The book of 2 Samuel (2 Samuel 1)

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We do not know who wrote 1 and 2 Samuel, both of which were named after Israel’s last judge and one of her great prophets, whom God used to establish the nation’s monarchy. Originally the two comprised one book, but the translators of the Septuagint divided it into two parts.

Some features of 2 Samuel suggest that several independent, unedited sources, including firsthand accounts, were used or even quoted in the author’s compositions. Scholars often speak of a “Succession Narrative” (2 Samuel 9-1 Kings 2) as being a single-source document, but this viewpoint is debated. One way or the other, it is certain that the writers/compilers of 1 and 2 Samuel referenced the historical records of Samuel, Saul and David.

2 Samuel (as well as its various sources) was evidently composed between the end of David’s life and some point during Solomon’s reign.

The early audience of 2 Samuel included the generations of Israelites who lived during the reigns of David and Solomon, as well as their succeeding generations. The stories in this book spoke most directly to Israelites who lived during the early monarchy. They revealed David as Israel’s greatest king and a man of profound faith – as well as his blatant weakness and failures. Readers learned about the Davidic covenant God had established (ultimately fulfilled in Jesus, the son of David) but also saw the tragic consequences David’s sinful actions inflicted both upon his family and upon the entire nation.

During this time period Israel subdued her enemies in Canaan under king David’s leadership, and Jerusalem became David’s royal city.

As you read, pay close attention to the ups and downs in this book. Imagine David’s ultimate elation – following his period of grief over the demise of Saul and Jonathan – when he finally became king of both Israel and Judah. David faced great hardship, but God continued to bless him and even provided battlefield strategies that brought David and his troops victory after victory. Notice how, speaking through the prophet Nathan, God pledged to make David’s kingdom last forever – a promise fulfilled through Jesus of Nazareth.

Watch what happened to David after his life finally seemed to run smoothly. After rejoicing in God’s blessings and demonstrating deep compassion for other people, this man after God’s own heart allowed sexual temptation to take root in his own, all too human heart. The consequences of David’s extramarital affair with Bathsheba and of other sins plagued him, his family and the rest of God’s people during the remainder of David’s life and beyond. Be prepared to read about blatant sinfulness, including murder, rape, pride, lack of parental discipline, deceit and civil war. But God still extended grace to David, whose reign became legendary, because the king did not rationalize or try to avoid his wrongdoing. Notice how, despite his glaring faults, David worked hard to maintain his covenant relationship with God.

Did you know that it was customary for new kings to assume the harem of their predecessors (2 Samuel 3:7)? Did you know that ancient cultures viewed disability as a sign of sin of of God’s disfavour (4:4)? Did you know that royal women played a significant political role in ancient societies (16:21-22)? Did you know that threshing floors, normally on hills, were traditional sites for receiving divine messages (24:18-25)?


 

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