Samuel was originally just one book (containing both
- Specific to 2 Samuel
- Chapter by Chapter Breakdown
- Important People
- Lessons Learned: The Realism of David
- Interesting Facts
- Other Posts About to 2 Samuel
- References and Footnotes
Like most books of the Bible, Samuel is anonymously written; there are a few possible authors. Many of the events occur after Samuel's death, which suggests he could not have recorded everything. One theory is that Samuel is a collaborative effort from Samuel and his successors. Using 1 Chronicles 29:29, it is inferred that Nathan and Gad were the other two authors. Other candidates include unknown prophets studying under Samuel or Abiathar, a priest who spent time in exile with David.
Since we aren't sure who wrote the book, it's also difficult to pinpoint when the book was written. Within the book, no reference is made to Israel's captivity, which leads us to assume it was written before 722 BC when Israel went into captivity. The use of the phrases "Israel" and "Judah" seems to indicate that the book was written after the division of the monarchy, but it is also possible that these terms may have been used before the split that occurred in 931 BC.
The book of Samuel focuses on God's sovereignty, the consequences of sin and covenants. God is the King of Israel, but due to Israel's desire (and need, possibly) for a physical leader, He appoints a king. Through this king and subsequent kings, we see the consequences of their sins. With this, we also see the gifts of forgiveness and repentance, along with lasting consequences. Lastly, we witness the covenant established between God and David.
As mentioned earlier, Samuel establishes the transition of Israel's theocracy, which was God's original government plan, to a monarchy. Israel's desire to be like the nations around them jump-started this change, which is an indicator that it was a step in the wrong direction spiritually. Overall, God desires to be our king; placing someone else between God and us as a ruler gives us the need to choose whom we will follow at times. A modern example is when the Supreme Court of America declared same-sex marriage to be legal. Now Christians in occupations that support marriage have to chose whether they will risk fines, job-loss, and lawsuits to follow God, or follow the U.S. and displease God. God told Israel that they were to be a peculiar people set apart from the world when He made the covenant with them; Jesus reminds us of that again in the New Testament. The book of Samuel is an example of why.
Specific to 2 Samuel
The split of Samuel occurs right at the death of Saul, thus the focus of 2 Samuel is the kingship of David. This includes his infamous relationship with Bathsheba, murder of Uriah, rift with (and temporary deposing by) his son Absalom. Several themes to look for are:
- The importance of communication
- The importance of justice
Chapter by Chapter Breakdown
Lessons Learned: The Realism of David
2 Samuel takes us through the rest of Samuel's life and the end of David's reign. When we casually read the Bible, we have a tendency to false-glorify people. In our minds, Biblical heroes like David become great examples and we forget that they were just men. God says that David was a man after His own heart, but David messes up, too. If you haven't read about David in a while, as you read 2 Samuel thoroughly, you will definitely think to yourself "this isn't how I think of David!" We often assume that because David was a man after God's heart, he must have been a great person, which is sort of true, but David wasn't perfect. David was favored by God because of His faith, not his works. Even back then, it was faith over works. God does not change (Malachi 3:6), and people did not change so drastically between David's time and Jesus' time that God had to change how we come to Him. We are incapable of perfection, and so was David. The lesson we should carry from David is that strong faith and the desire to follow God will take us far, but when we fall, we should be quick to repent and get back up.
In Hebrew, Samuel’s name is closer to Shem-oo-ale (שְׁמוּאֵל). This actually means “his name is El.” The book may be named after the last judge in honor of the man who transitioned Israel into a kingship, but it’s also an interesting declaration. El means god in Hebrew, however it usually references the pagan god Ba’al. When speaking of the Most High, Biblical authors prefer Elohim (or YHWH). However, all given names that reference God follow this pattern of using the singular “El” instead of the plural “Elohim”—Israel, Daniel, Ezekiel, etc. A similar shorting of the name of God is seen in names derived from YHWH—Yirmeyah (Jeremiah), Chizquiyah (Hezekiah), etc.
Other Posts About to 2 Samuel
References and Footnotes
- MacDonald, William. Believer's Bible Commentary. pg. 295-297. 1995
- Holman Bible Publishers. Holman KJV Study Bible. pg. 467-470. 2014
- “Strong’s H8050. שְׁמוּאֵל”. Blue Letter Bible; visited October 2022