The story of King David is interwoven with the story of Christ. God called David a man after His own heart and promised that his kingdom would never end as the Messiah would be one of his descendants.
But who was King David and why was he so important? What did King David do? What kind of man was King David?
All these questions are important if we’re going to understand why the promised Messiah came from his lineage.
The Story of King David: Summary
After the Israelites had settled in the Promised Land for a while, they asked for a king. Under the influence of the Holy Spirit, the prophet Samuel chose Saul to be the first king of Israel.
At first, things went well but then Saul began to exhibit troubling signs of pride and disobedience. He lost favor with God and the kingdom was taken from him and his descendants (1 Samuel 9-15).
The prophet Samuel was sent to the house of Jesse to anoint the new king, David. David was the youngest of Jesse’s eight sons and had the responsibility of tending the family’s herd of sheep.
The story of King David is interwoven with the story of King Saul. After David’s anointing, he became Saul’s armor-bearer. He also played his harp to soothe Saul when he was mentally agitated.
David was responsible for killing Goliath, the giant. David became the son-in-law of King Saul and was the best friend of his son, Jonathan.
But things weren’t always good between David and Saul. When Saul realized that David had become popular among the people, he tried to kill him.
Saul’s persecution of David lasted for several years until his death. During that time, David lived on the run. (1 Samuel 16-27).
After the death of Saul and three of his sons, David was anointed king of Judah. David reigned in Judah for seven years and six months. Eventually, David was crowned king over all of Israel but it was not without pitfalls and lots of intrigues.
Much of David’s reign was spent fighting the nations that threatened Israel like the Philistines. His kingdom was almost torn apart on two separate occasions because of his sons Absalom and Adonijah.
A well-known fact about David’s story is that he had a sexual encounter with Bathsheba while she was married to Uriah. If that wasn’t bad enough, he arranged to have Uriah killed when he couldn’t cover up the fact that he had impregnated Uriah’s wife.
But King David’s reign had a lot of highlights too. Here are a few of them:
- David reclaimed the ark of the Covenant.
- He organized the Levis who served the Temple and put them in divisions by function.
- He gathered the resources needed to build the Temple.
King David lived a full life and died when he was about 70 years old after having been king for 40 years (2 Samuel 5:4). Before he died, he secured the throne of Israel for his son, Solomon (1 Kings 1-2).
Why is King David famous?
Now you may be wondering, why is King David so famous especially when compared to some of the other characters in the Bible.
There are four main reasons:
1. David was the king whose prowess in battle resulted in peace for the people of Israel (2 Samuel 7:1). Because of David’s actions, his son Solomon had a peaceful kingdom.
2. King David was called a “man after God’s own heart” (Acts 13:22). This may sound amazing especially when you remember his sin with Bathsheba and how he had her husband killed, but that’s how God saw him. David was constantly seeking the presence of God, finding solace in His law.
3. Many of the psalms in the Bible were accredited to David.
4. Most importantly, it was through King David’s line that the Messiah would come (2 Samuel 7:8-16).
King David’s Characteristics
The story of David is one of the most detailed ones in the Bible. It begins in 1 Samuel 16 and goes all the way through 1 Kings 2:12. And even afterward, King David is referenced throughout the Bible because of his link to the promised Messiah. As such, we can learn much about him as we study his characteristics.
David has many noble characteristics for us to emulate and some not-so noble ones that we should shun. Let’s talk about his less noble trait first:
David did not discipline the members of his household who needed to be disciplined. Sometimes, this refusal to disciple extended to people outside his family. We see this play out multiple times during his reign.
- When Joab and his brother, Abishai killed Abner to avenge their brother Asahel, King David did not address the matter except to issue a curse against the house of Joab (2 Samuel 2:22-30).
- When Amnon raped his half-sister, Tamar, there is no record that King David did anything to remedy that situation. He maintained his silence even after Absalom murdered Amnon to avenge his sister (2 Samuel 13).
- Absalom continued to act out after he killed his brother and David did not discipline him. eventually, he attempted to overthrow King David’s kingdom (2 Samuel 14:1-19:8).
- While he had been fleeing from Absalom, Shimei cursed King David and threw stones at him and his entourage (2 Samuel 16:5-14).
- King David did not deal with these individuals during his reign. Instead, he deferred their punishment to his son, Solomon. Except for Absalom who had died, King David gave Solomon a list of the people who had transgressed against him insinuating what actions needed to be taken against them (1 Kings 2:1-9).
King David had a lot of positive traits that we should emulate.
- David remained committed to and humble before God. It didn’t matter what situation David found himself in, he submitted himself before God and pursued His will. Here are a few examples:
1. After God promised that the throne of David would be established forever, King David sat before Lord and offered up a beautiful prayer of thanksgiving (2 Samuel 7:18-28). David gave glory to God for all that He had done yet remained humble because he understood that God had chosen to bless him, not because was worthy of the honor, but simply because God is all-powerful.
2. After his sin, with Bathsheba, David humbled submitted to the punishment that God had meted out. It couldn’t have been an easy thing for him to know that his child would die because of his actions, but he didn’t curse or blame God. Instead, he fasted knowing the child’s life was in God’s hands.
- David honored the promises he had made. One such promise was one he had made to Jonathan shortly before he went on the run. David promised to take care of Jonathan’s household (1 Samuel 20:14-17).
This promise was fulfilled when King David had Mephibosheth, the lame son of Jonathan brought to his household and restored to him all the land previously owned by his grandfather Saul (2 Samuel 9:1-7).
- King David was quick to confess his sins and ask for God’s forgiveness. We see this played out a few times in the story of King David. Here are two examples:
1. After his sin with Bathsheba and Uriah, the prophet Nathan came to tell King David a parable. When Nathan pointed out that the parable was about David and what he had done, he was quick to confess his sin before God (2 Samuel 12:1-13). Psalm 51 expresses the depth of David’s sorrow and his confession before God.
2. After King David counted the people, the Bible tells us that his “heart condemned him” and he confessed his sin before God (2 Samuel 24:1-10). David was quick to seek forgiveness for his sins.
King David Bible Study
There are many other things we can learn from King David. We can learn how to treat the sometimes negative experiences we have in a more positive manner.
1. King David knew when to quit negative associations
Read 1 Samuel 16:1-13
Let’s look at David’s anointing – God had rejected Saul as king because of his blatant disregard for God’s express command (1 Samuel 15).
Samuel went through the first seven sons of Jesse. He was probably getting a little discouraged because of course he could only judge by what he saw before him and he had seen many kingly attributes.
Yet there he was, all of Jesse’s sons had been passed before him but none of them had met God’s standards.
At that point, it would have been easy for Samuel to lose faith. After all, all of Jesse’s sons had been rejected. Hadn’t they? Didn’t God tell him that he was to anoint one of Jesse’s sons to be king? Had he misunderstood?
“Are you sure you don’t have another son?” Samuel asked.
“Well, there is another one – my youngest. But he’s outside with the sheep. We don’t normally invite him to these types of events.”
“We’re making an exception. Send for your son.”
Now, this is my very loose paraphrase of 1 Samuel 16:11, but you get the point. Let’s look at it from David’s perspective:
The great prophet Samuel was in town, and, wonder of wonders, he’s having dinner at your house.
With your father.
And your brothers.
And your servants.
With everyone but you.
Because you have to look after the sheep. Stupid sheep- Err, sorry, got a little caught up in my imagination.
So there was David, late to the party, a handsome, bright-eyed boy dressed in his shepherd’s garb and smelling of sheep. And nobody is excited – nobody that is, except God.
Now if I had been in David’s position, I would probably have been so busy sulking that I hadn’t been invited to the party and that I had to come smelling all funky to even realize the blessing that had been bestowed on me. And that’s our first lesson:
When people overlook you, quit letting their opinion matter, step into your blessing. Allow the Lord to anoint you.
2. David know when to turn his back
Read 1 Samuel 16:14-23, 1 Samuel 17:12-29
Now, the thing about being anointed king while the old king is still alive is that you don’t get to rule the kingdom immediately. You’ve got to go back to your regular life. If you’re Cinderella, you still gotta wash the dishes. Or, in David’s case, you still have to tend the sheep.
Maybe for a few days after the anointing, his family looked at him differently but, after a while, things went back to exactly the way they were before Samuel had come to the house.
Fast-forward another period of time and we see Eliab, Abinadab, and Shammah fighting in King Saul’s army. David was Saul’s armor-bearer who played the harp to soothe the king when he got agitated.
On the surface, it looked as though David was getting the short end of the stick once again. Yet, David retained his spirit of service and obedience. This spirit caused him to be in the camp overhearing the taunts of the Philistine’s champion Goliath.
The seasoned soldiers were running scared before a single man. Giant though he was, David didn’t understand why the men who served the great Jehovah were scared of the “uncircumcised Philistine”, and he said as much. Only to be attacked verbally by Eliab his oldest brother:
“Why did you come here? Who did you leave those few sheep with in the desert? I know why you came down here.
You didn’t want to do what you were told to do. You just wanted to come down here to watch the battle” (1 Samuel 17:28 ERV).
‘Wait, what? I leave my tasks to come here and bring food and supplies for you and I’m the one being idle? You’re the soldier busy running from the enemy and being scared-’
Oh, wait, that’s what I would have said, never mind. What David actually said was:
“What did I do now? I didn’t do anything wrong! I was only talking” (1 Samuel 17:29 ERV).
Then he turned away from his brother and towards another member of the troop and repeated his question.
Don’t you just love David’s response? So do I. Here’s our lesson:
When people are being negative and trying to make you feel small, quit listening to them.
Don’t allow anyone to belittle you, live up to the identity of who you are in Christ.
3. Know the God you serve
Read 1 Samuel 17:32-51
Have you ever been around someone who did not believe in Jehovah? Maybe that person had been through a lot of things but for some reason, had managed to explain away the very existence of the Most High God.
David was surrounded by the children of Israel whom God had adopted as his sons, and they feared Goliath who was a heathen who worshipped pagan gods.
There were so many promises that God would be with his people, so many thrilling examples of Jehovah stepping in with a mighty hand to defend his people.
Yet, there they were, trembling on the sidelines waiting for a destiny not ordained by God. David was probably the youngest person there. He had every right to join the majority in fear. But he didn’t. From him, we learn that:
When people try to defy your God, quit acting like they have a point.
4. Disassociate yourself from negative people
Read 1 Samuel 18:17-19:10
For a little while, things seemed to be looking up for David.
He slew the scary giant, married the king’s daughter, and was living in the palace.
He had made a name for himself in the army and had the respect of his peers. His best friend was a prince.
It seemed as though things couldn’t get any better… Until the king tried to drive a spear through his heart. Immediately David ran and took great effort to keep away from Saul.
To be perfectly Jamaican, “David tek whey himself” which is just another way of saying he ran away.
Sometimes we find ourselves in situations where the persons we thought were our friends prove to be otherwise.
‘But I’m his son-in-law,’ David could have said. ‘His son is my best friend.’ ‘I’m his musician.’
Any of these arguments could have resulted in his death. The beautiful thing is that David used none of them. He left everything behind – even his sword.
David teaches us that when we know that someone seeks our destruction, we should quit associating with them.
5. Don’t listen to naysayers
Read Psalm 3
Fast-forward a few years. King Saul had died and David had finally inherited the kingdom for which he had been anointed as a boy.
In those years, he had gone through a lot. There had been many battles and near-death experiences. He had married many times and had many children… And now one of those sons wanted to take over his kingdom.
Once again David found himself on the run. Then the whispers began,
‘You can’t win this one, Dave.’
‘God’s not going to help you this time.’
Maybe they thought that there was a limit to the number of times we could call on God. I mean, David had been in a lot of sticky situations, maybe the people around him thought he had used up all his tokens.
But David didn’t allow any of them to discourage him. Let us be like David:
When people tell you that your God cannot save you, quit letting their opinion get you down.
My friend, I don’t know what your situation is today. But I know that whatever it is God can change it. He can save.
Here’s a thought from three wise Hebrew boys, even if God chooses not to deliver you, He is still God (Daniel 3:17-18).
Continue to trust Him. He knows what He’s doing – He’s been God a long time. Trust that He has your very best interest at heart.
Let’s learn to quit like David and walk about from those things and people that will not cause us to grow in grace and favor with God.
There are so many wonderful lessons we can learn from this man who is called a friend of God. What have you learned from King David? Share with us in the comments below.
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