5.21 2 Samuel -- King of Judah
The book of 2 Samuel has nothing to do with Samuel, who died in chapter 25 of 1 Samuel. This book is concerned entirely with the reign of David. It covers the consolidation of his power as sole ruler of Israel-Judah, God's covenant with him, his battles, his moral failure, and the chaos in his family. However, we will focus on his relations with outside nations, and with foreigners inside Israel.
2 Samuel opens with David home at Ziklag, following his slaughter of the Amalekite raiders. Ironically, the first person to bring news of the battle between Israel and the Philistines in which Saul and Jonathan were killed was an Amalekite who claimed to have killed Saul, and who brought David his crown. His statement is at odds with the end of 1 Samuel, which says that the wounded Saul killed himself. Quite possibly, this Amalekite expected to receive a reward from David for bringing both the news and the crown -- which shows he knew nothing of David's loyalty to Saul. David had the man killed, and then sang a psalm of bereavement for Saul and Jonathan. In this song, he declared that the news should not be told in Gath or Ashkelon, lest the Philistines rejoice.
David did not hasten to claim the throne of Israel. He sought the Lord's will before moving to Hebron, where he was anointed king of Judah (2 Sam 2:1-4). As the NIV says, "David did not presume to return from Philistine territory to assume the kingship promised to him without first seeking the Lord's guidance" (p. 424). There followed several years of war between the followers of David and those of Saul.
"The war between the house of Saul and the house of David lasted a long time. David grew stronger and stronger, while the house of Saul grew weaker and weaker" (2 Sam 3:1).
Saul's son Ishbosheth became king of Israel, but he reigned only 2 years before being murdered by two brothers who sought to gain favor with David. As with the earlier unfortunate Amalekite, their reward was a violent death.
The leaders of the armies of both kings fought each other. In fact, David even put a curse on his own commander, Joab, for killing Saul's commander, Abner (2 Sam 3:28-30). This did not, however, stop him from making Joab his top military leader (2 Sam 8:16).