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[DAY vid] (beloved)-second king of the United Kingdom of the Hebrew people, ancestor of Jesus Christ, and writer of numerous psalms. The record of David's life is found in 1 Sam; 2 Sam 1:1-24:25;
1 Kings 1:1-2:46; and 1 Chron.

David as a Youth. David's youth was spent in Bethlehem. The youngest of eight brothers (1 Sam 16:10,11; 17:12-14), he was the son of Jesse, a respected citizen of the city. His mother was tenderly remembered for her godliness (Ps 116:16; 86:16). As the youngest son, David was the keeper of his father's sheep. In this job he showed courage and faithfulness by killing both a lion and a bear which attacked the flock.

As a lad, he displayed outstanding musical talent with the harp, a fact which figured prominently in his life. When Saul was rejected by God as king, the prophet Samuel went to Bethlehem to anoint David as the future king of Israel. Apparently, there was no public announcement of this event, although David and his father surely must have been aware of it.

David's Service Under Saul. King Saul, forsaken by God and troubled by an evil spirit, was subject to moods of depression and insanity. His attendants advised him to secure a harpist, whose music might soothe his spirit. David was recommended for this task. As harpist for Saul, David was exposed to governmental affairs, a task that prepared him for his later service as king of Israel. Apparently, David did not remain with Saul all the time, since the Bible indicates he returned to Bethlehem to continue caring for his father's sheep.

During one of these visits to his home, the PHILISTINES invaded the country and camped 24 kilometers (15 miles) west of Bethlehem. Saul led the army of Israel to meet the enemy. Three of David's brothers were in Saul's army, and Jesse sent David to the battle area to inquire about their welfare. While on this expedition, David encountered the Philistine giant, GOLIATH.


David as Warrior. Goliath's challenge for a Hebrew to do battle with him stirred David's spirit. Weighted with heavy armor, Goliath was equipped to engage in close-range combat. David's strategy was to fight him at a distance. Taking five smooth stones from a brook, David faced Goliath with only a sling and his unflinching faith in God. Goliath fell, struck by a stone from David's sling. For this feat, he became a hero in the eyes of the nation. But it aroused jealousy and animosity in the heart of Saul. Saul's son, JONATHAN, however, admired David because of his bravery, and they soon became good friends. This friendship lasted until Jonathan's death, in spite of Saul's hostility toward David.

Saul had promised to make the victor in the battle with Goliath his son-in-law, presenting one of his daughters as his wife. He also promised to free the victor's family from taxation. But after the battle, David was no longer allowed to return occasionally to his father's house. He remained at Saul's palace continually. Perhaps Saul realized that Samuel's prediction that the kingdom would be taken from him could reach fulfillment in David. On two occasions, he tried to kill David with a spear; he also gave his daughter, whom he had promised as David's wife, to another man. As David's popularity grew, Saul's fear increased until he could no longer hide his desire to kill him. David was forced to flee with Saul in pursuit.

David as Fugitive Hero. David gathered a handful of fugitives as his followers and fled from Saul. On at least two occasions, David could have killed Saul while the king slept, but he refused to do so. Perhaps David hesitated to kill Saul because he realized that he would be king one day, and he wanted the office to be treated with respect. If he had killed Saul, David also would have entered the office of king through his own personal violence. Perhaps this was a situation he wanted to avoid.

When the Philistines battled Saul and his army at Gilboa, they were victorious, killing Saul and his son, Jonathan, whom David loved as a dear friend. When David heard this news, he mourned their fate (2 Sam 1).

David as King of Judah. At Saul's death the tribe of Judah, to whom David belonged, elected him as king of Judah and placed him on the throne in HEBRON. The rest of the tribes of Israel set up ISHBOSHETH, Saul's son, as king at Mahanaim. For the next two years civil war raged between these two factions. It ended in the assassination of Ishbosheth, an event which saddened David.

David as King of All Israel. On the death of Ishbosheth, David was elected king over all the people of Israel. He immediately began work to establish a United Kingdom. One of his first acts as king was to attack the fortified city of Jebus. Although the inhabitants thought it was safe from capture, David and his army took it by storm. He then made it the capital city of his kingdom and erected his palace there. Also known as JERUSALEM, the new capital stood on the border of the southern tribe of Judah and the other tribal territories to the north. This location tended to calm the jealousies between the north and the south, contributing greatly to the unity of the kingdom.

After establishing his new political capital, David proceeded to re-establish and strengthen the worship of God. He moved the ARK OF THE COVENANT from Kirjath Jearim (Josh 15:9) and placed it within a tabernacle which he pitched in Jerusalem. Next, he organized worship on a magnificent scale and began plans to build a house of worship. But God brought a halt to his plans, informing David that the building of the Temple would be entrusted to his successor.

Although David was a righteous king, he was subject to sin, just like other human beings. On one occasion when his army went to battle, David stayed home. This led to his great sin with BATHSHEBA. While Uriah, the Hittite, Bathsheba's husband, was away in battle, David committed adultery with her. Then in an effort to cover his sin, he finally had Uriah killed in battle. David was confronted by the prophet NATHAN, who courageously exposed his wrongdoing. Faced with his sin, David repented and asked for God's forgiveness. His prayer of forgiveness is recorded in Ps 51.

Although God forgave David of this act of adultery, the consequences of the sin continued to plague him. The child born to David and Bathsheba died. The example he set as a father was a bad influence on his sons. One son, Amnon, raped and humiliated his half-sister. Another son, ABSALOM, rebelled against David and tried to take away his kingdom by force.

One of David's deep desires was to build a temple in Jerusalem. But he was prevented from doing so. The prophet Nathan informed David that he should not build the temple because he had been a warrior. David did not build the temple, but he did gather material for the temple to be built later. It was Solomon, David's son and successor, who finally erected the first temple in Jerusalem.

David died when he was 71 years old, having been king for a total of over 40 years, including both his reign in Hebron and his kingship over the United Kingdom.

David as Psalmist. Early in his life David distinguished himself as the "sweet psalmist of Israel" (2 Sam 23:1). Many of the psalms in the Book of Psalms are attributed to him.

David's fondness for music is recorded in many places in the Bible. He played skillfully on the harp (1 Sam 16:18-23). He arranged worship services in the sanctuary (1 Chron 6:31). He composed psalms of lament over Saul and Jonathan (2 Sam 1:17-27). His musical activity was referred to by Amos (Amos 6:5), Ezra (Ezra 3:10), and Nehemiah (Neh 7:24,46).

David as Ancestor to Jesus Christ. Jesus was referred to as the Son of David. The genealogy of Jesus as recorded in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke traced Jesus back through the ancestry of David. God promised David a kingdom that would have no end. This prophecy was fulfilled in Jesus, who came to establish the Kingdom of God. Jesus was born in Bethlehem because this was the "city of David" (Luke 2:4), David's birthplace and boyhood home.

Although David committed deep sin, he still was known as a man who sought God's will. Certainly he was not perfect, but he was willing to repent of his wrongdoing and to follow God's leadership. His influence for good in the life of his nation was great, since every king after David was compared to the standard which he established.

A capable musician, David unquestionably gave great encouragement to this fine art in the life of his people. As a warrior and military man, he was resourceful and courageous. As a king, he was without equal in the life of his nation. As a religious leader, he was exceptional. Many of his writings will continue to be the favorite devotional literature for honest souls who seek a closer walk with God.

The Jewish historian Josephus praised David by saying, "This man was of an excellent character, and was endowed with all the virtues that were desirable in a king." But even higher praise came from God Himself through the speech of Stephen in the Book of Acts. Stephen quoted the Lord as declaring, "I have found David the son of Jesse a man after my own heart" (Acts 13:22).


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