King David

Biblical Figure

Born: c. 1040 B.C.
Died: c. 970 B.C.
Birthplace: Bethlehem, Judea
Best known as: The child giant-slayer who became Israel's king
The heroic yet human life of David, ancient Israel's most important king, is told in the biblical books 1 Samuel, 2 Samuel, 1 Kings and 1 Chronicles. The eighth and youngest son of Jesse of Bethlehem, David is appointed to be court musician and armor-bearer for Israel's first king, Saul. The boy kills a giant enemy soldier, Goliath, becomes intimate friends with Saul's son, Jonathan, and eventually succeeds Saul as king. Under David's rule (circa 1010 to 970 B.C.), Israel's regions unite and win battles with surrounding enemies. Jerusalem comes to be known as the "City of David" and the center of government and worship. David's turbulent personal life includes adultery with a soldier's wife, Bathsheba, and the death of his own rebel son, Absalom. Before he dies he anoints another son, Solomon, the next king. David's lineage holds an honored place in two religions: Judaism, which awaits the coming of the "Messiah, son of David," and Christianity, whose scriptures trace Jesus's Davidic ancestry.
Extra credit: Many prayers and songs in the biblical book of Psalms have headings that associate them with David. Their actual authorship is uncertain... Islam's Koran lists David as a prophet (Sura 6), noting in Sura 38 his repentance for his sin with Bathsheba... Michelangelo's sculpture of David is considered a classic of Renaissance art... The Star of David, a Jewish symbol in recent centuries, appears on the flag of the modern state of Israel... David has been portrayed many times in the movies, by actors including Gregory Peck (David and Bathsheba, 1951), Richard Gere (King David, 1985) and Max von Sydow (the TV movie Solomon, 2005).

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