International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
da'-vid (dawidh, or dawidh, "beloved"; Daueid, also in New Testament, Dauid, Dabid; see Thayer's Lexicon):
I. NAME AND GENEALOGY
II. EARLY YEARS
III. IN THE SERVICE OF SAUL
1. David First Meets Saul
2. His First Exploit
3. Envy of Saul and Flight of David
4. Jonathan and David
IV. DAVID IN EXILE
1. David as Outlaw
2. David Joins the Philistines
V. DAVID AS KING
1. Civil War
2. Conquests Abroad
3. Political Situation
4. The Ark
VI. DOMESTIC LIFE
1. His Wives and Children
2. Domestic Troubles
VII. HIS OFFICIALS
3. Military Officers
4. Other Officials
5. Mutual Rivalry
VIII. PERSONAL CHARACTER OF DAVID
3. Complex Character
4. Physical Courage
5. Moral Courage
9. David in Relation to His Family
10. David in Relation to His Friends
11. His Success
12. His Foreign Friends
14. References in the New Testament
I. Name and Genealogy.
This name, which is written "defectively" in the older books, such as those of Samuel, but fully with the yodh in Chronicles and the later books, is derived, like the similar name Jedidish (2 Samuel 12:25), from a root meaning "to love." The only person who bears this name in the Bible is the son of Jesse, the second king of Israel. His genealogy is given in the table appended to the Book of Ruth (Ruth 4:18-22). Here the following points are to be noted: David belonged to the tribe of Judah: his ancestor Nahshon was chieftain of the whole tribe (Numbers 1:7; Numbers 2:3 1 Chronicles 2:10) and brother-in-law of Aaron the high priest (Exodus 6:23). As no other descendants of Nahshon are mentioned, his authority probably descended to Jesse by right of primogeniture. This supposition is countenanced by the fact that Salma (Salmon), the name of the son of Nahshon and father of Boaz, is also the name of a grandson of Caleb who became "father" of Bethlehem, the home of Jesse (1 Chronicles 2:51). David was closely connected with the tribe of Moab, the mother of his grandfather Obed being Ruth the Moabitess. Of the wife or wives of Jesse we know nothing, and consequently are without information upon a most interesting point-the personality of the mother of David; but that she too may have been of the tribe of Moab is rendered probable by the fact that, when hard pressed, David placed his parents under the protection of the king of that country (1 Samuel 22:3, 1).
II. Early Years.
The home of David when he comes upon the stage of history was the picturesque town of Bethlehem.
There his family had been settled for generations, indeed ever since the Israelite nation had overrun the land of Canaan. His father was apparently not only the chief man of the place, but he seems to have been chieftain of the whole clan to which he belonged-the clan of Judah. Although the country round Bethlehem is more fertile than that in the neighborhood of Jerusalem, the inhabitants joined to the cultivation of the soil the breeding of cattle (Luke 2:8). David's father, not only cultivated his ancestral fields, but kept flocks of sheep and goats as well. The flocks were sent out every day to pasture in the neighboring valleys attended by the herdsmen armed so as to defend themselves and their charge, not only against marauders from the surrounding deserts, but also from the lions and bears with which the country was then infested. David seems to have been in the habit of accompanying his father's servants in their task (1 Samuel 17:20, 22), and on occasion would be left in full charge by himself. Nor was his post at such times a sinecure. He had not only to keep a sharp lookout for thieves, but on more than one occasion had with no other weapon than his shepherd's club or staff to rescue a lamb from the clutches of a lion or a bear (1 Samuel 17:34). Such adventures, however, must have been rare, and David must often have watched eagerly the lengthening of the shadow which told of the approach of sunset, when he could drive his charge into the zariba for the night and return home. There is, indeed, no life more monotonous and enervating than that of an eastern shepherd, but David must have made good use of his idle time. He seems, in fact, to have made such good use of it as to have neglected his handful of sheep. The incidents of which he boasted to Saul would not have occurred, had his proper occupation taken up all his thoughts; but, like King Alfred, his head seems to have been filled with ideas far removed from his humble task.
David, like Nelson, does not seem to have known what it was to be afraid, and it was not to be expected that he could be satisfied with the lot of the youngest of eight sons of the now aged chief (1 Samuel 17:12 1 Chronicles 2:13). In the East every man is a soldier, and David's bent was in that direction. The tribesmen of Benjamin near whose border his home was situated were famed through all Israel as slingers, some of whom could sling at a hair and not miss (Judges 20:16). Taught, perhaps, by one of these, but certainly by dint of constant practice, David acquired an accuracy of aim which reminds one of the tales of William Tell or Robin Hood (1 Samuel 17:49).
Another of the pastimes in the pursuit of which David spent many an hour of his youthful days was music. The instrument which he used was the "harp" (Hebrew kinnor). This instrument had many forms, which may be seen on the Assyrian and Egyptian monuments; but the kind used by David was probably like the modern Arabic, rubaba, having only one or two strings, played not with a plectrum (Ant., VII, xii, 3) but by the hand (compare 1 Samuel 16:23, etc., which do not exclude a quill). Whatever the nature of the instrument was, David acquired such proficiency in playing it that his fame as a musician soon spread throughout the countryside (1 Samuel 16:18). With the passing of time he becomes the Hebrew Orpheus, in whose music birds and mountains joined (compare Koran, chapter 21).
To the accompaniment of his lyre David no doubt sang words, either of popular songs or of lyrics of his own composition, in that wailing eastern key which seems to be an imitation of the bleating of flocks. The verses he sang would recount his own adventures or the heroic prowess of the warrior of his clan, or celebrate the loveliness of some maiden of the tribe, or consist of elegies upon those slain in battle. That the name of David was long connected with music the reverse of sacred appears from the fact that Amos denounces the people of luxury of his time for improvising to the sound of the viol, inventing instruments of music, like David (6:5). (It is not clear to which clause "like David" belongs, probably to both.) The only remains of the secular poetry of David which have come down to us are his elegies on Saul and Jonathan and on Abner (2 Samuel 1:19-27; 2 Samuel 3:33, 14), which show him to have been a true poet.
Did David also compose religious verses? Was he "the sweet psalmist of Israel" (2 Samuel 23:1)? In the oldest account which we have, contained in the books of Samuel, David appears as a musician and as a secular poet only, for it is obvious the poetical passages, 2 Samuel 22:1-23:7, do not belong to the original form of that book but are thrust in in the middle of a long list of names of David's soldiers. The position is the same in Amos 6:5. It is in the later books and passages that sacred music and psalms begin to be ascribed to him. Perhaps the earliest instance is the passage just cited containing the "last words" of David (2 Samuel 23:1-7). The Chronicler (about 300 B.C.) seems to put parts of Psalms 105; 96, and 106 into the mouth of David (1 Chronicles 16:7), and Nehemiah 12:36 regards him apparently as the inventor of the instruments used in the Temple service (1 Chronicles 23:5), or as a player of sacred music. So too in the Septuagint psalter (Psalm 150:2) we read, "My hands made an organ, my fingers fashioned a psaltery"; and gradually the whole of the Psalms came to be ascribed to David as author. In regard to this question it must be remembered that in the East at any rate there is no such distinction as that of sacred and secular. By sacred poetry we mean poetry which mentions the name of God or quotes Scripture, but the Hebrew or Arab poet will use the name of God as an accompaniment to a dance, and will freely sprinkle even comic poetry with citations from his sacred book. David must have composed sacred poems if he composed at all, and he would use his musical gift for the purposes of religion as readily as for those of amusement and pleasure (2 Samuel 6:14, 15). Whether any of our psalms was composed by David is another question. The titles cannot be considered as conclusive evidence, and internal proofs of his authorship are wanting. Indeed the only psalm which claims to have been written by David is the 18th (= 2 Samuel 22). One cannot help wishing that the 23rd Psalm had been sung by the little herd lad as he watched his father's flocks and guarded them from danger.
There are sayings of Mohammed that the happiest life is that of the shepherd, and that no one became a prophet who had not at one time tended a flock of sheep. What Mohammed meant was that the shepherd enjoys leisure and solitude for reflection and for plunging into those day dreams out of which prophets are made. If David, like the Arab poet Tarafa, indulged in sport, in music and in poetry, even to the neglect of his charge, he must have sought out themes on which to exercise his muse; and it must have been with no little chagrin that he learnt that whereas the tribes of Ephraim, Benjamin, Naphtali, Manasseh, Issachar, Zebulun, Levi, Dan, and even the non-Israelite tribes of Kenaz and the debatable land of Gilead could boast of having held the hegemony of Israel and led the nation in battle, his own tribe of Judah had played a quite subordinate part, and was not even mentioned in the national war song of Deborah. As contrasted with the poets of these tribes he could boast in his verses only of Ibzan who belonged to his own town of Bethlehem (Judges 12:8). The Jerahmeelites were no doubt a powerful clan, but neither they nor any other of the subdivisions of Judah had ever done anything for the common good. Indeed, when the twelve pathfinders had been sent in advance into Canaan, Judah had been represented by Caleb, a member of the Uitlander tribe of Kenaz (Numbers 13:6). He became apparently the adopted son of Hezron and so David might claim kinship with him, and through him with Othniel the first of the judges (Judges 1:13). David thus belonged to the least efficient of all the Israelite tribes except one, and one which, considering its size and wealth, had till now failed to play a worthy part in the confederacy. It is difficult to believe that the young David never dreamed of a day when his own tribe should take its true place among its fellows, and when the deliverer of Israel from its oppressors should belong for once to the tribe of Judah.
III. In the Service of Saul.
The earliest events in the career of David are involved in some obscurity.
1. David First Meets Saul:
This is due mainly to what appears to be an insoluble difficulty in 1 Samuel 16 and 17. In chapter 16, David is engaged to play before Saul in order to dispel is melancholy, and becomes his squire or armor-bearer (16:21), whereas in the following chapter he is unknown to Saul, who, after the death of Goliath, asks Abner who he is, and Abner replies that he does not know (17:55). This apparent contradiction may be accounted for by the following considerations:
(a) 16:14-23 may be inserted out of its chronological order for the sake of the contrast with the section immediately preceding-"the spirit of Yahweh came mightily upon David from that day forward. the spirit of Yahweh departed from Saul" (16:13, 14);
(b) the fact of David becoming Saul's squire does not imply constant personal attendance upon him; the text says David became an (not his) armor-bearer to Saul. The king would have many such squires: Joab, though only commander-in-chief, had, it seems, eighteen (2 Samuel 23:37 reads "armor-bearers");
(c) David would not play before Saul every day: his presence might not be required for a space of weeks or months;
(d) Saul's failure to recognize David may have been a result of the `evil spirit from Yahweh' and Abner's denial of knowledge may have been feigned out of jealousy. If we accept all the statements of the dramatis personae in these narratives we shall not get very far.
2. His First Exploit:
The facts seem to have been somewhat as follows: It had become evident that Saul was not equal to the task to which he had been set-the task of breaking the Philistine power, and it became the duty of Samuel, as the vicar of Yahweh and as still holding very large powers, to look about for a successor. He turned to the tribe of Judah (the full brother of his own ancestor Levi), a tribe which was fast becoming the most powerful member of the federation. The headman of this clan was Jesse of Bethlehem. His name was well known in the country-Saul does not require to be told who he is (1 Samuel 16:18; 1 Samuel 17:58)-but he was by this time advanced in years (1 Samuel 17:12). He had, however, many sons. Old men in the East often foretell a great future for a young boy (compare Luke 2:34). Samuel saw that David was formed of other clay than his brothers, and he anointed him as he had done Saul (1 Samuel 10:1). But whereas the anointing of Saul was done surreptitiously and for a definite purpose which was explained at the time (1 Samuel 10:1), that of David was performed before his whole family, but with what object he was not told (1 Samuel 16:13). His brothers do not seem to have thought the matter of much consequence (compare 1 Samuel 17:28), and all David could conclude from it was that he was destined to some high office-perhaps that of Samuel's successor (compare 1 Kings 19:15, 16). It would have the effect of nerving him for any adventure and raising his hopes high and steeling his courage. Whether by accident or by contrivance he became attached to Saul as minstrel (compare 2 Kings 3:15) and subsequently as one of his armor-bearers. He would probably be at this time about twenty years of age. It must have been after an interval of some months that an event happened which made it impossible for Saul ever again to forget the existence of David. This was the famous duel between David and the Philistine Goliath, which saved the situation for Saul for the time (1 Samuel 17). In regard to this narrative it must be noted that 1 Samuel 17:12-31, 41, 50, 55-58 and 18:1-5 are lacking in the best manuscript of the Septuagint, that is, the sending of David from Bethlehem and his fresh introduction to Saul and Saul's failure to recognize him are left out. With the omission of these verses all the difficulties of the narrative vanish. For the reason why David could not wear the armor offered him was not because he was still a child, which is absurd in view of the fact that Saul was exceptionally tall (1 Samuel 9:2), but because he had had no practice with it (1 Samuel 17:39). It is ridiculous to suppose that David was not at this time full-grown, and that two armies stood by while a child advanced to engage a giant. The event gained for David the reputation won in modern times at the cannon's mouth, but also the devoted friendship of Jonathan and the enmity of Saul (1 Samuel 18:1-9).
The next years of David's life were spent in the service of Saul in his wars with the Philistines. David's success where Saul had failed, however, instead of gratifying only inflamed the jealousy of the latter, and he determined to put David out of the way. More than once he attempted to do so with his own hand (1 Samuel 18:11; 1 Samuel 19:10), but he also employed stratagem. It came to his ears that his daughter Michal, as well as his son Jonathan, loved David, and Saul undertook to give her to David on the condition of his killing one hundred Philistines.
3. Envy of Saul and Flight of David:
The gruesome dowry was paid, and David became Saul's son-in-law. The Hebrew text states that Saul first offered his elder daughter to David, and then failed to implement his promise (1 Samuel 18:17-19, 21), but this passage is not found in the Greek. David's relation to Saul did not mitigate the hatred of the latter; indeed his enmity became so bitter that David determined upon flight. With the help of stratagem on the part of Michal, this was effected and David went to Samuel at Ramah for counsel and advice (1 Samuel 19:18). There Saul pursued him, but when he came into the presence of the prophet, his courage failed and he was overcome by the contagion of the prophetic ecstasy (1 Samuel 19:24) as he had been on a previous occasion (1 Samuel 10:11). David returned to Gibeah, while the coast was clear, to meet Jonathan, but Saul also returned immediately, his hatred more intense than before. David then continued his flight and came to Ahimelech, the priest at Nob (1 Samuel 21:1). It is sometimes supposed that we have here two inconsistent accounts of David's flight, according to one of which he fled to Samuel at Ramah, and according to the other to Ahimelech at Nob; but there is no necessity for such a supposition, and even if it were correct, it would not clear up all the difficulties of the narrative. There is evidently much in these narratives that is left untold and our business should be to fill up the gaps in a way consistent with what we are given. That Saul made sure that David would not return is shown by the fact that he gave his daughter Michal to a man of the tribe of Benjamin as wife (1 Samuel 25:44).
4. Jonathan and David:
The relation existing between Jonathan and David was one of pure friendship. There was no reason why it should not be so. A hereditary monarchy did not yet exist in Israel. The only previous attempt to establish such an institution-that of Gideon's family (Judges 9)-though not of Gideon himself (1 Samuel 8:22)-had ended in failure. The principle followed hitherto had been that of election by the sheikhs or caids of the clans. To this Saul owed his position, for the lot was a kind of ballot. Moreover, behind all national movements there lay the power of the prophets, the representatives of Yahweh. Saul was indebted for his election to Samuel, just as Barak was to Deborah (Judges 4:6). Like the judges who preceded him he had been put forward to meet a definite crisis in the national affairs-the rise of the Philistine power (1 Samuel 9:16). Had he succeeded in crushing these invaders, the newly-established kingdom would in the absence of this bond of union have dissolved again into its elements, as had happened on every similar occasion before. He was the only judge who had failed to accomplish the task for which he was appointed, and he was the only one who had been appointed on the understanding that his son should succeed him, for this constitutes the distinction between king and judge. Moreover, not only was Saul aware that he had failed, but he saw before him the man who was ready to step into his place and succeed. His rival had, besides, the backing of the mass of the people and of Samuel who was still virtual head of the state and last court of appeal. It is not to be wondered at that Saul was hostile to David. Jonathan, on the other hand, acquiesced in the turn things had taken and bowed to what he believed to be the inevitable. Such was his love for David that he asked only to be his wazeer (vizier) when David came to the throne (1 Samuel 23:17). David's position was perhaps the most difficult imaginable. He had to fight the battles of a king whose one idea was to bring about his ruin. He was the bosom friend of a prince whom he proposed to supplant in his inheritance. His hope of salvation lay in the death of his king, the father of his wife and of his best friend. The situation would in ordinary circumstances be intolerable, and it would have been impossible but for the fact that those concerned were obsessed by a profound belief in Fate. Jonathan bore no grudge against David for aiming at the throne, because to the throne he was destined by the will of Yahweh. To David it would never occur that he had the choice of declining the high destiny in store for him. Had he had the power to refuse what he believed to be the decree of Fate, he would hardly escape censure for his ambition and disloyalty.
IV. David in Exile.
1. David as Outlaw:
From the moment of his flight David became an outlaw and remained so until the death of Saul. This period of his career is full of stirring adventures which remind us of Robert Bruce or William Wallace of Scotland. Like King Arthur and other heroes he carried a famous sword-the sword of Goliath (1 Samuel 21:9). Having obtained it of Ahimelech, he for the first time left Israelite territory and went to the Philistine city of Gath (1 Samuel 21:10). Not feeling safe here he left and took up his abode in the cave of Adullam (1 Samuel 22:1) in the country of Judah, almost within sight of his native Bethlehem. This cave was admirably suited to the outlaw's purpose and no doubt David had many a time explored its recesses when a boy. Here he was joined by his parents and brothers, with their servants, as well as by all sorts of persons who were at war with the government, debtors, fugitives from justice, and discontented persons generally. David thus became the chief of a band of outlaws who numbered about 400. Of such stuff some of his bravest soldiers were made (2 Samuel 23:13). He had an augur, too, to direct his actions, and, after the massacre of the priests at Nob, a priest, Abiathar, carrying an ephod with which to cast lots (1 Samuel 22:5; 1 Samuel 23:6). During this period he supported himself and his men by making raids on the Philistine outposts and levying blackmail on his own countrymen (1 Samuel 25:2) in return for giving them his protection from the Philistines (1 Samuel 23:1). Hard pressed both by Saul and the Philistines (who had established themselves even in Bethlehem) he committed his parents to the keeping of the king of Moab, and began to rove as a freebooter through the country (1 Samuel 23:5, 15, 25, 29). On two occasions David had Saul in his power, but refused to seize the opportunity of taking his life (1 Samuel 24-26). Here again there are no adequate grounds for supposing we have two accounts of one and the same incident. During his wandering David's followers increased in numbers (compare 1 Samuel 22:2; 1 Samuel 23:13; 1 Samuel 25:13). His chief lieutenant was his nephew Abishai, the son of his sister Zeruiah, but his brothers, Joab and Asahel, do not seem to have joined David yet. Another of his nephews, Jonathan the son of Shimei (Shammah), is mentioned (2 Samuel 21:21; compare 1 Samuel 16:9) and the Chronicler thinks many other knights joined him during this period (1 Chronicles 11:10). The position of David at this time was very similar to that of the brigand Raisuli of late in Morocco. That there was some stability in it is shown by his taking two wives at this time-Ahinoam and Abigail (1 Samuel 25:42, 43).
2. David Joins the Philistines:
David now, abandoning all hope of ever conciliating the king (1 Samuel 27:1), made a move which shows at once his reckless daring and consummate genius. He offered the services of himself and his little army of 600 men to the enemies of his country. The town of Gath appears to have been an asylum for fugitive Israelites (1 Kings 2:39). David's first impulse on his flight from Saul had been to seek safety there (1 Samuel 21:10-15). Then, however, he was the hero of Israel, whose assassination would be the highest gain to the Philistines; now he was the embittered antagonist of Saul, and was welcomed accordingly. Achish placed at his disposal the fortified town of Ziklag in the territory of the now extinct tribe of Simeon, and there he and his followers, each of whom had his family with him, took up their quarters for sixteen months (1 Samuel 27:6, 7). The advantages to David were many. He was safe at last from the persecution of Saul (1 Samuel 27:4); he could secure ample supplies by making raids upon the Amalekites and other tribes hostile to Israel toward the South (1 Samuel 27:8); and if the opportunity presented itself he could deal a serious blow at the Philistine arms. The position was no doubt a precarious one. It could last just as long as David could hoodwink Achish by persuading him that his raids were directed against his own tribe (1 Samuel 27:10). This he succeeded in doing so completely that Achish would have taken him with him on the campaign which ended in the decisive battle of Gilboa, but the other chiefs, fearing treachery, refused to allow him to do so. David was forced to return with his followers to Ziklag, only to find that town razed to the ground and all the women and children carried off by his old enemies the Amalekites (1 Samuel 30:1, 2). By the time he had recovered the spoil and returned in triumph to Ziklag the battle of Gilboa had been fought and Saul was slain. The conduct of David in his relations with the Philistines was not more reprehensible than that of the Cid who allied himself with Al-Mu'taman of Saragossa, or of Coriolanus who went over to the Volsci. David composed upon the death of Saul and Jonathan an elegy every sentence of which has become classic.
V. David as King.
1. Civil War: David immediately removed from Ziklag and took up his quarters at Hebron, where he was at once anointed king over his own tribe of Judah. Thus began the cleavage between Judah and Israel. Here he was joined, apparently for the first time, by his nephew Joab. Abner, however, loyal to his former master, had Esh-baal (1 Chronicles 8:33), son of Saul, anointed king over the remaining tribes at Mahanaim, a fortified town East of the Jordan. War continued between David and Abner for several years, fortune always favoring David. Seeing things were going against him Abner forced Esh-baal into a personal quarrel with himself and then transferred his allegiance and persuaded his side to transfer theirs to David (2 Samuel 3:21). He did not reap the fruit of his defection, as he was immediately after assassinated by Joab in revenge for the death of Asahel whom Abner had killed in self-defence (2 Samuel 3:27). Deprived of his chief support Esh-baal also fell a victim to assassination (2 Samuel 4:2). David denounced both crimes with apparent sincerity. He composed an elegy and fasted for Abner (2 Samuel 3:33) and avenged the death of Esh-baal (2 Samuel 4:9). Yet these acts of violence laid the sovereignty of all Israel at his feet. Of the male heirs of Saul there remained only a son of Jonathan, Merib-baal (1 Chronicles 8:34) who was a crippled child of 7. David was therefore elected king over the nation (2 Samuel 5:1).
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DAVID, ROOT OF
root (he rhiza Daueid, Revelation 5:5; Revelation 22:16): Root here means stock, family, descendant, hence, "the Root of David" is that which descended from David, not that from which David descended. Jesus Christ in His human nature and family connections was a descendant of David, a member of his family.
TOWER OF DAVID
CITY OF DAVID
DAVID, CITY OF
DAVID, TOWER OF
tou'-er. See JERUSALEM.
ROOT OF DAVID
See DAVID, ROOT OF.