Second Samuel tells the story of David becoming king of Israel and his time on the throne. David succeeded Saul as the second king of the combined northern and southern kingdoms of Israelite tribes.
The events described in the Old Testament book are said to have occurred around 1000 B.C., about 3000 years ago. First and Second Samuel were originally part of the same book (scroll), but were split apart in Latin and Greek translations.
Here are 7 interesting things about Second Samuel–
1. When Jonathan died, David said, “greatly beloved were you to me; your love to me was wonderful, passing the love of women.”
Some argue that David’s loving words about Jonathan in 2 Samuel 1:26 indicate a homosexual relationship between them. 1 Samuel 18:1-4 similarly says:
“[T]he soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul. … Jonathan and David made a covenant, because he loved him as his own soul. And Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was upon him, and gave it to David, and his garments, even to his sword, and to his bow, and to his girdle.”
The general view is that such text does not imply a sexual relationship, but there are lots who view it as ambiguous.
How are such close relationships between men viewed today? Are they encouraged or discouraged?
2. The first thing David did after becoming king was to take Jerusalem from the Jebusites.
Thus David’s kingship began with violence. David renamed Jerusalem the “City of David.” (2 Samuel 5:6-10)
3. David had multiple wives and concubines.
Was it wrong in God’s eyes for David to be married to multiple women at the same time and to have concubines?
1 Kings 15:5 explains “David did what was right in the sight of the Lord, and did not turn aside from anything that he commanded him all the days of his life, except in the matter of Uriah the Hittite.”
What does this say about polygamy?
4. God told David that God gave Saul’s wives, house, and kingdom to David and that God would have given David even more.
Specifically, God said “I gave you your master’s house, and your master’s wives into your bosom, and gave you the house of Israel and of Judah; and if that had been too little, I would have added as much more.” (2 Samuel 12:8)
God gave multiple wives to David?
5. God promises David a dynasty, one that will last “forever.” (2 Samuel 7:11-16)
This promise comes via the prophet Nathan. (2 Samuel 7:4)
An ancestor of David remained on the throne of Israel or Judah for the next 400 years. Some would call this “forever” in terms of human dynasties.
Others view this “forever”-dynasty promised in 2 Samuel 7:11-16 as being fulfilled by Jesus, an ancestor of David.
6. 2 Samuel 7:11-16 does not report God’s promise to David of a dynasty as one with conditions, but Psalm 132 describes the promise as conditional.
Psalm 132:11-12 says,
“The Lord swore to David a sure oath
from which he will not turn back:
“One of the sons of your body
I will set on your throne.
If your sons keep my covenant
and my decrees that I shall teach them,
their sons also, forevermore,
On his death bed, David says to Solomon “the Lord will establish his word that he spoke concerning me: ‘If your heirs take heed to their way, to walk before me in faithfulness with all their heart and with all their soul, there shall not fail you a successor on the throne of Israel.’” (1 Kings 2:4)
Which was it? Was God’s promise to David conditional or unconditional?
The Bible describes many instances in which the king in David’s line did not keep God’s covenant and instead worshiped other gods.
What does the fact that Israel and Judah were both destroyed and their people exiled about 400 years later indicate?
7. David’s son Absalom rebels against David and has sex with David’s concubines on the roof of David’s palace after David flees in fear.
It was done on the roof so everyone in the city could know that Absalom was doing this. It was done to encourage those who support Absalom over David. (2 Samuel 16:20-23)
The ploy did not work, and David was victorious over Absalom and returned.
There is much more to 2 Samuel, of course. I set out these seven things to interest you in reading the entire book.
David is an ancestor of Christ, and David’s kingship and God’s promise to him is often viewed as a major turning point in the anticipation of Jesus, the messiah.
Reading the hard-copy version in your own Bible is most satisfying, I think, and 2 Samuel can also be found online here.
(The picture is one I took at night in January 2017 of the base of the Temple site in Jerusalem, the city of David. What is shown is referred to as the Western Wall or the Wailing Wall.)
Sources & Notes
See the discussion on 1 Samuel in an earlier post and the Sources & Notes there.
Generally: The Jewish Study Bible 2d ed. 2014. Oxford: University Press (Tanakh Translation); The HarperCollins Study Bible, New Revised Standard Version, Harold W. Attridge, ed. (San Francisco: HarperOne, 2006); John Collins, Introduction to the Hebrew Bible, 2nd ed. (Fortress, 2014).
David’s wives and concubines: See, e.g., 2 Samuel 3:2-5; 5:13.
Many instances in which the king in David’s line did not keep God’s covenant: 1 Kings 11:5-7; throughout 2 Kings.
All scripture quoted is from the New Revised Standard Version.