2 Samuel

The books we know as First and Second Samuel were one book in early manuscripts. In these notes, the two books are treated separately, but this distinction is artificial.

Authorship and Audience

See the notes on First Samuel.

Date and Historical Context

See the notes on First Samuel.

Literary Context

Second Samuel continues to follow David's rise from the anointed king without a throne, to the king of Judah, to the king of all Israel. Second Samuel establishes the Davidic Covenant which elaborates on the nature and role of the 'Messiah' referenced in Genesis 49:8–12, Numbers 24:7–9, and Numbers 24:17–19. This Messiah gets woven into many of the prophetic books after 2 Samuel such as Isaiah (9:1-7), Ezekiel (37:24-28), and Hosea (3). In the New Testament, the genealogy in Matthew 1 is primarily designed to show the reader that Christ is from the line of David and is the Messiah (Matthew 1:23).


I. David's Rule Over Judah [1 - 4:12]

II. David's Successful Rule Over Israel [5:1 - 10:19]

A. David's Political Credentials [5]

B. David's Spiritual Credentials [6 - 7]

C. David's Victories [8]

D. David's Reign: Full of Victories, Justice, and Kindness [9 - 10]

III. David's Troubled Rule [11:1 - 20:26]

A. David, Bathsheba, and Uriah [11]

B. Nathan Confronts David [12:1-15]

C. David's Child Dies [12:16-23]

D. Solomon Born [12:24-25]

E. David's Cruelty [12:26-31]

F. Tamar (Davids Granddaughter) Raped [13:1-22]

G. Amnon (David's Son) Murdered and Absolam (David's Son) Flees [13:23-39]

H. Absolom Returns [14]

I. Absolam Rebels [15 - 19]

J. Sheba Rebels [20]

IV. Epilogue [21:1 - 24:25]

Theological Themes

Because 1 and 2 Samuel were originally one book, the themes for 1 Samuel also apply to 2 Samuel. In addition to the themes from 1 Samuel, there are a couple of themes that are specific to 2 Samuel:

  • The Davidic Covenant. In 2 Samuel 7:8-17, God speaks through Nathan the prophet to reveal His plan and promises for David. These plans and promises are known as the 'Davidic Covenant'. The covenant lays out promises for the future including peace for Israel (10-11), the continuation of David's line (11), and a seed in David's line who will build a temple for God and reign forever (12-13). This covenant is significant because it ties the promises given to Abraham (e.g. Genesis 12) and Judah (Genesis 49:10-12) into one man (see Luke 1:31-33, 1:54-55, and 1:72-75) who will bring prosperity to reverse the curse on the earth given in Genesis 3:17-19 (Genesis 49:11-12 predicts this reversal). Looking forward in the Bible, the Davidic Covenant helps us understand what the Messiah will accomplish (as elaborated by later prophets and the book of Revelation).
  • The nature and effects of sin. Possibly more than any book before 2 Samuel, we get a graphic display of the effects of sin and its true nature. One scholar describes 2 Samuel 10-20 with the words "Sin and Punishment".1 The entire narrative swings from David's successful, victorious reign (chapters 1 - 9) to one of tumult and chaos (chapters 10 - 20), thus demonstrating the effects of David's sin (see 2 Samuel 12:10-12).

    We see that nature of sin in Nathan's confrontation (2 Samuel 12:1-14) and David's confession (2 Samuel 12:13 and Psalm 51). Sin is defined by these men as despising God and His word (2 Samuel 12:9-10, 12:13, and Psalm 51:4). When we know something is wrong and still do it, this is not only disobedience of an external, objective morality; it is a demonstration that we despise God and His word.


  • After reading 1 Samuel and 2 Samuel chapters 1 - 9, we have a lot of hope for Israel. David is finally king and is ruling with righteousness (2 Sam. 8:15). He has received great promises in the Davidic covenant (2 Samuel 7) and has been defeating his enemies (2 Samuel 8). His sin with Bathsheba and Uriah, however, derails all of this success and is a reminder that, while David is not the man for the job, there will be someone from his line that comes to establish justice and succeed where David failed.


1. Keys, Gillian, The wages of sin: a reappraisal of the 'succession narrative' (Sheffield, England: Sheffield Academic Press, . 1996), 127.

Philip J. Calderone, Dynastic oracle and suzerainty treaty: 2. Samuel 7, 8-16 (Manila: Loyola House of Studies, Ateneo de Manila University, 1966).

Rolf August. Carlson, David, the chosen King: a traditio-historical approach to the second book of Samuel (Stockholm: Almqvist and Wiksell, 1964).

Mary J. Evans, The message of Samuel (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2004).

House of God or House of David The Rhetoric of 2 Samuel 7 (Sheffield Academic Pr, 2009).

Keys, Gillian. 1996. The wages of sin: a reappraisal of the 'succession narrative'. Sheffield, England: Sheffield Academic Press. http://public.eblib.com/choice/publicfullrecord.aspx?p=436632.

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