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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.

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These files are public domain.
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Bibliography Information
Rice, Edwin Wilbur, DD. Entry for 'David'. People's Dictionary of the Bible. 1893.

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