2 Samuel 23:1-7 – David’s Last Words


2 Samuel 23:1-7


Functioning together with David’s song of praise (chapter 22) as a counterpoint to the song of Hannah that opened the books of Samuel, David’s last words affirm that God will remain faithful to the everlasting covenant between God and the house of David.


The most difficult aspect of this text is determining who says what. Most assume that God speaks in verses 3b-4 and David speaks in verses 5-7. But the text presents itself as an “oracle” of David (v. 1a), in which God speaks through David, much like Balaam’s famous oracles (Numbers 24:3, 15). This seems to be the case in verses 3b-4 and verses 6-7, which resemble a wisdom saying contrasting godly kings with godless people. The use of the first person (“me,” “my”) with reference to David’s “house” and third person “he” with reference to what is certainly God’s activity in verse 5 suggests that David interrupts the divine oracle midstream with rhetorical questions claiming God’s promise (v. 5a, c). In the center stands the affirmation that David and his house can serve as godly rulers only because (ki, “for”) of the “everlasting covenant” forged in 2 Samuel 7:14-16:

A    God speaks of godly rulers (vv. 3b-4)
    B    David: “Is not [ki lo] my house like this with God?” (v. 5a)
        X    Because (ki) of the everlasting covenant (v. 5b)
    B′    David: “Will he [God] not [ki lo] …prosper all my help and my desire?” (v. 5c)
A′    God speaks of godless people (vv. 6-7)

On this reading, David’s last words are really God’s, words claiming that a godly king is God’s blessing to the nation. As long as God is with David, the godless have no hope. David responds with the exuberant exclamation that his house will prosper in this way because of God’s everlasting promise.