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Bible Commentaries
2 Samuel 5

Gray's Concise Bible CommentaryGray's Concise Commentary

Verses 1-5


LAMENTING THE DEAD (2 Samuel 1:0 )

Surely the harshness and gentleness of David are strangely blended in this chapter. That one should so lament an enemy and slay the man who professed to murder him surpasses ordinary thought; but David was built on a large mould. Of course the Amalekite lied to David, for the inspired record of the death of Saul in the preceding book must be regarded as correct.

Observe the motive governing David: “Wast thou not afraid.., to destroy the Lord’s anointed?” (2 Samuel 1:14 ). It is his zeal for God that moves him, and furnishes the key to his whole life, notwithstanding his defects and iniquities. This is the thing which distinguishes him from Saul, and gives him the right to the peculiar appellation attached to him.

The obscurity of 2 Samuel 1:18 is perhaps explained thus: “The use of the bow,” might be rendered “the song of the bow,” and doubtless refers to the song which follows (2 Samuel 1:19-27 ), and which David composed, after the manner of the times, on the death of Saul and Jonathan. The Book of Jasher, or the book of the upright, is mentioned in Joshua (Joshua 10:13 ), and seems to have been a compilation of sacred poems not otherwise known to us.

WAR BETWEEN THE HOUSES (2 Samuel 2:1 to 2 Samuel 3:6 )

The leading facts of this section are: David’s anointing as king over Judah, his own tribe (2 Samuel 2:4 ), including his tactful commendation of the men of Jabesh-Gilead (2 Samuel 2:4-7 ). David was a diplomat as well as a warrior. Second, the succession of Ish-bosheth to the throne left vacant by his father, Saul (2 Samuel 2:8-10 ). Third, the earliest battle between the opposing forces, precipitated by the failure of the duel to settle the question between them (2 Samuel 2:12-17 ). “Hel-Kath-hazzurim” means “the field of strong men,” appropriately named from the deed of valor wrought that day. Fourth, the remarkable armistice (2 Samuel 2:18-32 ). Evidently if Abner had not asked for a stay, Joab would have put it into execution the next day, and for the same reason (2 Samuel 2:25-28 ). The great value of Asahel is graphically expressed in the words “nineteen men and Asahel” (2 Samuel 2:30 ). He was more than merely a twentieth. God needs such men in His service. Can He count on us?

DAVID COMES INTO HIS OWN (2 Samuel 3:6 to 2 Samuel 5:5 )

The circumstances leading up to David’s ascendancy are as follows: Abner’s indignity to the memory of Saul, and Ish-bosheth’s protest against it (2 Samuel 3:7-11 ); The former’s league in consequence with David (2 Samuel 3:12-21 ); The murder of Ish-bosheth (2 Samuel 4:1-12 ); The anointing to the office of king (2 Samuel 5:1-5 ).

The intervening verses (2 Samuel 3:22 to 2 Samuel 4:12 ) tell their own story of jealousy and murder. It was a dastardly act of Joab, and Abner seems to have been all through the better man, although Joab was valiant and loyal to his king. Note, however, the curse David puts upon him (2 Samuel 3:28-29 ), notwithstanding that he continued to use him as his chieftain. David was a noble soul, and his sincere lament for Abner won him the hearts of Israel (2 Samuel 3:31-39 ).


1. Where in this lesson is there an illustration of the difference between the truth of the record and that which the record contains?

2. What illustrates David’s personal loyalty to God?

3. What can be told about The Book of Jasher?

4. How long did David reign over Judah alone?

5. How long over Israel and Judah?

6. In how many instances are David’s wisdom and tact shown in this lesson?

Verses 6-25


CONQUERING FOES (2 Samuel 5:0 )

The title of this lesson is the literal rendering of 2 Samuel 5:10 , “David went on and grew great.” The margin reads, “going and growing.”

First, he overcame the inhabitants of Jerusalem known as the Jebusites and, capturing the city, made it his capital (2 Samuel 5:6-9 ). The parallel passage in 1 Chronicles 11:4-9 will show the two accounts to complement and confirm one another, Samuel being the more biographic and analistic and Chronicles the more historical.

The reference to the “blind and the lame” may mean that the Jebusites felt themselves so strongly fortified on Mount Zion, that in derision they put such persons on the wall as defenders even then David could not take the citadel, they thought.

This is the first time Zion is referred to (2 Samuel 5:7 ), and it is well to identify it as the southwest hill of Jerusalem, the older and higher part of the city. It was here that later David brought the ark of the covenant, from which time the hill became sacred. After the building of the temple by Solomon on Mount Moriah, a different eminence, and the transfer of the ark thither, the name “Zion” was extended to comprehend it also (Isaiah 8:18 ; Joel 3:17 ; Micah 4:7 ). Often it is used, however, for the whole of Jerusalem (1 Kings 19:21 ), occasionally for the Jewish system of religion (Psalms 126:1 ), and once, at least, for heaven (Hebrews 12:22 ).

David next overcomes the Philistines (2 Samuel 5:17-25 ). Note the supernatural interposition in verses 23-24. “The sound of a going,” means probably the sound of human steps as of an advancing army, the symbol of Jehovah’s approach in power. “Thou shalt bestir thyself,” means, “Rush quickly!”

So, victory comes from the Lord: (1) when it is humbly asked for according to His will and word; (2) when the battle is undertaken in His name and for His cause; and (3) when it is fought in obedience to His directions and guidance.

But observe, as Matthew Henry says, that “though God promises to go before them, yet David must bestir himself and be ready to pursue the victory.’’ God’s grace must quicken our endeavors (Philippians 2:12-13 ).

Broadus calls the chapter “King David’s first year of sunshine.” After years of darkness, he now gains a new crown, a new capital, a new palace, a new victory over an old enemy, and in them all a new proof of God’s favor.

INSTALLING THE ARK (2 Samuel 6:0 )

The first attempt to bring up the ark is unsuccessful (2 Samuel 6:1-11 ) because of the sacrilegious act of Uzzah (Numbers 4:14-15 ; Numbers 7:9 ; Numbers 18:3 ); but the motive of David’s heart was laudable, and unlike anything we read of Saul.

Baale of Judah is another name for Kirjath-jearim (1 Samuel 6:21 ; Joshua 15:60 ). The second attempt was successful (2 Samuel 6:11-19 ), because the Levitical law was obeyed (see 1 Chronicles 15:1-14 ), an incidental evidence that this law had been recorded, though overlooked. This, so far, answers the destructive criticism which would relegate the Pentateuch to a later period than David.

There may have been too much abandon in David’s dancing (2 Samuel 6:16 ), but the spirit of Michal’s criticism (2 Samuel 6:20 ) was not God-glorifying, for David’s rebuke of her seemed to have the divine sanction (2 Samuel 6:23 ). See 1 Chronicles 16:0 , the psalm composed on this occasion.


We have here one of the most important chapters in the Old Testament, ranking in Messianic significance with Genesis 3:12 , 49, and Deuteronomy 18:0 . The seed of the woman, who was to come in the line of Abraham and Judah, is now seen to belong to the family of Jesse; and the prophet like unto Moses is to be also a king on the throne of his father David.

A great honor for David is now to be revealed. He has a lofty motive in desiring to build a temple for the ark, and Nathan, not taking counsel of the Lord, is disposed to favor it, until differently informed (2 Samuel 7:1-17 ).

In these words of the Lord by Nathan observe the promise of Israel’s future prosperity and peace still future (2 Samuel 7:10-11 ). Observe further that the

house God promises to build for David (2 Samuel 7:11 ; 2 Samuel 7:13 ) is neither material nor spiritual, but political. It is a house in the sense of an earthly kingdom to be set up in his son. But clearly the son is not merely Solomon who immediately succeeded to the throne, but the Lord Jesus Christ, of whom, in a limited sense, Solomon is a type. The word “forever” in 2 Samuel 7:13 foreshadows this, but when 2 Samuel 7:14 is compared with Hebrews 1:8 , that settles it.

In this connection Bishop Horsley’s and Adam Clarke’s translation of the latter part of that verse is interesting and significant: “When iniquity is laid upon Him, I will chasten Him with the rod of men” a parallel to Isaiah 53:0 concerning the suffering Messiah.

David’s adoration and thanksgiving at the revelation of this great truth is beautiful (2 Samuel 7:18-29 ). Its humility, faith, and gratitude reach a sublimity unequaled since Moses. He seemed to have recognized by faith the Messianic character of Nathan’s words, if we may judge by Horsley’s and Clarke’s translation of verse 19: “O Lord God, Thou hast spoken of Thy servant’s house for a great while to come, and hast regarded me in the arrangement about the Man that is to be from above, O God, Jehovah.”


1. From what do we obtain the title of this lesson?

2. What other book of the Old Testament parallels Second Samuel?

3. Give the meaning of Zion in the Bible.

4. When may victory be expected from the Lord?

5. What makes this David’s “year of sunshine”?

6. How was the ark brought up the second time?

7. What makes chapter 7 so important?

8. What kind of a house does God promise David?

9. How would you prove the Messianic character of this promise?

10. Which, to you, is the best verse in chapter 7?

Bibliographical Information
Gray, James. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 5". Gray's Concise Bible Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jgc/2-samuel-5.html. 1897-1910.
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