This book continues the story begun in 1 Samuel. It records the rise of David from lowly shepherd boy to king over all Israel. During his time “on the run” from Saul's pursuing troops, David had built up strong support among the southern clans and cities in Judah. When Saul and his sons died in battle and the northern tribes (frequently called “Israel” in 2 Samuel) struggled to find a successor to Saul, the southern tribes made David king in the south at Hebron where he ruled for seven and a half years (2.11). Amidst much plotting and skullduggery the last son of Saul is killed, and the northern tribes then send representatives to Hebron to ask David to be king over both north and south. He accepted and ruled as king of all Israel for thirty-three years (5.5).
David had to contend with opponents within his kingdom as well as the traditional foreign powers, but he shrewdly captured Jerusalem, an old Jebusite stronghold, and made it his capital city. It was an ideal choice because it had no prior association with either northern or southern tribes. There he built a palace and brought the ark of the covenant there also. In general, David's reign shows him to have been a person of deep faith and devotion to God, and a very competent leader in governing. The boy shepherd proved to be a good shepherd of his people. His early successes as king led to a time of peace and expansion that would centuries later be remembered nostalgically as Israel's “golden age.” But eventually David's sense of absolute power proved stronger than his sense of responsibility to God and people, and he ruthlessly overstepped his authority by taking the wife of one of his trusted soldiers and setting that man up to be killed on the front line of battle. This was an affront to God causing the prophet Nathan to confront David with this grievous sin. To his credit David admitted his wrong-doing and accepted the consequences, which was the implosion of his family into violent self-interest and rebellion. His final years were thus tragic, but his earlier fame and achievements were so impressive that, even with his flaws, he has ever been remembered as Israel's greatest king. In much later times of national distress, after the era of kingship had passed, when the people of Israel hoped for a king again, it was for a “son of David,” one who would be a mighty warrior and inspiring leader like the great King David.
David's Reign in Hebron over Judah and the South (1.1—4.12)
David Is Anointed King over All Israel (5.1-16)
David's Military Victories (5.17—10.19)
David and Bathsheba, and the Ensuing Disintegration (11.1—12.25)
Family Troubles and Rebellion (12.26—20.26)
David's Last Years and Final Words (21.1—24.25)