A talented musician, King David theatre the harp in this 1622 paint by netherlands artist Gerard valve Honthorst.

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National geographic explores noteworthy biblical numbers in ours ongoing collection People in the Bible, as part of our coverage that the history of the Bible and the search for sacred texts.

King David was not born into royalty. He gone into life together a humble shepherd, climbed to discovered a dynasty, and also became a main figure in Judaism, Christianity, and also Islam.

In the publication of Samuel, Saul, the first king the Israel, failed to with a decisive victory against an adversary tribe, the Philistines. God sent the Prophet Samuel to Bethlehem and guided him come David, a humble shepherd and also talented musician. He lugged the young male to Saul"s court, wherein his harp was so soothing that Saul referred to as for David whenever he to be vexed by an “evil spirit” sent out by God (I Samuel 9:16). Saul to be so taken with this young male that he appointed David his armor bearer.

Giant battle



David"s success over Goliath to be a well-known subject because that Renaissance sculptors, consisting of Andrea del Verrocchio in 1476.

Soon thereafter, a significant Philistine fight loomed. This time, the Philistines fielded a fearsome new weapon: a huge named Goliath, carrying a large bronze spear (I Samuel 17:5-7). The Israelites were frozen in fear—except young David. Armed with only a sling, he picked a rock from a riverbed and slung it at Goliath’s head. David’s aim was true; the rock struck the giant and killed him, prompting the Philistines to flee. The Israelites to be jubilant. Saul was compelled to location young David at the head the his army (I Samuel 18:5).

Even despite David then married Saul’s daughter Michal and became a close friend of Saul’s boy Jonathan, an intense rivalry occurred between the young brand-new general and also the king. Saul even started to plot to death him. David had actually little choice but come flee to opponent territory.



Time take trip in this computer animation through the background of the Bible. Made through clay, wire, and recycled paper, the characters come to life in frame-by-frame motion.

Saul"s downfall

Soon the nation was when again torn by battle as Philistine forces gathered at mountain Gilboa, and also Saul and also his sons, every serving as commanders in his army, rushed to meet them. Yet God had actually turned against Saul, and the Israelite ranks to be decimated. All of Saul’s sons fell to Philistine swords, including his heir, Jonathan. Badly wounded himself, Saul then fell upon his own sword (I Samuel 31:1-7).

With Israel’s military in headlong retreat, the Philistines swarmed over the Hebrew highlands. Saul’s only surviving son, Ishbaal, to be anointed together his successor, sustained by the northern tribes. However the southerly elders visited Hebron, David’s army base, and in due food anointed David king “over the residence of Judah.”

At first, David made decision to overlook the Philistines and instead marched top top Jerusalem (II Samuel 5:6). After catching Jerusalem, David was then able to defeat the Philistines. Eventually, every one of the regions in Canaan come under David’s control.

Kingdom of David

Now, in ~ last, David might turn his attention to structure a state, rule from a suitable Israelite capital. The pitched the time of the Tabernacle to home the Ark of the Covenant. This to be obviously no a satisfactory solution, and the king complained to the Prophet Nathan that “I am living in a residence of cedar, however the ark of God stays in a tent” (II Samuel 7:2). One oracle native God assured David the "the Lord will make friend a house"—a Davidic dynasty—but the it would certainly be as much as his offspring (King Solomon) to “build a residence for my name” (II Samuel 7:11-13).


According come the books of Samuel and also the subsequent publications of Kings, David then increased his are until Israel had end up being the dominant state in the Levant, soaking up the countries of Ammon, Moab, and also Edom. Modern-day research has actually questioned this claim, and many scholars believe that some of the legendary material surrounding David served to exalt the as perfect king, as successful in peace as in war, lover by God and his people.

Indeed, David’s greatest success (and that of his kid Solomon) is no the degree of their putative realm, yet the combination of the quarrelsome tribes right into one nation. Part scholars have also questioned whether David is a historic figure, though the exploration of a stela from Tel Dan with the engraving bytdwd (which may mean “House of David”) would argue otherwise.

Notwithstanding David’s politics achievements, his personal life to be filled with conflict and also tragedy. David compromised his call by follow the beautiful Bathsheba, who was already married to Uriah, among David’s height commanders. David notified him put in the front ranking of a to plan assault versus the Ammonites, wherein he to be duly killed.

As quickly as Bathsheba finished she time that mourning, David married her, and also she bore his son. Yet the Prophet Nathan sternly rebuked David for his evil scheming since it had “displeased the Lord,” and also indeed, the baby passed away (II Samuel 11:27). David then repented prior to God, and also in return to be promised that Bathsheba would certainly bear that a second son. His name was Solomon. Together David grew older and also feeble, Bathsheba extract David’s promise the their boy Solomon would succeed him. And so it concerned pass.

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Entries in this collection are excerpts indigenous the National geographical special issue 50 many Influential numbers of the Bible, i m sorry was adjusted from Who"s that in the Bible: unforgettable People and also Timeless story from Genesis come Revelation, published by National geographical Books.