Preliminary Exegetical Thoughts on 2 Sam 22
In my Exegesis of the Hebrew Scriptures class, we were assigned to examine 2nd Samuel 22, particularly to identify different aspects of context. These different aspects particularly relate to the three important audiences of each biblical text. The following definitions are by no means scholarly — they are sort of my own midrash on the textbook for my course.
1) The DISTANT context refers to the actual people who lived during the events related in the text.
2) The LITERARY Context addresses the ideas inherent in the text’s form — poetic narrative, psalm, oracle, apocalyptic. Sometime after the events related in the particular text, the author(s) of the biblical book arranged each book in a form that addresses certain questions and ideas.
3) The IMMEDIATE Context relates to the modern reader — what should the modern reader take away from the text?
After reading 2 Sam 22 several times, I wrote down the following ideas. They are not meant to represent an exhaustive or conclusive exegesis, but rather the beginning responses to an invitation to converse with the Author.
Distant Context — Early history of Israel. David offers a theological recasting of his conflict with Saul, and his many other foes. This is probably written at the peak of David’s monarchy, not during his tumultuous youth or during the days of Bathsheba and the census and all the disastrous consequences thereof. His confidence in his righteousness does not yet seen to have been cracked at all. However, if he crafted this poem nearer to the end of his life, we should probably understand his definition of righteousness as a description of utter dedication to YHWH, not a moral description as we would typically hear it.
Literary Context –
Echoes of Exodus
Shares many ideas (YHWH the Warrior, Divine Inversion) with Hannah’s song.
We are not expected to read these descriptions with a wooden literalism, but neither should we shy away from the powerful, active, even violent depictions. Our God is DEEPLY interested and involved in His creation – He is its King. As a psalm of praise, we should not be surprised to hear David’s confident proclamations of righteousness. The compiler of 1-2 Samuel places Hannah’s song and David’s song as bookends to the story of the establishment of the monarchy and the development of God’s redemptive action — from the covenant with Abraham, now to the covenant with David and the placement of Israel as a city on a hill reflecting God’s righteous love to the nations.
Immediate Context — When I read this text, it teaches me that YHWH is:
King – Powerful – Able – Faithful – Concerned – Active – Perfect – Loving. He is actively working out his redemptive mission through his covenant and his anointed.
The proper response to these things is praise. Those who have given their allegiance to God many have great confidence in His salvation.
For a moment, forget Israel’s brokenness — her utter failure to be faithful to her covenant promises. Hear David rejoice in the power of the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! THIS is the God who wants desperately to save us — the God who WILL redeem His creation!
in HIS love,