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Getting to Know the Bible: 2 Samuel Overview

Updated: Sep 14, 2022



Peace & Blessings Beloved,

TGBTG for allowing us to see another day. I pray all is well with you and yours, and that your week has been fruitful & blessed thus far.


Today we are going to visit our Getting to Know the Bible Series. In this series, our goal is to come to a comprehensive understanding of each book of the bible. At this point of the series we're going to focus on 2 Samuel. But before we get to 2 Samuel 1, I want to ensure we have a baseline understanding of the book of 2 Samuel. This way we can have a full appreciation for the exquisiteness of the entire book, as well as each individual chapter.


And so, in that spirit, see below for a comprehensive overview of the book of 2 Samuel, as we prepare to behold and discern 2 Samuel, beginning with 2 Samuel 1 in our next installment of this series.


Book Type: Book of History; the tenth book of the Old Testament


Authors: The Book of 2 Samuel does not identify its author. It could not be the Prophet Samuel, since he died in 1 Samuel. Possible writers include the prophets Nathan and Gad (see 1 Chronicles 29:29).


Original Language: Hebrew


Genre: Narrative


Title: 1 and 2 Samuel were originally one book


Date of Writing: Originally, the books of 1 and 2 Samuel were one book. The translators of the Septuagint separated them, and we have retained that separation ever since. The events of 1 Samuel span approximately 100 years, from c. 1100 B.C. to c. 1000 B.C. The events of 2 Samuel cover another 40 years. The date of writing, then, would be sometime after 960 B.C.


Setting: Second Samuel is set in the land of Israel during the reign of David and follows the course of his forty years as king of Israel (1011–971 BC).


Audience: First and Second Samuel were originally completed as one book, written to the Jewish people. This text records history, and demonstrates the importance of faithfully following God's commands.


Second Samuel reminds the Jewish people of David's triumphs and troubles. This illustrates the many lessons involved with obedience and disobedience to the Lord, as well as the Lord's mercy when David repents of his sin.


Purpose of Writing: 2 Samuel is the record of King David's reign. This book places the Davidic Covenant in its historical context.


Theme:

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 (chapters 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 (chapter 6; Psalm 132:3-5).


Under David's rule the Lord caused the nation to prosper, to defeat its enemies and, in fulfillment of his promise (Genesis 15:18), to extend its borders from Egypt to the Euphrates (chapter 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; Jeremiah 23:5-6; 30:8-9; 33:14-16; Ezekiel 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, chapters 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 (chapters 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 (2Kings 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 (1 Samuel 2:1-10), and together they frame (and interpret) the basic narrative.


Timeline:

The events of 1 and 2 Samuel took place between the years ca. 1105 -971 BC; between the birth of Samuel (1 Samuel 1:1-28), to the last words of David (2 Samuel 23:1-7). Thus, the books span about 135 years, when Israel was transformed from a loosely knit group of tribes under judges to a united nation under the reign of a centralized monarchy. The books of 1 and 2 Samuel and 1 and 2 Kings combined are a chronicle of the entire history of Judah's and Israel's kingship from Saul to Zedekiah.


Summary:

This book consists of 24 chapters and includes three main sections. The first section covers the period of David's emergence as king and his triumphs (2 Samuel 1-8). Following reports of the deaths of Saul and Jonathan (2 Samuel 1), David is anointed king over the tribe of Judah and continues to grow in power and success (2 Samuel 2-4). David later becomes king over all Israel (2 Samuel 5:1-5) and conquers Jerusalem as his new capital (2 Samuel 5:6–16). His reign extends to victories over the Philistines, Moabites, Arameans, and Edomites (2 Samuel 5:17-8:18).


The second section chronicles the troubles of David's kingly reign (2 Samuel 9—20). David expresses compassion to Saul's grandson Mephibosheth (2 Samuel 9), but also commits adultery with Bathsheba and is responsible for the death of her husband (2 Samuel 10—12). David's family experiences rape (2 Samuel 13:1–22), the murder of his son Amnon (2 Samuel 13:23–39), problems with his son Absalom (2 Samuel 14), and the rebellions of Absalom and Sheba (2 Samuel 15—20).


The third section provides information regarding the end of David's reign. This includes a judgment regarding Gibeon with Israel (2 Samuel 21:1–14), another war with the Philistines (2 Samuel 21:15–22), David's song of praise (2 Samuel 22), David's last words (2 Samuel 23:1–7), a record of his mighty men (23:8–39), and the Lord's judgment against David for participating in a census (2 Samuel 24).



Overview:

This book consists of 24 chapters and includes three main sections. The first section covers the period of David's emergence as king and his triumphs (2 Samuel 1-8). Following reports of the deaths of Saul and Jonathan (2 Samuel 1), David is anointed king over the tribe of Judah and continues to grow in power and success (2 Samuel 2-4). David later becomes king over all Israel (2 Samuel 5:1-5) and conquers Jerusalem as his new capital (2 Samuel 5:6–16). His reign extends to victories over the Philistines, Moabites, Arameans, and Edomites (2 Samuel 5:17-8:18).


The second section chronicles the troubles of David's kingly reign (2 Samuel 9-20). David expresses compassion to Saul's grandson Mephibosheth (2 Samuel 9), but also commits adultery with Bathsheba and is responsible for the death of her husband (2 Samuel 10-12). David's family experiences rape (2 Samuel 13:1–22), the murder of his son Amnon (2 Samuel 13:23–39), problems with his son Absalom (2 Samuel 14), and the rebellions of Absalom and Sheba (2 Samuel 15-20).


The third section provides information regarding the end of David's reign. This includes a judgment regarding Gibeon with Israel (2 Samuel 21:1–14), another war with the Philistines (2 Samuel 21:15–22), David's song of praise (2 Samuel 22), David's last words (2 Samuel 23:1–7), a record of his mighty men (23:8–39), and the Lord's judgment against David for participating in a census (2 Samuel 24).



Foreshadowing:

The Lord Jesus Christ is seen primarily in two parts of 2 Samuel. First, the Davidic Covenant as outlined in 2 Samuel 7:16: “Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me; your throne will be established forever” and reiterated in Luke 1:31-33 in the words of the angel who appeared to Mary to announce Jesus’ birth to her: “He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end." Christ is the fulfillment of the Davidic Covenant; He is the Son of God in the line of David who will reign forever.


Second, Jesus is seen in the song of David at the end of his life (2 Samuel 22:2-51). He sings of his rock, fortress and deliverer, his refuge and savior. Jesus is our Rock (1 Corinthians 10:4; 1 Peter 2:7-9), the Deliverer of Israel (Romans 11:25-27), the fortress to whom we "have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us" (Hebrews 6:18 KJV), and our only Savior (Luke 2:11; 2 Timothy 1:10).



Application:

Anyone can fall. Even a man like David, who truly desired to follow God and who was richly blessed by God, was susceptible to temptation. David's sin with Bathsheba should be a warning to all of us to guard our hearts, our eyes, and our minds. Pride over our spiritual maturity and our ability to withstand temptation in our own strength is the first step to a downfall (1 Corinthians 10:12). God is gracious to forgive even the most heinous sins when we truly repent. However, healing the wound caused by sin does not always erase the scar. Sin has natural consequences, and even after he was forgiven, David reaped what he had sown. His son from the illicit union with another man's wife was taken from him (2 Samuel 12:14-24) and David suffered the misery of a break in his loving relationship with his heavenly Father (Psalms 32 and 51). How much better to avoid sin in the first place, rather than having to seek forgiveness later!


Key Verses (ESV):

2 Samuel 7:16: "And your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me. Your throne shall be established forever." 2 Samuel 19:4: "The king covered his face, and the king cried with a loud voice, 'O my son Absalom, O Absalom, my son, my son!'" 2 Samuel 22:2-4: "He said, 'The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold and my refuge, my savior; you save me from violence. I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised, and I am saved from my enemies."


*Notes:

First Samuel introduces the monarchy of Israel, and 2 Samuel chronicles the establishment of the Davidic dynasty and the expansion of Israel under God’s chosen leader. The book opens as David learned of Saul’s death. His lament over the deaths of Saul and of Jonathan (2 Samuel 1:19-27), David’s unlikely best friend, demonstrated David’s personal grief over their demise. The Lord soon set David over the tribe of Judah (2:4) and then over all Israel as His anointed king (5:3), uniting all twelve tribes into a tight-knit nation.


The first ten chapters show David as victorious in battle, praised by the people, compassionate to the sick and poor, and righteous in God’s sight. We see David dance before the Lord in the streets of Jerusalem as his men brought the ark of the covenant back home (6:12-16). We also meet Mephibosheth, the crippled son of Jonathan to whom David extended grace, “for the sake of [his] father, Jonathan” (9:7).


Yet biblical writers did not overlook their heroes’ flaws. In the chapters that follow, we note that David’s adultery with Bathsheba (2 Samuel 11:1-27) was followed by a series of tragedies: their child’s death (12:18), David’s daughter Tamar’s rape by his son Amnon (13:1-39), Amnon’s murder (13:28-30), David’s own political overthrow by his son Absalom (15:1-37), and Absalom’s subsequent death (18:1-33).


Despite the turmoil in his later years, David enjoyed the Lord’s forgiveness and favor. His genuine sorrow and regret over his sins revealed his repentant heart, with which the Lord was pleased.



I pray you receive this with the love intended, and apply it to wisdom.

May the joy of the Lord continue to be your strength.


Love you much.


Stay Safe, Stay Healthy, Stay Blessed!


-Humble Servant


P.S- If you have not given your life to Jesus Christ, I implore you to take the time to do so right now. Use John 3:16 & Romans 10:9-10 as a foundation for making your confession of faith. And use Ephesians 2:1-10 to provide proper context for your salvation.

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