“This God—His Way Is Perfect”
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“This God—His Way Is Perfect”

2 Samuel 22:32–51  (ID: 3552)

When King David reviewed his life, his focus was on the Lord as the source of his strength and victories. Alistair Begg points out that the same God who provided for David—the only true and living God—continues to provide for us today. His ways are perfect, even when our lives are sad and stormy. His provision, however, won’t be enjoyed by everyone. Salvation is only promised to those who trust in His Son, Jesus, the ultimate and everlasting King.

Series Containing This Sermon

A Study in 1 and 2 Samuel, Volume 9

Epilogue 2 Samuel 21:1–24:25 Series ID: 109019

Sermon Transcript: Print

Two Samuel 22 and verse 32:

“For who is God, but the Lord?
 And who is a rock, except our God?
This God is my strong refuge
 and has made my way blameless.
He made my feet like the feet of a deer
 and set me secure on the heights.
He trains my hands for war,
 so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze.
You have given me the shield of your salvation,
 and your gentleness [makes] me great.
You gave a wide place for my steps under me,
 and my feet did not slip;
I pursued my enemies and destroyed them,
 and did not turn back until they were consumed.
I consumed them; I thrust them through, so that they did not rise;
 they fell under my feet.
For you equipped me with strength for the battle;
 you made those who rise against me sink under me.
You made my enemies turn their backs to me,
 those who hated me, and I destroyed them.
They looked, but there was none to save;
 they cried to the Lord, but he did not answer them.
I beat them fine as the dust of the earth;
 I crushed them and stamped them down like the mire of the streets.

“You delivered me from strife with my people;
 you kept me as the head of the nations;
 people whom I had not known served me.
Foreigners came cringing to me;
 as soon as they heard of me, they obeyed me.
Foreigners lost heart
 and came trembling out of their fortresses.

“The Lord lives, and blessed be my rock,
 and exalted be my God, the rock of my salvation,
the God who gave me vengeance
 and brought down peoples under me,
who brought me out from my enemies;
 you exalted me above those who rose against me;
 you delivered me from men of violence.

“For this I will praise you, O Lord, among the nations,
 and sing praises to your name.
Great salvation he brings to his king,
 and shows steadfast love to his anointed,
 to David and his offspring forever.”


Father, we look from ourselves to you. Come by the Holy Spirit and quicken our minds. Guide my thoughts and my words, that we might hear from you in your Word, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.

Well, as we near the end of these studies in 2 Samuel—and I think some of you are keenly looking forward to the end—it’s important that we don’t lose sight of what we have carried with us all the way through. And I say that not to rehearse a great deal but actually primarily to remind us of what has been a sort of foundational verse for us when we’ve been tempted to say, “Why are you studying a book that is so far away from here, both geographically and also historically?” And the way in which we have approached that from the very beginning is to remind ourselves of what Paul says in Romans 15, where he says, “For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.”[1]

So, while the immediate application of, in this case, 2 Samuel impacted those who were the initial readers and hearers of it, nevertheless, the abiding relevance of it is found in the fact that it came from the very mouth of God. And since we will “not live by bread alone, but by every word that [proceeds] from the mouth of God,”[2] then we come to our study of the Bible routinely, believing that God continues to speak through what he has spoken. He continues to speak through what he has spoken. And what he has spoken has been given to us in the Scriptures.

And it is a message, ultimately, of hope. When Peter writes, he says, “You know, you’ve been born again to a living hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,”[3] thereby enabling us to deal with the now in light of the then; thereby enabling us to come to circumstances in our immediate environment—which in many ways are not dissimilar to what was being encountered by David and his friends—in the awareness of the fact that God speaks through his Word. And it is important that as you listen to my voice, that as we listen to God’s Word, that we’re asking God, “Speak, Lord, to me. You know all about me. You know my circumstances. You know how I feel in these moments. I need to hear your voice, beyond the voice of Alistair.”

Now, if, like me, you’re doing the Murray M’Cheyne through-the-Bible readings of the year, then you’ve been reading Judges. And in rereading Judges, we have been reminded of the absolute chaos that was involved in that period of time, which gave rise to the cry for a king. Remember, Judges ends, “At that time there was no king, and the people did what was right in their own eyes.”[4] They said, “This is the way I see it, this is what I think I should do, this is my plan,” and so on.

And in the midst of that, the people came, remember, asking for a king. They were assuming that if they could only have a king, then all of that chaos would be dealt with. And so God gave them a king. “If only we had a king!”—and then they had a king. And then after they had the king, they changed their tune to “If only we had a perfect king!” And as the story of the kings proceeds from 2 Samuel and into 1 and 2 Kings, in the kingdom of the north and in the kingdom of the south, and as the searchlight scans, as it were, the horizon looking for a perfect king, still no perfect king has appeared. That is a promise that has been made to David in 2 Samuel 7, which awaits fulfillment.

David’s declaration of victory anticipates the day when Jesus the King will reign forever and ever.

And now, as you come to this twenty-second chapter, which is a long song and which we began to consider last time, it’s essentially… I suppose we could think of it as a theological commentary on the life of David—that it has been placed here at the end of 2 Samuel, the writer assuming that as we listen to this song, as we read this song, that we will interpret David’s life through this song. Of course, we can’t do it in its totality, and it would be tedious if we went in a very miniscule way. We’re not going to do that. We’re going to just try and stand far enough back from the picture so that we can understand the main point.

Now, the review of David’s life is focused entirely on God. And we ended last time in verse 31, which, if your Bible is open, you will see it. The focus is on “this God.” “This God.” “This God,” he says, “his way is perfect.” Absolutely perfect. Whether it is the way to bring up children, whether it is the way to live married life, whether it is the way to conduct business, whether it is the way to live in bereavement, the way to live in singleness, whatever the way is, we may be absolutely certain that “this God—his way is perfect.” Even when it is the way of sadness, as we’ve sung, even when the storms overwhelm us, we have to hold on to this. “This God—his way is perfect,” it’s absolutely perfect, and, you will notice, he says, “And his word is entirely true.” His way is perfect, his word is true, and everyone who takes refuge in him proves this to be the case.

Now, as I say, we can’t work our way through all of these verses in detail. And I’m going to assume that the students among us will do maybe a little bit of follow-up to fill in the blanks. The rest of us will have to wait for another occasion, I suppose. I worked very, very hard to figure out exactly how I could say what we find here just in a sentence, and this is the best that I could do: what we discover here is that David’s declaration of victory—because it is a declaration of victory—anticipates the day when King Jesus shall reign forever and ever. David’s declaration of victory anticipates the day when Jesus the King will reign forever and ever.

The Source of David’s Strength

Now, in order to navigate our way through the text, I wrote down one or two headings, and the first one is to notice, in 32 and following, the source of David’s strength. The source of his strength. “For who is God, but the Lord? And who is a rock, except our God?” Notice again: “This God.” “This God is my strong refuge.”

Now, what he’s clearly doing here—and it’s important for us to get—is he’s contrasting the true and living God with all the so-called gods which have proliferated throughout the nations. The people of Israel understood that God is the Lord, that he is the Creator, that he is the one to whom they look. He gives them their food in their season and so on. But when they began to move out into the world, they discovered that not everybody actually believed that. In fact, people believed all kinds of things about the possibility of gods and gods.

And I think it’s important just to acknowledge that, given that it’s not very dissimilar to today, is it? If you are going to go out this morning and affirm in your place of work or in your place of relaxation the things that we have said in the thirty-first answer of The [New City] Catechism, the things that we have sung about the Lord Jesus Christ, then it is going to become very quickly apparent that you are in many ways a lone voice amongst the clamor of the sound of a variety of voices claiming all kinds of things. Do not be alarmed. This is nothing new. The prophets dealt with it. The psalmists dealt with it.

For example—and you can research this on your own—when Jeremiah speaks from God, he says, “Hear the word that the Lord speaks to you, O house of Israel. Thus says the Lord.” What does he say immediately? “Learn not the way of the nations.” “Learn not the way of the nations.” “[Don’t] be dismayed at the signs of the heavens.” They look up in the heavens. They worship the moon. They worship the stars. They worship Zeus. They worship this, that, the next thing—not in Jeremiah’s day but as time has gone on; I understand. The nations are dismayed at these things, he says. This is God speaking. “For the customs of the peoples are vanity.” Emptiness.

“A tree from the forest is cut down
 … worked with an ax by the hands of a craftsman.
They decorate it with silver and gold;
 they fasten it with hammer and nails
 so that it can[’t] [even] move.
Their idols are like scarecrows in a cucumber field,
 and they can[’t] speak;
they have to be carried,
 for they cannot walk.
Do not be afraid of them,
 for they [can] do [no] evil,
 neither is it in them to do good.”

There is none like you, O Lord;
 you are great, and your name is great in might.[5]

You see the contrast? “This God.” “Who is God, but the Lord?” G-o-d spells in our culture whatever people want it to spell. It means whatever people want it to mean. You turn to the Bible and you discover: no, not at all! Let not the stories of the nations alarm you and disturb you. Don’t pay attention to that. Don’t read the horoscope. Don’t listen to this nonsense. This God, he’s the Lord. He’s the refuge. He’s the one.

You see, there’s only one reason for this to be made so wonderfully clear, and that is because the people were susceptible to these things. I don’t want to belabor it, but, you know, Psalm 115 goes along the very same lines: “Why should the nations say, ‘Where is their God?’”[6] So they’re saying to the people of Israel, “So where is your God? You don’t seem to have anything.” That’s what people say when they come in here: “Where’s your God? There’s no God stuff in here. You don’t have any icons. You don’t have any bits and pieces. Are you sure you have a God? Where is your God?” Answer: “Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases.”[7]

And this does the same thing. The idols are absolutely useless:

“They have mouths, but don’t speak;
 They have eyes, but don’t see.
They have ears, but don’t hear.
 They have noses, but don’t smell.
They have hands, but don’t feel.
 They have feet, but they don’t walk;
 and they do not make a sound in their throat.
And those who make them become like them;
 so do all who trust in them.[8]

There you have it. You want to understand the chaos of our culture? Idolatry. Idolatry—and idolatry that starts first with the great idol that is me: “It’s about me. It’s about my decision. It’s about my choice. It’s about my gender. It’s about my ideas. It’s all about me.” No culture can survive that. Our culture is proving it.

You say, “Well, we don’t walk around… I don’t have any of these things in my house. I’m not using little things. I’m not hammering in little gods.” No, neither am I. But I understand that there is a great appeal in all kinds of substitute gods in our day—pleasure itself, and things besides. Don’t go wrong on this, because idolatry is essentially trusting someone or something to provide us with that which only God can provide. It’s trusting someone or something to do for us what only the living God can do. And that’s why he is so at pains to say, as he sings this song, as he writes this down, “Here is where my focus is to be found.”

In the New Testament, interestingly, Paul, when he is writing to the Colossians and he begins Colossians by pointing to all of the reality of who Jesus is, and the people in the Colossae valley are saying very similar things—they’re basically saying, “So, you don’t have a temple. You don’t have a sacrificial system. You don’t really have anything at all. I don’t know what you people are doing. Where is God?” They’re actually the same question that was asked in the psalm: “Where is your God?”

And it’s in that context—you can see this in Colossians 2—that Paul writes to these Christian people, and he says, “See to it…” “See to it… ” “[Make sure] that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit.”[9] In other words, he says, “You need to make sure that when you get up in the morning, you orientate yourself by the truth of Scripture.” That’s why we read the Bible every day. It is a lamp to our feet; it is a light to our path.[10] It’s not a blessed thought for somebody who’s got fifteen seconds while they’re finishing their Cheerios. It is rather that I need to go here because my mind inevitably goes in the wrong direction, and I am easily seduced by the fact that so many, many people in my lab, so many, many people in my college, so many, many people in my classroom do not believe one single thing that I believe. And I’m beginning to wonder, you see.

Well, listen: “See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and through empty deceit.” And he says—they’re asking the question about God—“Here in Jesus, all the fullness of the godhead dwells in bodily form.”[11] You want to know God? You want to meet God? You want to see God? You will meet him in the person and work of the Lord Jesus. It is in him that all the fullness of deity dwells, and it is in nobody else that all the fullness of deity dwells.

I don’t know why I woke up this morning with that song—you know,

It won’t be [the] Buddha
[Who]’s sitting on the throne,
And it won’t be … Muhammad
[Who]’s calling us home,
And it won’t be Hare Krishna
That[’s] play[ing] [the] trumpet tune,
Because we’re going to see the Son,
Not Reverend Moon.[12]

And hundreds and hundreds of people were married in one of those vast ceremonies, if you saw the pictures, of the Unification Church, which is a flat-out forceful denial of what David is affirming in this song and what I am seeking to help us understand: the God of David is the true God, the living God, the everlasting King.

And so, in his inimitable pictorial style, giving to us a verbal picture, he allows us to ponder what this actually means for him. First of all, that he is a “strong refuge.” Also that he “has made my way blameless.” Remember, when we studied that last time, we said, “How can he make such statements about being blameless and so on?” Well, he’s not saying that he’s sinless, but he’s saying that he’s blameless. How could he possibly be blameless? The same way that you and I may be blameless: that Jesus “took the blame,” he “bore the wrath: we stand forgiven at the cross.”[13]

The forgiveness that was pronounced for David is the same forgiveness that is enjoyed by all who have come to Jesus and found in him the one who has taken the blame that we deserve and the punishment that would rightfully have fallen on us.

The fact that the prophet could come to David and say, “Your sin is forgiven,”[14] is not simply because God somehow or another had decided that that would be okay and it doesn’t really matter. No, it was not okay, and it really mattered. But the forgiveness that was pronounced for David is the same forgiveness that is enjoyed by all who have come to Jesus and found in him the one who has taken the blame that we deserve and the punishment that would rightfully have fallen on us.

“God is my strong refuge. He’s made my way blameless. He made my feet like the feet of a deer.” Well, of course, that’s the picture, isn’t it? I hope it’s not literal. I always smile when people say, “Well, you’re not taking the Bible literally.” I say, “Oh, really? You think that David actually had feet of a deer? I don’t think so.” Because metaphor is metaphor, and simile is simile, and so on. “He set me secure on the heights.” Well, you can just go back through the book, and you know this is the case. We saw him, as it were, leaping around and jumping and hiding and going in caves and coming out. All of his strength, all of his strength, is found in this God.

Notice the emphasis: it’s the “He made my feet,” “He trains my hands.” Then it goes to the second person: “You have given me the shield of your salvation. Your gentleness, your kindness, the fact that you stooped down to me, made me great. You gave a wide place for my steps under me. And my feet actually didn’t slip.”

Now, this is about David. It’s not about us. But the same God who provided David with strength is the God who provides us with strength—“strength for today … bright hope for tomorrow.”[15] When we were last together at Communion, we sang the hymn “Here, O my Lord, I see thee face-to-face; here would I touch and handle things unseen.” You remember, Danny helped us with Communion that night. And one of the verses in that hymn goes like this:

I have no help but thine, nor do I need
Another arm save thine to lean upon;
It is enough, my Lord, enough indeed;
My strength is in [your] might … alone.[16]

Do you never get up in the morning and say, “I don’t think I’m going to make this day”? Do you never find yourself looking at circumstances and deciding that they’re of such an overwhelming nature that probably you just don’t have it in you? Well, the answer is you just probably don’t have it in you, nor do I. And God in his amazing mercy brings us into difficulties and darkness and overwhelms us—yes, overwhelms us—because he knows that the discovery of his strength is in the honest acceptance of our weakness.

David was a peculiar individual, but he was just an individual, and his strength was in the Lord. That’s the source of his strength.

The Extent of David’s Victory

Then I noted the extent of his victory. There in verse 38, he recounts it: “I pursued my enemies and destroyed them, and did not turn back until they were consumed.”

Incidentally, it’s probably helpful to point out right now that all of this we need to understand not in terms of David as a sort of private member of society, exercising some kind of hostility towards everybody he didn’t like, exercising vengeance because it sort of made him happy to be cruel. Not for a moment. We need to understand that all the way through this, the great issue is the issue that takes us all the way back to Genesis chapter 3, where the conflict between the serpent, the Evil One, and the seed of the woman will be the conflict which runs throughout the totality of human history. And whether it is Herod in seeking to destroy Jesus in his infancy or whatever it might be, that’s the issue. And the Lord’s anointed—in this case, David—is the agent of God in the execution of his righteous vengeance.

And so don’t go wrong when you read this, as if, “Well, this is a dreadful situation.” No, read this in light of the vengeance and the wrath that is expressed at the cross of Jesus Christ. That is the extent to which God is committed to eradicate rebellion against him and to deal with the rebellious heart. So when he writes in this way, don’t go wrong.

“I pursued my enemies. I didn’t turn back. I thrust them through so that they didn’t rise. They fell under my feet.” Now, if you think about this, that’s the very beginning of the story, isn’t it? That’s how he dealt with Goliath. Goliath was just the beginning. That was the first big one. And it was a big one. Do you remember? He says to David, “You come out here with a stick and a little bag of stones? What do you think I am, a dog or something like that?”[17] And David… I would like to have heard his voice, wouldn’t you? You know, if it was like, “Hey, wait a minute…” It was more like, “Ah! Ah! Uh… I come to you—ahem—in the name of the Lord of hosts”—you know—“the God in the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.[18] Don’t look at me. I’m not here in my own right. I’m not here just to get something for myself. I am here by divine appointment.” The anointed of God is in the place of God’s appointment. (That is why Jesus, when he is confronted by them, when they say, “We came to get you,” he says, “Are you looking for somebody?”[19]) No: “… whom you have defied. This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand, … I will strike you down … cut off your head … that all the earth may know”—“that all the earth may know”—“that there is a God in Israel,”[20] and that he is this God and this Lord.

Now, all the subsequent battles are to be understood in the same way. And you will notice in the text the juxtaposition of the “I” and the “you”: “I pursued …. I consumed …. For you equipped …. You made my enemies turn their backs to me, those who hated me, and I destroyed them.” What you actually have there is a kind of Old Testament version of the principle that Paul reminds the Philippians of when he says to them, “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who [is at work] in you, both to will and to [do of] his good pleasure.”[21] And that’s exactly what he’s doing here. That’s what David is doing here. He’s working out the plan and purpose of God for him, recognizing that he does it in the Lord’s strength, and it is on account of that that his victory is extended in that way.

All that David was able to accomplish was according to God’s plan and on account of God’s power. And that is true for all who are the servants of the Lord Jesus Christ. That’s why… I just was doing 2 Timothy in England, as you know, and I was struck again by the way in which, in all of the exhortations that are given to Timothy as a young man who is about to face life without the apostle Paul—he’s going to be left in an alien world with a culture that wants to disown him and deal with him—right at the very threshold of it all, Paul says, “Be strengthened, my son. Be strengthened, my son. Be strong by the grace that is in Christ Jesus.”[22] That’s it.

A Mixed Reaction

Thirdly, in verses 42 and following, I simply wrote down, “A Mixed Reaction.” I wasn’t quite sure what to do with this, but perhaps this will make sense.

Notice verse 42: “They looked.” Incidentally, when you look through this text, this is the “I,” the “you,” the “them,” the “they.” “They looked.” Who? The enemies. “They looked.” “They cried.” “They looked, but there was [no one] to save.” Well, of course there was no one to save! Because they didn’t look to the living God. They looked to other gods.

All that David was able to accomplish was according to God’s plan and on account of God’s power. And that is true for all who are the servants of the Lord Jesus Christ.

I mean, if you think about it for just a tiny time, you realize what an absolute emptiness any form of idolatry actually is. I was listening to the original version by Ray Stevens of “Mr. Businessman.” And this was actually banned on some radio stations in America when it came out, because it was regarded as an anticapitalist diatribe. I don’t think he was dealing with economics. I think he was dealing with morality. And so, in one of the verses, he says,

Spending counterfeit incentive,
Wasting precious time and health,
Placing value on the worthless,
Disregarding priceless wealth,
You can wheel and deal [with] the [rest] of them.[23]

But it’s vanity. “They looked, but there was none to save.”

Can I ask you this morning who you’re looking to as you live your life? As you map your career? As you plan for the future? As you make investments? As you determine what you’re going to do for the sake of those who come behind you? Who do you look to? Are you looking to this God? To David’s God? It’s a big question. “They looked, but there was none to save.” And even worse, “they cried to the Lord, [and] he did[n’t] answer them.”

“Really?” Yeah. “I thought it says in the Bible that the Lord is near to all who call upon him in truth.” It does say that in the Bible. It’s Psalm 145:18: “The Lord is near to all who call [upon] him … in truth.” What about those who don’t call upon him in truth? He’s not near. What about those who, having tried their self-depleting idols, to which they looked and got no answer, decided, “Well, we’ll just give this one a try”? You hear people using terminology like, “Well, the big man in the sky…” That’s a long way removed from “Come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord, our [Creator].”[24] No, to come in hypocrisy, to come in rebellion, to come simply moaning and complaining, giving “this God” a try—expect no answer.

This is not unique to 2 Samuel 22. In fact, it comes across quite chillingly in Proverbs. And I’m not going to read it all to you, but the same principle is there:

Then they will call upon me, but I will not answer;
 they will seek me diligently but will not find me.
Because they hated knowledge
 and did not choose the fear of the Lord,
would have none of my counsel,
 … despised all my reproof…[25]

One of the most chilling encounters in that regard is when, in the Gospel of Luke, we have the arrival of Jesus in the court of Herod. And as he is brought into that context, Luke records, “And when he learned that he belonged to Herod’s jurisdiction, he sent him over to Herod, who was himself in Jerusalem at that time. When Herod saw Jesus, he was very glad, for he had long desired to see him, because he[’d] heard about him, and he was hoping to see some sign done by him. So he questioned him at some length.” Here we go: “But he made no answer.”[26] “He made no answer.”

Plumer, the Puritan commentator, says, “Even prayer will not save a bad cause.”[27] Could anything, rightly considered, be more alarming to a sinner—and we’re all sinners—to a sinner who continually listens to the teaching of the Bible, says no to it, and assumes that there will be a day when, in his own time, or in her own time and on her own basis, she will be ready for this? Make no such assumption. When you hear the truth of the gospel proclaimed, if you’re not converted by it, you’ll be hardened by it. Because you become used to it, and you understand it, and you’ve become adept at deflecting it. The chilling reality of this is very clear, isn’t it?

The “foreigners came.” The “foreigners came.” Hm. That just means the outsiders, means the unbelievers. They “came cringing”—“cringing to me; as soon as they heard of me, they obeyed me.” You go back through some of the stories, and you realize that something happened, and all the people said, “Okay, fine, we’re good with you, David.” That’s what he’s describing there—that “foreigners lost heart.” They “came trembling out of their fortresses.” “Came trembling out of their fortresses.” It’s an amazing picture, isn’t it? So, “Hey, sinner-man, where you gonna hide? If I run to the rocks, the rocks won’t hide me.” Hey, “I’ve built walls, a fortress [deep] and mighty, that none may penetrate.”[28] It’s Paul Simon. It’s a poem. It’s the reality of some people’s lives.

Where are you hiding? Where’s your fortress? If you’re not hiding in Jesus, you’re hiding in something else. He is this to all who take refuge in him. To those who do not take refuge in him, they’re taking refuge somewhere else—whether you’re a boy or a girl, a teen or an adult or ancient. Where do you go? Where’s your secret place? Where’s your Corrie ten Boom place? Where’s the hiding place? Only God can bring people out of their fortresses. And the gospel brings people out of their fortresses, because the gospel tells the truth. It says, “Here’s the predicament. Here’s the solution. Here’s the invitation. Come! Get out of the fortress. That’s a stupid place to hide. There’s no help there.” Well, that’s how they came. They lost heart.

An Encore for the End

And then a little encore for the end. An encore for the end: “The Lord lives, … blessed be my rock.” Word study on “rock”: get a concordance, just go to “rock,” and have a great afternoon. “And exalted be my God, the rock of my salvation.” We’ve sung of it. “Upon this rock I will build my church.”[29] Out of the rock, Moses, and so on.[30] It’s the rock that doesn’t roll.

The God who gave me vengeance
 … brought down peoples under me,
… brought me out from my enemies;
 you exalted me above those who rose against me;
 you delivered me.

That’s what I’m saying. It’s like a PS, almost. It’s an encore. Let’s go back through it again: “The Lord lives.” “The Lord lives. He brought them down. He brought me out. He exalted. He delivered me. And so,” he says, “for all these reasons and more, I will praise the Lord among the nations.” “I will praise the Lord among the nations.” He’s already said in verse 44 that he has been “kept … as the head of the nations.” Well, David’s position as head of the nations was not insignificant, but it couldn’t exactly be said to be international. I mean, it’s a tiny little place, a small Middle Eastern empire.

So you see, this expression of victory anticipates the ultimate victory: that the story of the kings eventually breaks the boundaries. The picture, the Identi-Kit picture that we’re given, cannot contain the ultimate reality. And it takes out and beyond. God’s promise to David is fully realized, but not in David’s own lifetime. Because the promise of God was beyond the capacity of any mere human king to fulfill. David died. David was buried. The kings came. They died. They were buried. We would need a king who never dies. “When your days are fulfilled … I will raise up your offspring after you …. My steadfast love will not depart from him.”[31] That was the promise. Now look at verse 51: “Great salvation he brings to his king, and shows [his] steadfast,” his covenant, “love to his anointed, … David and his offspring forever.”

Well, here’s the point: Jesus is the King who will rule the nations. Jesus is the King who will rule the nations. “The kingdom of [this] world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ.”[32] The Cleveland Chorus can help us with that at Christmastime. Hm.

How should I end this? Well, I don’t know what kind of day it was, or evening it was, when the slip of a girl was caught completely off guard by an angelic visitation—that the angel actually said to her… And she was actually a virgin. She was betrothed to a man who was of the house and lineage of David. “Your offspring.” And out in the fields, where David had looked after the sheep, the shepherds became the receiving entity of the message of the angels: “Unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign [to] you: you will find [the offspring]…”[33] “The offspring”—that God was committed to David, and his promise would be fulfilled in his offspring. It almost makes you wish that it was Christmas in August, doesn’t it? I hope you get some sense of how this fits together.

Father, help us as we rehearse these things and as we try again to understand the wonder of your Word, as we receive its challenges and exhortations, and as we realize that as David looked forward, as the prophets looked forward, as they stood on their tiptoes looking over the boundaries of time to the one who would finally come, as Mary initially recoiled from the news, as she went to find her cousin, as the angels flooded the heavens—this is our song; this is our gospel. We thank you for it. Help us to believe it entirely, to share it widely. For Jesus’ sake. Amen.

[1] Romans 15:4 (ESV).

[2] Matthew 4:4 (ESV).

[3] 1 Peter 1:3 (paraphrased).

[4] Judges 21:25 (paraphrased).

[5] Jeremiah 10:1–6 (ESV).

[6] Psalm 115:2 (ESV).

[7] Psalm 115:3 (ESV).

[8] Psalm 115:4–8 (paraphrased).

[9] Colossians 2:8 (ESV).

[10] See Psalm 119:105.

[11] Colossians 2:9 (paraphrased).

[12] Mark Farrow, “Oh Buddha” (1979).

[13] Stuart Townend and Keith Getty, “Oh, to See the Dawn (The Power of the Cross)” (2005).

[14] 2 Samuel 12:13 (paraphrased).

[15] Thomas O. Chisholm, “Great Is Thy Faithfulness” (1923).

[16] Horatius Bonar, “Here, O My Lord, I See Thee” (1855).

[17] 1 Samuel 17:43 (paraphrased).

[18] 1 Samuel 17:45 (paraphrased).

[19] John 18:4 (paraphrased).

[20] 1 Samuel 17:45–46 (ESV).

[21] Philippians 2:12–13 (ESV).

[22] 2 Timothy 2:1 (paraphrased).

[23] Ray Stevens, “Mr. Businessman” (1968).

[24] Psalm 95:6 (ESV).

[25] Proverbs 1:28–30 (ESV).

[26] Luke 23:7–9 (ESV).

[27] William S. Plumer, Studies in the Book of Psalms: Being a Critical and Expository Commentary, with Doctrinal and Practical Remarks on the Entire Psalter (Philadelphia: Lippincott, 1866), 251.

[28] Paul Simon, “I Am a Rock” (1965).

[29] Matthew 16:18 (KJV).

[30] See Numbers 20:11.

[31] 2 Samuel 7:12, 15 (ESV).

[32] Revelation 11:15 (ESV).

[33] Luke 2:11–12 (ESV).

Copyright © 2024, Alistair Begg. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations for sermons preached on or after November 6, 2011 are taken from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

For sermons preached before November 6, 2011, unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version® (NIV®), copyright © 1973 1978 1984 by Biblica, Inc.TM Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Alistair Begg
Alistair Begg is Senior Pastor at Parkside Church in Cleveland, Ohio, and the Bible teacher on Truth For Life, which is heard on the radio and online around the world.