David is one of the most interesting, colorful and multifaceted individuals in the Bible. He is primarily known as the second king of the united kingdom of Israel, an ancestor of Jesus Christ and the writer of most of the Psalms. His life is recorded in 1 Samuel 16-31, 2 Samuel 1-24, 1 Kings 1, 2 and 1 Chronicles 10-29.
David as a Youth
David, who grew up in Bethlehem, was the great grandson of Boaz and Ruth, and the youngest of eight brothers. He was brought up as a shepherd, which enabled him to develop courage and faithfulness by killing both a lion and a bear that attacked the flock. As a youth, David became a musician, and developed into a masterful harpist.
When Saul was rejected by God as king, the Lord revealed to Samuel that one of the sons of Jesse was to succeed Saul as king, so the Lord sent Samuel to anoint David as king (1 Samuel 16: 1-13). When Saul was rejected by the Lord he lost the Lord’s spirit and experienced moods of depression and insanity. Saul’s servants advised him to send for a harpist whose music would soothe his spirit. David was recommended and sent for. David was providentially exposed to governmental affairs which helped prepare him for later service as king of Israel.
David the Fugitive
At first Saul was pleased with David, but all that changed when David slew the Philistine giant, Goliath. When David returned from the victory, the women of Israel greeted him, singing, “Saul hath slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands” (1 Samuel 18: 7). Saul became jealous and fearful of David and on two occasions attempted to kill him. David gathered a handful of followers and fled from Saul, who constantly pursued him.
David established relationships with Moab and other groups and gained favor with the people by defeating the Philistines (1 Samuel 22, 23). There is an interesting episode involving Nabal, the husband of Abigail, who foolishly insulted David’s men. Abagail intervened with David to prevent him from punishing her husband. God eventually brought about Nabal’s death, and David married Abigail. He also married Ahinoam of Jezreel (1 Samuel 25).
On two occasions David had the opportunity to kill Saul, but he refused to raise his hand against the Lord’s anointed. David came to terms with the Philistine king, Achish of Gath, and was granted the town of Ziklag in return for the occasional use of his warrior band (1 Samuel 27). Despite the wishes of Ziklag, the other Philistine leaders would not allow David to join them in battle against Saul, fearing he may turn against them (1 Samuel 29). When David returned home, he found that the Amalekites had destroyed Ziklag and had captures his wives. Following God’s leading, he defeated the celebrating Amalakites, rescued his wives and recovered all the spoils of war. David then distributed the spoils among his followers and the people of Judah (1 Samuel 30).
King of Judah
When David learned that Saul and his son Jonathan had been killed in a battle with the Philistines, he mourned their deaths (2 Samuel 1: 19-27). Remarkedly, David and Jonathan had formed the closest of friendships, as we see in David’s lament over Jonathan’s death, “I am destressed for thee, my brother Jonathan: very pleasant hast thou been unto me: thy love to me was wonderful, passing the love of women” (v. 26).
The Lord guided David to return to Judah where he was anointed king by his fellow-tribesmen, and he took up residence in Hebron (2 Samuel 2). David was thirty years old when he began his reign, and he reigned in Hebron for seven and a half years. During the first part of this period there was civil war between the supporters of David and the old supporters of Saul, who had set up Saul’s son Ishbosheth as king in Mahanaim. When Ishbosheth and Saul’s captain, Abner were assassinated, organized opposition to David ended, and he was anointed king over the twelve tribes of Israel in Hebron. But soon after, he transferred his capital to Jerusalem (2 Samuel 3-5).
(To be continued)