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2 Samuel




The books commonly known as 1 & 2 Samuel and 1 & 2 Kings are really one long book. (They were separated due to the length of ancient scrolls.) Beginning with Samuel, the last of the judges, this book describes what happened in the days of the kings who ruled first the whole nation, and then the divided kingdoms of Israel and Judah. The reigns of Saul and David are described in detail. The repeating structure within the book tells how old a king was when he came to the throne, where and for how long he ruled, and something about his character and the notable events of his reign. (Some traditions call this book the “Book of Reigns.”)


Beneath this pattern of historical succession, however, another rhythm can be discerned. Saul, the first king, does not follow God faithfully, and God announces he will seek a man after his own heart to rule Israel. God finds this person in David. He puts him on the throne, promising that his descendants will always rule Israel if they continue to serve him. Unfortunately, the kings after David are not committed to following God’s way. Many of them abandon God and lead the people to do the same, although a few of them call the people back to obedience. Using David’s wholehearted dedication to the Lord as its standard, the book of Samuel-Kings traces the tragic wavering of the people’s devotion to God. Their covenant failure leads to the nation first being divided and then later conquered by the powerful empires to the east.


The “Book of Reigns” is therefore a tragic closing of the whole covenant history that began in Genesis. Just as the first humans were exiled from God’s garden, now Israel is sent out of the “new Eden” God intended in the promised land. Land and temple have been lost in the darkness of judgment, and only a flickering light remains. The deeper purpose of God for Israel—to bring blessing and restoration to the nations—seems to have been frustrated. But hope remains alive in God’s promise to bring a descendant of David back to the throne.





11 Then David took hold of his clothes and tore them, and so did all the men who were with him. 12 And they mourned and wept and fasted until evening for Saul and for Jonathan his son and for the people of the Lord and for the house of Israel, because they had fallen by the sword. …


24 “You daughters of Israel, weep over Saul,

who clothed you luxuriously in scarlet,

who put ornaments of gold on your apparel.


25 “How the mighty have fallen

in the midst of the battle!


“Jonathan lies slain on your high places.

26 I am distressed for you, my brother Jonathan;

very pleasant have you been to me;

your love to me was extraordinary,

surpassing the love of women.


27 “How the mighty have fallen,

and the weapons of war perished!”




  1. If time allows, read the whole lament, vv17-27.
  2. David expressed the pain he felt at the death of Jonathan and Saul in a poem intended to honour them. There was no hatred or bad memories of the one who attempted to capture him and kill him repeatedly. David insisted on honouring God’s anointed and genuinely respected him. He remembered Saul and Jonathan as excellent warriors. However his memory of Jonathan was more for his loyalty and selflessness. David and his men “mourned and wept and fasted till evening” for the loss of his king, his closest friend, and those killed on that battle. He was not ashamed of this show of emotion.
  3. In our society today, we consider it weakness if we reveal our true feelings, especially grief or sadness. In order to be strong, we hide our emotions. Even at church, we are used to putting up an image of strength and victory. We have learned to take off our grief, just as we take off our coat and hat, and hang them by the door before entering into worship.
  4. How do I respond to grief? What thoughts and feelings go through me when I meet people crying and suffering from the loss of a loved one?



  1. Recall the pain and heartbreak I have experienced, or am experiencing right now. Tell God about my emotions. Remember I am in the loving presence of God. He is listening attentively and reaching out to comfort me. How do I feel when comforted by God?
  2. Thank God for his listening and comforting.