The second to last section (2 Sam 20) is much shorter than the previous one. It answers in the chiasm to the corruption of Eli’s house. The rift between Samuel and Eli’s sons foreshadowed the division between Judah and Israel in Sheba’s rebellion. Eli’s sons were wicked, David’s nephew Joab shows himself also to be wicked. Eli’s sons ignored Eli’s rebuke, David’s nephew Joab ignored David’s orders (again).
These events are closely tied to chapter 19 and the two chapters are structurally and thematically interconnected. When David returned to the throne, he had called upon the tribe of Judah to accompany him rather than calling on all of Israel. David was part of the tribe of Judah and would always be suspected of showing them favoritism and this just supports those kinds of charges. Thus a rift has deepened between Judah and the rest of Israel because of the way David returned to the throne. The way chapter 20 opens suggests that the rebellion began during the gathering at the end of chapter 19.
Thus what has happened in foreshadowing the history of Israel is the tribe of Judah has returned from exile/captivity and there is a rift between Judah and the other tribes. And these other tribes believe they have no portion in David (much like the Samaritans in Jesus’ day). The rebellion was an attempt to divide the nation into two nations with David still the king only of Judah. The ten concubines who had been raped by Absalom and now were restored to David’s house and lived the rest of their days as if they were widows are symbolic of the ten tribes of Israel.
What essentially happened in response to this rebellion was Joab took control of David’s army in order to suppress it. Joab did so by killing the new commander that David had appointed over it in Joab’s place. This new commander had been one of Absalom’s commanders and his appointment was part of David’s healing the problems of that revolt. The rebellion of Sheba really is not as serious as the rebellion of Absalom nor as serious as what Joab did. Absalom and Joab are very similar characters in the way this unfolds. Joab forgets that David is king, not him.
Sheba never was able to get much support for his rebellion, the much more serious issue was that Joab has taken the king’s power in this story.
They should be called “David’s men” (these Gentiles were his personal bodyguards we saw earlier) but instead are called “Joab’s men” (2 Sam 20:7). Note also 2 Sam 20:11: “Whoever favors Joab, and whoever is for David, let him follow Joab.” And whereas before the royal list had began, “David reigned over all Israel” (2 Sam 8:15) the new one begins “Now Joab was in command of all the army of Israel…” (2 Sam 20:23).
Together with the last post, these two sections give us a foretaste of the future division of the kingdom between Judah and Israel, the exile, and the mixed results of the return from exile (continued division/tension of the tribes). And this is because the return from exile is not really complete until Jesus, the son of David, comes. The book of Samuel points to this hope in David’s coming heir. And one way it does this is by showing how David comes up short, but also how David is a type of the one to come.