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Bible Dictionaries

American Tract Society Bible Dictionary

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Beloved, the youngest son of Jesse, of the tribe of Judah, born in Bethlehem B. C. 1085; one of the most remarkable men in either sacred of secular history. His life is fully recorded in 1 Samuel 16:1 1 Kings 2:46 . He was "the Lord's anointed," chosen by God to be king of Israel instead of Saul, and consecrated to that office by the venerable prophet Samuel long before he actually came to the throne, 1 Samuel 16:1-13 , for which God prepared him by the gift of his Spirit, and a long course of vicissitudes and dangers. In his early pastoral life he distinguished himself by his boldness, fidelity, and faith in God; and while yet a youth was summoned to court, as one expert in music, valiant, prudent in behavior, and comely in person. He succeeded in relieving from time to time the mind of king Saul, oppressed by a spirit of melancholy and remorse, and became a favorite attendant; but on the breaking out of war with the Philistines he seems to have been released, and to have returned to take care of his father's flock. Providence soon led him to visit the camp, and gave to his noble valor and faith the victory over the giant champion Goliath. He returned to court crowned with honor, received a command in the army, acquitted himself well on all occasions, and rapidly gained the confidence and love of the people. The jealousy of Saul, however, at length drove him to seek refuge in the wilderness of Judea; where he soon gathered a band of six hundred men, whom he kept in perfect control and employed only against the enemies of the land. He was still pursued by Saul with implacable hostility; and as he would not lift his hand against his king, though he often had him in his power, he at length judged it best to retire into the land of the Philistines. Here he was generously received; but had found the difficulties of his position such as he could not honorably meet, when the death of Saul and Jonathon opened the way for him to the promised throne.

He was at once chosen king over the house of Judah, at Hebron; and after about seven years of hostilities was unanimously chosen king by all the tribes of Israel, and established himself at Jerusalem-the founder of a royal family which continued till the downfall of the Jewish state. His character as a monarch is remarkable for fidelity to God, and to the great purposes for which he was called to so responsible a position. The ark of God he conveyed to the Holy City with the highest demonstrations of honor and of joy. The ordinances of worship were remodeled and provided for with the greatest care. He administered justice to the people with impartiality, and gave a strong impulse to the general prosperity of the nation. His wisdom and energy consolidated the Jewish kingdom; and his warlike skill enabled him not only to resist with success the assaults of invaders, but to extend the bounds of the kingdom over the whole territory promised in prophecy-from the Red sea and Egypt to the Euphrates, Genesis 15:18 Joshua 1:3 . With the spoils he took in war he enriched his people, and provided abundant materials for the magnificent temple he purposed to build in honor of Jehovah, but which it was Solomon a privilege to erect.

David did not wholly escape the demoralizing influences of prosperity and unrestricted power. His temptations were numerous and strong; and though his general course was in striking contrast with that of the kings around him, he fell into grievous sins. Like others in those days, he had embittered by the evil results of polygamy. His crimes in the case of Uriah and Bathsheba were heinous indeed; but on awaking from his dream of folly, he repented in dust and ashes, meekly submitted to reproof and punishment, and sought and found mercy from God. Thenceforth frequent afflictions reminded him to be humble and self-distrustful. There were discords, profligacy, and murder in his own household. The histories of Tamar, Amnon, and Absalom show what anguish must have rent their father's heart. The rebellions of Absalom, Sheba, and Adonijah, the famine and plague that afflicted his people, the crimes of Joab, etc., led him to cry out, "O that I had wings, like a dove; then would I fly away, and be at rest." Yet his trials bore good fruit. His firmness and decision of character, his humility, nobleness, and piety shine in his last acts, on the occasion of Adonijah's rebellion. His charge to Solomon respecting the forfeited lives of Joab and Shimei, was the voice of justice and not of revenge. His preparations for the building of the temple, and the public service in which he devoted all to Jehovah, and called on all the people to bless the Lord God of their fathers, crown with singular beauty and glory the life of this eminent servant of God. After a reign of forty years, he died at the age of seventy-one.

The mental abilities and acquirements of David were of a high order; his general conduct was marked by generosity, integrity, fortitude, activity, and perseverance; and his religious character eminently adorned by sincere, fervent, and exalted piety. He was statesman, warrior, and poet all in one. In his Psalms he frankly reveals his whole heart. They are inspired poems, containing many prophetic passages, and wonderfully fitted to guide the devotions of the people of God so long as he has a church on earth. Though first sung by Hebrew tongues in the vales of Bethlehem and on the heights of Zion, they sound as sweetly in languages then unknown, and are dear to Christian hearts all around the world. In introducing them into the temple service, David added an important and edification to the former ritual.

In his kingly character, David was a remarkable type of Christ; and his conquests foreshadowed those of Christ's kingdom. His royal race was spiritually revived in the person of our Savior, who was descended from him after the flesh, and who is therefore called "the Son of David," and is said to sit upon his throne.

Bibliography Information
Rand, W. W. Entry for 'David'. American Tract Society Bible Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/​dictionaries/​eng/​ats/​d/david.html. 1859.
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