heart for God goes hand in hand with God’s heart for him and His desire to rescue and bless him.

This is a recurring theme in the psalms.

It sounds to us as if the psalmists, as if their heads got a little too big.

But it’s not pride, it’s love.

“I loved God, and look what He did!”

“Look how God loves those who love Him!”  V.26

“To the faithful you show yourself faithful, to the blameless you show yourself blameless,  to the pure you show yourself pure, but to the crooked you show yourself shrewd. You save the humble, but your eyes are on the haughty to bring them low.”

What’s the application of that?


Don’t try to earn God’s favor, but show yourself faithful, show yourself blameless, show yourself pure, show yourself humble.

God loves to bless those who love Him.

Cultivate a heart for the heart of God.

Again, you can’t impress God or earn your way with Him.

But you can stand in the way of blessing by being the kind of man or woman He delights to bless.

Part of that is regular confession of your sins. Not pretending to be sinless, but truly being contrite.

What can you do to cultivate faithfulness and blamelessness (v.26)?

What can you do to cultivate purity (v.27)?

What can you do to cultivate humility (v.28)?

Our God is worthy of our praise because He delights in us.

And how much more do we know this on this side of the Cross?

Because we know that God looks at us through that Cross and delights in us as He does His very own Son!

Be delightful to God.

Live out of your new identity in Jesus.

In the last section of this song, David just turns up the volume and sings of all the ways that God rescued and saved and empowered and gave him victory. Listen. V.29

“You are my lamp, O LORD; the LORD turns my darkness into light.  With your help I can advance against a troop; with my God I can scale a wall.

As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the LORD is flawless. He is a shield for all who take refuge in him.

For who is God besides the LORD? And who is the Rock except our God?

It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect. He makes my feet like the feet of a deer; he enables me to stand on the heights. He trains my hands for battle; my arms can bend a bow of bronze. You give me your shield of victory; you stoop down to make me great. You broaden the path beneath me, so that my ankles do not turn.

I pursued my enemies and crushed them; I did not turn back till they were destroyed. I crushed them completely, and they could not rise; they fell beneath my feet. You armed me with strength for battle; you made my adversaries bow at my feet. You made my enemies turn their backs in flight, and I destroyed my foes.

They cried for help, but there was no one to save them–to the LORD, but he did not answer. I beat them as fine as the dust of the earth; I pounded and trampled them like mud in the streets.

You have delivered me from the attacks of my people; you have preserved me as the head of nations. People I did not know are subject to me, and foreigners come cringing to me; as soon as they hear me, they obey me. They all lose heart; they come trembling from their strongholds.

The LORD lives! Praise be to my Rock! Exalted be God, the Rock, my Savior!

He is the God who avenges me, who puts the nations under me, who sets me free from my enemies. You exalted me above my foes; from violent men you rescued me. Therefore I will praise you, O LORD, among the nations; I will sing praises to your name. He gives his king great victories; he shows unfailing kindness to his anointed, to David and his descendants forever.”

Our God is worthy of our praise.


Now, David might sound like he’s bragging. He keeps saying how exalted he is and how much power he has now over the nations around him.

But he’s giving all the glory to God.

He’s saying that God kept His promises to make a great name for David, to give him rest from his enemies.

Verse 51 again.

“He gives his king great victories; he shows unfailing kindness [hesed] to his anointed [Messiah], to David and his descendants forever.”

God always keeps His promises, especially to His messiah.

And because of that, He always deserves our trust and our praise.



“Therefore I will praise you, O LORD, among the nations; I will sing praises to your name.”

I love verse 47. Look at al the exclamation marks.

“The LORD lives! Praise be to my Rock! Exalted be God, the Rock, my Savior!”

We should all have moments when we don’t have enough exclamation marks to say how good our God is. Amen?

Trust Him.

I invite you trust Him for the first time or for the billionth time. He is worthy of your faith.

Jesus died for our sins and came back to life to give us life.

Trust Him.

All of God’s promises are “yes” in Jesus.

Trust Him and praise Him.

Never stop singing about your rescue.
Be delightful to God by having a heart for His heart.
And trust and praise Him with every exclamation mark in your soul.

He is worthy of praise!


Messages in This Series

00. "How the Mighty Have Fallen!"
01. King David
02. David's Kingdom
03. The Right Way to Worship
04. "I Will Build a House for You."
05. The Rule of King David
06. David's Scandal
07. Why Is This Sordid Story in the Bible?il This
08. Absalom's Conspiracy
09. “O Absalom, My Son, My Son!”