Next to Jesus Christ, King David is perhaps the most written about person in the entire Bible. This is because he was a very righteous man, one who pleased God so much, that he is the only person in the Bible to be called “a man after God’s own heart” (1 Samuel 13:14). In fact, God was so pleased with David that he made a very important promise to him – one that he had made to many of his forefathers. The promise was that he would have a descendant that would rule his kingdom on Earth forever in righteousness (2 Samuel 7:13,14). This was the same promise made to Adam and Eve (Genesis 3:15) and Abraham (Genesis 12:3), and was fulfilled in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ (Matthew 1:1).
So what was so special about David?
Despite the amazing life David would go on to live, he did not start out in the company of kings; in fact, he wasn’t even of royal lineage. He was born to a humble shepherding family, was the grandson of a foreigner named Ruth; and the youngest of eight brothers. It was his job to tend the sheep. Being a shepherd taught David many things that would help him to be a good king, even though he did not realize it at the time. It taught him how to care for a large group of living beings and how to defend them from powerful enemies. He also connected with God by finding peace in nature – His creation. He learned to be humble.
Understandably, David was completely caught “out of the blue,” when as a young man, God’s prophet Samuel came to anoint him king of Israel. The current king of Israel had plenty of accomplished sons that should have been anointed as his replacement, but Samuel came to David instead. The problem was, that God needed to establish a new royal line for the kingdom of Israel, which was quite embarrassing for the nation because they had only just set up their monarchy. Before that, Israel was a theocracy, or a nation ruled by priests on behalf of God. The Israelites had decided, however, that they wanted to fit in with the other nations around them, and wanted God to be represented by one man – a king of their choosing. Essentially, the first king, Saul, was a non-starter. He seemed to be a strong, confident, handsome and intelligent man to the people, but he was actually full of pride and cowardice. He did not trust God, who really made him king in the first place, and consequently made many bad decisions in ruling the people of Israel. Saul “dropped the ball” in his leadership, and it was up to humble David to pick it up.
Perhaps no story shows how different David was from Saul than the story of David and Goliath (1 Samuel 17). The Philistines were ancient rivals of the Israelites and had come to fight them yet again. Goliath was a giant, a hero of the Philistines, who came out and challenged Israel to send out one of their best men to fight him. That man should have been Israel’s hero, King Saul, but he and all his warriors simply stood back. It wasn’t until David came along that anyone would stand up to Goliath. He found out about the challenge while delivering supplies to his brothers at the front, and offered to fight the giant himself. Unlike Saul, he had faith that God was on his side, and with a mere sling and a stone, he took down Goliath.
Though David was not named king in this moment, David’s courage and faith here set the stage for Israel to accept him as the new king at the downfall of Saul and his son in a later battle. As king, David would go on to have many other great (and not so great) stories, like the story of Goliath – all recorded in the Bible for us to read! No king after David would ever fully live up to his wonderful example, until the birth of his “greater son,” the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus is the fulfillment of God’s promise to the faithful men and women in David’s family – a family that you and I can become a part of through repentance for our sin, faith in God and baptism into the name of Jesus Christ, who died for us!