New Defender's Study Bible Notes
Introduction to II Samuel
See the Introduction to I Samuel for background information on both I and II Samuel. The two books were originally considered as one book when first incorporated by the Israelites into their sacred Scriptures. As noted there, it is probable that the two prophets Nathan and Gad were primarily responsible for the material in II Samuel, since Samuel himself had died before any of the events recorded therein. Both Nathan and Gad had served David as prophets, both outlived David, and both wrote accounts related to David’s reign (I Chronicles 29:29).
This book deals almost entirely with the reign of David. It records the establishment of Israel’s (eventually Judah’s) capital at Jerusalem, and also the great Messianic promise to David (II Samuel 5:6-9; 7:12-16). The account of his great sin concerning Uriah and Bathsheba is found in II Samuel 11–12, and the rebellion of Absalom in II Samuel 15–18. The book closes with the account of his sin and punishment concerning his self-willed census-taking (II Samuel 24), near the end of his reign.
It is worth noting that the two books of Samuel and the two books of Kings were called in the Septuagint translation the four “Books of the Kingdom.” The Latin Vulgate later called them the four “Books of Kings.” It was not until the sixteenth century that the present terminology for the four books began to be used.
In view of the subject matter in II Samuel, it could well have been called the book of David. As such, it is one of the key books in the Old Testament.
1:1 slaughter of the Amalekites. The account of this event was given in I Samuel 30:1-20. These rather mysterious people were mentioned in Abraham’s time (Genesis 14:7), tried to defeat Israel at the beginning of their escape from Egypt (Exodus 17:8-14), frequently troubled them during the period of the judges, and were supposed to have been destroyed by Saul (I Samuel 15:1-20). Yet here they appear again, to be partially destroyed by David. They may have been descendants of a man named Amalek who was Esau’s grandson (Genesis 36:10-12), but it is also quite likely that there was an earlier Amalek who was the original progenitor of this persistent tribe. Some scholars have even argued that the infamous Hyksos invaders and kings of Egypt were Amalekites. In any case, they were enemies of Israel.
1:8 An Amalekite. The fact that this refugee both was an Amalekite and also was serving in Saul’s Israelite army could hardly have endeared him to David, but his fatal mistake was claiming to have slain Saul, and presuming to take his crown and bracelet.
1:14 to destroy. See note on I Samuel 31:6 for insight on the apparent conflict with I Samuel 31:4, as to whether Saul was slain by his armor bearer or by the Amalekite.
1:18 book of Jasher. The book of Jasher is also referenced in support of the amazing long day of Joshua (Joshua 10:13). This book was considered lost for many centuries, but a fascinating volume purporting to be the lost book of Jasher surfaced in modern times, and it does contain the two passages noted in the Bible. Its authenticity is very doubtful, but when and how it was written are unknown.
1:20 Tell it not. Gath and Askelon were two of the leading cities of the Philistines. Despite David’s adjuration, the news of Saul’s death was being widely published in Philistia (I Samuel 31:8-10).
1:27 How are the mighty fallen. This is the third time that David sounded this lament, (II Samuel 1:19,25), a phrase which often even in modern times has been used either in sorrow or in victory.