Reflections on Second Samuel

Even when David finally becomes clean, it is not smooth sailing. This book is filled with trial and error and hardships for the king and his family.

Notable women

  • Michal, David’s first wife who he is finally reunited with.
  • Bathsheba, the romanticized woman who was bathing on the roof and attracted looks that I can only imagine were creepy by the king
  • Tamar, raped by one brother and avenged by the other
  • the unnamed wise woman who helps to convince David to bring Absalom home
  •  another unnamed wise woman who asks ensures that Amasa’s head gets thrown over the wall of Sheba and saves her city through a simple agreement with Joab

Not much, right? Well the book spends most of its time focusing on a few people.

Major themes

To me, Second Samuel points out the stark difference between sin and sinning against God. Maybe I’m off the mark here, but that’s how I felt about the difference between Saul and David as their experiences are told. Saul had not listened to God in the prior book, but David always did what God wanted him to do. Sure, he did plenty of other stuff that was frowned upon too, but the book really explains what people mean by the saying that David was a man after God’s own heart. He wasn’t a perfect man, but he cared about what God wanted and seemed to understand Him in a way that is completely foreign to me.

Other than that, the book has some serious family drama. Serious.

Strictly feminist

First, let’s talk about these unnamed wise women. The first one is just doing what’s she’s asked. She let’s Joab decide everything she’s going to say, but she still had to go in and perform it right, which she did. The second one had a cool head and just called over the leader of the seiging army and asked him what the whole thing was over. Like it was no big deal. Just, hey, what’s up? Why are you trying to kill everyone?

Then she promises that they can just throw the guy’s head over the wall. She just knows that she can convince everyone else to just give this guy up, this guy that David was so sure would be a bigger problem than Absalom had been. And his head just sails over the wall in a few minutes.

I went on for a while in the actual post that talked about Bathsheba and that I really think this story really needs to not be romanticized anymore. I’ll spare us both the rant.

Then, of course, there is the rape. Again. Like with the others, there is no questioning the victim, so that’s good. There also seems to be a whole lot of avenging them, which I also appreciate. I get that maybe death isn’t the most appropriate way to atone for this, but maybe it is. I don’t know. The story just after the rape also proves that simply being opposed to rape doesn’t make guarantee someone is a good person. Avenging Tamar turned out to be the only decent thing that brother ever did. The whole rest of his story is that guy doing awful things until he’s finally killed too.

The women of this book, like the others so far, continue to prove that the women of the Bible are not given their due by our modern society. We know the names of some, but not all. Even those who we are familiar with thus far are primarily talked about in relation to their husbands. But they are more than that and even the Bible itself shows that. It’s the reader that chooses to see or not see their agency or that they are made of more than the desire to please their husbands and children.  The Bible contains stories of many different kinds of women, not just the weak or the strong. Lots of women are represented. They may not be treated well or given much focus, society is not made for them, and they don’t get much help, if any, but their stories are here. They are not hidden. Not even their fates are consistent.

Chapter links go to the ESV translations at but I’m reading from the ESV Global Study Bible, which is available for free on the Kindle Reading App.


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