Recorded in 2 Samuel chapter 23 are what are described as the last words of David (2 Samuel 23:1). I think it is interesting that we find in David’s discourse that it is not his own words, but those of the LORD that David is speaking. David said, “The Spirit of the LORD spake by me” (2 Samuel 23:2). The Spirit of the LORD that David refers to is probably the Holy Spirit and his message a prophetic utterance meant to encourage David before he died.
It is possible that the message David received was a response to his psalm of praise that is recorded in 2 Samuel chapter 22. David opened his psalm with the statement, “The LORD is my rock and my fortress, and my deliverer: the God of my rock; in him will I trust” (2 Samuel 22:2-3). The message David spoke through the Spirit of the LORD stated, “The God of Israel said, The Rock of Israel spake to me, He that ruleth over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God” (2 Samuel 23:3). In his psalm of praise, David referred to the LORD as his rock with a lower case “r.” In his prophetic utterance, David refers to “The Rock” of Israel using a capital “R” indicating it was a reference to the Rock as God.
The apostle Paul clarifies God’s purpose in taking the Israelites to the Promised Land via the desert. He wanted to show the Israelites that spiritual sustenance was necessary for their faith to grow. Paul stated:
Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; and were baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; and did all eat the same spiritual meat; and did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ. (1 Corinthians 10:1-4)
The statement, “He that ruleth over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God” (2 Samuel 23:3) indicated that David did not measure up to the standard that God required for his king. The ruler that God was referring to was the Messiah, one that would not be made just, but would be just by nature. He was described as follows:
And he shall be as the light of the morning, when the sun riseth, even a morning without clouds; as the tender grass springing out of the earth by clear shining after rain. (2 Samuel 23:4)
What the LORD was telling David through his prophetic utterance was that his salvation, from a spiritual standpoint, was not yet complete. During his lifetime, God had been David’s deliverer, a rock that could protect him from harm. After he died, David would go to sheol or hell, the resting place of all who died, until Christ came and paid the penalty for his sin. Then, David would be justified and able to rule and reign with Christ for ever according to God’s covenant with him (2 Samuel 23:5).