[2Sam 1 - 1Kings 2:11]
David is anointed king over Judea; Conflict with the house of Saul
An Amalekite comes to David at Ziklag giving an account of Saul’s and Jonathan’s deaths, which, in the case of Saul, he
said he was party to at his request. David and his men are filled with grief and the messenger is slain for his claimed
involvement in Saul’s death. David composes a lamentation for this occasion.
After seeking God’s guidance, David goes to live in Hebron, taking all his men. It is here he is anointed king of Judah.
Hearing of the kindness of the men of Jabeshgilead in burying Saul, he thanks them and promises to remember it, while
taking the opportunity to inform them he is now the anointed king over Judah. Meanwhile, Saul’s son Ishbosheth is made
king over the rest of Israel by Abner at Mahanaim, and reigns for two years.
After David had been king over Judah for seven and a half years, an incident between twelve of Abner’s men and twelve of
David’s men, instigated by Abner, leads to a battle in which Abner is defeated. Asahel, one of David’s men, is killed in
pursuit of Abner. Joab and some men continue the pursuit until Abner is joined by some Benjamites and argues for an end
to the fighting. Joab sounds a retreat and Abner’s party returns to Mahanaim, having lost three hundred and sixty men.
After burying Asahel, Joab’s party returns to Hebron having lost just twenty men. However, wars continue between the
house of Saul and the house of David, with David growing ever stronger and the house of Saul growing ever weaker.
During this time, David has six sons by six wives, the third of whom is Absalom.
Following a quarrel between Ishbosheth and Abner, Abner proposes to make a treaty with David in which he would be
actively involved in bringing all Israel under David’s reign. David agrees to the treaty, but only if his first wife, Michal,
Saul’s daughter, is returned to him. This is done and Abner makes representations to Israel to align with David, reporting
this to David and promising to continue his endeavours.
When Joab returns from a battle with great spoil, and hears that Abner has been to see David and left in peace, he rebukes
David for it, then secretly sends for Abner and murders him in vengeance for his brother Asahel’s death. David declares
himself and his kingdom guiltless of Abner’s death, then pronounces terrible consequences for Joab and his family.
David buries Abner in Hebron with great lamentation and expression of his high regard for him.
When Ishbosheth and all Israel hear of Abner’s death, they become troubled at the loss of their leader, not quite knowing
what will happen next. Two of Ishbosheth’s captains assassinate Ishbosheth, cut off his head and take it to David, claiming
that all the wrongs done to David by the house of Saul are now avenged. They declare this act to be of God, but David,
understanding their motive, knows God was not in need of their help and has them executed for their wicked deed.
Ishbosheth’s head is then taken and buried in Abner’s sepulchre in Heron.
David conquers Jerusalem and defeats the Philistines
David goes to Jerusalem, but is yet unable to take the city from the Jebusites, so first takes the stronghold of Zion.
Jerusalem is later taken by Joab, who then becomes chief commander of David’s army as his reward. Here David builds his
house, takes more wives and concubines and increases his offspring.
The Philistines, hearing David is now king over all Israel and all the more of a threat to them, come to fight him on two
occasions. Enquiring of God, David is directed to fight the Philistines and does so in the knowledge that God will deliver
them into his hand.
The ark is brought to Jerusalem
[2Sam 6; 1Chr 15-16]
David takes thirty thousand men and fetches the ark from Baal of Judah, intending to bring it to his own city. On the way,
Uzzah touches the ark, thinking it’s about to fall from the cart, and is struck down by God, as direct physical contact with
the ark is forbidden. At this point David becomes afraid and the ark is left at Obededom’s house. Here it remains for three
months, during which time God blesses Obededom and all his house. On hearing of this, David then brings the ark from
Obededom into his own city with great joy, dancing with all his might wearing a linen ephod rather than his royal clothes.
His wife, Michal, expresses displeasure in some of David’s behaviour whilst bringing the ark into the city, but her criticism
brings reproach upon herself, and she has no children from this time on.
God’s promise to David
[2Sam 7; 1Chr 17]
David expresses a desire to Nathan to build a house for the ark of God, which meets with Nathan’s approval. But that night
Nathan receives a word from God; he is to tell David that God had dwelt in a tent for many years, and never gave
instruction to build Him a house. Nor should David build Him one, but his son who will succeed him will. A promise is given
from God that the establishment of David’s throne and kingdom will last forever. Then David prays to God expressing his
own unworthiness, his recognition of God’s greatness, and faith in the promises made.
[2Sam 8; 1Chr 18]
After having had some rest from his enemies, David again has to deal with them. He is victorious over the Philistines,
Moabites, Syrians, Edomites and others. During these victories much spoil is taken, including brass and gold that will later
be used in the construction of the temple. Also, many gifts are brought to David.
With all his enemies subdued, and having established his principal officers under him, David now reigns peacefully over all
Israel and administers judgement and justice to all his people.
David’s faithfulness to his covenant with Jonathan
For the sake of his covenant with Jonathan, David enquires whether there is anyone living from Saul’s house. He is told of
Jonathan’s son Mephibosheth, who is lame. David sends for him and restores all his grandfather’s land due to him that was
lost during Ishbosheth’s rebellion. He appoints Ziba, Saul’s servant, as well as his sons and his servants, to look after
Mephibosheth’s land. From that time on, Mephibosheth was to always eat at David’s table as one of his own sons.
David commits adultery and murder
[2Sam 10-12; 1Chr 19]
Hearing that the king of Ammon had died, and because he had shown him kindness when he was persecuted by Saul,
David sends messengers to console Hanun, the king’s son, but the messengers were ill-treated and humiliated by Hanun.
The Ammonites, perceiving David’s displeasure, prepare for war and hire the Syrians as allies. David sends Joab and
Abishai to fight them, one against the Ammonites and the other against the Syrians. Both enemies are defeated and they
return to Jerusalem. The Syrians regroup to fight against David but are again defeated, and David makes servants of them.
At the end of the year, David sends Joab with all his army to fight the Ammonites (who are defeated), but David remains in
From his rooftop one evening, David sees Bathsheba washing, has her brought to his house, commits adultery with her and
she conceives. He later arranges for her husband, Uriah, to be put at the forefront of battle so that he would be killed. The
plan is successful and when Bathsheba finishes mourning for her husband, David sends for her. She becomes his wife and
bears him a son.
This displeases God and Nathan the prophet is sent to David to charge him of his sins by way of a parable. Accepting these
charges and recognising the gravity of his sins, David repents. Nathan tells David he is forgiven by God, but will suffer
penalties. Although David is told he will lose his child conceived through adultery, when the child falls sick he still fasts and
prays lest God should show him grace. The child nevertheless dies and David ceases fasting, returning to a normal life of
worship and eating. Bathsheba conceives again, bears David a son whom he names Solomon, and also calls him Jedidiah,
which means ‘beloved of the Lord’.
Joab now goes against the city of Rabbah. David then takes all his men and conquers the city, taking a large amount of
spoil and putting all the people into servitude. He does this with all the cities of Ammon before returning to Jerusalem.
David loses his sons Amnon and Absalom
David’s son Amnon falls in love with his brother Absalom’s sister, Tamar. Encouraged by Jonadab, a nephew and friend to
Amnon, a plot is schemed whereby Amnon feigns sickness and requests that Tamar should nurse him, which will then give
him the opportunity to force himself on her. When the opportunity arises, her unwillingness to yield voluntarily to Amnon
gives rise to a hatred for her that exceeds his love, and causes her more grief than would the indecent act itself. Absalom,
observing her distress, discovers the truth but tells her to keep the matter secret. David also gets to know of what has
happened, but does not punish Amnon. After two years, Absalom persuades his father to allow all his brothers to go with
him to his sheep shearing. Absalom had commanded his servants to take advantage when Amnon was merry through drink
and kill him. David hears that Amnon has had all his brothers slain and is grieving when Jonadab tells him that only Amnon
has been killed. This news is verified when his sons return and they all weep over Amnon’s murder. Having contrived
Amnon’s death, Absalom now has to flee and goes to Geshur. There he remains for three years, during which time David
begins to long for his son, having been comforted over the death of Amnon.
Joab, recognising that David longs to have Absalom back with him, employs a wise woman of Tekoah to put a concocted
case before David, which contrives to allow David to have his son return home. This David does, but decrees that Absalom
is to stay at his own house and the two are not to see each other.
Two years pass without Absalom seeing his father, during which time his handsome appearance, particularly his head of
hair, is noticed by many. Absalom has three sons and a daughter he names Tamar, who is also recognised for her beauty.
After these two years, Absalom sends for Joab intending him to petition his father, but Joab twice refuses to see him until
Absalom forces a meeting by having his servants burn his field. A meeting and agreement follow and Absalom is reunited
with his father, who kisses his son while he is on his knees before him.
In time, Absalom intercepts those coming to David for judgement of any controversy, judging their situations himself.
Through this means, over an extended period of forty years, Absalom steals the hearts of the people of Israel. He then
speaks to his father, pretends he had made a vow to God and seeks leave to go to Hebron to honour it. At Hebron,
Absalom forms a conspiracy to become king. David, hearing of this and knowing of Absalom’s favour with the people,
leaves Jerusalem with his household and servants for his own safety and for that of his city, leaving ten concubines to keep
house in his absence. As David and the people go up to the Mount of Olives, weeping along the way, David is told that
Ahithophel is involved in the conspiracy, and so he prays that Ahithophel’s counselling will amount to foolishness. Hushai,
the Archite, comes to David on the mount, but David sends him back to Jerusalem to oppose the counsel of Ahithophel,
instructing him to send word from time to time by the priests.
When David has passed a little way beyond the top of the mount, Mephibosheth’s servant Ziba comes and presents David
with many gifts. He enquires after Mephibosheth, but is told he has returned to Jerusalem.
Later, as David and his company are passing Bahurim, Shimei, from the house of Saul, comes cursing David, but David
chooses not to take offence and tells his party to do likewise.
Absalom is now in Jerusalem with all his men and Ahithophel is there with him. Hushai offers his service to Absalom and is
admitted to his privy council. Absalom seeks Ahithophel’s counsel and is told by him to have intercourse with David’s
concubines. For that act he will be abhorred by his father, but will demonstrate to all Israel that the two will not be
reconciled, and that the people are safe to continue supporting him.
Absalom again seeks Ahithophel’s counsel and is advised to march with twelve thousand men to kill David. However,
Absalom also asks for Hushai’s counsel, which is to gather a larger army from all Israel (which will naturally take longer to
achieve). Absalom favours Hushai’s counsel, as a result of which Ahithophel later hangs himself. Hushai sends a message
to David through the priests advising him to pass over Jordan immediately. This David does and pitches in Gilead, where he
is supplied with many provisions from prominent local people. Sometime later, Absalom follows David to Gilead.
David divides his army into three, captained by Joab, Joab’s brother Abishai, and Ittai, and commands the three to deal
gently with Absalom for his sake. There follows a great battle where many of Absalom’s followers are slain. Absalom’s mule
runs under the thick boughs of an oak, which catches Absalom’s head and leaves him hanging. He is then killed by Joab
and ten of his men. News of Absalom’s death is delivered to David, causing him considerable grief. David indulges in too
much grief for his son Absalom and is rebuked by Joab, warning him there would be a revolt by those who delivered his
enemies if he did not change his conduct, which he then does. Consequently, Israel, followed by Judah, encourages David’s
return to Jerusalem.
At Jordan, Shimei, who had previously cursed David, asks for his pardon and is forgiven by David. When David returns to
Jerusalem, Mephibosheth, providing sufficient excuse for not going with David, has the half of his land that had been given
to his servant restored to him. Then Barzillai, who had generously supplied David, is allowed to return to his own city and
his son, Chimham, is taken into the king’s court.
Contention arises between the people of Israel and Judah concerning Judah’s involvement in David’s return to Jerusalem,
Israel claiming a greater right to the king because of their numbers. Sheba, a Benjamite, starts a rebellion against David
with all the men of Israel following him, while Judah remains faithful. Amasa is ordered by David to assemble the men of
Judah to crush the rebellion, but he is slow in carrying out the order, so Abishai is sent instead, followed by Joab who later
executes Amasa. Sheba is pursued to Abel where he takes refuge, but is beheaded because of the influence of a wise
woman on the people of Abel. His head is then delivered to Joab, putting an end to the rebellion.
Final conflicts in David’s reign
[2Sam 21-23; 1Chr 20]
Now there had been a famine for three years when David enquires of God and is told the famine is because of Saul’s
slaughter of the Gibeonites, for Joshua had made an oath with the Gibeonites not to harm them. David summons the
Gibeonites to ask what atonement might be made, to which they reply they desire only seven of Saul’s sons to be delivered
to them for hanging. This is granted, after which David buries their bones in their father’s sepulchre, along with Saul’s and
The Philistines again go to war against the Israelites. When one of the sons of a giant (of the nephilim) seeks to kill David,
David’s age is against him and he lacks the strength to fight, so another goes to David’s aid and kills the giant. There are
three more occasions when the Philistines war with Israel, and on each one a descendant of the giants is killed.
David recites a psalm, then gives account of his great men and their exploits, of which he provides detail concerning five,
and another thirty are mentioned by name.
As David is being comforted in his old age, Adonijah, his eldest son, takes it on himself to usurp the throne with the
support of Joab and the priest Abiathar. Nathan counsels Bathsheba to bring the matter to David’s attention, with his
support, reminding David of his oath that Solomon would be king. David confirms the succession of Solomon and orders
Nathan the prophet and Zadok the priest to anoint him, which they do to the great joy of all the people. When the news of
Solomon’s anointing reaches Adonijah and his friends, all his friends disperse in fear, but Adonijah catches hold of the
horns on the altar as a means of refuge. He is pardoned by Solomon on the promise of good behaviour.
David counts the fighting men
[2Sam 24; 1Chr 21]
Provoked by ungodly thoughts, David orders a census of all Israel, which takes some nine months to complete. He now
acknowledges to God that his motives were sinful and asks for his iniquity to be taken from him. God sends the prophet
Gad to David, proposing three things from which David is to choose one as a punishment. All three were grievous, but
David chooses three days of pestilence, the one that seems not to involve man but God alone. Nevertheless, it does result
in the death of seventy thousand men. Gad instructs David to build an altar to God on the threshing floor of Araunah (also
translated as Ornan) the Jebusite, on which he makes offerings that bring his punishment to an end.
Solomon is charged with the building of the temple
David declares the site of the threshing floor of Ornan (on the summit of Mount Moriah) as being the place where the
temple is to be built, and makes abundant preparations for craftsmen and materials. David tells Solomon he is to build the
temple and that God will be with him in his task. David also commands the princes of Israel to assist Solomon in its
The Levites’ temple duties
David numbers the Levites from thirty years upwards and assigns them their work: 24,000 for the work in the temple,
6,000 offices and judges throughout Israel, 4,000 porters and 4,000 musicians. In future they are to be numbered from
twenty years upwards because of the extra burden of work through increased numbers of Israelites. The priests are divided
into twenty-four courses (or groups), each with its own head man, to exercise the duties of priests on the Sabbath in
rotation. Others are then divided into twenty-four courses to assist the priests in their duties. The sons of Asaph, Heman
and Jeduthun are assigned to be singers and musicians, being divided into twenty-four courses with twelve in each course.
There are further divisions for porters to serve at the temple gates, others to be in charge of the temple treasures and
others to be judges to administer justice throughout Israel.
David then identifies twelve military courses and their captains that are to serve him for a month in turn throughout each
year. He also names the princes over the tribes of Israel. He then names his economic rulers, counsellors and the general
of his army.
The government passes to Solomon; plans and instructions for the temple
[1Kings 2:1-11; 1Chr 28-29]
David convenes the leading men of Israel to declare Solomon his successor, whom God had chosen to be both king and
builder of the temple. He then exhorts them to serve God and for Solomon to be strong in building the temple. Solomon is
given the temple design, exactly as David had received it in the spirit, together with a list of materials prepared for it. He
then gives him encouragement as God will be with him and an abundance of servants, skills and labour available to him.
David now addresses all the people telling of the preparations for the temple to be built by Solomon, of his material
contribution towards it, and of the contributions willingly offered by all the leaders in Israel, to which news they all greatly
rejoice. He then gives prayers of praise and thanksgiving, and sacrifices are offered to God. Solomon is then anointed by
David and made king for the second time, and all Israel submit themselves to Solomon.
David now speaks to Solomon, charging him to walk in the ways of God, and gives him instructions concerning particular
persons he should show favour to or execute justice on.
David passes away after reigning over Israel for forty years, seven years in Hebron and thirty-three years in Jerusalem.
30-Day Reading Plan
This is a 30-day reading plan based on an average of 15 minutes per session - a total read time of 7½ hours.
The actual read times vary from 12 to 20 minutes to accommodate for practical read session end points. If the reading
times don’t suit you, then simply go at your own pace and note where you finished.
Please select your reading day below
New Testament History Books -
Old Testament History Books -
New Testament Epistles -
The Prophets -
The Poetry Books -