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Bible: What Does 2 Samuel 23-4 Teach Us About David's "Mighty Men"?

Updated on October 16, 2016

King David


2 Samuel 23

With his last words, David first identifies himself in four different roles:

(1) as a son;

(2) as "the man raised up on high" (this designation suggests exaltation by God);

(3) as the anointed king of his nation; and

(4) as Israel's official singer/composer of psalms (v. 1).

Then he makes a very cogent declaration regarding the divine origin of his message (v. 2).

The Spirit states a vital qualification of kings: they must conduct a just, God-fearing administration (v. 3).

If they produce such behavior, they will bring light and clarity (that is, make wise decisions) in their kingdoms (v. 4).

David recognizes that his "house" does not meet this standard, yet knows that God has made an unconditional covenant with him and that He promises to fulfill it (v. 5).

Those who rebel against this covenant will suffer defeat (vv. 6-7).

David and His Mighty Men


Last, But Not Least

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Heroes All

The rest of the chapter recounts the heroic deeds of David's mighty men (vv. 8-39): Adino killed eight hundred men at once (v. 8); Eleazar, defying Philistines, struck the enemy so vehemently that he could not afterwards open his sword hand (vv. 9-10); Shammah, defending a field, defeated the same foe (vv. 11-12).

Then the author recalls the time that three certain men risked their lives to bring David a drink of well water from the Philistine-occupied camp in Bethlehem (vv. 13-16a).

The king, overwhelmed by their devotion, does not receive the draught; instead, he sacrifices it to God as a drink offering (vv. 16b-17).

More mighty men's deeds follow, although these feats do not approach in valor or degree those of the first three.

Abishai killed three hundred men with his spear (vv. 18-19); Benaiah slew two ferocious warriors from Moab, a lion in a snowy pit, and a very impressive Egyptian (vv. 20-23).

The last sixteen verses name thirty more men whose work David commemorates (vv. 24-39). Interestingly, Uriah the Hittite closes out this list (v. 39).



2 Samuel 24

Yahweh moves against the nation in judgment, using David's foolish pride in numbering the people as the specific reason for this chastening (v. 1). Cf. 1 Chronicles 21 which states that Satan was behind David’s folly.

After Joab and the army captains fail to dissuade the king from issuing such an order (vv. 2-4a), they reluctantly take a census throughout the land—a measurement that requires almost ten months to complete.

When they finish the task, they return to Jerusalem with a figure of one million, three hundred thousand valiant men (vv. 4b-9).

When conviction of this sin sets in, David confesses his guilt and asks Yahweh for forgiveness (v. 10).

Sin, though forgiven, still brings dire consequences.

The Angel of the LORD


The Owner of the Threshing Floor

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Gad, the king's seer, visits the court and offers David three choices of divine chastening:

(1) Seven years of famine (vv. 11-13a; cf. 1 Chron. 21:12 where the text reads "three");

(2) Three months of persecution (v. 13b), or

(3) Three days of plague (v. 13c).

David opts for the last alternative, believing God's mercies to be far greater than man's (v. 14).

[It is fascinating that the author does not disclose what sin causes the Angel to take seventy thousand lives (v. 15; see 1 Chron. 21:14).

David believed that God's plague would not have been as harsh as the persecution of the enemy or as a lengthy famine.

Nevertheless, would the other two options have killed more?

It is also amazing that God does not take David's life after this evil decision, yet apparently does not hesitate to kill so many of His people.

Even the king thought that the LORD should punish him and his house, not the people (v. 17).

Still, whatever the people did must have warranted this great slaughter; otherwise, God would have acted unjustly].

Obeying Gad's counsel, David builds an altar and offers up oxen on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite.

Although humble Araunah wishes to give the oxen and the property to the king as a gift (vv. 18-23), David buys it from him for fifty shekels of silver (v. 24).

After the king makes his sacrifices, God stops the plague, telling the Angel to stay His hand (v. 25; cf. 24:16). So ends the book of II Samuel.


1. Research the Book of Jasher.

2. What did David find in Abner's character or personality that made him such a valuable asset?

3. Why do David’s enemies consider the king’s dancing before the LORD unacceptable? What applications, if any, can we glean from his example?

4. What was of utmost concern to David in his prayer of thanksgiving in chapter seven?

5. What could account for David's blindness regarding Absalom?

6. Why does Joab have the Tekoan widow say that David has "schemed" this thing against "the people of God?" How will they die for David's guilt?

7. Examine David's responses to enemies and other abusive opponents.

8. What events or motives led Absalom to rebel against his father?

9. Judas is the antitype of Ahithophel. Compare the two traitors and their downfalls.

10. Examine how David handled relationships after he returned to the throne.

11. How does David describe Yahweh in his psalm of praise (chapter twenty-two)?

12. Why did God put to death so many Israelites for David's sin?

© 2013 glynch1


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