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Dr. J. Vernon McGee :: Comments for 2 Samuel

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COMMENT: The Book of 2 Samuel continues the message of 1 Samuel. It is given over entirely to the reign of David. The life and times of David are important because he is the ancestor of Jesus (Matthew 1:1). It shows that government of this world in the hands of man is a failure. Many new characters appear in this book with whom the student of the Bible should familiarize himself.

I. TRIUMPHS of David, Chapters 1-10

David mourns the deaths of Saul and Jonathan.

Chapter 1 — The question of who killed King Saul may not be answered in this chapter, but it adds another suspect. A young Amalekite, escaping out of the camp of Israel, reports to David the death of Saul (v. 8). He claims credit for slaying Saul (vs. 9, 10). David executes the young man for the crime (vs. 14-16).
David’s grief over the deaths of Saul and Jonathan is touching, poetic and dramatic. It is a striking lamentation (vs. 17-27).

Chapter 2 — David made king over Judah. Abner, captain of Saul, made Ish-bosheth, Saul’s son, king over the remaining 11 tribes. Civil war ensues. David defeats Abner and the army.

Chapter 3 — A long civil war weakens the nation, but David gradually gains in strength. David makes Hebron his home at this time. Abner, after falling out with Ish-bosheth, deserts to David. Joab, David’s captain, suspects him and, seeking revenge for his brother Asahel’s death, murders Abner. Abner had brought Michal to David previously as a condition of making peace with David. Note the epitaph of David to Abner (v. 33). Abner had left the city of refuge where he was safe.

Chapter 4 — Ish-bosheth is murdered, as he lay on his bed, by his own leaders. David executes the murderers.

Chapter 5 — After much bloodletting, David finally is made king over all Israel and moves his capital to Jerusalem. Note the approach of the 11 tribes to David (v. 2). David takes Jerusalem from the Jebusites. Hiram, king of Tyre, furnished men and materials to build David a palace in Jerusalem.

Chapter 6 — David does a right thing in a wrong way. He tries to bring up the ark on a cart, although God had given implicit directions for moving it. The Kohathites of the tribe of Levi were to carry the ark on their shoulders (Numbers 3—7). Uzzah was smitten dead because he should have known better than to touch it. “Hands off” was made abundantly clear in God’s instructions concerning it. David then brings up the ark in a right way (v. 13). Michal rebukes David for his enthusiasm and devotion to God in bringing up the ark.

Chapter 7 — God’s covenant with David makes this one of the great chapters of the Bible. The message of the Bible from this point on rests upon the promise God here makes to David. David desires deeply to build the temple to house the ark of God, and Nathan the prophet concurs with him in the plan. God appears to Nathan to correct him, for God will not let David build the temple because he is a bloody man. God gives him credit for his desire and promises in turn to build David a house. God promises a king and a kingdom to come in the line of David (vs. 12, 13, 16). Verse 14 not only refers to Solomon, but to Christ — “Christ was made sin for us.” Bishop Horsley translates this, “When guilt is laid upon him, I will chasten him with the rod of men.”
God confirms this with an oath (Psalm 89:34-37). David understands that a king is coming in his line who will be more than a man. Bishop Horsley translates verse 19, “O Lord God, Thou hast spoken of Thy servant’s house for a great while to come, and hast regarded me in the arrangement about the Man that is to be from above, O God Jehovah.” (See also 2 Samuel 7:25 and 2 Samuel 23:5.)
The Old Testament prophets based the kingdom on this promise (Jeremiah 23:5).
The New Testament opens at this point (Matthew 1:1).
This was the angel Gabriel’s message to Mary (Luke 1:32, 33).
Peter began here on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:25-31, 34-36).
Paul began here in Romans (Romans 1:3).
The New Testament closes here (Revelation 22:16).
(59 references to David in the New Testament)

Chapter 8 — David consolidates his kingdom, he gains victories over the old enemies of Israel (v. 12) and enlarges his kingdom (v. 15).

Chapter 9 — David befriends Mephibosheth, the son of Jonathan, whose feet were lame. David brings him into his palace and gives him a place at his table (vs. 7, 10, 13). This reveals the kindness of David.

Chapter 10 — David defeats both the Ammonites and Syrians to avenge the insult to his messengers sent to Hanun, king of Ammon.

II. TROUBLES of David, Chapters 11-24

Chapter 11 — David’s two great sins were committed when David remained in Jerusalem instead of being out with his army where he should have been (v. 1). David first commits adultery with Bathsheba, then plots the murder of her husband Uriah. David thought he had gotten by with it, but he had not (v. 27).

Chapter 12 — Nathan faces David about his sins, and David repents. Nathan applies the parable about the little ewe lamb to David’s sin (v. 7). Nathan pronounces God’s judgment upon David (vs. 10-12), and David acknowledges his sin (v. 13). David must learn that man reaps what he sows (v. 14). Solomon is the second son born to Bathsheba.

Chapter 13 — David’s daughter Tamar, sister to Absalom, is raped by Amnon, another son of David. David did nothing about it (v. 21). Absalom kills Amnon and flees to his mother’s father, king of Geshur.

Chapter 14 — Joab plots the return of Absalom when he sees David’s love for him (v. 1). Absalom is permitted to return, but David refuses to see him (v. 24). Finally David receives him (v. 33).

Chapter 15 — Absalom heads a rebellion against David after winning the affection of Israel (vs. 6, 10, 12). David is forced to flee from Jerusalem. David refuses to take the ark with him as a superstitious or good-luck charm (v. 25, 26). David leaves, perhaps to avert bloodshed and the slaying of Absalom (v. 30).

Chapter 16 — Ziba, Mephibosheth’s servant, betrays his master and deceives David. Shimei, of the house of Saul, curses David, yet David refuses to let Abishai slay him. Absalom takes Jerusalem.

Chapter 17 — Absalom’s advisors, Ahithophel and Hushai, disagree about the attack against David. Hushai argues that David and his men were veterans in the field of battle and Absalom was no match for them (vs. 8, 10).

Chapter 18 — The people refuse to let David go into battle. David reveals his tender love for Absalom by urging all his captains to protect the life of his son (v. 5). Absalom is slain by Joab in battle. David’s deep grief at the death of Absalom is a masterpiece of mourning (v. 33).

Chapter 19 — David returns to Jerusalem and is restored to his throne after Joab rebukes him for his deep mourning for Absalom. Obviously, Absalom was the favorite son of David and his choice for the throne. David was a great king but a very poor father. David spares the life of Shimei.

Chapter 20 — Sheba, a Benjamite, leads a revolt against David. The revolt is put down by Joab after he slays Amasa who showed no inclination to put down the rebellion.

Chapter 21 — Three years of famine come as a judgment upon the nation because of Saul’s zeal in slaying the Gibeonites with whom Joshua had made a treaty of peace. David continues warring against the Philistines.

Chapter 22 — This is David’s song of deliverance after God delivered him from all his enemies. This is the same as Psalm 18. It would seem a reasonable probability that David wrote Psalm 23 about this time.

Chapter 23 — These are David’s final words. Verse 5 was David’s hope. David’s mighty men are listed. These are the men who came to David during the days of his rejection. They did exploits for God (vs. 13-17) and performed courageous feats beyond the call of David (v. 20). There is one blot on the escutcheon of David, as Uriah the Hittite was one of the mighty men of David (v. 39).

Chapter 24 — David commits another sin in taking a census. By now he should trust God instead of numbers (see 1 Chronicles 21:1-7). God again punishes David but permits him to choose his punishment. David casts himself upon the mercy of God (v. 14). God sends a pestilence. David buys Araunah’s threshing floor on which to rear an altar to God. David’s refusal to accept it as a gift reveals his deep dedication and devotion to God (v. 24). This spot became the place where Solomon erected the temple. Although the Mosque of Omar stands there today, Israel again controls that area.

2 Samuel continues the message of 1 Samuel. Government of this world in the hands of man is a failure.

I will overturn, overturn, overturn it, and it shall be no more, until he comes whose right it is; and I will give it him. (Ezekiel 21:27)

Behold, a king shall reign in righteousness, and princes shall rule in [judgment]. (Isaiah 32:1)


The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.


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