Second Samuel recounts the triumphs and defeats of King David. From his rise to the throne to his famous last words, this biography describes a remarkable, divinely-inspired leader. As king, David took a divided and defeated Israel from his predecessor king Saul and built a prominent nation.
Like most political biographies, second Samuel highlights the character traits that enabled David to succeed-his reliance on God for guidance (2:1) ,his sincerity (5:1-5), and his courage (5:6,7). But the book also describes the tragic consequences of David’s lust (12:1-23) and pride (24:1-17). By presenting both the strengths and weaknesses of David, the book gives a complete picture of a very real person – a person from whom we can learn.
Title Second Samuel:
Second Samuel is named after the prophet Samuel, even though he does not appear in the narratives of the book. This is because First and Second Samuel were originally one volume. When the Hebrew Scriptures were translated into the Greek language (around 150 BC), the books of Samuel and Kings were united as a complete history of the Hebrew monarchy. This collection was divided into four sections: First, Second, Third, and Fourth Kingdoms. Samuel and Kings were later separated again, but the divisions of the Greek translation persisted. The result was a First and Second Samuel and a First and Second Kings, corresponding to the four sections of Kingdoms in the Septuagint.
Second Samuel Author and Date:
Jewish tradition holds that the prophet Samuel wrote 1 Sam.1-24, and that the prophets Nathan and Gad composed the rest of First Samuel and all of second Samuel. It is quite evident that some section of First Samuel and all of Second Samuel were written after the death of Samuel (1 Sam. 25:1; 28:3). Indeed, some notes may have been added even after the division of the monarchy in 930 BC. (1 Sam. 27:6). In the absence of any reference to the fall of Samaria, the capital of the northern kingdom, it is reasonable to assume that the books were complete by 722 BC. The majority of the composition of the Books of Samuel may have been done during David and Solomon’s reigns (c.1010-930 BC), with only a small number of notations coming from later periods.
Historical Setting Of Second Samuel:
Second Samuel covers the period from the death of Saul to the end of David’s career (C. 1970BC). During the forty years of his reign, David welded the loose clit tribes together into a strong monarchy and transformed the youthful nation into a military power able to dominate the surrounding nations. After capturing the Jebusite fortress Jerusalem, David made it his capital. This new site became the powerful geographical base for the establishment of David’s empire. Then David began to free the Israelite territory from the Philistine and Canaanite domination. In doing so, David extended his Kingdom by the military conquest to the North, East, South and West (see 1 Chronicles 8).
In addition to military conquest David was the first of Israel’s Kings to use marriage alliances as an important dimension of the nation’s foreign policy. Marriage alliances between royal houses as a means concluding treaties and cementing relationships between states were common occurrences in the ancient Middle East. The first such marriage alliances is alluded to in 3:3, where Absalom, David’s third son is called the son of Maacah, the daughter of Tammai King of Geshur. David’s conquest and alliances gave him control of all territory from the border of Egypt to Euphrates. This was largely due to David’s military presence in comparison with general weakness that characterized Egypt and Mesopotamia at this time for a brief, period, Israel was as strong as any nation of the ancient world.
Theme Of Second Samuel:
The unifying theme of Second Samuel is the establishment of the Kingdom of Israel, progressing from a diverse group of divided and warring tribes to a solidified Kingdom under David. However, the purpose for recording these events was not merely to have an “official” record of David’s reign. Throughout the narrative, there is a continuing interest in the rule of God over His people. The book emphasizes that it was God who rejected Saul for his disobedience, chose David for the throne, and disciplined David for his pride. God was still the true King of Israel.
The key to David’s successful reign was his relationship with the Lord. God had described him as a man after His own heart (1 Samuel 13:14). In his youth, David had demonstrated his strong faith in God by challenging a giant with only a few stones and his faith in God’s strength (1 Samuel 17:45-51). In his adulthood, he continued to rely on God for guidance and strength (2:1, 5:19).
Early in his reign, he demonstrated the importance of his religious convictions to all Israel by bringing the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem in the midst of a lavished celebration before the Lord (6:1-23). Following that, his eagerness to build a temple for the glory of the Lord was known to all (7:1-3). With such actions and the numerous songs he wrote in praise of God, David led the Israelites back to the true worship of God. Even when he sinned, he demonstrated to people his repentant heart before the living God (12:13-23, 24:17-25). In the final analysis, David’s religious leadership was the most significant part of his reign.
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The Ups And Downs Of David:
Through all the triumphs and tragedies of David’s reign, God was acting in the national and personal events of Hos people in order to accomplish His will. The Lord gave David a glimpse of what His ultimate will in the promises He gave him, commonly called Davidic covenant (7:12-16). In this unconditional covenant, God promised David an eternal dynasty, and an eternal throne, and an eternal Kingdom. Ultimately, a righteous King greater than David was coming. He would be David’s son and would rule from David’s throne forever (Isaiah 9:7). This promised King is Jesus (see Luke 1:31-33; John 1:49).
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