One of the main themes of 2 Samuel is sin and its consequences. Another major theme is that of David as a type of Christ. This post covers the first 10 chapters of 2 Samuel.
David is told of Saul’s death. I found it worth noting that he mourned for both Saul and Jonathan, to the point of ordering that the men of Judah learn the lament he wrote. His grief over their deaths was genuine.
David is anointed king over Judah, and rules in Hebron for 7 years before being anointed over Judah and Israel. Hebron was a significant place for the Israelite nation: Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Rebecca, Jacob and Leah were all buried there. In contrast, David’s reign over 1 tribe was pretty insignificant. The kingdom of God was still a little mustard seed.
Abner (commander of Saul’s army), Joab (commander of David’s army) and Ish-Bosheth (Saul’s son) dominate this portion of Scripture. Abner is the one behind Ish-Bosheth’s kingship. However, when Ish-B asks him a question he didn’t appreciate, he decides to use the divine promise to David to further his own means. Joab murders Abner, revenging Abner’s killing of Asahel, Joab’s brother, in war. David mourns Abner, and holds a sort of state funeral for him.
Ish-B is also murdered as he takes his afternoon siesta by two men, who are summarily executed for their evil deed. Note, however, that David doesn’t bring Joab to account for Abner’s murder.
After all this, David is finally anointed king over the 12 tribes (5:1-5).
His first act as king is to capture Jerusalem and make it his capital (5:6-12). The Lord also gives him victory over the Philistines (5:17-25).
The ark of the covenant reappears for the first time since 1 Samuel 7:1. All through Saul’s reign, it had been languishing in Abinadab’s house on the hill in Kiriath Jearim. Shockingly, the Israelites transport the ark the same way the Philistines had done in 1 Samuel 6—on an ox-cart. Was is forgetfulness, disobedience or convenience? The oxen stumble, and Uzzah reaches out to steady the ark, and God strikes him dead. His death is tragic, but if they had obeyed God’s explicit commands, it could have been avoided.
Three months later, David has the right procedures followed, and all Israel celebrates. All except Michal, Saul’s daughter. Two lessons in this chapter: first, don’t get too carried away by your emotions you forget who you’re worshipping; second, don’t restrain your emotions that you can’t worship.
This chapter represents a crucial point in the story of redemption history: the Davidic covenant. David wants to build Yahweh a house (a temple). Yahweh replies that He will be the one to build David a house (a dynasty). In pagan religion, men provide for the gods. If a god gave you a victory, you did something great to ensure future success. Yahweh makes it clear that He doesn’t work that way. He reminds David of past grace, and promises him future grace. No temple-building required! Similarly we too have a covenant with Yahweh that operates on grace. All we bring to our salvation is faith, and even that is a gift from God.
More victories in battle (8:1-14; 10:1-19) and a summary of David’s royal court (8:15-18).
David shows mercy to Mephibosheth, Jonathan’s crippled son. David and Jonathan had made a covenant way back in 1 Samuel 18:3-4, which they later renewed. Years had passed, and Jonathan was dead. David could have easily neglected it. Not only did he fulfill his promise to Jonathan not to kill his descendants, he went out of his way to provide for Meph by giving him all of Saul’s property and to raise Meph’s status by having him eat at the king’s table like one of the royal family (9:11b). Meph did nothing to earn or deserve David’s kindness. Besides, David didn’t do it for him but for Jonathan’s and the Lord’s sakes.
We too have a covenant with David’s greater Son. He has spared our lives, even though we were His enemies. He has made us heirs together with Him, and we are also adopted into God’s family. God does this not because we are worthy of it, but because of Christ’s worthiness on our behalf.
Go to chapters 11-24.
Sources: Bible.org, D. A. Carson, Dale Ralph Davis.