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King of Israel
Statue of King David by Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore
Reign c. 1010 – 1002 BCE (Judah only)
c. 1002 – 970 BCE (Israel)[1]
Predecessor Saul
Successor Solomon
Born c. 1040 BCE
Bethlehem, Judah, Israel
Died c. 970 BCE (aged 69 or 70)
Jerusalem, Judah, Israel
Burial City of David
Consort Michal
Issue Amnon
House House of David
Father Jesse
Mother Nitzevet (Talmud)

David (; Hebrew: דוד, Modern David, Tiberian Dāwîḏ; ISO 259-3 Dawid; Arabic: داوُودDāwūd; Syriac: ܕܘܝܕ Dawid; Ancient Greek: Δαυίδ; Latin: Davidus; Strong's: Daveed) was, according to the Books of Samuel, the second king of the United Kingdom of Israel, and according to the New Testament, an ancestor of Jesus. His life is conventionally dated to c. 1040 – 970 BCE, his reign over Judah c. 1010–970 BCE.[1]

The Books of Samuel, 1 Kings, and 1 Chronicles are the only Old Testament sources of information on David, although the Tel Dan Stele (dated c. 850–835 BCE) contains the phrase בית דוד (bytdwd), read as "House of David", which many scholars confirm to be a likely plausible match to the existence in the mid-9th century BCE of a Judean royal dynasty called the House of David.[2]

Depicted as a valorous warrior of great renown, and a poet and musician credited for composing much of the psalms contained in the Book of Psalms, King David is widely viewed as a righteous and effective king in battle and civil justice. He is described as a man after God's own heart in 1 Samuel 13:14 and Acts 13:22.

David is an important figure to members of the Jewish, Christian, and Islamic faiths. Biblical tradition maintains the Messiah's direct descent from the line of David. In Islam, David is considered a prophet.


  • Biblical narrative 1
    • Saul rejected 1.1
    • At Saul's court 1.2
    • David and Goliath 1.3
    • David and Jonathan 1.4
    • Proclaimed king 1.5
    • Jerusalem and the Davidic covenant 1.6
    • Bathsheba and Uriah the Hittite 1.7
    • David's son Absalom rebels 1.8
    • Death 1.9
    • Family 1.10
  • Historicity 2
    • Archaeology 2.1
    • Academic views on the biblical account 2.2
    • Physical descriptions 2.3
  • Abrahamic religious traditions 3
    • David as Psalmist 3.1
    • Judaism 3.2
    • Christianity 3.3
      • Latter Day Saints 3.3.1
    • Islam 3.4
    • Baha'i Faith 3.5
  • Legacy 4
  • Representation in art and literature 5
    • Art 5.1
    • Literature 5.2
    • Film 5.3
    • Music 5.4
    • Musical theater 5.5
    • Television 5.6
    • Playing cards 5.7
  • See also 6
  • Notes 7
  • References 8
    • Translations of 1 and 2 Samuel 8.1
    • Commentaries on Samuel 8.2
    • General 8.3
  • Further reading 9
  • External links 10

Biblical narrative

Saul rejected

Samuel anoints David, Dura Europos, Syria, 3rd century CE

According to the Biblical narrative, Israel is at first ruled by judges, but the people demand a monarchy, so the current judge, the prophet Samuel, reluctantly appoints Saul to be the first king of Israel. Although successful at first, Saul eventually loses favor with God by disobeying directives conveyed through Samuel. Samuel tells Saul that God has rejected him as king, and will give the kingdom instead to "a man after [my] own heart"[3] who is "better than you."[4]

Samuel goes to Bethlehem on the pretext of performing a sacrifice; in fact intending to appoint Saul's successor from among the sons of Jesse of Bethlehem. Samuel examine seven of Jesse's sons, but says to him, "The Lord has not chosen these," and inquires if Jesse has any other sons. Jesse's youngest son, David, is sent for where he is tending the flocks. When Samuel sees David, the Lord says, "Rise and anoint him; this is the one."

At Saul's court

The Bible presents two accounts of how David came to become part of Saul’s household. In 1 Samuel 16:14-23, Saul takes David into his service as his “armor-bearer”. In 1 Samuel 17, David is officially presented to Saul as the hero who killed Goliath. According to French scholar, Andre Lemaire, this may represent an amalgamation of different traditions concerning the early relationship between David and Saul.[5]

Saul is tormented by an "evil spirit from the Lord" which afflicts him with episodes of deep melancholy which only music can ease. David is recommended as a skilled musician and summoned to the court. Saul makes David one of his armor-bearers, a high honor.[6] From then on, whenever the evil spirit from God comes upon Saul, David plays music and the evil spirit leaves him.

David and Goliath

"David Giving Thanks to God After the Death of Goliath", 18th century painting attributed to Charles Errard the Younger

According to 1 Samuel 17, the 'men of Israel' under King Saul faced the Philistines near the Valley of Elah. The two armies are encamped within sight of each other for several days but battle has not been joined; instead the Philistine's champion, the giant Goliath, issues daily challenges to single combat. David arrives in camp, sent by his father to bring provisions to his brothers with the army. He hears Goliath's challenge and comments that the uncircumcised Philistine should not insult the army of the living God. Brought to the king, he expresses confidence that he can defeat Goliath just as he has a lion and a bear that threatened the flock.

David holds the impaled head of Goliath and marches before a general on a white horse, as envisioned by Poussin, ca. 1632

Before the ordeal David picks five smooth stones from a nearby brook to use as ammunition. During the duel he avoids Goliath's thrown spear and easily kills him with his sling, afterword removing the giant's head with his own sword as the Philistines flee in terror. Saul inquires about the name of the young champion's father and David tells him that he is the son of Jesse.[6] In 2 Samuel 22, David credits God for delivering him from the hand of the Philistines and saving him from "the snares of death," in his psalm, "David’s Song of Praise."[7]

2 Samuel 21:19 states that Goliath was killed by Elhanan son of Jair from Bethlehem (1 Chronicles 20:5 retells this story using Goliath's brother).[8][9] "Most likely, storytellers displaced the deed from the otherwise obscure Elhanan onto the more famous character, David."[10]

David and Jonathan

Saul threatening David, by José Leonardo.

Saul makes David a commander over his armies and offers him his daughter Michal in marriage for a bride price of 100 Philistine foreskins, intending that David will die in trying to remove them; instead he brings back 200 foreskins, saying "God was with me". David is increasingly successful and increasingly popular and Saul begins to see him as a threat. Saul repeatedly tries to arrange for David's death, but the plots only endear David further to the people, and especially to his friend, Saul's son Jonathan. (1 Samuel 18:1, 2 Samuel 1:25–26).[11] Jonathan warns David of his father's plots; David flees into the wilderness at the head of a band of followers.

During this time as a fugitive from King Saul, David becomes a vassal of the Philistine king Achish of Gath, for which Achish gives him the border town of Ziklag. Despite being in the employ of their enemy, David maintains good relations with the Israelites by defending them from the Amalekites. When Achish marches against the Israelites his nobles question David's loyalty, pointing out that if David turns on them during the battle he could win back Saul's favor, so he is excused from the battle and left behind to guard the camp.

Proclaimed king

Jonathan and Saul are killed in battle with the Philistines at Mount Gilboa. David travels to Hebron, where he is anointed king. In the north, Saul's son Ish-Bosheth is anointed king by Abner. War ensues until Ish-Bosheth is murdered. The assassins bring his head to David hoping for a reward, but David executes them for their crime. With the death of Saul's son, the elders of Israel come to Hebron and David is anointed King over a united Israel.[12]

Jerusalem and the Davidic covenant

David conquers the Jebusite fortress of Jerusalem, and makes it his capital. He brings the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem, intending to build a temple. However the prophet Nathan forbids him to build a temple because he has shed too much blood, but prophesies that the temple would be built by one of his sons. Nathan also prophecies that God has made a covenant with the house of David: "Your throne shall be established forever." David wins more victories over the Philistines, and the Moabites[5] and Hadadezer of Zobah pays tribute.

Bathsheba and Uriah the Hittite

King David in robes of a Byzantine emperor, miniature from the Paris Psalter

With his army in the field under the command of his general Joab, David remains in the capital and occupies himself by seducing Bathsheba, the wife of one of his officers, Uriah the Hittite,[13] and she becomes pregnant. David then sends a letter to Joab with instructions that his reply be carried by Uriah. When Uriah arrives at the capital David detains him, assuming that he will take the opportunity to sleep with his wife. But Uriah refuses do so while his men are sleeping in the field. So David sends him back to the front with a second message instructing Joab to arrange for Uriah to die in battle. With Uriah disposed of David marries the widow, who bears their child, but the narrative comments, "but the thing that David had done displeased the Lord."[14]

The prophet Nathan confronts David and prophecies the punishment that shall fall upon him: "the sword shall never depart from your house" apparently meaning that he will always be troubled by war; "the son born to you will die," and that God will "take your wives and give them to one who is close to you, and he will sleep with your wives in broad daylight."

When their child falls ill David desperately prays for his recovery with such disturbing expressions grief that when the child dies the servants are at first afraid to tell him out of concern for his sanity. But upon learning his son has died David promptly recovers himself, explaining, "While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept. I thought, 'Who knows? The LORD may be gracious to me and let the child live.' But now that he is dead, why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I will go to him, but he will not return to me." (2 Samuel 12:22–23)

David's son Absalom rebels

David Playing the Harp, by Jan de Bray, 1670

David's son Absalom "stole the hearts of the people" and rebeled. David flees Jerusalem, leaving his servant Hushai behind in Absalom's court as a double agent. Ahitophel, formerly David's chief advisor, advises Absalom to strike before David has time to gather his forces. Hushai persuades Absalom to wait and build up his own forces before facing his formidable father. When Ahitophel sees his council rejected he correctly surmises the cause is lost and hangs himself. Absalom has a tent pitched on the palace roof, in which he takes his father's consorts, thus fulfilling Nathan's prophecy. The rebellion ends at the battle of the Wood of Ephraim; Absalom's forces are routed, leaving him behind with his flowing locks tangled in the branches of a terebinth tree, where he is found and killed by David’s general Joab.[15] When the news of the victory is brought to David, he is grief-stricken and laments, "O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! Would I had died instead of you, O Absalom, my son, my son!"[16] Joab reprimands him for his excesive show of grief in the face of victory.


The funeral of King David, while his son Solomon watches (from a medieval manuscript)

With David old and bedridden, Adonijah, his eldest surviving son and natural heir, declares himself king. Bathsheba, David's favorite wife, and Nathan the prophet go to David and obtain his agreement that Bathsheba's son Solomon should become king. David counsels Solomon to begin his reign with a massacre, naming numerous men to be purged, including his long-time general Joab who had offended him years previously.[16]


According to tradition, David was born in Bethlehem, in the territory of the Tribe of Judah. His grandfather was Obed, whose mother was the Moabite Ruth and whose grandmother was the former prostitute Rahab. David's father was Jesse. His mother is not named in the Bible, but the Talmud identifies her as Nitzevet daughter of Adael.[17] David had six older brothers and two sisters, Zeruiah and Abigail.[18]

David cemented his relations with various political and national groups through marriage.[5] He had eight wives: Michal, the second daughter of King Saul; Ahinoam the Jezreelite; Abigail the Carmelite, previously wife of Nabal;[19] Maachah, daughter of Talmai, king of Geshur; Haggith; Abital; Eglah; and Bathsheba.

The Book of Chronicles lists his sons by various wives and concubines. In Hebron, David had six sons: Amnon, by Ahinoam; Daniel, by Abigail; Absalom, by Maachah; Adonijah, by Haggith; Shephatiah, by Abital; and Ithream, by Eglah.[20] By Bathsheba, his sons were Shammua, Shobab, Nathan and Solomon. David's sons born in Jerusalem by other wives included Ibhar, Elishua, Eliphelet, Nogah, Nepheg, Japhia, Elishama and Eliada.[21] Jerimoth, who is not mentioned in any of the genealogies, is mentioned as another of his sons in 2 Chronicles 11:18. David also had at least one daughter, Tamar, by Maachah.

Given that Nathan prophesies, in punishment for his sin with Bathsheba, that the Lord will take his wives and give them to his "neighbor", Solomon may not have been David's son at all, but later editors may have amended the story to emphasize Nathan's other statement that "the sword shall never depart from your house".[16]



Two archaeological finds, the Tel Dan Stele and the Mesha Stele, have direct bearing on the question of the existence of a historical David. The first of these is an Aramean victory stele (inscribed stone) discovered in 1993 at Tel Dan and dated c. 850–835 BCE: it contains the phrase ביתדוד (bytdwd), which has been interpreted as "House of David".[22] 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, but apparently no other letter produces a word that makes sense in the context.[23]

The evidence from surface surveys indicates that Judah at the time of David was a small tribal kingdom.[24] 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, who failed to discover significant evidence of occupation during the 10th century BCE.[25] In 2005 Eilat Mazar reported the discovery of a Large Stone Structure which she claimed was David's palace,[26] but the site is contaminated and cannot be accurately dated.[27]

In December 2014, archaeologists from Mississippi State University announced the discovery of six bullae which suggests that some type of government activity was being conducted in the 10th century, and thus support the existence of David, although the bullae do not mention David or Jerusalem or Judah or Israel and there is no way of knowing who produced them or for what purpose.[28]

In 2015 a 10-year-old Russian volunteer at Jerusalem’s Temple Mount Sifting Project found a seal from the time of King David in the 10th century BCE.[29]

Academic views on the biblical account

The biblical account about David comes from the Books of Samuel and the Books of Chronicles. Chronicles 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)

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 BCE, 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 boundary, allotment and administrative lists—are believed to be very early, since they correspond closely to what we know of the territorial conditions of the late Davidic-early Solomonic period.[30]

Beyond this, the full range of possible interpretations is available. The late John Bright, in his History of Israel takes Samuel at face value. Donald B. Redford, however, thinks all reconstructions from biblical sources for the United Monarchy period are examples of "academic wishful thinking".[31] Thomas L. Thompson rejects the historicity of the biblical narrative, "The history of Palestine and of its peoples is very different from the Bible's narratives, whatever political claims to the contrary may be. An independent history of Judea during the Iron I and Iron II periods has little room for historicizing readings of the stories of I-II Samuel and I Kings."[32] Amihai Mazar however, concludes that based on recent archeological findings, like those in City of David, Khirbet Qeiyafa, Tel Dan, Tel Rehov, Khirbet en-Nahas and others "the deconstruction of United Monarchy and the devaluation of Judah as a state in 9th century is unacceptable interpretation of available historic data". According to Mazar, based on archeological evidences, United Monarchy can be described as a "state in development".[33]

Some studies of David have been written: Baruch Halpern has pictured David as a lifelong vassal of Achish, the Philistine king of Gath;[34] 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.[35] 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.[36]

Matteo Rosselli, The triumphant David.

Critical Bible scholarship holds that the biblical account of David's rise to power is a political apology—an answer to contemporary charges against him, of his involvement in murders and regicide.[37]

Israel Finkelstein and Neil Asher Silberman reject the idea that David ruled over a united monarchy, suggesting instead that he ruled only as a chieftain over the southern kingdom of Judah, much smaller than the northern kingdom of Israel at that time.[38] They posit that Israel and Judah were still polytheistic in the time of David and Solomon, and that much later seventh century redactors sought to portray a past golden age of a united, monotheistic monarchy in order to serve contemporary needs.[39] They note a lack of archeological evidence for David's military campaigns and a relative underdevelopment of Jerusalem, the capital of Judah, compared to a more developed and urbanized Samaria, capital of Israel.[40][41][42]

Jacob L. Wright, Associate Professor of Hebrew Bible at Emory University, has written that the most popular legends about David, including his killing of Goliath, his affair with Bathsheba, and his ruling of a United Kingdom of Israel rather than just Judah, are the creation of those who lived generations after him, in particular those living in the late Persian or Hellenistic period.[43]

Physical descriptions

1 Samuel 16:12 says: "And he sent and brought him in. Now he was ruddy and had beautiful eyes and was handsome. And the LORD said, "Arise, anoint him, for this is he."[44] 1 Samuel 17:41–43 says: "And the Philistine moved forward and came near to David, with his shield-bearer in front of him. And when the Philistine looked and saw David, he disdained him, for he was but a youth, ruddy and handsome in appearance."[45]

The Hebrew word for 'ruddy' used in the above passages is admoni (אדמני), from the root ADM (אדם, see also Adam and Edom).[46][47][48][49] "Admoni", reddish-brown, was the ideal colour for men, and indicates David's heroic nature.[50]

Abrahamic religious traditions

King David the Prophet
King David in Prayer, by Pieter de Grebber (c. 1640)
Holy Monarch, Prophet, Reformer, Spiritual Poet & Musician, Vicegerent of God, Psalm-Receiver
Born c. 1040 BCE
Died c. 970 BCE
Venerated in Judaism
Feast December 29 - Roman Catholicism
Attributes Psalms, Harp, Head of Goliath

David as Psalmist

While almost half of the Psalms are headed "A Psalm of David" (though the phrase can also be translated as "to David" or "for David") and tradition identifies several with specific events in David’s life (e.g., Psalms 3, 7, 18, 34, 51, 52, 54, 56, 57, 59, 60, 63 and 142),[51] the headings are late additions and no psalm can be attributed to David with certainty.[36]

Psalm 34 is attributed to David on the occasion of his escape from the Abimelech (king) Achish by pretending to be insane.[52] According to the narrative in 1 Samuel 21, instead of killing the man who had exacted so many casualties from him, Abimelech allows David to depart, exclaiming, "Am I so short of madmen that you have to bring this fellow here to carry on like this in front of me? Must this man come into my house?"[53]


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 in a messianic age.

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 the Talmud states that it was not adultery at all, quoting a Jewish practice of divorce on the eve of battle. Furthermore, according to Talmudic sources, 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.[54] However, in tractate Sanhedrin, David expressed remorse over his transgressions and sought forgiveness. God ultimately forgave David and Bathsheba but would not remove their sins from Scripture.[55]

According to midrashim, Adam gave up 70 years of his life for the life of David.[56] 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.

Saul and David, by Rembrandt, c. 1650. David plays the lyre (depicted here as a harp) to the king “tormented by an evil spirit.”


The concept of the Messiah is important 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 one 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".[57] 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 Messiah."[6] 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".[58] 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 (Lutheran, Roman Catholic) celebrate his feast day on 29 December, Eastern-rite on 19 December.[59] The Eastern Orthodox Church and Eastern Catholic Churches 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.

Latter Day Saints

In the Latter Day Saint movement, the Book of Mormon offers a negative commentary on David's practice of polygamy. In the Book of Jacob, the Nephite nation begins to practice polygamy, justifying it by the example of David and Solomon. In response the prophet Jacob denounces both David's taking of "many wives"[60] and the Nephites' taking of multiple wives,[61] though he stops short of denouncing polygamy altogether.[62]

Editions of the Doctrine and Covenants utilized by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the largest Latter Day Saint denomination, state that of David's sexual relationships, only his relationship with Bathsheba was a sin. However, in consequence of this sin and the further sin of killing Uriah, David had "fallen from exaltation" and would not be married to any of his wives in the next life.[63]

The Foundation for Apologetic Information & Research argues that there is no contradiction between the Book of Mormon and Doctrine and Covenants because the Lord authorized David to have some wives, but not "many" wives. They see a parallel between Jacob 2:24 and Deuteronomy 17:17, which some rabbis interpreted as a limit of four wives per husband. When David took Bathsheba, he crossed the line into having "many" wives, which he was not authorized to do. Jacob's denunciation then becomes, not a complete denunciation of David's polygamy, but a denunciation of unauthorized indulgence in polygamy.[64]

The Community of Christ, the second-largest Latter Day Saint faction, does not accept the validity of 132nd section of the LDS Doctrine and Covenants; nor does the Church of Christ (Temple Lot), the Church of Jesus Christ (Cutlerite), and many other smaller factions. Although the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Strangite) accepted the validity of polygamy as an institution, they do not accept Doctrine and Covenants 132, nor do they believe that Joseph Smith instituted or taught it (they believe that James Strang was responsible for that, when he released his Book of the Law of the Lord in 1850).


David (Arabic داود, Dāwūd) is a highly important figure in Islam as one of the major prophets sent by God to guide the Israelites. David is mentioned several times in the Qur'an, often with his son Solomon. The actual Arabic equivalent to the Hebrew Davīd is Dawūd. In the Qur'an: David killed Goliath (2:251), Goliath was a powerful king who used to invade random kingdoms and villages. Goliath was spreading evil and corruption. When David killed Goliath, God granted him kingship and wisdom and enforces it (38:20). David is made God's "vicegerent on earth" (38:26) and God further gives David sound judgment (21:78; 37:21–24, 26) as well as the Psalms, which are regarded as books of divine wisdom (4:163; 17:55). The birds and mountains unite with David in uttering praise to God (21:79; 34:10; 38:18), while God made iron soft for David ( 34:10), God also instructed David in the art of fashioning chain-mail out of iron (21:80); an indication of the first use of Wrought iron, this knowledge gave David a major advantage over his bronze and cast iron-armed opponents, not to mention the cultural and economic impact. Together with Solomon, David gives judgment in a case of damage to the fields (21:78) and David judges in the matter between two disputants in his prayer chamber (38:21–23). Since there is no mention in the Qur'an of the wrong David did to Uriah nor is there any reference to Bathsheba, Muslims reject this narrative.[65]

Muslim tradition and the hadith stress David's zeal in daily prayer as well as in fasting.[66] Qur'an commentators, historians and compilers of the numerous Stories of the Prophets elaborate upon David's concise Qur'anic narratives and specifically mention David's gift in singing his Psalms as well as his musical and vocal talents. His voice is described as having had a captivating power, weaving its influence not only over man but over all beasts and nature, who would unite with him to praise God.[67]

Baha'i Faith

In the Baha'i Faith, David is described as a reflection of God and one among a long line of prophets who came in the shadow of the dispensation of Moses to develop and consolidate the process he set in motion.[68][69] The Kitáb-i-Íqán describes David as being "among the more exalted Manifestations who have appeared during the intervening period between the revelations of Moses and Muhammad, ever altered the law of the Qiblih".[70]


Coat of arms attributed to King David by mediaeval heralds[71] (identical to the arms of Ireland)

In European Christian culture of the Middle Ages, David was made a member of the Nine Worthies, a group of heroes encapsulating all the ideal qualities of chivalry. His life was thus proposed as a valuable subject for study by those aspiring to chivalric status. This aspect of David in the Nine Worthies was popularised firstly through literature, and was thereafter adopted as a frequent subject for painters and sculptors.

David was considered as a model ruler and a symbol of the God-ordained monarchy throughout medieval Western Europe and Eastern Christendom. David was perceived as the biblical predecessor to Christian Roman and Byzantine emperors and the name "New David" was used as an honorific reference to these rulers.[72] The Bagratids and the Solomonic dynasty of Ethiopia claimed a direct biological descent from him.[73] Likewise, the Frankish Carolingian dynasty frequently connected themselves to David; Charlemagne himself occasionally used the name of David as his pseudonym.[72]

Representation in art and literature


Early Byzantine Depictions of David include (in chronological order):

Famous sculptures of David include (in chronological order) those by:


  • 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 1928 novel Giant Killer 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
  • 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
  • William Faulkner's Absalom, Absalom! (1936) refers to the story of Absalom, David's son; his rebellion against his father and his death at the hands of David's general, Joab. In addition it parallels Absalom's vengeance for the rape of his sister Tamar by his half-brother, Amnon.
  • Gladys Schmitt's 1946 novel David the King was 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
  • Juan Bosch, a Dominican political leader and writer, wrote David: Biography of a King in 1966, as a realistic portrayal of David's life and political career
  • Dan Jacobson's The Rape of Tamar (1970) is an imagined account, by one of David's courtiers Yonadab, of the rape of Tamar by Amnon
  • In Thomas Burnett Swann's 1974 Biblical fantasy novel How are the Mighty Fallen, 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 coexisting with humanity but often persecuted by it
  • 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
  • Joseph Heller wrote a 1984 novel based on David called God Knows, published by Simon & Schuster. Told from the perspective of an aging David, the humanity—rather than the heroism—of various biblical characters is 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
  • Madeleine L'Engle's 1993 novel Certain Women 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
  • Allan Massie wrote King David, a 1995 novel about David's career that portrays the king's relationship to Jonathan as sexual[74]
  • Stefan Heym wrote The King David Report, a work of fiction originally published in 1972 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
  • Pulitzer Prize-winning author Geraldine Brooks wrote a 2015 novel about King David, The Secret Chord.[75]



  • Josquin des Prez's Planxit autem David is a polyphonic setting of 2 Samuel, chapter one verses 17–27, David's lamentation for the dead Saul and Jonathan. His Absalon fili mi is a polyphonic lamentation from David's perspective on the death of his son.
  • Saul features David as one of its main characters[76]
  • 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" (1984) 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
  • The Pixies' song "Dead" on Doolittle (1989) is a retelling of David's adultery and repentance
  • The song "One of the Broken" by Paddy McAloon, performed by Prefab Sprout on the 1990 album Jordan: The Comeback, has a reference to David ("I remember King David, with his harp and his beautiful, beautiful songs, I answered his prayers, and showed him a place where his music belongs").
  • "Mad About You", a song on Sting's 1991 album The Soul Cages, explores David's obsession with Bathsheba from David's perspective
  • Eric Whitacre composed a choral piece, "When David Heard" (1999), chronicling the death of Absalom and David's grief over losing his son
  • The Song "Gimme a Stone" appears on the Little Feat 2000 album Chinese Work Songs chronicles the duel with Goliath and contains a lament to Absalom as a bridge.
  • "The Angel of Death Came to David's Room" (2009) by MewithoutYou is in reference to King David
  • "Your Heart" by Chris Tomlin on Music inspired by The Story (2011) is a prayer of David
  • "Flash of the Blade" by

Musical theater


Playing cards

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.[77][78] In this context, the King of Spades was often known as "David".

See also


  1. ^ a b Carr, David M. & Conway, Colleen M., An Introduction to the Bible: Sacred Texts and Imperial Contexts, John Wiley & Sons (2010), p. 58
  2. ^ Alter 2004, p. xii.
  3. ^ 1 Samuel 13:14
  4. ^ 1 Samuel 15:28
  5. ^ a b c Lemaire, Andre. in Ancient Israel, (Hershel Shanks, ed.), Biblical Archaeology Society; Revised edition (1999), ISBN 978-1880317549
  6. ^ a b c John Corbett (1911) King David The Catholic Encyclopedia (New York: Robert Appleton Company)
  7. ^ "David’s Song of Praise", Bible Gateway, 2 Samuel 22
  8. ^
  9. ^ Finkelstein and Silberman (2006: 195-196).
  10. ^
  11. ^ See David and Jonathan. There is debate amongst some scholars on whether this relationship might have been platonic, romantic, sexual, or self-interested. The Hebrew word 'ahav, meaning "love," has a very broad range of meanings, including simply the opposite of "hate" (The New Brown-Driver-Briggs-Gesenius Hebrew and English Lexicon [1978], p. 12), which can be shown by loyalty, as in 1 Samuel 18:16, "All Israel and Judah loved David, because he led them in their campaigns." Boswell, John. Same-sex Unions in Premodern Europe. New York: Vintage, 1994; Martti Nissinen, Homoeroticism in the Biblical World, Minneapolis, 1998; When Heroes Love:. The Ambiguity of Eros in the Stories of Gilgamesh and David (New York & Chichester, Columbia University Press, 2005); Homosexuality and Liminality in the Gilgamesh and Samuel (Amsterdam, Hakkert, 2007); Gagnon, The Bible and Homosexual Practice. Texts and Hermeneutics (Nashville, Abingdon Press, 2001); Markus Zehnder, "Observations on the Relationship Between David and Jonathan and the Debate on Homosexuality", Westminster Theological Journal 69 (2007)
  12. ^ "David the King",
  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^ a b c , Cambridge University Press, 2014, ISBN 9781139993203David, King of Israel, and Caleb in Biblical MemoryWright, Jacob l.,
  17. ^ Talmud Tractate Bava Batra 91a
  18. ^ 1Chronicles 2:15-16
  19. ^ 1 Samuel 25
  20. ^ 1 Chronicles 3:1–3
  21. ^ 2 Samuel 5:14–16
  22. ^ , Oxford University Press, 2000, ISBN 0-19-513273-4King David, A BiographyMcKenzie, Steven F.,
  23. ^
  24. ^ Finkelstein, Israel; Neil Asher SilbermanDavid and Solomon: In Search of the Bible's Sacred Kings and the Roots of the Western Tradition Simon & Schuster Ltd (16 October 2006) ISBN 978-0-7432-4362-9 p32
  25. ^ See David Ussishkin, "Solomon's Jerusalem: The Text and the Facts on the Ground," in: A.G. Vaughn and A.E. Killebrew (eds.), Jerusalem in Bible and Archaeology: The First Temple Period, (Society of Biblical Literature, Symposium Series, No. 18), Atlanta, 2003, pp. 103–115. See also Cahill, J., "David's Jerusalem, Fiction or Reality? The Archaeological Evidence Proves It," and Steiner, M., "David's Jerusalem, Fiction or Reality? It's Not There: Archaeology Proves a Negative," both in Biblical Archaeology Review 24 (July/August 1998). (These two scholars argue opposite sides of the case for a Jerusalem in keeping with the biblical portrayal).
  26. ^ See Eilat Mazar, "Did I find David's Temple?" in Biblical Archeology Review, Jan/Feb 2006
  27. ^ .
  28. ^ MSU department announces major archaeological find
  29. ^
  30. ^ Norman K. Gottwald, Tribes of Yahweh: A Sociology of the Religion of Liberated Israel, 1250–1050 BCE, Continuum 1999 pp.156–157, p.162.
  31. ^ Donald B. Redford, Egypt, Canaan, and Israel in Ancient Times, Princeton University Press, 1992 pp.301–307, p.301.
  32. ^
  33. ^
  34. ^ Baruch Halpern, "David's Secret Demons", 2001.Review of Baruch Halpern's "David's Secret Demons".
  35. ^ Finkelstein and Silberman, "David and Solomon", 2006. See review "Archaeology" magazine.
  36. ^ a b Steven McKenzie, Associate Professor Rhodes College, Memphis, Tennessee.
  37. ^
  38. ^
  39. ^
  40. ^
  41. ^ "Table Two" (Finklestein and Silberman, 2002: 131).
  42. ^ Speaking of Samaria: "The scale of this project was enormous." (Finkelstein and Silberman 2002: 181).
  43. ^
  44. ^
  45. ^
  46. ^
  47. ^
  48. ^
  49. ^
  50. ^ Tsumura 2007, p. 423.
  51. ^ Commentary on II Samuel 22, The Anchor Bible, Vol. 9. II Samuel. P. Kyle McCarter, Jr., 1984. New York: Doubleday. ISBN 0-385-06808-5
  52. ^ Psalm 34, Interlinear NIV Hebrew-English Old Testament. Kohlenberger, J.R, 1987. Grand Rapids, Michigan:Zondervan Publishing House ISBN 0-310-40200-X
  53. ^ 1 Samuel 21:15
  54. ^
  55. ^
  56. ^ Zohar Bereishis 91b
  57. ^ "David" article from Encyclopædia Britannica Online
  58. ^
  59. ^ Saint of the Day for December 29 at St. Patrick Catholic Church, Washington, D.C.
  60. ^ "Behold, David and Solomon truly had many wives and concubines, which thing was abominable before me, saith the Lord." Jacob 2:24
  61. ^ "Wherefore, my brethren, hear me, and hearken to the word of the Lord: For there shall not any man among you have save it be one wife; and concubines he shall have none" Jacob 2:27
  62. ^ "For if I will, saith the Lord of Hosts, raise up seed unto me, I will command my people; otherwise they shall hearken unto these things." Jacob 2:30
  63. ^ "David’s wives and concubines were given unto him of me, by the hand of Nathan, my servant, and others of the prophets who had the keys of this power; and in none of these things did he sin against me save in the case of Uriah and his wife; and, therefore he hath fallen from his exaltation, and received his portion; and he shall not inherit them out of the world, for I gave them unto another, saith the Lord." Doctrine and Covenants 132:39
  64. ^
  65. ^ A-Z of Prophets in Islam and Judaism, Wheeler, David
  66. ^ Encyclopedia of Islam, Dawud
  67. ^ Stories of the Prophets, Ibn Kathir, Story of David
  68. ^
  69. ^ All You Want to Know But Didn't Think You Could Ask, Jessica Tinklenberg deVega - 2012, p 136
  70. ^ The Kitab-i-Iqan: The Book of Certitude - Page 48, Baha'u'llah - 2003
  71. ^
  72. ^ a b
  73. ^
  74. ^
  75. ^
  76. ^
  77. ^
  78. ^ "Courts on playing cards", by David Madore, with illustrations of the Anglo-American and French court cards


Translations of 1 and 2 Samuel

  • Samuel 1 and 2 at Bible Gateway
  • Kirsch, Jonathan (2000) King David: the real life of the man who ruled Israel. Ballantine. ISBN 0-345-43275-4.
  • Dever, William G. (2001) What did the Bible writers know and when did they know it? William B. Eerdmans Publ. Co., Cambridge UK.

Commentaries on Samuel


  • Coogan, Michael D. (2009) A Brief Introduction to the Old Testament: the Hebrew Bible in its Context Oxford University Press

Further reading

External links

  • Complete Bible Genealogy David's family tree
  • Double Identity: Orpheus as David. Orpheus as Christ? Biblical Archaeology Review
  • David engravings from the De Verda collection
  • King David at the Christian Iconography web site
  • The History of David, by William Caxton
David of the United Kingdom of Israel & Judah
Cadet branch of the Tribe of Judah
Regnal titles
New title
Rebellion from Israel under Ish-bosheth
King of Judah
1010 BC–1003 BC
Succeeded by
Preceded by
King of the United
Israel and Judah

1003 BC–970 BC

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