David is chosen
Samuel anoints David, Dura Europos, Syria, Date: 3rd c. CE
God withdraws his favor from Saul, king of Israel. The prophet Samuel seeks a new king from the sons of Jesse of Bethlehem. Seven of Jesse's sons pass before Samuel, but Samuel says "The LORD has not chosen these." He then asks "Are these all the sons you have?" and Jesse answers, "There is still the youngest but he is tending the sheep." David is brought to Samuel, and "the LORD said, 'Rise and anoint him; he is the one.'"
David at the court of Saul
God sends an evil spirit to torment Saul and his attendants suggest he send for David, a young warrior famed for his bravery and for his skill with the harp. Saul does so and makes David one of his armor-bearers and "whenever the spirit from God came upon Saul, David would take his harp and play. Then relief would come to Saul; he would feel better, and the evil spirit would leave him."
David and Goliath
David hoists the severed head of Goliath by Gustave Doré
The Israelites are facing the Philistines in the Valley of Elah. The boy David is bringing food to his older brothers who are with King Saul. He hears the Philistine giant Goliath challenging the Israelites to send their own champion to decide the outcome in single combat. David tells Saul he is prepared to face Goliath and Saul allows him to make the attempt. He is victorious, striking Goliath in the forehead with a stone from his sling, and the Philistines flee in terror. Saul sends to know the name of the young champion, and David tells him that he is the son of Jesse.
King Saul and David
Main article: David and Jonathan
Saul makes David a commander over his armies and offers him his daughter Michal in marriage for bringing more than 200 foreskins of the Philistines to him. David is successful in many battles, and his popularity awakes Saul's fears - "What more can he have but the kingdom?" By various stratagems the jealous king seeks his death, but the plots only endear David the more to the people, and especially to Saul's son Jonathan, who loves David (1 Samuel 18:1, 2 Samuel 1:25-26). Warned by Jonathan, David flees into the wilderness, where he gathers a band of followers and becomes the champion of the oppressed while evading the pursuit of Saul. He accepts Ziklag as a chief from the Philistine king Achish of Gath, but continues secretly to champion the Israelites. Achish marches against Saul, but David is excused from the war on the accusation of the Philistine nobles that his loyalty to their cause cannot be trusted.
David becomes king
Panorama of the Harod Valley below, part of the Jezreel- see Mount Gilboa
Saul and Jonathan are killed by the Philistines at Mount Gilboa. David mourns their death, then goes up to Hebron, where he is anointed king over Judah; in the north, Saul's son Ish-Bosheth is king of the tribes of Israel. War ensues between Ish-Bosheth and David, until Ish-Bosheth is murdered. The assassins bring the head of Ish-Bosheth to David hoping for reward, but David executes them for their crime against the Lord's anointed. Yet with the death of the son of Saul, the elders of Israel come to Hebron, and David, 37 years old, is anointed King over Israel and Judah.
David conquers the Jebusite fortress of Jerusalem, and makes it his capital, and "Hiram king of Tyre sent messengers to David, and cedar trees, also carpenters and masons who built David a house." David brings the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem, intending to build a temple, but God, speaking to the prophet Nathan, forbids it, saying the temple must wait for a future generation. God makes a covenant with David, promising that he will establish the house of David eternally: "Your throne shall be established forever."
With Yahweh's help David is victorious over his people's enemies. The Philistines are subdued, the Moabites to the east pay tribute, and Hadadezer of Zobah, from whom David takes gold shields and bronze vessels.
Bathsheba and Uriah the Hittite
David commits adultery with Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah the Hittite. Bathsheba becomes pregnant and David sends for Uriah, who is with the Israelite army at the siege of Rabbah, so that he may lie with his wife and conceal the identity of the child's father. Uriah refuses to do so while his companions are in the field of battle and David sends him back to Joab, the commander, with a message instructing him to abandon Uriah on the battlefield, "that he may be struck down, and die." David marries Bathsheba and she bears his child, "but the thing that David had done displeased the Lord." The prophet Nathan confronts David, saying: "Why have you despised the word of God, to do what is evil in his sight? You have smitten Uriah the Hittite with the sword, and have taken his wife to be your wife." David repents, yet God "struck the [David's] child ... and it became sick ... [And] on the seventh day the child died." David leaves his lamentations, dresses himself, and eats. His servants ask why he wept when the baby was alive, but ends his mourning when the child dies. David replies: "While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept; for I said, who knows whether Yahweh will be gracious to me, that the child may live? But now he is dead, why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he will not return to me."
David's son Absalom rebels
David's son Absalom rebels against his father, and they come to battle in the Wood of Ephraim. Absalom is caught by his hair in the branches of an oak and David’s general Joab kills him as he hangs there. When the news of the victory is brought to David he does not rejoice, but is instead shaken with grief: "O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! Would I had died instead of you, O Absalom, my son, my son!"
The old age of David
When David has become old and bedridden, Adonijah, his eldest surviving son and natural heir, declares himself king. Bathsheba, David's favourite wife, and Nathan the prophet, fearing that they will be killed by Adonijah, go to David and procure his agreement that Solomon, Bathsheba's son, should sit on the throne. And so the plans of Adonijah collapse, and Solomon becomes king. It is to Solomon that David gives his final instructions, including his promise that the line of Solomon and David will inherit the throne of Judah forever, and his request that Solomon kill his oldest enemies on his behalf. . David dies and is buried in the City of David, having ruled forty years over Israel, seven in Hebron and thirty-three in Jerusalem.
Traditional tomb of David. In the early 16th century this Crusader cenotaph in the lower room of the Cenacle, the site venerated at least since the fourth century by Christians as the location of the Last Supper and the descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, became misidentified as David's tomb. In 1968 the Israeli Ministry of Religious Affairs awarded the complex to the Diaspora Yeshiva.
David the musician
See also: History of music in the Biblical period
David is referred to as "the favorite of the songs of Israel," the one who soothed Saul with music, and the founder of Temple singing. A Psalms scroll from the Dead Sea Scrolls (11QPsa) attributes 3600 tehilim (songs of praise) plus other compositions to David, and 73 of the 150 Psalms in the Bible are attributed to him. The supreme kingship of Yahweh is the most pervasive theological concept in the book of Psalms, and many psalms attributed to David are directed to Yahweh by name, whether in praise or petition, suggesting a relationship. According to the Midrash Tehillim, King David was prompted to the Psalms by the Holy Spirit that rested upon him.
Religions and David
David in Judaism
David is an important figure in Judaism. Historically, David's reign represented the formation of a coherent Jewish kingdom centered in Jerusalem. David is an important figure within the context of Jewish messianism. In the Hebrew Bible, it is written that a human descendant of David will occupy the throne of a restored kingdom and usher a messianic age.
In modern Judaism David's descent from a convert is taken as proof of the importance of converts within Judaism. David is also viewed as a tragic figure; his acquisition of Bathsheba, and the loss of his son are viewed as his central tragedies.
Many legends have grown around the figure of David. According to one Rabbinic tradition, David was raised as the son of his father Jesse and spent his early years herding his father's sheep in the wilderness while his brothers were in school. Only at his anointing by Samuel - when the oil from Samuel's flask turned to diamonds and pearls - was his true identity as Jesse's son revealed. David's adultery with Bathsheba was only an opportunity to demonstrate the power of repentance, and some Talmudic authors stated that it was not adultery at all, quoting a Jewish practice of divorce on the eve of battle. Furthermore, according to David's apologists, the death of Uriah was not to be considered murder, on the basis that Uriah had committed a capital offence by refusing to obey a direct command from the King.
According to midrashim, Adam gave up 70 years of his life for the life of David. Also, according to the Talmud Yerushalmi, David was born and died on the Jewish holiday of Shavuot (Feast of Weeks). His piety was said to be so great that his prayers could bring down things from Heaven.
David in Christianity
Originally an earthly king ruling by divine appointment ("the anointed one", as the title Messiah had it), the "son of David" became in the last two pre-Christian centuries the apocalyptic and heavenly who would deliver Israel and usher in a new kingdom. This was the background to the concept of Messiahship in early Christianity, which interpreted the career of Jesus "by means of the titles and functions assigned to David in the mysticism of the Zion cult, in which he served as priest-king and in which he was the mediator between God and man." The early Church believed that "the life of David [foreshadowed] the life of Christ; Bethlehem is the birthplace of both; the shepherd life of David points out Christ, the Good Shepherd; the five stones chosen to slay Goliath are typical of the five wounds; the betrayal by his trusted counsellor, Achitophel, and the passage over the Cedron remind us of Christ's Sacred Passion. Many of the Davidic Psalms, as we learn from the New Testament, are clearly typical of the future Messias."
David and King Saul, by Rembrandt. David plays the lyre (depicted here as a harp) to the king "tormented by an evil spirit"
In the Middle Ages, "Charlemagne thought of himself, and was viewed by his court scholars, as a 'new David'. [This was] not in itself a new idea, but [one whose] content and significance were greatly enlarged by him." The linking of David to earthly kingship was reflected in later Medieval cathedral windows all over Europe through the device of the Tree of Jesse its branches demonstrating how divine kingship descended from Jesse, through his son David, to Jesus.
Western Rite churches (Roman Catholic, Lutheran) celebrate his feast day on 29 December, Eastern-rite on 19 December. The Eastern Orthodox Church and Eastern Catholic Church celebrate the feast day of the "Holy Righteous Prophet and King David" on the Sunday of the Holy Forefathers (two Sundays before the Great Feast of the Nativity of the Lord), when he is commemorated together with other ancestors of Jesus. He is also commemorated on the Sunday after the Nativity, together with Joseph and James, the Brother of the Lord.
The Doctrine and Covenants of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints cites David as one directed by God to practise polygamy, but who sinned in committing adultery with Bathsheba and having Uriah killed. This clarifies the LDS doctrine that polygamy is only allowed as directed by the Lord, otherwise it is a grievous sin.
David in Islam
Main article Islamic view of David
In the Qur'an and in the Islamic tradition, David is known as Dawood(Arabic داود, Dāwūd) and is one of the prophets of Islam, to whom the Zabur (Psalms) were revealed by God. The Islamic tradition includes many elements from the Jewish history of David, such as his battle with the giant Goliath, but rejects the Biblical portrayal of David as an adulterer and murderer - the rejection is based on the goodness of the Prophets of God in Islam (fallible, but to an extent of minor and basic human error) and on the concept of ismah, or the infallibility of the prophets. According to some, but not all Islamic traditions David was not from Judah but from Levi and Aron.
David also appears in various Hadith (oral traditions derived from those who knew the Prophet Muhammad). In Sahih al-Bukhari and in Abd-Allah ibn Amr he is named as the person whose way of fasting and praying is the most perfect: "God's Apostle (Muhammad) said to me, "The most beloved fasting to God was the fasting of (the Prophet) David who used to fast on alternate days. And the most beloved prayer to God was the prayer of David who used to sleep for (the first) half of the night and pray for 1/3 of it and (again) sleep for a sixth of it." David was also given the most beautiful voice of all mankind, just as Joseph was given the most beautiful appearance. In one hadith, Abu Hurairah narrates that Muhammad said, "The reciting of the Zabur (i.e. Psalms) was made easy for David. He used to order that his riding animals be saddled, and would finish reciting the Zabur before they were saddled." Other hadith relate that David's reading of psalms was so entrancing that fish would leave the sea to listen when he recited, and that it was he who began the building of the Holy Temple, completed by his son Solomon(Sulayman), and which later became the site of Al-Aqsa Mosque.
Historicity of David
See The Bible and history and dating the Bible for a more complete description of the general issues surrounding the Bible as a historical source.
The Tel Dan Stele
Tel Dan Stele and Mesha Stele
A fragment of an Aramaean victory stele discovered in 1993 at Tel Dan and dated c.850-835 BC clearly contains the Aramaic phrase ביתדוד, bytdwd. This phrase can be translated as either 1) beytdwd (reading the w as a long-o vowel)-meaning "house of kettle," "house of uncle," or "house of beloved"-or else 2) beytdawid (reading the w as a consonant), meaning "house of David." "If the reading of בית דוד [House of David] on the Tel Dan stele is correct, ... then we have solid evidence that a 9th-century BC Aramean king considered the founder of the Judean dynasty to be somebody named דוד" [David]. Since the stele recounts the victory of an Aramean king over a "king of Israel"  the translation of "BYTDWD" as "House of David" is not illogical. The Mesha Stele from Moab, dating from approximately the same period, may also contain the name David in line 12, where the interpretation is uncertain, and in line 31, where one destroyed letter must be supplied. Kenneth Kitchen has proposed that an inscription of c. 945 BC by the Egyptian Pharaoh Shoshenq I mentions "the highlands of David." but this is not widely accepted.
City of David and Judah, ca. 1000 B.C.E. onward
Main article: City of David
part of the Large Stone Structure thought by some archaeologists to be the remains of King David's Palace.
The Bronze and Iron Age remains of the City of David, the original urban core of Jerusalem identified with the reigns of David and Solomon, were investigated extensively in the 1970s and 1980s under the direction of Yigal Shiloh of the Hebrew University, but failed to discover significant evidence of occupation during the 10th century BC, In 2005, Eilat Mazar found a Large Stone Structure which she claimed was David's Palace, but the archaeology is contaminated and impossible to date accurately. Finkelstein and Silberman feel the archaeological evidence from surface surveys indicates that Judah at the time of David was a small tribal kingdom, although both do accept that David and Solomon were real kings of Judah about the 10th century BC.
The biblical account
The biblical account about David comes from the book of Samuel (divided into two books in the Christian tradition), and the book of Chronicles (also divided into two books in the Christian tradition). (Although almost half of the Psalms are headed "A Psalm of David", the headings are later additions, and no psalm can be attributed to David with certainty). Chronicles, however, merely retells Samuel from a different theological vantage point, and contains little if any information not available there, and the biblical evidence for David is therefore dependent almost exclusively on the material contained in the chapters from 1 Samuel 16 to 1 Kings 2.
Russian icon of St. David, the Prophet and King, 18th century (Iconostasis of Kizhi monastery, Karelia, Russia).
The question of David's historicity therefore becomes the question of the date, textual integrity, authorship and reliability of 1st and 2nd Samuel. Since Martin Noth put forward his analysis of the Deuteronomistic History biblical scholars have accepted that these two books form part of a continuous history of Israel, compiled no earlier than the late 7th century BC, but incorporating earlier works and fragments. Samuel's account of David "seems to have undergone two separate acts of editorial slanting. The original writers show a strong bias against Saul, and in favour of David and Solomon. Many years later, the Deuteronomists edited the material in a manner that conveyed their religious message, inserting reports and anecdotes that strengthened their monotheistic doctrine. Some of the materials in Samuel I and II, notably the lists of officers, officials, and districts are believed to be very early, possibly even dating to the time of David or Solomon. These documents were probably in the hands of the Deuteronomists when they started to compile the material three centuries later."
Beyond this, the full range of possible interpretations is available, from the "maximalist" position of the late John Bright, whose History of Israel, which went through four editions from 1959 to 2000, takes Samuel at face value, to the recent "minimalist" scholars such Thomas L. Thompson, who measures Samuel against the archaeological evidence and concludes that "an independent history of Judea during the Iron I and Iron II periods [i.e., the period of David] has little room for historicizing readings of the stories of I-II Samuel and I Kings." Within this gamut some interesting studies of David have been written. Baruch Halpern has pictured David as a lifelong vassal of Achish, the Philistine king of Gath; Israel Finkelstein and Neil Asher Silberman have identified as the oldest and most reliable section of Samuel those chapters which describe David as the charismatic leader of a band of outlaws who captures Jerusalem and makes it his capital. Steven McKenzie, Associate Professor of the Hebrew Bible at Rhodes College and author of King David: A Biography, states the belief that David actually came from a wealthy family, was "ambitious and ruthless" and a tyrant who murdered his opponents, including his own sons.
The oldest complete Tree of Jesse window is in Chartres Cathedral, 1145.
According to Ruth 4:18-22, David is the tenth generation descendant from Judah, the fourth son of the patriarch Jacob (Israel). The genealogical line runs as follows: Judah → Pharez → Hezron → Ram → Amminadab → Nahshon → Salmon → Boaz (the husband of Ruth) → Obed → Jesse → David.
The New Testament traces the genealogy of Jesus back to David and Abraham, with three blocks of fourteen "generations" each being similarly schematic. In the ancient world each letter of the alphabet had a numerical value, the value for the name "David" being fourteen: the fourteen "generations" thus underscored Christ's Davidic descent and his identity as the expected Messiah.
David was born in Bethlehem, in the territory of the Tribe of Judah. His father was named Jesse. His mother is not named in the Bible, but the Talmud identifies her as Nitzevet daughter of Adael. David had seven brothers and was the youngest of them all. He had eight wives: Michal, the second daughter of King Saul; Ahinoam the Jezreelite; Abigail the Carmelite, previously wife of Nabal; Maachah, daughter of Talmai, king of Geshur; Haggith; Abital; Eglah; and Bathsheba, previously the wife of Uriah the Hittite.
The Book of Chronicles lists David's sons by various wives and concubines. In Hebron he had six sons 1 Chronicles 3:1-3: Amnon, by Ahinoam; Daniel, by Abigail; Absalom, by Maachah; Adonijah, by Haggith; Shephatiah, by Abital; and Ithream, by Eglah. By Bathsheba, his sons were: Shammua; Shobab; Nathan; and Solomon. His sons born in Jerusalem by other wives included: Ibhar; Elishua; Eliphelet; Nogah; Nepheg; Japhia; Elishama; and Eliada. 2 Samuel 5:14-16 According to 2 Chronicles 11:18, Jerimoth, who is not mentioned in any of the genealogies, is mentioned as another of David's sons. According to 2 Samuel 9:11, David adopted Jonathan's son Mephibosheth as his own.
David also had at least one daughter, Tamar by Maachah, who was raped by Amnon, her half-brother. Her rape leads to Amnon's death. 2 Samuel 13:1-29 Absalom, Amnon's half-brother and Tamar's full-brother, waits two years, then avenges his sister by sending his servants to kill Amnon at a feast to which he had invited all the king's sons. 2 Samuel 13
Descendants of David
The following are some of the more notable persons who have claimed descent from the Biblical David, or had it claimed on their behalf:
* Maimonides (Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon of Spain/haRaMbaM apx. 1135-1204)
* Judah Loew, Yehuda Loew ben Bezalel (c. 1525, Prague; 22 August 1609 Prague), also known as "The Maharal of Prague".
* The Abravanel family
* The Baal Shem Tov, and through him every Hassidic Rebbe descended from him
* Eliezer Silver
* Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, whose family is descended from Judah Loew.
* Haile Selassie I of Ethiopia
* The Royal House of Georgia
* Jesus Christ
Representation in art and literature
The misnamed Star of David has been a symbol associated with, and representative of Jews and Judaism. It is, aside from two stripes, the only decoration of the flag of modern state of Israel. As such the Magen David was, and is, often used as a motif in both religious and secular Jewish decoration from the early Middle Ages hand-written manuscripts and precious metal objects, to synagogue interiors of today.
Famous sculptures of David include (in chronological order) those by:
* Donatello (c. 1430 - 1440), David (Donatello)
* Andrea del Verrocchio (1476), David (Verrocchio)
* Michelangelo (1504), David (Michelangelo)
* Gian Lorenzo Bernini (1624), David (Bernini)
* Antonin Mercié (1873)
* Dryden's long poem Absalom and Achitophel is an allegory that uses the story of the rebellion of Absalom against King David as the basis for his satire of the contemporary political situation, including events such as the Monmouth Rebellion (1685), the Popish Plot (1678) and the Exclusion Crisis.
* Elmer Davis's novel Giant Killer (1928, The John Day company) retells and embellishes the Biblical story of David, casting David as primarily a poet who managed always to find others to do the "dirty work" of heroism and kingship. In the novel, Elhanan in fact killed Goliath but David claimed the credit; and Joab, David's cousin and general, took it upon himself to make many of the difficult decisions of war and statecraft when David vacillated or wrote poetry instead.
* Gladys Schmitt wrote a novel titled "David the King" (1946, Doubleday Books) which proceeds as a richly embellished biography of David's entire life. The book took a risk, especially for its time, in portraying David's relationship with Jonathan as overtly homoerotic, but was ultimately panned by critics as a bland rendition of the title character.
* In Thomas Burnett Swann's Biblical fantasy novel How are the Mighty Fallen (1974, DAW) David and Jonathan are explicitly stated to be lovers. Moreover, Jonathan is a member of a winged semi-human race (possibly nephilim), one of several such races co-existing with humanity but often persecuted by it.
* Joseph Heller wrote a novel based on David, God Knows (1984, Simon & Schuster). Told from the perspective of an aging David, the humanity-rather than the heroism-of various biblical characters are emphasized. The portrayal of David as a man of flaws such as greed, lust, selfishness, and his alienation from God, the falling apart of his family is a distinctly 20th century interpretation of the events told in the Bible.
* Juan Bosch, Dominican political leader and writer, wrote "David: Biography of a King" (1966, Hawthorn, NY) a realistic approach to David's life and political career.
* Allan Massie wrote "King David" (1996, Sceptre), a novel about David's career which portrays the king's relationship to Jonathan and others as openly homosexual.
* Madeleine L'Engle's novel Certain Women (1993, HarperOne) explores family, the Christian faith, and the nature of God through the story of King David's family and an analogous modern family's saga.
* Sir Arthur Conan Doyle used the story of David and Bathsheba as the main structure for the Sherlock Holmes story The Adventure of the Crooked Man. The betrayal of the Crooked Man is paralleled with David's betrayal of Uriah the Hittite, carried out in order to win Bathsheba.
* Stefan Heym's "The King David Report" (1998, Northwestern University Press) is a fiction depicting the writings of the Bible historian, Ethan, upon King Solomon's orders, of a true and authoritative report on the life of David, Son of Jesse.
* Malachi Martin's 1980 factional novel King of Kings: A Novel of the Life of David relates the life of David, Adonai's champion in his battle with the Philistine deity Dagon.
* Gregory Peck played King David in the 1951 film David and Bathsheba, directed by Henry King. Susan Hayward played Bathsheba and Raymond Massey played the prophet Nathan.
* Finlay Currie played an aged King David in the 1959 film Solomon and Sheba, directed by King Vidor. Yul Brynner played Solomon and Gina Lollobrigida played the Queen of Sheba.
* Richard Gere portrayed King David in the 1985 film King David directed by Bruce Beresford.
* Josquin des Prez's Absalon fili mi is a polyphonic lamentation from David's perspective on the death of his son.
* Arthur Honegger's oratorio, Le Roi David ('King David'), with a libretto by Rene Morax, was composed in 1921 and instantly became a staple of the choral repertoire; it is still widely performed.
* Leonard Cohen's song "Hallelujah" has references to David ("there was a secret chord that David played and it pleased the Lord", "The baffled king composing Hallelujah") and Bathsheba ("you saw her bathing on the roof") in its opening verses.
* "Mad About You", a song on Sting's 1991 album The Soul Cages explores David's obsession with Bathsheba from David's perspective.
* Dead by the Pixies is a retelling of David's adultery and repentance.
* Herbert Howells (1892–1983) composed an artsong for voice and piano called "King David".
* Eric Whitacre wrote a song, "When David Heard," chronicling the death of Absalom and David's grief over losing his son.
* mewithoutYou has a song from their album It's All Crazy! It's All False! It's All a Dream! It's Alright, entitled "The Angel of Death Came to David's Room," which tells the story of David struggle with the Angel of Death when his (David's) time of death has arrived. It is based on folk tradition of King David and some Hebrew Bible.
* Pierce Pettis wrote and recorded a song on his album "Making Light of It" called "Absalom, Absalom," expressing David's feelings of grief over and responsibility for his son's death.
* King David, a modern oratorio, with a book and lyrics by Tim Rice and music by Alan Menken.
* Nathaniel Parker portrayed King David in the 1997 TV film "David", with Leonard Nimoy as Samuel and Jonathan Pryce as Saul.
* In 2009, NBC introduced the series Kings, which was explicitly designed as a modern retelling of the David story.
* In the PBS television series Wishbone the episode "Little Big Dog" recounts the story of David, his favor with Saul, and his triumphant battle over Goliath.
* The season two episode of Xena: Warrior Princess "Giant Killer" features David and his killing of Goliath.
For a considerable period, starting in the 15th century and continuing until the 19th, French playing card manufacturers assigned to each of the court cards names taken from history or mythology. In this context, the King of Spades was often known as "David".