2 Samuel 23


In this chapter, we read David’s last words, which are closely related to Balaam’s last words relating to the future of Israel, Numbers 24:3 / Numbers 24:15. His prophetic words are an extension of Balaam’s prophecy of the Star out of Jacob and the Sceptre out of Israel.

‘These are the last words of David: ‘The inspired utterance of David son of Jesse, the utterance of the man exalted by the Most High, the man anointed by the God of Jacob, the hero of Israel’s songs: ‘The Spirit of the LORD spoke through me; his word was on my tongue. The God of Israel spoke, the Rock of Israel said to me: ‘When one rules over people in righteousness, when he rules in the fear of God, he is like the light of morning at sunrise on a cloudless morning, like the brightness after rain that brings grass from the earth.’ ‘If my house were not right with God, surely he would not have made with me an everlasting covenant, arranged and secured in every part; surely he would not bring to fruition my salvation and grant me my every desire. But evil men are all to be cast aside like thorns, which are not gathered with the hand. Whoever touches thorns uses a tool of iron or the shaft of a spear; they are burned up where they lie.’ 2 Samuel 23:1-7

David’s Last Words

David says, ‘the Spirit of the Lord spoke through him, and His Word was on his tongue.’ In other words, these weren’t David’s own words, the Holy Spirit spoke through him, Isaiah 1:1-2 / Psalm 95:7-10.

David recognises that it’s not his own words being said and he credits those words to the Holy Spirit. You will notice that when an Old Testament prophet is quoted in the New Testament, it’s often stated, ‘the Holy Spirit says’, Mark 12:36 / At 1:16 / Acts 28:25 / Hebrews 3:7.

The Spirit says that anyone who was anointed by God to be king must rule with justice and with the fear of God. They are to be like the light in the morning at sunrise on a cloudless morning, in other words, they are to determine the morals of the nation.

We know that the example set by any country must begin at the top, if the rulers are corrupt, then the people will be corrupt. David as king of Israel was humble enough to recognise that he had fallen short morally of God’s expectations as a king on many occasions.

Despite falling short of God’s expectations, the Holy Spirit reminds Israel of the everlasting covenant God made with them, He will fulfil those promises He made with Israel, Isaiah 55:3 / Acts 13:34. However, those who constantly rebel against God and His will are promised to be punished, Matthew 25:41.

David’s Mighty Warriors

‘These are the names of David’s mighty warriors: Josheb-Basshebeth, a Tahkemonite, was chief of the Three; he raised his spear against eight hundred men, whom he killed in one encounter. Next to him was Eleazar son of Dodai the Ahohite. As one of the three mighty warriors, he was with David when they taunted the Philistines gathered at Pas Dammim for battle. Then the Israelites retreated, but Eleazar stood his ground and struck down the Philistines till his hand grew tired and froze to the sword. The LORD brought about a great victory that day. The troops returned to Eleazar, but only to strip the dead. Next to him was Shammah son of Agee the Hararite. When the Philistines banded together at a place where there was a field full of lentils, Israel’s troops fled from them. But Shammah took his stand in the middle of the field. He defended it and struck the Philistines down, and the LORD brought about a great victory. During harvest time, three of the thirty chief warriors came down to David at the cave of Adullam, while a band of Philistines was encamped in the Valley of Rephaim. At that time David was in the stronghold, and the Philistine garrison was at Bethlehem. David longed for water and said, ‘Oh, that someone would get me a drink of water from the well near the gate of Bethlehem!’ So the three mighty warriors broke through the Philistine lines, drew water from the well near the gate of Bethlehem and carried it back to David. But he refused to drink it; instead, he poured it out before the LORD. ‘Far be it from me, LORD, to do this!’ he said. ‘Is it not the blood of men who went at the risk of their lives?’ And David would not drink it. Such were the exploits of the three mighty warriors. Abishai the brother of Joab son of Zeruiah was chief of the Three. He raised his spear against three hundred men, whom he killed, and so he became as famous as the Three. Was he not held in greater honour than the Three? He became their commander, even though he was not included among them. Benaiah son of Jehoiada, a valiant fighter from Kabzeel, performed great exploits. He struck down Moab’s two mightiest warriors. He also went down into a pit on a snowy day and killed a lion. And he struck down a huge Egyptian. Although the Egyptian had a spear in his hand, Benaiah went against him with a club. He snatched the spear from the Egyptian’s hand and killed him with his own spear. Such were the exploits of Benaiah son of Jehoiada; he too was as famous as the three mighty warriors. He was held in greater honour than any of the Thirty, but he was not included among the Three. And David put him in charge of his bodyguard.’ 2 Samuel 23:8-23

This list of David’s mighty warriors is also recorded in 1 Chronicles 11:10-41, although there are some variations between the two. The reason for the variations is possibly because they were written at different times and since language and pronunciation change with time, it appears that the names of this list changed from the time 2 Samuel and the Chronicles were written.

These mighty warriors were the very men who were loyal to David as God’s anointed king of Israel. They successfully brought David to the throne and helped him remain his reign as king. History teaches us if any king wants to be successful, they must not only have the support of God but must also have the loyalty of brave people behind them.

The truth is, if it wasn’t for these mighty warriors, who trusted in God and God’s anointing of David, Israel wouldn’t have had a king. They were loyal and supported David because David was loyal and supported God. They were loyal and supported God, they understood that because they supported David, they were supporting God.

‘Among the Thirty were: Asahel the brother of Joab, Elhanan son of Dodo from Bethlehem, Shammah the Harodite, Elika the Harodite, Helez the Paltite, Ira son of Ikkesh from Tekoa, Abiezer from Anathoth, Sibbekai the Hushathite, Zalmon the Ahohite, Maharai the Netophathite, Heled son of Baanah the Netophathite, Ithai son of Ribai from Gibeah in Benjamin, Benaiah the Pirathonite, Hiddai from the ravines of Gaash, Abi-Albon the Arbathite, Azmaveth the Barhumite, Eliahba the Shaalbonite, the sons of Jashen, Jonathan son of Shammah the Hararite, Ahiam son of Sharar the Hararite, Eliphelet son of Ahasbai the Maakathite, Eliam son of Ahithophel the Gilonite, Hezro the Carmelite, Paarai the Arbite, Igal son of Nathan from Zobah, the son of Hagri, Zelek the Ammonite, Naharai the Beerothite, the armour-bearer of Joab son of Zeruiah, Ira the Ithrite, Gareb the Ithrite and Uriah the Hittite. There were thirty-seven in all.’ 2 Samuel 23:24-39

Again, we find a similar list of names recorded in 1 Chronicles 11:26-47, but not exactly. It’s highly probable that these men changed through David’s forty-year reign, which would explain the differences in records. The following thoughts concerning each of these men have been adapted from Coffman’s commentary of this chapter.

Asahel the brother of Joab was one of the thirty, he was one of the three sons of Zeruiah, David’s sister, who lost his life when he tried to kill Abner, 2 Samuel 2:18-23. Joab avenged Asahel’s death by murdering Abner, 2 Samuel 3:26-30.

Elhanan the son of Dodo from Bethlehem, shouldn’t be confused with Eleazer the son of Dodo, 2 Samuel 23:9. He is a different person. Shammah the Harodite, some commentators suggest that this Shammah is the one mentioned in 2 Samuel 23:11, however, 1 Chronicles 11:10-47 ascribes that deed of bringing David the water from Bethlehem to Eleazer the son of Dodo. It appears that Shammah was a common name as we read in 2 Samuel 23:33.

We are given no information about Elika the Harodite, except that he was one of the thirty mighty warriors of David. Helez the Paltite was an Ephraimite and commander of 24,000 men, 1 Chronicles 11:27 / 1 Chronicles 27:10. Ira son of Ikkesh from Tekoa is also mentioned in 1 Chronicles 11:28.

Abiezer from Anathoth was a Benjaminite with twenty-four thousand men under his command, 1 Chronicles 27:12. Sibbekai the Hushathite is in some translations named Mebunnai, or Sibbekai, 2 Samuel 21:18 / 1 Chronicles 20:4 / 1 Chronicles 11:29 / 1 Chronicles 27:11.

Zalmon the Ahohite may have been named Zalmon to indicate his strength but he is also called Ilai in 1 Chronicles 11:29. His name means shady or ascent. Maharai the Netophathite was one of the twelve monthly captains in David’s reign, 1 Chronicles 11:30, he came from the family of Zerah from Netophah in Judah, and was commander of over 24,000 men, 1 Chronicles 27:13.

Heled son of Baanah the Netophathite, this man is called Heled in 1 Chronicles 11:30 and Heldai in 1 Chronicles 27:15. He was also the commander of 24,000 men. Ithai the son of Ribai from Gibeah in Benjamin, his name means ploughman or living and he is called Ithai in 1 Chronicles 11:31.

Benaiah the Pirathonite, his name means Jehovah has built or is intelligent. He belonged to the tribe of Ephraim and was commander of 24,000 men, 1 Chronicles 11:31 / 1 Chronicles 27:14.

Hiddai from the ravines of Gaash, Gaash was in Ephraim. The name Hiddai means mighty or joyful. Abi-Albon the Arbathite is one of David’s heroes, he is mentioned in the Chronicles list under the name of Abiel, 1 Chronicles 11:32. His name may mean father of strength and he’s possibly from Beth Arabah, Joshua 15:6 / Joshua 15:61 / Joshua 18:22.

Azmaveth the Barhumite, his name may mean counsel, and his name appears in 1 Chronicles 11:33. Some commentators identify him as the Azmaveth whom David placed over his treasures, 1 Chronicles 27:25. Eliahba the Shaalbonite is also mentioned in 1 Chronicles 11:33, and his name means whom God hides.

The son of Jashen, Jonathan, the name Jonathan was very common in the Old Testament and the name means God gave. In 1 Chronicles 11:34, he is identified as a son of Shagee the Hararite. Shammah the Hararite, in 1 Chronicles 11:27 he named Shammoth and in 1 Chronicles 27:8 he is named Shamhuth, he was also the commander of 24,000 men.

Ahiam son of Sharar the Hararite is called the son of Sakar in 1 Chronicles 11:35. Eliphelet son of Ahasbai the Maakathite was special to David because he named one of his sons born in Jerusalem Eliphelet, 1 Chronicles 3:8.

Eliam son of Ahithophel the Gilonite was the father of Bathsheba, 2 Samuel 11:3, who stood in relation to David as a father-in-law. He is called Amiel in other passages, which is a variation of Eliam, 1 Chronicles 3:5. His name means, my God is a kinsman.

The presence of Bathsheba’s father in the list of David’s thirty heroes adds further to David’s shame in violating her. Her grandfather Ahithophel was David’s main counsellor; her father and her husband, Uriah were both among his thirty mighty men.

Hezro the Carmelite is also mentioned in 1 Chronicles 11:37 and his name means enclosed or beautiful. Paarai the Arbite, his name means a devotee of Peor, he is also called Naarai in 1 Chronicles 11:37.

Igal son of Nathan from Zobah, his name means God redeems and as Zobah was a part of Syria it’s highly possible that he was one of the foreigners who supported David.

The N.I.V has the name ‘the son of Hagri’ whereas the K.J.V. uses the name ‘Bani the Gadite’. This name isn’t mentioned anywhere in 1 Chronicles 11. We do know that Bani was of the tribe of Gad. Zelek the Ammonite was another foreigner on David’s list of mighty warriors.

Naharai the Beerothite, the armour-bearer of Joab son of Zeruiah, Beeroth was one of the four cities of the Hivites who deluded Joshua into a treaty of peace with them, Joshua 9:17.

He was Joab’s armour-bearer, although Joab isn’t mentioned as a mighty warrior in his own right, he is the only man who is mentioned three times throughout this list, 2 Samuel 23:18 / 2 Samuel 23:24 /2 Samuel 23:37, which tells us he was a mighty warrior for David.

Ira the Ithrite, and Gareb the Ithrite, Ithrites was the name given to one of the families descended from Kiriath-Jearim, 1 Chronicles 2:53. Two members of David’s mighty warriors, and bodyguard, Ira and Gareb, came from this Family, 2 Samuel 23:38 / 1 Chronicles 11:40, and may have originated from the town of Jattir, 1 Samuel 30:27.

Uriah the Hittite was the Hittite husband of Bathsheba, 2 Samuel 11:2-3, whom David ordered to be murdered by the hand of Joab, 2 Samuel 11:15, in a vain effort to hide David’s adultery with Uriah’s wife, 2 Samuel 11:4-5.

These thirty-seven men were courageous and mighty warriors of David who help bring David to the throne and helped him reign as king of Israel.

It’s clear that when we combine all these men, they would have put fear in the hearts of anyone who choose to rebel against David and or challenge his throne. With mighty warriors like this behind David, it would certainly help David maintain peace throughout the land.

Go To 2 Samuel 24


"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God."