David the King
First and Second Samuel
By Don Ruhl
Why do we need government? We need someone who will decide the way things shall be in society? We need law enforcement. What did we just see in the Book of Judges? When everyone did what was right in his own eyes and when Israel was without a king, we saw huge problems in Israel, but the presence of a judge always solved the problem.
The last judge was Samuel. He functioned not only as a judge, but also as a prophet and a priest. “And Samuel took a suckling lamb and offered it as a whole burnt offering to the LORD. Then Samuel cried out to the LORD for Israel, and the LORD answered him” (1Sa 7.9). He also served as anointer of new kings.
Israel Demanded a King
Enemies constantly humbled Israel. Eventually, the Philistines captured the Ark of the Covenant. During those days, Israel became weak. The people thought that having a king would solve their problems and Samuel was getting old. They could see that his sons would not follow in his path. This was not so much a rejection of Samuel, but a rejection of God. “And the LORD said to Samuel, ‘Heed the voice of the people in all that they say to you; for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me, that I should not reign over them’” (1Sa 8.7). Samuel warned Israel of the consequences of having a king, but they wanted one anyway. Samuel anointed Saul. “Then Samuel took a flask of oil and poured it on his head, and kissed him and said: ‘Is it not because the LORD has anointed you commander over His inheritance?’” (1Sa 10.1). Things started good at first, but in time Saul proved to be an evil king. He was rash and impatient. He was jealous. He did not follow Samuel’s instructions. He violated the Law of Moses. He used his own family to destroy the people he did not like. Israel needed another king who would follow the Lord.
The Shepherd Who Became King
God sent Samuel to the home of a man with eight sons. The oldest impressed Samuel, but God did not choose that one. “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’” (1Sa 16.7). Did any of David’s family think he would be chosen as the new king? However, as we have read the Bible we are not surprised to see such a thing, for God has constantly been doing things and choosing people that we least expected. Interestingly, David served Saul. David was able to help Saul with a problem. Once David was able to help the king, he wanted David to stay. “Then Saul sent to Jesse, saying, ‘Please let David stand before me, for he has found favor in my sight.’ And so it was, whenever the spirit from God was upon Saul, that David would take a harp and play it with his hand. Then Saul would become refreshed and well, and the distressing spirit would depart from him” (1Sa 16.22, 23).
The Shepherd Fights the Giant of All Giants
First Samuel 17 shows one of the greatest fights of all time. While the older brothers of David were fighting the Philistines, David took care of the sheep at home. However, his father sent him to his brothers to see how they were doing and to take them some provisions. When David arrived, he heard the challenges of Goliath, a giant of a man who was six cubits and a span, or a minimum of 9 feet, 9 inches, based on 18 inches for a cubit and 9 inches for a span. Using my cubit of 20 inches and my span of 9.5 inches, Goliath was 10.79 feet! What could a shepherd boy do against such a man? After convincing King Saul, David went to fight the giant. Watch Goliath’s reaction when he met David, “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!’” (1Sa 17.42–44). Then watch David, “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’” (1Sa 17.45–47). Then how did David kill Goliath? With a single stone flung with a sling-shot into Goliath’s forehead and then David cut off Goliath’s head with his own sword. Why did David prevail over Goliath? Was it matter of better or more advanced weaponry? No, David fought in the name of the God of Israel and Goliath fought in the name of the Philistine gods. We use “David and Goliath” to depict the underdog against overwhelming odds.
The Shepherd Makes a Friend
Soon David made a friend in the son of King Saul. Look at the depth of the friendship, “Now when he had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul” (1Sa 18.1). Then look at what Jonathan gave David, “Then Jonathan and David made a covenant, because he loved him as his own soul. And Jonathan took off the robe that was on him and gave it to David, with his armor, even to his sword and his bow and his belt” (1Sa 18.3, 4). Was this a sign that he was ready to accept the fact that David would become king and Jonathan would not? What happens typically to potential rivals to a throne, especially from the previous family? Normally the new king kills those rivals. While Saul sought to kill David, David did not seek to kill Saul nor his son Jonathan and Jonathan did not seek to kill David, but supported him with the full knowledge that he would become king. “And he said to him, ‘Do not fear, for the hand of Saul my father shall not find you. You shall be king over Israel, and I shall be next to you. Even my father Saul knows that’” (1Sa 23.17).
Saul: From Nothing to Something to Nothing Again
As Saul became more corrupt and his victories against the Philistines faded, he became desperate and sought a medium, “Then Saul said to his servants, ‘Find me a woman who is a medium, that I may go to her and inquire of her.’ And his servants said to him, ‘In fact, there is a woman who is a medium at En Dor’” (1Sa 28.7). After Saul took his own life, in spite of his wickedness, David mourned his passing (2Sa 1.22–27). Saul was small in his own eyes before Samuel anointed him as king. Then he became king and he became something in his own eyes, he saw himself as great, but he became nothing through disobedience and the attempts on the life of David.
David and His City
After the death of Saul, David did not immediately seize power. Some of Saul’s family sought to reign. David became king at Hebron. Later, after some battles with the tribes other than Judah, all of Israel made David their king. He became king at 30 and reigned forty years. He reigned initially at Hebron, but later at Jerusalem.
Some of David’s Wives
Abigail – “The name of the man was Nabal, and the name of his wife Abigail. And she was a woman of good understanding and beautiful appearance; but the man was harsh and evil in his doings. He was of the house of Caleb” (1Sa 25.3). He met her when fleeing from Saul. How many times did David flee Saul? One source said fourteen times. David sought help from Abigail’s husband, but he refused. David was about to wipe out Nabal and everyone belonging to him, but she saved the day. Later, he died and David took her as his wife.
Michal – How and why did she become David’s wife? Read First Samuel 18.17–27.
How David acquired Bathsheba as wife was the lowest point in the life of David. “So David sent and inquired about the woman. And someone said, ‘Is this not Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite?’ Then David sent messengers, and took her; and she came to him, and he lay with her, for she was cleansed from her impurity; and she returned to her house. And the woman conceived; so she sent and told David, and said, ‘I am with child’” (2Sa 11.3–5). David tried to make it look as though she was pregnant by her husband. However, that did not work. Therefore, David had Uriah, one of David’s mighty men, killed that David might then take Bathsheba. “And he wrote in the letter, saying, ‘Set Uriah in the forefront of the hottest battle, and retreat from him, that he may be struck down and die…’And when her mourning was over, David sent and brought her to his house, and she became his wife and bore him a son. But the thing that David had done displeased the LORD” (2Sa 11.15, 27). God sent Nathan to use a parable to reveal David’s sin (2Sa 12.1–4). Nathan caught David in the trap. David, in righteousness, responded that the man deserved death (2Sa 12.7, 8). What were the consequences of David’s adultery and murder? “‘Now therefore, the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised Me, and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife.’ Thus says the LORD: ‘Behold, I will raise up adversity against you from your own house; and I will take your wives before your eyes and give them to your neighbor, and he shall lie with your wives in the sight of this sun. For you did it secretly, but I will do this thing before all Israel, before the sun’” (2Sa 12.10–12). The humble and broken heart of David moved him to write Psalm 51.
David’s oldest son, Amnon, raped his half-sister, Tamar, the full sister of Absalom. David took no action against Amnon. Absalom determined to take action. He killed Amnon. This caused David and Absalom to be estranged. Later, Absalom sought the throne of David. In spite of the evil of Absalom, David mourned greatly when Joab killed Absalom, “Then the king was deeply moved, and went up to the chamber over the gate, and wept. And as he went, he said thus: ‘O my son Absalom—my son, my son Absalom—if only I had died in your place! O Absalom my son, my son!’” (2Sa 18.33).
Other Sons Struggled for Power
Absalom wanted the throne, but he was gone. Another son wanted the throne, shortly before the death of David. So then, David proclaimed that Solomon was to be king. The “Son of David,” became a very important designation. Solomon was that son to rule. Ultimately, it designated the Messiah. What were the differences between Saul and David as kings? One saw his sin and repented. The other did not and insisted on continuing as things were before. Although David sinned, God did not take away His promise to establish the throne of David (2Sa 23.5).
Instructions for a King
Deuteronomy 17.14–24 show the qualities of a good king or of a national ruler/leader. How did David and Saul match up to this?