DAVID (day' vihd) Personal name probably meaning, “favorite” or “beloved.” The first king to unite Israel and Judah and the first to receive the promise of a royal messiah in his line. David was pictured as the ideal king of God's people. He ruled from about 1005 to 965 B.C.
Selection as King When Saul failed to meet God's standards for kingship (1 Samuel 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 1 Chronicles 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; 1 Kings 11:4,1 Kings 11:6,1 Kings 11:33,1 Kings 11:38; 1 Kings 14:8; 1 Kings 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).
These dictionary topics are from the Holman Bible Dictionary, published by Broadman & Holman, 1991. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman & Holman.