Book of 2 Samuel


Authorship, date, and background see 1 Samuel

Characteristics and content 1 Samuel ends with the death of King Saul. 2 Samuel records the story of David's kingship and ends before his death, which is recounted in 1 Kings. David expresses his anguish over the deaths of Saul and Jonathan. He is anointed king over Judah and civil war begins with Israel. Abner makes Ish-bosheth, a son of Saul, king of Israel. Joab, David's nephew and commander of his army, slays Abner. David grieves over this act. Ish-bosheth is slain by Rechab and Baanah, who report their deed to David. He executes them for their transgression. David becomes king over all Israel.

David consolidates his kingship, takes the city of Jerusalem, which becomes the national capital, and brings back the ark to the city. He wishes to build the Temple but is forbidden by God, who leaves that task for his son. David wins many victories over the surrounding nations. In the midst of these successes he falls in to sin with Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah whom he then has killed to cover his adultery. Nathan arrives to pronounce God's judgement on David, and although he is forgiven, when he repents, God ordains that he shall smart for his sins. This is fulfilled at a later time when his own son leads a revolt against him. He faces many trials, but the worst of them involves Absalom, who tries to overthrow his father. David flees from Jerusalem and a civil war commences. It ends in the death of Absalom and David's poignant cry, "O my son Absalom, my son, my son, Absalom! Would God I had died for thee, O Absalom, my son, my son" (18:33).

Following restoration to his kingship after the death of Absalom, David has to face one emergency after another. A famine comes, due to the bloodguilt on Saul, who put the Gibeonites to death. Seven of Saul's kin are hanged to stop the famine. The later years of David's kingship are described, including his sin of numbering the people. David chooses the punishment of pestilence in the land. The angel of the Lord is about to destroy Jerusalem, when God orders the angel to stay his hand. David builds an altar on the threshing floor of Araunah to stay the pestilence and his burnt offering is accepted by God. The story of David's death is related in 1 Kings, which follows 2 Samuel.