This book unfolds God’s working in history. Although human beings were sinful and must sometimes be punished by Him, God still worked through them to accomplish His redemptive purpose, fully realized in Jesus Christ, the Messiah and King of Kings.
Among all the godly role models mentioned in the Bible, there is probably no one who stands out more than King David. Born halfway between Abraham and Jesus, he became God’s leader for all of Israel and the ancestor of the Messiah. David was “a man after [God’s] own heart” (1 Samuel 13:14). What are the personal qualities that David possessed that pleased God?
2Samuel deals with the ascendance of David to the throne of Israel and the forty years of his reign. He is the focal point of the book. The book begins with the death of Saul and Jonathan at the battlefield on Mount Gilboa. David is then anointed king over Judah, his own tribe. David unifies both the political and religious life of the nation by bringing the ark of the covenant from the house of Abinadab, where it had rested since its return from the Philistines.
David successfully defeats the enemies of Israel, and a time of stability and prosperity begins to emerge. Sadly however, his vulnerability and weakness lead him into his sin with Bathsheba and his murder of Uriah, her husband. Though David repents after being confronted by the prophet Nathan, the consequences of his actions are spelled out.
David’s son Absalom, after a long estrangement from his father, instigates a rebellion against the king, and David flees from Jerusalem. The rebellion ends when Absalom, caught by his head in a tree, is killed by Joab. There is a quarrel between Israel and Judah concerning bringing the king back to Jerusalem. The rebel Sheba rouses Israel to desert David and go back to their homes. Although David makes a series of unfortunate and unwise decisions, the rebellion is quelled and David once again is established in Jerusalem.
Godliness does not guarantee an easy and carefree life. David had family problems—his own son incited the entire nation to rebellion and crowned himself king (14:1–18:33). And greatness can cause pride, as we see in David’s sinful act of taking a census in order to glory in the strength of his nation (24:1-25). But the story of this fallen hero does not end in tragedy. Through repentance, his fellowship and peace with God were restored, but he had to face the consequences of the sins he committed (12–20). These consequences stayed with him the rest of his life as a reminder of his sinful deeds and his need for God.
As you read 2 Samuel, look for David’s godlike characteristics—his faithfulness, patience, courage, generosity, commitment, honesty—as well as other God-honoring characteristics, such as modesty and penitence. Valuable lessons can be learned from his sins and from his repentance. You, like David, can become a person after God’s own heart.
The book ends with two beautiful poems, a list of David’s mighty men, and David’s sin in numbering the fighting men of Israel. David repents, buys the threshing floor of Araunah, and presents offerings to the Lord on the altar he builds there.