David | Biography, Summary, Goliath, Bathsheba, Reign, & Facts (2024)


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c. 1000 bce
Notable Family Members:
spouse Abigail
spouse Bathsheba
father Jesse
son Absalom

Top Questions

Where did David grow up?

According to the Bible, David grew up in the rugged Judean hills around the Israelite town of Bethlehem, a few miles south of what was then the Canaanite stronghold of Jerusalem. At the time, Israel was threatened by other peoples in the region, especially the Philistines, who occupied the Mediterranean coastal plain to the west.

What was David’s early life like?

David was the youngest of eight sons of Jesse, a farmer and sheep breeder of the Israelite tribe of Judah. David likely spent much of his boyhood tending his family’s flock. One day he was summoned from the fields by the prophet Samuel, who anointed him king of Israel while Saul was still king.

As a youth, David distinguished himself as a musician and warrior. This gained him the attention of King Saul, for whom he played the harp and fought the Philistines. David’s popularity aroused the king’s jealousy. After Saul tried to kill him, David fled and became a leader of outlaws. When Saul died, David became king.

What did David achieve?

As Israel’s second king, David built a small empire. He conquered Jerusalem, which he made Israel’s political and religious centre. He defeated the Philistines so thoroughly that they never seriously threatened the Israelites’ security again, and he annexed the coastal region. He went on to become the overlord of many small kingdoms bordering Israel.

David (flourished c. 1000 bce) was the second ruler of the united kingdom of ancient Israel and Judah. He founded the Judaean dynasty and united all the tribes of Israel under a single monarch. His son Solomon expanded the empire that David built. David is an important figure in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

Background and sources

The primary evidence for David’s career consists of several chapters in the books 1 and 2 Samuel in the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament). Many of the psalms are also attributed to him, a tribute to his legendary skill as a poet, harpist, and hymnist. Material evidence for his reign, while a matter of intense debate among scholars, is scant. Some scholars claim to have discovered artifacts that corroborate the biblical account of David’s kingdom. Others assert that the archaeological record strongly suggests that David was not the grand ruler of a rising kingdom but merely a gifted tribal leader of a pastoral, rather than urban, society. A fragment from a stone stela mentioning the “house of David” (a reference to his political dynasty) was inscribed more than a century after the traditional date of his reign and is not accepted by all scholars. The following article is largely drawn from the biblical account of David’s reign.

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Early life

According to 1 Samuel, David was the youngest son of Jesse, a man of Bethlehem, and served as a shepherd for his father before beginning his career as an aide at the court of Saul, Israel’s first king. When Israel came into conflict with the Philistines, a people from a neighbouring region, David’s brothers went to fight for King Saul. Young David would travel back and forth to the camp to bring his brothers food and supplies. According to 1 Samuel 17, Goliath, a heavily armed Philistine giant, challenged Saul for 40 days to send out a man to fight him. No one would face this warrior until David, armed only with a sling and stones, volunteered. David hit the giant in the forehead with a stone and killed him. He continued to distinguish himself as a warrior in the ongoing battles against the Philistines, and his resultant popularity aroused Saul’s jealousy. Fearing that the people would make David king, Saul plotted to kill him. With the help of his loyal friend Jonathan, Saul’s eldest son, David fled into southern Judah and Philistia, on the coastal plain of Palestine, where, with great sagacity and foresight, he began to lay the foundations of his career.

As an outlaw with a price on his head, David led the life of a Robin Hood on the desert frontier of his tribal domain in Judah (in the south of the Levant). He became the leader and organizer of a group of other outlaws and refugees, who progressively ingratiated themselves with the local population by protecting them from other bandits or, in case they had been raided, by pursuing the raiders and restoring the possessions that had been taken. Although the boy David was anointed by the prophet Samuel as the future king of Israel (1 Samuel 16), his actions in exile helped ensure that he would be “invited” to become king as the true successor of Saul after Saul and Jonathan were slain in battle against the Philistines on Mount Gilboa.


The exploits of David and the events of his monarchy are related in 2 Samuel. After mourning the death of Saul and executing an Amalekite who claimed to have killed the former king, David began to consolidate his position as the successor to Saul. He was proclaimed king of Judah in Hebron whileIshbosheth, Saul’s eldest surviving son, reigned in northern Israel, and a long war of attrition developed between the two houses. Ishbosheth’s position became exceedingly insecure following the death of his general, Abner. He was eventually beheaded by his own courtiers, whom David, in turn, executed for murdering the last ruler of the house of Saul. David made a covenant with the elders of northern Israel and was then anointed as king over all of Israel.

He next conquered the Jebusite (Canaanite) stronghold of Jerusalem, which he made the capital of the new united kingdom. He selected this city as his new capital because it was a neutral site and neither the northerners nor the southerners would be adverse to the selection. From the very beginning of his reign, David showed the political astuteness and acumen that made for him a reputation that has continued for 3,000 years.

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Expansion of the Davidic empire

The latter two-thirds of 2 Samuel contains the account of the reign of David from Jerusalem. After establishing Jerusalem as his capital, he defeated the Philistines so thoroughly that they were never again a serious threat to the Israelites’ security, and he annexed the coastal region. He went on to establish an empire by becoming the overlord of many small kingdoms bordering Israel, including Edom, Moab, and Ammon. His minor empire stretched from Egypt in the south to Lebanon in the north and from the Mediterranean Sea in the west to the Arabian Desert in the east. He thus controlled the crossroads of the great empires of the ancient Near East.

His second act of political astuteness was to bring the sacred Ark of the Covenant, the supreme symbol of Israelite religion, to Jerusalem. David was unable to build a temple, but, with the ark in Jerusalem, the city became both the political and the religious cult centre of his kingdom.

David’s great success as a warrior and empire builder was marred by interconnected family dissensions and political revolts. To tie together the various groups that constituted his kingdom, David took wives from them and created a harem. The resultant family was an extreme departure from the family in the consanguineous context, the traditional clan structure. David’s wives were mostly completely alien to one another, and his children were without the directing support of established social patterns that provided precedents for the resolution of conflict or for establishing the rights of succession.

Though he showed generosity to Mephibosheth, the sole surviving son of the house of Saul, David showed his weakness for the beauty ofBathsheba, the wife of Uriah, one of his generals. After ensuring Uriah’s death by sending him onto the front lines in a battle with the Ammonites, David married Bathsheba, who had become pregnant by the king. When the prophet Nathan came to David and told him of a rich man’s unjust actions toward a poor man, David’s response was one of anger and a demand for justice, whereupon Nathan said, “You are the man,” and that God would exact retribution by not allowing the child to live. David then repented. Bathsheba later conceived and bore another child, Solomon, who was to be the future king of Israel.

The authors of the biblical accounts (in 1 and 2 Samuel) of David’s political career display a deep insight into the character of a man who could make an indelible personal impression in a specific situation. Along with that ability to exploit the immediate situation in the service of his momentary requirements, he possessed the knack of making his conduct in particular situations serve his persistent and long-range aims.

J. Coert Rylaarsdam The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica

David | Biography, Summary, Goliath, Bathsheba, Reign, & Facts (2024)


What are some facts about the story of David and Goliath? ›

According to 1 Samuel 17, Goliath, a heavily armed Philistine giant, challenged Saul for 40 days to send out a man to fight him. No one would face this warrior until David, armed only with a sling and stones, volunteered. David hit the giant in the forehead with a stone and killed him.

What is the summary of the story of David? ›

David, who was a shepherd in his youth, became King of Israel and ruled during 1090-970 BCE. He is most famous for playing the harp while worshiping God and for killing the Philistine giant, Goliath, with a slingshot and a rock.

What happened in the story of David and Bathsheba? ›

David then ordered that Uriah be moved to the front-line of a battle, where he was killed. David married the widowed Bathsheba, but their first child died as punishment from God for David's adultery and murder of Uriah. David repented of his sins, and Bathsheba later gave birth to Solomon.

What is the story of David and Bathsheba book? ›

David and Bathsheba is a spellbinding story of a gifted king and the woman he loved but could not have. Told from Bathsheba's perspective, author Roberta Kells Dorr bring to life the passion that almost cost David his kingdom and tested a people's courage and faith in God.

What is the main lesson of David and Goliath? ›

When the Philistines saw their champion defeated, they fled for their lives. Before this fight, most people would've said David didn't stand a chance. But David showed that “with God nothing shall be impossible” (Luke 1:37). With God's help, you can stand your ground with faith and be triumphant.

What is the moral of the story of David and Goliath? ›

Moral Of The Story

This story teaches an important lesson of bravery, courage and faith. It was with immense faith that David faced Goliath and came our victorious. From the giant Goliath's attitude we also learn that pride leads to fall and one should never underestimate their opponent.

What are three things David is known for? ›

David, king of Israel, is well-known for many things, from his astounding faith before Goliath, to his terrible sins against Bathsheba and her husband, to his heartfelt psalms of praise and repentance.

Why did David fight Goliath? ›

When Goliath saw David, he shouted and made fun of him. He said a shepherd boy could not beat him. David shouted back that he trusted the Lord to protect him! David said he would beat Goliath to show the Lord's greatness.

What did God tell David to do? ›

"Now then, tell my servant David, `This is what the LORD Almighty says: I took you from the pasture and from following the flock to be ruler over my people Israel. I have been with you wherever you have gone, and I have cut off all your enemies from before you.

Why did David fall into sin? ›

David was under the displeasure of the Almighty, for his adultery with Bath-sheba, and his murder of Uriah; and God let his enemies loose against him.

How many wives did David have? ›

David דָּוִד‎
Consort8 wives: Michal Ahinoam Abigail Maachah Haggith Abital Eglah Bathsheba
Issue18+ children, including: Amnon Chileab Absalom Adonijah Shephatiah Ithream Shammua Shobab Nathan Solomon Ibhar Elishua Eliphalet Nogah Nepheg Japhia Elishama Eliada Jerimoth Tamar
HouseHouse of David
7 more rows

How did Bathsheba became David's wife? ›

From his roof, King David (reigns c. 1005–965 BCE) sees beautiful Bathsheba, wife of Uriah, bathing, and he lies with her. Uriah is summoned from the front to cover for the resulting pregnancy, but when he refuses to go home, the king has him slain in battle. David then marries the widowed Bathsheba, who bears a son.

Who is David in the Bible summary? ›

David, king of Judah and Israel, is one of the most significant people in the entire Bible. His reign shaped the entire nation of Israel, and Jesus himself is known as the 'Son of David. ' His story occupies the majority of the books of 1 and 2 Samuel in the Old Testament.

How old was Bathsheba when David impregnated her? ›

Bath-sheba, the granddaughter of Ahithophel, David's famous counselor, was only eight years and eight months of age when her son Solomon was born, while some maintain that she was not older than six (Sanh. 69b).

How tall was Goliath? ›

Goliath (/ɡəˈlaɪəθ/ gə-LY-əth) is a Philistine warrior in the Book of Samuel. Descriptions of Goliath's immense stature vary among biblical sources, with the Masoretic Text describing him as 9 feet 9 inches (2.97 m) tall.

Did Goliath have 100 fathers? ›

Orpah was said to have made a pretense of accompanying Ruth but after forty paces left her. Thereafter she led a dissolute life. According to the Jerusalem Talmud, Goliath was born by polyspermy, and had about one hundred fathers.

Why is the story of David and Goliath important? ›

Having faith in God, David defeats Goliath, which makes him a hero to the Israelites and propels him to eventually be declared king. It is a tale of courage, duty, and faith in God, a tale of Israel being called into covenant relationship with Yahweh.

What is the big idea of David and Goliath? ›

In DAVID AND GOLIATH, Malcolm Gladwell challenges how we think about obstacles and disadvantages, offering a new interpretation of what it means to be discriminated against, suffer from a disability, lose a parent, attend a mediocre school, or endure any number of other apparent setbacks.

What did David and Goliath fight about? ›

David Was Concerned About God's Reputation: The fact that Goliath was taunting Israel bothered David tremendously, not so much because of his national pride but because Israel represented God's chosen people. To attack Israel was to attack the God of Israel.


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