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Rise & Fall of Israel’s Kingdom

(Category 7 of 16)

Watch our Read Scripture video on 2 Samuel, which breaks down the literary design of the book and its flow of thought. There is one Read Scripture video dedicated to the book of 2 Samuel, which aims to help you see its unique contribution to the story of Jesus, but also how it works within the Bible’s overall framework.

In 2 Samuel, David becomes God’s most faithful king, but then rebels, resulting in the slow destruction of his family and kingdom.

Explore 2 Samuel

2 Samuel (RS)


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The Second Book of


THE Book of Second 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 climactic sins of adultery and murder, and
the shattering consequences of those sins upon his family and the nation.
See First Samuel for details on the titles of the books of Samuel. The Hebrew
title for both books (originally one) is “Samuel.” The Greek title for Second
Samuel is Basileion Beta, “Second Kingdoms.” The Latin title is Liber II Samuelis,
the “Second Book of Samuel,” or simply “Second Samuel.”

The Report of Saul’s Death


1 NOW it came to pass after the adeath of Saul, when David had returned from bthe slaughter of the Amalekites, and David had stayed two days in Ziklag,
2 on the third day, behold, it happened that aa man came from Saul’s camp bwith his clothes 1torn and dust on his head. So it was, when he came to David, that he cfell to the ground and prostrated himself.
3 And David said to him, “Where

CHAPTER 1 References

1 a1 Sam. 31:6
b1 Sam. 30:1,
17, 26
2 a2 Sam. 4:10
b1 Sam. 4:12
c1 Sam. 25:23
1To show
4 a1 Sam.
4:16; 31:3
b1 Sam. 31:2

have you come from?” So he said to him, “I have escaped from the camp of Israel.”
4 Then David said to him, a“How did the matter go? Please tell me.” And he answered, “The people have fled from the battle, many of the people are fallen and dead, and Saul and bJonathan his son are dead also.”
5 So David said to the young man who told him, “How do you know that Saul and Jonathan his son are dead?”
6 Then the young man who told

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2 SAMUEL 1:7

him said, “As I happened by chance to be on aMount Gilboa, there was bSaul, leaning on his spear; and indeed the chariots and horsemen followed hard after him.
7 “Now when he looked behind him, he saw me and called to me. And I answered, ‘Here I am.’
8 “And he said to me, ‘Who are you?’ So I answered him, ‘I am an Amalekite.’
9 “He said to me again, ‘Please stand over me and kill me, for 1anguish has come upon me, but my life still remains in me.’
10 “So I stood over him and akilled him, because I was sure that he could not live after he had fallen. And I took the crown that was on his head and the bracelet that was on his arm, and have brought them here to my lord.”
11 Therefore David took hold of his own clothes and atore them, and so did all the men who were with him.
12 And they amourned and wept and bfasted until evening for Saul and for Jonathan his son, for the cpeople of the LORD and for the house of Israel, because they had fallen by the sword.
13 Then David said to the young man who told him, “Where are you from?” And he answered, “I am the son of an alien, an Amalekite.”
14 So David said to him, “How awas it you were not bafraid to cput forth your hand to destroy the LORD’s anointed?”
15 Then aDavid called one of the young men and said, “Go near, and execute him!” And he struck him so that he died.
16 So David said to him, a“Your blood is on your own head, for byour own mouth has testified against you, saying, ‘I have killed the LORD’s anointed.’ ”

The Song of the Bow

17 Then David lamented with this lamentation over Saul and over Jonathan his son,
18 aand he told them to teach the children of Judah the Song of the Bow; indeed it is written bin the Book 1of Jasher:

19 “The beauty of Israel is slain on your high places! aHow the mighty have fallen!
20 aTell it not in Gath, Proclaim it not in the streets of bAshkelon— Lest cthe daughters of the Philistines rejoice, Lest the daughters of dthe uncircumcised triumph.

21 “O amountains of Gilboa, bLet there be no dew nor rain upon you, Nor fields of offerings.

6 a1 Sam. 31:1
b1 Sam.
9 1agony
10 aJudg. 9:54;
2 Kin. 11:12
11 a2 Sam.
3:31; 13:31
12 a2 Sam.
3:31 b1 Sam.
31:13 c2 Sam.
14 aNum. 12:8
b1 Sam. 31:4
c1 Sam. 24:6;
15 a2 Sam.
4:10, 12
16 a1 Sam.
26:9; 2 Sam.
3:28; 1 Kin.
b2 Sam. 1:10;
Luke 19:22
18 a1 Sam.
31:3 bJosh.
10:13 1Lit. of
the Upright
19 a2 Sam.
20 a1 Sam.
27:2; 31:8–13;
Mic. 1:10
b1 Sam. 6:17;
Jer. 25:20
cEx. 15:20;
Judg. 11:34;
1 Sam. 18:6
d1 Sam. 31:4
21 a1 Sam.
31:1 bEzek.
31:15 c1 Sam.
10:1 1Lit. defiled
22 aDeut.
32:42; 1 Sam.
23 a1 Sam.
31:2–4 bJudg.
26 a1 Sam.
18:1–4; 19:2;
27 a2 Sam.
1:19, 25

CHAPTER 2 References

1 aJudg. 1:1;
1 Sam. 23:2,
4, 9; 30:7, 8
b1 Sam.
30:31; 2 Sam.
2:11; 5:1–3;
1 Kin. 2:11
2 a1 Sam.
25:42, 43;
3 a1 Sam.
27:2, 3; 30:1;
1 Chr. 12:1
4 a1 Sam.
30:26; 2 Sam.
2:11; 5:5;
19:14, 41–43
b1 Sam.
16:13; 2 Sam.
5:3 c1 Sam.
5 aRuth 2:20;
6 aEx. 34:6;
2 Tim. 1:16,

For the shield of the mighty is 1cast away there! The shield of Saul, not canointed with oil.
22 From the blood of the slain, From the fat of the mighty, aThe bow of Jonathan did not turn back, And the sword of Saul did not return empty.

23 “Saul and Jonathan were beloved and pleasant in their lives, And in their adeath they were not divided; They were swifter than eagles, They were bstronger than lions.

24 “O daughters of Israel, weep over Saul, Who clothed you in scarlet, with luxury; Who put ornaments of gold on your apparel.

25 “How the mighty have fallen in the midst of the battle! Jonathan was slain in your high places.
26 I am distressed for you, my brother Jonathan; You have been very pleasant to me; aYour love to me was wonderful, Surpassing the love of women.

27 “Howa the mighty have fallen, And the weapons of war perished!”

David Anointed King of Judah


1 It happened after this that David ainquired of the LORD, saying, “Shall I go up to any of the cities of Judah?” And the LORD said to him, “Go up.” David said, “Where shall I go up?” And He said, “To bHebron.”
2 So David went up there, and his atwo wives also, Ahinoam the Jezreelitess, and Abigail the widow of Nabal the Carmelite.
3 And David brought up athe men who were with him, every man with his household. So they dwelt in the cities of Hebron.
4 aThen the men of Judah came, and there they banointed David king over the house of Judah. And they told David, saying, c“The men of Jabesh Gilead were the ones who buried Saul.”
5 So David sent messengers to the men of Jabesh Gilead, and said to them, a“You are blessed of the LORD, for you have shown this kindness to your lord, to Saul, and have buried him.
6 “And now may athe LORD show kindness and truth to you. I also will repay you this kindness, because you have done this thing.

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7 “Now therefore, let your hands be strengthened, and be valiant; for your master Saul is dead, and also the house of Judah has anointed me king over them.”

Ishbosheth Made King of Israel

8 But aAbner the son of Ner, commander of Saul’s army, took 1Ishbosheth the son of Saul and brought him over to bMahanaim;
9 and he made him king over aGilead, over the bAshurites, over cJezreel, over Ephraim, over Benjamin, and over all Israel.
10 Ishbosheth, Saul’s son, was forty years old when he began to reign over Israel, and he reigned two years. Only the house of Judah followed David.
11 And athe 1time that David was king in Hebron over the house of Judah was seven years and six months.

Israel and Judah at War

12 Now Abner the son of Ner, and the servants of Ishbosheth the son of Saul, went out from Mahanaim to aGibeon.
13 And aJoab the son of Zeruiah, and the servants of David, went out and met them by bthe pool of Gibeon. So they sat down, one on one side of the pool and the other on the other side of the pool.
14 Then Abner said to Joab, “Let the young men now arise and compete before us.” And Joab said, “Let them arise.”
15 So they arose and went over by number, twelve from Benjamin, followers of Ishbosheth the son of Saul, and twelve from the servants of David.
16 And each one grasped his opponent by the head and thrust his sword in his opponent’s side; so they fell down together. Therefore that place was called 1the Field of Sharp Swords, which is in Gibeon.
17 So there was a very fierce battle that day, and Abner and the men of Israel were beaten before the servants of David.
18 Now the athree sons of Zeruiah were there: Joab and Abishai and Asahel. And Asahel was bas fleet of foot cas a wild gazelle.
19 So Asahel pursued Abner, and in going he did not turn to the right hand or to the left from following Abner.
20 Then Abner looked behind him and said, “Are you Asahel?” He answered, “I am.”
21 And Abner said to him, “Turn aside to your right hand or to your left, and lay hold on one of the young men and take his armor for yourself.” But Asahel would not turn aside from following him.
22 So Abner said again to Asahel, “Turn aside from following me.Why

8 a1 Sam.
14:50; 2 Sam.
3:6 bGen.
32:2; Josh.
21:38; 2 Sam.
17:24 1Esh-
Baal, 1 Chr.
8:33; 9:39
9 aJosh. 22:9
bJudg. 1:32
c1 Sam. 29:1
11 a2 Sam.
5:5; 1 Kin.
2:11 1Lit.
number of
12 aJosh.
13 a1 Sam.
26:6; 2 Sam.
8:16; 1 Chr.
2:16; 11:6
bJer. 41:12
16 1Heb.
18 a1 Chr. 2:16
b1 Chr. 12:8;
Hab. 3:19 cPs.
23 a2 Sam.
3:27; 4:6;
20:10 b2 Sam.
25 1one band
27 a2 Sam.
2:14 1if you
had not spoken
32 a1 Sam.

CHAPTER 3 References

1 a1 Kin.
14:30; [Ps.
46:9] 2 a1 Chr.
3:1–4 b1 Sam.
25:42, 43
3 a2 Sam.
bJosh. 13:13;
1 Sam. 27:8;
2 Sam. 13:37;
14:32; 15:8
1 Chr. 3:1
4 a1 Kin. 1:5

2 SAMUEL 3:4

should I strike you to the ground? How then could I face your brother Joab?”
23 However, he refused to turn aside. Therefore Abner struck him ain the stomach with the blunt end of the spear, so that the spear came out of his back; and he fell down there and died on the spot. So it was that as many as came to the place where Asahel fell down and died, stood bstill.
24 Joab and Abishai also pursued Abner. And the sun was going down when they came to the hill of Ammah, which is before Giah by the road to the Wilderness of Gibeon.
25 Now the children of Benjamin gathered together behind Abner and became 1a unit, and took their stand on top of a hill.
26 Then Abner called to Joab and said, “Shall the sword devour forever? Do you not know that it will be bitter in the latter end? How long will it be then until you tell the people to return from pursuing their brethren?”
27 And Joab said, “As God lives, 1unless ayou had spoken, surely then by morning all the people would have given up pursuing their brethren.”
28 So Joab blew a trumpet; and all the people stood still and did not pursue Israel anymore, nor did they fight anymore.
29 Then Abner and his men went on all that night through the plain, crossed over the Jordan, and went through all Bithron; and they came to Mahanaim.
30 So Joab returned from pursuing Abner. And when he had gathered all the people together, there were missing of David’s servants nineteen men and Asahel.
31 But the servants of David had struck down, of Benjamin and Abner’s men, three hundred and sixty men who died.
32 Then they took up Asahel and buried him in his father’s tomb, which was in aBethlehem. And Joab and his men went all night, and they came to Hebron at daybreak.


1 Now there was a long awar between the house of Saul and the house of David. But David grew stronger and stronger, and the house of Saul grew weaker and weaker.

Sons of David

2 Sons were born ato David in Hebron: His firstborn was Amnon bby Ahinoam the Jezreelitess;
3 his second, 1Chileab, by Abigail the widow of Nabal the Carmelite; the third, aAbsalom the son of Maacah, the daughter of Talmai, king bof Geshur;
4 the fourth, aAdonijah the son of

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2 SAMUEL 3:5

Haggith; the fifth, Shephatiah the son of Abital;
5 and the sixth, Ithream, by David’s wife Eglah. These were born to David in Hebron.

Abner Joins Forces with David

6 Now it was so, while there was war between the house of Saul and the house of David, that Abner was strengthening his hold on the house of Saul.
7 And Saul had a concubine, whose name was aRizpah, the daughter of Aiah. So Ishbosheth said to Abner, “Why have you bgone in to my father’s concubine?”
8 Then Abner became very angry at the words of Ishbosheth, and said, “Am I aa dog’s head that belongs to Judah? Today I show loyalty to the house of Saul your father, to his brothers, and to his friends, and have not delivered you into the hand of David; and you charge me today with a fault concerning this woman?
9 a“May God do so to Abner, and more also, if I do not do for David bas the LORD has sworn to him—
10 “to transfer the kingdom from the 1house of Saul, and set up the throne of David over Israel and over Judah, afrom Dan to Beersheba.”
11 And he could not answer Abner another word, because he feared him.
12 Then Abner sent messengers on his behalf to David, saying, “Whose is the land?” saying also, “Make your covenant with me, and indeed my hand shall be with you to bring all Israel to you.”
13 And David said, “Good, I will make a covenant with you. But one thing I require of you: ayou shall not see my face unless you first bring bMichal, Saul’s daughter, when you come to see my face.”
14 So David sent messengers to aIshbosheth, Saul’s son, saying, “Give me my wife Michal, whom I betrothed to myself bfor a hundred foreskins of the Philistines.”
15 And Ishbosheth sent and took her from her husband, from 1Paltiel the son of Laish.
16 Then her husband went along with her to aBahurim, 1weeping behind her. So Abner said to him, “Go, return!” And he returned.
17 Now Abner had communicated with the elders of Israel, saying, “In time past you were seeking for David to be king over you.
18 “Now then, do it! aFor the LORD has spoken of David, saying, ‘By the hand of My servant David, 1I will save My people Israel from the hand of the Philistines and the hand of all their enemies.’ ”
19 And Abner also spoke in the hearing of aBenjamin. Then Abner also went to speak in the hearing of

7 a2 Sam.
b2 Sam. 16:21
8 aDeut.
23:18; 1 Sam.
24:14; 2 Sam.
9:8; 16:9
9 aRuth 1:17;
1 Kin. 19:2
b1 Sam.
15:28; 16:1,
12; 28:17;
1 Chr. 12:23
10 aJudg. 20:1;
1 Sam. 3:20;
2 Sam. 17:11;
1 Kin. 4:25
13 aGen. 43:3
b1 Sam.
18:20; 19:11;
25:44; 2 Sam.
14 a2 Sam.
2:10 b1 Sam.
15 1Palti,
1 Sam. 25:44
16 a2 Sam.
16:5; 19:16
1Lit. going
and weeping
18 a2 Sam. 3:9
1So with
many Heb.
mss., LXX,
Syr., Tg.; MT
19 a1 Sam.
10:20, 21;
1 Chr. 12:29
21 a2 Sam.
3:10, 12
b1 Kin. 11:37
22 1booty
25 aDeut. 28:6;
1 Sam. 29:6;
Is. 37:28
27 a2 Sam.
20:9, 10;
1 Kin. 2:5
b2 Sam. 4:6
c2 Sam. 2:23
1Lit. struck
28 1innocent
29 aDeut.
21:6–9; 1 Kin.
2:32, 33 bLev.
15:2 1family
30 a2 Sam.
31 aJosh. 7:6;
2 Sam. 1:2,
11 bGen.

David in Hebron all that seemed good to Israel and the whole house of Benjamin.
20 So Abner and twenty men with him came to David at Hebron. And David made a feast for Abner and the men who were with him.
21 Then Abner said to David, “I will arise and go, and agather all Israel to my lord the king, that they may make a covenant with you, and that you may breign over all that your heart desires.” So David sent Abner away, and he went in peace.

Joab Murders Abner

22 At that moment the servants of David and Joab came from a raid and brought much 1spoil with them. But Abner was not with David in Hebron, for he had sent him away, and he had gone in peace.
23 When Joab and all the troops that were with him had come, they told Joab, saying, “Abner the son of Ner came to the king, and he sent him away, and he has gone in peace.”
24 Then Joab came to the king and said, “What have you done? Look, Abner came to you; why is it that you sent him away, and he has already gone?
25 “Surely you realize that Abner the son of Ner came to deceive you, to know ayour going out and your coming in, and to know all that you are doing.”
26 And when Joab had gone from David’s presence, he sent messengers after Abner, who brought him back from the well of Sirah. But David did not know it.
27 Now when Abner had returned to Hebron, Joab atook him aside in the gate to speak with him privately, and there 1stabbed him bin the stomach, so that he died for the blood of cAsahel his brother.
28 Afterward, when David heard it, he said, “My kingdom and I are 1guiltless before the LORD forever of the blood of Abner the son of Ner.
29 a“Let it rest on the head of Joab and on all his father’s house; and let there never fail to be in the 1house of Joab one bwho has a discharge or is a leper, who leans on a staff or falls by the sword, or who lacks bread.”
30 So Joab and Abishai his brother killed Abner, because he had killed their brother aAsahel at Gibeon in the battle.

David’s Mourning for Abner

31 Then David said to Joab and to all the people who were with him, a“Tear your clothes, bgird yourselves with sackcloth, and mourn for Abner.” And King David followed the coffin.
32 So they buried Abner in Hebron;

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and the king lifted up his voice and wept at the grave of Abner, and all the people wept.
33 And the king sang a lament over Abner and said:

“Should Abner die as a afool dies?
34 Your hands were not bound Nor your feet put into fetters; As a man falls before wicked men, so you fell.”

Then all the people wept over him again.
35 And when all the people came ato persuade David to eat food while it was still day, David took an oath, saying, b“God do so to me, and more also, if I taste bread or anything else ctill the sun goes down!”
36 Now all the people took note of it, and it pleased them, since whatever the king did pleased all the people.
37 For all the people and all Israel understood that day that it had not been the king’s intent to kill Abner the son of Ner.
38 Then the king said to his servants, “Do you not know that a prince and a great man has fallen this day in Israel?
39 “And I am weak today, though anointed king; and these men, the sons of Zeruiah, aare too harsh for me. bThe LORD shall repay the evildoer according to his wickedness.”

33 a2 Sam.
13:12, 13
35 a2 Sam.
12:17; Jer.
16:7, 8 bRuth
1:17 cJudg.
20:26; 2 Sam.
39 a2 Sam.
19:5–7 b1 Kin.
2:5, 6, 32–34;
2 Tim. 4:14

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The Glories of the City of God

A Psalm of the sons of Korah. A Song.

1 HIS foundation is in the holy mountains.
2 aThe LORD loves the gates of Zion More than all the dwellings of Jacob.
3 aGlorious things are spoken of you, O city of God! Selah
4 “I will make mention of 1Rahab and Babylon to those who know Me; Behold, O Philistia and Tyre, with Ethiopia: ‘This one was born there.’ ”

PSALM 87 References

2 aPs. 78:67, 68
3 aIs. 60:1
4 1Egypt
6 aIs. 4:3

5 And of Zion it will be said, “This one and that one were born in her; And the Most High Himself shall establish her.”
6 The LORD will record, When He aregisters the peoples: “This one was born there.” Selah

7 Both the singers and the players on instruments say, “All my springs are in you.”




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