2nd Samuel: King David

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2nd Samuel
King David

King in Hebron, Jerusalem, and the Later Years.

Background: The books of Samuel and Kings are a continuous record, Samuels were written shortly after the reign of David, perhaps using earlier records and eyewitness accounts.
Theme: King David's Reign.
Outline: David King in Hebron, Jerusalem, and his later years.
Key Verse: "Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me; your throne will be established forever." (2 Sam 7:16, NIV)

2nd Samuel Chapter Index


The Bible Knowledge Commentary (Vol I, Old Testament) is an excellent resource and is referred to as the BKC.

I. David at Hebron (1-4)

1:10 The Amalekite was lying, for in 1st Samuel 31:1-6 we learn that Saul killed himself. Possibly this Amalekite witnessed the death of Saul, and the refusal of the armor-bearer to kill Saul. Perhaps Saul was not found until the next day by the Philistines because this Amalekite had stolen the identifying crown and armlet. Certainly this is one case where it did not pay to lie.

1:21 Bronze (and iron) weapons were rubbed with oil periodically to keep them from corroding. A thin film of oil was always on them. After every use they would be cleaned, dried, and re-oiled.

2:4 David is king over Judah for seven and one-half years.  Ish-Bosheth will reign over the rest of Israel for two years, apparently the last two years before David becomes king of all Israel.  This implies that Israel was without a king for a little over five years.  This presents no real problem, as they had been without a king during the entire period of the Judges.  Perhaps Abner exercised some power as the Commander of the army.

2:23 Abner used the butt or flat end of the spear, clearly not intending to kill. The pointed end would be used to kill. Even though it was a battle, Abner acted only in self-defense and tried to avoid killing Asahel, brother of Joab. Regardless, Joab took a vow and later did kill Abner for this.

3:2 Note the additional wives David is gathering. This was not God's intended plan.

4:8 The men killed Ish-Bosheth, expected a reward for it, yet declared, "The LORD has avenged ..."  Simply saying, "The LORD ...", does not make it so. These men did not seek nor follow the Lord's will, and were properly executed by David for their crime.  We must also be on guard against "wolves in sheep's clothing", people who claim to know and follow the Lord's will yet are far from it.

II. David's Prosperity (5-10)

5:4-5 The distinction between Judah and Israel in this verse should not be taken as evidence of authorship after the divided kingdom (although that is certainly possible). This verse distinguishes between the rule over Judah alone of 7 1/2 years and the 33 years of rule over all Israel (including Judah).

5:13-16 The harem was a prevailing custom showing the status of a ruler. However, the Law states about kings of Israel, "He must not take many wives, or his heart will be led astray" (Deuteronomy 17:17 NIV). This flaw in David led to later family strife, and was continued by his son Solomon.

6:6 Uzzah appears to be acting to protect the ark from falling. His death was the result of the whole chain of events. The ark was not to be treated as 'common' but as sacred. Normal 'furniture moving' procedures were not acceptable, and the ark should never have been moved in such a careless fashion that bracing it would have been necessary. David and his large crowd praised the Lord, but worship acceptable to the LORD must be on His terms. The terms for movement of the ark were very clear, and excitement and exuberance in doing a well-intended deed were no excuse for disregarding God's word. Do we seek to meet the Lord on our own terms, or on His?

6:16 This unjust accusation of Michal was perhaps the symptom of deep resentment. Michal had reason to resent David. Early in life she loved him, they were married, and she saved him from her father Saul. But Saul gave her to a second husband while David was in exile. Years later, Abner negotiated with David to have her returned. Michal was then forced to leave her second 'happy' marriage and devoted husband to return to David, now only one of several wives.

7:3 Nathan, a true prophet of the LORD, spoke by his own will and gave his own opinion on David's sincere request. The LORD corrected him that night.

8:15 In his early years as King, David displayed many  of the characteristics of a Godly king. He was blessed by God, and did the right thing for all of his people.

9:8 We remember the murder of Ish-Bosheth, uncle of Mephibosheth. Perhaps Mephibosheth was left alone by the plotters because he is a cripple and was not considered a serious threat to the throne. By calling himself a 'dead dog', he may have been showing the real opinion others had of him, as well as telling David that although a descendant of Saul, he is not a threat to the dynasty of David.

10:3 How the king will pay for listening to bad advice! Perhaps the advisors wanted a war with Israel, in order to gain plunder. For whatever reason, they misjudged David and instigated a war.

10:19 The vassals were obligated to defend Hadadezer, and to be defended by him. Seeing the defeat, they changed their pledge to David. David will now be at peace, collect tribute, but also defend these nations.

III. David's Sin and Problems (11-21)

11:1 The very frank account of David's great failing is given here. It starts with him remaining at home, in the season "when kings go out to war". To me this carries a strong implication that David was not doing his proper duty. It will continue with a 'peeping Tom', a warning that she is married, an affair, a cover up, and finally, a murder. If a 'man after God's own heart' can fall like this, we must all guard our hearts.

12:1 This chapter shows the relationship between the institutions of the Monarchy and Prophets. Nathan is sent as God's prophet to rebuke the king. Kings are not above the Law nor exempt from God's discipline. God does not directly talk to David, but speaks through his prophet. David will respond properly, by repenting.

13 and following:  The story of Amnon's sexual sin is given just after the incident of David's sexual sin with Bathsheba, and is in part a result.

13:1 and 15 "Amnon loved her" and "He hated her more than he had loved her." In the Septuagint, the ancient Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament, the word used here for love is 'agape'. This is an intense love, so strong that in the best sense it is self-sacrificing love (such as the love of Christ for the Church). But Amnon's love was not self-sacrificing, nor was it lasting, only intense. The 'agape' is used to indicate the intensity of his desire which he surrendered to and which led to his cruel rape of her. But now his hatred and despising are even stronger than his earlier intense longing.

13:19 Tamar did not attempt to hide her shame and what had happened to her. This showed her innocence. Although raped, she was willing to be married to Amnon, which would be one way of handling the issue without having Amnon put to death. However, this is a crime of incest which normally carries the death penalty.

14:28-33 Absalom has had five years of exile (3 from Jerusalem and 2 from the court) to sour. No doubt he felt that David should have executed justice for his sister Tamar (which could have been a court ordered marriage), and that David's inaction was a cause for Absalom having to execute justice himself. David did not have the foresight to see that rivalries would arise between the sons of his various wives when he desired more women, and this is not the only case! In Deuteronomy, the LORD forbade the king gathering many wives.

15:1 Ironically, 'Absalom' may be translated "father of peace".  Absalom is stirring the people against David and will soon lead them to armed rebellion.

16:1-4 Comparing to 19:24-30 it cannot be determined if Ziba is telling the truth or lying, as Mephibosheth later claimed. Certainly David appreciated his support here, and Ziba had much to gain by the deposing of his master. But Ziba also had much to lose by siding with David if Absalom was the ultimate winner. Perhaps Ziba made assumptions about Mephibosheth and his motives, and told the truth as he saw it (but was wrong). He did not have a long time to decide what to do, or to carefully think or discuss the situation.

17:1 Ahithophel gives great advice, which would have given Absalom victory (humanly speaking, without divine intervention). But his advice is foiled. Absalom did not know how to weight the advice of the two men and chose the wrong man to trust.

18:4-5 David took the advice of his men, and it was good advice. But Joab will not obey David's command to "be gentle" with Absalom.

18:14 Joab's action is murder because Absalom is a prisoner. Only the king would have the right to execute Absalom for his rebellion, but Joab knows David will not do this, and usurps his authority. Perhaps this is a good time to recall Joab's earlier murder of Abner, which went unpunished.

19:6 Sometimes personal grief, even over profound loss, must be put aside for the benefit of others. In some cases other family members must be cared for; in other cases there are pressing duties of life and death that simply must be performed. David did not have the luxury of continuing his grief; he was King and had duties to his followers.

19:24-30 The signs of grief (not washing or trimming the mustache) were visible signs while Absalom was in control that Mephibosheth did not agree with him. This lead me to believe that Mephibosheth was telling the truth, although it conflicts with 16:1-4 from Ziba's point of view.

20:16 A wise woman will save her city.

21:1 It would be well to seek the LORD in distress before three years of famine occur! One would think single year would be sufficient, but we do not always look for the hand of God behind 'natural' occurrences.

21:15-22 Goliath may well have been a common name given to several of the 'giants' of Gath, as it is related to the Hebrew word for large.

IV. David's Final Years (22-24)

22:1 This poem, parallel to Psalm 18, is one of the oldest major poems in the Bible. It may or may not be in order chronologically, and it is near the end of the books of Samuel as the Song of Hannah is near the beginning. Verse 51 indicates that it was not sung immediately after the death of Saul, but sometime after the LORD confirmed a covenant with David through Nathan (concerning David's plans to build a temple).

23:1 We are to understand 'last words' in the sense that these may have been David's last words of wisdom or of his writing. His very last words on his deathbed are in 2nd Kings 2, where he tells Solomon to execute justice on Joab.

23:8 As the famous men who surrounded David are listed, the narrative picks up pieces of earlier history to relate what certain men were famous for.

24 In 1 Chron 21:1, the parallel to this verse, Satan is the one who incites David. This is not a major problem if we remember that Satan is under God's restraint. God allowed Satan to incite David.  The reason for the LORD's anger is not given. We cannot assume that the LORD commanded David to number the men, for it was a sin that he would repent of when punishment came upon Israel.   Rather, the idea or words were put in David's mind by the LORD or through Satan, and David pridefully carried them out.

Please send comments or suggestions to ron@iStudyBible.com
Updated March 2012

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