Lawrence Boadt provides this summary of the end of 2 Samuel….
“The Court History of David” or “The Succession Narrative”… extends from 2 Samuel 9 through 1 Kings 2, with several appendices inserted at 2 Samuel 21-24. The anonymous author dramatically shows how David was able to conquer all external foes and heal the national wounds with the family of Saul, but could not keep peace in his own family….
The Court History is a skillful piece of narrative, filled with dramatic tension as it unfolds the flaws and weaknesses in David while still showing God’s constant protection for him and the dynasty which he had founded. David was not perfect, but God’s fidelity and promise never wavered. It is one of the best pieces of ancient literature, probably being composed during the reign of Solomon between 960-930 B.C. It is the fruit of the new culture that David brought to Israel as he established schools in the prosperity of empire….
How did David receive such high praise in the Old Testament tradition when he had so many dubious qualities about him? Key to the biblical portrait is David’s blessing from Yahweh and his complete loyalty to Yahweh in return. He sinned, often seriously, but he never forsook this primary loyalty. As a great warrior, he brought the rule of Yahweh to many surrounding nations. As a king he received a promise of divine protection that actually lasted four hundred years down to the final end of Judah and Jerusalem at the hands of the Babylonians in 586 B.C. He established Jerusalem and the central sanctuary of worship for Yahweh and became famous as a composer of psalms and prayers. Israel’s memory of David is most influenced by these elements of divine help through which the nation was established soundly. The memory tends to forget or to downplay his weaknesses in “The Succession Narrative,” but it does remember that the primary meaning of both his successes and failures was not that David deserved the praise but God who used the weak king to accomplish his divine purpose. There are signs of this even in the way the Yahwist author tells the patriarchal stories in Genesis. The emphasis always falls on how Isaac was chosen over an older brother Ishmael, and Jacob over Esau, and Joseph over ten older brothers. It also stresses that the promises made to Noah and Abraham and Jacob will never be fulfilled until the land is an empire and its people as numerous as the stars—a reality that only fits the descriptions of the empire of David and his son Solomon.
I believe the key to David’s success and the blessing upon his life was that he kept coming back to the Lord. This truth is emphasized again in the closing chapters of 2 Samuel. “David inquired of the Lord.” (2 Samuel 21:1) “David spoke to the Lord the words of this song…” (2 Samuel 22:1) David writes, “The spirit of the Lord speaks through me, his word is upon my tongue.” (2 Samuel 23:2)
Yes, David fails to trust the Lord to provide for his kingdom and this failure of trust leads him to conduct a census (2 Samuel 24). However, David soon realizes his error, confesses his sin to the Lord. There are consequences for David’s sin; God sends a plague upon Israel, but in the end, the Lord answers David’s supplication for the land, and the full onslaught of the plague is averted (2 Samuel 24:25).
David was a passionate man in many ways, some good and some bad. However, the key to his endurance is his passion for Yahweh. This raises the question: do we have a similar passion for the Lord?