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Book of 2 Samuel Explained

Introduction: See 1 Samuel for the introductory discussion.

First and Second Samuel were originally one book in the Hebrew Canon but were divided by the translators of the Septuagint. Originally, 2 Samuel was called 2 Kings, as it is in the Latin vulgate. The book now bears the name of the first principal character to appear in 1 Samuel. The prophet Samuel was already deceased before the events recorded in 2 Samuel. The content of 2 Samuel deals with the life and reign of King David and could have been entitled the Book of David.

Historical Setting: Second Samuel picks up the narration where 1 Samuel left off and serves as a transition from the reign of Saul to the reign of David. An account of the death of Saul opens the book, followed by the abortive reign of his son Ish-bosheth. It then traces David’s rise to power, first at Hebron in Judah, and then at Jerusalem over all Israel. David’s success is described as the result of God’s blessing on his life during a time when Israel’s neighbors, Egypt, Babylon and Assyria were in decline. By contrast, this was the dawning of the golden era for the kingdom of Israel. The consecutive 40 year reigns of David and his son Solomon established Israel as one of the greatest nations of the ancient east.

Author: As with 1 Samuel, the author is unknown. The prophets Nathan and Gad may have recorded the events of 2 Samuel (see 1 Chronicles 29:29), adding to the sections by Samuel himself. Since the division of the kingdom had already taken place (1 Samuel 27:6); the final form of the two books must have taken shape after the death of Solomon in 931 B.C.

The Davidic covenant is clearly set forth in 2 Samuel 7:4-17. It includes God’s promise to perpetuate the line of David until the coming of the Messiah. Thus, the events in this book record God’s providential protection of the dynasty and of His covenant people, Israel.

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