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

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National geographical explores notable biblical figures in our ongoing series People in the Bible, as part of our coverage that the history of the Bible and also the search for sacred texts.

King David was no born into royalty. He gotten in life together a humble shepherd, rose to found a dynasty, and also became a central figure in Judaism, Christianity, and also Islam.

In the book of Samuel, Saul, the first king that Israel, failure to reach a decisive victory against an enemy tribe, the Philistines. God sent the Prophet Samuel come Bethlehem and also guided him to David, a humble shepherd and talented musician. He brought the young man to Saul"s court, whereby his harp was so soothing that Saul dubbed for David at any time he was vexed by an “evil spirit” sent out by God (I Samuel 9:16). Saul was so taken through this young male that the appointed David his armor bearer.

Giant battle



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

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

Even though David then married Saul’s daughter Michal and became a close friend of Saul’s child Jonathan, an intense rivalry developed between the young new general and the king. Saul even began to plot to death him. David had little selection but come flee to foe territory.



Time travel in this animation through the background of the Bible. Made v 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 war as Philistine forces gathered at mount Gilboa, and Saul and his sons, all serving as commanders in his army, rushed to accomplish them. Yet God had actually turned against Saul, and also the Israelite ranks were decimated. Every one of Saul’s sons fell to Philistine swords, consisting of his heir, Jonathan. Bad wounded himself, Saul then dropped upon his own sword (I Samuel 31:1-7).

With Israel’s military in headlong retreat, the Philistines swarmed end the Hebrew highlands. Saul’s only surviving son, Ishbaal, to be anointed as his successor, sustained by the north tribes. However the southerly elders saw Hebron, David’s military base, and also in due course anointed David king “over the house of Judah.”

At first, David made decision to overlook the Philistines and instead marched ~ above Jerusalem (II Samuel 5:6). After recording Jerusalem, David was then able to loss the Philistines. Eventually, all of the regions in Canaan come under David’s control.

Kingdom that David

Now, in ~ last, David can turn his fist to structure a state, rule from a suitable Israelite capital. He pitched the time of the Tabernacle to residence the Ark that the Covenant. This was obviously no a satisfactory solution, and the king complained come the Prophet Nathan that “I am living in a house of cedar, yet the ark the God continues to be in a tent” (II Samuel 7:2). An 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 home for mine name” (II Samuel 7:11-13).


According to the publications of Samuel and the subsequent books of Kings, David then broadened his are until Israel had become the dominant state in the Levant, soaking up the nations of Ammon, Moab, and also Edom. Contemporary research has actually questioned this claim, and many scholars think that several of the legendary product surrounding David offered to exalt the as suitable king, as successful in peace as in war, lover by God as well as his people.

Indeed, David’s greatest accomplishment (and that of his boy Solomon) is not the level of their putative realm, but the combination of the quarrelsome tribes into one nation. Part scholars have even questioned even if it is David is a historic figure, despite the exploration of a stela from Tel Dan with the inscription bytdwd (which might mean “House of David”) would certainly argue otherwise.

Notwithstanding David’s political achievements, his an individual life to be filled with conflict and tragedy. David jeopardized his reputation by pursuing the beautiful Bathsheba, who was currently married to Uriah, among David’s top commanders. David ordered him inserted in the front ranking of a plan assault versus the Ammonites, where he was duly killed.

As quickly as Bathsheba finished she time of mourning, David married her, and she boring his son. However the Prophet Nathan sternly rebuked David because that his evil scheming since it had “displeased the Lord,” and also indeed, the baby died (II Samuel 11:27). David then repented before God, and also in return was promised that Bathsheba would bear him a 2nd son. His name was Solomon. As David grew older and feeble, Bathsheba extracted David’s promise the their child Solomon would certainly succeed him. And so it came to pass.

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Entries in this series are excerpts native the National geographical special concern 50 most Influential numbers of the Bible, which was adapted from Who"s who in the Bible: i can not forget People and also Timeless story from Genesis come Revelation, published by National geographic Books.