Who was King David?

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Anointing the shepherd boy

King David (c. 1000 bce) was the second king of ancient Israel. He founded the Judaean dynasty and united all the tribes of Israel under a single rule. The main narrative of David’s career consists of several chapters in the books 1 and 2 Samuel in the Old Testament. The narrative starts when David, the youngest son of Jesse, was chosen by God and anointed by Samuel the prophet to be king over Israel after King Saul disobeyed the Lord (1 Samuel 16:10, 13).

Serving King Saul

The Spirit of the Lord departed from King Saul and an evil spirit tormented him (1 Samuel 16:14). So, the king’s servant recommended David, saying, “I have seen a son of Jesse of Bethlehem who knows how to play the lyre. He is a brave man and a warrior. He speaks well and is a fine-looking man. And the LORD is with him” (1 Samuel 16:18). Thus, David served the king (1 Samuel 16:21) and the King was pleased with him.

The Philistines, Israel’s enemy, challenged the Israelites to choose a soldier from their ranks to fight their giant Goliath. But no Israeli was willing to volunteer. After Goliath had taunted the Israelites for 40 days, David asked the soldiers “What will be done for the man who kills this Philistine and removes this disgrace from Israel? Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?” (1 Samuel 17:26).

David’s words reached the king and he summoned David who said to him, “Let no one lose heart on account of this Philistine; your servant will go and fight him” (1 Samuel 17:32). And David added, who is he that “defied the armies of the living God. The LORD who rescued me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine” (1 Samuel 17:36–37).

So, David was permitted to fight Goliath. And he took with him his staff, five smooth stones and a sling. When Goliath saw David, he mocked him and his God. But David shouted, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the LORD Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the LORD will deliver you into my hands” (1 Samuel 17:45–46). That day, the Lord honored David’s faith and he killed the giant Goliath and his nation won that war over the philistines.

Jonathan and David

Jonathan admired the brave spirit of David and the two young men became close friends (1 Samuel 18:1). Even though Jonathan was to be the future king of Israel, he supported David against his own father because he knew that David was God’s true anointed king (1 Samuel 18:1–4, 19—20). Jonathan’s character showed unselfishness and humility (1 Samuel 18:3; 20:17). David made a peace covenant with Jonathan and he showed mercy to Jonathan’s seed after his death (2 Samuel 9:1).

Saul’s plot to kill David

David’s rise in popularity aroused Saul’s jealousy (1 Samuel 18:7–8). And Saul plotted to kill David by the hands of the Philistines. So, the king asked David to marry his daughter in return for a hundred Philistine foreskins. With God’s help, David killed two hundred Philistines. And David married Michal. At this point Saul, realized that David had God’s favor (1 Samuel 18:17–29).

From that point on, Saul sought to destroy David but Jonathan warned him of his father’s intentions. So, David fled into southern Judah and Philistia, on the coastal plain of Palestine where he hid for several years. During those years, David got the chance more than once to kill Saul who was chasing him but he refused saying that he will not touch the Lord’s anointed (1 Samuel 19:1–2; 24:5–7).

David the king

During a war with the philistines, King Saul and his sons were killed (2 Samuel 1). David, “lamented with this lamentation over Saul and over Jonathan his son” (2 Samuel 1:17). Then, David was proclaimed a king in Hebron (2 Samuel 5-8). And he conquered the Jebusite-held town of Jerusalem, which he made the capital of the new united kingdom and to which he moved the sacred Ark of the Covenant (2 Samuel 6).

David wanted to build a temple for the Lord (2 Samuel 7:1–2). But God informed David through the prophet Nathan that he would not be the one to build His temple because he had shed much blood (1 chronicles 22). But God added that David’s son, Solomon, would be the one to carry on that task. So, David humbly accepted God’s wish (2 Samuel 7:18; 2 Samuel 7:18–29 ). But he collected great material for the temple’s reconstruction (1 Chronicles 29).

David and Bathsheba

On one night, David saw Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah the Hittite, one of his great warriors at war, and he sent for her and slept with her. So, she got pregnant. To cover his sinful act, David called Uriah back from battle, thinking, he would sleep with his wife.  But Uriah who was an honorable man refused to be with his wife while his troops were at war. So, David ordered that Uriah be sent to the fire line to be killed in battle. Then, David took Bathsheba as his wife (2 Samuel 11).

The Lord was displeased with David’s actions and sent the prophet Nathan to rebuke him for his sin. David mourned his horrible sin and deeply repented of it. He said, “Have mercy upon me, O God, according to Your lovingkindness; according to the multitude of Your tender mercies, blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin(Psalm 51:1-2). The Lord accepted his repentance but didn’t allow his son to live (2 Samuel 12:18).

Although David was forgiven, the fruits of his sin brought sad consequences in his children in the life of Amnon who raped Tamar his sister, causing Absalom (Tamar’s brother) to kill  Amnon (2 Samuel 13). This was followed by and Absalom’s plot against King David (2 Samuel 16).

The prosperous reign of King David

David subdued the Philistines fully and they were never again a serious threat to Israel’s security (1 Chronicles 18). He went on to set up an empire by becoming the ruler of many small kingdoms bordering on Israel, including Edom, Moab, and Ammon (2 Samuel 8). And after his death, his son Solomon expanded the empire that he built (1 Kings 4:21).

David was anointed king by God because he was a man after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 13:13–14; Acts 13:22). The intent of his heart was ever to serve his Creator (Psalms 57:7; 108:1). And when he sinned, he repented in all sincerity and humility (Psalms 32:5–7; 51:1–17).

The Psalms are attributed to King David, a tribute to his legendary faith, humility and great devotion to God. The Bible calls David “the sweet psalmist of Israel” (2 Samuel 23:1). David was a poet and musician in his own right (1 Samuel 16:15–23; 2 Samuel 23:1; Amos 6:5). He was a man of deep love, great charity, bravery and unwavering faith. For this, God honored him by bringing the Messiah from his seed (Matthew 1:1; Luke 3:31).

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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