The story of redemption is not just a story about forgiveness being bestowed upon us in some heavenly transaction. It includes that, of course, but we must never forget how this salvation unfolds in the greatest story ever told. And that story includes the slaying of dragons, the fall of ancient civilizations, and the killing of giants. It also includes the last of the great giant killers, the man after God’s own heart, David, king over Israel.
David was the great-grandson of Boaz and Ruth, and was the youngest of eight brothers (1 Sam. 17:12). He was trained to work as a shepherd, and in his early years he learned the necessity of courage and resourcefulness (1 Sam. 17:34-35), taking on both a lion and bear himself. It is possible that his gifts made him unfavored by his brothers (1 Sam. 17:28), but apparently not to the degree that Joseph had trouble with his brothers. While David was modest about his ancestry (1 Sam. 18:18), he became a most notable ancestor, with his ultimate descendent being known as the Son of David (Rom. 1:3; Rev. 22:16).
THE ANOINTED IN THE HOUSE OF SAUL
Samuel was used by God to reject Saul in the kingship for his disobedience in the matter of the Amalekites. But when this happened, the Spirit (who had rested upon Saul for governance) departed from Saul, leaving him to his own resources. Samuel came to the house of Jesse and it was revealed to him that the youngest was to be the next king. So Samuel anointed him there at Bethlehem (1 Sam. 16:1-13). Shortly after this, David is chosen to serve in the court of Saul both as a court musician and armor bearer (1 Sam. 16:14-23). The lives of Saul and David were thus brought together—Saul, a formerly great but now hollow king, and David, a rising warrior.
HOSTILITY FROM SAUL
The famous incident with Goliath changed the relations between Saul and David entirely (1 Sam. 17). Officially, this was a tremendous blessing for David—he acquired the hand of the king’s daughter in marriage, and secured a tax exempt status for his father’s house. But during the triumphal return from the slaying of the giant and the routing of Philistine army, the women of Israel created a crisis through their singing. “And Saul eyed David from that day and forward” (1 Sam. 18:9).
David had to endure many affronts and insults from the king after this. He was cheated out of his promised bride, given Michal as a bride who had a dowry of death, was reduced in military honor, and was attacked savagely by the king. There was almost certainly a group at court that was hostile to David, and who spread lies about him (1 Sam. 24:9). Another abortive attempt was made on David’s life. He then escaped formal arrest by following a stratagem of Michal’s, and headed for the hills.
At this point David became an outlaw. A rag tag collection of outcasts gathered to him at the Cave of Adullam, a group which gradually grew into a volunteer frontier army, one which protected the goods of outlying Israelite settlements, and resisted foreign intruders. On two separate occasions David spared the life of Saul, thus showing Saul that David was truly innocent of the charges against him. Finally David went over to the Philistines and was given the frontier town of Ziklag. But the warlords of Philistia was nervous about taking David into battle with them, and so David was spared the disastrous battle of Gilboa.
KING IN HEBRON
David was thirty years old when Saul died, and by his fellow tribesmen he was made king of Judah in Hebron. He reigned here for seven and a half years, the first two of which were taken up with civil war with the followers of Saul, men who established Ishbosheth, a son of Saul, on the throne of the northern tribes. After the deaths of Abner and Ishbosheth, David was anointed king over all twelve tribes, and moved his capital to Jerusalem (2 Sam. 3-4).
KING OF ALL ISRAEL
David reigned for another thirty-three years in Jerusalem. The great powers of the Nile and the Euphrates had both ebbed at the same time, and Israel filled the power vacuum. During this time of consolidation, David subjugated many of the surrounding peoples. Political glory, musical and ecclesiastical glory, and military glory all adorn the reign of David. But the same glory was defiled by the matter of “Uriah the Hittite” (2 Sam. 11). The kingdom never recovered fully.
THE GREATNESS OF DAVID
We know more about the psychology of David than we do with any other Old Testament figure because of the texture and richness of the Psalms. We are enabled to look at a life of faith from both the outside and from the inside—an exercise filled with profit.
SHORT CATECHISM FOR LITTLE SAINTS
David was a father to the Lord Jesus, but he was also (in another sense) His son.
What did God give the people from the Rock?
The Rock was Christ, and the water was salvation.
What was David’s great characteristic?
He was a man after God’s own heart.