As the first book gave us Israel tired of their original relationship with God, and the trial of the king of their choice, ending in the destruction of himself and his house, the second contains the establishment of David as the king, according to God, though failing far more in ease and exaltation than under the oppression and persecution of Saul.
Chapter 1. The generosity of David is here apparent, his horror at the Amalekite, who hoped to profit by Saul’s death, and bis genuine grief over the fallen king of Israel, with his loved Jonathan.
Chapters 2, 3. David asks of Jehovah, and is guided by Him; but war goes on humblingly between the men of Judah, round David, and the rest of Israel, round Ishbosheth, who had no real claim to the throne. It was the more sorrowful a conflict, because, personally, the chief in command for Ishbosheth (Abner) was a better man, by David’s own confession, than Joab, his own second in command. After all too it was Abner’s pique which closed the strife, not Joab’s prowess or skill; and David has to mourn over Abner, treacherously slain, and to spread Joab’s iniquity before Jehovah.
Chapter 4 shews us David true-hearted in the matter of Ishbosheth’s death inflicting what was meet on the murderers.
Chapter 5. The kingdom over all Israel now turning to David, who had reigned seven years and a half in Hebron, as after thirty-three years in Jerusalem, over all Israel and Judah. Zion is taken by the energy of Joab, who becomes commander-in-chief. David is honoured of the Gentiles, has sons and daughters born of his numerous wives and concubines, and defeats the Philistines who assail him.
Chapter 6. David seeks to have the ark brought back, but thought not of what was due to the holiness and the word of Jehovah, who smote Uzzah for his rashness. But the evident blessing which rested on the house of Obededom the Gittite, where the ark rested, touches the king’s heart, who now conducts it meetly, and with triumph and with humility too, the more conspicuous because of the empty pride of Saul’s daughter, Michal, childless till death.
Chapter 7. David desires to build for Jehovah, but learns that it is reserved for his son, the man of peace, as he had been of war. God, who had called him in His sovereignty, must do all to establish David’s house (as well as to bring Israel into rest) when His Son, the Son of God withal, should build the house, and the throne be established for ever. What an outpouring of David’s heart follows!
Chapter 8. The Philistines are subdued, the Moabites, Ammonites, and the Syrians; so are Zobah, Amalek, and Edom, and all the administration is in order.
Chapter 9. The kindness of God shines in David’s dealings with Mephibosheth, Jonathan’s lame son.
Chapter 10. Those who despise the king are punished condignly.
Chapter 11. The king’s sin in the matter of Uriah the Hittite.
Chapter 12. His conviction by the prophet’s parable, and Jehovah’s dealings, the death of the first child by Bathsheba, the birth of Solomon, and capture of Rabbah.
Chapters 13-19. The sword departs not from David’s house; Tamar’s dishonour; Ammon’s murder; Absalom’s flight, return, and conspiracy; David’s departure; Shimei’s cursing; Ahithophel’s counsel defeated by Hushai; Absalom’s death, and David’s mourning; but he returns, all Judah and half Israel conducting him back.
Chapter 20. Sheba’s rebellion is put down and the king is fully restored, and all ends in peace.
Chapter 21. But God in His righteous government will not pass by wrongs against His name, and judgment comes in David’s day for Saul’s forgetfulness of the oath in the matter of the Gibeonites, who are avenged on the descendants of Saul. Even then David, far from resenting Rizpah’s feeling for that’unhappy house, himself pays the last honours to the memory of Saul and Jonathan; God is entreated for the land; the Philistine champions fall.
Chapter 22. David’s song.
Chapter 23. David’s last words, with the names of his mighty men, and the record of their exploits.
Chapter 24. God’s wrath in consequence of David’s numbering of the people, and His grace in bringing in blessing at the point where the plague was stayed—Jerusalem and its sanctuary.