2 Samuel

Book summary

2 Samuel covers the majority of David’s reign as king, coming straight after Saul’s death at the end of 1 Samuel.

David had a heart for God and had great success as king. But after David commits adultery and murder, his repentance is not enough to spare him and his kingdom from judgment. And at the beginning of the next book, 1 Kings, David’s reign comes to an end.

Chapters 1-10 — David’s success as king

Ch 1-4 — David, king of the tribe of Judah

Ch 1 — David laments for Saul and Jonathan
  • Then David and all the men with him took hold of their clothes and tore them. They mourned and wept and fasted till evening for Saul and his son Jonathan, and for the army of the Lord and for the nation of Israel, because they had fallen by the sword. (2 Sam. 1:11-12)

Ch 2:1-7 — David leads the tribe of Judah
  • Then the men of Judah came to Hebron, and there they anointed David king over the tribe of Judah. (2 Sam. 2:4)

Ch 2:8 to 3:39 — Ish-Bosheth leads the other tribes of Israel
  • Meanwhile, Abner son of Ner, the commander of Saul’s army, had taken Ish-Bosheth son of Saul and brought him over to Mahanaim. He made him king over Gilead, Ashuri and Jezreel, and also over Ephraim, Benjamin and all Israel. Ish-Bosheth son of Saul was forty years old when he became king over Israel, and he reigned two years. The tribe of Judah, however, remained loyal to David. (2 Sam. 2:8-10)

  • The war between the house of Saul and the house of David lasted a long time. David grew stronger and stronger, while the house of Saul grew weaker and weaker. (2 Sam. 3:1)

Ch 4 — Ish-Bosheth is murdered
  • Now Rekab and Baanah, the sons of Rimmon the Beerothite, set out for the house of Ish-Bosheth, and they arrived there in the heat of the day while he was taking his noonday rest. They went into the inner part of the house as if to get some wheat, and they stabbed him in the stomach. Then Rekab and his brother Baanah slipped away. (2 Sam. 4:5-6)

Ch 5-10 — David, king over the whole of Israel

Ch 5:1-5 — The other tribes come to David
  • All the tribes of Israel came to David at Hebron and said, “We are your own flesh and blood. In the past, while Saul was king over us, you were the one who led Israel on their military campaigns. And the Lord said to you, ‘You will shepherd my people Israel, and you will become their ruler.’” (2 Sam. 5:1-2)

Ch 5:6-16 — David conquers Jerusalem
  • The king and his men marched to Jerusalem to attack the Jebusites, who lived there. The Jebusites said to David, “You will not get in here; even the blind and the lame can ward you off.” They thought, “David cannot get in here.” Nevertheless, David captured the fortress of Zion — which is the City of David. (2 Sam. 5:6-7)

Ch 5:17-25 — David defeats the Philistines
  • Now the Philistines had come and spread out in the Valley of Rephaim; so David inquired of the Lord, “Shall I go and attack the Philistines? Will you deliver them into my hands?” The Lord answered him, “Go, for I will surely deliver the Philistines into your hands.” (2 Sam. 15:18-19)

Ch 6-10 — David’s continued success
  • [The prophet Nathan received the word of God to give to David:] “Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me; your throne will be established forever.” (2 Sam. 7:16)

  • The Lord gave David victory wherever he went. (2 Sam. 8:6)

Chapters 11-20 — David’s sin and its consequences

Ch 11-12 — David commits adultery and murder

Ch 11 — Adultery and murder
  • One evening David got up from his bed and walked around on the roof of the palace. From the roof he saw a woman bathing. The woman was very beautiful, and David sent someone to find out about her. The man said, “She is Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam and the wife of Uriah the Hittite.” Then David sent messengers to get her. She came to him, and he slept with her. (2 Sam. 11:2-4)

  • [David wrote to Joab, the commander of his army:] “Put Uriah out in front where the fighting is fiercest. Then withdraw from him so he will be struck down and die.” (2 Sam. 11:14)

Ch 12 — Nathan rebukes David
  • [Nathan said to David:] “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you from the hand of Saul. I gave your master’s house to you, and your master’s wives into your arms. I gave you all Israel and Judah. And if all this had been too little, I would have given you even more. Why did you despise the word of the Lord by doing what is evil in his eyes? You struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and took his wife to be your own. You killed him with the sword of the Ammonites.’” (2 Sam. 12:7-9)

  • Then David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.” Nathan replied, “The Lord has taken away your sin. You are not going to die. But because by doing this you have shown utter contempt for the Lord, the son born to you will die.” (2 Sam. 12:13-14)

Ch 13-14 — Judgment on David’s household

Ch 13 — Amnon rapes Tamar, so Absalom kills him and flees
  • [Amnon was one of David’s sons. Absalom was his half-brother. Tamar was Absalom’s sister.]

  • “No, my brother!” she said to him. “Don’t force me! Such a thing should not be done in Israel! Don’t do this wicked thing.” (2 Sam. 13:12)

  • Absalom ordered his men, “Listen! When Amnon is in high spirits from drinking wine and I say to you, ‘Strike Amnon down,’ then kill him. Don’t be afraid.” (2 Sam. 13:28)

  • After Absalom fled and went to Geshur, he stayed there three years. And King David longed to go to Absalom, for he was consoled concerning Amnon’s death. (2 Sam. 13:38-39)

Ch 14 — Absalom returns
  • Then Joab went to Geshur and brought Absalom back to Jerusalem. (2 Sam. 14:23)

Ch 15-20 — Judgment on David’s kingdom

Ch 15 — Absalom’s conspiracy forces David to flee
  • Also, whenever anyone approached him to bow down before him, Absalom would reach out his hand, take hold of him and kiss him. Absalom behaved in this way toward all the Israelites who came to the king asking for justice, and so he stole the hearts of the people of Israel. (2 Sam. 15:5-6)

  • A messenger came and told David, “The hearts of the people of Israel are with Absalom.” Then David said to all his officials who were with him in Jerusalem, “Come! We must flee, or none of us will escape from Absalom. We must leave immediately, or he will move quickly to overtake us and bring ruin on us and put the city to the sword.” (2 Sam. 15:13-14)

Ch 16-18 — Absalom rules in Jerusalem until his murder
  • David’s army marched out of the city to fight Israel, and the battle took place in the forest of Ephraim… Now Absalom happened to meet David’s men. He was riding his mule, and as the mule went under the thick branches of a large oak, Absalom’s hair got caught in the tree. He was left hanging in midair, while the mule he was riding kept on going… And ten of Joab’s armor-bearers surrounded Absalom, struck him and killed him. (2 Sam. 18:6,9,15)

Ch 19 — David mourns for Absalom and returns as king
  • “O my son Absalom! My son, my son Absalom! If only I had died instead of you — O Absalom, my son, my son!” (2 Sam. 18:33)

  • Then the king returned and went as far as the Jordan. (2 Sam. 19:15)

Ch 20 — Sheba rebels against David until his murder
  • Now a troublemaker named Sheba son of Bikri, a Benjamite, happened to be there. He sounded the trumpet and shouted, “We have no share in David, no part in Jesse’s son! Every man to his tent, Israel!” So all the men of Israel deserted David to follow Sheba son of Bikri. But the men of Judah stayed by their king all the way from the Jordan to Jerusalem. (2 Sam. 20:1-2)

Chapters 21-24 — David’s final years and reflections

Ch 21 — Famine and war

  • During the reign of David, there was a famine for three successive years; so David sought the face of the Lord. The Lord said, “It is on account of Saul and his blood-stained house; it is because he put the Gibeonites to death.” (2 Sam. 21:1)

Ch 22-23 — Song of praise and last words

“The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer;
my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge,
my shield and the horn of my salvation.
He is my stronghold, my refuge and my savior —
from violent people you save me. (2 Sam. 22:1-3)

Ch 24 — David’s sinful census brings judgment then mercy

  • David was conscience-stricken after he had counted the fighting men, and he said to the Lord, “I have sinned greatly in what I have done. Now, Lord, I beg you, take away the guilt of your servant. I have done a very foolish thing.” (2 Sam. 24:10)

  • David built an altar to the Lord there and sacrificed burnt offerings and fellowship offerings. Then the Lord answered his prayer in behalf of the land, and the plague on Israel was stopped. (2 Sam. 24:25)