Lectionary Year B
July 20, 2003
II Samuel 7:1-14a

Step III: Composition

A. Immediate Context

(JFC) Pre - Chapter 6 of II Samuel depicts David's bringing the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem, the accident of the Ark's falling and God's killing Uzzah for touching it and David's fearing God which led him to detour and take the Ark to Obed Edom's house for a while before he, rejoicingly takes it on to Jerusalem where Michal despises David's joy.
Post - II Samuel 7:14b-29 quotes God's anticipating that David might misbehave and will get corrected for doing so. God's promise, re: David's dynasty to be blessed forever, is expected to be kept, which news prompts David to go into the Ark's tent and pray thanking God for such admittedly undeserved eternal kindness. David recognizes God's goodness to Israel and reiterates God's promise, which he asks again God to keep.

B. Organization of Compositional Whole

(JFC) As repeatedly noted, II Samuel continues the chronicles of I Samuel, which are about Samuel's and Saul's lives and services as Israel's first Kings and David's rise to prominence. II Samuel begins accounts of Israel's major/radical transition, definitely under God's guidance, from tribalism to a monarchy. It starts by reporting how Saul's offspring and other followers fell off the charts of leading Israel (chs. 1-4). It proceeds into David's rise to King over Judah and Israel (chs. 5-24) including David's domestic and political challenges and Solomon's assuming the throne (chs. 9-20) and a famine, the execution of Saul's descendants, more war with the Philistines, a poetic song praising God and an altar where David offers sacrifices to God to conclude the Book (chs. 21-24). Walter Brueggemann, in his Interpretation commentary, calls repeated attention to the political- technological-economic-social factors as this work's secondary aims, secondary to Yahweh's governance in the whole process of Israel's changing from "an amorphous, unstable tribal mode of life, easily open to religious idolatry, syncretism and political and military barbarism". Following the Samuel Books, Israel was a centralized monarchy and much better organized under God's directives through divinely chosen Kings.

C. Issues of Authorship

(JFC) As earlier noted even repeatedly, the Books of Samuel seem to come in real time to us as if they were written almost simultaneously with the actions they report, about 1000-960 BCE. Yet, literarily, it seems that different parts come from "varied origin and have only later been arranged in accordance with certain definite points of view", according to Hertzberg's OTL commentary. So, we might "assume", with John Bright's A History of Israel, that "these stories of the Ark (I Sam. 4:1b to 7:2; II Sam. 6 [7]) . . . were of ancient origin and in fixed form by the mid-tenth century.

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