2 Samuel 21-24
(The Appendix)
April 6th

Produced by The Listening for God Ministry
Copyright 2016

Click here for a print- friendly version

Please refer to one or more Bible versions of your choice to read this section. We recommend that you read at least two versions for added understanding. For your convenience, we have provided six links below, each of which takes you directly to today's chapters in a specific version:

Key Verse

I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised,
   and I am saved from my enemies.

- 2 Samuel 22:4 (NRSV)

Summary of Chapters

On the surface, this final set of chapters may look like a hodgepodge collection of anecdotes, poems, and lists. However, Biblical experts have identified an organized concentric pattern of information (1):

    Narrative and opening (21:1-4)
         First List (21:15-22)
            First Song (22:1-51)
            Second Song (23:1-7)
        Second List (23:8-39)
    Narrative and close (24:1-25)

The first narrative, in chapter 21, is one that may have taken place long before the rebellions of the last few chapters. A famine occurred that David and his people had to endure because the previous king, Saul, had slain a nation of people called the Gibeonites.

    Then there was a famine in the days of David three years, year after year; and David enquired of the Lord. And the Lord answered, It is for Saul, and for his bloody house, because he slew the Gibeonites.

    - 2 Samuel 21:1 (KJV)

David realized that Saul's act was wrong because of a treaty that had existed between his nation and theirs so he offered some of Saul’s offspring (but not the son of Jonathan) to the Gibeonites to allow them to carry out a measure of justice.

There were additional attacks by the Philistines described in chapter 21, but David had many loyal men defending him and the country, including Abishai son of Zeruiah, whom we shall read about in future books. The chapter closes with a short list of wars against the Philistines and a note that David was encouraged to stay behind when the men went off to battle so that “ ‘the lamp of Israel will not be extinguished’ (21:17 - NIV).”

The song in chapter 22 is composed by David as a song of praise for God’s protection. We will see the same text in Psalm 18, and will see many of the themes repeated in other Psalms. For example, verse 17, "He reached down from on high and took hold of me he drew me out of deep waters (NIV)," which occurs in Psalm 144 and in other places.

The first part of chapter 23 consists of another song of praise from David that may have represented his last words. The second part of chapter 23 is a list of the Mighty Men who have fought for David. It is Interesting to note that Joab is not included but Uriah is included. Perhaps it was assumed that Joab was among the mightiest, or perhaps he was expunged after deeds recorded in a subsequent book. The placement of Uriah honors his bravery and loyalty and is a reminder of David's sin that needs no further explanation.

In chapter 24, David conducts a census even though Israel was at peace (the census was normally used to assess military strength in preparation for war). Subsequently, God punishes the people with a plague that kills 70,000. This act may have been a reprisal to David who probably conducted the census for selfish reason. God may also have been punishing the people for their role in the rebellions. Near the end of the final chapter David built an altar to atone for his sin. This was conducted on a threshing floor that is presumed to be at the same spot where Abraham was prepared to sacrifice Isaac and where Solomon would build the temple.

Reflection and Application

It is good and right to praise God with thoughtful expressions and emotions as David did. The songs are good examples of language of praise that we can use in our prayers. For example, David uses many words to define God and describe his strengths.

    The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer;
       my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge,
       my shield and the horn of my salvation.
    He is my stronghold, my refuge and my savior—
      from violent people you save me

    - 2 Samuel 22:2-3 (NIV)

On other occasions, David succumbed to human weaknesses. For example, he exposed his pride by choosing to count his army instead of counting God’s blessing. We should be wary of spending too much time counting our possessions instead of praising God’s creation.

"You are Worthy of My Praise," performed by Jeremy Camp

Questions and Prayers for Further Reflection

    Related Questions
    1. What is the history of the place where you usually worship?
    2. What are some of your favorite expressions of praise for God?
    3. What are the blessings that you could count today?
    Recommended Prayer
    Father in heaven, we praise you as the Creator, Redeemer, and the Unseen Guest at every meal. Please hear us as we count our blessings before you today.

    Suggested Prayer Concerns
    Families with ailing parents


    (1) Bruggemann, Walter First and Second Samuel, Interpretation, A Bible Commentary for Teaching and Preaching, John Knox Press, Louisville, KY, 1990, p. 335

    Looking Ahead

    Tomorrow's reading: 1 Kings Overview and Chapters 1-2 (Solomon’s Brothers)

    Comments and Questions
    If you have comments or questions, please add them to our Comments page, email to the author at ted@listeningforGod.org, or share your comments or questions via the Listening for God Twitter account

    Click to follow Listening for God(@listeningforgod)