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Bridgeway Bible Dictionary [1]

From humble beginnings as the youngest son of a Bethlehem shepherd named Jesse, David rose to become Israel’s greatest king. He established a dynasty out of which, according to God’s plan, came the great Messiah, the son of David, who was Jesus Christ, Saviour of the world ( 1 Samuel 16:1;  1 Samuel 16:11;  2 Samuel 5:3-4;  2 Samuel 5:12;  Isaiah 9:7;  Luke 1:32-33;  Luke 2:11).

Early progress

After the failure of Saul as king, God directed Samuel to the young man David, whom Samuel marked out to be Israel’s next king ( 1 Samuel 13:14;  1 Samuel 15:28;  1 Samuel 16:11-14). Many years passed before David became king, and during those years he steadily matured in mind and body. He became skilled in speech, writing and music, and grew into a brave fighter through having to defend his flocks against wild animals and raiding Philistines ( 1 Samuel 16:18;  1 Samuel 17:34-36; cf. Psalms 23).

David’s introduction to Saul’s court was as one whose music relaxed the king’s troubled nerves ( 1 Samuel 16:16). After his victory over the Philistines’ champion fighter, he became Saul’s armour-bearer and full-time court musician ( 1 Samuel 16:21;  1 Samuel 17:50;  1 Samuel 18:2). At this time a close friendship began to develop between David and Saul’s son Jonathan. It lasted many years, and was ended only by Jonathan’s tragic death in battle ( 1 Samuel 18:1; see Jonathan ). David’s successes in battle won him promotion, but further successes and growing popularity so stirred up Saul’s jealousy against him that Saul tried to kill him ( 1 Samuel 18:5-11).

By this time David had no doubt begun the psalm-writing activity for which he is well known. The biblical book of Psalms contains many of the songs and poems he wrote during his long and eventful career. In these writings David gives his personal views of many of the incidents that another writer records in the books of 1 and 2 Samuel (see Psalms, Book Of )

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Fausset's Bible Dictionary [2]

("beloved".) His outer life is narrated in the histories of Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles; his inner life is unfolded by himself in the Psalms. The verbal coincidences in Psalms and the allusions incidentally to facts which the histories detail are evidently undesigned, and therefore confirm the genuineness of both. The youngest of the eight sons of Jesse of Bethlehem ( 1 Samuel 16:11); great grandson of Ruth and Boaz, "a mighty man of wealth" ( Ruth 2:1;  Ruth 4:21; Ruth 4:22). Born, according to the common chronology, 1085 B.C. Began to reign when 30 years of age. but over Judah alone, 1055 B.C. ( 2 Samuel 5:4;  1 Kings 2:11;  1 Chronicles 29:27); over all Israel, seven years and six months later, 1048 B.C. He died in 1015 B.C., 70 years old. In early life he tended Jesse's flocks, thereby being trained for his subsequent career, for he had ample scope for quiet and prayerful meditations such as Moses had in his 40 years retirement in Midian before his call to public life, and as Paul had in the Arabian sojourn ( Galatians 1:17) before his worldwide ministry.

Those who are to be great public men often need first to be men of privacy. His intimate acquaintance with the beauties of nature, alike water, field, hill, and forest below, and the sun, moon, and glorious heavens above, gives coloring to many of his psalms (Psalm 29; Psalm 8; Psalm 19, etc.). His shepherd life, exposed to wild beasts, yet preserved by God amidst green pastures and still waters, furnishes imagery to  Psalms 22:20-21; Psalm 23;  Psalms 7:2. His active energies were at the same time exercised in adventures amidst the hills and dales of Judah, in one of which his courage was tested by a close encounter with a lion, and in another with a bear, both of which he slew, grasping the beast by the beard and rescuing a lamb out of his mouth. These encounters nerved him for his first great victory, the turning point of his life, the slaying of Goliath of Gath ( 1 Samuel 17:35). Moreover, his accurate acquaintance with all the hiding places in the cavern-pierced hills, e.g. the cave of Adullam, proved of great service to him afterwards in his pursuit by Saul.

The Bible authorities for his biography are the Davidic psalms and poetic fragments in the histories ( 2 Samuel 1:19-27;  2 Samuel 3:33-34;  2 Samuel 3:22;  2 Samuel 23:1-7); next the chronicles or state annals of David ( 1 Chronicles 27:24); the book (history) of Samuel the seer, that of Nathan the prophet, and that of Gad the seer ( 1 Chronicles 29:29). Jesse had a brother, Jonathan, whom David made one of his counselors ( 1 Chronicles 27:32). Jesse's wife, David's mother, is not named; but Nahash her former husband is the one by whom she had two daughters, David's half-sisters: Zeruiah, mother of Abishai, Joab and Asahel; and Abigail, mother of Amasa by Jether or Ithra ( 1 Chronicles 2:13-17;  2 Samuel 17:25). Jesse was an old man when David was a mere youth ( 1 Chronicles 17:12). His sisters were much older than David, so that their children, David's nephews, were his contemporaries and companions more than his own brothers. David shared some of their war-like determined characteristics, but shrank from their stern recklessness of bloodshed in whatever object they sought ( 2 Samuel 3:39;  2 Samuel 19:7).

His oldest brother, Eliab, behaved unkindly and imperiously toward him when he went like a second Joseph, sent by his father to seek his brethren's welfare ( 1 Samuel 17:17-18;  1 Samuel 17:28-29). Eliab's "command," as head of Jesse's sons, was regarded by the rest as authoritative ( 1 Samuel 20:29), and the youngest, David, was thought scarcely worth bringing before the prophet Samuel ( 1 Samuel 16:11). Hence, he had assigned to him the charge of the flock, ordinarily assigned to the least esteemed of the family, women, and servants, as was the case with Moses, Zipporah, Jacob, Rachel. When David became king, instead of returning evil for evil he made Eliab head of the tribe of Judah ( 1 Chronicles 27:18), Elihu = Eliab. His brother Shimeah had two sons connected with his subsequent history, Jonadab, the subtle, bad, selfish adviser of incestuous Amnon ( 2 Samuel 13:3;  2 Samuel 13:32-33), and Jonathan who killed a giant of Gath ( 2 Samuel 21:21). Nahash was probably one of the royal family of Ammon, which will account for David's friendship with the king of the same name, as also with Shobi, son of Nahash, from both of whom he received "kindness" in distress ( 2 Samuel 10:2;  2 Samuel 17:27).

Ammon and David had a common enemy, Saul (1 Samuel 11); besides David's Moabite great grandmother, Ruth, connected him with Moab, Ammon's kinsmen. Hence, it was most natural to him to repair to Moab and Ammon when pursued by Saul. At first sight, we wonder at his leaving his father and mother for safe-keeping with the king of Moab (1 Samuel 22); but the Book of Ruth shows how coincident with probability this is, and yet how little like the harmony contrived by a forger! His Gentile connection gave him somewhat enlarged views of the coming kingdom of Messiah, whose type and ancestor he was privileged to be ( Psalms 2:8;  Matthew 1:5). His birthplace was Bethlehem (as it was of his Antitype, Messiah:  Luke 2:4, etc.); and of his patrimony there he gave to Chimham a property which long retained Chimham's name, in reward for the father Barzillai's loyalty and help in Absalom's rebellion ( 2 Samuel 19:37-38;  Jeremiah 41:17). His early associations with Bethlehem made him when in a hold desire a drink of water from its well while the Philistines held it.

Three of his 30 captains broke through and brought it; but David, with the tender conscientiousness which characterized him (compare  1 Samuel 24:5;  2 Samuel 24:10), and which appreciated the deep spirituality of the sixth commandment, would not drink it but poured it out to the Lord, saying, "My God forbid it me: shall I drink the blood of these men that have put their lives in jeopardy?" ( 1 Chronicles 10:15-19). Saul, the people's choice, having been rejected from being king for disobedience, God manifested His sovereignty by choosing one, the very last thought of by his own family or even by the prophet; not the oldest, but the youngest; not like Saul, taller than the people by head and shoulders, but of moderate stature. (See Saul .) A yearly sacrificial feast used to be held at Bethlehem, whereat Jesse, as chief landowner, presided with the elders (1 Samuel 16;  1 Samuel 20:6; compare at Saul's selection,  1 Samuel 9:12). But now suddenly at God's command, Samuel, though fearful of Saul's deadly enmity, appears there driving a heifer before him, to offer an extraordinary sacrifice.

The elders trembling, lest his visit should be for judicial punishment of some sin, inquired, "Comest thou peaceably?" He answered, "Peaceably." Then inviting them and Jesse's sons he caused the latter to pass successively before him. Seven sons passed by but were rejected, notwithstanding Samuel's pre-possession in favor of Eliab's countenance and stature, since Jehovah, unlike man, "looks not on the outward appearance but on the heart." David, seemingly the least likely and the youngest, was fetched from the sheep; and his unction with oil by the prophet previous to the feast was accompanied with the unction of the Spirit of the Lord from that day forward. Simultaneously, the Spirit of Jehovah left Saul and an evil spirit from Jehovah troubled him. David was "a man after the Lord's own heart" ( 1 Samuel 13:14;  Acts 13:22). Moreover, he did not lack those outward graces which were looked for in a king; "ruddy," i.e. with auburn hair, esteemed to be a beauty in the South and East, where black hair is usual; with "bright eyes" (margin,  1 Samuel 16:12;  1 Samuel 16:18); goodly in countenance, and comely in person ( 1 Samuel 17:42); besides being "mighty, valiant, a man of war," and altogether "prudent."

Like his nephew, Asahel, his feet were by his God made "like hinds' feet." David adds ( Psalms 18:33-34): "He teacheth my hands to war, so that a bow of steel is broken by mine arms." Nothing could be more homely than his outward attire, with a staff or wand in hand used for dogs, and a pouch around his neck for carrying a shepherd's necessaries ( 1 Samuel 17:40-43). But God gave him "integrity of heart and skillfulness of hands," qualifying him for "feeding and guiding Israel," after that he was "taken from the sheepfolds" ( Psalms 78:70-72), and "from the sheepcote" ( 2 Samuel 7:8). Nor was he ashamed of his early life, but he delighted gratefully to acknowledge before God that he was "the man raised up on high" ( 2 Samuel 23:1; compare Psalm 89). The first glimpse we have of David's taste in music and sacred poetry, which afterward appears so preeminent in his psalms, is in his having been chosen as the best minstrel to charm away the evil spirit when it came upon Saul ( 1 Samuel 16:15-23).

Thus, the evil spirit departed, but the good Spirit did not come to Saul; and the result was, when David was driven away, the evil returned worse than ever. (Compare 1 Samuel 28 with  Matthew 12:43-45). David doubtless received further training in the schools of the prophets, who connected their prophesying with the soothing and elevating music of psaltery, tabret, pipe, and harp ( 1 Samuel 10:5); for he and Samuel (who also feared Saul's wrath for his having anointed David:  1 Samuel 16:2) dwelt together in Naioth near Ramah, i.e. in the "habitations" of the prophets there, connected together by a wall or hedge round; a school over which Samuel presided, as Elisha did over those at Gilgal and Jericho; schools not for monastic separation from life's duties, but for mental and spiritual training with a view to greater usefulness in the world. (See Naioth .) Thus, he became "the sweet singer of Israel" ( 2 Samuel 23:1), "the inventor of instruments of music" ( Amos 6:5). Compare  1 Chronicles 23:5;  1 Chronicles 15:16;  1 Chronicles 15:19-21;  1 Chronicles 15:24;  1 Chronicles 25:1;  2 Chronicles 29:25-26.

The use of cymbals, psalteries, and harps, in a form suitable for the temple worship, was by his command; the Kinnor (the lyre) and the Nebel (the psaltery, a stringed instrument played by the hand) being improved by him and added to the cymbals, as distinguished from the "trumpets." The portion 1 Samuel 17 - 18:2 has been thought a parenthesis explaining how David became first introduced to Saul. But  1 Samuel 17:12;  1 Samuel 17:15 show that Saul already had David in attendance upon him, for Jesse his father is called "that Ephrathite" (namely, that one spoken of above), and it is said before David's going forth to meet Goliath that "David went and returned from Saul to feed his father's sheep at Bethlehem." How then shall we account for Saul's question just before the encounter, "Abner, whose son is this youth?" and after it," Whose son art thou, young man?" ( 1 Samuel 17:55-58.) Also, is this question consistent with his being already "Saul's armor-bearer and loved greatly" by him ( 1 Samuel 16:20-21.)

The title "armor-bearer" was honorary, like our aide-de-camp, e.g. Joab had ten ( 2 Samuel 18:15). David merely attended Saul for a time, and returned to tend his father's sheep, where he was when the war broke out in which Goliath was the Philistine champion. Saul's question ( 1 Samuel 17:55-58), "Whose son art thou?" must therefore imply more than asking the name of David's father. Evidently, he entered into a full inquiry about him, having lost sight of him since the time David had been in attendance. The words ( 1 Samuel 18:1) "when David made an end of speaking unto Saul, the soul of Jonathan was knit unto the soul of David," imply a lengthened detail of all concerning his father and himself. The sacred writer of 1 Samuel probably embodied in his narrative some fragments of the authoritative documents mentioned above, stamping them with divine sanction; hence arises a variation between the different documents which would be cleared up if we knew more fully the circumstances. Both are true, though the explanation of how they harmonize can only be conjectured with more or less probability.

The battle was at Ephes-Dammim in the boundary hills of Judah; Saul's army on one side of the valley, the Philistines on the other, the brook Elah (i.e. the Terebinth) running between. Goliath's complete armor contrasted with the ill-armed state of Israel, whose king alone was well armed ( 1 Samuel 17:38). (See EPHES-DAMMIM.) For, as Porsena imposed on the Romans the stipulation that they should use no iron except in farm work (Pliny, 34:14), so the Philistines forced the Israelites to have "no smith throughout all their land, lest the Hebrew make them swords or spears" ( 1 Samuel 13:19-20). David at this moment, when all the Israelites were dismayed, came to bring supplies for his brethren and to get from them a "pledge" that they were alive and well. Arriving at the wagon rampart (not "the trench" as KJV) round Israel's camp, he heard their well-known war shout ( Numbers 23:21, compare  Numbers 10:35). Leaving his Carriage (the vessels of supplies which he carried) in the hand of the baggage-master, he ran to greet his brethren in the midst of the lines, and there heard Goliath's challenge repeated on the 40th day for the 40th time. (See Carriage .)

The meekness with which David conquered his own spirit, when Eliab charged him with pride, the very sin which prompted Eliab's own angry and uncharitable imputation, was a fit prelude to his conquest of Goliath; self must be overcome before we can overcome others ( Proverbs 16:32;  Proverbs 13:10). The same principle," judge not according to the appearance" ( John 7:24), as. at his anointing ( 1 Samuel 16:7), is set forth in the victory of this "youth" over "a man of war from his youth." Physical strength and size, severed from God; is mere beast strength, and must fall before the seemingly feeblest whose God is the Lord. This is the force of his words: "thy servant slew both the lion and the bear, and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be as one of them, seeing he hath defied the armies of the living God." Man becomes beastlike when severed from God, and is only manly when he is godly. (See Beast ; Daniel Confidence in God, not self, grounded on past deliverance, and on God's honor being at stake before the assembled people of God and the enemies of God ( 1 Samuel 17:45-48), filled him with such alacrity that he "ran" toward the enemy, and with his simple sling and stone smote him to the ground.

His armor David took first to his tent, and afterward to the tabernacle at Nob; his head David brought to Jerusalem (the city, not the citadel, which was then a Jebusite possession). At this point begins the second era of David's life, his persecution by Saul. A word is enough to rouse the jealous spirit, especially in a king towards a subject. That word was spoken by the women, unconscious of the effect of their words while they sang in responsive strains before the king and his champion, "Saul has slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands." "They have ascribed unto David ten thousands, and to me but thousands, and what can he have more but the kingdom?" Conscience told him he had forfeited his throne; and remembering Samuel's word after his disobedience as to the Amalekites ( 1 Samuel 15:28), "the Lord hath rent the kingdom of Israel from thee this day, and hath given it to a neighbor of thine that is better than thou," he "eyed David" as possibly the "neighbor" meant. Envy moved Saul under the evil spirit to cast his javelin at him, but twice he eluded it.

His already noted ( 1 Samuel 16:18) prudence, whereby "he behaved himself wisely in all his ways," was now brought into play; a quality which in dependence upon Jehovah, its Giver ( Psalms 5:8), he in  Psalms 101:1, by an undesigned coincidence, professes in the same words his determination to exercise, and which as it was the characteristic of Jacob, Israel's forefather, so it has been prominent in his descendants in all ages, modern as well as ancient, especially in times of persecution; analogous to the instinctive sagacity of hunted animals. So wisely did he behave, and so manifestly was the Lord with him, that Saul the king was afraid of David his subject; "therefore Saul removed him from him and made him captain over a thousand" ( 1 Samuel 18:13). Subsequently, he was captain of the king's bodyguard, next to Abner the captain of the host and Jonathan the heir apparent, and sat with the king at table daily ( 1 Samuel 20:25;  1 Samuel 22:14). Next, after Saul broke his promise of giving Merab his older daughter to be David's wife, by giving her to Adriel instead, Michal, Saul's second daughter, became attached to David.

Saul used her as a "snare" that David might fall by the Philistines. The dowry Saul required was 100 foreskins of the Philistines. David brought him 200, which, so far from abating his malice, seeing that the Lord was so manifestly, with David, made him only the more bitter "enemy." But God can raise up friends to His people in their enemy's house; and as Pharaoh's daughter saved Moses, so Saul's son Jonathan and daughter Michal saved David. After having promised in the living Jehovah's name David's safety to Jonathan, and after David had "slain the Philistines with a great slaughter" from which they did not recover until the battle in which Saul fell, Saul hurled his javelin at David with such force that it entered into the wall and then would have killed David in his own house, but that by Michal's help he escaped through a window. Jonathan, his bosom friend, he saw once again and never after. Michal was given to Phaltiel, and was not restored to him until he made her restoration a condition of peace with Abner (1 Samuel 19;  2 Samuel 3:13-16).

How striking a retribution by the righteous God it was, that Saul himself fell by the very enemy by whom he hoped to kill David! How evidently this and kindred cases must have been in David's mind when he wrote of the sinner, "he made a pit and digged it, and is fallen into the ditch which he made" ( Psalms 7:15-16); the title of this psalm probably refers to Saul, the black-hearted son of Kish the Benjamite, enigmatically glanced at as "Cush (Ethiopia; compare  Jeremiah 13:23;  Amos 9:7) the Benjamite." This first act in his long wanderings forms the subject of Psalm 59. The title states the occasion: "when Saul sent and they watched the house to kill him." The "bloody men" are Saul and his minions ( Psalms 59:2). "The mighty are gathered against me, not for my transgression; ... they run and prepare themselves without my fault" ( Psalms 59:3-4); herein he appeals to the all-knowing Jehovah, since the earthly king will not believe his protestations of innocence of the treason laid to his charge.

This psalm harmonizes with the independent history,  1 Samuel 18:8-30;  1 Samuel 20:30-31;  1 Samuel 22:8;  1 Samuel 24:9. This is the "lying" alluded to ( Psalms 59:12). Saul's "pride" would not brook that David's exploits should be extolled above his; hence flowed the "lying" and malice. His minions, "like a dog returning at evening," thirsting for prey which they had in vain sought throughout the day, came tumultuously besieging David's house "that night" after Saul's vain attempt to destroy him in the day. His doom answered to his sin. Greatly trembling at the Philistine hosts, war-like though he was, but cowed by a guilty conscience, he who had made David to "wander up and down" now in his turn wanders hither and there for that spiritual guidance which Jehovah withheld and at last by night in disguise was a suppliant before the witch of Endor, which sealed his destruction (1 Samuel 28;  1 Chronicles 10:13). As David was "watched" by Saul's messengers ( 1 Samuel 19:11) so David's remedy was, "because of his (Saul's) strength will I wait upon (watch unto, Hebrew) Thee."

David, seeing no hope of safety while within Saul's reach, fled to Samuel and dwelt with him at the prophet's school in Naioth. Saul sent messengers to apprehend him; but they and even Saul himself, when he followed, were filled with the spirit of prophecy; and they who came to seize the servant of God joined David in Spirit-taught praises of God; so, God can turn the hearts of His people's foes ( Proverbs 16:7;  Proverbs 21:1); compare  Acts 18:17 with  1 Corinthians 1:1, especially Saul's namesake ( Acts 7:58 with Acts 9). After taking affectionate leave of Jonathan, David fled to Nob, where the tabernacle was, in order to inquire God's will concerning his future course, as was David's custom. Herein  Psalms 16:7 undesignedly coincides with  1 Samuel 22:10;  1 Samuel 22:15. Ahimelech, alarmed at David's sudden appearance alone, lest he should be charged with some unwelcome commission, asked, "Why art thou alone?" (1 Samuel 21.) (See Ahimelech .) David, whom neither beast nor giant had shaken from his trust in the Lord, now through temporary unbelief told a lie, which involved the unsuspecting high priest and all his subordinates in one indiscriminate massacre, through Doeg's information to Saul.

Too late David acknowledged to the only survivor, Abiathar, that he had thereby occasioned their death (1 Samuel 22); so liable are even believers to vacillation and to consequent punishment. (See Abiathar .) By the lie he gained his immediate object, the 12 shewbread loaves just removed from the table to make place for the new bread on the sabbath, and also Goliath's sword wrapped up in cloth behind the high priest's own ephod (shoulder dress), so precious a dedicatory offering was it deemed. One gain David derived and Saul lost by his slaughter of the priests; Abiathar, the sole survivor of the line of Ithamar, henceforth attended David, and through him David could always inquire of God, in God's appointed way ( Psalms 16:7, in undesigned coincidence with  1 Samuel 23:2;  1 Samuel 23:4;  1 Samuel 23:6;  1 Samuel 23:9;  1 Samuel 30:7-8). Saul on the contrary had bereft himself of those through whom he might have consulted the Lord. So at last, "when the Lord answered him, neither by dreams, by Urim, nor by prophets," he filled up the measure of his guilt by repairing to the witch of Endor.

Surely men's "sin will find them out" ( 1 Samuel 28:6-7;  Numbers 32:23). The title of Psalm 52 informs us that it was composed in reference to Saul's cruel act on Doeg's officious tale-telling information. The "boaster in mischief, the mighty man" (the very term used of Saul,  2 Samuel 1:19), is not the herdsman Doeg, the ready tool of evil, but the master of hero might in animal courage, Saul. True hero might belongs to the godly alone, as  Psalms 18:25 saith, "with an upright hero (Hebrew for 'man') Thou wilt show Thyself upright." Saul's "lying and all devouring words" ( Psalms 5:3) are, with undesigned coincidence, illustrated by the independent history ( 1 Samuel 24:9), "wherefore hearest thou men's words, ... Behold, David seeketh thy hurt?" Saul's courtiers knew the road to his favor was to malign David. Saul was thus the prime mover of the lying charge. Doeg, for mischief and to curry favor, told the fact; it was Saul who put on it the false construction of treason against David and the innocent priests; compare David's similar language,  Psalms 17:3-4.

Saul was "the man that made not God his strength, but trusted in the abundance of his riches and strengthened himself in his wickedness" ( Psalms 52:7). For in undesigned coincidence with this the history ( 1 Samuel 22:7-9) represents him saying, "Will the son of Jesse give every one of you fields and vineyards?" etc., implying that he had all these (as Samuel foretold would be "the manner of the king,"  1 Samuel 8:14) to give, which David had not. Singularly prophetic of Saul's own doom are the Words ( Psalms 52:5) hinting at his having rooted out Ahimelech's family, "God shall likewise ... pluck thee out of try dwelling-place, and root thee out of the land of the living." Not only Saul, but all his bloody house save Mephibosheth, died by a violent death, by a righteous retribution in kind ( 1 Samuel 31:6;  2 Samuel 21:1-14;  Psalms 18:25-26). Unbelieving calculation of probabilities, instead of doing the right thing in prayerful faith, led David to flee to Israel's enemies, the Philistines and Achish of Gath.

(See Achish .) As Psalm 56 represents him praying for deliverance at this crisis, so Psalm 34 (in alphabetical acrostic arrangement in Hebrew), which by its tranquil tone shows it was composed in a season of quiet, is his permanent memorial of thanksgiving for the deliverance granted to his prayers. The title of Psalm 56, Jonath-elem-rechokim, means "the dumb dove among strangers." David was "dumb," inasmuch as, feeling words useless to enemies who "wrested" all he said ( Psalms 56:5), he silently left his cause with God ( Psalms 38:13-14). "Dove" represents his defenseless innocence, while pursued as a bird. He longed to have "wings like a dove to fly away and be at rest" ( Psalms 55:6-7;  1 Samuel 26:20). The "strangers" are the Philistines, among whom he was sojourning in his "wanderings" ( Psalms 56:8). The title of Psalm 34 says "he changed his behavior" or "concealed his intellect" (Hengstenberg), i.e. feigned madness," scrabbling on the doors and letting his spittle fall on his heard" ( 1 Samuel 21:10-15): so that Achish "(See Abimelech ", (literally, father of a king, hereditary not elective monarch) drove him away, and he departed.

"Goliath's sword" perhaps betrayed him, for Achish's servants immediately said, "Is not this David the king of the land? Did they not sing, ... David hath slain his ten thousands?" The sword which he had dishonestly got from Ahimelech now cuts the ground from under him, before Abimelech ( Numbers 32:23), and the song of his former triumph is the very occasion of their interpreting it to mean his kingship. The title of Psalm 56 implies he was "taken" prisoner, and only escaped by feigning madness. He now became an independent outlaw ( 1 Samuel 22:1), and gathered a band of fugitives through debt or distress, in the cave some miles S.W. of Bethlehem, the largest in the land, (See Adullam . "His father's house (probably including Zeruiah's sons, certainly Abishai:  2 Samuel 23:13;  2 Samuel 23:18) went down there to him," an appropriate expression, for the path goes down from Bethlehem to it toward the Dead Sea. As formerly a shepherd he knew every winding of the cavern, as the Arabs now do.

Some of Canaanite origin joined him, as Ahimelech the Hittite ( 1 Samuel 26:6). Long after we read of "600 men coming after him from Gath" ( 2 Samuel 15:18). As Psalm 56 refers to his stay with the Philistine king, so Psalm 57 title, "when he fled from Saul in the cave," refers to his subsequent stay in the cave of Adullam. The "cave" symbolizes a gloomy position ( Hebrews 11:38); and perhaps never did David's position seem darker than at that time, as he subsequently sets forth in the maschil (spiritual instruction) Psalm 142, for the edification and comfort of God's people when in similar cavelike positions of gloom and trial. From Adullam he went to Mizpeh ("watchtower, mountain height") of Moab, the Moabite royal residence on Mount Pisgah, and there, on the ground of kindred through Ruth the Moabitess, committed his aged parents to the charge of the king to secure them from Saul's enmity. This was the time probably when Nahash the Ammonite king showed him kindness ( 2 Samuel 10:2). Here too his future biographer, the prophet Gad, whose acquaintance he may have made when among the prophets at Naioth, joined him.

His name makes it possible he was a Gadite, the forerunner of the 11 Gadite chieftains who crossed the then overflowing Jordan to reach David shortly afterward. But now he was on the E. side of Jordan in Mizpeh-hold. Gad's warning, "Abide not in the hold, depart into Judah" ( 1 Samuel 22:5), implies that he was not to seek refuge outside the Holy Land, but trust in the Lord as his refuge. Tradition reports that the Moabites murdered his parents; if true, it must have been subsequently, since here it is implied David's parents left the hold when David left it. One thing is certain, that many years afterward David treated the subjugated Moabites with extraordinary severity," making them lie down upon the ground, and then with two lines measuring to put to death, and with one full line to keep alive," i.e. killing two-thirds of their fighting men, and sparing only one third. If in the interim, in violation of the rights of hospitality and kindred, they treacherously murdered his parents, his exceptional severity is accounted for. In  Psalms 60:8, "Moab is my washpot," he marks their ignominious subjection to the slave's office of washing the feet of the master.

Annually they had to pay 10,000 lambs and as many rams ( 2 Kings 3:4;  Isaiah 16:1). In Psalm 27 he alludes to this severance from his parents, who possibly (such is man's selfishness in calamity) blamed him for their exile: "when my father and my mother forsake me, then the Lord will take me up" ( Yaaspheeni ), as a child disowned by its parents, and taken up by the adoptive father from the streets; compare  Ezekiel 16:5-6. The "sorrow multiplying" idolatries surrounding him, while among the Philistines and in Moab, and his prayer for preservation amidst all, suggested the related pair of psalms, Ps 16 and Psalm 17 "Preserve me, O God, for in Thee do I put my trust" ( Psalms 16:1); "their sorrows shall be multiplied that hasten after another God"; in contrast to which his blessed experience is, "the Lord is the portion of mine inheritance," "the lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places, yea I have a goodly heritage." The names for idol gods and sorrows are almost identical; 'Alztseboth , 'Atsabbim ; a bad augury for those who "hasten after" (as one buying a wife at the price of a costly dowry, Hebrew) them.

In undesigned coincidence with this, David at Hachilah, in his appeal to Saul, fixes on this as the chief hardship of his exile from the Holy Land; they who stirred thee up against me" have driven me out from abiding in the inheritance of the Lord, saying, Go serve other gods:" The Moabite stone of Dibon strikingly confirms the Scripture representation of the free contact carried on between Israelites and Moabites, not being impeded by difference of language; Moab, if sprung from Lot as the Bible states, would use a language not widely different from that of Lot's uncle Abraham's descendants; so the Dibon stone is inscribed (about 900 B.C.) with a language almost identical with the Hebrew of the Bible histories, Samuel and Kings. Next, David by Gad's warning fled to Hareth forest. (See Hareth .) But hearing that the Philistines were robbing the threshing floors of Keilah (in the lowland of Judah toward Philistia), love of country prevailed over every thought of his own safety. (See Keilah .) But first he inquired of the Lord, "Shall I go, ... and save Keilah?"

Upon receiving a favorable response twice, probably through Gad, he went in spite of the remonstrance of his men, whose faith yielded to fears. He saved the city, killed many Philistines, and carried away their cattle. His self-devotion in behalf of Keilah was rewarded by treacherous ingratitude on the part of the citizens so saved. For, on Saul's secretly plotting mischief against him while shut up in Keilah, he learned by inquiry of the Lord, through Abiathar with the ephod, that the men of Keilah would betray him if he stayed, a type of Him who was betrayed by those whom He came to save (1 Samuel 23). From Keilah David and his 600 men (to which number they had increased from 400 in Adullam,  1 Samuel 22:2,) going to a mountain in the wilderness of Ziph, dispersed in the fastnesses "wheresoever they could go." It is to this occasion that Psalm 11 refers: "in the Lord put I my trust, how say ye to my soul, flee as a bird to your mountain." Literally he did flee; but the flight from which his spiritual instincts recoiled (compare  Nehemiah 6:11) was that from trust in Jehovah; though his followers' faith was giving way, especially when even Saul was claiming God as on his side against David ( 1 Samuel 23:3;  1 Samuel 23:7.)

The image of a "bird" is the very one the independent history represents him using while in the same neighborhood ( 1 Samuel 26:20): "the king of Israel is come out as when one doth hunt a partridge in the mountains." At an alarm birds flee from the open plain to the covert of a hill. "The wicked bending their bow ... that they may privily shoot at the upright" ( Psalms 11:2), points to the treacherous Ziphites tracking "his foot" (the margin of  1 Samuel 23:22), and guiding Saul and his Benjamite bowmen toward David. They "compassed" him (as  Psalms 17:9 expresses it, in agreement with the history) so closely at the wilderness of Maon, they on the one side while he was on the other, that David only by "making haste got away." God's providence interposed, for just as Saul was on the verge of overtaking him the Philistines unintentionally saved David by invading Judah and so requiring Saul in haste to meet them, the very enemies by whom Saul had hoped to kill David ( 1 Samuel 18:21)!

The name Sela-hammah-lekoth, "the rock of divisions," marked the spot where David climbed down one side while Saul was surrounding the mountain on the other side. Psalm 54 was written "when the Ziphims came and said to Saul, Doth not David hide himself with us?" Twice they informed Saul (1 Samuel 23; 1 Samuel 26). The exact words corresponding in both show that  1 Samuel 23:19 is the occasion meant in Psalm 54 "Strangers are risen up against me" ( Psalms 54:3); i.e., the Ziphites, who by the ties of country ought to have been friends, are behaving as hostile "strangers"; compare  Isaiah 25:5;  Psalms 120:5. So in  Psalms 54:5 the" enemies" are Shoreray , "those who watch me," liers in wait. Next, David dwelt in the strongholds of Engedi ("the fountain of the goat or kid"), "the rocks of the wild goats" (1 Samuel 24). This was in the neighborhood of the Dead Sea, the scene of the destruction by fire of the guilty cities of the plain. How naturally here the idea would suggest itself ( Psalms 11:6), "upon the wicked Jehovah shall rain fire and brimstone, and an horrible tempest" ("the wrath wind," Zil'Aphot ; compare" the breath of the Lord,"  Isaiah 30:33).

See last paragraph for the undesigned coincidence between  Psalms 11:1-2 and  1 Samuel 26:20-25. Here Providence put Saul the persecutor in his victim David's power. For Saul went into one of the caves with which the chalk and limestone conical hills W. of the Dead Sea abound, "to cover his feet" (to perform nature's necessities,  Judges 3:24; i.e. to defecate) while David's men were lurking in the sides. David silently cut off Saul's skirt on his spreading out his long robe before and behind. But though his men regarded it as an opportunity for killing him, appointed by Jehovah, David said," Jehovah forbid that I should ... stretch forth mine hand against ... Jehovah's anointed." Nay, his conscience even "smote him because he had cut off Saul's skirt." After Saul had left the cave David cried after him, "wherefore hearest thou men's words, ... Behold, David seeketh thy hurt?" So in  Psalms 7:3 he says, "if I have done this," namely, what my calumniators allege, "if there be iniquity in my hands." How undesignedly and naturally his words in the history coincide: "My father, see the skirt of try robe in my hand, for in that I killed thee not, know there is neither evil nor transgression in mine hand, yet thou huntest my soul."

The same favorite expressions occur in the psalm, "lest he tear my soul" ( Psalms 7:2;  Psalms 7:5), and "persecute me" ( Psalms 7:1), as in  1 Samuel 24:14, "whom dost thou persecute?" (Hebrew) Saul was astonished at David's magnanimity as something above the mere natural man:" if a man find his enemy, will he let him go well away? Wherefore the Lord reward thee good for that thou hast done unto me this day." How natural that the charge which Saul had alleged against David as his plea for persecuting him, but which really lay at Saul's own door, should be uppermost in David's mind:  Psalms 7:4, "if I have rewarded evil unto him that was at peace with me." Moreover, the same phrases occur in 1 Samuel 26, describing the similar magnanimity of David toward Saul ( 1 Samuel 26:18), and the same allusion to men's calumnies against David to gain Saul's favor. In  Psalms 7:3-5 he defends himself against these calumnies; and the title, "concerning the words," refers to them, for the real calumniator was Saul himself, and his flatterers uttered the calumnies to please him, therefore the title attributes "the words" to "Cush the Benjamite," i.e. the Ethiopian (black) hearted son of Kish of Benjamin = Saul.

As in  1 Samuel 24:12;  1 Samuel 26:15, David says, "The Lord judge between me and thee ... but mine hand shall not be upon thee; the Lord render to every man his righteousness"; so in  Psalms 7:8;  Psalms 7:11 "Judge me, O Lord, according to my righteousness ... God judgeth the righteous." In both alike appears the same committing of his righteous cause to the righteous God (compare  Psalms 18:20). Jehovah's "whetted sword" and "arrows ordained against the persecutors" literally smote Saul, in accordance with David's prophecy in  Psalms 7:13, for he was smitten by the arrows of the very Philistines by whom he had hoped to smite David, and he fell by his own sword ( 1 Samuel 18:17;  1 Samuel 18:21; compare  1 Samuel 31:3-4). David, of whom Saul had said, Let the hand of the Philistines be upon him, was actually saved by them ( 1 Samuel 27:1-3), it was Saul who was slain by them. So accurately was the retributive law fulfilled; "he made a pit and digged, and is fallen into the ditch which he made.

His mischief shall return upon his own head, and his violent dealing shall come upon his own pate" ( Psalms 7:15-16). The last interview between Saul and David was further S. in the same region, at the hill of Hachilah before Jeshimon, where Saul lay in the camp with the usual fortification of wagons and baggage around ( 1 Samuel 26:5 margin). David abode in the wilderness, and having ascertained by spies Saul's presence, sallied forth with Ablshai, and found Saul asleep, with his spear stuck in the ground beside him. Abishai would have smitten him with the spear, but David interposed: "Destroy him not, for who can stretch forth his hand against the Lord's anointed and be guiltless?" adding prophetically, "the Lord shall smite him ... or he shall descend into battle and perish" (compare  1 Samuel 31:6). This phrase became a motto to him, "Destroy not," Altaschith, prefixed to Psalm 57; 58; 59, and copied by Asaph, Psalm 75 He could say "Destroy not" to God, when he "destroyed not" his enemy ( Matthew 18:32-35;  Matthew 26:52).

Contenting himself with taking Saul's cruse, and the spear which had so nearly transfixed him, David appealed to the persecutor, whose heart was touched, and so David overcame evil with good. While in Maon David sought contributions from Nabal of Carmel (1 Samuel 25), of the house of Caleb but sadly degenerate from his wholehearted ancestor; David's men had been "very good" to Nabal's shepherds, neither hurting men nor taking property though in their power, yea "being a wall unto them both by night and day." But Nabal churlishly replied, "Shall I take my bread, my water, and my flesh (the repeated "my" marks his covetous God-forgetting selfishness,  Hosea 2:5), and give it to men whom I know not from whence they be? There be many servants (glancing at David) nowadays that break away every man from his master." David here was strongly tempted to that which he had abstained from in the case of Saul, personal revenge. Abigail, Nabal's wife, by her timely present of bread, wine, sheep, and fruit, saved herself and her house when David was bent on vengeance for having been requited evil for good.

With wise unselfishness she said, "Upon me let this iniquity be ... let not my lord regard this man of Belial, for as his name is so is he; Nabal ("fool") is his name, and folly is with him." At the same time she salved over the dishonor Nabal had done to David personally:" my lord fighteth the battles of the Lord (compare  1 Samuel 18:17); yet a man is risen ... to seek thy soul; but the soul of my lord shall be bound in the bundle of life, ... and the souls of thine enemies shall the Lord sling out as out of the middle of a sling," with feminine tact alluding to the great achievement of David, his slaying Goliath with a sling. In ten days after Nabal's unreasonable and drunken feast, from which he awoke only to hear of his imminent danger, the Lord struck Nabal down in such a way that he died. Then David blessed Jehovah for having" "pleaded his cause" (the phrase in the history coinciding undesignedly with that in  Psalms 35:1) against Nabal, and having kept David from self-revenge; compare  Romans 12:19.

Another coincidence between David's language in the independent history and that in his sacred poetry appears from comparing  1 Samuel 25:39, "the Lord hath returned the wickedness of Nabal upon his own head," with  Psalms 7:16, "his mischief shall return upon his own head." Scripture, which calls things by their right names, designates the unbelieving sinner a "fool," however wise in his own eyes and those of the world because gilded by worldly success. David could not fail to be deeply impressed with this in Nabal's case, whose name expressed his self-indulging, unbelieving folly. Having taken Abigail as his wife, David must have often thought of the remarkable providence under which he met her. How naturally then in the psalm which was indited for private devotion in the form of Psalm 53, and for public use in the sanctuary in the form of Psalm 14, does he stigmatize godlessness as the secret spring of the Folly of worldlings: "the fool (Nabal) hath said in his heart, No God!" How suddenly "great fear" came upon him in the midst of his godless feasting, "when no fear was" ( Psalms 53:5).

For when told, in the morning after his revel, of his danger, "his heart died within him, and he became as a stone"; the same heart which just before had been so "merry within him"; like the rich man who in the midst of his self-aggrandizing and indulging plans received the awful summons," Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee" ( Luke 12:16-20). The death of Saul, after he had "played the fool and erred exceedingly" ( 1 Samuel 26:21), and the utter "perishing" of Aamlek's "memorial with them," because their "hand was against the throne of the Lord" ( Exodus 17:16 margin), illustrate the same principle as set forth in David's Psalm 9, with the title Muth-Labben, i.e. an anagram for Nabal," concerning the dying of the fool," the phrase of David again in  2 Samuel 3:33. (See Amalek .) Unbelieving fear ("I shall now perish one day by the hand of Saul") and human calculations (such is the vacillation even in believers) induced David again to seek refuge among the Philistines; but now no longer a fugitive, but captain of an organized band, 600 men with their wives and families.

Achish of Gath (son of the former Achish says tradition), according to the usage of eastern monarchs, gave him Ziklag for his maintenance, which thenceforth appertained to Judah (1 Samuel 27). So did his power grow that a band of Benjamites, of Saul's brethren, right-handed and left-handed slingers and archers, with their captains, including Ismaiah the Gibeonite, a mighty man over the 30, joined him here ( 1 Chronicles 12:1-7), and he stayed "a full year and four months." David during his stay smote the Geshurites, Gezrites, and Amalekites, the very people the sparing of whom in disobedience to God was the cause of Saul's rejection; but he was guilty of a deception to Achish, saying his inroad was upon the Jerahmeelites and Kenites, nomadic races on the S. of Judah, allied to Israel. But for God's providential interposition his putting himself in this false position would have been fatal to his peace of conscience, for he would have had to join with the pagan Philistines in the battle of Gilboa against his own countrymen.

He narrowly escaped by the protest of the Philistine nobles (1 Samuel 28-29). Psalm 34, referring probably to both his stays in Philistia (see title), celebrates how "the angel of the Lord encamped around" him because he "feared" God, and "delivered" him; and how "the Lord redeemeth the soul of His servants," besides "keeping all his bones" so that "not one of them is broken." On the march toward Gilboa, and as he turned back to Ziklag, several captains of the thousands of Manasseh joined him, "all mighty men of valor," so that his army increased "day by day until it was a great host, like the host of God" ( 1 Chronicles 12:19-22). Upon returning, he discovered that the Amalekites had burned Ziklag with fire (1 Samuel 30), and they carried away all its inhabitants - women and children - as captives. "David was greatly distressed," for besides his own deep grief, his two wives Ahinoam and Abigail being among those carried off, the people with characteristic fickleness "bade stone him." But distress now brought out into strong relief his faith which had vacillated in his coming to Philistia, so "he encouraged himself in the Lord his God."

In undesigned coincidence with this representation, in the history of his fears silenced by his faith, in Psalm 56, which commemorates his two stays in Philistia, he says ( Psalms 56:3), "what time I am afraid I will trust in Thee." Consulting, as was his custom, God through Abiathar and the ephod, and receiving a favorable response, he pursued with 400 men (probably including some of the recently joined Manassites,  1 Chronicles 12:21), leaving 200 who were faint at the brook Besor. By an Egyptian's information he came upon the Amalekites and killed all except 400 who escaped on camels, and recovered all the captives and spoil. Besides, he took large spoil belonging to Amalek, and of it distributed "presents to all the places where David and his men were wont to haunt." This suggested his language  Psalms 68:18, "Thou hast received gifts for men," as explained in relation to the Antitype ( Ephesians 4:8). The law of division of plunder equally, among those engaged in the field and those guarding the baggage, was established ( 1 Samuel 25:13;  1 Samuel 30:25).

David's generosity to his fallen enemy appears in his punishment of the Amalekite, who, bringing news of Saul's death, and carrying to David the crown and bracelet stripped from him, confessed that he had put an end to Saul. David composed the beautiful elegy on Saul and Jonathan ( 2 Samuel 1:17-27), which he bade the children of Judah to be "taught" (compare title Psalm 60) in, designated "the bow" song, not as KJV "he bade them teach the children of Judah (the use of) the bow." Having first consulted the Lord, as always, David by His direction went up to Hebron, the sacred city where the patriarchs were buried and Caleb had his inheritance, and was there anointed king over Judah, which he continued to be 7 1/2 years. His noble-heartedness appears in his thanks to the men of Jabesh Gilead for burying Saul: "Blessed be ye of the Lord, that ye have showed this kindness ... now the Lord show kindness and truth unto you... I also will requite you this kindness." What a contrast to Saul's thanks to the Ziphites for betraying David: "Blessed be ye of the Lord (thus claiming God's sanction to treachery, malice, and bloodthirsty persecution of the innocent), for ye have compassion of me." Ishbosheth was not made king at Mahanaim until after David had reigned five years.

Probably all the country, except Judah in the S. and part of the transjordanic tribes on the E., were under the Philistine dominion after the fatal battle of Gilboa. Gradually, Israel recovered its land, and Abner at the close of the five years made Ishbosheth king. David however "waxed stronger and stronger," while "Saul's house waxed weaker and weaker" (2 Samuel 2-3). After a skirmish, disastrous to Ishbosheth's cause, that weak king offended Abner by charging him with an intrigue with Rizpah, Saul's concubine. Abner embraced David's side and procured David's wife Michal for him, severing her from her second husband Phaltiel. Then followed Joab's murder of Abner, which David felt himself politically unable to punish; but left the avenging of his blood to God, "these men the sons of Zeruiah be too hard for me, the Lord shall reward the doer of evil according to his wickedness" ( 2 Samuel 3:39), in coincidence with David's  Psalms 28:4. David paid every honor to his memory, following the bier, and composing a dirge on his death. (See Abner .)

Next followed Ishbosheth's murder and David's punishment of the murderers, Rechab and Baanah, who thought to gratify David by bringing his enemy's head. The coincidence between  2 Samuel 4:9, "as the Lord liveth who hath redeemed my soul out of all adversity," and  Psalms 31:5;  Psalms 31:7, is obvious. His sense of justice, even in the case of adversaries, his dependence continually on Jehovah, and humble ascription of all that he was to Him alone, kept him from behaving proudly in prosperity. Then he was anointed for the third time king, namely, over Israel (his reign lasting 33 years besides the previous 7 1/2 years over Judah

Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible [3]

David (‘beloved’). The second and greatest of the kings of Israel; the youngest of the eight sons of Jesse the Bethlehemite; he belonged to the tribe of Judah. The details of his life are gathered from   1 Samuel 16:3   1 Kings 2:11 ,   1 Chronicles 11:1 to   1 Chronicles 29:30 (besides some scattered notices in the earlier chapters of 1 Ch.), the Psalms which bear on this period, and Bk. VII of the Antiquities of Josephus, though this latter adds but little to our knowledge. It is necessary to bear in mind two points of importance in dealing with the records of the life of David: firstly, the Hebrew text is, in a number of cases, very corrupt (notably in the books of Samuel), and in not a few passages the Alexandrian (Greek) version is to be preferred; secondly, our records have been gathered together from a variety of sources, and therefore they do not present a connected whole; that they are for this reason sometimes at variance with each other stands in the natural order of things.

1. Early years . David was a shepherd by calling, and he continued this occupation until he had reached full manhood; the courage and strength sometimes required for the protection of flocks make it clear that he was more than a mere youth when he first appeared upon the scene of public life (  1 Samuel 17:34-35 ). There are altogether three different accounts of David’s entry upon the stage of life.

(i)  1 Samuel 16:1-13 . David is here represented as having been designated by Jahweh as Saul’s successor; Samuel is sent to Bethlehem to anoint him; all the seven sons of Jesse pass before the prophet, but the Spirit does not move him to anoint any of them; in perplexity he asks the father if he has any more children, whereupon the youngest is produced, and Samuel anoints him. Graphic as the story is, it strikes one as incomplete. Samuel does not even know of the existence of Jesse’s youngest son; the future king of Israel is introduced as a mere stripling whom nobody seems to know or care about, and he is left as abruptly as he is introduced. From all we know of Israel’s early heroes, a man was not raised to be a leader of the people unless or until he had first proved himself in some way to be the superior of his fellows. It was, of course, different when the monarchy had been securely established and the hereditary succession had come into vogue; though even then there were exceptions, e.g. in the case of Jehu. This was clearly so in the case of Saul, who had the reputation of being a ‘mighty man of valour’ (  1 Samuel 9:2 ); and in the parallel case of the anointing of one to be king while the throne was still occupied, viz. Jehu, it is not an unknown man who is anointed (see   1 Kings 19:16 ,   2 Kings 9:3 ff.). The story, therefore, of David’s anointing by Samuel strikes one as being an incomplete fragment.

(ii)  1 Samuel 16:14-23 . In this second account, the servants of Saul recommend that the king should send for someone who is a ‘cunning player on the harp,’ in order that by means of music the mental disorder from which he is suffering may be allayed. The son of Jesse is proposed, and forthwith sent for; when Saul is again attacked by the malady said to be occasioned by ‘an evil spirit from the Lord’ David plays upon the harp, and Saul ‘is refreshed’ in spirit. In this account David is represented as a grown man, for it is said that Saul made him his armour-bearer.

(iii)  1 Samuel 17:1-58 . The Greek version omits a large part of this account (  1 Samuel 17:12-31;   1 Samuel 17:55-58 ), which seems itself to have been put together from different sources. According to it, David’s first appearance was on the eve of a battle between the Israelites and the Philistines. His father is in the habit of sending him to the Israelite camp with provisions for his three eldest brothers, who are among the warriors of the Israelite army; on one such occasion he finds the camp in consternation on account of the defiance of a Philistine hero, the giant Goliath. This man offers to fight in single combat with any Israelite who will come out and face him, but in spite of the high reward offered by the king to any one who will slay him namely, great riches and the king’s daughter in marriage nobody appears to answer the challenge. David gathers these details from different people in the camp, and, feeling sure of the help of Jahweh, determines to fight the giant. He communicates his purpose to Saul, who at first discourages him, but on seeing his firmness and confidence arms him and bids him go forth in the name of Jahweh. David, however, finds the armour too cumbersome, and discards it, taking instead nothing but five smooth stones and a sling. After mutual defiance, David slings one of his stones; the giant is hit, and falls down dead; David rushes up, draws the sword of the dead warrior, and cuts off his head. Thereupon panic takes hold of the Philistine host, and they flee, pursued by the Israelites, who thus gain a complete victory (see Elhanan).

It is worthy of note that each of these three accounts which introduce David to history connects with him just those three characteristics which subsequent ages loved to dwell upon. The first presents him as the beloved of Jahweh (cf. his name, ‘beloved’), who was specially chosen, the man after God’s own heart, the son of Jesse; the second presents him as the harpist, who was known in later ages as the ‘sweet psalmist of Israel’; while the third, which is probably the nearest to actual history, presents him as the warrior-hero, just as, in days to come, men would have pictured him whose whole reign from beginning to end was characterized by war.

David’s victory over Goliath had a twofold result; firstly, the heroic deed called forth the admiration, which soon became love, of the king’s son Jonathan; a covenant of friendship was made between the two, in token of which, and in ratification of which, Jonathan took off his apparel and armour and presented David with them. This friendship lasted till the death of Jonathan, and David’s pathetic lamentation over him ( 2 Samuel 1:25-27 ) points to the reality of their love. But secondly, it had the effect of arousing Saul’s envy; a not wholly unnatural feeling, considering the estimation in which David was held by the people in consequence of his victory; the adage assuredly one of the most ancient authentic fragments of the history of the time

‘Saul hath slain his thousands,

And David his ten thousands’

was not flattering to one who had, in days gone by, been Israel’s foremost warrior. For the present, however, Saul conceals his real feelings ( 1 Samuel 18:10-11 are evidently out of place), intending to rid himself of David in such a way that no blame would seem to attach itself to him. In fulfilment of his promise to the slayer of Goliath, he expresses his intention of giving his daughter Michal to David for his wife; but as David brings no dowry, according to Hebrew custom, Saul lays upon him conditions of a scandalous character (  1 Samuel 18:25-26 ), hoping that, in attempting to fulfil them, David may lose his life. The scheme fails, and David receives Michal to wife. A further attempt to be rid of David is frustrated by Jonathan (  1 Samuel 19:1-7 ), and at last Saul himself tries to kill him by throwing a javelin at him whilst playing on his harp; again he fails, for David nimbly avoids the javelin, and escapes to his own house. Thither Saul sends men to kill him, but with the help of his wife he again escapes, and flees to Ramah to seek counsel from Samuel. On Samuel’s advice, apparently, he goes to Jonathan by stealth to see if there is any possibility of a reconciliation with the king; Jonathan does his best, but in vain (  1 Samuel 20:1-42 ), and David realizes that his life will be in danger so long as he is anywhere within reach of Saul or his emissaries.

2. David as an outlaw . As in the case of the earlier period of David’s life, the records of this second period consist of a number of fragments from different sources, not very skilfully put together. We can do no more here than enumerate briefly the various localities in which David sought refuge from Saul’s vindictiveness, pointing out at the same time the more important episodes of his outlaw life.

David flies first of all to Nob , the priestly city; his stay here is, however, of short duration, for he is seen by Doeg, one of Saul’s followers. Taking the sword of his late antagonist, Goliath, which was wrapped in a cloth behind the ephod, he makes for Gath , hoping to find refuge on foreign soil; but he is recognized by the Philistines, and fearing that they would take vengeance on him for killing their hero Goliath, he simulates madness (cf.   Psalms 34:1-22 title), a disease which by the Oriental (even to-day by the Bedouin) is looked upon as something sacrosanct. By this means he finds it easy enough to make his escape, and comes to the ‘ cave of Adullam .’ Here his relations come to him, and he gathers together a band of desperadoes, who make him their captain. Finding that this kind of life is unfitted for his parents, he takes them to Mizpeh and confides them to the care of the king of Moab. On his return he is advised by the prophet Gad (doubtless because he had found out that Saul had received information of David’s whereabouts) to leave the stronghold; he therefore takes refuge in the forest of Hereth . While hiding here, news is brought to him that the Philistines are fighting against Keilah; he hastens to succour the inhabitants by attacking the Philistines; these he overcomes with great slaughter, and thereupon he takes up his abode in Keilah . In the meantime Saul’s spies discover the whereabouts of the fugitive, and David, fearing that the men of Keilah will deliver him up to his enemy, escapes with his followers to the hill-country in the wilderness of Ziph . A very vigorous pursuit is now undertaken by Saul, who seems determined to catch the elusive fugitive, and the chase is carried on among the wilds of Ziph, Maon , and Engedi . [Some portions of the narrative here seem to be told twice over with varying detail (cf.   1 Samuel 23:19 ff. with   1 Samuel 26:1 ff., and   1 Samuel 24:1 ff. with   1 Samuel 26:4 ff.).] It is during these wanderings that Saul falls into the power of David, but is magnanimously spared. The episode connected with David’s dealings with Nabal, and his taking Abigail and Ahinoam for his wives, also falls within this period ( 1Sa 24:1-22;   1 Samuel 25:1-44;   1 Samuel 26:1-25 ). At one time there seemed to be some hope of reconciliation between Saul and David (  1 Samuel 26:24-25 ), but evidently this was short-lived, for soon afterwards David escapes once more, and comes with six hundred followers to the court of Achish, king of Gath. This time Achish welcomes him as an ally and gives him the city of Ziklag . David settles in Ziklag, and stays there for a year and four months (  1 Samuel 27:7 ), occupying the time by fighting against the enemies of his country, the Geshurites, Amalekites, etc. At the end of this time, war again breaks out between the Israelites and the Philistines. The question arises whether David shall join with the forces of Achish against the Israelites; David himself seems willing to fight on the side of the Philistines (  1 Samuel 29:8 ), but the princes of the Philistines, rightly or wrongly, suspect treachery on his part, and at the request of Achish he returns to Ziklag . On his arrival here he finds that the place has been sacked by the Amalekites, and forthwith he sets out to take revenge. This is ample and complete; part of the spoil which he acquires he sends as a present to the elders of Judah and to his friends (  1 Samuel 30:26-31 ), a fact which shows that there was a party favourable to him in Judah; and this was possibly the reason and justification of the mistrust of the Philistine princes just mentioned. In the meantime the war between Israel and the Philistines ends disastrously for the former, and Saul and Jonathan are slain. David receives news of this during his sojourn in Ziklag. With this ends the outlaw life of David, for, leaving Ziklag, he comes to Hebron, where the men of Judah anoint him king (  2 Samuel 2:4 ).

3. David as king

( a ) Internal affairs . For the first seven years of his reign David made Hebron his capital. In spite of his evident desire to make peace with the followers of Saul (  2 Samuel 9:1-13 ), it was but natural that a vigorous attempt should be made to uphold the dynasty of the late king, at all events in Israel, as distinct from Judah (see Ishbosheth). It is therefore just what we should expect when we read that ‘there was long war between the house of Saul and the house of David’ (  2 Samuel 3:1 ). The final victory lay with David, and in due time the elders of Israel came to him in Hebron and anointed him their king. As ruler over the whole land David realized the need of a more central capital; he fixed on Jerusalem, which he conquered from the Jebusites, and founded the royal city on Mt. Zion, ‘the city of David’ (  2 Samuel 5:7 ). Thither he brought up the ark with great ceremony (  2 Samuel 6:1 ff.), intending to build a permanent temple for it (  2 Samuel 7:2 ), but the prophet Nathan declares to him that this is not Jahweh’s will. David’s disappointment is, however, soothed, for the prophet goes on to tell him that though he may not build this house, Jahweh will establish the house of David ( i.e. in the sense of lineage) for ever (  2 Samuel 7:11 ). David then enters in before Jahweh and offers up his thanksgiving (  2 Samuel 7:18-29 ).

One of the darker traits of David’s character is illustrated by the detailed account of the Bathsheba episode ( 2 Samuel 11:2;   2 Samuel 12:25 ); so far from seeking to curb his passion for her on hearing that she is married, he finds ways and means of ridding himself of the husband, after whose death Bathsheba becomes his queen. The marriage was destined to influence materially the history of Israel (see Adonijah). But the most serious event in the history of the reign of David, so far as the internal affairs of the kingdom were concerned, was the rebellion of his son Absalom. Of an ambitious nature, Absalom sought the succession, even at the expense of dethroning his father. How he set about preparing the ground for the final coup is graphically described in   2 Samuel 15:1-6 . After four [forty in the EV [Note: English Version.] should be read ‘four’] years of suchlike crafty preparation, the rebellion broke out; a feast at Hebron, the old capital, given by Absalom to the conspirators, was the signal for the outbreak. At first Absalom was successful; he attacked Jerusalem, from which David bad to flee; here, following the advice of Ahithophel, he took possession of the royal harem, a sign (in the eyes of the people of those days) of the right of heritage. The most obvious thing to do now would have been for Absalom to pursue David before he had time to gather an army; but, against the advice of Ahithophel, he follows that of Hushai a secret friend of David who succeeds in inducing Absalom to waste time by lingering in Jerusalem. Ahithophel, enraged at the failure of his plans, and probably foreseeing what the final result must be, leaves Absalom and goes to his home in Giloh and hangs himself (  2 Samuel 17:23 ). In the meantime David, hearing what is going on in Jerusalem, withdraws across the Jordan, and halts at Mahanaim; here he gathers his forces together under the leadership of Joab. The decisive battle follows not long after, in the ‘forest of Ephraim’; Absalom is completely defeated, and loses his life by being caught in a tree by the head whilst fleeing. Whilst thus hanging he is pierced by Joab, in spite of David’s urgent command that he should not be harmed. The touching account of David’s sorrow, on hearing of Absalom’s death, is given in   2 Samuel 18:23-33 . A second rebellion, of a much less serious character, was that of Sheba, who sought to draw the northern tribes from their allegiance; it was, however, easily quelled by Joab (ch. 20).

The rebellion (if such it can be called) of Adonijah occurred at the very end of David’s reign. This episode is dealt with elsewhere (see Adonijah), and need not, therefore, be described here.

( b ) External affairs . Unlike most of his dealings with foreigners, David’s first contact, as king, with those outside of his kingdom, viz. with the Syrians, was of a peaceful character. Hiram, king of Tyre, sent (according to   2 Samuel 5:11 ,   1 Chronicles 14:1 ) artificers of different kinds to assist David in building. But this was the exception. One of the characteristics of David’s reign was its large number of foreign wars. It is, however, necessary to bear in mind that in the case of a newly-established dynasty this is only to be expected. The following is, very briefly, a list of David’s foreign wars; they are put in the order found in 2Sam., but this order is not strictly chronological; moreover, it seems probable that in one or two cases duplicate, but varying, accounts appear: Philistines (  2 Samuel 5:17-25 ), Moabites (  2 Samuel 8:2 ), Zobah (  2 Samuel 8:3-4 ), Syrians (  2 Samuel 8:5-13 ), Edomites (  2 Samuel 8:14 ), Ammonites, Syrians (  2 Samuel 10:1 ,   2 Samuel 11:1 ,   2 Samuel 12:26-31 ), and Philistines (  2 Samuel 21:15-22 ). David was victorious over all these peoples, the result being a great extension of his kingdom, which reached right up to the Euphrates (cf.   Exodus 23:31-33 ,   Deuteronomy 11:23-25 ). Wars of this kind presuppose the existence of a, comparatively speaking, large army; that David had a constant supply of troops may be gathered from the details given in   1 Chronicles 27:1-34 .

While it is impossible to deny that the rôle of musician in which we are accustomed to picture David is largely the product of later ages, there can be no doubt that this rôle assigned to him is based on fact (cf. e.g.   1 Samuel 1:17-27 ,   2 Samuel 22:2-51 =   Psalms 18:1-50 ,   Amos 6:5 ), and he must evidently be regarded as one of the main sources of inspiration which guided the nation’s musicians of succeeding generations (see art. Psalms).

The character of David offers an intensely interesting complex of good and bad, in which the former largely predominates. As a ruler, warrior, and organizer, he stands pre-eminent among the heroes of Israel. His importance in the domain of the national religion lies mainly in his founding of the sanctuary of Zion, with all that that denotes. While his virtues of open-heartedness, generosity, and valour, besides those already referred to, stand out as clear as the day, his faults are to a large extent due to the age in which be lived, and must be discounted accordingly.

W. O. E. Oesterley.

Easton's Bible Dictionary [4]

 2 Samuel 17:25 1 Samuel 16:12 17:42

His early occupation was that of tending his father's sheep on the uplands of Judah. From what we know of his after history, doubtless he frequently beguiled his time, when thus engaged, with his shepherd's flute, while he drank in the many lessons taught him by the varied scenes spread around him. His first recorded exploits were his encounters with the wild beasts of the field. He mentions that with his own unaided hand he slew a lion and also a bear, when they came out against his flock, beating them to death in open conflict with his club ( 1 Samuel 17:34,35 ).

While David, in the freshness of ruddy youth, was thus engaged with his flocks, Samuel paid an unexpected visit to Bethlehem, having been guided thither by divine direction ( 1 Samuel 16:1-13 ). There he offered up sacrifice, and called the elders of Israel and Jesse's family to the sacrificial meal. Among all who appeared before him he failed to discover the one he sought. David was sent for, and the prophet immediately recognized him as the chosen of God, chosen to succeed Saul, who was now departing from the ways of God, on the throne of the kingdom. He accordingly, in anticipation, poured on his head the anointing oil. David went back again to his shepherd life, but "the Spirit of the Lord came upon David from that day forward," and "the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul" ( 1 Samuel 16:13,14 ).

Not long after this David was sent for to soothe with his harp the troubled spirit of Saul, who suffered from a strange melancholy dejection. He played before the king so skilfully that Saul was greatly cheered, and began to entertain great affection for the young shepherd. After this he went home to Bethlehem. But he soon again came into prominence. The armies of the Philistines and of Israel were in battle array in the valley of Elah, some 16 miles south-west of Bethlehem; and David was sent by his father with provisions for his three brothers, who were then fighting on the side of the king. On his arrival in the camp of Israel, David (now about twenty years of age) was made aware of the state of matters when the champion of the Philistines, Goliath of Gath, came forth to defy Israel. David took his sling, and with a well-trained aim threw a stone "out of the brook," which struck the giant's forehead, so that he fell senseless to the ground. David then ran and slew him, and cut off his head with his own sword ( 1 Samuel 17 ). The result was a great victory to the Israelites, who pursued the Philistines to the gates of Gath and Ekron.

David's popularity consequent on this heroic exploit awakened Saul's jealousy ( 1 Samuel 18:6-16 ), which he showed in various ways. He conceived a bitter hatred toward him, and by various stratagems sought his death ( 1 Samuel 1830-30 ). The deep-laid plots of the enraged king, who could not fail to observe that David "prospered exceedingly," all proved futile, and only endeared the young hero the more to the people, and very specially to Jonathan, Saul's son, between whom and David a life-long warm friendship was formed.

A fugitive. To escape from the vengeance of Saul, David fled to Ramah ( 1 Samuel 19:12-18 ) to Samuel, who received him, and he dwelt among the sons of the prophets, who were there under Samuel's training. It is supposed by some that the sixth, seventh, and eleventh Psalms were composed by him at this time. This place was only 3 miles from the residence of Saul, who soon discovered whither the fugitive had gone, and tried ineffectually to bring him back. Jonathan made a fruitless effort to bring his father to a better state of mind toward David ( 1 Samuel 20 ), who, being made aware of the fact, saw no hope of safety but in flight to a distance. We accordingly find him first at Nob (21:1-9) and then at Gath, the chief city of the Philistines. The king of the Philistines would not admit him into his service, as he expected that he would, and David accordingly now betook himself to the stronghold of Adullam (22:1-4;  1 Chronicles 12:8-18 ). Here in a short time 400 men gathered around him and acknowledged him as their leader. It was at this time that David, amid the harassment and perils of his position, cried, "Oh that one would give me drink of the water of the well of Bethlehem;" when three of his heroes broke through the lines of the Philistines and brought him the water for which he longed ( 2 Samuel 23:13-17 ), but which he would not drink.

In his rage at the failure of all his efforts to seize David, Saul gave orders for the massacre of the entire priestly family at Nob, "persons who wore a linen ephod", to the number of eighty-five persons, who were put to death by Doeg the Edomite. The sad tidings of the massacre were brought to David by Abiathar, a son of Ahimelech, the only one who escaped. Compare  Psalm 52 .

Hearing that Keilah, a town on the western frontier, was harassed by the Philistines, David with his men relieved it ( 1 Samuel 23:1-14 ); and then, for fear of Saul, he fled to the strongholds in the "hill country" of Judah. Compare  Psalm 31 . While encamped there, in the forest in the district of Ziph, he was visited by Jonathan, who spoke to him words of encouragement (23:16-18). The two now parted never to meet again. Saul continued his pursuit of David, who narrowly escaped from him at this time, and fled to the crags and ravines of Engedi, on the western shore of the Dead Sea ( 1 Samuel 23:29 ). Here Saul, who still pursued him with his army, narrowly escaped, through the generous forbearance of David, and was greatly affected by what David had done for him. He returned home from pursuing him, and David betook himself to Maon, where, with his 600 men, he maintained himself by contributions gathered from the district. Here occurred the incident connected with Nabal and his wife Abigail ( 1 Samuel 25 ), whom David married after Nabal's death.

Saul again went forth ( 1 Samuel 26 ) in pursuit of David, who had hid himself "in the hill Hachilah, which is before Jeshimon," in the wilderness of Ziph, and was a second time spared through his forbearance. He returned home, professing shame and penitence for the way in which he had treated David, and predicting his elevation to the throne.

Fighting against Israel. Harassed by the necessity of moving from place to place through fear of Saul, David once more sought refuge among the Philistines ( 1 Samuel 27 ). He was welcomed by the king, who assigned him Ziklag as his residence. Here David lived among his followers for some time as an independent chief engaged in frequent war with the Amalekites and other tribes on the south of Judah.

Achish summoned David with his men to join his army against Saul; but the lords of the Philistines were suspicious of David's loyalty, and therefore he was sent back to Ziklag, which he found to his dismay may had been pillaged and burnt during his brief absence. David pursued after the raiders, the Amalekites, and completely routed them. On his return to Ziklag tidings reached him of Saul's death ( 2 Samuel 1 ). An Amalekite brought Saul's crown and bracelet and laid them at his feet. David and his men rent their clothes and mourned for Saul, who had been defeated in battle near Mount Gilboa. David composed a beautiful elegy, the most beautiful of all extant Hebrew odes, a "lamentation over Saul and over Jonathan his son" ( 2 Samuel 1:18-27 ). It bore the title of "The Bow," and was to be taught to the children, that the memory of Saul and Jonathan might be preserved among them. "Behold, it is written in the book of Jasher" (q.v.).

David king over Judah. David and his men now set out for Hebron under divine direction ( 2 Samuel 2:1-4 ). There they were cordially welcomed, and he was at once anointed as king. He was now about thirty years of age.

But his title to the throne was not undisputed. Abner took Ish-bosheth, Saul's only remaining son, over the Jordan to Mahanaim, and there crowned him as king. Then began a civil war in Israel. The first encounter between the two opposing armies, led on the one side by Abner, and on the other by Joab, took place at the pool of Gibeon. It resulted in the defeat of Abner. Other encounters, however, between Israel and Judah followed ( 2 Samuel 3:1,5 ), but still success was on the side of David. For the space of seven and a half years David reigned in Hebron. Abner now sided with David, and sought to promote his advancement; but was treacherously put to death by Joab in revenge for his having slain his brother Asahel at Gibeon (3:22-39). This was greatly to David's regret. He mourned for the death of Abner. Shortly after this Ish-bosheth was also treacherously put to death by two Canaanites of Beeroth; and there being now no rival, David was anointed king over all Israel (4:1-12).

David king over all Israel ( 2 Samuel 5:1-5;  1 Chronicles 11:1-3 ). The elders of Israel now repaired to Hebron and offered allegiance to David in name of all the people, among whom the greatest enthusiasm prevailed. He was anointed king over all Israel, and sought out a new seat of government, more suitable than Hebron, as the capital of his empire. At this time there was a Jebusite fortress, "the stronghold", on the hill of Zion, called also Jebus. This David took from the Jebusites, and made it Israel's capital, and established here his residence, and afterwards built for himself a palace by the aid of Tyrian tradesmen. The Philistines, who had for some time observed a kind of truce, now made war against David; but were defeated in battle at a place afterwards called, in remembrance of the victory, Baal-perazim. Again they invaded the land, and were a second time routed by him. He thus delivered Israel from their enemies.

David now resolved to bring up the ark of the covenant to his new capital ( 2 Samuel 6 ). It was in the house of Abinadab at Kirjath-jearim, about 7 miles from Jerusalem, where it had been for many years, from the time when the Philistines had sent it home ( 1 Samuel 6;  7 ). In consequence of the death of Uzzah (for it was a divine ordinance that only the Levites should handle the ark,  Numbers 4 ), who had put forth his hand to steady the ark when the cart in which it was being conveyed shook by reason of the roughness of the road, David stayed the procession, and conveyed the ark into the house of Obed-edom, a Philistine from Gath. After three months David brought the ark from the house of Obed-edom up to Jerusalem. Compare  Psalm 24 . Here it was placed in a new tent or tabernacle which David erected for the purpose. About seventy years had passed since it had stood in the tabernacle at Shiloh. The old tabernacle was now at Gibeah, at which Zadok ministered. David now ( 1 Chronicles 16 ) carefully set in order all the ritual of divine worship at Jerusalem, along with Abiathar the high priest. A new religious era began. The service of praise was for the first time introduced into public worship. Zion became henceforth "God's holy hill."

David's wars. David now entered on a series of conquests which greatly extended and strengthened his kingdom ( 2 Samuel 8 ). In a few years the whole territory from the Euphrates to the river of Egypt, and from Gaza on the west to Thapsacus on the east, was under his sway ( 2 Samuel 8:3-13;  10 ).

David's fall. He had now reached the height of his glory. He ruled over a vast empire, and his capital was enriched with the spoils of many lands. But in the midst of all this success he fell, and his character became stained with the sin of adultery ( 2 Samuel 11:2-27 ). It has been noted as characteristic of the Bible that while his military triumphs are recorded in a few verses, the sad story of his fall is given in detail, a story full of warning, and therefore recorded. This crime, in the attempt to conceal it, led to anoter. He was guilty of murder. Uriah, whom he had foully wronged, an officer of the Gibborim, the corps of heros (23:39), was, by his order, "set in the front of the hottest battle" at the siege of Rabbah, in order that he might be put to death. Nathan the prophet ( 2 Samuel 7:1-17;  12:1-23 ) was sent by God to bring home his crimes to the conscience of the guilty monarch. He became a true penitent. He bitterly bewailed his sins before God. The thirty-second and fifty-first Psalms reveal the deep struggles of his soul, and his spiritual recovery.

Bathsheba became his wife after Uriah's death. Her first-born son died, according to the word of the prophet. She gave birth to a second son, whom David called Solomon, and who ultimately succeeded him on the throne ( 2 Samuel 12:24,25 ).

Peace. After the successful termination of all his wars, David formed the idea of building a temple for the ark of God. This he was not permitted to carry into execution, because he had been a man of war. God, however, sent Nathan to him with a gracious message ( 2 Samuel 7:1-16 ). On receiving it he went into the sanctuary, the tent where the ark was, and sat before the Lord, and poured out his heart in words of devout thanksgiving (18-29). The building of the temple was reserved for his son Solomon, who would be a man of peace ( 1 Chronicles 22:9;  28:3 ).

A cloudy evening. Hitherto David's carrer had been one of great prosperity and success. Now cloudy and dark days came. His eldest son Amnon, whose mother was Ahinoam of Jezreel, was guilty of a great and shameful crime ( 2 Samuel 13 ). This was the beginning of the disasters of his later years. After two years Absalom terribly avenged the crime against Tamar, and put Amnon to death. This brought sore trouble to David's heart. Absalom, afraid of the consequences of his guilt, fled to Geshur beyond Jordan, where he remained for three years, when he was brought back through the intrigue of Joab ( 2 Samuel 14 ).

After this there fell upon the land the calamity of three years' famine ( 2 Samuel 21:1-14 ). This was soon after followed by a pestilence, brought upon the land as a punishment for David's sinful pride in numbering the people ( 2 Samuel 24 ), in which no fewer than 70,000 perished in the space of three days.

Rebellion of Absalom. The personal respect for David was sadly lowered by the incident of Bathsheba. There was a strong popular sentiment against the taking of the census, and the outburst of the plague in connection with it deepened the feeling of jealously that had begun to manifest itself among some of the tribes against David. Absalom, taking full advantage of this state of things, gradually gained over the people, and at length openly rebelled against his father, and usurped the throne. Ahithophel was Absalom's chief counsellor. The revolt began in Hebron, the capital of Judah. Absalom was there proclaimed king. David was now in imminent danger, and he left Jerusalem ( 2 Samuel 15:13-20 ), and once more became a fugitive. It was a momentous day in Israel. The incidents of it are recorded with a fulness of detail greater than of any other day in Old Testament history. David fled with his followers to Mahanarm, on the east of Jordan. An unnatural civil war broke out. After a few weeks the rival armies were mustered and organized. They met in hostile array at the wood of Ephraim ( 2 Samuel 18:1-8 ). Absalom's army was defeated, and himself put to death by the hand of Joab (9-18). The tidings of the death of his rebellious son filled the heart of David with the most poignant grief. He "went up to the chamber over the gate, and wept" (33), giving utterance to the heart-broken cry, "Would God I had died for thee, O Absalom, my son, my son!" Peace was now restored, and David returned to Jerusalem and resumed the direction of affairs. An unhappy dispute arose between the men of Judah and the men of Israel (19:41-43). Sheba, a Benjamite, headed a revolt of the men of Israel. He was pursued to Abelbeth-maachah, and was there put to death, and so the revolt came to an end.

The end. After the suppression of the rebellion of Absalom and that of Sheba, ten comparatively peaceful years of David's life passed away. During those years he seems to have been principally engaged in accumulating treasures of every kind for the great temple at Jerusalem, which it was reserved to his successor to build ( 1 Chronicles 22;  28;  29 ), a house which was to be "exceeding magnifical, of fame and of glory throughout all countries" (22:5). The exciting and laborious life he had spent, and the dangers and trials through which he had passed, had left him an enfeebled man, prematurely old. It became apparent that his life was now drawing to its close. A new palace conspiracy broke out as to who should be his successor. Joab favoured Adonijah. The chiefs of his party met at the "Fuller's spring," in the valley of Kidron, to proclaim him king; but Nathan hastened on a decision on the part of David in favour of Solomon, and so the aim of Adonijah's party failed. Solomon was brought to Jerusalem, and was anointed king and seated on his father's throne ( 1 Kings 1:11-53 ). David's last words are a grand utterance, revealing his unfailing faith in God, and his joyful confidence in his gracious covenant promises ( 2 Samuel 23:1-7 ).

After a reign of forty years and six months ( 2 Samuel 5:5;  1 Chronicles 3:4 ) David died (B.C. 1015) at the age of seventy years, "and was buried in the city of David." His tomb is still pointed out on Mount Zion.

Both in his prophetical and in his regal character David was a type of the Messiah ( 1 Samuel 16:13 ). The book of Psalms commonly bears the title of the "Psalms of David," from the circumstance that he was the largest contributor (about eighty psalms) to the collection. (See Psalms .)

"The greatness of David was felt when he was gone. He had lived in harmony with both the priesthood and the prophets; a sure sign that the spirit of his government had been throughly loyal to the higher aims of the theocracy. The nation had not been oppressed by him, but had been left in the free enjoyment of its ancient liberties. As far as his power went he had striven to act justly to all (  2 Samuel 8:15 ). His weak indulgence to his sons, and his own great sin besides, had been bitterly atoned, and were forgotten at his death in the remembrance of his long-tried worth. He had reigned thirty-three years in Jerusalem and seven and a half at Hebron ( 2 Samuel 5:5 ). Israel at his accession had reached the lowest point of national depression; its new-born unity rudely dissolved; its territory assailed by the Philistines. But he had left it an imperial power, with dominions like those of Egypt or Assyria. The sceptre of Solomon was already, before his father's death, owned from the Mediterranean to the Euphrates, and from the Orontes to the Red Sea.", Geikie's Hours etc., iii.

Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology [5]

David was the founder of a dynasty that would rule in Jerusalem for over 350 years. His impact on the history of Israel is seen from the extensive interest in him and his successors as reflected in the Deuteronomic history, the prophets, the Chronicler's history, the psalms, and the New Testament.

David in the Deuteronomic History . The books from Joshua through Kings are often called the Deuteronomic history (DH) because the authors/compilers of these books used provisions and emphases unique to Deuteronomy in order to evaluate the history of Israel. Deuteronomy had authorized the nation to have a king (17:14-20), and the DH traces life in Israel both without a king (Joshua, Judges) and with a king (Samuel, Kings).

The majority of what we learn about David's life and times is contained in the accounts in Samuel. In Samuel the writer forges a contrast between Saul and David, "a man after his [God's] own heart" ( 1 Samuel 13:14 ). D. M. Gunn's analysis of the narratives about David focuses on two primary themes: David as king and David as a man. In his first role as king, David acquires the kingdom and assures his tenure in office (the accounts about David and Saul, the rebellions of Absalom and Sheba) and founds a dynasty (the birth of Solomon, the rebellion of Adonijah, the elimination of other contenders and factions). These narratives are intertwined with the theme of David as a man: a husband and father (Michal, Bathsheba, Amnon, Absalom, Solomon, Adonijah). The accounts are overlaid with themes of sexuality and political intrigue. Sexuality is a motif in the accounts of the sin with Bathsheba, the death of the child from an adulterous union, one son's rape of a daughter, the competition for the father's bedmate Abishag, Uriah's refusal to visit his wife, the seizure of David's concubines, and the childlessness of Saul's daughter Michal. Violence and political intrigue are interspersed in the accounts of David's wars, Saul's attempts on David's life, the violence of Joab and his brothers, the murder of Uriah, fratricide among David's sons, the slaughter of the helpless Absalom, and David's plans for the deaths of his enemies soon after his own death. The account of David's relationship with Bathsheba not only prepares for the eventual accession of Solomon, but it also sets in motion a curse that will dog the remainder of David's life: death and sexual outrage will follow, and "the sword will never depart from [his] house" ( 2 Samuel 12:10 ). The one word "sword" becomes a key term unifying aspects of the narrative from Samuel through Kings. The entire account of David is presented as the interplay of his public (kingship) and private (father, husband) roles as they impinge on the question of who will succeed him to the throne. Gunn also accents the themes of giving and grasping: whereas some accounts present David or other characters as somewhat passive in their roles, in others they seize or grasp at favor and power. For example, the king who will not seize the kingdom from Saul ( 2 Samuel 2-5 ) is nevertheless willing to seize a woman who is the object of his desire (Bathsheba); she who is seemingly passive in her seduction will later seize the kingdom for Solomon. Overall it is the story of how David gains the throne, loses it temporarily in the face of rebellions, only to regain it again, and then lose it in death. It is an intricate picture of human greatness and folly, of wisdom and sin, of faith and faithlessness, of contrasting perspectives and conflicting desires. The narratives about David also abound in irony. For example, the faithful Uriah unknowingly honors a king who has been unfaithful to him; Uriah retains his ritual purity during warfare by refraining from sexual intercourse during time of war, only to be sent to his death in battle by a king who enjoyed sexual congress with Uriah's wife instead of going to the battle ( 2 Samuel 11 ).

Within the larger DH, the writer is concerned to trace the faithfulness of God in his promise to David that he would never lack a descendant sitting on this throne ( 2 Samuel 7 ). This theme is played out in Kings: there were twenty kings in the southern kingdom, and twenty kings in the northern. But the northern kingdom lasted only two centuries while the southern kingdom endured for three and a half centuries. Why was life expectancy so much greater for a king in the South? In the North, there were nine different dynasties, most inaugurated by regicide or coup d'etat. In the South, by contrast, a single dynasty ruled until the Babylonian exile. God had indeed "maintained a lamp" for David ( 1 Kings 11:36;  15:4;  2 Kings 8:19 ).

David in the Psalms . The historical books recall David's skill as a musician and his concern with music in worship ( 1 Samuel 16:14-21;  1 Chronicles 25;  2 Chronicles 23:18;  29:25-30;  35:15 ). The many psalms assigned to David reflect this skill and interest. However, the psalms do not just record the compositions of David; they also celebrate the promises God made to him and his descendants (18:50; 78:70,72; 89:3,20, 35,49). The royal psalms (2,45, 72,84, 89,110) join with the prophets in giving voice to Israel's messianic hopes for another king like David. The royal psalms center on a king who meets universal opposition, is victorious, and establishes righteous rule from Zion over the nations. His kingdom is peaceful, prosperous, everlasting, and faithful to the Lord. He is the friend of the poor and the enemy of the oppressor. He is the heir of the promises to David. He is himself divine ( Psalm 45:6 ); like the angel of the Lord, he is both God and distinct from God.

David in the Prophets . One of the recurring themes in the Book of Samuel is reference to the "Lord's anointed" ( 1 Samuel 16:3,6 ,  12-13;  24:6;  26:9,11 ,  16,23;  2 Samuel 1:14,16;  3:39;  19:21 ). The term "messiah" means "anointed one, " and the idea of a messiah for Israel grows out of her ideology about a righteous king, one who would be like David. The messiah as a figure is integrally involved in Israel's unique understanding of her place in history: their awareness from the beginning that God had chosen them to bring blessing to the nations. God had raised up great leaders and deliverers for Israel during her history, and he would yet do so again in the person of a messiah. The failures of the kings who followed David set him in an increasingly favorable light, so that Israel's hopes crystallized around the coming of a future king like David ( Isaiah 16:5;  55:3-5;  Jeremiah 23:5;  33:17-26;  36:30;  Ezekiel 34:23;  Zechariah 9:9;  12:8,10 ). In the book of Immanuel ( Isaiah 7-12 ), the prophet speaks about the appearance of a wonder child who will be deliverer, world ruler, and righteous king.

David in the Chronicler's History . Chronicles is among the latest books of the Old Testament; it was written no earlier than the later decades of the fourth century b.c. When comparing the Chronicler's account of David and Solomon with that in Samuel/Kings, perhaps the most striking difference is the material that the Chronicler has chosen to omit. With the exception of the account of David's census ( 1 Chronicles 21 //   2 Samuel 24 ), the Chronicler has not recorded incidents that would in any way tarnish the image of David or Solomon. The Chronicler does not report the rival kingdom in the hands of a descendant of Saul during David's seven years at Hebron or David's negotiations for rule over the northern tribes. He omits any account of the rebellion of Absalom and Adonijah and the actions of Amnon and Shimei; he makes no mention of David's sins in connection with Bathsheba and Uriah. The Chronicler deletes the narrative of Solomon's taking vengeance on David's enemies ( 1 Kings 2 ) and does not report the sins of Solomon which, according to Kings, were ultimately the reason for the break-up of the kingdom ( 1 Kings 11 ). Even the blame for the schism is shifted from Solomon to Jeroboam ( 2 Chronicles 13:6-7 ).

In Chronicles David and Solomon are portrayed as glorious, obedient, all-conquering figures who enjoy not only divine blessing, but also the support of all the nation. Instead of an aged, bed-ridden David who only saves the kingdom for Solomon at the last minute due to the promptings of Bathsheba and Nathan ( 1 Kings 1 ), the Chronicler shows a smooth transition of power without a ripple of dissent ( 1 Chronicles 21,28-29 ). David himself publicly announces Solomon's appointment as his successor, an announcement greeted with enthusiastic and total support on the part of the people ( 1 Chronicles 28:1-29:25 ), including the other sons of David, the officers of the army, and others who had supported Adnoijah's attempted coup ( 1 Chronicles 29:24;  1 Kings 1:7-10 ). Whereas in Kings Solomon's sins are a reason for the schism and Solomon is contrasted to his father David ( 1 Kings 11 ), in Chronicles Rehoboam is commended for "walking in the ways of David and Solomon" ( 2 Chronicles 11:17 ).

This idealization of the reigns of David and Solomon could be dismissed as a kind of glorification of the "good old days." Yet when coupled with the Chronicler's emphasis on God's promise to David of an enduring dynasty ( 1 Chronicles 17:11-14;  2 Chronicles 13:5,8;  21:7;  23:3 ), the Chronicler's treatment of David and Solomon reflects a "messianic historiography." David and Solomon in Chronicles are not just the David and Solomon who were, but the David and Solomon of the Chronicler's eschatological hope. At a time when subject to the Persians the Chronicler still cherished hopes of a restoration of Davidic rule, and he describes the glorious rule of David and Solomon in the past in terms of his hopes for the future.

David in the New Testament . David's sins do not seem that much greater than Saul's. How is it that David can be described by the narrator as "a man after his [God's] own heart" ( 1 Samuel 13:14 )? Israel had looked at Saul's height and build— there was no one like him among all the people ( 1 Samuel 10:24 ); although God had chosen Saul, he knew what was in his heart. Human beings might look at appearance and height, but God saw David's heart. David's heart was such that he would face Goliath virtually unarmed and would triumph through his faith, while Saul cowered in his tent ( 1 Samuel 17 ). The central demand of life in covenant with God, both from the mouth of Moses and Jesus, was to love him with the whole heart ( Deuteronomy 6:5;  Mark 12:30 ).

Yet something happened to David along the way. When we first meet him in Samuel he has taken a club to kill a bear and a lion for the sake of sheep ( 1 Samuel 17:34-35 ), but by the end of the book, he has decided that the sheep should die for him, although this time the sheep were people ( 2 Samuel 24:14,17 ). David will not be the good shepherd who will give his life for the sheep.

The writers of the New Testament see in Jesus the embodiment of a righteous king for Israel. They take pains to point to his descent from David ( Matthew 1:1,6,17 ). The crowds and even the demons recognize him as the son of David, the Messiah of Israel ( Matthew 12:23;  20:30-31;  21:9,15 ). The title "Christ" is a Greek translation of the Hebrew anointed one or messiah. Jesus comes like David, as "the Lord's anointed."

Hannah's longing for a child and for a righteous king and anointed one ( 1 Samuel 2:10 ) is heard again in Mary's own magnificat as she anticipates the birth of Israel's king and Messiah ( Luke 2:32-33,46-55,69 ). David had become the heir of God's promise to Abraham that he would give him a great name ( Genesis 12:2;  2 Samuel 7:9 ). David's greater son receives a names above all others ( Philippians 2:9-10 ). Just as David had once gone into singlehanded combat with the great enemy of Israel so Jesus would singlehandedly triumph over the enemy of our souls. He would establish an everlasting kingdom.

Raymond B. Dillard

See also Name And Titles Of Jesus Christ

Bibliography . J. Flanagan, David's Social Drama: A Hologram of Israel's Early Iron Age  ; J. P. Fokkelman, Narrative Art and Poetry in the Book of Samuel, 3 vols.; K. R. R. Gros Louis, Semeia 8 (1977): 15-33; D. M. Gunn, The Story of King David  ; J. A. Wharton, Int 35 (1981): 341-54; R. N. Whybray, The Succession Narrative: A Study of  2 Samuel 9-20 and   1 Kings 1,2 .

People's Dictionary of the Bible [6]

David ( Dâ'Vid ), Beloved. The great king of Israel. He was the eighth and youngest son of Jesse, of Bethlehem and of the tribe of Judah. Six of his brothers are named in Scripture,  1 Chronicles 2:13-15; of the other, we know only the fact of his existence,  1 Samuel 17:12; and it is needless to mention the conjectures which have been formed of him. David had also two sisters.  1 Chronicles 2:16-17. His mother's name is not recorded, unless, as some have believed, she was the Nahash of  2 Samuel 17:25. When the Lord, because of the ungodly conduct of Saul, had determined to choose another king, Samuel was directed to go to Bethlehem: and from the sons of Jesse anoint another as king over Israel. Dean Stanley thus describes David's appearance and physique as he stood before Samuel: "He was short of stature, had red hair and bright eyes. He was remarkable for the grace of his figure and countenance, well made, and of immense strength and agility. In swiftness and activity he could only be compared to a wild gazelle, with feet like harts' feet, with arms strong enough to break a bow of steel or bend a bow of brass." R. V.  Psalms 18:33-34. Samuel anointed David "in the midst of his brethren,"  1 Samuel 16:13; and the Spirit of God was from that day specially upon him. David returned to the care of his flocks. Such education as the times afforded he doubtless had, and God's law was his study. He had poetic genius, too; and music was his delight. When Saul, afflicted now with that black spirit of melancholy which his sins had justly brought upon him, might, it was thought, be soothed by a minstrel's music, David took his harp to the palace; and his music calmed Saul's distemper; and Saul was gratified and became attached to his skilful attendant. David was not indeed altogether removed from home. He went backwards and forwards, as the king's dark hour was upon him, and his services were needed. In  1 Samuel 16:21 it is said that Saul made David his armor-hearer. And this has puzzled commentators exceedingly. For it then would have been strange if neither Saul nor any one about his person had recognized David when he came, as we find in the next chapter, to accept Goliath's challenge. And so all sorts of devices have been contrived to get the history into chronological order; some imagining that the fight with the Philistine was before David was attached to Saul as the minstrel. David offers to engage Goliath; but Saul doubts whether the young man was equal to such a perilous encounter; and David of course makes no allusion to his having previously stood before the king. Had it come out then that he was but the minstrel, the discovery would have been enough to prevent his being allowed the combat: he tells, therefore, how he killed the lion and the bear; and his evident enthusiasm wrings a consent from Saul that he shall go to battle. Saul accordingly arms him—not with his own personal armor, as some have not very wisely supposed: the stalwart king would have known better than to encumber the stripling with his own coat of mail—but with weapons—plenty were no doubt in the royal tent—more suited to his size. With these, however, unaccustomed as he was to such harness (an additional proof that he had never yet been Saul's armor-bearer), David refuses to go. He will rather take his shepherd's sling, and choose him out pebbles from the brook. David was successful; the huge Philistine fell; and the Israelitish troops pealed out their shouts of victory. Then Abner was willing to appear as a patron, and took the conqueror to Saul. And, in answer to the king's query, David replies, "I am the son of thy servant Jesse the Bethlehemite,  1 Samuel 17:58, adopting the style by which he was first named to the king.  1 Samuel 16:18. He is now fully recognize! found both a skilful musician and a valiant soldier, and attains the position mentioned before.  1 Samuel 16:21. Saul loves him, and makes him his armor-bearer, and sends a second message to Jesse,  1 Samuel 16:22, which, if not explained in this way, would seem unnecessary. See  1 Samuel 16:19. David is now established in the king's favor: he is specially beloved by Jonathan; he is set over the men of war,  1 Samuel 18:5, perhaps made captain of the body-guard, and employed in various services the rest of the campaign; by which his popularity was increased. But the king's mind began ere long to change. The rejoicings at the re-establishment of peace provoked his jealousy. For the chief praise in the songs of the women was given to David.  1 Samuel 18:6-9. And speedily the evil spirit resumed his sway. David did not then refuse to take up again his harp; though once or twice the maddened king strove to kill him with his javelin, and, because he could no longer bear his constant presence, removed him from the body-guard to a separate command, l Sam. 18:13. After he had married Saul's younger daughter Michal, instead of the elder Merab, who had been promised him, Saul, further enraged by David's increasing credit with the nation, and understanding, it is likely, by this time, that the young Bethlehemite was the chosen of the Lord, to whom the kingdom was to be transferred, sent to arrest him in his house. By Michal's stratagem he escaped, and fled to Samuel at Naioth in Ramah. Hither, however, he was followed,  1 Samuel 19:1-24, and again he fled; his stay with Samuel, whom he had perhaps not seen since the anointing, being in all probability not longer than a day or two. Convinced by an interview with Jonathan that Saul's enmity was no mere transient passion,  1 Samuel 20:1-42, David went to Nob, where his duplicity cost the high priest his life, and thence to Achish, king of Gath, where, to escape the jealousy of the Philistines, he simulated madness.  1 Samuel 21:1-15. Returning into Judah, he gathered a band of men, and maintained himself sometimes in the wilderness, sometimes hiding in caves, sometimes occupying a town, as Keilah. His father and mother he had placed with the king of Moab,  1 Samuel 22:3; and he had now the presence of the prophet Gad. 1 Sara. 22:5. At Keilah, too, Abiathar, become high priest on his father's murder, joined him,  1 Samuel 22:20;  1 Samuel 23:4, and various warriors: eleven Gadite chiefs are particularly specified, and some of Judah and Benjamin.  1 Chronicles 12:8-18. To this period, belong the circumstances narrated in the concluding chapters of the first book of Samuel—the adventure with Nabal, and David's marriage with Abigail; his twice sparing Saul's life; perhaps the battle for the water of the well of Bethlehem,  1 Chronicles 11:15-19; and also the residence with Achish, who gave him Ziklag. David's conduct at this time cannot be justified. He laid waste the country of Philistine, allies, and pretended that he had destroyed only the tribes dependent upon Judah; and he joined Achish's army when marching to the battle of Gilboa. Here he was reinforced by some Manassites,  1 Chronicles 12:19-20, but was dismissed from the expedition through the renewed jealousy of the Philistine lords. He returned, therefore, to Ziklag, to find it plundered and burnt However, he recovered what was lost, and obtained greater spoil, which he politicly sent to his friends in Judah, and, on the news of Saul's defeat and death just after, he repaired, by God's direction, to Hebron, and was anointed king.  2 Samuel 2:2-4. He reigned as yet over only a part of the nation: for Abner established Ish-bosheth, Saul's son, on the west of the Jordan, and over Israel generally. But gradually the tribes were flocking to David,  1 Chronicles 12:23-40; and Saul's house was weakening as he was strengthened; till at length Abner himself came with a proposal to transfer to him the whole kingdom.  2 Samuel 3:1-39. But Abner was murdered by Joab, David's nephew and commander-in-chief, a man too powerful to be punished; and shortly after Ish-bosheth was assassinated by two of his officers; and then the nation was reunited; and David reigned over the kingdom of Israel; seven years and six months having elapsed since he had taken the crown of Judah.  2 Samuel 4:5. He was now "one of the great men of the earth."  2 Samuel 7:9. He consolidated his power at home, took Jerusalem and made it his capital, removing thither the ark of God,  2 Samuel 6:1-23, organized his army,  1 Chronicles 11:1-47, and regulated the services of the sanctuary, 15:16, enlarged his harem,  2 Samuel 3:2-5;  2 Samuel 5:13-16, opened commercial intercourse with the king of Tyre,  2 Samuel 5:11, and also extended his power abroad, subduing the Philistines, Syrians, Moabites, and Ammonites. His dominion was an empire, extending far as the large promise made originally to Abraham, and repeated again and again to the chosen people.  Genesis 15:18-21;  Exodus 23:31;  Deuteronomy 11:24. He had lingered at Jerusalem, while Joab was besieging Rabbah of the children of Ammon. And then occurred those shameful deeds, the adultery with Bath-sheba, and the murder of Uriah, which at first, it seems, did not touch his conscience, but which, when charged home upon him by the prophet Nathan, humbled the guilty monarch in the dust.  2 Samuel 11:1-27;  2 Samuel 12:1-31. He repented deeply, see  Psalms 51:1-19, which is ascribed to this period, and he obtained pardon by God's mercy. But he was not again the David of former days. The sword was never to depart from his house.  2 Samuel 12:10. And it never did. There was the defilement of Tamar, and the murder of his first-born Amnon,  2 Samuel 13:1-39; and then Absalom's unnatural rebellion and death,  2 Samuel 15:1-37;  2 Samuel 18:1-33; and Sheba's insurrection,  2 Samuel 20:1-26; and the plague for the numbering of the people,  2 Samuel 24:1-25; and Adonijah's seizure of the government, when the most long-tried counsellors of David deserted him, a movement that could be crushed only by the aged monarch's devolving his crown upon Solomon,  1 Kings 1:1-53; with various other griefs. He transmitted a magnificent heritage to Solomon, to whom he left the carrying out of that purpose he had long before conceived,  2 Samuel 7:1-29;  1 Chronicles 28:1-21;  1 Chronicles 29:1-30, of erecting a temple. David's character is clearly shown in the events of his life—whose strains of inspired song intertwine with all the devotional and joyful feelings of God's people in every age. The Psalms are a rich heritage to the church. Very many were from David's pen. And, though we cannot with precision point out all he wrote, or describe the times and circumstances under which those were penned that we know did come from him, yet we delight to couple particular compositions with various crises of David's life—as  Psalms 42:1-11 with his flight across the Jordan in Absalom's rebellion;  Psalms 24:1-10 with the bringing up of the ark to Jerusalem;  Psalms 18:1-50 with David's deliverance from his enemies, and to see his emotions of praise, and hope, and repentance, and gratitude, and faith, at the wonderful dealings of God with him. Of the children of David many are mentioned in Scripture; and there were probably more; twenty-one sons are enumerated and one daughter.  2 Samuel 3:2-5;  2 Samuel 5:13-16;  2 Samuel 12:1-31;  2 Samuel 15:1-37;  2 Samuel 24:1-25;  1 Chronicles 3:1-9;  1 Chronicles 14:3-7;  2 Chronicles 11:18.

Morrish Bible Dictionary [7]

The name signifies 'well-beloved.' David was the son of Jesse, a descendant of Boaz and Ruth, a Jew and a Gentile: both Jews and Gentiles are to be blessed in the Christ whom David typified. David was anointed when in humility, 'keeping the sheep.' His seven brothers had passed before Samuel, but the one to be anointed must be one after God's own heart, one that would care for and feed God's people. The spirit of Jehovah came upon him from that day. Christ was the true Messiah, whom David prefigured, being anointed at His baptism by the Holy Spirit before entering on His service toward Israel. David's spirit was stirred within him when he heard the boasting of Goliath against the God of Israel, and he then told how in secret he had protected the sheep and had slain the lion and the bear: in the name of God the giant would also be overcome. His faith was in Israel's God, and the giant was slain.

The women's song in praise of David raised the jealousy of Saul, who had more sense of his own importance than care for the Lord's people. He gave his daughter Michal to be David's wife, and thought thus to entrap him; but his wife became his deliverer. This called forth  Psalm 59 . He had faith that God would laugh at his enemies: God was his defence and the God of his mercy. Though the Psalms show the experiences of David's inner man, it must not be forgotten that they are prophetic, and his language is often that of the remnant of Israel in the future, and sometimes that of Christ.  Psalm 59 : speaks of the heathen who will oppose Christ.

The love of Jonathan and David is beautiful, but Jonathan could not protect David from the hatred of Saul, and David resorted to the priest, who gave him the hallowed bread. The sovereign grace of God rises above the ordinances that are connected with blessing when that blessing is rejected. God's anointed one was rejected and the showbread was considered common. He received the sword of Goliath, and fled to the Philistines. Apparently he was seized by them (cf. the heading of  Psalm 56 ); he cried for mercy, for man sought to swallow him up. "Put thou my tears into thy bottle: are they not in thy book?" he said; yet he knew he should escape, for God was for him. He changed his behaviour before the Philistines and assumed madness: connected with this is  Psalm 34 . David would bless the Lord at all times: he cried, and the Lord heard him; but the psalm is manifestly prophetic of Christ: see   Psalm 34:20 and others. David escaped to the cave of Adullam, and his brethren and his father's house went to him, also those in distress, and those in debt, and the discontented; the prophet Gad was with him, and soon afterwards Abiathar the priest. But the enemy was not inactive, Doeg the Edomite informed Saul of how Ahimelech the priest had helped David, which led Saul to employ even Doeg to slay the family of Ahimelech. This drew forth   Psalm 52 : God would destroy the wicked, and the man who had not made God his strength. It must be remembered that the circumstances through which David passed are used by the prophetic Spirit to develop the experiences in the conflict between good and evil, which are to culminate in final deliverance and glory.

When the Philistines attacked and robbed the Israelites, David inquired of the Lord, and smote them with great slaughter. It is beautiful to see how David could inquire of God and receive an immediate answer. Even the city Keilah which he had relieved was against him, the king anointed of God to feed them. He was obliged to wander elsewhere, but Jonathan met him in a wood and encouraged him, assuring David that he knew he would surely be king; and there they made a covenant together: cf.  Psalm 63 .

When Nabal had repulsed David's messengers Abigail brought a present, and rehearsed what God would do for David, and appeased his wrath. God smote Nabal, and Abigail became David's wife. Now the Ziphites or Ziphim engaged to aid Saul to capture David. This called forth  Psalm 54 , in which David cries earnestly to be saved: strangers had risen up against him; but his faith could say that God had delivered him out of all trouble. David must wander hither and thither, sometimes in the wilderness, sometimes in the mountains, and sometimes in the caves: cf.  Psalm 57 and 142. He twice saved Saul's life, for he would not allow his followers to slay the Lord's anointed. He could wait God's time for deliverance, yet, alas, his faith failed him, and at length he said in his heart, "I shall now perish one day by the hand of Saul,"   1 Samuel 27:1 , and he fled to the Philistines: strange place for David! The Philistines prepared for war with Israel, and apparently David would have joined them, but he was prevented by some of the lords of the Philistines objecting to him, and he was sent back. In this the providential hand of God was seen. But chastisement from the Lord had fallen upon him, for the Amalekites had smitten Ziklag and carried off his family and those of his followers. Recourse was had to God, who never forsook David, and He graciously answered, and told him to pursue. All was recovered, and David was able to send presents of the spoil to his friends. Both Saul and Jonathan were slain in the contest that followed.

David now went up with his followers to Hebron, and the throne being vacant, the men of Judah came and anointed him king over their tribe. Ish-bosheth, son of Saul, was afterwards chosen king by the other tribes. For a time there was continual war between the two houses, but David grew stronger and stronger, and Ish-bosheth weaker and weaker. After David had reigned seven years and six months at Hebron, Abner revolted from Ish-bosheth, who was soon after slain by two of his officers, and David was anointed king over all Israel. All was now changed for David; but, alas, the first thing recorded after getting possession of Zion is "David took more concubines and wives out of Jerusalem, after he had come from Hebron."  2 Samuel 5:13 .

Hiram king of Tyre sent messengers to David with timber and workmen, and a house was built for David.  Psalm 30 would appear to have been indited on its dedication. It was God who had brought up his soul from the grave, had lifted him up and healed him.

Again and again David fought with the Philistines. He burned their idols, and smote them from Geba, to Gazer. He followed on to smite Moab; then extended his border to the river Euphrates, and put garrisons in Syria of Damascus; he smote of the Syrians in the valley of Salt 18,000. All they of Edom became David's servants: cf.  Psalm 60 : written after one of these victories, when apparently it had been a hard time for them: but it is also prophetic of the future.

David's great thought, when established in the kingdom, was to find a resting place for the ark, to bring God into the midst of His people. He attempted to bring up the ark, but at first not in God's way, and Uzzah was smitten, which displeased David and made him afraid; but he learned better, and the ark was carried up on the shoulders of the Levites, with sacrifices and much rejoicing. David, girded with a linen ephod, danced before the ark, and as the anointed of God he blessed the people and distributed his good things. Nature in Michal thought it shameful; but David was ready to be 'more vile' and 'base' in his own eyes.

David thought to build a house to Jehovah, for the ark was only within curtains; but God's message by Nathan was that God would build David a house: his kingdom should be established for ever. David's son should build God a house: cf.  Psalm 132 , and David's prayer in  2 Samuel 7:18-29 . David's heart went forth in thanksgiving, as he sat before the Lord. David showed grace to Mephibosheth, a descendant of Saul, and brought him to his table; typical of the grace that will in the futurebe shown to the remnant that own their Messiah. His kindness to the Gentile king of Ammon was refused and his messengers were insulted, which brought punishment upon the Ammonites and their allies.

David, now at his ease instead of fighting the Lord's battles, falls into great sin respecting Bath-sheba and Uriah. He had to hear that the sword should not depart from his house, and evil should rise against him in his own family. David confessed his sin, and was told at once that it had been put away; but God's government must be fulfilled, and the child should surely die. David, knowing how gracious God was, remained prostrate while the child lived, but the child died; and Absalom's rebellion followed: cf.  Psalm 51 : for the exercises of David respecting his sin.

Sin followed in David's house: the defilement of Tamar, the murder of Amnon, and the flight of Absalom. On Absalom's return he ingratiated himself with the people and rebelled against his father. David fled from Jerusalem and toiled up Mount Olivet.  Psalm 3 tells out his heart. He did not lose confidence in God: Jehovah was his shield: he lay down and slept, and awaked, for Jehovah sustained him. God was taking care of him, though he had to drink the cup of sorrow. The counsel of Ahithophel was disregarded, and David was saved. He bore the curses of Shimei, saying in his piety, "The Lord hath bidden him." David was deeply grieved at the death of Absalom, and had to be reasoned into submitting to what was seemly. He returned to Jerusalem and pardoned Shimei. The revolt of Sheba followed, and David feared it might be worse than that of Absalom; but by the wisdom of a woman Sheba alone was destroyed. There were still wars with the Philistines, in one of which David nearly lost his life: four giants were slain, and a song of thanksgiving was rendered to God.   2 Samuel 22;  Psalm 18 .

In the last words of David he confessed that his house was not as it should be with God. He had signally failed in punishing sin in his family, especially in the case of Amnon and Absalom; yet he counted on the everlasting covenant that God had made with him, ordered in all things and sure . And he looked forward to that morning without clouds. The 'sure mercies of David' will reach Israel through Christ risen.  Isaiah 55:3 : cf.  Acts 13:34 .

David was tempted by Satan to number Israel: it was allowed of God, for his anger was kindled against Israel, though we are not told what was the occasion of it. The number was no sooner told to David than his heart smote him, and he confessed that he had sinned greatly. A choice of three punishments was offered to him, and he piously chose to be dealt with by God, for he knew His tender mercies were great, rather than to fall into the hands of his enemies. The pestilence broke forth, and 70,000 men fell, and as the angel was about to smite Jerusalem, Jehovah stayed his hand; and David erected an altar on the spot, and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings. The Lord was entreated for the land and the plague was stayed.

Though David was not allowed to build the temple, he made great preparations for it, with patterns or plans of the various parts, which he had by the Spirit, and he stored up abundance of silver, gold, and other materials. He also charged the princes to aid Solomon in the great work. David also arranged the details of the service, the priests, Levites, singers, etc. He established Solomon as his successor, and his work was done.

Only a few Psalms have been alluded to, those in which the circumstances of David are mentioned in the headings. The Psalms which bear his name were written by him, but only as an instrument; for it was by the Holy Spirit that they were indited: and thus are eminently prophetic. See PSALMS.  Psalm 72 ends thus: "Blessed be the Lord God, the God of Israel, who only doeth wondrous things. And blessed be his glorious name for ever: and let the whole earth be filled with his glory. Amen and Amen. The prayers of David the son of Jesse are ended."

David is a remarkable type of Christ: when he was hunted by Saul, he foreshadowed Christ in His rejection; and when on the throne he was a type of Christ as a man of war, putting down His enemies previous to His peaceful reign in the millennium, typified in Solomon. The Lord Jesus is often called the Son of David, and yet He is David's Lord, about which fact He Himself asked the Jews.  Luke 20:41-44 . In like manner He is called the root and the offspring of David,  Revelation 22:16 : being God as well as man He could be both. He also has the key of David.  Revelation 3:7; cf.  Isaiah 22:22-24 . He has the disposal of all things for the church, for the future kingdom on earth, and for the nations generally.

Smith's Bible Dictionary [8]

Da'vid. (Well-Beloved). The son of Jesse. His life may be divided into three portions:

i. His youth before his introduction to the court of Saul;

ii. His relations with Saul;

iii. His reign.

1. The early life of David contains, in many important respects, the antecedents of his future career. It appears that David was the youngest son, probably the youngest child, of a family of ten, and was born in Bethlehem B.C. 1085.

The first time that David appears in history at once admits us to the whole family circle. The annual sacrificial feast is being held when Samuel appears, sent by God to anoint one of Jesse's sons as they pass before him,  1 Samuel 16:6-10, Samuel sends for the youngest, David, who was "keeping the sheep," and anoints him.  1 Samuel 16:11-13.

As David stood before Samuel, we are enabled to fix his appearance at once in our minds. He was of short stature, with red or auburn hair, such as is not unfrequently seen in his countrymen of the East at the present day. In later life, he wore a beard. His bright eyes are specially mentioned,  1 Samuel 16:12, and generally he was remarkable for the grace of his figure and countenance ("fair of eyes," "comely," "goodly"),  1 Samuel 16:12;  1 Samuel 16:18;  1 Samuel 17:42, well made and of immense strength and agility. His swiftness and activity made him like a wild gazelle, his feet like hart's feet, and his arms strong enough to break a bow of steel.  Psalms 18:33-34.

After the anointing, David resumes his accustomed duties, and the next we know of him, he is summoned to the court to chase away the king's madness by music,  1 Samuel 16:14-19, and in the successful effort of David's harp, we have the first glimpse into that genius for music and poetry which was afterwards consecrated in the Psalms.

After this, he returned to the old shepherd life again. One incident alone of his solitary shepherd life has come down to us - his conflict with the lion and the bear in defence of his father's flocks.  1 Samuel 17:34-35. It was some years after this, that David suddenly appears before his brothers in the camp of the army, and hears the defiant challenge of the Philistine giant Goliath. With his shepherd's sling and five small pebbles, he goes forth and defeats the giant.  1 Samuel 17:40-51.

2. Relations with Saul. - We now enter on a new aspect of David's life. The victory over Goliath had been a turning point of his career. Saul inquired his parentage, and took him finally to his court. Jonathan was inspired by the romantic friendship which bound the two youths together to the end of their lives.

Unfortunately, David's fame proved the foundation of that unhappy jealousy of Saul towards him which, mingling with the king's constitutional malady, poisoned his whole future relations to David. His position in Saul's court seems to have been first, armor-bearer,  1 Samuel 16:21;  1 Samuel 18:2, then, captain over a thousand,  1 Samuel 18:13, and finally, on his marriage with Michal, the king's second daughter, he was raised to the high office of captain of the king's body-guard, second only, if not equal, to Abner, the captain of the host, and Jonathan, the heir apparent.

David was not chiefly known for his successful exploits against the Philistines, by one of which he won his wife, and drove back the Philistine power with a blow from which it only rallied at the disastrous close of Saul's reign. He also still performed from time to time the office of minstrel; but the successive attempts of Saul upon his life convinced him that he was in constant danger.

He had two faithful allies, however, in the court - the son of Saul, his friend, Jonathan, and the daughter of Saul, his wife Michal. Warned by the one and assisted by the other, he escaped by night, and was, from thenceforward, a fugitive.

He at first found a home at the court of Achish, among the Philistines; but his stay was short. Discovered possibly by "the sword of Goliath," his presence revived the national enmity of the Philistines against their former conqueror, and he only escaped by feigning madness.  1 Samuel 21:13.

His first retreat was the cave of Adullam. In this vicinity, he was joined by his whole family,  1 Samuel 22:1, and by a motley crowd of debtors and discontented men,  1 Samuel 22:2, which formed the nucleus of his army.

David's life, for the next few years, was made up of a succession of startling incidents. He secures an important ally in Abiathar,  1 Samuel 23:6, his band of 400, at Adullam, soon increased to 600,  1 Samuel 23:13, he is hunted by Saul from place to place like a partridge.  1 Samuel 23:14;  1 Samuel 23:22;  1 Samuel 23:25-29;  1 Samuel 24:1-22;  1 Samuel 24:26.

He marries Abigail and Ahinoam.  1 Samuel 25:42-43. Finally comes the news of the battle of Gilboa and the death of Saul and Jonathan. 1 Samuel 31. The reception of the tidings of the death of his rival and of his friend, the solemn mourning, the vent of his indignation against the bearer of the message, the pathetic lamentation that followed, will close the second period of David's life.  2 Samuel 1:1-27.

3. David's reign. - As king of Judah at Hebron, 7 1/2 years.  2 Samuel 2:1;  2 Samuel 5:5. Here David was first formally anointed king.  2 Samuel 2:4. To Judah, his dominion was nominally confined. Gradually, his power increased, and during the two years which followed, the elevation of Ish-bosheth a series of skirmishes took place between the two kingdoms. Then rapidly followed the successive murders of Abner and of Ish-bosheth.  2 Samuel 3:30;  2 Samuel 4:5.

The throne, so long waiting for him, was now vacant, and the united voice of the whole people at once called him to occupy it. For the third time, David was anointed king, and a festival of three days celebrated the joyful event.  1 Chronicles 12:39. One of David's first acts after becoming king was to secure Jerusalem, which he seized from the Jebusites and fixed the royal residence there. Fortifications were added by the king and by Joab, and it was known by the special name of the "city of David."  2 Samuel 5:9;  1 Chronicles 11:7.

The Ark was now removed from its obscurity at Kirjath-Jearim with marked solemnity, and conveyed to Jerusalem. The erection of the new capital at Jerusalem introduces us to a new era in David's life and in the history of the monarchy. He became a king on the scale of the great Oriental sovereigns of Egypt and Persia, with a regular administration and organization of court and camp; and he also founded an imperial dominion which for the first time realize the prophetic description of the bounds of the chosen people.  Genesis 15:18-21.

During the succeeding ten years, the nations bordering on his kingdom caused David more or less trouble, but, during this time, he reduced to a state of permanent subjection, the Philistines on the west,  2 Samuel 8:1, the Moabites on the east,  2 Samuel 8:2, by the exploits of Benaiah,  2 Samuel 23:20, the Syrians on the northeast as far as the Euphrates,  2 Samuel 8:3, the Edomites,  2 Samuel 8:14, on the south; and finally the Ammonites, who had broken their ancient alliance, and made one grand resistance to the advance of his empire.  2 Samuel 10:1-19;  2 Samuel 12:26-31.

Three great calamities may be selected as marking the beginning, middle and close of David's otherwise prosperous reign, which appear to be intimated in the question of Gad,  2 Samuel 24:13, "a three-years famine, a three-months flight or a three-days pestilence."

a. Of these, the first (the three-years famine), introduces us to the last notices of David's relations with the house of Saul, already referred to.

b. The second group of incidents contains the tragedy of David's life, which grew in all its parts out of the polygamy, with its evil consequences, into which he had plunged on becoming king. Underneath the splendor of his last glorious campaign against the Ammonites was a dark story, known probably, at that time, only to a very few - the double crime of adultery with Bath-sheba and the virtual murder of Uriah.

The clouds, from this time, gathered over David's fortunes, and henceforward, "the sword never departed from his house."  2 Samuel 12:10. The outrage on his daughter Tamar, the murder of his eldest son Amnon, and then, the revolt of his best-beloved Absalom, brought on the crisis which once more sent him forth as wanderer, as in the days when he fled from Saul.  2 Samuel 15:18

The final battle of Absalom's rebellion was fought in the "forest of Ephraim," and terminated in the accident which led to the young man's death; and, though nearly heartbroken at the loss of his son, David again reigned in undisturbed peace at Jerusalem.  2 Samuel 20:1-22.

c. The closing period of David's life, with the exception of one great calamity, may be considered as a gradual preparation for the reign of his successor. This calamity was the three-days pestilence which visited Jerusalem at the warning of the prophet Gad. The occasion which led to this warning was the census of the people taken by Joab at the king's orders,  2 Samuel 24:1-9;  1 Chronicles 21:1-7;  1 Chronicles 27:23-24, which was for some reason sinful in God's sight. 2 Samuel 24.

A formidable conspiracy to interrupt the succession broke out in the last days of David's reign; but the plot was stifled, and Solomon's inauguration took place under his father's auspices.  1 Kings 1:1-53. By this time, David's infirmities had grown upon him. His last song is preserved - a striking union of the ideal of a just ruler which he had placed before him and of the difficulties which he had felt in realizing it.  2 Samuel 23:1-7. His last words to his successor are general exhortations to his duty.  1 Kings 2:1-9. He died, according to Josephus, at the age of 70, and "was buried in the city of David."

After the return from the captivity, "the sepulchres of David," were still pointed out "between Siloah and the house of the mighty men," or "the guard-house."  Nehemiah 3:16. His tomb, which became the general sepulchre of the kings of Judah, was pointed out in the latest times of the Jewish people. The edifice shown as such from the Crusades to the present day is on the southern hill of modern Jerusalem commonly called Mount Zion, under the so-called "Coenaculum;" but it cannot be identified with the tomb of David, which was emphatically Within the walls.

Holman Bible Dictionary [9]

Selection as King When Saul failed to meet God's standards for kingship (1Samuel 15:23, 1 Samuel 15:35;  1 Samuel 16:1 ), God sent Samuel to anoint a replacement from among the sons of Jesse, who lived in Bethlehem ( 1 Samuel 16:1 ). God showed Samuel He had chosen the youngest who still tended sheep for his father ( 1 Samuel 16:11-12 ). David's good looks were noteworthy.

In Saul's Court David's musical talent, combined with his reputation as a fighter, led one of Saul's servants to recommend David as the person to play the harp for Saul when the evil spirit from God troubled him ( 1 Samuel 16:18 ). Saul grew to love David and made him armorbearer for the king ( 1 Samuel 16:21-22 ).

At a later date the Philistines with the giant Goliath threatened Israel ( 1 Samuel 17:1 ). David returned home to tend his father's sheep ( 1 Samuel 17:15 ). Jesse sent David to the battlefield with food for his warrior brothers. At least one brother did not think too highly of him ( 1 Samuel 17:28 ). Saul tried to persuade David, the youth, from challenging Goliath; but David insisted God would bring victory, which He did.

Saul's son Jonathan became David's closest friend ( 1 Samuel 18:1 ). David became a permanent part of Saul's court, not returning home ( 1 Samuel 18:2 ). Saul gave David a military commission, which he fulfilled beyond expectations, defeating the Philistines and winning the hearts of the people. This stirred Saul's jealousy ( 1 Samuel 18:8 ). Moved by the evil spirit from God, Saul tried to kill David with his spear; but God's presence protected David ( 1 Samuel 18:10-12 ). David eventually earned the right to marry Michal, Saul's daughter, without being killed by the Philistines as Saul had hoped ( 1 Samuel 18:17-27 ). With the help of Michal and Jonathan, David escaped from Saul and made contact with Samuel, the prophet ( 1 Samuel 19:18 ). Jonathan and David made a vow of eternal friendship, and Jonathan risked his own life to protect David ( 1 Samuel 20:1 ).

Independent Warrior David gathered a band of impoverished and discontented people around him. He established relationships with Moab and other groups and gained favor with the people by defeating the Philistines ( 1 Samuel 22-23 ), but all Saul's efforts to capture him failed. God protected David, and David refused to injure Saul, instead promising not to cut off Saul's family ( 1 Samuel 24:21-22 ).

Abigail of Maon intervened with David to prevent him from punishing her foolish husband Nabal. God brought Nabal's death, and David married Abigail. He also married Ahinoam of Jezreel, but Saul gave Michal, David's first wife, to another man ( 1 Samuel 25:1 ).

After again refusing to kill Saul, the Lord's anointed, David attached himself to Achish, the Philistine king of Gath. Saul finally quit chasing him. Achish gave Ziklag to David, who established a headquarters there and began destroying Israel's southern neighbors ( 1 Samuel 27:1 ). Despite the wishes of Achish, the other Philistine leaders would not let David join them in battle against Saul ( 1 Samuel 29:1 ). Returning home, David found the Amalekites had destroyed Ziklag and captured his wives. David followed God's leading and defeated the celebrating Amalekites, recovering all the spoils of war. These he distributed among his followers and among the peoples of Judah ( 1 Samuel 30:1 ).

King of Judah Hearing of the deaths of Saul and Jonathan, David avenged the murderer of Saul and sang a lament over the fallen ( 2 Samuel 1:1 ). He moved to Hebron, where the citizens of Judah crowned him king ( 2 Samuel 2:1 ). This led to war with Israel under Saul's son Ishbosheth. After much intrigue, Ishbosheth's commanders assassinated him. David did the same to them ( 2 Samuel 4:1 ).

King of Israel The northern tribes then crowned David king at Hebron, uniting all Israel under him. He led the capture of Jerusalem and made it his capital. After defeating the Philistines, David sought to move the ark of the covenant to Jerusalem, succeeding on his second attempt ( 2 Samuel 6:1 ). He then began plans to build a temple but learned from Nathan, the prophet, that he would instead build a dynasty with eternal dimensions ( 2 Samuel 7:1 ). His son would build the Temple.

David then organized his administration and subdued other nations who opposed him, finally gaining control of the land God had originally promised the forefathers. He also remembered his promise to Jonathan and cared for his lame son Mephibosheth ( 2 Samuel 9:1 ).

A Sinner David was a giant among godly leaders, but he remained human as his sin with Bathsheba and Uriah showed. He spied Bathsheba bathing, desired her, and engineered the death of her faithful warrior husband, after committing adultery with her ( 2 Samuel 11:1 ). Nathan, the prophet, confronted David with his sin, and David confessed his wrongdoing. The newborn child of David and Bathsheba died. David acknowledged his helplessness in the situation, confessing faith that he would go to be with the child one day. Bathsheba conceived again, bearing Solomon ( 2 Samuel 12:1-25 ).

Family Intrigue Able to rule the people but not his family, David saw intrigue, sexual sins, and murder rock his own household, resulting in his isolation from and eventual retreat before Absalom. Still, David grieved long and deep when his army killed Absalom ( 2 Samuel 18:19-33 ). David's kingdom was restored, but the hints of division between Judah and Israel remained ( 2 Samuel 19:40-43 ). David had to put down a northern revolt ( 2 Samuel 20:1 ). The last act the Books of Samuel report about David is his census of the people, bringing God's anger but also preparing a place for the Temple to be built ( 2 Samuel 24:1 ). The last chapters of 1Chronicles describe extensive preparations David made for the building and the worship services of the Temple. David's final days involved renewed intrigue among his family, as Adonijah sought to inherit his father's throne, but Nathan and Bathsheba worked to insure Solomon became the next king ( 1 Kings 1:1;b12:12 ).

Prophetic Hope David thus passed from the historical scene but left a legacy never to be forgotten. He was the role model for Israelite kings ( 1 Kings 3:14;  1 Kings 9:14; 1Kings 11:4,1Kings 11:6,1Kings 11:33, 1 Kings 11:38;  1 Kings 14:8; 1Kings 15:3, 1 Kings 15:11;  2 Kings 14:3;  2 Kings 16:2;  2 Kings 22:2 ). David was the “man of God” ( 2 Chronicles 8:14 ), and God was “the God of David thy father” ( 2 Kings 20:5 ). God's covenant with David was the deciding factor as God wrestled with David's disobedient successors on the throne ( 2 Chronicles 21:7 ). Even as Israel rebuilt the Temple, they followed “the ordinance of David king of Israel ( Ezra 3:10 ).

God's prophets pointed to a future David who would restore Israel's fortunes. “Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even forever” ( Isaiah 9:7 ). Jeremiah summed up the surety of the hope in David: “If ye can break my covenant of the day, and my covenant of the night, and that there should not be day and night in their season; Then may also my covenant be broken with David my servant, that he should not have a son to reign upon his throne As the host of heaven cannot be numbered, neither the sand of the sea measured: so will I multiply the seed of David my servant” ( Jeremiah 33:20-22 ). For further references, compare  Jeremiah 33:15 ,  Jeremiah 33:17 ,  Jeremiah 33:25-26;  Ezekiel 34:23-24;  Ezekiel 37:24-25;  Hosea 3:5;  Amos 9:11;  Zechariah 12:6-10 .

In the New Testament The New Testament tells the story of Jesus as the story of the Son of God but also as the story of the Son of David from His birth ( Matthew 1:1 ) until His final coming ( Revelation 22:16 ). At least twelve times the Gospels refer to Him as “Son of David.” David was cited as an example of similar behavior by Jesus ( Matthew 12:3 ); and David called Him, “Lord” ( Luke 20:42-44 ). David thus took his place in the roll call of faith ( Hebrews 11:32 ). This was “David the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfill all my will” ( Acts 13:22 ).

Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary [10]

the celebrated king of Israel, was the youngest son of Jesse, of the tribe of Judah, and was born 1085 years before Christ. The following is an abstract of his history: He was chosen of God to be king of Israel, and at his command was anointed to this dignity by the hands of Samuel, a venerable prophet, in the room of Saul; who had been rejected for his disobedience to the divine orders, in feloniously seizing, to his own use, the prey of an enemy, which God, the supreme King of Israel, had devoted to destruction. He was introduced to court as a man expert in music, a singularly valiant man, a man of war, prudent in matters, of a comely person, and one favoured of the Lord. By his skill in music, he relieved Saul under a melancholy indisposition that had seized him, was highly beloved by his royal master, and made one of his guards. In a war with the Philistines he accepted the challenge of a gigantic champion, who defied the armies of Israel, and being skilful at the sling, he slew him with a stone, returned safely with his head, and thus secured to his prince an easy victory over his country's enemies. The reputation he gained, by this glorious action, raised an incurable jealousy and resentment against him, in the mind of the king his master; who made two unsuccessful attempts to murder him. In his exalted station, and amidst the dangers that encompassed him, he behaved with singular prudence, so that he was in high esteem both in the court and camp. The modesty and prudence of his behaviour, and his approved courage and resolution, gained him the confidence and friendship of Jonathan, the king's eldest son, "Who loved him as his own soul," became his advocate with his father, and obtained from him a promise, confirmed by an oath, that he would no more attempt to destroy him. But Saul's jealousy returned by a fresh victory David gained over the Philistines; who, finding the king was determined to seek his life, retired from court, and was dismissed in peace by Jonathan, after a solemn renewal of their friendship, to provide for his own safety. In this state of banishment, there resorted to him companies of men, who were uneasy in their circumstances, oppressed by their creditors, or discontented with Saul's tyrannical government, to the number of six hundred men. These he kept in the most excellent order, and by their valour he gained signal advantages for his country; but never employed them in rebellion against the king, or in a single instance to distress or subvert his government. On the contrary such was the veneration he paid him, and such the generosity of his temper that though it was thrice in his power to have him cut off, he spared him, and was determined never to destroy him, whom God had constituted the king of Israel. His friendship with Jonathan, the king's son, was a friendship of strict honour, for he never seduced him from his allegiance and filial duty. Being provoked by a churlish farmer, who evil treated and abused his messengers, he, in the warmth of his temper, swore he would destroy him and his family; but was immediately pacified by the address and prudence of a wife, of whom the wretch was unworthy: her he sent in peace and honour to her family, and blessed for her advice, and keeping him from avenging himself with his own hand. Being forced to banish himself into an enemy's country, he was faithful to the prince who protected him: and, at the same time, mindful of the interest of his own nation, he cut off many of those who had harassed and plundered his fellow subjects. When pressed by the king, into whose dominions he retired, to join in a war against his own country and father-in-law, he prudently gave him such an answer as his situation required; neither promising the aid demanded of him, nor tying up his hands from serving his own prince, and the army that fought under him; only assuring him in general, that he had never done any thing that could give him just reason to think he would refuse to assist him against his enemies. Upon the death of Saul, he cut off the Amalekite who came to make a merit of having slain him; and by the immediate direction of God, who had promised him the succession, went up to Hebron, where, on a free election, he was anointed king over the house of Judah; and after about a seven years' contest, he was unanimously chosen king by all the tribes of Israel, "according to the word of the Lord by Samuel." As king of Israel, he administered justice and judgment to all his people, was a prince of courage, and great military prudence and conduct; had frequent wars with the neighbouring nations, to which he was generally forced by their invading his dominions, and plundering his subjects. Against them he never lost a battle; he never besieged a city without taking it; nor, as for any thing that can be proved, used any severities against those he conquered, beyond what the law of arms allowed, his own safety required, or the cruelties of his enemies rendered just, by way of retaliation; enriching his people by the spoils he took, and providing large stores of every thing necessary for the magnificent temple he intended to erect, in honour of the God of Israel. Having rescued Jerusalem out of the hands of the Jebusites, he made it the capital of his kingdom, and the place of his residence; and being willing to honour it with the presence of the ark of God, he brought it to Jerusalem in triumph, and divesting himself of his royal robes, out of reverence to God, he clothed himself in the habit of his ministers, and with them expressed his joy by dancing and music; contemned only by one haughty woman; whom, as a just punishment of her insolence, he seems ever after to have separated from his bed. Though his crimes were heinous, and highly aggravated in the affair of Uriah and Bathsheba, he patiently endured reproof, humbly submitted to the punishment appointed him, deeply repented, and obtained mercy and forgiveness from God, though not without some severe marks of his displeasure, for the grievous offences of which he had been guilty. A rebellion was raised against him by his son Absalom. When forced by it to depart from Jerusalem, a circumstance most pathetically described by the sacred historian, he prevented the just punishment of Shimei, a wretch who cursed and stoned him. When restored to his throne, he spared him upon his submission, and would not permit a single man to be put to death in Israel upon account of this treason. He, with a noble confidence, made the commander of the rebel forces general of his own army, in the room of Joab, whom he intended to call to an account for murder and other crimes. After this, when obliged, by the command of God, to give up some of Saul's family to justice, for the murder of the Gibeonites, he spared Mephibosheth, Micah, and his family, the male descendants of Saul and Jonathan, who alone could have any pretence to dispute the crown with him, and surrendered only Saul's bastard children, and those of his daughter by Adriel, who had no right or possible claim to the throne, and could never give him any uneasiness in the possession of it; and thus showed his inviolable regard for his oaths, his tenderness to Saul, and the warmth of his gratitude and friendship to Jonathan. In the close of his life, and in the near prospect of death, to demonstrate his love of justice, he charged Solomon to punish with death Joab, for the base murder of two great men, whom he assassinated under the pretence of peace and friendship. To this catalogue of his noble actions must be added, that he gave the most shining and indisputable proofs of an undissembled reverence for, and sincere piety to, God; ever obeying the direction of his prophets, worshipping him alone, to the exclusion of all idols, throughout the whole of his life, and making the wisest settlement to perpetuate the worship of the same God, through all succeeding generations.

To this abstract a few miscellaneous remarks may be added.

1. When David is called "the man after God's own heart," a phrase which profane persons have often perverted, his general character, and not every particular of it, is to be understood as approved by God; and especially his faithful and undeviating adherence to the true religion, from which he never deviated into any act of idolatry.

2. He was chosen to accomplish to their full extent the promises made to Abraham, to give to his seed the whole country from the river of Egypt to the great river Euphrates. He had succeeded to a kingdom distracted with civil dissensions, environed on every side by powerful and victorious enemies, without a capital, almost without an army, without any bond of union between the tribes. He left a compact and united state, stretching from the frontier of Egypt to the foot of Lebanon, from the Euphrates to the sea. He had crushed the power of the Philistines, subdued or curbed all the adjacent kingdoms: he had formed a lasting and important alliance with the great city of Tyre. He had organized an immense disposable force; for every month 24,000 men, furnished in rotation by the tribes, appeared in arms, and were trained as the standing militia of the country. At the head of his army were officers of consummate experience, and, what was more highly esteemed in the warfare of the time, extraordinary personal activity, strength, and valour. The Hebrew nation owed the long peace of Solomon the son's reign to the bravery and wisdom of the father.

3. As a conqueror he was a type of Christ, and the country "from the river to the ends of the earth," was also the prophetic type of Christ's dominion over the whole earth.

4. His inspired psalms not only place him among the most eminent prophets; but have rendered him the leader of the devotions of good men, in all ages. The hymns of David excel no less in sublimity and tenderness of expression than in loftiness and purity of religious sentiment. In comparison with them the sacred poetry of all other nations sinks into mediocrity. They have embodied so exquisitely the universal language of religious emotion, that they have entered with unquestioned propriety into the ritual of the higher and more perfect religion of Christ. The songs which cheered the solitude of the desert caves of Engedi, or resounded from the voice of the Hebrew people as they wound along the glens or the hill sides of Judea, have been repeated for ages in almost every part of the habitable world, in the remotest islands of the ocean, among the forests of America or the sands of Africa. How many human hearts have these inspired songs softened, purified, exalted! Of how many wretched beings have they been the secret consolation! On how many communities have they drawn down the blessings of Divine providence, by bringing the affections into unison with their deep devotional fervour, and leading to a constant and explicit recognition of the government, rights, and mercies of God!

Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament [11]


For the student of the Gospels the most important OT passage concerning David is 2 Samuel 7. David expressed to Nathan a strong desire to build a temple for Jehovah in his new capital, a wish indicative of worldly wisdom as well as piety on the part of the king. Jehovah denies David’s request, but promises to build for him an everlasting house, a dynasty without end. David’s throne is to stand for ever. Psalms 2, 110 are founded on this notable promise, and the author of Psalms 89 in a far later time, when David’s throne had been overturned by the heathen, reminds Jehovah of His ancient promise, and pleads earnestly for the speedy passing of His wrath. The early prophets, Amos ( Amos 9:11), Hosea ( Hosea 3:5), Isaiah ( Isaiah 9:7;  Isaiah 16:5;  Isaiah 37:35), unite with the author of Kings ( 1 Kings 2:45;  1 Kings 6:12 etc.) in the expectation that the promise made to David in 2 Samuel 7 will not fail. The prophetic hopes for the future of Israel spring from Nathan’s message as branches from the trunk that gives them life. Jeremiah ( Jeremiah 23:5 f.,  Jeremiah 33:15 ff.) carries forward the work of his predecessors of the 8th cent. b.c., asserting the perpetuity of David’s dynasty in most emphatic terms. Ezekiel ( Ezekiel 34:23 f.,  Ezekiel 37:24 f.) cheers the discouraged exiles with the picture of a glorious restoration of the throne of David. The great ruler of the future will be a second David. In the period after the return from Babylon, the author of the last section of Zechariah ( Zechariah 12:7 to  Zechariah 13:1) describes the glories of the coming time in connexion with the Davidic dynasty: ‘The house of David shall be as God, as the angel of Jehovah before them.’ The Messianic hope in the inter-Biblical period, like that of the OT, attached itself to David. The author of Ecclesiasticus ( Sirach 47:11) reminds his readers that the Lord exalted David’s horn for ever, entering into a covenant and promising him a throne of glory in Israel. About a century later the author of 1 Mac. (2:57) says, ‘David for heing merciful inherited the throne of a kingdom for ever and ever.’ Most important for the student of the Gospel history is Psalms 17 of the Psalms of Solomon, a collection of patriotic hymns belonging to the period immediately following Pompey’s capture of Jerusalem (63–48 b.c.). Psalms 17 is a notable Messianic prophecy, prayer and prediction being freely inter-mingled after the fashion of the OT prophets and poets. The Messianic King is to be David’s son ( Psalms 17:4). Jehovah Himself is Israel’s King for ever and ever ( Psalms 17:1); but the Son of David is His chosen to overthrow the heathen, and institute a righteous reign in Israel (17:30, 42f.).

The four Evangelists unite in the view that the Messiah was to come from the seed of David ( Matthew 1:1,  Mark 10:47,  Luke 2:4,  John 7:42). ‘The Son of David’ was synonymous in the time of our Lord’s earthly ministry with ‘Messiah’ or ‘Christ.’ Both the scribes and the common people held this view. When the children cried in the temple, ‘Hosanna to the Son of David’ ( Matthew 21:15), both the rulers and the multitude looked upon the words as a distinct recognition of the Messiahship of Jesus. The Epistles ( Romans 1:3,  2 Timothy 2:8) and the Revelation ( Revelation 5:5;  Revelation 22:16) concur in calling attention to the Davidic origin of Jesus. The interest of NT writers in David is confined almost exclusively to his relation to our Lord Jesus as His ancestor and type.

Jesus refers to one incident in the life of David in reply to the accusation of His enemies as to His observance of the Sabbath ( Mark 2:25, cf.  1 Samuel 21:1-6). This incident is said to have taken place ‘when Abiathar was high priest.’ [On the difficulties created by this statement see art. Abiathar.]

During the week preceding our Lord’s crucifixion, perhaps on Tuesday, He asked the Pharisees a question which put them to silence and confusion. Having drawn from them a statement of their belief that the Christ would be the son of David, He at once quoted David’s words in  Psalms 110:1 to show that the Messiah would also be David’s Lord ( Matthew 22:41 ||). Jesus wished to show His foes and the multitude that the orthodox view of the time overlooked the exalted dignity of the Messiah. He was to be far greater than David, for He was his Lord. See, further, Broadus on Mt. ad loc. , and, for the meaning of ‘David’ and ‘Moses’ in our Lord’s citations from the OT, art. Moses.

Literature.—Gore, B L [Note: L Bampton Lecture.] 196ff.; Gould, ‘St. Mark,’ and Plummer, ‘St. Luke,’ in Internal. Crit. Com. in loc.; Expos. Times , iii. [1892] 292 ff., viii. [1897] 365 ff.; Expositor , v. iii. [1896] 445 ff.

John R. Sampey.

American Tract Society Bible Dictionary [12]

Beloved, the youngest son of Jesse, of the tribe of Judah, born in Bethlehem B. C. 1085; one of the most remarkable men in either sacred of secular history. His life is fully recorded in  1 Samuel 16:1   1 Kings 2:46 . He was "the Lord's anointed," chosen by God to be king of Israel instead of Saul, and consecrated to that office by the venerable prophet Samuel long before he actually came to the throne,  1 Samuel 16:1-13 , for which God prepared him by the gift of his Spirit, and a long course of vicissitudes and dangers. In his early pastoral life he distinguished himself by his boldness, fidelity, and faith in God; and while yet a youth was summoned to court, as one expert in music, valiant, prudent in behavior, and comely in person. He succeeded in relieving from time to time the mind of king Saul, oppressed by a spirit of melancholy and remorse, and became a favorite attendant; but on the breaking out of war with the Philistines he seems to have been released, and to have returned to take care of his father's flock. Providence soon led him to visit the camp, and gave to his noble valor and faith the victory over the giant champion Goliath. He returned to court crowned with honor, received a command in the army, acquitted himself well on all occasions, and rapidly gained the confidence and love of the people. The jealousy of Saul, however, at length drove him to seek refuge in the wilderness of Judea; where he soon gathered a band of six hundred men, whom he kept in perfect control and employed only against the enemies of the land. He was still pursued by Saul with implacable hostility; and as he would not lift his hand against his king, though he often had him in his power, he at length judged it best to retire into the land of the Philistines. Here he was generously received; but had found the difficulties of his position such as he could not honorably meet, when the death of Saul and Jonathon opened the way for him to the promised throne.

He was at once chosen king over the house of Judah, at Hebron; and after about seven years of hostilities was unanimously chosen king by all the tribes of Israel, and established himself at Jerusalem-the founder of a royal family which continued till the downfall of the Jewish state. His character as a monarch is remarkable for fidelity to God, and to the great purposes for which he was called to so responsible a position. The ark of God he conveyed to the Holy City with the highest demonstrations of honor and of joy. The ordinances of worship were remodeled and provided for with the greatest care. He administered justice to the people with impartiality, and gave a strong impulse to the general prosperity of the nation. His wisdom and energy consolidated the Jewish kingdom; and his warlike skill enabled him not only to resist with success the assaults of invaders, but to extend the bounds of the kingdom over the whole territory promised in prophecy-from the Red sea and Egypt to the Euphrates,  Genesis 15:18   Joshua 1:3 . With the spoils he took in war he enriched his people, and provided abundant materials for the magnificent temple he purposed to build in honor of Jehovah, but which it was Solomon a privilege to erect.

David did not wholly escape the demoralizing influences of prosperity and unrestricted power. His temptations were numerous and strong; and though his general course was in striking contrast with that of the kings around him, he fell into grievous sins. Like others in those days, he had embittered by the evil results of polygamy. His crimes in the case of Uriah and Bathsheba were heinous indeed; but on awaking from his dream of folly, he repented in dust and ashes, meekly submitted to reproof and punishment, and sought and found mercy from God. Thenceforth frequent afflictions reminded him to be humble and self-distrustful. There were discords, profligacy, and murder in his own household. The histories of Tamar, Amnon, and Absalom show what anguish must have rent their father's heart. The rebellions of Absalom, Sheba, and Adonijah, the famine and plague that afflicted his people, the crimes of Joab, etc., led him to cry out, "O that I had wings, like a dove; then would I fly away, and be at rest." Yet his trials bore good fruit. His firmness and decision of character, his humility, nobleness, and piety shine in his last acts, on the occasion of Adonijah's rebellion. His charge to Solomon respecting the forfeited lives of Joab and Shimei, was the voice of justice and not of revenge. His preparations for the building of the temple, and the public service in which he devoted all to Jehovah, and called on all the people to bless the Lord God of their fathers, crown with singular beauty and glory the life of this eminent servant of God. After a reign of forty years, he died at the age of seventy-one.

The mental abilities and acquirements of David were of a high order; his general conduct was marked by generosity, integrity, fortitude, activity, and perseverance; and his religious character eminently adorned by sincere, fervent, and exalted piety. He was statesman, warrior, and poet all in one. In his Psalms he frankly reveals his whole heart. They are inspired poems, containing many prophetic passages, and wonderfully fitted to guide the devotions of the people of God so long as he has a church on earth. Though first sung by Hebrew tongues in the vales of Bethlehem and on the heights of Zion, they sound as sweetly in languages then unknown, and are dear to Christian hearts all around the world. In introducing them into the temple service, David added an important and edification to the former ritual.

In his kingly character, David was a remarkable type of Christ; and his conquests foreshadowed those of Christ's kingdom. His royal race was spiritually revived in the person of our Savior, who was descended from him after the flesh, and who is therefore called "the Son of David," and is said to sit upon his throne.

Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary [13]

The very important figure which David, king of Israel, makes in Scripture, demands, that in a work of this kind, he should not be overlooked. His services, as a prophet of the Lord, and his labours in the Scriptural writings which come to the church with his name, render it highly needful to notice him. But added to this, as a type of the Lord Jesus, and the great Mediator bearing his name, renders him still more endearing to our view. His very name from Dud, to love, means, dear and well-beloved; and as a type of the ever-dear and well-beloved Jesus, nothing could be more suited. I only beg the reader to observe concerning types in general, and of him in particular, that it is only in this very precise instance, in which the agreement runs, that the word of God considers them; and consequently, ought to be considered by the church. The Lord Jesus Christ after the flesh, is spoken of as the seed of David; and as such, the covenant runs in his name. (See  Psalms 89:34-35;  2 Timothy 2:8)

Wilson's Dictionary of Bible Types [14]

 Ruth 4:22 (c) He is a type of the Christian and of Christ who lives for GOD in his youth, is persecuted and rejected by his brethren, is tempted in the wilderness, but finally is exalted on the throne.

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature [15]

(Heb. David', דָּוַד [in the full form, דָּוַיד in  1 Kings 3:14, and in Chron., Ezra, Neh., Song of Solomon, Hos., Amos,  Ezekiel 34:23, and Zech.], Affectionate or Beloved ; Arab. in common use Daoud ; Sept. Δαυϊ v Δ , N.T. Δαβίδ , older MSS. Δαυείδ ; Joseph. Δαυϊ v Δης ), the second but most prominent of the line of Jewish kings. The prominence of this personage in the Old Testament history as well as in the Christian economy requires a full treatment of the subject here.

A. Personal Biography . The authorities for the life of David may be divided into the following classes:

(I.) The original Hebrew authorities:

(1.) The narrative of 1 Samuel 16, to  1 Kings 2:10; with the supplementary notices contained in  1 Chronicles 11:1 to  1 Chronicles 29:30.

(2.) The "Chronicles" or State-papers of David ( 1 Chronicles 27:24), and the original biographies of David by Samuel, Gad, and Nathan ( 1 Chronicles 29:29). These are lost, but portions of them no doubt are preserved in the foregoing.

(3.) The Davidic portion of the Psalms, including such fragments as are preserved to us from other sources, viz.,  2 Samuel 1:19-27;  2 Samuel 3:33-34;  2 Samuel 22:1-51;  2 Samuel 23:1-7. (See Psalms).

(II.) The two slight notices in the heathen historians, Nicolaus of Damascus in his Universal History (Josephus, Ant. 7:5, 2), and Eupolemus in his History Of The Kings Of Judah (Euseb. Praep. Ev . 9. 30).

(III.) David's apocryphal writings, contained in Fabricius, Codex Apocryphus V. Test. p. 906-1006.

(1.) Psalms 151, on his victory over Goliath.

(2.) Colloquies with God, on madness, on his temptation, and on the building of the Temple.

(3.) A charm against fire. Of these the first alone deserves any attention.

(IV.) The Jewish traditions, which may be divided into three classes:

(1.) The additions to the Biblical narrative contained in Josephus, Ant. 6:8- vii. 15.

(2.) The Hebrew traditions preserved in Jerome's Quaestiones Hebraicae In Libros Regum Et Paralipomenen (vol. 3, Venice edit.).

(3.) The Rabbinical traditions reported in Basnage, Hist . Des Juwfs, Lib . v, c. 2; Calmet's Dictionary , s.v. David.

(V.) The Mussulman traditions, chiefly remarkable for their extravagance, are contained in the Koran, 2:250-252; 38:20-24; 21:79-82; 22:15, and explained in Lane's Selections From The Koran , p. 228-242; or amplified in Weil's Legends, Eng. Tr. p. 152-170.

(VI.) In modern times his life has been often treated, both in separate treatises and in histories of Israel. Many of the monographs on almost every point in his life will be found referred to below. In English, the best known are, Delany's Hist . Account (Lond. 1741-2, 3 vols.), Chandler's Life (Lond. 1766, 2 vols.; new edit. Lond. 1853), and Blaikie, David King Of Israel (London, 1856); in French, De Choisi'S , and that in Bayle's Dictionary . One of the most recent, and, in some respects, the best treatment, is that in Ewald's Geschichte Des Volkes Israel , 3, 71-257. See also Kitto, Daily Bible Illustrations , vol. 2. Other treatises on his life as a whole, or on the several incidents of it, are referred to in Darling's Cyclopoedia , 3, 290 sq.

David's life may be divided into the three following portions, more or less corresponding to the three old lost biographies by Samuel, Gad, and Nathan:

I. His youth before his introduction to the court of Saul.

II. His relations with Saul.

III. His reign.

I. The Early Life Of David contains in many important respects the antecedents of his after history.

1. His family are mostly well known to us by name, and are not without bearing on his subsequent career. For an extended view of David's lineage, (See Genealogy Of Christ).

It thus appears that David (born B.C. 1083) was the youngest son, probably the youngest child, of a family of ten. His mother's name is unknown. (See Nahash). We can only conjecture her character from one or two brief allusions to her in the poetry of her son, from which we may gather that she was a godly woman, whose devotion to God's service her son commemorates as at once a token of God's favor to himself, and a stimulus to him to consecrate himself to God's service ( Psalms 86:16; and perhaps  Psalms 116:16). His father, Jesse, was of a great age when David was still young ( 1 Samuel 17:12). His parents both lived till after his final rupture with Saul ( 1 Samuel 22:3). Certain points with regard to his birth and lineage deserve special mention.

(a) His connection with Moab through his ancestress Ruth. This he kept up when he escaped to Moab and entrusted his aged parents to the care of the king ( 1 Samuel 22:3). This connection possibly gave greater breadth to his views, and even to his history, than if he had been of purely Jewish descent. Such is probably the significance of the express mention of Ruth in the genealogy in  Matthew 1:5.

(b) His birthplace, Bethlehem (q.v.). His recollection of the well of Bethlehem is one of the most touching incidents of his later life ( 1 Chronicles 11:17). From the territory of Bethlehem, as from his own patrimony, he gave a piece of property as a reward to Chimham, son of Barzillai ( 2 Samuel 19:37-38;  Jeremiah 41:17). It is this connection of David with Bethlehem that gave importance to the place again in later times, when Joseph went up to Bethlehem, "because he was of the house and lineage of David" ( Luke 2:4).

(c) His general connection with the tribe of Judah, in which the tribal feeling appears to have been stronger than in any of the others. This connection must be borne in mind throughout the story both of David's security among the hills of Judah during his flight from Saul, and of the early period of his reign at Hebron, as well as of the jealousy of the tribe at having lost their exclusive possession of him, which broke out in the revolt of Absalom.

(d) His relations to Zeruiah and Abigail. Though called in  1 Chronicles 2:16, sisters of David, they are not expressly called the daughters of Jesse; and Abigail, in  2 Samuel 17:25, is called the daughter of Nahash. Is it too much to suppose that David's mother had been the wife or concubine of Nahash, and then married by Jesse? This would agree with the difference of age between David and his sisters, and also (if Nahash was the same as the king of Ammon) with the kindnesses which David received first from Nahash ( 2 Samuel 10:2), and then from Shobi, son of Nahash (17:27).

2. As the youngest of the family, he may possibly have received from his parents the name, which first appears in him, of David , the Darling . But, perhaps for this same reason, he was never intimate with his brethren. The eldest brother, who alone is mentioned in connection with him, and who was afterwards made by him head of the tribe of Judah ( 1 Chronicles 27:18), treated him scornfully and imperiously ( 1 Samuel 17:28), as the eldest brothers of large families are apt to act; his command was regarded in the family as law ( 1 Samuel 20:29); and the father looked upon the youngest son as hardly one of the family at all ( 1 Samuel 16:11), and as a mere attendant on the rest ( 1 Samuel 17:17). The familiarity. which he lost with his brothers, he gained with his nephews. The three sons of his sister Zeruiah, and the one son of his sister Abigail, seemingly from the fact that their mothers were the eldest of the whole family, were probably of the same age as David himself, and they accordingly were to him especially the three sons of Zeruiah throughout life in the relation usually occupied by brothers and cousins. In them we see the rougher qualities of the family, which David shared with them, while he was distinguished from them by qualities peculiar to himself. The two sons of his brother Shimeah are both connected with his after history, and both seem to have been endowed with the sagacity in which David himself excelled. One was Jonadab, the friend and adviser of his eldest son Amnon ( 2 Samuel 13:3); the other was Jonathan ( 2 Samuel 21:21), who afterwards became the counselor of David himself ( 1 Chronicles 27:32). It is a conjecture or tradition of the Jews preserved by Jerome (Qu. Heb. on  1 Samuel 17:12) that this was no other than Nathan the prophet, who, being adopted into Jesse's family, makes up the eighth son, not named in  1 Chronicles 2:13-15. But this is hardly probable.

The first record of David's appearance in history at once admits us to the whole family circle. B.C. 1068. There was a practice once a year at Bethlehem, probably at the first new moon of the year, of holding a sacrificial feast, at which Jesse, as the chief proprietor of the place, would preside ( 1 Samuel 20:6), with the elders of the town. At this or such like feast ( 1 Samuel 16:1) suddenly appeared the great prophet Samuel, driving a heifer' before him, and having in his hand a horn of the consecrated oil of the Tabernacle. The elders of the little town were terrified at this apparition, but were reassured by the august visitor, and invited by him to the ceremony of sacrificing the heifer. The heifer was killed. The party were waiting to begin the feast. Samuel stood with his horn to pour forth the oil, as if for an invitation to begin ( 1 Samuel 9:22). He was restrained by divine intimation as son after son passed by Eliab, the eldest, by "his height" and "his countenance," seemed the natural counterpart of Saul, whose rival, unknown to them, the prophet came to select. But the day had gone by when kings were chosen because they were head and shoulders taller than the rest. Samuel said unto Jesse, Are these all thy children? And he said, There yet remaineth the youngest, and behold he keepeth the sheep." The boy was brought in. We are enabled to fix his appearance at once in our minds. He was of short stature, thus contrasting with his tall brother Eliab, with his rival Saul, and with his gigantic enemy of Gath. He had red or auburn hair, as is occasional in the East; or at least a rufous complexion and sanguineous temperament. (See Ruddy).

Later he wore a beard. His bright eyes are especially mentioned ( 1 Samuel 16:12), and generally he was remarkable for the grace of his figure and countenance ("fair of eyes," "comely," "goodly,"  1 Samuel 16:12;  1 Samuel 16:18;  1 Samuel 17:42), well made, and of great strength and agility. His swiftness and activity made him (like his nephew Asahel) like a wild gazelle, his feet like harts' feet, and his arms strong enough to break a bow of steel ( Psalms 18:33-34). He was pursuing the occupation allotted in Eastern countries usually to the slaves, the females, or the despised of the family (comp. the case of Moses, of Jacob, of Zipporah, and of Rachel, and in later times of Mohammed; Sprenger, p. 8). The pastures of Bethlehem are famous throughout the sacred history. The Tower of Shepherds ( Genesis 35:21) was there; and there too the shepherds abode with their flocks by night (Luke 2). He usually carried a switch or wand in his hand ( 1 Samuel 17:40), such as would be used for his dogs (17:43), and a scrip or wallet round his neck, to carry anything that was needed for his shepherd's life ( 1 Samuel 17:40). Such was the outer life of David when (as the later Psalmists described his call) he was "taken from the sheepfolds, from following the ewes great with young, to feed Israel according to the integrity of his heart, and to guide them by the skillfulness of his hands" ( Psalms 78:70-72). The recollection of the sudden and great elevation from this humble station is deeply impressed on his after life. "The man who was raised up on high" ( 2 Samuel 23:1) "I have exalted one chosen out of the people" ( Psalms 89:19 "I took thee from the sheepcote" ( 2 Samuel 7:8). The event itself prepared him to do that in which Saul had so eminently failed, viz. to reconcile his own military government with a filial respect for the prophets and an honorable patronage of the priesthood. Besides this, he became knit into a bond of brotherhood with his heroic comrades, to whom he was eminently endeared. by his personal self-denial and liberality ( 1 Samuel 30:21-31;  1 Chronicles 11:18).

3. But there was another preparation still more needed for his office, which probably had made him already known to Samuel, and which, at any rate, is his next introduction to the history. When the bodyguard of Saul were discussing with their master where the best minstrel could be found to chase away his madness by music, one of the young men in the guard suggested David. Saul, with the absolute control inherent in the idea of an Oriental king, instantly sent for him, and in the successful effort of David's harp we have the first glimpse into that genius for music and poetry which was afterwards consecrated in the Psalms. It is impossible not to connect the early display of this gift with the schools of the prophets, who exercised their vocation with tabret, psaltery, pipe, and harp ( 1 Samuel 10:5), in the pastures (Naioth; comp.  Psalms 23:2), to which he afterwards returned as to his natural home ( 1 Samuel 19:18). Whether any of the existing Psalms can be referred to this epoch of David's life is uncertain. The 23d, from its subject of the shepherd, and from its extreme simplicity (though placed by Ewald somewhat later), may well have been suggested by this time. The 8th, 19th, and 29th, which are universally recognized as David's, describe the phenomena of nature, and, as such (at least the two former), may more naturally be referred to this tranquil period of his life than to any other. The imagery of danger from wild beasts, lions, wild bulls, etc. ( Psalms 7:2;  Psalms 22:20-21), may be reminiscences of this time. And now, at any rate, he must have first acquired the art which gave him one of his chief claims to mention in after times "the sweet singer of Israel" ( 2 Samuel 23:1), "the inventor of instruments of music" ( Amos 6:5); "with his whole heart he sung songs and loved him that made him" ( Sirach 47:8).

4. One incident alone of his solitary shepherd life has come down to us his conflict with the lion and the bear in defense of his father's flocks ( 1 Samuel 17:34-35). But it did not stand alone. He was already known to Saul's guards for his martial exploits, probably against the Philistines ( 1 Samuel 16:18), and when he suddenly appeared in the camp his elder brother immediately guessed that he had left the sheep in his ardor to see the battle ( 1 Samuel 17:28). To this new aspect of his character we are next introduced. B.C. 1063.

The scene of the battle is at Ephes-dammim (q.v.), in the frontier hills of Judah, called probably from this or similar encounters "the bound of blood." Saul's army is encamped on one side of the ravine, the Philistines on the other; the watercourse of Elah, or "the Terebinth," runs between them. A Philistine of gigantic stature, and clothed in complete armor, insults the comparatively defenseless Israelites, among whom the king alone appears to be well armed ( 1 Samuel 17:38; comp. 13:20). No one can be found to take up the challenge. At this juncture David appears in the camp, sent by his father with ten loaves and ten slices of cheese to his three eldest brothers, fresh from the sheepfolds. Just as he comes to the circle of wagons which formed, as in Arab settlements, a rude fortification round the Israelite camp ( 1 Samuel 17:20), he hears the well-known shout of the Israelite war-cry (comp.  Numbers 23:21). The martial spirit of the boy is stirred at the sound; he leaves his provisions with the baggage-master, and darts to join his brothers (like one of the royal messengers) into the midst of the lines. Then he hears the challenge, now made for the fortieth time sees the dismay of his countrymen hears of the reward proposed by the king-goes with the impetuosity of youth from soldier to soldier talking of the event, in spite of his brother's rebuke he is introduced to Saul undertakes the combat. His victory over the gigantic Philistine is rendered more conspicuous by his own diminutive stature, and by the simple weapons with which it was accomplished not the armor of Saul, which he naturally found too large, but the shepherd's sling, which he always carried about with him, and the five polished pebbles which he picked up as he went from the watercourse of the valley, and put in his shepherd's wallet. Two trophies long remained of the battle one, the huge sword of the Philistine, which was hung up behind the ephod in the Tabernacle at Nob ( 1 Samuel 21:9); the other the head, which he bore away himself, and which was either laid up at Nob, or subsequently at Jerusalem. See Nos. Psalm cxliv, though by its contents of a much later date, is by the title in the Sept. "against Goliath." But there is also a psalm, preserved in the Sept. at the end of the Psalter, and which, though probably a mere adaptation from the history, well sums up this early period of his life:

"This is the psalm of David's own writing (?) ( Ίδιόγραφος Είς Δαυίδ ), and outside the number, when he fought the single combat with Goliath." "I was small amongst my brethren, and the youngest in my father's house. I was feeding my father's sheep. My hands made a harp, and my fingers fitted a psaltery. And who shall tell it to my Lord? He is the Lord, he heareth. He sent his messenger (angel?), and took me from my father's flocks, and anointed me with the oil of his anointing. My brethren were beautiful and tall, hut the Lord was not well pleased with them. I went out to meet the Philistine, and he cursed me by his idols. But I drew his own sword and beheaded him, and took away the reproach from the children of Israel."

David's susceptible temperament, joined to his devotional tendencies, must, at a very early age, have made him a favorite pupil of the prophets, whose peculiar mark was the harp and the psalm ( 1 Samuel 10:11-12, and  1 Samuel 19:20-24; see also  2 Kings 3:15). There is no small difficulty in reconciling the recommendation of David to Saul as a skillful player and warrior in  1 Samuel 16:14-23, with the account in the following chapter of David's appearance in the camp of Saul, and his introduction to that monarch in consequence of his victory over Goliath. Both narratives apparently give the account of David's first introduction to Saul, and yet it is not possible to combine them into one. Some would transpose the latter part of the 16th chap. so as to make it follow after 18:9 (Horsley, Bib. Crit. 1:332); but it is not easy to see what is gained by this; for if David was known to Saul, and accepted into Saul's service as there narrated, how could Saul send for him to his father's house, and receive him as a perfect stranger, as narrated in  1 Samuel 16:14-20? On the other hand, if David came before the notice of Saul under the circumstances mentioned in this 16th chapter, and was received into his favor and service as there narrated (21-23), how could the facts recorded in the 17th chapter, especially those in  1 Samuel 17:31-37, and  1 Samuel 17:55-58, have occurred? The Vatican MS. of the Sept. rejects  1 Samuel 17:12-31;  1 Samuel 17:55-58, and  1 Samuel 18:1-5, as spurious; and this Kennicott approves as the true solution of the difficulty (see his discussion of the question, Dissert. on the Hebrew Text, p. 418-432, 554-558). What gives some plausibility to this is, that  1 Samuel 17:32 naturally connects with  1 Samuel 18:11, and all between has very much the aspect of an interpolation. At the same time, it can hardly be permitted on such grounds to reject a portion of Scripture which has all other evidence, external and internal, in its favor. The old solution of the difficulty, that as David, after his first introduction to Saul, did not abide constantly with him, but went and came between Saul and his father's house ( 1 Samuel 17:15), he may have been at home when the war with the Philistines broke out; and as Saul's distemper was of the nature of mania, he very probably retained no recollection of David's visits to him while under it, but at each new interview regarded and spoke of him as a stranger still leaves unexplained the fact of Abner's ignorance of David's person, which appears to have been as complete as that of the king, and the fact of David's professing ignorance of warlike weapons, though he had been for some time Saul's armor-bearer. This last difficulty may be alleviated by the consideration that the statement in  1 Samuel 16:21 may be proleptical; or David, though Saul's armor-bearer, may have had so little practice in the use of armor as to prefer, in such a crisis, trusting to the weapons with which he was familiar. The best adjustment of these passages, however, is to transpose the account in  1 Samuel 16:14-23, so as to bring it in between  1 Samuel 18:4-5, and to regard the statement in  1 Samuel 18:2, of David's permanent residence at court after Goliath's slaughter as referring merely to an attachment to the royal person as a general thing and for the present. On the breaking out of Saul's hypochondria, David may naturally have returned home.

II. David'S History In Connection With Saul . The victory over Goliath had been a turning-point of his career. Saul inquired his parentage, and took him finally to his court. Jonathan was inspired by the romantic friendship which bound the two youths together to the end of their lives. The triumphant songs of the Israelitish women announced that they felt that in him Israel had now found a deliverer mightier even than Saul; and in those songs, and in the fame which David thus acquired, was laid the foundation of that unhappy jealousy of Saul towards him which, mingling with the king's constitutional malady, poisoned his whole later relations to David. Three new qualities now began to develop themselves in David's character. The first was his prudence. It had already been glanced at on the first mention of him to Saul ( 1 Samuel 16:18), as "prudent in matters;" but it was the marked feature of the beginning of his public career. Thrice over it is emphatically said, "he behaved himself wisely," and evidently with the meaning that it was the wisdom called forth by the necessities of his delicate and difficult situation. It was that peculiar Jewish caution which has been compared to the sagacity of a hunted animal, such as is remarked in Jacob, and afterwards in the persecuted Israelites of the Middle Ages. One instance of it appears immediately, in his answer to the trap laid for him by Saul's servants, "Seemeth it to you a light thing to be the king's son-in-law, seeing that I am a poor man and lightly esteemed?" ( 1 Samuel 18:23). Secondly, we now see his magnanimous forbearance called forth, in the first instance, towards Saul, but displaying itself (with a few painful exceptions) in the rest of his life. He is the first example of the virtue of chivalry. Thirdly, his hairbreadth escapes, continued through so many years, impressed upon him a sense of dependence on the Divine help, clearly derived from this epoch. His usual oath or asseveration in later times was, "As the Lord liveth who hath redeemed my soul out of adversity" ( 2 Samuel 4:9;  1 Kings 1:29); and the Psalms are filled with imagery taken even literally from shelter against pursuers, slipping down precipices ( Psalms 18:36), hiding-places in rocks and caves, leafy coverts ( Psalms 31:20), strong fastnesses ( Psalms 18:2). This part of David's life may be subdivided into four portions: 1. His Life At The Court Of Saul Till His Final Escape ( 1 Samuel 18:2 to  1 Samuel 19:18). His office is not exactly defined. But it would seem that, having been first armor-bearer ( 1 Samuel 16:21;  1 Samuel 18:2), then made captain over a thousand the subdivision of a tribe ( 1 Samuel 18:13), he finally, on his marriage with Michal, the king's second daughter, was raised to the high office of captain of the king's body-guard, second only, if not equal, to Abner, the captain of the host, and Jonathan, the heir apparent. These three formed the usual companions of the king at his meals ( 1 Samuel 20:25). David was now chiefly known for his successful exploits against the Philistines, by one of which he won his wife, and drove back the Philistine power with a blow from which it only rallied at the disastrous close of Saul's reign. He also still performed from time to time the office of minstrel. But the successive snares laid by Saul to entrap him, and the open violence into which the king's madness twice broke out, at last convinced him that his life was no longer safe. He had two faithful allies, however, in the court the son of Saul, his friend Jonathan the daughter of Saul, his; wife Michal. Warned by the one and assisted by the other, he escaped by night, and was from that time forward a fugitive. B.C. 1062. Jonathan he never saw again except by stealth. Michal was given in marriage to another (Phaltiel), and he saw her no more till long after her father's death. (See Michal). To this escape the traditional title assigns Psalms 59. Internal evidence (according to Ewald) gives Psalms 6, 7 to this period. In the former he is first beginning to contemplate the necessity of flight; in the latter he is moved by the plots of a person not named in the history (perhaps those alluded to in  1 Chronicles 12:17) according to the title of the psalm, Cush, a Benjamite, and therefore of Saul's tribe. (See Cush), 2.

2. His Escape ( 1 Samuel 19:18 to  1 Samuel 21:15). He first fled to Naioth (or the pastures) of Ramah, to Samuel. This is the first recorded occasion of his meeting with Samuel since the original interview during his boy. hood at Bethlehem. It might almost seem as if he had intended to devote himself with his musical and poetical gifts to the prophetical office, and give up the cares and dangers of public life. But he had a higher destiny still. Up to this time both the king and himself had thought that a reunion was possible (see 20:5, 26). But the madness of Saul now became more settled and ferocious in character, and David's danger proportionately greater. The secret interview with Jonathan, of which the recollection was probably handed down through Jonathan's descendants when they came to David's court, confirmed the alarm already excited by Saul's endeavor to seize him at Ramah, and he now determined to leave his country, and take refuge, like Coriolanus, or Themistocles in like circumstances, in the court of his enemy. Before this last resolve he visited Nob (q.v.), the seat of the tabernacle (1 Samuel 21), partly to obtain a final interview with the high- priest Ahimelech ( 1 Samuel 22:9;  1 Samuel 22:15), partly to procure food and weapons. On the pretext of a secret mission from Saul, he obtained from Ahimelech some of the sacred loaves of shew-bread (q.v.) and the consecrated sword of Goliath, of which he said, "There is none like that; give it me." The incident was of double importance in David's career. First, it established a connection between him and the only survivor of the massacre in which David's visit involved the house of Ahimelech. Secondly, from Ahimelech's surrender of the sacred bread to David's hunger (see Osiander, De Davide panes propositionis recipiente, Tubing. 1751) our Lord drew the inference of the superiority of the moral to the ceremonial law, which is the only allusion made to David's life in the N.T. ( Matthew 12:3;  Mark 2:25;  Luke 6:3-4). It is also commemorated by the traditional title of Psalms 52. His hospitable reception, when in distress, by Ahimelech the priest, and the atrocious massacre innocently brought by him on Nob, the city of the priests (1 Samuel 21 and  1 Samuel 22:9-19), must have deeply affected his generous nature, and laid the foundation of his cordial affection for the whole priestly order, whose ministrations he himself helped to elevate by his devotional melodies. (See Ahimelech), 1.

His stay at the court of Achish (q.v.) was short. Discovered possibly by "the sword of Goliath," his presence revived the national enmity of the Philistines against their former conqueror; and he only escaped by feigning madness, by violent gestures, playing on the gates of the city, or on a drum or cymbal, letting his beard grow, and foaming at the mouth ( 1 Samuel 21:13, Sept.). (See Ortlob, De Davidis delirio, Lips. 1706; Hebenstreit, De Dav. furorem simulante, Vit. 1711; Krafft, De Dav. in aula Getheorum, Erlang. 1768.) The 56th and 34th Psalms are both referred by their titles to this event, and the titles state (what does not appear in the narrative) that he had been seized as a prisoner by the Philistines, and that he was, in consequence of this stratagem, set freely Achish, or (as he is twice called) Abimelech. (See Achish), 1.

3. His Life As An Independent Outlaw ( 1 Samuel 22:1 to  1 Samuel 26:25).

(1.) His first retreat was the cave of Adullam, probably the large cavern (the only very large one in Palestine), not far from Bethlehem, now called Khureitun (see Bonar's Land of Promise, p, 244). From its vicinity to Bethlehem, he was joined there by his whole family, now feeling themselves in danger from Saul's fury ( 1 Samuel 22:1). This was probably the foundation of his intimate connection with his nephews, the sons of Zeruiah. B.C. 1061. Of these, Abishai, with two other companions, was among the earliest ( 1 Chronicles 11:15;  1 Chronicles 11:20;  1 Samuel 26:6;  2 Samuel 23:13;  2 Samuel 23:18). Besides these were outlaws and debtors from every part, including, doubtless, some of the original Canaanites, of whom the name of one, at least, has been preserved, Ahimelech the Hittite ( 1 Samuel 26:6). (See Adullam).

(2.) His next move was to a stronghold, either the mountain afterwards called Herodium, close to Adullam, or the fastness called by Josephus ( War, 7:8, 3) Masada, the Graecised form of the Hebrew word Metsadah ( 1 Samuel 22:4-5;  1 Chronicles 12:16), in the neighborhood of En-gedi. While there, he had deposited his aged parents, for the sake of greater security, beyond the Jordan, with their ancestral kinsman of Moab (ib. 3). The neighboring king, Nahash of Ammon, also treated him kindly ( 2 Samuel 10:2). Here another companion appears for the first time, a school- fellow, if we may use the word, from the schools of Samuel, the prophet Gad, his subsequent biographer ( 1 Samuel 22:5); and while he was there occurred the chivalrous exploit of the three heroes just mentioned to procure water from the well of Bethlehem, and David's chivalrous answer, like that of Alexander in the desert of Gedrosia ( 1 Chronicles 11:16-19;  2 Samuel 23:14-17). He was joined here by two separate bands: one a little body of eleven fierce Gadite mountaineers, who swam the Jordan in flood- time to reach him ( 1 Chronicles 12:8); the other, a detachment of men from Judah and Benjamin, under his nephew Amasai, who henceforth attached himself to David's fortunes ( 1 Chronicles 12:16-18).

(3.) At the warning of Gad, he fled next to the forest of Hareth (somewhere in the hills of Judah), and then again fell in with the Philistines, and again, apparently advised by Gad ( 1 Samuel 23:4), made a descent on their foraging parties, and relieved Keilah (q.v.), in which he took up his abode. While there, now for the first time in a fortified town of his own ( 1 Samuel 23:7), he was joined by a new and most important ally Abiathar, the last survivor of the house of Ithamar, who came with the high-priest's ephod, and henceforth gave the oracles, which David had hitherto received from Gad ( 1 Samuel 23:6;  1 Samuel 23:9;  1 Samuel 22:23). By this time the 400 who had joined him at Adullam ( 1 Samuel 22:2) had swelled to 600 ( 1 Samuel 23:13).

(4.) The situation of David was now changed by the appearance of Saul himself on the scene. Apparently the danger was too great for the little army to keep together. They escaped from Keilah, and dispersed, "whithersoever they could go," among the fastnesses of Judah. Henceforth it becomes difficult to follow his movements with exactness, partly from ignorance of the localities, partly because the same event seems to be twice narrated ( 1 Samuel 23:19-24;  1 Samuel 26:1-4, and perhaps  1 Samuel 24:1-22;  1 Samuel 26:5-25). But thus much we discern. He is in the wilderness of Ziph. Once (or twice) the Ziphites betray his movements to Saul, who literally hunts him like a partridge; the treacherous Ziphites beating the bushes before him, and 3000 men being stationed by Saul to catch even the print of his footsteps on the hills ( 1 Samuel 23:14;  1 Samuel 23:22 [Hebrews], 24 [Sept.]; 24:11; 26:2, 20). David finds himself driven to the extreme south of Judah, in the wilderness of Maon. On two, if not three occasions, the pursuer and pursued catch sight of each other. Of the first of these escapes, the memory was long preserved in the name of the "Cliff of Divisions," given to the cliff down one side of which David climbed, while Saul was surrounding the hill on the other side ( 1 Samuel 23:25-29), when he was suddenly called away by the cry of a Philistine invasion. On another occasion David took refuge in a cave "by the spring of the wild goats" (En-gedi), immediately above the Dead Sea ( 1 Samuel 24:1-2).

The rocks were covered with the pursuers. Saul entered, as is the custom in Oriental countries, for a natural necessity. The followers of David, seated in the dark recesses of the cave, seeing, yet not seen, suggest to him the chance thus thrown in their way. David, with a characteristic mixture of humor and generosity, descends and silently cuts off the skirt of the long robe spread, as is usual in the East on such occasions, before and behind the person so occupied and then ensued the pathetic scene of remonstrance and forgiveness ( 1 Samuel 24:8-22). The third was in the wilderness further south. There was a regular camp, formed with its usual fortification of wagon and baggage. Into this inclosure David penetrated by night, and carried of the cruse of water, and the well-known royal spear of Saul, which twice had so nearly transfixed him to the wall in former days ( 1 Samuel 26:7;  1 Samuel 26:11;  1 Samuel 26:22). The same scene is repeated as at En-gedi and this is the 1st interview between Saul and David ( 1 Samuel 26:25). B.C. 1055. David had already parted with Jonathan in the forest of Ziph ( 1 Samuel 23:18).

To this period are annexed by their traditional titles Psalms 54 ("When the Ziphim came and said, Doth not David hide himself with us?"); 57 ("When he fled from Saul in the cave," though this may refer also to Adullam); 63, "When he was in the wilderness of Judah" (or Idumaea, Sept.); 142 ("A prayer when he was in the cave").

While he was in the wilderness of Maon occurred David's adventure with Nabal (q.v.), instructive as showing his mode of carrying on the freebooter's life, and his marriage with Abigail. His marriage with Ahinoam from Jezreel, also in the same neighborhood ( Joshua 15:56), seems to have taken place a short time before ( 1 Samuel 25:43;  1 Samuel 27:3;  2 Samuel 3:2).

4. His Service Under Achish ( 1 Samuel 27:1;  2 Samuel 1:27). Wearied with his wandering life, he at last crosses the Philistine frontier, not, as before, as a fugitive, but the chief of a powerful band his 600 men now grown into an organized force, with their wives and families around them ( 1 Samuel 27:3-4). After the manner of Eastern potentates, Achish gave him for his support a city Ziklag, on the frontier of Philistia and it was long remembered that to this curious arrangement the kings of Judah owed this part of their possessions ( 1 Samuel 27:6). Here we meet with the first note of time in David's life. He was settled therefor a year and four months ( 1 Samuel 27:7), and his increasing importance is indicated by the fact that a body of Benjamite archers and slingers, twenty-two of whom are specially named, joined him from the very tribe of his rival ( 1 Chronicles 12:1-7). Possibly during this stay he may have acquired the knowledge of military organization and weapons of war ( 1 Samuel 13:19-23), in which the Philistines surpassed the Israelites, and in which he surpassed all the preceding rulers of Israel. During his outlawry, David had also become acquainted in turn not only with all the wild country in the land, but with the strongholds of the enemy all around. The celebrity acquired in successful guerilla warfare, even in modern days, turns many eyes on a chieftain; and in an age which regarded personal heroism as the first qualification of a general ( 1 Chronicles 11:6) and of a king, to triumph over the persecutions of Saul gave David the fairest prospects of a kingdom. That he was able to escape the malice of his enemy was due in part to the direct help given him by the nations around, who were glad to keep a thorn rankling in Saul's side; in part also to the indirect results of their invasions ( 1 Samuel 23:27).

He deceived Achish into confidence by attacking the old nomadic inhabitants of the desert frontier, and representing the plunder to be of portions of the southern tribes or the nomadic allied tribes of Israel. But this confidence was not shared by the Philistine nobles, and accordingly David was sent back by Achish from the last victorious campaign against Saul. In this manner David escaped the difficulty of being present at the battle of Gilboa, but found that during his absence the Bedouin Amalekites, whom he had plundered during the previous year, had made a descent upon Ziklag, burnt it to the ground, and carried off the wives and children of the new settlement. A wild scene of frantic grief and recrimination ensued between David and his followers. It was calmed by an oracle of assurance from Abiathar. It happened that an important accession had just been made to David's force. On his march with the Philistines northward to Gilboa, he had been joined by some chiefs of the Manassites, through whose territory he was passing. Urgent as must have been the need for them at home, yet David's fascination carried them off, and they now assisted him against the plunderers ( 1 Chronicles 12:19-21). They overtook the invaders in the desert, and recovered the spoil. These were the gifts with which David was now able for the first time to requite the friendly inhabitants of the scene of his wanderings ( 1 Samuel 30:26-31). A more lasting memorial was the law which traced its origin to the arrangement made by him, formerly in the attack on Nabal, but now again, more completely, for the equal division of the plunder among the two thirds who followed to the field, and the one third who remained to guard the baggage ( 1 Samuel 30:25;  1 Samuel 25:13). Two days after this victory a Bedouin arrived from the north with the fatal news of the defeat of Gilboa. The reception of the tidings of the death of his rival and of his friend, the solemn mourning, the vent of his indignation against the bearer of the message, the pathetic lamentation that followed, well close the second period of David's life ( 2 Samuel 1:1-27). B.C. 1053.

III. David'S Reign .

(I.) As King of Judah at Hebron, 7.5 years (2 Samuel 2 :l-5:5). Hebron was selected, doubtless, because it was the ancient sacred city of the tribe of Judah, the burial-place of the patriarchs and the inheritance of Caleb. Here David was first formally anointed king-by whom it is not stated; but the expression seems to limit the inauguration to the tribe of Judah, and therefore to exclude any intervention of Abiathar ( 2 Samuel 2:4). To Judah his dominion was nominally confined. But probably for the first five years of the time the dominion of the house of Saul, whose seat was now at Mahanaim, did not extend to the west of the Jordan, and consequently David would be the only Israelite potentate among the western tribes. He then strengthened himself by a marriage with Maacah, daughter of Talmai, king of Geshur ( 2 Samuel 3:3), a petty monarch whose dominions were near the sources of the Jordan, and whose influence at the opposite end of the land must have added a great weight into David's scale. From Abigail, widow of the churlish Nabal, David seems to have received a large private fortune. Concerning his other wives we know nothing in particular, only it is mentioned that he had six sons by six different mothers in Hebron. The chief jealousy was between the two tribes of Benjamin and Judah, as Saul had belonged to the former; and a tournament was turned by mutual ill-will into a battle, in which Abner unwillingly slew young Asahel, brother of Joab. "Long war," after this, was carried on between "the house of Saul and the house of David." We may infer that the rest of Israel took little part in the contest; and although the nominal possession of the kingdom enabled the little tribe of Benjamin to struggle for some time against Judah, the skill and age of Abner could not prevail against the vigor and popular fame of David. Gradually David's power increased, and during the two years which followed the elevation of Ishbosheth, a series of skirmishes took place between the two kingdoms. First came a successful inroad into the territory of Ishbosheth ( 2 Samuel 2:28).

Next occurred the defection of Abner ( 2 Samuel 3:12). A quarrel between Abner and Ishbosheth decided the former to bring the kingdom over to David (see Ortlob, De pacto Davidis et Abneri, Lips. 1709). The latter refused to treat unless, as a preliminary proof of Abner's sincerity, Michal, daughter of Saul, was restored to David. The possession of such a wife was valuable to one who was aspiring to: the kingdom; and although David had now other wives, he appears not to have lost his affection for this his earliest bride. She, too, seems to have acquiesced in his claim as being greater than that of the man on whom her father had arbitrarily bestowed her, and the sincere kindness of her new husband had probably not effaced her former attachment to David, although we afterwards find her betrayed into an unworthy act by her pride of position. After giving her back, Abner proceeded to win the elders of Israel over to David; but Joab discerned that if this should be so brought about, Abner of necessity would displace him from his post of chief captain. He therefore seized the opportunity of murdering him when he had come on a peaceful embassy, and covered the atrocity by pleading the duty of revenging his brother's blood. This deed was perhaps David's first taste of the miseries of royal power. He dared not proceed actively against his ruthless nephew, but he vented his abhorrence in a solemn curse on Joab and his posterity, and followed Abner to the grave with weeping. (See Abner).

Anxious to purge himself of the guilt, he ordered a public wearing of sackcloth, and refused to touch food all the day. His sincere expressions of grief won the heart of all Israel. The feeble Ishbosheth (q.v.), left alone, was unequal to the government, and shortly suffered the same fate of assassination. David, following the universal policy of sovereigns (Tacit. Hist. 1:44), and his own profound sense of the sacredness of royalty, took vengeance on the murderers, and buried Ishbosheth in Abner's tomb at Hebron. During this period, it is not stated against what people his marauding excursions were directed. It is distinctly alleged ( 2 Samuel 3:22) that his men brought in a great spoil at the very time at which he had a truce with Abner; possibly it may have been won from his old enemies the Amalekites (1 Samuel 30). The throne, so long waiting for him, was now vacant, and the united voice of the whole people at once called him to occupy it. B.C. 1046. A solemn league was made between him and his people ( 2 Samuel 5:3). For the third time David was anointed king, and a festival of three days celebrated the joyful event ( 1 Chronicles 12:39). His little band had now swelled into "a great host, like the host of God" ( 1 Chronicles 12:22). The command of it, which had formerly rested on David alone, he now devolved on his nephew Joab ( 2 Samuel 2:28). It was formed by contingents from every tribe of Israel. Two are specially mentioned as bringing a weight of authority above the others. The sons of Issachar had "understanding of the times to know what Israel ought to do," and with the adjacent tribes contributed to the common feast the peculiar products of their rich territory ( 1 Chronicles 12:32;  1 Chronicles 12:40). The Levitical tribe, formerly represented in David's being followed only by the solitary fugitive Abiathar, now came in strength, represented by the head of the rival branch of Eleazar, the high-priest, the aged Jehoiada and his youthful and warlike kinsman Zadok ( 1 Chronicles 12:27-28;  1 Chronicles 27:5). The kingdom was not at first a despotic, but a constitutional one; for it is stated, "David made a league with the elders of Israel in Hebron before Jehovah; and they anointed David king over Israel" ( 2 Samuel 5:3). This is marked out as the era which determined the Philistines to hostility ( 2 Samuel 5:17), and may confirm our idea that their policy was to hinder Israel from becoming united under a single king.

Underneath this show of outward prosperity, two cankers, incident to the royal state which David now assumed, had first made themselves apparent at Hebron, and affected all the rest of his career. The first was the formation of a harem, according to the usage of Oriental kings. To the two wives of his wandering life he had now added four, and including Michal, five ( 2 Samuel 2:2;  2 Samuel 3:2-5;  2 Samuel 3:15). The second was the increasing power of his kinsmen and chief officers, which the king strove to restrain within the limits of right; and thus, of all the incidents of this part of his career, the most plaintive and characteristic is his lamentation over his powerlessness to prevent the murder of Abner ( 2 Samuel 3:31-36).

(II.) Reign Over All Israel , 33 years ( 2 Samuel 5:5, to  1 Kings 2:11). The reign of David is the great critical era in the history of the Hebrews. It decided that they were to have for nearly five centuries a national monarchy, a fixed line of priesthood, and a solemn religious worship by music and psalms of exquisite beauty; it finally separated Israel from the surrounding heathen, and gave room for producing those noble monuments of sacred writ, to the influence of which over the whole world no end can be seen. His predecessor, Saul, had many successes against the Philistines, but it is clear that he made little impression on their real power; for he died fighting against them, not on their own border, but at the opposite side of his kingdom, in Mount Gilboa. As for all the other enemies on every side" Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, and the kings of Zobah however much he may have "vexed them" ( 1 Samuel 14:47), they, as well as the Amalekites, remained unsubdued, if weakened. The real work of establishing Israel as lord over the whole soil of Canaan was left for David.

1. The Foundation Of Jerusalem . It must have been with no ordinary interest that the surrounding nations watched for the prey on which the Lion of Judah, now about to issue from his native lair, and establish himself in a new home, would make his first spring. One fastness alone in the center of the land had hitherto defied the arms of Israel. On this, with a singular prescience, perceiving that so southerly a position as Hebron was no longer suitable, David fixed as his future capital. By one sudden assault Jebus was taken, and became henceforth known by the names (whether borne by it before or not we cannot tell) of Jerusalem and Zion. B.C. 1044. (See Jerusalem).

Of all the cities of Palestine great in former ages, Jerusalem alone has vindicated by its long permanence the choice of its founder. The importance of the capture was marked at the time. The reward bestowed on the successful scaler of the precipice was the highest place in the army. Joab henceforward became captain of the host ( 1 Chronicles 11:6). The royal residence was instantly fixed there, fortifications were added by the king and by Joab, and it was known by the special name of the "city of David" ( 1 Chronicles 11:7;  2 Samuel 5:9). In the account of this siege, some have imagined the Chronicles to contradict the book of Samuel, but there is no real incompatibility in the two narratives. Joab was, it is true, already David's chief captain; but David was heartily disgusted with him, and may have sought a pretense for superseding him by offering the post to the man who should first scale the wall. Joab would be animated by the desire to retain his office, at least as keenly as others by the desire to get it; and it is credible that he may actually have been the successful hero of that siege also. If this was the case, it will further explain why David, even in the fullness of power, made no further effort to expel him until he had slaughtered Absalom.

The neighboring nations were partly enraged and partly awestruck. The Philistines had already made two ineffectual attacks on the new k

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia [16]

dā´vid ( דּוד , dāwı̄dh , or דּויד , dāwı̄dh , "beloved"; Δαυειδ , Daueid , also in New Testament, Δαυίδ , Dâ uid , Δαβίδ , Dâ bid  ; see Thayer's Lexicon):

I. Name and Genealogy

II. Early Years

1. Shepherd

2. Slinger

3. Harpist

4. Poet

5. Psalmist

6. Tribesman

III. In the Service of Saul

1. David First Meets Saul

2. His First Exploit

3. Envy of Saul and Flight of David

4. Jonathan and David

IV. David in Exile

1. David as Outlaw

2. David Joins the Philistines

V. David as King

1. Civil War

2. Conquests Abroad

3. Political Situation

4. The Ark

VI. Domestic Life

1. His Wives and Children

2. Domestic Troubles

VII. His officials

1. Prophets

2. Priests

3. Military Officers

4. Other Officials

5. Mutual Rivalry

VIII. Personal Character of David

1. Chronicles

2. Psalms

3. Complex Character

4. Physical Courage

5. Moral Courage

6. Prudence

7. Strategy

8. Nobility

9. David in Relation to His Family

10. David in Relation to His Friends

11. His Success

12. His Foreign Friends

13. Nemesis

14. References in the New Testament


I. Name and Genealogy

This name, which is written "defectively" in the older books, such as those of Samuel, but fully with the yodh in Chronicles and the later books, is derived, like the similar name Jedidish ( 2 Samuel 12:25 ), from a root meaning "to love." The only person who bears this name in the Bible is the son of Jesse, the second king of Israel. His genealogy is given in the table appended to the Book of Ruth (Rth 4:18-22). Here the following points are to be noted: David belonged to the tribe of Judah: his ancestor Nahshon was chieftain of the whole tribe ( Numbers 1:7;  Numbers 2:3;  1 Chronicles 2:10 ) and brother-in-law of Aaron the high priest ( Exodus 6:23 ). As no other descendants of Nahshon are mentioned, his authority probably descended to Jesse by right of primogeniture. This supposition is countenanced by the fact that Salma (Salmon), the name of the son of Nahshon and father of Boaz, is also the name of a grandson of Caleb who became "father" of Bethlehem, the home of Jesse ( 1 Chronicles 2:51 ). David was closely connected with the tribe of Moab, the mother of his grandfather Obed being Ruth the Moabitess. Of the wife or wives of Jesse we know nothing, and consequently are without information upon a most interesting point - the personality of the mother of David; but that she too may have been of the tribe of Moab is rendered probable by the fact that, when hard pressed, David placed his parents under the protection of the king of that country ( 1 Samuel 22:3 ,  1 Samuel 22:1 ).

II. Early Years

The home of David when he comes upon the stage of history was the picturesque town of Bethlehem.

1. Shepherd

There his family had been settled for generations, indeed ever since the Israelite nation had overrun the land of Canaan. His father was apparently not only the chief man of the place, but he seems to have been chieftain of the whole clan to which he belonged - the clan of Judah. Although the country round Bethlehem is more fertile than that in the neighborhood of Jerusalem, the inhabitants joined to the cultivation of the soil the breeding of cattle ( Luke 2:8 ). David's father, not only cultivated his ancestral fields, but kept flocks of sheep and goats as well. The flocks were sent out every day to pasture in the neighboring valleys attended by the herdsmen armed so as to defend themselves and their charge, not only against marauders from the surrounding deserts, but also from the lions and bears with which the country was then infested. David seems to have been in the habit of accompanying his father's servants in their task ( 1 Samuel 17:20 ,  1 Samuel 17:22 ), and on occasion would be left in full charge by himself. Nor was his post at such times a sinecure. He had not only to keep a sharp lookout for thieves, but on more than one occasion had with no other weapon than his shepherd's club or staff to rescue a lamb from the clutches of a lion or a bear ( 1 Samuel 17:34 ). Such adventures, however, must have been rare, and David must often have watched eagerly the lengthening of the shadow which told of the approach of sunset, when he could drive his charge into the zariba for the night and return home. There is, indeed, no life more monotonous and enervating than that of an eastern shepherd, but David must have made good use of his idle time. He seems, in fact, to have made such good use of it as to have neglected his handful of sheep. The incidents of which he boasted to Saul would not have occurred, had his proper occupation taken up all his thoughts; but, like King Alfred, his head seems to have been filled with ideas far removed from his humble task.

2. Slinger

David, like Nelson, does not seem to have known what it was to be afraid, and it was not to be expected that he could be satisfied with the lot of the youngest of eight sons of the now aged chief ( 1 Samuel 17:12;  1 Chronicles 2:13 ). In the East every man is a soldier, and David's bent was in that direction. The tribesmen of Benjamin near whose border his home was situated were famed through all Israel as slingers, some of whom could sling at a hair and not miss ( Judges 20:16 ). Taught, perhaps, by one of these, but certainly by dint of constant practice, David acquired an accuracy of aim which reminds one of the tales of William Tell or Robin Hood ( 1 Samuel 17:49 ).

3. Harpist

Another of the pastimes in the pursuit of which David spent many an hour of his youthful days was music. The instrument which he used was the "harp" (Hebrew kinnor ). This instrument had many forms, which may be seen on the Assyrian and Egyptian monuments; but the kind used by David was probably like the modern Arabic, rubaba , having only one or two strings, played not with a plectrum ( Ant. , VII, xii, 3) but by the hand (compare  1 Samuel 16:23 , etc., which do not exclude a quill). Whatever the nature of the instrument was, David acquired such proficiency in playing it that his fame as a musician soon spread throughout the countryside ( 1 Samuel 16:18 ). With the passing of time he becomes the Hebrew Orpheus, in whose music birds and mountains joined (compare Koran, chapter 21 ).

4. Poet

To the accompaniment of his lyre David no doubt sang words, either of popular songs or of lyrics of his own composition, in that wailing eastern key which seems to be an imitation of the bleating of flocks. The verses he sang would recount his own adventures or the heroic prowess of the warrior of his clan, or celebrate the loveliness of some maiden of the tribe, or consist of elegies upon those slain in battle. That the name of David was long connected with music the reverse of sacred appears from the fact that Amos denounces the people of luxury of his time for improvising to the sound of the viol, inventing instruments of music, like David ( Amos 6:5 ). (It is not clear to which clause "like David" belongs, probably to both.) The only remains of the secular poetry of David which have come down to us are his elegies on Saul and Jonathan and on Abner ( 2 Samuel 1:19-27;  2 Samuel 3:33 ,  2 Samuel 3:14 ), which show him to have been a true poet.

5. Psalmist

Did David also compose religious verses? Was he "the sweet psalmist of Israel" ( 2 Samuel 23:1 )? In the oldest account which we have, contained in the books of Samuel, David appears as a musician and as a secular poet only, for it is obvious the poetical passages, 2 Sam 22:1-23:7, do not belong to the original form of that book but are thrust in in the middle of a long list of names of David's soldiers. The position is the same in  Amos 6:5 . It is in the later books and passages that sacred music and psalms begin to be ascribed to him. Perhaps the earliest instance is the passage just cited containing the "last words" of David ( 2 Samuel 23:1-7 ). The Chronicler (about 300 bc) seems to put parts of Psalms 105;  Psalm 96:1-13 , and 106 into the mouth of David ( 1 Chronicles 16:7 ), and  Nehemiah 12:36 regards him apparently as the inventor of the instruments used in the Temple service (  1 Chronicles 23:5 ), or as a player of sacred music. So too in the Septuagint psalter (Ps 151:2) we read, "My hands made an organ, my fingers fashioned a psaltery"; and gradually the whole of the Psalms came to be ascribed to David as author. In regard to this question it must be remembered that in the East at any rate there is no such distinction as that of sacred and secular. By sacred poetry we mean poetry which mentions the name of God or quotes Scripture, but the Hebrew or Arab poet will use the name of God as an accompaniment to a dance, and will freely sprinkle even comic poetry with citations from his sacred book. David must have composed sacred poems if he composed at all, and he would use his musical gift for the purposes of religion as readily as for those of amusement and pleasure ( 2 Samuel 6:14 ,  2 Samuel 6:15 ). Whether any of our psalms was composed by David is another question. The titles cannot be considered as conclusive evidence, and internal proofs of his authorship are wanting. Indeed the only psalm which claims to have been written by David is the 18th (= 2 Sam 22). One cannot help wishing that  Psalm 23:1-6 had been sung by the little herd lad as he watched his father's flocks and guarded them from danger.

6. Tribesman

There are sayings of Mohammed that the happiest life is that of the shepherd, and that no one became a prophet who had not at one time tended a flock of sheep. What Mohammed meant was that the shepherd enjoys leisure and solitude for reflection and for plunging into those day dreams out of which prophets are made. If David, like the Arab poet Tarafa, indulged in sport, in music and in poetry, even to the neglect of his charge, he must have sought out themes on which to exercise his muse; and it must have been with no little chagrin that he learnt that whereas the tribes of Ephraim, Benjamin, Naphtali, Manasseh, Issachar, Zebulun, Levi, Dan, and even the non-Israelite tribes of Kenaz and the debatable land of Gilead could boast of having held the hegemony of Israel and led the nation in battle, his own tribe of Judah had played a quite subordinate part, and was not even mentioned in the national war song of Deborah. As contrasted with the poets of these tribes he could boast in his verses only of Ibzan who belonged to his own town of Bethlehem ( Judges 12:8 ). The Jerahmeelites were no doubt a powerful clan, but neither they nor any other of the subdivisions of Judah had ever done anything for the common good. Indeed, when the twelve pathfinders had been sent in advance into Canaan, Judah had been represented by Caleb, a member of the Uitlander tribe of Kenaz ( Numbers 13:6 ). He became apparently the adopted son of Hezron and so David might claim kinship with him, and through him with Othniel the first of the judges ( Judges 1:13 ). David Thus belonged to the least efficient of all the Israelite tribes except one, and one which, considering its size and wealth, had till now failed to play a worthy part in the confederacy. It is difficult to believe that the young David never dreamed of a day when his own tribe should take its true place among its fellows, and when the deliverer of Israel from its oppressors should belong for once to the tribe of Judah.

III. In the Service of Saul

The earliest events in the career of David are involved in some obscurity.

1. David First Meets Saul

This is due mainly to what appears to be an insoluble difficulty in 1 Samuel 16 and 17. In chapter 16, David is engaged to play before Saul in order to dispel is melancholy, and becomes his squire or armor-bearer ( 1 Samuel 16:21 ), whereas in the following chapter he is unknown to Saul, who, after the death of Goliath, asks Abner who he is, and Abner replies that he does not know ( 1 Samuel 17:55 ). This apparent contradiction may be accounted for by the following considerations: ( a )  1 Samuel 16:14-23 may be inserted out of its chronological order for the sake of the contrast with the section immediately preceding - "the spirit of Yahweh came mightily upon David from that day forward ... the spirit of Yahweh departed from Saul" (  1 Samuel 16:13 ,  1 Samuel 16:14 ); ( b ) The fact of David becoming Saul's squire does not imply constant personal attendance upon him; the text says David became an (not his) armor-bearer to Saul. The king would have many such squires: Joab, though only commander-in-chief, had, it seems, eighteen ( 2 Samuel 23:37 reads "armor-bearers"); ( c ) David would not play before Saul every day: his presence might not be required for a space of weeks or months; ( d ) Saul's failure to recognize David may have been a result of the 'evil spirit from Yahweh' and Abner's denial of knowledge may have been feigned out of jealousy. If we accept all the statements of the dramatis personae in these narratives we shall not get very far.

2. His First Exploit

The facts seem to have been somewhat as follows: It had become evident that Saul was not equal to the task to which he had been set - the task of breaking the Philistine power, and it became the duty of Samuel, as the vicar of Yahweh and as still holding very large powers, to look about for a successor. He turned to the tribe of Judah (the full brother of his own ancestor Levi), a tribe which was fast becoming the most powerful member of the federation. The headman of this clan was Jesse of Bethlehem. His name was well known in the country - S aul does not require to be told who he is ( 1 Samuel 16:18;  1 Samuel 17:58 ) - but he was by this time advanced in years ( 1 Samuel 17:12 ). He had, however, many sons. Old men in the East often foretell a great future for a young boy (compare  Luke 2:34 ). Samuel saw that David was formed of other clay than his brothers, and he anointed him as he had done Saul ( 1 Samuel 10:1 ). But whereas the anointing of Saul was done surreptitiously and for a definite purpose which was explained at the time ( 1 Samuel 10:1 ), that of David was performed before his whole family, but with what object he was not told ( 1 Samuel 16:13 ). His brothers do not seem to have thought the matter of much consequence (compare  1 Samuel 17:28 ), and all David could conclude from it was that he was destined to some high office - perhaps that of Samuel's successor (compare  1 Kings 19:15 ,  1 Kings 19:16 ). It would have the effect of nerving him for any adventure and raising his hopes high and steeling his courage. Whether by accident or by contrivance he became attached to Saul as minstrel (compare  2 Kings 3:15 ) and subsequently as one of his armor-bearers. He would probably be at this time about twenty years of age. It must have been after an interval of some months that an event happened which made it impossible for Saul ever again to forget the existence of David. This was the famous duel between David and the Philistine Goliath, which saved the situation for Saul for the time (1 Sam 17). In regard to this narrative it must be noted that 1 Sam 17:12-31,  1 Samuel 17:41 ,  1 Samuel 17:50 ,  1 Samuel 17:55-58 and   1 Samuel 18:1-5 are lacking in the best manuscript of the Septuagint, that is, the sending of David from Bethlehem and his fresh introduction to Saul and Saul's failure to recognize him are left out. With the omission of these verses all the difficulties of the narrative vanish. For the reason why David could not wear the armor offered him was not because he was still a child, which is absurd in view of the fact that Saul was exceptionally tall (  1 Samuel 9:2 ), but because he had had no practice with it ( 1 Samuel 17:39 ). It is ridiculous to suppose that David was not at this time full-grown, and that two armies stood by while a child advanced to engage a giant. The event gained for David the reputation won in modern times at the cannon's mouth, but also the devoted friendship of Jonathan and the enmity of Saul ( 1 Samuel 18:1-9 ).

The next years of David's life were spent in the service of Saul in his wars with the Philistines. David's success where Saul had failed, however, instead of gratifying only inflamed the jealousy of the latter, and he determined to put David out of the way. More than once he attempted to do so with his own hand ( 1 Samuel 18:11;  1 Samuel 19:10 ), but he also employed stratagem. It came to his ears that his daughter Michal, as well as his son Jonathan, loved David, and Saul undertook to give her to David on the condition of his killing one hundred Philistines.

3. Envy of Saul and Flight of David

The gruesome dowry was paid, and David became Saul's son-in-law. The Hebrew text states that Saul first offered his elder daughter to David, and then failed to implement his promise ( 1 Samuel 18:17-19 ,  1 Samuel 18:21 ), but this passage is not found in the Greek. David's relation to Saul did not mitigate the hatred of the latter; indeed his enmity became so bitter that David determined upon flight. With the help of stratagem on the part of Michal, this was effected and David went to Samuel at Ramah for counsel and advice ( 1 Samuel 19:18 ). There Saul pursued him, but when he came into the presence of the prophet, his courage failed and he was overcome by the contagion of the prophetic ecstasy ( 1 Samuel 19:24 ) as he had been on a previous occasion ( 1 Samuel 10:11 ). David returned to Gibeah, while the coast was clear, to meet Jonathan, but Saul also returned immediately, his hatred more intense than before. David then continued his flight and came to Ahimelech, the priest at Nob ( 1 Samuel 21:1 ). It is sometimes supposed that we have here two inconsistent accounts of David's flight, according to one of which he fled to Samuel at Ramah, and according to the other to Ahimelech at Nob; but there is no necessity for such a supposition, and even if it were correct, it would not clear up all the difficulties of the narrative. There is evidently much in these narratives that is left untold and our business should be to fill up the gaps in a way consistent with what we are given. That Saul made sure that David would not return is shown by the fact that he gave his daughter Michal to a man of the tribe of Benjamin as wife ( 1 Samuel 25:44 ).

4. Jonathan and David

The relation existing between Jonathan and David was one of pure friendship. There was no reason why it should not be so. A hereditary monarchy did not yet exist in Israel. The only previous attempt to establish such an institution - that of Gideon's family (Jdg 9) - though not of Gideon himself (1 Sam 8:23) - had ended in failure. The principle followed hitherto had been that of election by the sheikhs or caids of the clans. To this Saul owed his position, for the lot was a kind of ballot. Moreover, behind all national movements there lay the power of the prophets, the representatives of Yahweh. Saul was indebted for his election to Samuel, just as Barak was to Deborah ( Judges 4:6 ). Like the judges who preceded him he had been put forward to meet a definite crisis in the national affairs - the rise of the Philistine power ( 1 Samuel 9:16 ). Had he succeeded in crushing these invaders, the newly-established kingdom would in the absence of this bond of union have dissolved again into its elements, as had happened on every similar occasion before. He was the only judge who had failed to accomplish the task for which he was appointed, and he was the only one who had been appointed on the understanding that his son should succeed him, for this constitutes the distinction between king and judge. Moreover, not only was Saul aware that he had failed, but he saw before him the man who was ready to step into his place and succeed. His rival had, besides, the backing of the mass of the people and of Samuel who was still virtual head of the state and last court of appeal. It is not to be wondered at that Saul was hostile to David. Jonathan, on the other hand, acquiesced in the turn things had taken and bowed to what he believed to be the inevitable. Such was his love for David that he asked only to be his wazeer (vizier) when David came to the throne ( 1 Samuel 23:17 ). David's position was perhaps the most difficult imaginable. He had to fight the battles of a king whose one idea was to bring about his ruin. He was the bosom friend of a prince whom he proposed to supplant in his inheritance. His hope of salvation lay in the death of his king, the father of his wife and of his best friend. The situation would in ordinary circumstances be intolerable, and it would have been impossible but for the fact that those concerned were obsessed by a profound belief in Fate. Jonathan bore no grudge against David for aiming at the throne, because to the throne he was destined by the will of Yahweh. To David it would never occur that he had the choice of declining the high destiny in store for him. Had he had the power to refuse what he believed to be the decree of Fate, he would hardly escape censure for his ambition and disloyalty.

IV. David in Exile

1. David as Outlaw

From the moment of his flight David became an outlaw and remained so until the death of Saul. This period of his career is full of stirring adventures which remind us of Robert Bruce or William Wallace of Scotland. Like King Arthur and other heroes he carried a famous sword - the sword of Goliath ( 1 Samuel 21:9 ). Having obtained it of Ahimelech, he for the first time left Israelite territory and went to the Philistine city of Gath ( 1 Samuel 21:10 ). Not feeling safe here he left and took up his abode in the cave of Adullam ( 1 Samuel 22:1 ) in the country of Judah, almost within sight of his native Bethlehem. This cave was admirably suited to the outlaw's purpose and no doubt David had many a time explored its recesses when a boy. Here he was joined by his parents and brothers, with their servants, as well as by all sorts of persons who were at war with the government, debtors, fugitives from justice, and discontented persons generally. David Thus became the chief of a band of outlaws who numbered about 400. Of such stuff some of his bravest soldiers were made ( 2 Samuel 23:13 ). He had an augur, too, to direct his actions, and, after the massacre of the priests at Nob, a priest, Abiathar, carrying an ephod with which to cast lots ( 1 Samuel 22:5;  1 Samuel 23:6 ). During this period he supported himself and his men by making raids on the Philistine outposts and levying blackmail on his own countrymen ( 1 Samuel 25:2 ) in return for giving them his protection from the Philistines ( 1 Samuel 23:1 ). Hard pressed both by Saul and the Philistines (who had established themselves even in Bethlehem) he committed his parents to the keeping of the king of Moab, and began to rove as a freebooter through the country ( 1 Samuel 23:5 ,  1 Samuel 23:15 ,  1 Samuel 23:25 ,  1 Samuel 23:29 ). On two occasions David had Saul in his power, but refused to seize the opportunity of taking his life (1 Sam 24-26). Here again there are no adequate grounds for supposing we have two accounts of one and the same incident. During his wandering David's followers increased in numbers (compare  1 Samuel 22:2;  1 Samuel 23:13;  1 Samuel 25:13 ). His chief lieutenant was his nephew Abishai, the son of his sister Zeruiah, but his brothers, Joab and Asahel, do not seem to have joined David yet. Another of his nephews, Jonathan the son of Shimei (Shammah), is mentioned ( 2 Samuel 21:21; compare  1 Samuel 16:9 ) and the Chronicler thinks many other knights joined him during this period ( 1 Chronicles 11:10 ). The position of David at this time was very similar to that of the brigand Raisuli of late in Morocco. That there was some stability in it is shown by his taking two wives at this time - A hinoam and Abigail ( 1 Samuel 25:42 ,  1 Samuel 25:43 ).

2. David Joins the Philistines

David now, abandoning all hope of ever conciliating the king ( 1 Samuel 27:1 ), made a move which shows at once his reckless daring and consummate genius. He offered the services of himself and his little army of 600 men to the enemies of his country. The town of Gath appears to have been an asylum for fugitive Israelites ( 1 Kings 2:39 ). David's first impulse on his flight from Saul had been to seek safety there ( 1 Samuel 21:10-15 ). Then, however, he was the hero of Israel, whose assassination would be the highest gain to the Philistines; now he was the embittered antagonist of Saul, and was welcomed accordingly. Achish placed at his disposal the fortified town of Ziklag in the territory of the now extinct tribe of Simeon, and there he and his followers, each of whom had his family with him, took up their quarters for sixteen months ( 1 Samuel 27:6 ,  1 Samuel 27:7 ). The advantages to David were many. He was safe at last from the persecution of Saul ( 1 Samuel 27:4 ); he could secure ample supplies by making raids upon the Amalekites and other tribes hostile to Israel toward the South ( 1 Samuel 27:8 ); and if the opportunity presented itself he could deal a serious blow at the Philistine arms. The position was no doubt a precarious one. It could last just as long as David could hoodwink Achish by persuading him that his raids were directed against his own tribe ( 1 Samuel 27:10 ). This he succeeded in doing so completely that Achish would have taken him with him on the campaign which ended in the decisive battle of Gilboa, but the other chiefs, fearing treachery, refused to allow him to do so. David was forced to return with his followers to Ziklag, only to find that town razed to the ground and all the women and children carried off by his old enemies the Amalekites ( 1 Samuel 30:1 ,  1 Samuel 30:2 ). By the time he had recovered the spoil and returned in triumph to Ziklag the battle of Gilboa had been fought and Saul was slain. The conduct of David in his relations with the Philistines was not more reprehensible than that of the Cid who allied himself with Al - Mu'taman of Saragossa, or of Coriolanus who went over to the Volsci. David composed upon the death of Saul and Jonathan an elegy every sentence of which has become classic.

V. David as King

1. Civil War

David immediately removed from Ziklag and took up his quarters at Hebron, where he was at once anointed king over his own tribe of Judah. Thus began the cleavage between Judah and Israel. Here he was joined, apparently for the first time, by his nephew Joab. Abner, however, loyal to his former master, had Esh-baal ( 1 Chronicles 8:33 ), son of Saul, anointed king over the remaining tribes at Mahanaim, a fortified town east of the Jordan. War continued between David and Abner for several years, fortune always favoring David. Seeing things were going against him Abner forced Esh-baal into a personal quarrel with himself and then transferred his allegiance and persuaded his side to transfer theirs to David ( 2 Samuel 3:21 ). He did not reap the fruit of his defection, as he was immediately after assassinated by Joab in revenge for the death of Asahel whom Abner had killed in self-defence ( 2 Samuel 3:27 ). Deprived of his chief support Esh - baal also fell a victim to assassination ( 2 Samuel 4:2 ). David denounced both crimes with apparent sincerity. He composed an elegy and fasted for Abner ( 2 Samuel 3:33 ) and avenged the death of Esh - baal ( 2 Samuel 4:9 ). Yet these acts of violence laid the sovereignty of all Israel at his feet. Of the male heirs of Saul there remained only a son of Jonathan, Merib - baal ( 1 Chronicles 8:34 ) who was a crippled child of 7. David was therefore elected king over the nation ( 2 Samuel 5:1 ). His sovereignty of Judah is said to have lasted 7 1/2 years and that over the undivided people 33, making a reign of 40 years, beginning from David's 30th year ( 2 Samuel 5:5;  1 Chronicles 3:4; in  2 Samuel 2:10 the text is probably corrupt). These are round numbers.

2. Conquests Abroad

King of all the Israelite tribes, David found his hands free to expel the foreigners who had invaded the sacred territory. His first step was to move his headquarters from the Southern Hebron, which he had been compelled at first to make his capital, to the more central Jerusalem. The fort here, which was still held by the aboriginal Jebusites, was stormed by Joab, David's nephew, who also superintended the rebuilding for David. He was in consequence appointed commander-in-chief ( 1 Chronicles 11:6 ,  1 Chronicles 11:8 ), a post which he held as long as David lived. The materials and the skilled workmen for the erection of the palace were supplied by Hiram of Tyre ( 2 Samuel 5:11 ). David now turned his attention to the surrounding tribes and peoples. The most formidable enemy, the Philistines, were worsted in several campaigns, and their power crippled ( 2 Samuel 5:17;  2 Samuel 8:1 ). In one of these David so nearly came by his death, that his people would not afterward permit him to take part in the fighting ( 2 Samuel 21:16 ,  2 Samuel 21:17 ). One of the first countries against which David turned his arms was the land of Moab, which he treated with a severity which would suggest that the Moabite king had ill-treated David's father and mother, who had taken refuge with him ( 2 Samuel 8:2 ). Yet his conduct toward the sons of Ammon was even more cruel ( 2 Samuel 12:31 ), and for less cause ( 1 Samuel 10:1 ). The king of Zobah (Chalkis) was defeated ( 2 Samuel 8:3 ), and Israelite garrisons were placed in Syria of Damascus ( 2 Samuel 8:6 ) and Edom ( 2 Samuel 8:14 ). The sons of Ammon formed a league with the Syrian kingdoms to the North and East of Palestine ( 2 Samuel 10:6 ,  2 Samuel 10:16 ), but these also had no success. All these people became tributary to the kingdom of Israel under David ( 2 Samuel 10:18 ,  2 Samuel 10:19 ) except the sons of Ammon who were practically exterminated for the time being ( 2 Samuel 12:31 ). Thus, Israel became one of the "great powers" of the world during the reign of David and his immediate successor.

3. Political Situation

There is no doubt that the expansion of the boundaries of Israel at this period almost to their ideal limits ( Deuteronomy 11:24 , etc.) was largely due to the fact that the two great empires of Egypt and Assyria were at the moment passing through a period of weakness and decay. The Assyrian monarchy was in a decadent state from about the year 1050 bc, and the 22nd Dynasty - to which Shishak belonged ( 1 Kings 14:25 ) - had not yet arisen. David, therefore, had a free hand when his time came and found no more formidable opposition than that of the petty states bordering upon Palestine. Against the combined forces of all the Israelite tribes these had never been able to effect much.

4. The Ark

It had been the custom of the Israelites on setting out upon expeditions in which the nation as a whole took part to carry with them the sacred box or "ark" which contained the two stone tables ( Joshua 4:7 , etc.). When David had secured the fortress of Jebus for his metropolis one of his first thoughts was to bring into it this emblem of victory. It was then lying at Kiriath - jearim , possibly Abu Gosh about 8 miles Northwest of Jerusalem (compare Ps 132). Owing to the sudden death of one of the drivers, which he interpreted as indicative of anger on the part of Yahweh, David left the ark at the house of a Philistine which happened to be near at hand. Since no misfortune befell this person, but on the contrary much prosperity, David took courage after three months to bring the sacred chest and its contents into his royal city. The ceremony was conducted with military honors in  2 Samuel 6:1 and with religious dancing and music (  2 Samuel 6:5 ,  2 Samuel 6:14 ) and festivity ( 2 Samuel 6:18 ,  2 Samuel 6:19 ). A tent was pitched for it, in which it remained ( 2 Samuel 7:2 ), except when it was sent with the army to the seat of war ( 2 Samuel 11:11;  2 Samuel 15:24 ). David, however, had already built for himself a stone palace, and he wished now to add to it a chapel royal in the shape of a small temple, such as the neighboring kings had. He was the more anxious to so do since he had much of the material ready at hand in the precious metals which formed the most valuable part of the plunder of the conquered races, such as bronze from Chalkis ( 2 Samuel 8:8 ), gold and silver ( 2 Samuel 8:11 ) and the vessels which he had received as a present from the king of Hamath ( 2 Samuel 8:10 ). He was persuaded, however, by the prophet Nathan to forego that task, on the ground of his having shed much human blood, and to leave it to his successor ( 1 Chronicles 22:8;  1 Chronicles 28:3 ).

VI. Domestic Life

1. His Wives and Children

In accordance with the practice of the kings of his time, David had several wives. His first wife was Michal, the younger daughter of Saul. When David fled from Saul she was given to Phaltiel, but was restored to David after Saul's death. She does not appear to have borne any children. In  2 Samuel 21:8 "Michal" should be Merab (  1 Samuel 18:19 ). During the period of separation from Michal, David took to wife Ahinoam of Jezreel and Abigail the wife of Nabal ( 1 Samuel 25:43 ,  1 Samuel 25:12 ), who accompanied him to Ziklag ( 1 Samuel 27:3 ), when they were among those captured by the Amalekites ( 1 Samuel 30:5 ). A fourth wife was the daughter of Talmai of Geshur, Maacah, whom he had captured in war ( 1 Samuel 27:8;  2 Samuel 3:3 ). When he removed to Hebron Ahinoam bore him his oldest son Amnon, and Abigail his second son Chileab or Daniel ( 2 Samuel 3:2 ,  2 Samuel 3:3;  1 Chronicles 3:1 ); his third son was Absalom, whose mother was Maacah, and his fourth Adonijah. His mother's name was Haggith; nothing is known about her. Two other sons, Shephatiah and Ithream were also born in Hebron ( 2 Samuel 3:2-5;  1 Chronicles 3:1-4 ). When David added the kingdom of Israel to that of Judah, he, in accordance with custom, took more wives with a view to increase his state and dignity. One of these was Bathsheba, who became the mother of Solomon ( 2 Samuel 5:13;  1 Chronicles 3:5;  1 Chronicles 14:3 ). David's sons discharged priestly functions ( 2 Samuel 8:18; compare Nathan in  Zechariah 12:12 ).

2. Domestic Troubles

It was perhaps inevitable that in so large a household the usual dissensions and crimes of the harem should have sprung up in plenty. A most unvarnished account of these is given in 2 Sam 11 through 20 - it has been suggested by Abiathar the priest in order to avenge himself on Solomon for his disgrace ( 1 Kings 2:26 ,  1 Kings 2:27 ), Solomon's mother being Bathsheba (2 Sam 11; 12).  1 Chronicles 13:1-14 recounts the wrong done to Tamar, the daughter of David and Maacah, and sister of Absalom, and how the last named, having avenged his sister's honor by killing Amnon, his oldest brother, fled for asylum to his mother's father, the king of Geshur. Thence after two years he returned (chapter 14), only to foment rebellion against his father (chapter 15), leading to civil war between David and Judah on the one side and Absalom and Israel on the other (chapters 16; 17), and ending in the death of himself (chapter 18) and of Amasa, David's nephew, at the hands of his cousins Joab and Abishai (  2 Samuel 20:7 ), as well as nearly precipitating the disruption of the newly founded kingdom ( 2 Samuel 19:43 ). The rebellion of Absalom was probably due to the fact of Solomon having been designated David's successor (compare  2 Samuel 12:24;  1 Chronicles 22:9 ), for Absalom had the best claim, Amnon being dead and Chileab apparently of no account.

VII. His Officials

As David's circumstances improved he required assistance in the management of his affairs.

1. Prophets

The beginning of his good fortune had been the friendship of the prophet Samuel ( 1 Samuel 16:13;  1 Samuel 19:18 ). The prophet or seer was keeper of the king's conscience and was not appointed by him, but claimed divine authority ( 2 Samuel 7:3 ,  2 Samuel 7:1;  2 Samuel 12:1;  2 Samuel 24:11 ). Among the persons who discharged this duty for David were Gad the seer ( 1 Samuel 22:5 ) and Nathan the prophet ( 1 Kings 1:11 ). All these are said to have written memoirs of their times ( 1 Chronicles 29:29;  2 Chronicles 9:29 ).

2. Priests

Next to the prophet came the priest. The kohen (priest) was, as the name indicates, a soothsayer or diviner. The duty of Abiathar, David's first priest ( 1 Samuel 22:20 ), was to carry the ephod - an object used for casting lots ( 1 Samuel 23:6 ), in order to decide what to do in cases where there was no other way of making up one's mind ( 1 Samuel 30:7 ). It is not to be confused with the dress of the same name ( 1 Samuel 2:18 ). Later, at Hebron, Abiathar was given a colleague, Zadok ( 1 Chronicles 12:28 ), and it became their duty to carry the ark in expeditions ( 2 Samuel 15:24 ). Shortly after the death of David, Abiathar was deposed by Solomon for his part in Adonijah's attempt to seize the throne ( 1 Kings 2:26 ,  1 Kings 2:27 ), and Zadok remained sole priest to the king ( 1 Kings 2:35 ). David's sons also acted in the same capacity ( 2 Samuel 8:18 ). An extra private priest is mentioned in  2 Samuel 20:26 (compare   2 Samuel 23:26 ,  2 Samuel 23:38 ).

3. Military Officers

When still an outlaw David required the services of a henchman to take command of his men in his absence. This post was held at first by different persons according to circumstances, but generally, it seems, by his nephew Abishai ( 1 Samuel 26:6 ). It was only after the death of Saul that his brother Joab threw in his lot with David. His great military talents at once gave him a leading place, and as a reward for the capture of Jebus he was given the chief command, which he held against all rivals ( 2 Samuel 3:27;  2 Samuel 20:10 ) during the whole reign. David's special body-guard of Philistine troops - the Cherethites and Pelethites - were commanded by Benaiah, who in the following reign, succeeded Joab ( 1 Kings 2:35 ).

4. Other Officials

The office of recorder or magister memoriae was held during this reign and in the following by Jehoshaphat ( 2 Samuel 8:16 ); and that of secretary by Seraiah ( 2 Samuel 8:17 ), also called Shavsha ( 1 Chronicles 18:16 ) or Shisha ( 1 Kings 4:3 ). There were also the counselors, men noted for their great acumen and knowledge of human nature, such as Ahithophel and Hushai.

5. Mutual Rivalry

It was natural that there should be much mutual jealousy and rivalry among these officials, and that some of them should attach themselves to one of David's many sons, others to another. Thus, Amnon is the special patron of David's nephew Jonadab ( 2 Samuel 13:3; compare  2 Samuel 21:21 ), and Absalom is backed by Amasa ( 2 Samuel 17:25 ). The claim of Adonijah to the throne is supported by Joab and Abiathar ( 1 Kings 1:7 ), as against that of Solomon who is backed by Nathan, Benaiah, Zadok ( 1 Kings 1:8 ) and Hushai (compare Ant , VII, xiv, 4). Ahithophel sides with Absalom; Hushai with David ( 2 Samuel 15:12 ,  2 Samuel 15:32 ).

VIII. Personal Character of David

1. Chronicles

We would obtain a very different idea of the personal character of David if we drew our conclusions from the books of Samuel and Kings or from the books of Chronicles. There is no doubt whatever that the former books are much truer to fact, and any estimate or appreciation of David or of any of the other characters described must be based upon them. The Chronicler, on the other hand, is biased by the religious ideas of his own time and is prejudiced in favor of some of those whose biographies he writes and against others. He accordingly suppresses the dark passages of David's life, e.g. the murder of Uriah ( 1 Chronicles 20:1-8 ), or sets them in a favorable light, e.g. by laying the blame of the census upon Satan ( 1 Chronicles 21:1 ). David's success, especially as against Saul's misfortune, is greatly exaggerated in  1 Chronicles 12:2 ,  1 Chronicles 12:22 . Ceremonial functions are greatly elaborated (chapter 16; compare 2 Sam 6). The various orders of priests and singers in the second temple have their origin traced back to David ( 1 Chronicles 16:4 ,  1 Chronicles 16:37; 1 Ch 23 through 27), and the temple of Solomon itself is to all intents and purposes built by him (chapters 22; 28). At the same time there may be much material in the shape of names and isolated statements not found in the older books, which so long as they are not tinged with the Chronicler's pragmatism or "tendency," may possibly be authentic records preserved within the circle of the priestly caste, e.g. we are told that Saul's skull was fastened in the temple of Dagon ( 1 Chronicles 10:10 ). There is no doubt that the true names of Ish-bosheth, Mephibosheth and Eliada ( 2 Samuel 2:8;  2 Samuel 4:4;  2 Samuel 5:16 ) were Ish - baal ( Esh - baal ), Merib - baal and Beeliada ( 1 Chronicles 8:33;  1 Chronicles 9:39;  1 Chronicles 8:34;  1 Chronicles 9:40;  1 Chronicles 14:7 ); that the old name of Jerusalem was Jebus ( 1 Chronicles 11:4 ,  1 Chronicles 11:5; compare  Judges 19:10 ,  Judges 19:11 ); perhaps a son of David called Nogah has to be added to  2 Samuel 5:15 from   1 Chronicles 3:7;  1 Chronicles 14:6; in  2 Samuel 8:8 and   2 Samuel 21:18 , for Betah and Gob read Tebah (Tibhath) and Gezer ( 1 Chronicles 18:8;  Genesis 22:24;  1 Chronicles 20:4 ). The incident recounted in  2 Samuel 23:9 happened at Pasdammim (  1 Chronicles 11:13 ). Shammah the Harodite was the son of Elika ( 2 Samuel 23:25; compare  1 Chronicles 11:27 ), and other names in this list have to be corrected after the readings of the Chronicler. Three (not seven) years of famine was the alternative offered to David ( 2 Samuel 24:13; compare  1 Chronicles 21:12 ).

2. Psalms

If we could believe that the Book of Psalms was in whole or in part the work of David, it would throw a flood of light upon the religious side of his nature. Indeed, we should know as much about his religious life as can well be known about anyone. Unfortunately the date and authorship of the Psalms are questions regarding which the most divergent opinions are held. In the early Christian centuries all the Psalms were ascribed to David and, where necessary, explained as prophecies. The author of the Epistle to the Hebrews speaks of the Book of Psalms simply as "David" ( Hebrews 4:7 ). The Greek text, however, of that book ascribes only some 87 of the poems to David, and the Hebrew only 73. Some of these are not David's, and in the whole book there is only one which professes from its contents to be his, namely, Ps 18 (= 2 Sam 22). The occasion on which a psalm was composed is stated only in the case of thirteen psalms, all of which are ascribed to David. Each of these is referred to some incident recorded in the books of Samuel, although sometimes the citation is erroneous (see Psalms ). The Septuagint supplies occasions to two or three more psalms; but all such statements are merely the conjectures of readers and scribes and are of no historical value.

3. Complex Character

To form a correct opinion of anyone is much more difficult than to state the facts of his life; to form an o

Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature [17]

Da´vid. The word probably means beloved. The reign of David is the great critical era in the history of the Hebrews. It decided that they were to have for nearly five centuries a national monarchy, a fixed line of priesthood, and a solemn religious worship by music and psalms of exquisite beauty; it finally separated Israel from the surrounding heathen, and gave room for producing those noble monuments of sacred writ, to the influence of which over the whole world no end can be seen. His predecessor, Saul, had many successes against the Philistines, but it is clear that he made little impression on their real power; for he died fighting against them, not on their own border, but on the opposite side of his kingdom, in Mount Gilboa. As for all the other 'enemies on every side'—Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, and the kings of Zobah—however much he may have 'vexed them' , they, as well as the Amalekites, remained unsubdued, if weakened. The real work of establishing Israel as lord over the whole soil of Canaan was left for David.

The life of David naturally divides itself into three portions:—I. The time which he lived under Saul. II. His reign over Judah in Hebron. III. His reign over all Israel.

I. In the first period we may trace the origin of all his greatness. His susceptible temperament, joined to his devotional tendencies, must, at a very early age, have made him a favorite pupil of the prophets, whose peculiar mark was the harp and the psalm (;; see also ). His hospitable reception, when in distress, by Ahimelech the priest, and the atrocious massacre innocently brought by him on Nob, the city of the priests (I Samuel 21 and ), must have deeply affected his generous nature, and laid the foundation of his cordial affection for the whole priestly order, whose ministrations he himself helped to elevate by his devotional melodies. At an early period he attracted the notice of Samuel; and if we are to arrange events according to their probable connection, we may believe that after David had been driven away from Saul and his life several times attempted, Samuel ventured on the solemn step of anointing him king. Whenever this took place, it must have produced on David a profound impression, and prepared him to do that in which Saul had so eminently failed, viz. to reconcile his own military government with a filial respect for the prophets and an honorable patronage of the priesthood. Besides this, he became knit into a bond of brotherhood with his heroic comrades, to whom he was eminently endeared by his personal self-denial and liberality . This, indeed, drew after it one most painful result, viz. the necessity of enduring the turbulence of his violent but able nephew Joab; nor could we expect that of a band of freebooters many should be like David. Again, during his outlawry David became acquainted in turn not only with all the wild country in the land, but with the strongholds of the enemy all round. By his residence among the Philistines he must have learned all their arts and weapons of war, in which it is reasonable to believe the Israelites previously inferior . With Nahash the Ammonite he was in intimate friendship to the king of Moab he entrusted the care of his parents from Achish of Gath he received the important present of the town of Ziklag . That Ziklag was a strong place may be inferred from; . The celebrity acquired in successful guerilla warfare, even in modern days, turns the eyes of whole nations on a chieftain; and in an age which regarded personal heroism as the first qualification of a general and of a king, to triumph over the persecutions of Saul gave David the fairest prospects of a kingdom.

The account transmitted to us of David's dangers and escapes in the first period is too fragmentary to work up into a history: nevertheless, it seems to be divisible into two parts, differing in character. During the former he is a fugitive and outlaw in the land of Saul, hiding in caves, pitching in the wilderness, or occasionally with great risk entering walled cities : in the latter he abandons his native soil entirely, and lives among the Philistines as one of their chieftains . While a rover in the land of Judah, his position (to our eyes) is anything but honorable; being a focus to which 'all who were in distress, in debt, or discontented, gathered themselves' . Yet as the number of his followers became large (six hundred, we read, ), and David knew how to conciliate the neighboring sheep-masters by his urbanity and kind services, he gradually felt himself to be their protector and to have a right of maintenance and tribute for them. Hence he resents the refusal of Nabal to supply his demands, as a clear injustice; and, after David's anger has been turned away by the prudent policy of Abigail, in blessing her for saving him from slaying Nabal and every male of his family, the thought seems not to have entered his mind that the intention of such a massacre was more guilty than Nabal's refusal to pay him tribute . This whole narrative is characteristic and instructive. By his marriage with Abigail he afterwards probably became rich (for she seems to have been a widow at her own disposal), and on passing immediately after into the land of the Philistines, he was enabled to assume a more dignified place. Becoming possessed of the stronghold of Ziklag, he now appeared like a legitimate chieftain with fixed possessions, and no longer a mere vagabond and freebooter. This was accordingly a transition-state in which David was prepared for assuming the kingdom over Judah. In Ziklag he was joined, not, as before, by mere outcasts from Israelitish life, but by men of consideration and tried warriors , not only of the tribe of Judah, but from Gad, Manasseh, and even 'from Saul's brethren of Benjamin.'

II. Immediately upon the death of Saul the tribe of Judah invited David to become their prince.

His first step, after his election, was to fix on Hebron as the center of his administration—an ancient city, honorable by its association with the name of Abraham, and in the middle of his own tribe. He then strengthened himself by a marriage with Maacah, daughter of Talmai, king of Geshur a petty monarch whose dominions were near the sources of the Jordan, and whose influence at the opposite end of the land must have added a great weight into David's scale. From Abigail, widow of the churlish Nabal, David, as we have already observed, seems to have received a large private fortune. Concerning his other wives we know nothing in particular; only it is mentioned that he had six sons by six different mothers in Hebron. The chief jealousy was between the two tribes of Benjamin and Judah, as Saul had belonged to the former; and a tournament was turned by mutual ill-will into a battle, in which Abner unwillingly slew young Asahel, brother of Joab. 'Long war,' after this, was carried on between 'the house of Saul and the house of David.' We may infer that the rest of Israel took little part in the contest; and although the nominal possession of the kingdom enabled the little tribe of Benjamin to struggle for some time against Judah, the skill and age of Abner could not prevail against the vigor and popular fame of David. A quarrel between Abner and Ishbosheth decided the former to bring the kingdom over to David. The latter refused to treat unless, as a preliminary proof of Abner's sincerity, Michal, daughter of Saul, was restored to David. The possession of such a wife was valuable to one who was aspiring to the kingdom. His demand was immediately complied with. After giving her back, Abner proceeded to win the elders of Israel over to David; but Joab discerned that if this should be so brought about, Abner of necessity would displace him from his post of chief captain. He, therefore, seized the opportunity of murdering him when he was come on a peaceful embassy, and covered the atrocity by pleading the duty of revenging his brother's blood. This deed was perhaps David's first taste of the miseries of royal power. He dared not proceed actively against his ruthless nephew, but he vented his abhorrence in a solemn curse on Joab and his posterity, and followed Abner to the grave with weeping. Anxious to purge himself of the guilt, he ordered a public wearing of sackcloth, and refused to touch food all the day. The feeble Ishbosheth, left alone, was unequal to the government, and shortly suffered the same fate of assassination. David, following the universal policy of sovereigns, and his own profound sense of the sacredness of royalty, took vengeance on the murderers, and buried Ishbosheth in Abner's tomb at Hebron.

III. The death of Ishbosheth gave to David supremacy over all Israel. The kingdom was not at first a despotic, but a constitutional one; for it is stated, 'David made a league with the elders of Israel in Hebron before Jehovah; and they anointed David king over Israel' . This is marked out as the era which determined the Philistines to hostility , and may confirm our idea, that their policy was to hinder Israel from becoming united under a single king. Two victories of David over them follow, both near the valley of Rephaim; and these were probably the first battles fought by David after becoming king of all Israel.

Perceiving that Hebron was no longer a suitable capital, he resolved to fix his residence farther to the north. On the very border of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin lay the town of Jebus, which with its neighborhood was occupied by Jebusites, a remnant of the old Canaanitish nation so called. In spite of the great strength of the fort of Zion, it was captured, and the Jebusites were entirely expelled or subdued; after which David adopted the city as his new capital, greatly enlarged the fortifications, and gave or restored the name of Jerusalem [JERUSALEM]. After becoming master of Jerusalem, David made a league with Hiram, king of Tyre, who supplied him with skilful artificers to build a splendid palace at the new capital. That the mechanical arts should have been in a very low state among the Israelites, was to be expected; since, before the reign of Saul even smiths' forges were not allowed among them by the Philistines. Nothing, however could have been more profitable for the Phoenicians than the security of cultivation enjoyed by the Israelites in the reigns of David and Solomon. The trade between Tyre and Israel became at once extremely lucrative to both, and the league between the two states was quickly very intimate.

Once settled in Jerusalem, David proceeded to increase the number of his wives, perhaps in part from the same political motive that actuates other Oriental monarchs, viz. in order to take hostages from the chieftains round in the least offensive mode. We know nothing further concerning his family relations, than the names of eleven sons born in Jerusalem , of whom four were children of Bathsheba , and therefore much younger than the elder sons.

Jerusalem, now become the civil metropolis of the nation, was next to be made its religious center; and the king applied himself to elevate the priestly order, to swell the ranks of attending Levites and singers, and to bring the ark to Jerusalem. The bringing of the ark from Kirjath-jearim to Jerusalem established the line of high-priests in direct service before it; and from this time we may presume that the ceremonies of the great Day of Atonement began to be observed.

When the ark entered Jerusalem in triumph, David put on a priest's ephod and danced before it. This proved the occasion of the rupture between him and his royal spouse, Michal . After this event, the king, contrasting his cedar palace with the curtains of the tabernacle, was desirous of building a temple for the ark; such a step, moreover, was likely to prevent any future change of its abode. The prophet Nathan, however, forbade it, on pious and intelligible grounds.

David's further victories are narrated in the following order—Philistines, Moab, Zobah, Edom, Northern League stirred up by the Ammonites, Ammon. 1. The short notice concerning the Philistines just gives us to understand that this is the era of their decisive, though not final, subjugation. Their towns were despoiled of their wealth , and doubtless all their arms and munitions of war passed over into the service of the conqueror. 2. The Moabites were a pastoral people, whose general relations with Israel appear to have been peaceful. The slight notice of Saul's hostilities with them is the only breach recorded since the time of Eglon and Ehud. In the book of Ruth we see them as friendly neighbors, and much more recently David committed his parents to the care of the king of Moab. We know no cause, except David's strength, which now drew his arms upon them. A people long accustomed to peace, in conflict with a veteran army, was struck down at once, but the fierceness of his triumph may surprise us. Two-thirds of the population (if we rightly interpret the words, ) were put to the sword; the rest became tributary. 3. Who are meant by the Syrians of Zobah, is still a problem [ZOBAH]. We here follow the belief that it was a power of northern Syria, then aiming at extensive empire, which had not only defeated and humbled the king of Hamath, but had obtained homage beyond the Euphrates. The trans-Jordanic tribes in the time of Saul had founded a little empire for themselves by conquering their eastern neighbors, the Hagarenes: and, perhaps, occasionally overran the district on the side of the Euphrates, which Hadadezer, king of Zobah, considered as his own. His efforts 'to recover his border at the river Euphrates' first brought him into collision with David, perhaps by an attack which he made on the roaming Eastern tribes. David defeated not merely his army, but that of Damascus too, which came, too late, with succor; and put Israelite garrisons into the towns of the Damascenes. 4. Another victory, gained 'in the valley of salt,' ought, perhaps, to be read, as in , and in the superscription of Psalms 60, 'over the Edomites,' not 'over the Syrians.' 5. After David had become master of all Israel, of the Philistine towns, of Edom, and of Moab, while the Eastern tribes, having conquered the Hagarenes, threatened the Ammonites on the north, as did Moab on the south, the Ammonites were naturally alarmed, and called in the powers of Syria to their help against a foe who was growing dangerous even to them. The coalition against David is described as consisting of the Syrians of Bethrehob and of Maacah, of Zobah and of Tob. The last country appears to have been in the district of Trachonitis, the two first immediately on the north of Israel. In this war, we may believe that David enjoyed the important alliance of Toi, king of Hamath, who, having suffered from Hadadezer's hostility, courted the friendship of the Israelitish monarch . We are barely informed that one division of the Israelites under Abishai was posted against the Ammonites; a second under Joab met the confederates from the north, 30,000 strong, and prevented their junction with the Ammonites. In both places the enemy was repelled, though, it would seem, with no decisive result. A second campaign took place. The king of Zobah brought in an army of Mesopotamians, in addition to his former troops, and David found it necessary to make a levy of all Israel to meet the pressing danger. A pitched battle on a great scale was then fought at Helam—far beyond the limits of the twelve tribes—in which David was victorious. The Syrians henceforth left the Ammonites to their fate, and the petty chiefs who had been in allegiance to Hadadezer hastened to do homage to David. 6. Early in the next season Joab was sent to take vengeance on the Ammonites in their own home, by attacking their chief city, or Rabbah of Ammon. The natural strength of their border could not keep out veteran troops and an experienced leader; and though the siege of the city occupied many months (if, indeed, it was not prolonged into the next year), it was at last taken. It is characteristic of Oriental despotism, that Joab, when the city was nearly reduced, sent to invite David to command the final assault in person. David gathered a large force, easily captured the royal town, and despoiled it of all its wealth. His vengeance was as much more dreadful on the unfortunate inhabitants than formerly on the Moabites, as the danger in which the Ammonites had involved Israel had been more imminent .

During the campaign against Rabbah of Ammon the painful and never-to-be-forgotten outrage of David against Bathsheba and her husband Uriah the Hittite took place. It is principally through this narrative that we know the tediousness of that siege; since the adultery with Bathsheba and the birth of at least one child took place during the course of it.

The latter years of David's reign were afflicted by the inevitable results of polygamy and despotism, viz. the quarrels of the sons of different mothers, and their eagerness to seize the kingdom before their father's death. Of all his sons, Absalom had naturally the greatest pretensions, being, by his mother's side, grandson of Talmai, and king of Geshur; while through his personal beauty and winning manners he was high in popular favor. It is evident, moreover, that he was the darling son of his father. When his own sister Tamar had been dishonored by her half-brother Amnon, the eldest son of David, Absalom slew him in vengeance, but, in fear of his father, then fled to his grandfather at Geshur. Joab, discerning David's longings for his son, effected his return after three years; but the conflict in the king's mind is strikingly shown by his allowing Absalom to dwell two full years in Jerusalem before he would see his face.

The insurrection of Absalom against the king was the next important event; in the course of which there was shown the general tendency of men to look favorably on young and untried princes, rather than on those whom they know for better and for worse. Absalom erected his royal standard at Hebron first, and was fully prepared to slay his father outright, which might probably have been done, if the energetic advice of Ahithophel had been followed. While they delayed, David escaped beyond the Jordan, and with all his troop met a most friendly reception, not only from Barzillai and Machir, wealthy chiefs of pastoral Gilead, but from Shobi, the son of the Ammonite king Nahash, whose power he had destroyed, and whose people he had hewed in pieces. We likewise learn on this occasion that the fortunes of David had been all along attended by 600 men of Gath, who now, under the command of Ittai the Gittite, crossed the Jordan with all their households, in spite of David's generous advice that they would return to their own country. Strengthened by the warlike eastern tribes, and surrounded by his experienced captains, the king no longer hesitated to meet Absalom in the field. A decisive victory was won at the wood of Ephraim, and Absalom was slain by Joab in the retreat. The old king was heart-stricken at this result, and, ignorant of his own weakness, superseded Joab in the command of the host by Amasa, Absalom's captain. Perhaps Joab on the former occasion, when he murdered Abner, had blinded the king by pleading revenge for the blood of Asahel; but no such pretence could here avail. The king was now probably brought to his determination, partly by his disgust at Joab, partly by his desire to give the insurgents confidence in his amnesty. If Amasa is the same as Amasai, David may likewise have retained a grateful remembrance of the cordial greeting with which he had led a strong band to his assistance at the critical period of his abode in Ziklag moreover, Amasa, equally with Joab, was David's nephew, their two mothers, Abigail and Zeruiah, being sisters to David by at least one parent (;; ). The unscrupulous Joab, however, was not so to be set aside. Before long, catching an opportunity, he assassinated his unsuspecting cousin with his own hand; and David, who had used the instrumentality of Joab to murder Uriah, did not dare to resent the deed.

A quarrel which took place between the men of Judah and those of the other tribes in bringing the king back, had encouraged a Benjamite named Sheba to raise a new insurrection, which spread with wonderful rapidity. Amasa was collecting troops as David's general at the time when he was treacherously assassinated by his cousin, who then, with his usual energy, pursued Sheba, and blockaded him in Bethmaachah before he could collect his partisans. Sheba's head was cut off, and thrown over the wall; and so ended the new rising. Yet this was not the end of trouble; for the intestine war seems to have inspired the Philistines with the hope of throwing off the yoke. Four successive battles are recorded , in the first of which the aged David was nigh to being slain. His faithful officers kept him away from all future risks, and Philistia was once more, and finally, subdued.

The last commotion recorded took place when David's end seemed nigh, and Adonijah, one of his elder sons, feared that the influence of Bathsheba might gain the kingdom for her own son Solomon. Adonijah's conspiracy was joined by Abiathar, one of the two chief priests, and by the redoubted Joab; upon which David took the decisive measure of raising Solomon at once to the throne. Of two young monarchs, the younger and the less known was easily preferred, when the sanction of the existing government was thrown into his scale; and the cause of Adonijah immediately fell to the ground. Amnesty was promised to the conspirators, yet it was not very faithfully observed [SOLOMON].

Numerous indications remain to us that, however eminently David was imbued with faith in Jehovah as the national God of Israel, and however he strove to unite all Israel in common worship, he still had no sympathy with the later spirit which repelled all foreigners from co-operation with Jews. In his early years necessity made him intimate with Philistines, Moabites, and Ammonites: policy led him into league with the Tyrians. He himself took in marriage a daughter of the king of Geshur: it is the less wonderful that we find Uriah the Hittite (2 Samuel 11), Gether the Ishmaelite , and others, married to Israelitish wives. The fidelity of Ittai the Gittite, and his six hundred men, has been already alluded to. It would appear, on the whole, that in tolerating foreigners Solomon did not go beyond the principles established by his father, though circumstances gave them a fuller development.

No attempt seems to have been made in David's reign to maintain horses or chariots for military purposes. Even chieftains in battle, as Absalom on his fatal day, appear mounted only on mules. Yet horses were already used in state equipages, apparently as a symbol of royalty . That in the opening of Saul's reign the Philistines had deprived the Israelites of all the most formidable arms, is well known. It is probable that this may have led to a more careful practice of the sling and of the bow, especially among the southern tribes, who were more immediately pressed by the power of the Philistines. Such weapons cannot be kept out of the hands of the rustics, and must have been essential against wild beasts. But, from causes unknown, the Benjamites were peculiarly celebrated as archers and slingers (;;;; ), while the pastoral tribes beyond the Jordan were naturally able to escape all attempts of the Philistines to deprive them of shield, spear, and sword. Hence the Gadites, who came to David at Ziklag, are described as formidable and full-armed warriors, 'with faces like lions, and swift as mountain roes' .

The standing army which Saul had begun to maintain was greatly enlarged by David. An account of this is given in 1 Chronicles 27; from which it would seem that 24,000 men were constantly maintained on service, though there was a relieving of guard every month. Hence, twelve times this number, or 288,000, were under a permanent military organization, with a general for each division in his month. Besides this host, the register proceeds to recount twelve princes over the tribes of Israel, who may perhaps be compared to the lord-lieutenants of English counties.

The cabinet of David (if we may use a modern name) is thus given with reference to a time which preceded Absalom's revolt:—1, Jonathan, David's uncle, a counselor, wise man, and scribe; 2, Jehiel, son of Hachmoni, tutor (?) to the king's sons; 3, Ahithophel, the king's counselor; 4, Hushai, the king's companion; 5, after Ahithophel, Jehoiada, the son of Benaiah; 6, Abiathar the priest. It is added, 'and the general of the king's army was Joab.'

Twelve royal bailiffs are recited as a part of David's establishment , having the following departments under their charge: 1, The treasures of gold, silver, etc.; 2, the magazines; 3, the tillage (wheat, etc.?); 4, the vineyards; 5, the wine-cellars; 6, the olive and sycamore trees; 7, the oil-cellars; 8, the herds in Sharon; 9, the herds in the valleys; 10, the camels; 11, the asses; 12, the flocks. The eminently prosperous state in which David left his kingdom to Solomon appears to prove that he was on the whole faithfully served, and that his own excellent intentions, patriotic spirit, and devout piety (measured, as it must be measured, by the standard of those ages), made his reign beneficial to his subjects.