Background

Second Samuel is a continuation of First Samuel, which presented Israel’s transition from theocracy to monarchy.  For more information, see the introductory page to the book of 1 Samuel.

Authorship

The unity of the books of Samuel (language, style, treatment) indicates one author. He probably lived after the division of the kingdom. In 1 Samuel 27:6, for example, Judah is referred to as a separate kingdom. Other passages indicate a “divided kingdom” concept (cf. 1 Sa 11:8; 17:52; 18:16; 2 Sa 3:10). This division may have been in Israel’s thinking at an earlier time, of course, but some passages seem to refer to it as an accomplished fact.1The introductory information on this page has been adapted from Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary’s Middler Isagogic Notes, which can be found here. Used with permission.

The view of the Talmud is that Samuel is the author of the first part, and Nathan and Gad of the remainder. It is possible that chronicles of all of these men were used as source material, as well as the Book of Jasher (2 Sa 1:18).

Purpose for Writing

The overall purpose of both books of Samuel is to relate the transition of Israel’s rule from theocracy to monarchy.

Date

There are three main characters in the books, Samuel, Saul, and David, and the events of their lives as recorded in 1 and 2 Samuel take place from about 1090-970 BC.

Content

Second Samuel parallels First Chronicles, chapters 11-28. First Chronicles begins with genealogies of the tribes of Israel back to Adam, with emphasis on Judah (1 Chr 1-9). After reporting Saul’s death (1 Chr 10) it lists the warriors who came to David at Adullam and Ziklag and those who joined him at Hebron. The chapters which continue the account of his reign (1 Chr 11-28) are almost identical with 2 Samuel, but with significantly more information about preparations for the temple.

Differences between 2 Samuel, 1 and 2 Kings and 1 and 2 Chronicles:

Samuel and KingsChronicles
Prophetic History, emphasizing the theological meaning of judgmentA historical record of past people and events pointing to Judah and Levi’s importance in God’s plan
Written after the conquest of Jerusalem by Babylon (approximately 560 AD)Written after the Exile, perhaps by Ezra (450 AD)
Includes history of Judah and IsraelIncludes primarily history of Judah
Purpose – Salvation HistoryPurpose – To give the Jews after the exile the true spiritual foundation for their position as God’s covenant people

Outline

The overall outline for both 1 and 2 Samuel could be divided as follows:

I.  Samuel: 1 Samuel Chapters 1-12

A.  Samuel’s career as judge and prophet (1 Sam 1-7)

B.  Samuel prepares Israel for kingship (1 Sam 8-12)

II.  Saul: 1 Samuel Chapters 13-31

A.  Saul’s career as king (1 Sam 13-15)

B.  Saul’s rejection and his struggle with David (1 Sam 16-31)

III.  David: 2 Samuel Chapters 1-24

A.  David’s rule over Judah (2 Sam 1-4)

B.  David’s rule over all Israel (2 Sam 5-24)

1.  The success of David’s reign (2 Sam 5-8)

2.  David’s sin and troubles for his family (2 Sam 9-20)

Six appendices (2 Sam 21-24)

References   [ + ]

1. The introductory information on this page has been adapted from Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary’s Middler Isagogic Notes, which can be found here. Used with permission.