King David

King David, who ruled after King Saul, was Israel’s second and greatest king. He was the son of Jesse and was raised as a shepherd. His story is told in the Bible in the book of Samuel, and he is perhaps most well known for the story of David and Goliath.

Goliath was a Philistine and a giant, estimated by some to be nine and one-half feet tall. At the time of his encounter with David, the Philistines were at war with the Israelites. Before marching into battle, however, Goliath challenged the Israelites to send out a warrior who could defeat him. Goliath made this challenge daily for forty days, but no Israelite accepted it. Finally, David, who was still a teenager and was only present at the battleground because he was bringing food to his older brothers, rose to the occasion.

King Saul was amused by David’s bravery and offered him a weapon and armor, but David refused. He marched out to meet Goliath armed only with a sling and some stones. Before Goliath could strike, David slung a stone that hit Goliath in the head, knocking him down. David then seized Goliath’s sword and decapitated him, completing the upset victory.

From this moment on, David’s popularity soared throughout Israel. King Saul began to perceive him as a threat and tried to have him killed. Saul’s own son and heir, Jonathan, befriended David and helped him survive. Eventually, David was chosen to succeed Saul as Israel’s second king.

As king, David unified the Northern and Southern tribes of Israel and moved the capital to Jerusalem. He ruled for approximately forty years beginning around 1000 BC, but not without difficulty. While king, David fell in love with and impregnated a married woman named Bathsheba. In order to cover up his sin, he ordered that her husband, a soldier in his army, be sent to the front lines, where he was killed. In response, God dispatched a prophet, Nathan, to confront David with his crime.

Despite his imperfection, Jewish belief holds that God promised David his lineage would rule Israel forever. The Jewish messianic tradition therefore holds that when the Messiah arrives, he will be a descendant of David.

ADDITIONAL FACT

  1. It is speculated that Goliath’s size may have been the result of a pituitary gland defect, causing abnormal growth. Another hypothetical symptom of this defect would be tunnel vision, perhaps explaining how David could have sneaked up on him without Goliath’s knowledge.
 
 
 

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