The Book of 2 Samuel
1 and 2 Samuel were originally one book (see Introduction to 1 Samuel: Title).
Literary Features, Authorship and Date
See Introduction to 1 Samuel: Literary Features, Authorship and Date.
Contents and Theme: Kingship and Covenant
2 Samuel depicts David as a true (though imperfect) representative of the ideal theocratic king. David was initially acclaimed king at Hebron by the tribe of Judah (chs. 1-4), and subsequently was accepted by the remaining tribes after the murder of Ish-Bosheth, one of Saul’s surviving sons (5:1-5). David’s leadership was decisive and effective. He captured Jerusalem from the Jebusites and made it his royal city and residence (5:6-13). Shortly afterward he brought the ark of the Lord from the house of Abinadab to Jerusalem, publicly acknowledging the Lord’s kingship and rule over himself and the nation (ch. 6; Ps 132:3-5).
Under David’s rule the Lord caused the nation to prosper, to defeat its enemies and, in fulfillment of his promise (see Ge 15:18), to extend its borders from Egypt to the Euphrates (ch. 8). David wanted to build a temple for the Lord- as his royal house, as a place for his throne (the ark) and as a place for Israel to worship him. But the prophet Nathan told David that he was not to build the Lord a house (temple); rather, the Lord would build David a house (dynasty). Ch. 7 announces the Lord’s promise that this Davidic dynasty would endure forever. This climactic chapter also describes the establishment of the Davidic covenant (see notes on 7:1-29,11,16; Ps 89:30-37). Later the prophets make clear that a descendant of David who sits on David’s throne will perfectly fulfill the role of the theocratic king. He will complete the redemption of God’s people (see Isa 9:6-7; 11:1-16; Jer 23:5-6; 30:8-9; 33:14-16; Eze 34:23-24; 37:24-25), thus enabling them to achieve the promised victory with him (Ro 16:20).
After the description of David’s rule in its glory and success, chs. 10-20 depict the darker side of his reign and describe David’s weaknesses and failures. Even though David remained a king after God’s own heart because he was willing to acknowledge his sin and repent (12:13), he nevertheless fell far short of the theocratic ideal and suffered the disciplinary results of his disobedience (12:10-12). His sin with Bathsheba (chs. 11-12) and his leniency both with the wickedness of his sons (13:12-39; 21; 14:1,33; 19:4-6) and with the insubordination of Joab (3:28-39; 20:10,23) led to intrigue, violence and bloodshed within his own family and the nation. It eventually drove him from Jerusalem at the time of Absalom’s rebellion. Nonetheless the Lord was gracious to David, and his reign became a standard by which the reigns of later kings were measured (see 2Ki 18:3; 22:2).
The book ends with David’s own words of praise to God, who had delivered him from all his enemies (22:31-51), and with words of expectation for the fulfillment of God’s promise that a king will come from the house of David and rule “over men in righteousness” (23:3-5). These songs echo many of the themes of Hannah’s song (1Sa 2:1-10), and together they frame (and interpret) the basic narrative.
See Introduction to 1 Samuel: Chronology.
Below is an outline for 2 Samuel. For an outline of both 1 and 2 Samuel see Introduction to 1 Samuel:
The Consolidation of Kingship in Israel (2Sa 1-20)
David’s Lament over Saul and Jonathan (ch. 1)
David Becomes King over Judah (chs. 2-4)
David Becomes King over All Israel (5:1-5)
David Conquers Jerusalem (5:6-25)
David Brings the Ark to Jerusalem (ch. 6)
God Promises David an Everlasting Dynasty (ch. 7)
The Extension of David’s Kingdom (ch. 8)
David’s Faithfulness to His Covenant with Jonathan (ch. 9)
David Commits Adultery and Murder (chs. 10-12)
David Loses His Son Amnon (chs. 13-14)
David Loses His Son Absalom (chs. 15-20)
Final Reflections on David’s Reign (2Sa 21-24)
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