The Accomplishments of King David


He was born son of Jesse and became known as the fearless shepherd boy slayer of giants (Goliath). Young David learned the value of true friendship from Jonathon, son of King Saul, who protected him from the demented king. Artistic and musically gifted, he played instruments and wrote numerous poems and songs. Biblical writings say his mystical talented harp playing soothed King Saul’s disturbed mind and spirit, making him a favored figure in the King’s court.

David was described as a handsome man beloved and chosen of Yahweh, to become King of Judah and reign over the houses of Israel by defeating the enemies of the Israelites in battle. It would be David, not Saul who would defeat the Philistines, Moabites, Ammonites, Syrians and Edomites …..”The Lord gave David victory wherever he went.” II Samuel 8:6 NIV

His rule would establish the “lineage of the House of David” that would produce the Christian Messiah.

Established his palace-city in Jerusalem

He established his palace-city in Jerusalem when he became the third King of the Israelites to rule over a united kingdom. His rule would prepare the way for his son Solomon to reign in peace.

King David was a chosen leader of men, but a man whose life was not always blessed. Historians and religious scholars have argued throughout history, as to whether, he was an ancient literary character, a “hero-myth” created over the years by Jewish scribes, or a real person. His life and story are critical to the Christian faith and a major influence in the development of the Judaic religion.

Many scholars point out that over time historical literature exaggerates the image of heroes and protagonists. The historians and scribes of the “Davidic dynasty” most likely exacerbated their beloved King’s life and legend, but they did not fabricate it from the wisp of a myth. David was a real man and a King of Israel.

It has been said that King David, whose story evolves over 50 or so years of his life, which in itself is not common in ancient writings, exemplifies “the first Machiavellian prince in literature” (Alter). His story is much like many of Shakespeare’s hero-protagonists. There exists intrigue, a handsome prince (shepherd),a battle, adversity, and tragic love stories. He was a historical character of many dimensions that has withstood centuries of theological scrutiny.

Robert Alter of the University of California, [who wrote The David Story: A Translation with Commentary of 1 and 2 Samuel] states that “scholars are wrong when they claim (David) was merely a national legend like King Arthur in England. If the scribes of 3,000 years ago were merely writing patriotic mythology. they would surely not have given David so many faults. His failings were probably part of his real history, and couldn’t be ignored because they were so well known.”

Biblical and Ancient History scholar, Baruch Halpern (Penn State University), has done extensive investigation into the Davidic tradition and story. He believes that over time David’s accomplishments were made bigger than life, but this further adds credibility to the historical David and his humanity. Halpern sees David as “a politician who operated in a rough-and-tumble environment in which competitors were ready literally to slit throats.” Archaeological evidence points clearly to the fact David was a real flesh and blood person who became a charismatic hero-king for his people and all people of the Christian Faith, while written documents reveal the fragility of his humanity in the stories of the errors he made and sins he committed. Few legendary heroes and mythological characters have as many flaws as David. These points of grace and acts of “sin” make him the ancient “man for all seasons”, who reflects humanity at its best and its worst, while still being loved by the creator.

The world will never know with certainty who wrote the books of Samuel which tell his story, but the scribes of King Solomon’s palace probably wrote the basic information to honor Solomon and the reign of his father, King David. Then with time, the story expanded, and King David’s saga and character became bigger than life! The talented shepherd became the charismatic hero King…… a paradox full of intrigue and he wore many titles: Giant Slayer, Banished Exile, Adulterer, Murderer, Gifted & Talented Musician, Poet, Cunning Politician, Beloved King, Chosen of God, Father of Solomon. Was he a real man or a hero-legend? The evidence points strongly toward his being real and not a myth.

His accomplishments as recorded in scripture include:

* 73 Psalms are credited him as a writer. [This is a debatable issue] * Third King to rule over a united kingdom. * he expanded the kingdom by defeating 4 major nation-tribes and established the “houses of Israel” as a Nation.

* David conquered Jerusalem and made it the “capital” city of the kingdom and laid the cornerstone for Jewish claims to the city. * he brought the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem. * David’s reign established the “Davidic Dynasty” and fulfilled the prophetic vision that the “messiah” would come from the “Tree of Jesse” and “House of David”.

Sources: NIV Bible, Word Publishing, 1994 The David Story, Robert Alter, W.W. Norton & Co., N.Y., 1999 David’s Secret Demons: Messiah, Murderer, Traitor, King, 2003

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