The Story of David

David, a young shepherd from the fields of Bethlehem, rose to become king of Israel. He moved from obscurity to history. God chose David not for his strength or good looks, but because he was a man after God's own heart. "He (David) will do everything I want him to do." Acts 13:22 NLT. His life was marked by incredible adventure, great triumphs and some disheartening personal failures in judgement and deeds. David's story reveals the life of a complicated man who found favor with God even though he struggled with a host of human imperfections.

David was described as “glowing with health and had a fine appearance and handsome features” and he was “well spoken.”
1 Samuel 16:12, 18

One Story You Know

Most people have heard of the famous fight between David and Goliath—an inexperienced boy against a battle-hardened giant, who stood between 9 and 11 feet tall. His armor alone weighed over 125 pounds and his spear’s tip was about 15 pounds. Goliath cursed God and the men of Israel.

At 14 to 16 years of age, David volunteered to fight the giant using only a sling. Modern testing has proven that a skilled adult could fling a 2- to 3-inch stone at speeds up to 150 miles per hour. With great accuracy, the teenager killed Goliath with a single rock.

David and Goliath is more than the tale of an underdog defeating an unbeatable adversary. It was about God using David in the battle. 

One Story You Don’t Know

Fully understanding David’s story sometimes requires following a story that skips along with connections appearing in several books of the Old and New Testaments. One of these stories starts long before David’s birth. It’s a footnote to the famous Battle of Jericho, and involves a prostitute named Rahab.

As told in Joshua Chapter 2, Rahab hid two Israelite spies sent into Jericho prior to its destruction. Soldiers hunting for the spies could not find them because Rahab hid them. For this, she was blessed by God.

Rahab is mentioned again later in the Old Testament. Though she was not born a Jew, Rahab converted and, according to a genealogy in Ruth 4, Rahab married Salmon, a prince of Judah, and later became David’s great, great grandmother. This is important because this David connection puts Rahab in the family tree of Jesus. She is included, along with David, in the genealogy of Jesus (Matthew 1:4-6). It’s one of the most amazing details about His blood relations and the meaning of grace: A prostitute is included in Jesus’s earthly family.


BECOMING KING DAVID

David was young when Samuel anointed him, promising God one day would make David king. David tended sheep for years, waiting on God. Then things happened. David played harp for Saul. He killed Goliath. Saul made David an army commander. David excelled in Saul’s army. (1 Samuel 18:5)

But jealousy and fear crept into Saul. “Saul was afraid of David, because the LORD was with David but had departed from Saul.” (1 Samuel 18:12 ESV) Saul banished David. Men gathered around David over time.

Years later, the Philistines killed Saul and Jonathan. David mourned the loss of Saul and Jonathan. (2 Samuel 1:11,12) David was crowned king.


DAVID'S RULE

Consolidation: David became king of Judah at age 30. Seven years later, Israel and Judah united under David’s rule.

City of David: The Jebusites, a foreign tribe, controlled Jerusalem. David captured Jerusalem and made it his kingdom’s capital.

Fulfilled Promise: Early, David defended the kingdom against the Philistines. Later, he extended the kingdom by defeating the Moabites and Hadadezer, King of Zobah. David’s kingdom included the land promised to Abraham.

A New Home: David brought the Ark to Jerusalem, celebrating all the way.

Rule: David organized the kingdom. He established officials, prepared for the temple’s construction and organized the Levites and priests. 

Loyalty: David showed his loyalty by providing for Jonathan’s disabled son, Mephibosheth.

Justice: Joshua established a truce between Israel and the Gibeonites. Saul had tried to decimate them. David made reparations. 

Intrigue: Amnon, David’s first born son raped his beautiful half sister, Tamar. David did not punish Amnon. Absalom, Tamar’s brother, plotted revenge. Two years later, Absalom had Amnon murdered when he was drunk. 

Power Struggle: Absalom tried to wrestle power from David. When David was old, Adonijah, another son, tried to usurp the throne from Solomon. David had Solomon anointed king while Adonijah’s coronation party was in progress.


MORAL FAILURE

David, “a man after God’s own heart,” displayed outstanding public leadership. But David sinned and repented in his private life. David was not perfect, just forgiven. 

David’s affair with Bathsheba, Uriah’s wife, was his greatest moral failure. A pregnancy and a failed cover-up resulted. To hide his sin, David murdered Uriah, an army officer, by having him abandoned on the battlefield. God’s prophet, Nathan confronted David. Though David confessed and repented, Nathan prophesied the Lord would bring judgment to David (2 Samuel 11, 12). These punishments included: 

• The death of David and Bathsheba’s baby

• Violence for David’s household, including Tamar’s rape and Amnon’s murder.

• More trouble for David’s household. Absalom launched a conspiracy to overthrow his father. Over time, Absalom won over the men of Israel, and launched his coup. A battle ensued and 20,000 Israelites died. Absalom was captured and killed by those who remained loyal to David. This led to David’s heartbreaking lament, “O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! Would I had died instead of you, O Absalom, my son, my son!” 2 Samuel 18:33