Now here we come to one powerful argument for atheism: the 2nd book of Samuel is not by Samuel, and doesn't even mention him. In the eyes of Richard Dawkins this proves that the Bible is false. But then The Selfish Gene doesn't mention Gene Kelly, so maybe it's not such a clincher after all.
The Prophet Gene, singing in the rain.
In fact the 2nd book of Samuel starts with David singing, or at least reciting, a lament over the deaths of Saul and Jonathan: How are the mighty fallen! Tell it not in Gath (or Geth).* Well, it's too late to tell it in Gath (or Geth) now, as the place has fallen into ruin.
It's not all bad news for David, as he is then anointed king. However, General Abner sets up Saul's remaining son Ish-bosheth as a rival king, although eventually they both get murdered.
* It's terrible how many clichés you find in the Bible. Shakespeare too, wrote little apart from clichés.
The comic strip Li'l Ish-bosheth never really took off.
At this stage, David is very much the good guy, and is really furious at the murders of Abner and Ish-whatsit. "David reigned over all Israel, doing what was just and right for all his people," as it says in Chapter 8, and God backs him. Indeed, God enters into an eternal covenant with him. I'm rather losing count of these Old Testament covenants, but each one was slightly more sophisticated that its predecessor. There'll be something much better on offer in the New Testament.
By the time we get to Chapter 9, David asks "Is there anyone still left of the house of Saul to whom I can show kindness for Jonathan’s sake?" There is, in fact; namely J's son Mephibosheth. But things are about to go horribly wrong, and it's all David's fault...
Bathsheba, she bare in a bath.
Yes, the lovely Bathsheba comes on the scene and David falls for her. Problem: she is married to Uriah the Hittite. David's conduct is rather poor here: he has an affair with her, and he arranges for Uriah to be killed in battle. From now on, David's life is going to consist of a succession of troubles, and it is hard to present it in a cheerful light.
Tamar, David's daughter, is raped by Amnon, his son. Then Absolom, another son, rebels against David. Although Absolom gets killed, he does at least try to die in a comic fashion: he's riding a mule under a tree, and is caught by the branches and left hanging in mid-air.
A brave attempt to inject some comedy into a depressing book.
It's no wonder that Samuel decided to stay dead during this book. Let's skip through to Chapter 22, without listing the wars and famine en route; here we have one of David's hit songs (he composed it earlier, it seems). This time he manages to be a bit more upbeat.
Are you all ready to join in the song, lads?
The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; the God of my rock, in Him will I trust. He is my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my high tower, and my refuge, my saviour...This is good stuff, much better than "Follow me, follow me..." David later bundles a whole lot of these into a book of Psalms (this one turns up again as number 18).
Well, we're coming to the end of David's reign, although he hangs on a little longer in order to qualify for the book of 1 Kings. A deeply flawed character, but aren't we all, Richard? Yes, even you... look, admit that at least, and we may start getting somewhere...