As soon as they hear of me - His victories were so rapid and splendid over powerful enemies, that they struck a general terror among the people, and several submitted without a contest.
Strangers shall submit themselves unto me - Some translate this: "The children of the foreign woman have lied unto me." This has been understood two ways: My own people, who have sworn fealty to me, have broken their obligation, and followed my rebellious son. Or, The heathens, who have been brought under my yoke, have promised the most cordial obedience, and flattered me with their tongues, while their hearts felt enmity against me and my government. Nevertheless, even in this unwilling subjection I was secure, my police being so efficient, and my kingdom so strong.
As soon as they hear of me, they shall obey me - Margin, as in Hebrew, At the hearing of the ear. That is, their submission will be prompt and immediate. The fame of my victories will be such as to render resistance hopeless; my fame, as at the head of a mighty empire, will be such as to lead them to desire my friendship and protection.
The strangers - Margin, as in Hebrew, The sons of the stranger. The word refers to foreigners, to those of other nations. His name and deeds would inspire such respect, or create such a dread of his power, that they would be glad to seek his friendship, and would readily submit to his dominion.
Shall submit themselves unto me - Margin, yield feigned obedience. The Hebrew word used here - כחשׁ kâchash - means properly to lie, to speak lies; then, to deceive, or disappoint; then, to feign, to flatter, to play the hypocrite. It is manifestly used in this sense here, as referring to those who, awed by the terror of his name and power, would come and profess subjection to him as a conqueror. Yet the use of the word here implies that he was aware that, in many cases, this would be only a feigned submission, or that the homage would be hypocritical; homage inspired by terror, not by love. Undoubtedly, much of the professed subjection of conquered nations is of this kind, and it would be well if all conquerors understood this as David did. He accepted, indeed, the acquiescence and the submission, but he understood the cause; and this knowledge would only tend to make his throne more secure, as it would save him from putting confidence or trust where there was no certainty that it would be well placed.
Toward David as a sovereign there was much real loyalty, but there was also much professed allegiance that was false and hollow; allegiance which would endure only while his power lasted, and which would only wait for an opportunity to throw off the yoke. In respect to God, also, there are not a few who “feignedly submit” to him, or who yield feigned obedience. They, too, are awed by his power. They know that he is able to destroy. They see the tokens of his greatness and majesty, and they come and profess submission to him - a submission founded on terror, not on love; a submission which would cease at once could they be assured of safety if they should renounce their allegiance to him. And as David was not ignorant of the fact that not a little of the professed submission to him was false and feigned - so, in a much higher sense - in a much more accurate manner - God is aware of the fact that many who profess to be subject to him are subject in profession only; that if they could do it with safety, they would throw off the very appearance of loyalty, and carry out in reality what exists in their hearts. It must have been sad for David to reflect how greatly the number of his professed subjects might have been diminished, if none had been retained but those who truly loved his reign, and respected him as a sovereign; it is sad to reflect how greatly the number of the professed friends of God would be diminished, if all those should withdraw who have yielded only reigned obedience to him! Yet the Church would be the better and the stronger for it.