[2Sam 1 - 1Kings 2:11]

David is anointed king over Judea; Conflict with the house of Saul

[2Sam 1-4] An Amalekite comes to David at Ziklag giving an account of Saul and Jonathan’s death 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 lament for this occasion . After seeking God’s guidance, David goes to live in Hebron, taking all his men, and is there anointed king of Judah. Hearing of the kindness of the men of Jaeshgilead in burying Saul, he thanks them and promises to remember it, while taking the opportunity to inform them he was now the anointed king over Judah. Meanwhile, Saul’s son Ishbosheth is made king over the rest of Israel by Abner, once commander-in-chief of Saul’s army, 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 and also a nephew, is killed in pursuit of Abner. Joab, another a nephew of David, 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. 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 son being 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 begins to make 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 hears 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 becomes king over Israel

[2Sam 5:1-5] All the tribes of Israel now come to Hebron, accepting David as their leader and anoint him king over all Israel. David was thirty years old when he first became king, and reigned over Judah seven years and six months. He is to reign over all Israel and Judah for a further thirty three years.

David conquers Jerusalem and defeats the Philistines

[2Sam 5:6-25] 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 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 he was bringing the ark into the city, but her criticism brings reproach upon herself, and she has no children from this time on.

The Davidic Covenant

[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. Neither should David build Him one, but his son who will succeed him will. A promise is given from God, through the prophet Nathan, that Israel will live forever and in peace in the land promised to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and that the establishment of David’s throne and kingdom will last forever. This is the Davidic Covenant. David then prays to God expressing his own unworthiness, his recognition of God’s greatness, and faith in the promises made.

David’s victories

[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

[2Sam 9] 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, though he 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 with 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 Jerusalem. From his rooftop one evening, David sees Bathsheba washing, has her brought to his house, commits adultery with her. 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 David names Solomon, and also calls him Jedidiah, which means ‘beloved of the Lord’. Joab now goes against the city of Rabbah, then David takes all his men and conquers the city. He takes a large amount of spoil and puts all the people into servitude, as he does with all the cities of Ammon before returning to Jerusalem.

David loses his sons Amnon and Absalom

[2Sam 13-20] 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 being 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 follows 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, and judges 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 Ahithopel’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, and to send him 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 told 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 which 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. But 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. Some time 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 the followers of Absalom are slain. Absalom’s mule runs under the thick boughs of an oak which catches Absalom’s head and he is left 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, encourage 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, and his head 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 only desire seven of Saul’s sons to be delivered to them for hanging. This is granted, after which David buries their bones, along with Saul’s and Jonathan’s, in their father’s sepulchre. 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.

Adonijah’s plot

[1Kings 1] 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 of 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 brings his punishment to an end.

Solomon is charged with the building of the temple

[1Chr 22:2-19] 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 building.

The Levites’ temple duties

[1Chr 23-26] David numbers the Levites from thirty years upwards and assigns them their work: 24000 for the work in the temple, 6000 offices and judges throughout Israel, 4000 porters and 4000 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.

Civil government

[1Chr 27] 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 design for the temple, exactly as David had received it in the spirit, and 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 will be 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.
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