David was a man of many talents. He was a shepherd, poet, musician, warrior, statesman and administrator, who set a standard for the later kings of Israel and Judah, by tirelessly and faithfully serving God.
David was the youngest of the eight sons of Jesse and as a young man his job was to tend his father’s sheep. Shepherding meant lonely vigils, but also gave him time to develop an intimate relationship with His Creator, which he maintained and developed throughout his life.
The story begins with God instructing his prophet, Samuel, to anoint the young David as a replacement for King Saul, who had disqualified himself to rule. You can read the story in I Samuel 15.
After his anointing as king, David returned to his flocks, and it was from there he visited his brothers on the Philistine battlefield and ended up vanquishing the terrifying giant, Goliath, turning the battle against the Philistines into a very convincing victory (1 Samuel 17:49-50).
After David killed Goliath, King Saul had David live with him in his palace and he eventually became a military commander (1 Samuel 18:2-5). Over time David proved himself to be so competent and popular that King Saul became very jealous of him, even attempting to kill him on more than one occasion and, eventually, David was forced to flee.
David ultimately became the leader of a supportive band of followers and King Saul grew more brutal, even assassinating the 85 priests at Nob for assisting David. Throughout these trials David refused to react in kind. We are even told he did not take advantage of a couple of occasions when he could have assassinated Saul.
Eventually Saul and his son, Jonathan, perished in battle and David was anointed King over Judah (2 Samuel 2:4), reigning in Judah for seven and a half years (verse 11). Israel’s northern tribes did not immediately acknowledge David as their King because Abner, the commander of Saul’s army, had Saul’s son Ishbosheth installed as king over the northern ten tribes. However, God was ultimately controlling events and eventually Abner and Ishbosheth were also killed in battle, with David continuing to set an example of fairness and justice throughout this difficult time. (Click on the link below to read the details of this difficult time in David’s life.)
Shortly after these events David captured Jerusalem and made it his capital (2 Samuel 5:6-10), reigning over all Israel for 33 years following the seven he ruled in Judah, for a total of 40 years as Israel’s king.
Although David strove to be honorable in battle, like all of us, he was far from perfect and God allowed his sins to be recorded so we can learn from them (Romans 15:4; 1 Corinthians 10:11). The story of David’s sordid behavior with Bathsheba (2 Samuel 11:1-26) is well known and was a turning point in his life. God’s subsequent punishment of David for adultery and murder brought dire consequences. Till then David had greatly prospered, but after this watershed incident his troubles markedly increased including some horrifying problems with his sons. Yet David’s repentance, recorded in Psalm 51, has stood as an inspiring example throughout the generations.
Considering such problems, some might wonder why God thought so highly of David. Part of the answer is that, in spite of his lapses, David always wholeheartedly repented of his sins and turned back to God. The biblical record shows that the more conditions around David deteriorated, the more he grew in character, remaining faithful to God throughout his life. You can read about his reliance on God in the psalms of David. He was “the sweet psalmist of Israel” (2 Samuel 23:1).
In the book of Acts the apostle Paul refers to David as a man after God’s own heart. Paul wrote that God “raised up for them David as king, to whom also He gave testimony and said, ‘I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after My own heart, who will do all My will’ ” (Acts 13:22). What a tribute to the former shepherd boy, despite the mistakes he made!
The Good News Magazine