The book of 2 Samuel records the highlights of David's reign, first over the territory of Judah, and finally over the entire nation of Israel. It traces the ascension of David to the throne, his sins of adultery and murder, and the shattering consequences of those sins upon his family and the nation.

The two books of Samuel were originally one continuous account in the Hebrew text, but English translations (following the Greek and Latin translations) divide Samuel into two books.


Like 1 Samuel, 2 Samuel is anonymous but was probably composed by an unnamed prophet who compiled written chronicles of prophets such as Nathan and Gad the seer (1Ch_29:29). In addition to these prophetic written sources, the compiler evidently used another source called the "Book of Jasher" (2Sa_1:18).


The date of the composition of 1 and 2 Samuel was sometime after the death of Solomon and the division of the kingdom (931 B.C.) but before the destruction of Samaria and the Assyrian captivity of the northern kingdom (722 B.C.). It is likely that Samuel was composed early in the divided kingdom, perhaps around 900 B.C.

Second Samuel records the major events of David's forty-year rule. His reign in Hebron begins in 1011 and ends in 1004 B.C. His thirty-three-year reign over the united Judah and Israel lasts from 1004 to 971 B.C.

Themes and Literary Structure

Second Samuel can be divided into three divisions: the triumphs of David (chs. 1-10), the transgressions of David (ch. 11), and the troubles of David (chs. 12-24).

The central character of 2 Samuel is David, around whom the entire book is written. The key truth illustrated is the same as the theme of Deuteronomy: obedience to God brings blessing, and disobedience brings trouble and judgment. The first ten chapters describe the rewards of obedience as David's rule is extended first over Judah and then over all of Israel. David's crimes of adultery and murder, described in chapter 11, mark the turning point in the book. After this, David's life is a chronicle of trouble and misery—the death of an infant son, incest and murder among David's children, and rebellion against David's kingship.

Although 2 Samuel shows that a person's obedience or disobedience to God has direct consequences for that person's life, it also demonstrates that despite these consequences God will rule and overrule so that His long-term purpose of world blessing and redemption may occur. Thus, for example, although David's sin with Bathsheba resulted in tragic loss for all concerned, it was Bathsheba who would give birth to Solomon.

God's long-term purpose of redemption is evident in the covenant God makes with David in 2Sa_7:4-17 in which God promises David an eternal kingdom, throne, and seed. Although there are nine different dynasties in the northern kingdom of Israel, there is only one dynasty in Judah—the line of David. The promise of a permanent dynasty is fulfilled in Christ, the "Son of David" (Mat_21:9; Mat_22:45) who will sit upon the throne of David (Isa_9:7; Luk_1:32).