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David Anointed King

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1 Samuel 16:1–13 NKJV
Now the Lord said to Samuel, “How long will you mourn for Saul, seeing I have rejected him from reigning over Israel? Fill your horn with oil, and go; I am sending you to Jesse the Bethlehemite. For I have provided Myself a king among his sons.” And Samuel said, “How can I go? If Saul hears it, he will kill me.” But the Lord said, “Take a heifer with you, and say, ‘I have come to sacrifice to the Lord.’ Then invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you what you shall do; you shall anoint for Me the one I name to you.” So Samuel did what the Lord said, and went to Bethlehem. And the elders of the town trembled at his coming, and said, “Do you come peaceably?” And he said, “Peaceably; I have come to sacrifice to the Lord. Sanctify yourselves, and come with me to the sacrifice.” Then he consecrated Jesse and his sons, and invited them to the sacrifice. So it was, when they came, that he looked at Eliab and said, “Surely the Lord’s anointed is before Him!” But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” So Jesse called Abinadab, and made him pass before Samuel. And he said, “Neither has the Lord chosen this one.” Then Jesse made Shammah pass by. And he said, “Neither has the Lord chosen this one.” Thus Jesse made seven of his sons pass before Samuel. And Samuel said to Jesse, “The Lord has not chosen these.” And Samuel said to Jesse, “Are all the young men here?” Then he said, “There remains yet the youngest, and there he is, keeping the sheep.” And Samuel said to Jesse, “Send and bring him. For we will not sit down till he comes here.” So he sent and brought him in. Now he was ruddy, with bright eyes, and good-looking. And the Lord said, “Arise, anoint him; for this is the one!” Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brothers; and the Spirit of the Lord came upon David from that day forward. So Samuel arose and went to Ramah.
Matthew 7
Matthew 7:7–11 NKJV
“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!

16:1–13. After Saul’s further rebellion against the Lord and his subsequent rejection by the LORD, Samuel was commissioned to seek out the one who would succeed Saul on the throne of Israel. This one had already been identified as “a man after [God’s] own heart” (13:14) and “one of [Saul’s] neighbors” who was “better than” he (15:28). David had been chosen from eternity past to be ruler of Israel. The rejection of Saul did not force the LORD to a new course of action. Rather, God’s action followed His omniscient plan in such a way as to use Saul’s disobedience as the human occasion for implementing His higher plan. God had permitted the people to have the king of their choice. Now that that king and their mistake in choosing him had been clearly manifested, God proved the superiority of His own wisdom in raising up a king who would come in fulfillment of His perfect will.

After an undetermined length of time in which Samuel lamented the rejection of Saul, the Lord commanded the prophet to go to Bethlehem to select a son of Jesse … to be king (16:1–3). Jesse was the grandson of Ruth and Boaz (Ruth 4:18–21), and so was in the line of promise (see the chart “David’s Ancestry from Abraham”). As the wives of Jacob gave birth to a royal house (Gen. 35:11; 49:10), so Ruth would produce the Davidic dynasty (Ruth 4:11). God did not tell Samuel to be deceptive, but rather to combine the anointing with the business of sacrificing (1 Sam 16:2). The elders in Bethlehem may have wondered if Samuel had come for judgment (v. 4).

After the seven older sons of Jesse were disqualified one by one (vv. 5–10), David was singled out by the LORD and anointed by Samuel (vv. 11–13). The anointing, as in the experience of Saul, was accompanied by the coming of the Spirit of God mightily on the young lad (v. 13). This was the supernatural authentication of God’s will. Later David was anointed king over Judah (2 Sam. 2:4) and then over Israel (2 Sam. 5:3).

b. David as Saul’s musician (16:14–23)

16:14–23. As David was invested by the Spirit, that same Spirit left Saul. This is evidence of the fact that the presence or absence of the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament says nothing about salvation but only that His power worked in those whom God selected for service (cf. Jud. 3:10; 6:34; 13:25; 14:6; 1 Sam. 10:10; 16:13).

With the departure of the Spirit of God, Saul became tormented by an evil spirit which God permitted to come (v. 14; cf. vv. 15–16; 18:10; 19:9). Whether this spirit had sinful or only harmful characteristics, it is quite certain that it was a demonic, satanic instrument (cf. Job 1:12; 2:6; 1 Kings 22:19–22). In his troubled state Saul could find relief only in music, so he commanded that a musician be found (1 Sam. 16:15–17). In His providence God arranged that David be the one, so the shepherd boy was introduced to the palace of the king (vv. 18–21). The Holy Spirit empowered David to drive away the evil spirit that overwhelmed Saul (v. 23). Harps had already been mentioned in connection with prophesying (10:5). Later Elisha, when seeking a revelation from the Lord, also requested that a harp be played (2 Kings 3:15). Also Asaph, Heman, and Jeduthun prophesied with harps, lyres, and cymbals (1 Chron. 25:1).

c. David’s triumph over Goliath (chap. 17)

17:1–51. Sometime after David commenced his role of court musician, Israel was again in peril at the hands of the Philistines. The armies were drawn up on opposite sides of the Valley of Elah, a few miles southwest of Jerusalem (vv. 2–3). Apparently intimidated by each other, they decided that the outcome should be determined by a contest of champions who would engage each other in combat. The Philistines offered Goliath, a giant (about 9’9” tall!), but Israel could find no one worthy, not even Saul (vv. 4–11). Goliath wore a bronze helmet and a coat of scale armor weighing 5,000 shekels, that is, about 125 pounds, and bronze greaves. He was armed with a bronze javelin, and a long spear with a 15-pound iron tip! (v. 7) At last David heard of the dilemma and, having been sent to the camp of Israel with provisions for his brothers (vv. 12–22), begged Saul to let him take on the Philistine (vv. 23–32). Reluctantly Saul agreed and David, armed only with his confidence in God, a sling, and five smooth stones, slew Goliath and brought back his severed head in triumph (vv. 33–51).

17:52–58. When the conflict was over, Saul inquired as to the identity of the young warrior and learned that he was David, son of Jesse (vv. 55, 58). Why could not Saul recognize David, who had already served him for some time as musician and armor-bearer? One answer is that Saul was not asking who David was but for the first time was curious about David’s family connections: Whose son is that young man? (v. 55; cf. v. 25) When David himself was interrogated he did not say, “I am David,” but only, I am the son of your servant Jesse of Bethlehem (v. 58). Another and perhaps better solution is that David’s previous service had been brief and intermittent and now several years had passed since Saul had last seen him. If, for example, David had been only 12 years old when he came as Saul’s musician and had stayed off and on for only a year or so, he might have been 17 or 18 by the time of the Philistine episode and no longer recognizable to Saul. This view is strengthened by the fact that after David joined himself to Saul this time, the king “did not let him return to his father’s house” (v. 15; 18:2). This implies that David’s previous tenure had not been permanent. In any event, one need not posit two sources for chapters 16 and 17 or view the accounts as irreconcilable.

2. ON UNFRIENDLY TERMS (CHAPS. 18–26)

a. David’s flight from Saul (chaps. 18–20)

(1) David’s popularity.

18:1–7. David, as has been seen, was not only chosen from eternity to be the founder of the messianic dynasty of kings, but he was also providentially prepared by the Lord to undertake his royal responsibilities. David had served as a shepherd in the fields and had the loving, protective heart of a shepherd, a fitting attribute of a king. He had learned responsibility and courage by confronting and slaying wild beasts that threatened his flock (17:34–36). He had learned to play the harp, a skill that would make him sensitive to the aesthetic side of life and that would help him compose the stirring psalms which extol the Lord and celebrate His mighty exploits. David had been brought into the palace of the king as musician and warrior so that he might acquire the experience of statecraft. Though an uninitiated novice at the time of his anointing, he was eminently equipped to be king of Israel at his coronation some 15 years later. But his education was not always pleasant. With his rising popularity among the people came a deterioration of his relationship with Saul, for the king became insanely jealous of Israel’s new hero.

After David’s dramatic victory over Goliath, Saul brought him into his palace once again, this time as a commander of his army (18:5). David’s favored position in the court was further strengthened by the personal affection felt for him by Jonathan, Saul’s oldest son (vv. 1, 3). So close did this friendship become that Jonathan, though heir apparent to the throne of Israel (cf. 20:31), stripped himself of his own royal regalia and placed it on David in recognition of David’s divine election to be king (18:4; cf. 23:17). More than once the covenant of friendship between the two men would work to David’s advantage. Meanwhile David became so effective militarily that his exploits were celebrated in song: Saul has slain his thousands, and David his tens of thousands.

(2) Saul’s jealousy (18:8–20:42).

18:8–16. So enraged was Saul at the diminishing of his glory that he, inspired by the demonic spirit (v. 10; cf. 16:14–16; 19:9), tried to spear David (18:10–11; 19:9–10). But God delivered David and gave him even greater popularity (18:12–16).

18:17–30. When Saul then saw that he could not destroy David personally, he determined to let the Philistines kill him. This he arranged by proposing that David marry his oldest daughter, Merab. Saul had already reneged on one marital promise to David (17:25). David protested, however, that he was a commoner and had no sufficient bridal price (18:25, mōhar, not “dowry” as in KJV and others). Before anything further could develop, Merab … was given to another man (v. 19). Again Saul offered his second daughter, Michal, who at that time loved David (v. 20; cf. 2 Sam. 6:16). But again David argued that he was unsuitable to be a son-in-law of the king because of his low status (1 Sam. 18:23). In an act of apparent generosity Saul waived the usual bridal payment and demanded only that David kill 100 Philistines and bring back their foreskins (v. 25), a requirement he more than met by slaying 200 (v. 27). Saul had been hoping, of course, that the exploit would cost David his life (v. 25). As a result, Saul was again afraid of David (v. 29; cf. vv. 12, 15). But David became Saul’s son-in-law by marrying Michal (v. 27), and his military success and his popularity increased (v. 30).

Chapter 19. After an initial and successful attempt by Jonathan to soothe his father’s feelings toward David (vv. 1–7), Saul set in motion further steps to destroy David. First he tried to slay him once more with his own hand (vv. 9–10); then he hired conspirators to murder him in his bed, a plot foiled by Michal (vv. 11–17). Next Saul sent men to Naioth at Ramah where David had taken refuge with Samuel (vv. 18–24). (Ramah was Samuel’s hometown.) Their efforts were also unsuccessful for they, and later Saul, were overwhelmed by the Spirit of God who came on them and caused them to “act like prophets” (NIV, prophesied, vv. 20–21, 23–24). This means that they fell into a trance or an ecstatic state, a condition which immobilized them and made them incapable of accomplishing their evil intentions.

1 sam 16.1-13

DAVID—beloved, the eighth and youngest son of Jesse, a citizen of Bethlehem. His father seems to have been a man in humble life. His mother’s name is not recorded. Some think she was the Nahash of 2 Sam. 17:25. As to his personal appearance, we only know that he was red-haired, with beautiful eyes and a fair face (1 Sam. 16:12; 17:42).

His early occupation was that of tending his father’s sheep on the uplands of Judah. From what we know of his after history, doubtless he frequently beguiled his time, when thus engaged, with his shepherd’s flute, while he drank in the many lessons taught him by the varied scenes spread around him. His first recorded exploits were his encounters with the wild beasts of the field. He mentions that with his own unaided hand he slew a lion and also a bear, when they came out against his flock, beating them to death in open conflict with his club (1 Sam. 17:34, 35).

While David, in the freshness of ruddy youth, was thus engaged with his flocks, Samuel paid an unexpected visit to Bethlehem, having been guided thither by divine direction (1 Sam. 16:1–13). There he offered up sacrifice, and called the elders of Israel and Jesse’s family to the sacrificial meal. Among all who appeared before him he failed to discover the one he sought. David was sent for, and the prophet immediately recognized him as the chosen of God, chosen to succeed Saul, who was now departing from the ways of God, on the throne of the kingdom. He accordingly, in anticipation, poured on his head the anointing oil. David went back again to his shepherd life, but “the Spirit of the Lord came upon David from that day forward,” and “the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul” (1 Sam. 16:13, 14).

Not long after this David was sent for to soothe with his harp the troubled spirit of Saul, who suffered from a strange melancholy dejection. He played before the king so skillfully that Saul was greatly cheered, and began to entertain great affection for the young shepherd. After this he went home to Bethlehem. But he soon again came into prominence. The armies of the Philistines and of Israel were in battle array in the valley of Elah, some 16 miles south-west of Bethlehem; and David was sent by his father with provisions for his three brothers, who were then fighting on the side of the king. On his arrival in the camp of Israel, David (now about twenty years of age) was made aware of the state of matters when the champion of the Philistines, Goliath of Gath, came forth to defy Israel. David took his sling, and with a well-trained aim threw a stone “out of the brook,” which struck the giant’s forehead, so that he fell senseless to the ground. David then ran and slew him, and cut off his head with his own sword (1 Sam. 17). The result was a great victory to the Israelites, who pursued the Philistines to the gates of Gath and Ekron.

David’s popularity consequent on this heroic exploit awakened Saul’s jealousy (1 Sam. 18:6–16), which he showed in various ways. He conceived a bitter hatred toward him, and by various stratagems sought his death (1 Sam. 18–30). The deep-laid plots of the enraged king, who could not fail to observe that David “prospered exceedingly,” all proved futile, and only endeared the young hero the more to the people, and very specially to Jonathan, Saul’s son, between whom and David a life-long warm friendship was formed.

A fugitive. To escape from the vengeance of Saul, David fled to Ramah (1 Sam. 19:12–18) to Samuel, who received him, and he dwelt among the sons of the prophets, who were there under Samuel’s training. It is supposed by some that the sixth, seventh, and eleventh Psalms were composed by him at this time. This place was only 3 miles from the residence of Saul, who soon discovered whither the fugitive had gone, and tried ineffectually to bring him back. Jonathan made a fruitless effort to bring his father to a better state of mind toward David (1 Sam. 20), who, being made aware of the fact, saw no hope of safety but in flight to a distance. We accordingly find him first at Nob (21:1–9) and then at Gath, the chief city of the Philistines. The king of the Philistines would not admit him into his service, as he expected that he would, and David accordingly now betook himself to the stronghold of Adullam (22:1–4; 1 Chr. 12:8–18). Here in a short time 400 men gathered around him and acknowledged him as their leader. It was at this time that David, amid the harassment and perils of his position, cried, “Oh that one would give me drink of the water of the well of Bethlehem;” when three of his heroes broke through the lines of the Philistines and brought him the water for which he longed (2 Sam. 23:13–17), but which he would not drink.

In his rage at the failure of all his efforts to seize David, Saul gave orders for the massacre of the entire priestly family at Nob, “persons who wore a linen ephod”, to the number of eighty-five persons, who were put to death by Doeg the Edomite. The sad tidings of the massacre were brought to David by Abiathar, a son of Ahimelech, the only one who escaped. Comp. Ps. 52.

Hearing that Keilah, a town on the western frontier, was harassed by the Philistines, David with his men relieved it (1 Sam. 23:1–14); and then, for fear of Saul, he fled to the strongholds in the “hill country” of Judah. Comp. Ps. 31. While encamped there, in the forest in the district of Ziph, he was visited by Jonathan, who spoke to him words of encouragement (23:16–18). The two now parted never to meet again. Saul continued his pursuit of David, who narrowly escaped from him at this time, and fled to the crags and ravines of Engedi, on the western shore of the Dead Sea (1 Sam. 23:29). Here Saul, who still pursued him with his army, narrowly escaped, through the generous forbearance of David, and was greatly affected by what David had done for him. He returned home from pursuing him, and David betook himself to Maon, where, with his 600 men, he maintained himself by contributions gathered from the district. Here occurred the incident connected with Nabal and his wife Abigail (1 Sam. 25), whom David married after Nabal’s death.

Saul again went forth (1 Sam. 26) in pursuit of David, who had hid himself “in the hill Hachilah, which is before Jeshimon,” in the wilderness of Ziph, and was a second time spared through his forbearance. He returned home, professing shame and penitence for the way in which he had treated David, and predicting his elevation to the throne.

Fighting against Israel. Harassed by the necessity of moving from place to place through fear of Saul, David once more sought refuge among the Philistines (1 Sam. 27). He was welcomed by the king, who assigned him Ziklag as his residence. Here David lived among his followers for some time as an independent chief engaged in frequent war with the Amalekites and other tribes on the south of Judah.

Achish summoned David with his men to join his army against Saul; but the lords of the Philistines were suspicious of David’s loyalty, and therefore he was sent back to Ziklag, which he found to his dismay may had been pillaged and burnt during his brief absence. David pursued after the raiders, the Amalekites, and completely routed them. On his return to Ziklag tidings reached him of Saul’s death (2 Sam. 1). An Amalekite brought Saul’s crown and bracelet and laid them at his feet. David and his men rent their clothes and mourned for Saul, who had been defeated in battle near Mount Gilboa. David composed a beautiful elegy, the most beautiful of all extant Hebrew odes, a “lamentation over Saul and over Jonathan his son” (2 Sam. 1:18–27). It bore the title of “The Bow,” and was to be taught to the children, that the memory of Saul and Jonathan might be preserved among them. “Behold, it is written in the book of Jasher” (q.v.).

David king over Judah. David and his men now set out for Hebron under divine direction (2 Sam. 2:1–4). There they were cordially welcomed, and he was at once anointed as king. He was now about thirty years of age.

But his title to the throne was not undisputed. Abner took Ish-bosheth, Saul’s only remaining son, over the Jordan to Mahanaim, and there crowned him as king. Then began a civil war in Israel. The first encounter between the two opposing armies, led on the one side by Abner, and on the other by Joab, took place at the pool of Gibeon. It resulted in the defeat of Abner. Other encounters, however, between Israel and Judah followed (2 Sam. 3:1, 5), but still success was on the side of David. For the space of seven and a half years David reigned in Hebron. Abner now sided with David, and sought to promote his advancement; but was treacherously put to death by Joab in revenge for his having slain his brother Asahel at Gibeon (3:22–39). This was greatly to David’s regret. He mourned for the death of Abner. Shortly after this Ish-bosheth was also treacherously put to death by two Canaanites of Beeroth; and there being now no rival, David was anointed king over all Israel (4:1–12).

David king over all Israel (2 Sam. 5:1–5; 1 Chr. 11:1–3). The elders of Israel now repaired to Hebron and offered allegiance to David in name of all the people, among whom the greatest enthusiasm prevailed. He was anointed king over all Israel, and sought out a new seat of government, more suitable than Hebron, as the capital of his empire. At this time there was a Jebusite fortress, “the stronghold”, on the hill of Zion, called also Jebus. This David took from the Jebusites, and made it Israel’s capital, and established here his residence, and afterwards built for himself a palace by the aid of Tyrian tradesmen. The Philistines, who had for some time observed a kind of truce, now made war against David; but were defeated in battle at a place afterwards called, in remembrance of the victory, Baal-perazim. Again they invaded the land, and were a second time routed by him. He thus delivered Israel from their enemies.

David now resolved to bring up the ark of the covenant to his new capital (2 Sam. 6). It was in the house of Abinadab at Kirjath-jearim, about 7 miles from Jerusalem, where it had been for many years, from the time when the Philistines had sent it home (1 Sam. 6; 7). In consequence of the death of Uzzah (for it was a divine ordinance that only the Levites should handle the ark, Num. 4), who had put forth his hand to steady the ark when the cart in which it was being conveyed shook by reason of the roughness of the road, David stayed the procession, and conveyed the ark into the house of Obed-edom, a Philistine from Gath. After three months David brought the ark from the house of Obed-edom up to Jerusalem. Comp. Ps. 24. Here it was placed in a new tent or tabernacle which David erected for the purpose. About seventy years had passed since it had stood in the tabernacle at Shiloh. The old tabernacle was now at Gibeah, at which Zadok ministered. David now (1 Chr. 16) carefully set in order all the ritual of divine worship at Jerusalem, along with Abiathar the high priest. A new religious era began. The service of praise was for the first time introduced into public worship. Zion became henceforth “God’s holy hill.”

David’s wars. David now entered on a series of conquests which greatly extended and strengthened his kingdom (2 Sam. 8). In a few years the whole territory from the Euphrates to the river of Egypt, and from Gaza on the west to Thapsacus on the east, was under his sway (2 Sam. 8:3–13; 10).

David’s fall. He had now reached the height of his glory. He ruled over a vast empire, and his capital was enriched with the spoils of many lands. But in the midst of all this success he fell, and his character became stained with the sin of adultery (2 Sam. 11:2–27). It has been noted as characteristic of the Bible that while his military triumphs are recorded in a few verses, the sad story of his fall is given in detail, a story full of warning, and therefore recorded. This crime, in the attempt to conceal it, led to another. He was guilty of murder. Uriah, whom he had foully wronged, an officer of the Gibborim, the corps of heros (23:39), was, by his order, “set in the front of the hottest battle” at the siege of Rabbah, in order that he might be put to death. Nathan the prophet (2 Sam. 7:1–17; 12:1–23) was sent by God to bring home his crimes to the conscience of the guilty monarch. He became a true penitent. He bitterly bewailed his sins before God. The thirty-second and fifty-first Psalms reveal the deep struggles of his soul, and his spiritual recovery.

Bathsheba became his wife after Uriah’s death. Her first-born son died, according to the word of the prophet. She gave birth to a second son, whom David called Solomon, and who ultimately succeeded him on the throne (2 Sam. 12:24, 25).

Peace. After the successful termination of all his wars, David formed the idea of building a temple for the ark of God. This he was not permitted to carry into execution, because he had been a man of war. God, however, sent Nathan to him with a gracious message (2 Sam. 7:1–16). On receiving it he went into the sanctuary, the tent where the ark was, and sat before the Lord, and poured out his heart in words of devout thanksgiving (18–29). The building of the temple was reserved for his son Solomon, who would be a man of peace (1 Chr. 22:9; 28:3).

A cloudy evening. Hitherto David’s career had been one of great prosperity and success. Now cloudy and dark days came. His eldest son Amnon, whose mother was Ahinoam of Jezreel, was guilty of a great and shameful crime (2 Sam. 13). This was the beginning of the disasters of his later years. After two years Absalom terribly avenged the crime against Tamar, and put Amnon to death. This brought sore trouble to David’s heart. Absalom, afraid of the consequences of his guilt, fled to Geshur beyond Jordan, where he remained for three years, when he was brought back through the intrigue of Joab (2 Sam. 14).

After this there fell upon the land the calamity of three years’ famine (2 Sam. 21:1–14). This was soon after followed by a pestilence, brought upon the land as a punishment for David’s sinful pride in numbering the people (2 Sam. 24), in which no fewer than 70,000 perished in the space of three days.

Rebellion of Absalom. The personal respect for David was sadly lowered by the incident of Bathsheba. There was a strong popular sentiment against the taking of the census, and the outburst of the plague in connection with it deepened the feeling of jealously that had begun to manifest itself among some of the tribes against David. Absalom, taking full advantage of this state of things, gradually gained over the people, and at length openly rebelled against his father, and usurped the throne. Ahithophel was Absalom’s chief counsellor. The revolt began in Hebron, the capital of Judah. Absalom was there proclaimed king. David was now in imminent danger, and he left Jerusalem (2 Sam. 15:13–20), and once more became a fugitive. It was a momentous day in Israel. The incidents of it are recorded with a fulness of detail greater than of any other day in Old Testament history. David fled with his followers to Mahanarm, on the east of Jordan. An unnatural civil war broke out. After a few weeks the rival armies were mustered and organized. They met in hostile array at the wood of Ephraim (2 Sam. 18:1–8). Absalom’s army was defeated, and himself put to death by the hand of Joab (9–18). The tidings of the death of his rebellious son filled the heart of David with the most poignant grief. He “went up to the chamber over the gate, and wept” (33), giving utterance to the heart-broken cry, “Would God I had died for thee, O Absalom, my son, my son!” Peace was now restored, and David returned to Jerusalem and resumed the direction of affairs. An unhappy dispute arose between the men of Judah and the men of Israel (19:41–43). Sheba, a Benjamite, headed a revolt of the men of Israel. He was pursued to Abelbeth-maachah, and was there put to death, and so the revolt came to an end.

The end. After the suppression of the rebellion of Absalom and that of Sheba, ten comparatively peaceful years of David’s life passed away. During those years he seems to have been principally engaged in accumulating treasures of every kind for the great temple at Jerusalem, which it was reserved to his successor to build (1 Chr. 22; 28; 29), a house which was to be “exceeding magnifical, of fame and of glory throughout all countries” (22:5). The exciting and laborious life he had spent, and the dangers and trials through which he had passed, had left him an enfeebled man, prematurely old. It became apparent that his life was now drawing to its close. A new palace conspiracy broke out as to who should be his successor. Joab favoured Adonijah. The chiefs of his party met at the “Fuller’s spring,” in the valley of Kidron, to proclaim him king; but Nathan hastened on a decision on the part of David in favour of Solomon, and so the aim of Adonijah’s party failed. Solomon was brought to Jerusalem, and was anointed king and seated on his father’s throne (1 Kings 1:11–53). David’s last words are a grand utterance, revealing his unfailing faith in God, and his joyful confidence in his gracious covenant promises (2 Sam. 23:1–7).

After a reign of forty years and six months (2 Sam. 5:5; 1 Chr. 3:4) David died (B.C. 1015) at the age of seventy years, “and was buried in the city of David.” His tomb is still pointed out on Mount Zion.

Both in his prophetical and in his regal character David was a type of the Messiah (1 Sam. 16:13). The book of Psalms commonly bears the title of the “Psalms of David,” from the circumstance that he was the largest contributor (about eighty psalms) to the collection. (See PSALMS.)

“The greatness of David was felt when he was gone. He had lived in harmony with both the priesthood and the prophets; a sure sign that the spirit of his government had been throughly loyal to the higher aims of the theocracy. The nation had not been oppressed by him, but had been left in the free enjoyment of its ancient liberties. As far as his power went he had striven to act justly to all (2 Sam. 8:15). His weak indulgence to his sons, and his own great sin besides, had been bitterly atoned, and were forgotten at his death in the remembrance of his long-tried worth. He had reigned thirty-three years in Jerusalem and seven and a half at Hebron (2 Sam. 5:5). Israel at his accession had reached the lowest point of national depression; its new-born unity rudely dissolved; its territory assailed by the Philistines. But he had left it an imperial power, with dominions like those of Egypt or Assyria. The sceptre of Solomon was already, before his father’s death, owned from the Mediterranean to the Euphrates, and from the Orontes to the Red Sea.”, Geikie’s Hours etc., iii.

1 Samuel 17:34–37 NKJV
But David said to Saul, “Your servant used to keep his father’s sheep, and when a lion or a bear came and took a lamb out of the flock, I went out after it and struck it, and delivered the lamb from its mouth; and when it arose against me, I caught it by its beard, and struck and killed it. Your servant has killed both lion and bear; and this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, seeing he has defied the armies of the living God.” Moreover David said, “The Lord, who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, He will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.” And Saul said to David, “Go, and the Lord be with you!”

DAVID—beloved, the eighth and youngest son of Jesse, a citizen of Bethlehem. His father seems to have been a man in humble life. His mother’s name is not recorded. Some think she was the Nahash of 2 Sam. 17:25. As to his personal appearance, we only know that he was red-haired, with beautiful eyes and a fair face (1 Sam. 16:12; 17:42).

His early occupation was that of tending his father’s sheep on the uplands of Judah. From what we know of his after history, doubtless he frequently beguiled his time, when thus engaged, with his shepherd’s flute, while he drank in the many lessons taught him by the varied scenes spread around him. His first recorded exploits were his encounters with the wild beasts of the field. He mentions that with his own unaided hand he slew a lion and also a bear, when they came out against his flock, beating them to death in open conflict with his club (1 Sam. 17:34, 35).

While David, in the freshness of ruddy youth, was thus engaged with his flocks, Samuel paid an unexpected visit to Bethlehem, having been guided thither by divine direction (1 Sam. 16:1–13). There he offered up sacrifice, and called the elders of Israel and Jesse’s family to the sacrificial meal. Among all who appeared before him he failed to discover the one he sought. David was sent for, and the prophet immediately recognized him as the chosen of God, chosen to succeed Saul, who was now departing from the ways of God, on the throne of the kingdom. He accordingly, in anticipation, poured on his head the anointing oil. David went back again to his shepherd life, but “the Spirit of the Lord came upon David from that day forward,” and “the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul” (1 Sam. 16:13, 14).

Not long after this David was sent for to soothe with his harp the troubled spirit of Saul, who suffered from a strange melancholy dejection. He played before the king so skillfully that Saul was greatly cheered, and began to entertain great affection for the young shepherd. After this he went home to Bethlehem. But he soon again came into prominence. The armies of the Philistines and of Israel were in battle array in the valley of Elah, some 16 miles south-west of Bethlehem; and David was sent by his father with provisions for his three brothers, who were then fighting on the side of the king. On his arrival in the camp of Israel, David (now about twenty years of age) was made aware of the state of matters when the champion of the Philistines, Goliath of Gath, came forth to defy Israel. David took his sling, and with a well-trained aim threw a stone “out of the brook,” which struck the giant’s forehead, so that he fell senseless to the ground. David then ran and slew him, and cut off his head with his own sword (1 Sam. 17). The result was a great victory to the Israelites, who pursued the Philistines to the gates of Gath and Ekron.

David’s popularity consequent on this heroic exploit awakened Saul’s jealousy (1 Sam. 18:6–16), which he showed in various ways. He conceived a bitter hatred toward him, and by various stratagems sought his death (1 Sam. 18–30). The deep-laid plots of the enraged king, who could not fail to observe that David “prospered exceedingly,” all proved futile, and only endeared the young hero the more to the people, and very specially to Jonathan, Saul’s son, between whom and David a life-long warm friendship was formed.

A fugitive. To escape from the vengeance of Saul, David fled to Ramah (1 Sam. 19:12–18) to Samuel, who received him, and he dwelt among the sons of the prophets, who were there under Samuel’s training. It is supposed by some that the sixth, seventh, and eleventh Psalms were composed by him at this time. This place was only 3 miles from the residence of Saul, who soon discovered whither the fugitive had gone, and tried ineffectually to bring him back. Jonathan made a fruitless effort to bring his father to a better state of mind toward David (1 Sam. 20), who, being made aware of the fact, saw no hope of safety but in flight to a distance. We accordingly find him first at Nob (21:1–9) and then at Gath, the chief city of the Philistines. The king of the Philistines would not admit him into his service, as he expected that he would, and David accordingly now betook himself to the stronghold of Adullam (22:1–4; 1 Chr. 12:8–18). Here in a short time 400 men gathered around him and acknowledged him as their leader. It was at this time that David, amid the harassment and perils of his position, cried, “Oh that one would give me drink of the water of the well of Bethlehem;” when three of his heroes broke through the lines of the Philistines and brought him the water for which he longed (2 Sam. 23:13–17), but which he would not drink.

In his rage at the failure of all his efforts to seize David, Saul gave orders for the massacre of the entire priestly family at Nob, “persons who wore a linen ephod”, to the number of eighty-five persons, who were put to death by Doeg the Edomite. The sad tidings of the massacre were brought to David by Abiathar, a son of Ahimelech, the only one who escaped. Comp. Ps. 52.

Hearing that Keilah, a town on the western frontier, was harassed by the Philistines, David with his men relieved it (1 Sam. 23:1–14); and then, for fear of Saul, he fled to the strongholds in the “hill country” of Judah. Comp. Ps. 31. While encamped there, in the forest in the district of Ziph, he was visited by Jonathan, who spoke to him words of encouragement (23:16–18). The two now parted never to meet again. Saul continued his pursuit of David, who narrowly escaped from him at this time, and fled to the crags and ravines of Engedi, on the western shore of the Dead Sea (1 Sam. 23:29). Here Saul, who still pursued him with his army, narrowly escaped, through the generous forbearance of David, and was greatly affected by what David had done for him. He returned home from pursuing him, and David betook himself to Maon, where, with his 600 men, he maintained himself by contributions gathered from the district. Here occurred the incident connected with Nabal and his wife Abigail (1 Sam. 25), whom David married after Nabal’s death.

Saul again went forth (1 Sam. 26) in pursuit of David, who had hid himself “in the hill Hachilah, which is before Jeshimon,” in the wilderness of Ziph, and was a second time spared through his forbearance. He returned home, professing shame and penitence for the way in which he had treated David, and predicting his elevation to the throne.

Fighting against Israel. Harassed by the necessity of moving from place to place through fear of Saul, David once more sought refuge among the Philistines (1 Sam. 27). He was welcomed by the king, who assigned him Ziklag as his residence. Here David lived among his followers for some time as an independent chief engaged in frequent war with the Amalekites and other tribes on the south of Judah.

Achish summoned David with his men to join his army against Saul; but the lords of the Philistines were suspicious of David’s loyalty, and therefore he was sent back to Ziklag, which he found to his dismay may had been pillaged and burnt during his brief absence. David pursued after the raiders, the Amalekites, and completely routed them. On his return to Ziklag tidings reached him of Saul’s death (2 Sam. 1). An Amalekite brought Saul’s crown and bracelet and laid them at his feet. David and his men rent their clothes and mourned for Saul, who had been defeated in battle near Mount Gilboa. David composed a beautiful elegy, the most beautiful of all extant Hebrew odes, a “lamentation over Saul and over Jonathan his son” (2 Sam. 1:18–27). It bore the title of “The Bow,” and was to be taught to the children, that the memory of Saul and Jonathan might be preserved among them. “Behold, it is written in the book of Jasher” (q.v.).

David king over Judah. David and his men now set out for Hebron under divine direction (2 Sam. 2:1–4). There they were cordially welcomed, and he was at once anointed as king. He was now about thirty years of age.

But his title to the throne was not undisputed. Abner took Ish-bosheth, Saul’s only remaining son, over the Jordan to Mahanaim, and there crowned him as king. Then began a civil war in Israel. The first encounter between the two opposing armies, led on the one side by Abner, and on the other by Joab, took place at the pool of Gibeon. It resulted in the defeat of Abner. Other encounters, however, between Israel and Judah followed (2 Sam. 3:1, 5), but still success was on the side of David. For the space of seven and a half years David reigned in Hebron. Abner now sided with David, and sought to promote his advancement; but was treacherously put to death by Joab in revenge for his having slain his brother Asahel at Gibeon (3:22–39). This was greatly to David’s regret. He mourned for the death of Abner. Shortly after this Ish-bosheth was also treacherously put to death by two Canaanites of Beeroth; and there being now no rival, David was anointed king over all Israel (4:1–12).

David king over all Israel (2 Sam. 5:1–5; 1 Chr. 11:1–3). The elders of Israel now repaired to Hebron and offered allegiance to David in name of all the people, among whom the greatest enthusiasm prevailed. He was anointed king over all Israel, and sought out a new seat of government, more suitable than Hebron, as the capital of his empire. At this time there was a Jebusite fortress, “the stronghold”, on the hill of Zion, called also Jebus. This David took from the Jebusites, and made it Israel’s capital, and established here his residence, and afterwards built for himself a palace by the aid of Tyrian tradesmen. The Philistines, who had for some time observed a kind of truce, now made war against David; but were defeated in battle at a place afterwards called, in remembrance of the victory, Baal-perazim. Again they invaded the land, and were a second time routed by him. He thus delivered Israel from their enemies.

David now resolved to bring up the ark of the covenant to his new capital (2 Sam. 6). It was in the house of Abinadab at Kirjath-jearim, about 7 miles from Jerusalem, where it had been for many years, from the time when the Philistines had sent it home (1 Sam. 6; 7). In consequence of the death of Uzzah (for it was a divine ordinance that only the Levites should handle the ark, Num. 4), who had put forth his hand to steady the ark when the cart in which it was being conveyed shook by reason of the roughness of the road, David stayed the procession, and conveyed the ark into the house of Obed-edom, a Philistine from Gath. After three months David brought the ark from the house of Obed-edom up to Jerusalem. Comp. Ps. 24. Here it was placed in a new tent or tabernacle which David erected for the purpose. About seventy years had passed since it had stood in the tabernacle at Shiloh. The old tabernacle was now at Gibeah, at which Zadok ministered. David now (1 Chr. 16) carefully set in order all the ritual of divine worship at Jerusalem, along with Abiathar the high priest. A new religious era began. The service of praise was for the first time introduced into public worship. Zion became henceforth “God’s holy hill.”

David’s wars. David now entered on a series of conquests which greatly extended and strengthened his kingdom (2 Sam. 8). In a few years the whole territory from the Euphrates to the river of Egypt, and from Gaza on the west to Thapsacus on the east, was under his sway (2 Sam. 8:3–13; 10).

David’s fall. He had now reached the height of his glory. He ruled over a vast empire, and his capital was enriched with the spoils of many lands. But in the midst of all this success he fell, and his character became stained with the sin of adultery (2 Sam. 11:2–27). It has been noted as characteristic of the Bible that while his military triumphs are recorded in a few verses, the sad story of his fall is given in detail, a story full of warning, and therefore recorded. This crime, in the attempt to conceal it, led to another. He was guilty of murder. Uriah, whom he had foully wronged, an officer of the Gibborim, the corps of heros (23:39), was, by his order, “set in the front of the hottest battle” at the siege of Rabbah, in order that he might be put to death. Nathan the prophet (2 Sam. 7:1–17; 12:1–23) was sent by God to bring home his crimes to the conscience of the guilty monarch. He became a true penitent. He bitterly bewailed his sins before God. The thirty-second and fifty-first Psalms reveal the deep struggles of his soul, and his spiritual recovery.

Bathsheba became his wife after Uriah’s death. Her first-born son died, according to the word of the prophet. She gave birth to a second son, whom David called Solomon, and who ultimately succeeded him on the throne (2 Sam. 12:24, 25).

Peace. After the successful termination of all his wars, David formed the idea of building a temple for the ark of God. This he was not permitted to carry into execution, because he had been a man of war. God, however, sent Nathan to him with a gracious message (2 Sam. 7:1–16). On receiving it he went into the sanctuary, the tent where the ark was, and sat before the Lord, and poured out his heart in words of devout thanksgiving (18–29). The building of the temple was reserved for his son Solomon, who would be a man of peace (1 Chr. 22:9; 28:3).

A cloudy evening. Hitherto David’s career had been one of great prosperity and success. Now cloudy and dark days came. His eldest son Amnon, whose mother was Ahinoam of Jezreel, was guilty of a great and shameful crime (2 Sam. 13). This was the beginning of the disasters of his later years. After two years Absalom terribly avenged the crime against Tamar, and put Amnon to death. This brought sore trouble to David’s heart. Absalom, afraid of the consequences of his guilt, fled to Geshur beyond Jordan, where he remained for three years, when he was brought back through the intrigue of Joab (2 Sam. 14).

After this there fell upon the land the calamity of three years’ famine (2 Sam. 21:1–14). This was soon after followed by a pestilence, brought upon the land as a punishment for David’s sinful pride in numbering the people (2 Sam. 24), in which no fewer than 70,000 perished in the space of three days.

Rebellion of Absalom. The personal respect for David was sadly lowered by the incident of Bathsheba. There was a strong popular sentiment against the taking of the census, and the outburst of the plague in connection with it deepened the feeling of jealously that had begun to manifest itself among some of the tribes against David. Absalom, taking full advantage of this state of things, gradually gained over the people, and at length openly rebelled against his father, and usurped the throne. Ahithophel was Absalom’s chief counsellor. The revolt began in Hebron, the capital of Judah. Absalom was there proclaimed king. David was now in imminent danger, and he left Jerusalem (2 Sam. 15:13–20), and once more became a fugitive. It was a momentous day in Israel. The incidents of it are recorded with a fulness of detail greater than of any other day in Old Testament history. David fled with his followers to Mahanarm, on the east of Jordan. An unnatural civil war broke out. After a few weeks the rival armies were mustered and organized. They met in hostile array at the wood of Ephraim (2 Sam. 18:1–8). Absalom’s army was defeated, and himself put to death by the hand of Joab (9–18). The tidings of the death of his rebellious son filled the heart of David with the most poignant grief. He “went up to the chamber over the gate, and wept” (33), giving utterance to the heart-broken cry, “Would God I had died for thee, O Absalom, my son, my son!” Peace was now restored, and David returned to Jerusalem and resumed the direction of affairs. An unhappy dispute arose between the men of Judah and the men of Israel (19:41–43). Sheba, a Benjamite, headed a revolt of the men of Israel. He was pursued to Abelbeth-maachah, and was there put to death, and so the revolt came to an end.

The end. After the suppression of the rebellion of Absalom and that of Sheba, ten comparatively peaceful years of David’s life passed away. During those years he seems to have been principally engaged in accumulating treasures of every kind for the great temple at Jerusalem, which it was reserved to his successor to build (1 Chr. 22; 28; 29), a house which was to be “exceeding magnifical, of fame and of glory throughout all countries” (22:5). The exciting and laborious life he had spent, and the dangers and trials through which he had passed, had left him an enfeebled man, prematurely old. It became apparent that his life was now drawing to its close. A new palace conspiracy broke out as to who should be his successor. Joab favoured Adonijah. The chiefs of his party met at the “Fuller’s spring,” in the valley of Kidron, to proclaim him king; but Nathan hastened on a decision on the part of David in favour of Solomon, and so the aim of Adonijah’s party failed. Solomon was brought to Jerusalem, and was anointed king and seated on his father’s throne (1 Kings 1:11–53). David’s last words are a grand utterance, revealing his unfailing faith in God, and his joyful confidence in his gracious covenant promises (2 Sam. 23:1–7).

After a reign of forty years and six months (2 Sam. 5:5; 1 Chr. 3:4) David died (B.C. 1015) at the age of seventy years, “and was buried in the city of David.” His tomb is still pointed out on Mount Zion.

Both in his prophetical and in his regal character David was a type of the Messiah (1 Sam. 16:13). The book of Psalms commonly bears the title of the “Psalms of David,” from the circumstance that he was the largest contributor (about eighty psalms) to the collection. (See PSALMS.)

“The greatness of David was felt when he was gone. He had lived in harmony with both the priesthood and the prophets; a sure sign that the spirit of his government had been throughly loyal to the higher aims of the theocracy. The nation had not been oppressed by him, but had been left in the free enjoyment of its ancient liberties. As far as his power went he had striven to act justly to all (2 Sam. 8:15). His weak indulgence to his sons, and his own great sin besides, had been bitterly atoned, and were forgotten at his death in the remembrance of his long-tried worth. He had reigned thirty-three years in Jerusalem and seven and a half at Hebron (2 Sam. 5:5). Israel at his accession had reached the lowest point of national depression; its new-born unity rudely dissolved; its territory assailed by the Philistines. But he had left it an imperial power, with dominions like those of Egypt or Assyria. The sceptre of Solomon was already, before his father’s death, owned from the Mediterranean to the Euphrates, and from the Orontes to the Red Sea.”, Geikie’s Hours etc., iii.

1Samuel 17.34-37

DAVID—beloved, the eighth and youngest son of Jesse, a citizen of Bethlehem. His father seems to have been a man in humble life. His mother’s name is not recorded. Some think she was the Nahash of 2 Sam. 17:25. As to his personal appearance, we only know that he was red-haired, with beautiful eyes and a fair face (1 Sam. 16:12; 17:42).

His early occupation was that of tending his father’s sheep on the uplands of Judah. From what we know of his after history, doubtless he frequently beguiled his time, when thus engaged, with his shepherd’s flute, while he drank in the many lessons taught him by the varied scenes spread around him. His first recorded exploits were his encounters with the wild beasts of the field. He mentions that with his own unaided hand he slew a lion and also a bear, when they came out against his flock, beating them to death in open conflict with his club (1 Sam. 17:34, 35).

While David, in the freshness of ruddy youth, was thus engaged with his flocks, Samuel paid an unexpected visit to Bethlehem, having been guided thither by divine direction (1 Sam. 16:1–13). There he offered up sacrifice, and called the elders of Israel and Jesse’s family to the sacrificial meal. Among all who appeared before him he failed to discover the one he sought. David was sent for, and the prophet immediately recognized him as the chosen of God, chosen to succeed Saul, who was now departing from the ways of God, on the throne of the kingdom. He accordingly, in anticipation, poured on his head the anointing oil. David went back again to his shepherd life, but “the Spirit of the Lord came upon David from that day forward,” and “the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul” (1 Sam. 16:13, 14).

Not long after this David was sent for to soothe with his harp the troubled spirit of Saul, who suffered from a strange melancholy dejection. He played before the king so skillfully that Saul was greatly cheered, and began to entertain great affection for the young shepherd. After this he went home to Bethlehem. But he soon again came into prominence. The armies of the Philistines and of Israel were in battle array in the valley of Elah, some 16 miles south-west of Bethlehem; and David was sent by his father with provisions for his three brothers, who were then fighting on the side of the king. On his arrival in the camp of Israel, David (now about twenty years of age) was made aware of the state of matters when the champion of the Philistines, Goliath of Gath, came forth to defy Israel. David took his sling, and with a well-trained aim threw a stone “out of the brook,” which struck the giant’s forehead, so that he fell senseless to the ground. David then ran and slew him, and cut off his head with his own sword (1 Sam. 17). The result was a great victory to the Israelites, who pursued the Philistines to the gates of Gath and Ekron.

David’s popularity consequent on this heroic exploit awakened Saul’s jealousy (1 Sam. 18:6–16), which he showed in various ways. He conceived a bitter hatred toward him, and by various stratagems sought his death (1 Sam. 18–30). The deep-laid plots of the enraged king, who could not fail to observe that David “prospered exceedingly,” all proved futile, and only endeared the young hero the more to the people, and very specially to Jonathan, Saul’s son, between whom and David a life-long warm friendship was formed.

A fugitive. To escape from the vengeance of Saul, David fled to Ramah (1 Sam. 19:12–18) to Samuel, who received him, and he dwelt among the sons of the prophets, who were there under Samuel’s training. It is supposed by some that the sixth, seventh, and eleventh Psalms were composed by him at this time. This place was only 3 miles from the residence of Saul, who soon discovered whither the fugitive had gone, and tried ineffectually to bring him back. Jonathan made a fruitless effort to bring his father to a better state of mind toward David (1 Sam. 20), who, being made aware of the fact, saw no hope of safety but in flight to a distance. We accordingly find him first at Nob (21:1–9) and then at Gath, the chief city of the Philistines. The king of the Philistines would not admit him into his service, as he expected that he would, and David accordingly now betook himself to the stronghold of Adullam (22:1–4; 1 Chr. 12:8–18). Here in a short time 400 men gathered around him and acknowledged him as their leader. It was at this time that David, amid the harassment and perils of his position, cried, “Oh that one would give me drink of the water of the well of Bethlehem;” when three of his heroes broke through the lines of the Philistines and brought him the water for which he longed (2 Sam. 23:13–17), but which he would not drink.

In his rage at the failure of all his efforts to seize David, Saul gave orders for the massacre of the entire priestly family at Nob, “persons who wore a linen ephod”, to the number of eighty-five persons, who were put to death by Doeg the Edomite. The sad tidings of the massacre were brought to David by Abiathar, a son of Ahimelech, the only one who escaped. Comp. Ps. 52.

Hearing that Keilah, a town on the western frontier, was harassed by the Philistines, David with his men relieved it (1 Sam. 23:1–14); and then, for fear of Saul, he fled to the strongholds in the “hill country” of Judah. Comp. Ps. 31. While encamped there, in the forest in the district of Ziph, he was visited by Jonathan, who spoke to him words of encouragement (23:16–18). The two now parted never to meet again. Saul continued his pursuit of David, who narrowly escaped from him at this time, and fled to the crags and ravines of Engedi, on the western shore of the Dead Sea (1 Sam. 23:29). Here Saul, who still pursued him with his army, narrowly escaped, through the generous forbearance of David, and was greatly affected by what David had done for him. He returned home from pursuing him, and David betook himself to Maon, where, with his 600 men, he maintained himself by contributions gathered from the district. Here occurred the incident connected with Nabal and his wife Abigail (1 Sam. 25), whom David married after Nabal’s death.

Saul again went forth (1 Sam. 26) in pursuit of David, who had hid himself “in the hill Hachilah, which is before Jeshimon,” in the wilderness of Ziph, and was a second time spared through his forbearance. He returned home, professing shame and penitence for the way in which he had treated David, and predicting his elevation to the throne.

Fighting against Israel. Harassed by the necessity of moving from place to place through fear of Saul, David once more sought refuge among the Philistines (1 Sam. 27). He was welcomed by the king, who assigned him Ziklag as his residence. Here David lived among his followers for some time as an independent chief engaged in frequent war with the Amalekites and other tribes on the south of Judah.

Achish summoned David with his men to join his army against Saul; but the lords of the Philistines were suspicious of David’s loyalty, and therefore he was sent back to Ziklag, which he found to his dismay may had been pillaged and burnt during his brief absence. David pursued after the raiders, the Amalekites, and completely routed them. On his return to Ziklag tidings reached him of Saul’s death (2 Sam. 1). An Amalekite brought Saul’s crown and bracelet and laid them at his feet. David and his men rent their clothes and mourned for Saul, who had been defeated in battle near Mount Gilboa. David composed a beautiful elegy, the most beautiful of all extant Hebrew odes, a “lamentation over Saul and over Jonathan his son” (2 Sam. 1:18–27). It bore the title of “The Bow,” and was to be taught to the children, that the memory of Saul and Jonathan might be preserved among them. “Behold, it is written in the book of Jasher” (q.v.).

David king over Judah. David and his men now set out for Hebron under divine direction (2 Sam. 2:1–4). There they were cordially welcomed, and he was at once anointed as king. He was now about thirty years of age.

But his title to the throne was not undisputed. Abner took Ish-bosheth, Saul’s only remaining son, over the Jordan to Mahanaim, and there crowned him as king. Then began a civil war in Israel. The first encounter between the two opposing armies, led on the one side by Abner, and on the other by Joab, took place at the pool of Gibeon. It resulted in the defeat of Abner. Other encounters, however, between Israel and Judah followed (2 Sam. 3:1, 5), but still success was on the side of David. For the space of seven and a half years David reigned in Hebron. Abner now sided with David, and sought to promote his advancement; but was treacherously put to death by Joab in revenge for his having slain his brother Asahel at Gibeon (3:22–39). This was greatly to David’s regret. He mourned for the death of Abner. Shortly after this Ish-bosheth was also treacherously put to death by two Canaanites of Beeroth; and there being now no rival, David was anointed king over all Israel (4:1–12).

David king over all Israel (2 Sam. 5:1–5; 1 Chr. 11:1–3). The elders of Israel now repaired to Hebron and offered allegiance to David in name of all the people, among whom the greatest enthusiasm prevailed. He was anointed king over all Israel, and sought out a new seat of government, more suitable than Hebron, as the capital of his empire. At this time there was a Jebusite fortress, “the stronghold”, on the hill of Zion, called also Jebus. This David took from the Jebusites, and made it Israel’s capital, and established here his residence, and afterwards built for himself a palace by the aid of Tyrian tradesmen. The Philistines, who had for some time observed a kind of truce, now made war against David; but were defeated in battle at a place afterwards called, in remembrance of the victory, Baal-perazim. Again they invaded the land, and were a second time routed by him. He thus delivered Israel from their enemies.

David now resolved to bring up the ark of the covenant to his new capital (2 Sam. 6). It was in the house of Abinadab at Kirjath-jearim, about 7 miles from Jerusalem, where it had been for many years, from the time when the Philistines had sent it home (1 Sam. 6; 7). In consequence of the death of Uzzah (for it was a divine ordinance that only the Levites should handle the ark, Num. 4), who had put forth his hand to steady the ark when the cart in which it was being conveyed shook by reason of the roughness of the road, David stayed the procession, and conveyed the ark into the house of Obed-edom, a Philistine from Gath. After three months David brought the ark from the house of Obed-edom up to Jerusalem. Comp. Ps. 24. Here it was placed in a new tent or tabernacle which David erected for the purpose. About seventy years had passed since it had stood in the tabernacle at Shiloh. The old tabernacle was now at Gibeah, at which Zadok ministered. David now (1 Chr. 16) carefully set in order all the ritual of divine worship at Jerusalem, along with Abiathar the high priest. A new religious era began. The service of praise was for the first time introduced into public worship. Zion became henceforth “God’s holy hill.”

David’s wars. David now entered on a series of conquests which greatly extended and strengthened his kingdom (2 Sam. 8). In a few years the whole territory from the Euphrates to the river of Egypt, and from Gaza on the west to Thapsacus on the east, was under his sway (2 Sam. 8:3–13; 10).

David’s fall. He had now reached the height of his glory. He ruled over a vast empire, and his capital was enriched with the spoils of many lands. But in the midst of all this success he fell, and his character became stained with the sin of adultery (2 Sam. 11:2–27). It has been noted as characteristic of the Bible that while his military triumphs are recorded in a few verses, the sad story of his fall is given in detail, a story full of warning, and therefore recorded. This crime, in the attempt to conceal it, led to another. He was guilty of murder. Uriah, whom he had foully wronged, an officer of the Gibborim, the corps of heros (23:39), was, by his order, “set in the front of the hottest battle” at the siege of Rabbah, in order that he might be put to death. Nathan the prophet (2 Sam. 7:1–17; 12:1–23) was sent by God to bring home his crimes to the conscience of the guilty monarch. He became a true penitent. He bitterly bewailed his sins before God. The thirty-second and fifty-first Psalms reveal the deep struggles of his soul, and his spiritual recovery.

Bathsheba became his wife after Uriah’s death. Her first-born son died, according to the word of the prophet. She gave birth to a second son, whom David called Solomon, and who ultimately succeeded him on the throne (2 Sam. 12:24, 25).

Peace. After the successful termination of all his wars, David formed the idea of building a temple for the ark of God. This he was not permitted to carry into execution, because he had been a man of war. God, however, sent Nathan to him with a gracious message (2 Sam. 7:1–16). On receiving it he went into the sanctuary, the tent where the ark was, and sat before the Lord, and poured out his heart in words of devout thanksgiving (18–29). The building of the temple was reserved for his son Solomon, who would be a man of peace (1 Chr. 22:9; 28:3).

A cloudy evening. Hitherto David’s career had been one of great prosperity and success. Now cloudy and dark days came. His eldest son Amnon, whose mother was Ahinoam of Jezreel, was guilty of a great and shameful crime (2 Sam. 13). This was the beginning of the disasters of his later years. After two years Absalom terribly avenged the crime against Tamar, and put Amnon to death. This brought sore trouble to David’s heart. Absalom, afraid of the consequences of his guilt, fled to Geshur beyond Jordan, where he remained for three years, when he was brought back through the intrigue of Joab (2 Sam. 14).

After this there fell upon the land the calamity of three years’ famine (2 Sam. 21:1–14). This was soon after followed by a pestilence, brought upon the land as a punishment for David’s sinful pride in numbering the people (2 Sam. 24), in which no fewer than 70,000 perished in the space of three days.

Rebellion of Absalom. The personal respect for David was sadly lowered by the incident of Bathsheba. There was a strong popular sentiment against the taking of the census, and the outburst of the plague in connection with it deepened the feeling of jealously that had begun to manifest itself among some of the tribes against David. Absalom, taking full advantage of this state of things, gradually gained over the people, and at length openly rebelled against his father, and usurped the throne. Ahithophel was Absalom’s chief counsellor. The revolt began in Hebron, the capital of Judah. Absalom was there proclaimed king. David was now in imminent danger, and he left Jerusalem (2 Sam. 15:13–20), and once more became a fugitive. It was a momentous day in Israel. The incidents of it are recorded with a fulness of detail greater than of any other day in Old Testament history. David fled with his followers to Mahanarm, on the east of Jordan. An unnatural civil war broke out. After a few weeks the rival armies were mustered and organized. They met in hostile array at the wood of Ephraim (2 Sam. 18:1–8). Absalom’s army was defeated, and himself put to death by the hand of Joab (9–18). The tidings of the death of his rebellious son filled the heart of David with the most poignant grief. He “went up to the chamber over the gate, and wept” (33), giving utterance to the heart-broken cry, “Would God I had died for thee, O Absalom, my son, my son!” Peace was now restored, and David returned to Jerusalem and resumed the direction of affairs. An unhappy dispute arose between the men of Judah and the men of Israel (19:41–43). Sheba, a Benjamite, headed a revolt of the men of Israel. He was pursued to Abelbeth-maachah, and was there put to death, and so the revolt came to an end.

The end. After the suppression of the rebellion of Absalom and that of Sheba, ten comparatively peaceful years of David’s life passed away. During those years he seems to have been principally engaged in accumulating treasures of every kind for the great temple at Jerusalem, which it was reserved to his successor to build (1 Chr. 22; 28; 29), a house which was to be “exceeding magnifical, of fame and of glory throughout all countries” (22:5). The exciting and laborious life he had spent, and the dangers and trials through which he had passed, had left him an enfeebled man, prematurely old. It became apparent that his life was now drawing to its close. A new palace conspiracy broke out as to who should be his successor. Joab favoured Adonijah. The chiefs of his party met at the “Fuller’s spring,” in the valley of Kidron, to proclaim him king; but Nathan hastened on a decision on the part of David in favour of Solomon, and so the aim of Adonijah’s party failed. Solomon was brought to Jerusalem, and was anointed king and seated on his father’s throne (1 Kings 1:11–53). David’s last words are a grand utterance, revealing his unfailing faith in God, and his joyful confidence in his gracious covenant promises (2 Sam. 23:1–7).

After a reign of forty years and six months (2 Sam. 5:5; 1 Chr. 3:4) David died (B.C. 1015) at the age of seventy years, “and was buried in the city of David.” His tomb is still pointed out on Mount Zion.

Both in his prophetical and in his regal character David was a type of the Messiah (1 Sam. 16:13). The book of Psalms commonly bears the title of the “Psalms of David,” from the circumstance that he was the largest contributor (about eighty psalms) to the collection. (See PSALMS.)

“The greatness of David was felt when he was gone. He had lived in harmony with both the priesthood and the prophets; a sure sign that the spirit of his government had been throughly loyal to the higher aims of the theocracy. The nation had not been oppressed by him, but had been left in the free enjoyment of its ancient liberties. As far as his power went he had striven to act justly to all (2 Sam. 8:15). His weak indulgence to his sons, and his own great sin besides, had been bitterly atoned, and were forgotten at his death in the remembrance of his long-tried worth. He had reigned thirty-three years in Jerusalem and seven and a half at Hebron (2 Sam. 5:5). Israel at his accession had reached the lowest point of national depression; its new-born unity rudely dissolved; its territory assailed by the Philistines. But he had left it an imperial power, with dominions like those of Egypt or Assyria. The sceptre of Solomon was already, before his father’s death, owned from the Mediterranean to the Euphrates, and from the Orontes to the Red Sea.”, Geikie’s Hours etc., iii.

1 Samuel 17:40–51 NKJV
Then he took his staff in his hand; and he chose for himself five smooth stones from the brook, and put them in a shepherd’s bag, in a pouch which he had, and his sling was in his hand. And he drew near to the Philistine. So the Philistine came, and began drawing near to David, and the man who bore the shield went before him. And when the Philistine looked about and saw David, he disdained him; for he was only a youth, ruddy and good-looking. So the Philistine said to David, “Am I a dog, that you come to me with sticks?” And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. And the Philistine said to David, “Come to me, and I will give your flesh to the birds of the air and the beasts of the field!” Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword, with a spear, and with a javelin. But I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you and take your head from you. And this day I will give the carcasses of the camp of the Philistines to the birds of the air and the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel. Then all this assembly shall know that the Lord does not save with sword and spear; for the battle is the Lord’s, and He will give you into our hands.” So it was, when the Philistine arose and came and drew near to meet David, that David hurried and ran toward the army to meet the Philistine. Then David put his hand in his bag and took out a stone; and he slung it and struck the Philistine in his forehead, so that the stone sank into his forehead, and he fell on his face to the earth. So David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone, and struck the Philistine and killed him. But there was no sword in the hand of David. Therefore David ran and stood over the Philistine, took his sword and drew it out of its sheath and killed him, and cut off his head with it. And when the Philistines saw that their champion was dead, they fled.
1 Samuel
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