A New Look at King David’s Song of Deliverance

The Triumph of David, circa 1630, by Nicolas Poussin. That's Goliath's head hanging at right. The Triumph of David, circa 1630, by Nicolas Poussin. That’s Goliath’s head hanging on the right.

David’s Song of Deliverance is well known as a beautiful Bible song praising Yahweh—but you should see the parts they ignore.

King David of Israel wrote this song to thank Yahweh for delivering him from his enemies. It sounds as if Yahweh gave David superpowers and super-weapons (for instance, “by my God I have leaped over a wall”). When he says God has given him “the shield of thy salvation,” it sounds like he’s speaking literally. This kind of physical help in battle — saving David from his enemies — may well be where the concept of salvation originated.

2 Samuel 22:1 And David spake unto the LORD the words of this song, in the day that the LORD had delivered him out of the hand of all his enemies, and out of the hand of Saul:

7 In my distress I called upon the LORD, and cried to my God: and he did hear my voice out of his temple, and my cry did enter into his ears.
8 Then the earth shook and trembled; the foundations of heaven moved and shook, because he was wroth.
9 There went up a smoke out of his nostrils, and fire out of his mouth devoured: coals were kindled by it.
10 He bowed the heavens also, and came down; and darkness was under his feet.
11 And he rode upon a cherub, and did fly: and he was seen upon the wings of the wind.
12 And he made darkness pavilions round about him, dark waters, and thick clouds of the skies.
13 Through the brightness before him were coals of fire kindled.
14 The LORD thundered from heaven, and the Most High uttered his voice.
15 And he sent out arrows, and scattered them; lightning, and discomfited them.
16 And the channels of the sea appeared, the foundations of the world were discovered, at the rebuking of the LORD, at the blast of the breath of his nostrils.
17 He sent from above, he took me; he drew me out of many waters:

30 For by thee I have run through a troop: by my God have I leaped over a wall.

33 God is my strength and power; and he maketh my way perfect.
34 He maketh my feet like hinds’ [deer] feet; and setteth me upon my high places.
35 He teacheth my hands to war; so that a bow of steel is broken by mine arms.
36 Thou hast also given me the shield of thy salvation: and thy gentleness hath made me great.
37 Thou hast enlarged my steps under me; so that my feet did not slip.
38 I have pursued mine enemies, and destroyed them; and turned not again until I had consumed them.
39 And I have consumed them, and wounded them, that they could not arise: yea, they are fallen under my feet.
40 For thou hast girded me with strength to battle: them that rose up against me hast thou subdued under me.

43 Then did I beat them as small as the dust of the earth: I did stamp them as the mire of the street, and did spread them abroad.

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