History and Sources

What else is important about David?

David, second King of the Israelites (born c. 1013 B.C.E.), is one of the most vividly portrayed characters in the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament). He was a warrior, lawgiver, musician, and poet, loyal to his superiors, harsh in his judgments, ruthlessly cruel in war, but singled out by God for glory. He stands at the center of several crucial events in the history of the Israelites and has, accordingly, been a subject of exhaustive study among Jewish scholars for centuries. Christians have been almost equally fascinated with David, some seeing him as an Old Testament foreshadowing of Jesus, and others noting that Matthew’s Gospel begins by tracing Jesus’ lineage through the House of David. David is perhaps best remembered for his epic duel with the giant Goliath (begins I Samuel 17), a Philistine who was demoralizing the Hebrew army by offering single combat that no one dared accept. David, swearing that Yahweh would defend him, took up the challenge. He stepped forward, unarmed, and struck down the giant with a single stone from his slingshot. The Philistines panicked and fled, pursued and cut down by the Israelites. David is also known as the greatest of all Hebrew poets, having singlehandedly composed the biblical Book of Psalms.


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