David (2 Samuel 1)

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David’s rise from shepherd of sheep in Bethlehem to shepherd of Israel in Hebron and then Jerusalem (ca. 1010-970 B.C.) is recounted in 1 Samuel 16-2 Samuel 5. His acts as the second of the united kingdom’s three kingsbare recorded in both Samuel 5-1 Kings 2 and in 1 Chronicles.

David was a shepherd from Bethlehem with an extraordinary sense of duty and courage (1 Samuel 17:34-35). His rise to prominence is attributed first to his slaying of Goliath and then to his ability to calm the volatile king Saul with his music (1 Samuel 16-17). Even so, he was anointed by Samuel to replace Saul while he was still an obscure young man (1 Samuel 16:1-13). After rising to prominence, he provoked Saul’s jealousy and was forced to flee for his life. For a number of years David lived as a mercenary in the wilderness of Judah while eluding Saul (1 Samuel 18-27). After Saul was killed by the Philistines in a battle at Mount Gilboa (1 Samuel 28:31), David rose to power. He defeated the house of aul under Saul’s son Ish-Bosheth in a civil war and became the sole ruler of Israel (2 Samuel 2-5). David expanded the size and wealth of Israel, conquered Jerusalem and made it his capital city and moved the ark of the covenant there (1 Samuel 6-10).

There was a dark side to his reign as well. David committed murder and adultery (2 Samuel 11-12), and troubles in his family led to civil war incited by his son Absalom (2 Samuel 13-18). Other troubles plagued David in his later years, as both his own heirs and others struggled for power (2 Samuel 19-1 Kings 1).

The saga of David’s rise to power in 2 Samuel serves, in part, as an apologetic for his ascent to the throne by establishing his innocence with regard to any attempt to take Saul’s throne through his own machinations. Even so, the Bible portrays David honestly, with all his shortcomings, and focuses primarily on God, who chose David as king (1 Samuel 16, cf. 2 Samuel 18-19). God protected David in the face of grave danger (1 Samuel 17-30, cf. 2 Samuel 15-18) and gave him the kingdom (1 Samuel 31-2 Samuel 5, cf. 2 Samuel 19). As God orchestrated David’s victory over his enemies (2 Samuel 5-10), He also expanded the kingdom and fulfilled the promise He had long ago made to Abraham (Genesis 15:18-21, 2 Samuel 8:3, 1 Kings 4:21, 8:65).

The book of Chronicles, which was written after the exile, attributes to David a foundational role in the establishment and organization of temple worship (1 Chronicles 6:31, 15:16, 16:4, 23:6, 2 Chronicles 7:6). David’s importance in Israel’s worship is also reflected in the fact that 73 of the 150 psalms are attributed to him. These psalms add spiritual depth to David’s story in their portrayal, through David’s praise, penitence and petitions, of God’s transformation og his heart in the midst of personal and national crises (cf. Psalm 3, 60). David even represents the ideal penitent (cf. Psalm 6, 51) and model worshiper of God (cf. Psalm 8, 145); he was also a righteous servant who called on the Lord in the midst of suffering (cf. Psalm 3, 7). Just as Israel’s emergence would have been inconceivable apart from the faith of Abraham and the exodus unimaginable without Moses, so also the nation’s once and future kingdom would have been unthinkable apart from God’s eternal covenant with David (see e.g. 2 Samuel 7, 1 Chronicles 17, Psalm 89, Isaiah 9:1-7, Jeremiah 33:14-26, Micah 5:2-4).

For a long time no inscription relating to David’s reign could be found by archaeologists, but recently a composition from a king of Syria, referring to the “house of David”, was discovered at Tel Dan. This writing provides tangible evidence that ancient rulers indeed recognized the dynasty of David in Judah.


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