As the book of Samuel comes to an end, it is fitting that it should end with poetry; after all, that’s the way it began! Hannah’s poem ended with the recognition of what God would do for the king of Israel – if Israel ever got a king. David ends the account of this book with a poem that affirms God has done for him precisely what Hannah said.
The list of David’s fighting men emphasizes the greatness of David, a point that will be made repeatedly in Samuel’s sequel, the book of Kings where you will find nearly thirty comparisons of succeeding kings with him. David’s greatness lay first and foremost with his relationship with God. It lay second in his ability to secure the loyalty not only of great men, but men from a variety of backgrounds. In the list are family members and those from the tribe of Judah, but also men who might have otherwise been Israel’s enemies – Maacah, Ammon, and the Hittites.
Chapter 32 contains one of my favorite stories: that of the three friends who, at the risk of their lives, journey through enemy lines to bring him water from the well at Bethlehem. That the Philistines would be able to make such a deep incursion into Israel demonstrated Israel’s weakness, yet these three make it to the well and back. David however, objects. Only God is worth such a risk of life, and he offers the water to God as a sacrifice.
The writer of Samuel (and Kings) is not bashful about revealing David’s flaws, but for them all, David is a man who cares deeply about his relationship with God and struggles with being worthy of it. We can, of course, never be worthy of God’s grace, but we should want to try – and work at it (see Ephesians 4:1).