One of the most interesting characters in the Old Testament is King David. He rose from a lowly shepherd boy to become one of the most popular monarchs the world has ever known.
David was born in the city of Bethlehem in Judea. He was the youngest son of a man named Jesse, who was the grandson of Boaz and Ruth. The first time David is mentioned in the Bible is in I Samuel Chapter 16. God decided that King Saul was no longer fit to rule. So he instructed the Prophet and Judge Samuel to go to Bethlehem and there he would find a new King.
Samuel went to the house of Jesse. It seems at this point in David’s life that he goes almost unnoticed by his father. Jesse brought all of his sons, except David, to Samuel and he blessed them. After a sacrifice had been made the sons of Jesse stood before Samuel and he examined each one of them. God had instructed Samuel to look at the inward qualities, not the outward appearance.
After realizing that God had not chosen any of these, he asks Jesse if he had any more sons. Jesse then realized that his youngest son David was out watching the sheep. David was brought before Samuel and he anointed him the next King of Israel.
David did not become King at this moment. As a matter of fact he held other positions before ascending to the throne.
Occasionally an evil spirit would haunt King Saul and he would start having fits. A harpist was sought out to help the King soothe his soul during his raging fits. One of the servants knew of David’s talent as a harpist. So David was sent for and brought before the King. Saul enjoyed listening to David’s harp playing and it relaxed him during his fits of rage.
While David served as the Royal Harpist, Saul became found of him, and made him his Armourbearer.
In I Samuel Chapter 17 David returns home to tend his father’s sheep. At this time Israel is at war with the Philistines and David’s three older brothers are sent into battle. One day Jesse sends David to the Philistine front to see about his brothers and to take them supplies.
When he arrives at the battlefield, David discovers that a Philistine giant is intimidating Israel. The giant’s name was Goliath and he was nine foot and nine inches tall. Each day he challenged to take on any Israelite brave enough to face him. No one in King Saul’s army was brave enough to accept the giant’s challenge. David is given permission to face Goliath, despite his brother’s objection and King Saul’s doubts.
David approaches Goliath with a sling and five smooth stones he found in a brook. Saul had offered David his armor, but it was too heavy. Goliath is humored at David’s challenge as he runs towards him. Pulling a stone from his shepherd’s bag, David places it in his sling. Goliath is struck in the forehead as David releases the stone from his sling. Fear falls upon The Philistine Army and they run away. David beheads Goliath with his own sword and takes possession of his armor. This event turns David into a National Hero.
Soon David was made a military officer and had success in all his battles. The popularity of David caused Saul to become jealous. What angered Saul the most was the song the women of Israel sang, ” Saul has slain his thousands and David his tens of thousands.”
One day as David was playing his harp in the royal court Saul attempted to kill him with a javelin. David fled from the palace. For the rest of Saul’s reign, Saul became obsessed with getting David out of the way. Saul hoped to get rid of David by sending him into battle against the Philistines. He promised to give him his daughter Micah as his wife if he kills a hundred Philistines. To Saul’s surprise, he kills two hundred Philistines.
Now David was a man on the run. His wife Michal once rescued him as Saul’s men entered their home. Samuel, Jonathan (Saul’s oldest son), and the Philistine King Achish protect him while Saul was seeking to kill him.
Saul and most of his sons were killed in battle. Isobe his son succeeded him as king. But the tribe of Judah and Simeon made David their king. David sets up his capital in Hebron and ruled there for seven and a half years.
King of a United Israel
Two men who were captains in Saul’s army murder Ishbosheth. David then kills the two men when they brought Isobeth’s head to him, hoping to win his favor. The remaining twelve tribes make David their king.
Temporarily out of Power
After having several military feats under his belt, David and his family are involved in a series of scandals:
- David has Uriah killed in battle after sleeping with his wife and she is with his child.
- Amnon, his oldest son, rapes his half-sister Tamar.
- Tamar’s brother Absalom murders Amnon and temporarily runs David out of Jerusalem.
- Absalom briefly reigns in Israel, but David’s followers led a counter-attack.
- Absalom’s long hair gets caught in a tree while fleeing from battle. Joab ( David’s nephew) thrust three darts into his heart, despite David’s order that Absalom is not to be harmed.
Restored to Power
David was not permitted to build the temple because he was a man of war. This responsibility would be given to his son King Solomon. But David was allowed to gather the materials that were needed to build the temple. This was one of David’s greatest feats after he returned to power.