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Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament, by Carl Friedrich Keil and Franz Delitzsh, [1857-78], at

2 Kings (2 Samuel) Introduction

2 Kings (2 Samuel)

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The Book of 2 Samuel

Introduction to 2 Samuel

(For more see the Introduction to 1 Samuel.)

This book contains the history of David's reign, arranged according to its leading features: viz., (1) the commencement of his reign as king of Judah at Hebron, whereas the other tribes of Israel adhered to the house of Saul (2 Samuel 1-4); (2) his promotion to be king over all Israel, and the victorious extension of his sway (2 Samuel 5-9); (3) the decline of his power in consequence of his adultery (2 Samuel 10-20); (4) the close of his reign (2 Samuel 21-24). Parallels and supplements to this history, in which the reign of David is described chiefly in its connection with the development of the kingdom of God under the Old Testament, are given in 1 Chron 11-28, where we have an elaborate description of the things done by David, both for the elevation and organization of the public worship of God, and also for the consolidation and establishment of the whole kingdom, and the general administration of government.

I. David King Over Judah; and Ishbosheth King Over Israel

When David received the tidings at Ziklag of the defeat of Israel and the death of Saul, he mourned deeply and sincerely for the fallen king and his noble son Jonathan (2 Samuel 1). He then returned by the permission of God into the land of Judah, namely to Hebron, and was anointed king of Judah by the elders of that tribe; whereas Abner, the cousin and chief general of Saul, took Ishbosheth, the only remaining son of the fallen monarch, and made him king over the other tribes of Israel at Mahanaim (Sa2 2:1-11). This occasioned a civil war. Abner marched to Gibeon against David with the forces of Ishbosheth, but was defeated by Joab, David's commander-in-chief, and pursued to Mahanaim, in which pursuit Abner slew Asahel the brother of Joab, who was eagerly following him (2 Samuel 2:12-32). Nevertheless, the conflict between the house of David and the house of Saul continued for some time longer, but with the former steadily advancing and the latter declining, until at length Abner quarrelled with Ishbosheth, and persuaded the tribes that had hitherto adhered to him to acknowledge David as king over all Israel. After the negotiations with David for effecting this, he was assassinated by Joab on his return from Hebron-an act at which David not only expressed his abhorrence by a solemn mourning for Abner, but declared it still more openly by cursing Joab's crime (2 Samuel 3). Shortly afterwards, Ishbosheth was assassinated in his own house by two Benjaminites; but this murder was also avenged by David, who ordered the murderers to be put to death, and the head of Ishbosheth, that had been delivered up to him, to be buried in Abner's tomb (Sa2 4:1-12). Thus the civil war and the threatened split in the kingdom were brought to an end, though without any complicity on the part of David, but rather against his will, viz., through the death of Abner, the author of the split, and of Ishbosheth, whom he had placed upon the throne, both of whom fell by treacherous hands, and received the reward of their rebellion against the ordinance of God. David himself, in his long school of affliction under Saul, had learned to put all his hope in the Lord his God; and therefore, when Saul was dead, he took no steps to grasp by force the kingdom which God had promised him, or to remove his rival out of the way by crime.

Next: 2 Kings (2 Samuel) Chapter 1