Reading through the Bible together
We learn more about the Word of God in this chapter. Why would the Holy Spirit see fit to repeat a chapter in His Word? This chapter is repeated in Psalm 18. But, there are differences and maybe that is where the lesson is for us. Psalm 18 is liturgical and the heading says, “To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of David the servant of the Lord.” But 2 Samuel 22 is historical and just says, “David said to the Lord.” The historian writing in 2 Samuel spoke of the Lord delivering David from the hand of Saul (v. 1), but in Psalm 18, Saul is not mentioned. In verse 5 of 2 Samuel it talks about “breakers/waves of death” but in Psalm 18 it says “cords/ropes of death”. In 2 Samuel 22:8 he speaks of the “foundations of heaven” but in Psalm 18:7 it is “foundations of the mountains.” In 2 Samuel 22:11 he says “and he appeared/was seen upon the wings” but in Psalm 18:10, “He rode upon a cherub.” When at a later time the scribe copied from 2 Samuel he adapted the words to create the hymnal for liturgy.
The choice and adjustment of words for use in a hymnal is even done today. It is common in churches to compose hymns using the Bible, for example Psalm 23 is set in a song with music. The lines are transformed to fit the music and the audience. Old words are exchanged with contemporary words. Everyone sings it without complaining about it. So we do not need to complain when the Holy Spirit selects this later hymn in Psalm 18 to be included in His Word.
In 2 Samuel 22:33 the copyist left out 4 letters and two in verse 34 and two in verse 37. He wrote it probably in the margin near verse 33 because it seems as if the composer of Psalm 18:33 did not know what to do with the marginal correction and what was omissions corrected over a few verses were then later all dumped in the first omission word in 2 Samuel 22:33. The exact letters omitted and spread out in Samuel is filed in a row in Psalm 18:33. When the Jews were in Exile near Nineveh and they had to deal with the Word of God, it was not easy. Empires stole libraries from nations and there was an Assyrian library in Nineveh in the days of Ashurbanipal. A text about his father was copied in the days of the last king of Babylon. Scholars indicate how there are abridgements and inserts of words to make things clearer. That is why duplicates are provided as for example we have in the four gospels.
What lesson can we learn from this? To demonstrate to us how important it is to be careful about our lives and what we write and say because it can affect how people understand the Word of God.
The way we live will affect the way we think and the way we think will affect the mode which we will select to do things and the mode we do things will determine the products we produce. Help us to live for you daily so that our scribal activities may not cause the Word of God to suffer. In Jesus name. Amen
Koot van Wyk
Kyungpook National University
Sangju, South Korea