Category: (01) What should we learn from the life of David?

Ish-bosheth was a son of King Saul. His story is discussed in 2 Samuel chapters 2 through 4. David was king in the city of Hebron and over the tribe of Judah. Ish-bosheth was made king over the rest of Israel: “Abner son of Ner, the commander of Saul’s army, had taken Ish-Bosheth son of Saul and brought him over to Mahanaim. He made him king over Gilead, Ashuri and Jezreel, and also over Ephraim, Benjamin and all Israel. Ish-Bosheth son of Saul was forty years old when he became king over Israel, and he reigned two years. The tribe of Judah, however, remained loyal to David” (2 Samuel 2:8–10).

Following a battle at Gibeon between Judah and Israel, Abner chose to join David. Abner was a military leader to Ish-bosheth, who accused Abner of sleeping with his concubine. In his anger over the false charge, Abner vowed to turn the rest of Israel over to David (2 Samuel 3:7–11).

During this time, “Rekab and Baanah, the sons of Rimmon the Beerothite, set out for the house of Ish-Bosheth, and they arrived there in the heat of the day while he was taking his noonday rest. They went into the inner part of the house as if to get some wheat, and they stabbed him in the stomach” (2 Samuel 4:5–6). The assassins brought the head of Ish-bosheth to David, expecting to receive a reward. Yet David was displeased at their merciless action and had these men killed, their feet and hands cut off, and their bodies hanged beside a pool in Hebron. In contrast, the head of Ish-bosheth was buried in Hebron (2 Samuel 4:12). These events took place after David had ruled at Hebron for about seven and a half years.

The end of Ish-bosheth’s life, though violent, opened the door for David’s rule to expand from Judah to all of Israel. The prophecy of long ago finally came true: David was the king of all Israel (2 Samuel 5:2). “When all the elders of Israel had come to King David at Hebron, the king made a covenant with them at Hebron before the Lord, and they anointed David king over Israel. David was thirty years old when he became king, and he reigned forty years. In Hebron he reigned over Judah seven years and six months, and in Jerusalem he reigned over all Israel and Judah thirty-three years” (2 Samuel 5:3–5).

Despite the many violent acts that took place between the people of David’s kingdom and the kingdom of Ish-bosheth, God was at work, preparing the way for His promise to be fulfilled. David ultimately reigned over Israel from Jerusalem. He served as an ancestor to Jesus Christ, the One who will ultimately reign forever.

King David had many wives, according to the Bible, although only eight of them are named. Of the eight, five are mentioned only once. The other three wives figure prominently in the story of King David.

David’s first wife was Michal, the daughter of King Saul. Her story begins in 1 Samuel 18—19. Saul gave Michal to David to marry after David defeated a hundred Philistines. But Saul, always fearful of young David’s popularity with the people, planned to kill his new son-in-law. However, Michal, who loved David, warned him of the plot and helped him escape. Following this, Saul gave Michal to another man. After David became king, Michal was restored as his wife (2 Samuel 3). She later despised David when she saw him dancing before the Lord (2 Samuel 6:14–22). Michal had no children, perhaps in punishment for mocking the servant of the Lord (verse 23).

The story of David’s second wife of note, Abigail, is told in 1 Samuel 25. She was originally the wife of Nabal, an evil man who disrespected David. In his anger, David planned to attack and kill Nabal and all his household. Abigail, a wise and prudent woman, met David as he and his men were approaching. She bowed down to him and convinced him not to seek revenge and cause bloodshed. David recognized that her good judgment was a gift to him from God. Abigail returned to Nabal and told him how close he had come to death. Nabal’s “heart failed him and he became like stone” (verse 37). Ten days later, God struck Nabal and he died, and Abigail then became David’s wife.

The sad story of David’s wife Bathsheba is well known (2 Samuel 11:1–17). She was originally the wife of Uriah the Hittite, a trusted soldier in David’s army. While Uriah was away at war, David saw Bathsheba bathing in her courtyard one night; she was beautiful, and David lusted after her. Even knowing she was another man’s wife, David summoned her to his palace and slept with her. When she found that she was pregnant, she informed David, and the king, rather than repent, added to his sin. David ordered that Uriah be placed on the front lines of the battlefield where he was abandoned by his fellow soldiers and killed by the enemy. Then David married Bathsheba, but their child died shortly after birth. David chronicled his sin and repentance over these evil acts in Psalm 51. David and Bathsheba had four more children (1 Chronicles 3:5). Their son Solomon ruled after his father’s death.

The other five named wives of David were Ahinoam, Maacah, Haggith, Abital, and Eglah (2 Samuel 3:2–5; 1 Chronicles 3:1–3). According to 2 Samuel 5:13, David married more wives in Jerusalem, but how many is unknown.

Second Samuel 23:8–39 and 1 Chronicles 11:10–47 list a group of people known as mighty men of David or David’s mighty men. They are also referred to as the “thirty chiefs” (1 Chronicles 11:15) and simply “the Thirty” (1 Chronicles 12:4). These mighty men of David were a group of David’s toughest military warriors who were credited with heroic feats, including Josheb-basshebeth, who killed 800 men in one battle with a spear (2 Samuel 23:8).

Additional notable actions listed include the deeds of a man named Eleazar, who stayed on the battlefield when other warriors fled and killed Philistines until his hand was stuck clenched around his sword (2 Samuel 23:9–10); and the exploits of Abishai, the leader of the mighty men, who killed 300 men with a spear (23:18).

Benaiah was known for going into a pit on a snowy day and killing a lion and for killing a powerful Egyptian man with the man’s own spear (2 Samuel 23:20–21). He also served as leader of David’s bodyguards (23:23).

Within this list of mighty men are three men who served as a special elite group: Josheb-basshebeth, Eleazar, and Shammah. Their exact roles are not made clear, but they were certainly seen as stand-outs among David’s mighty men.

Although the mighty men are called “the Thirty,” a total of 37 men are listed, meaning that not all of these men were on the team the entire time. Some of them, like Uriah, were killed in battle during David’s reign. Another explanation may be that David’s elite group of mighty men numbered approximately 30, a figure was not meant to be exact.

Some of these mighty men of David had considerable military skill and the blessing of God. David’s mighty men served an important role in protecting the king and fighting for the freedom of their nation, the land of Israel.

The full list of the mighty men of David is located in 2 Samuel 23 and includes the following names:

1. Josheb-basshebeth, a Tahchemonite
2. Eleazar, the son of Dodo
3. Shammah, the son of Agee the Hararite
4. Abishai
5. Benaiah
6. Asahel
7. Elhanan
8. Shammah of Harod
9. Elika of Harod
10. Helez the Paltite
11. Ira, the son of Ikkesh of Tekoa
12. Abiezer of Anthoth
13. Mebunnai the Hushathite
14. Zalmon the Ahohite
15. Maharai of Netophah
16. Heleb, the son of Baanah of Netophah
17. Ittai, the son of Ribai of Gibeah of the people of Benjamin
18. Benaiah of Pirathon
19. Hiddai of the brooks of Gaash
20. Abi-albon the Arbathite
21. Azmaveth of Bahurim
22. Eliahba the Shaalbonite
23. The sons of Jashen
24. Jonathan
25. Shammah the Hararite
26. Ahiam, the son of Sharar the Hararite
27. Eliphelet, the son of Ahasbai of Maacha
28. Eliam, the son of Ahithophel of Gilo
29. Hezro of Carmel
30. Paarai the Arbite
31. Igal, the son of Nathan of Zobah
32. Bani the Gadite
33. Zelek the Ammonite
34. Naharai of Beeroth
35. Ira the Ithrite
36. Gareb the Ithrite
37. Uriah the Hittite

Michal was the first wife of David and the daughter of King Saul of the tribe of Benjamin. She is first mentioned in 1 Samuel 14:49 as the younger of Saul’s two daughters. David was the youngest son of Jesse from the tribe of Judah. He served as a shepherd in his youth and was known for playing the harp. He played for King Saul before being promoted as his armor bearer. David came to national prominence in Israel when he killed the Philistine giant Goliath, an event that resulted in a major military victory (1 Samuel 16).

After the defeat of Goliath, Saul offered his older daughter Merab to David as a wife. David felt unworthy of this honor, and Merab was given to a man named Adriel instead (1 Samuel 18:17).

First Samuel 18:20 notes, “Saul’s daughter Michal was in love with David, and when they told Saul about it, he was pleased.” Saul requested an odd bride price, however—a hundred foreskins of the Philistines. He demanded this price in order to see David killed: “Saul’s plan was to have David fall by the hands of the Philistines” (1 Samuel 18:25). However, David completed the mission and took Michal as his wife, making Saul an even greater enemy to him.

Later, Saul sent men to kill David, but Michal helped David escape through a window, and she covered for him with a story that he was sick. She afterwards claimed David had threatened to kill her if she didn’t help him (1 Samuel 19:11–17). In 1 Samuel 25:44, we discover Michal was taken from David and given as a bride to Palti son of Laish. After Saul died in a battle against the Philistines, David demanded Michal back as his wife as a condition of his becoming king of Judah. His condition was met (2 Samuel 3:13–16).

The only other biblical account of David and Michal concerns David’s bringing the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem. Second Samuel 6:16 says that David danced with all his might before the Lord and that his wife “despised him in her heart.” We are then told, “Michal daughter of Saul came out to meet him and said, ‘How the king of Israel has distinguished himself today, going around half-naked in full view of the slave girls of his servants as any vulgar fellow would!’” (2 Samuel 6:20). David rebuked Michal, and the final verse of the chapter notes that Michal had no children.

What began as a “celebrity marriage” in Israel involved a series of dramatic events that ultimately led to David choosing multiple wives. Michal chose to speak against her husband and went through her life childless. Though David was a man after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22), his marriage relationships were problematic. Through David and Michal’s relationship, God worked despite their sinful nature, and the Lord likewise calls us today to live for Him despite past failures to pursue His direction for our lives.

David was a shepherd boy who became the second king of Israel, and Nathan served as a prophet in Israel during the reigns of David and Solomon. Scripture records three major occasions in which David and Nathan interacted.

First, David and Nathan meet in 2 Samuel 7 regarding David’s desire to build a temple for the Lord (cf. 1 Chronicles 17). In verse 3 David shares, “See now, I dwell in a house of cedar, but the ark of God dwells in a tent.” Nathan at first encouraged David to move forward with whatever plans he had. Yet that night the Lord spoke to Nathan, giving this message for David: “When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever” (2 Samuel 7:12–13). Nathan shared this with David. David put his plans for the temple on hold and responded to God’s guidance with a prayer of gratitude.

The second recorded meeting between David and Nathan is not so congenial. In 2 Samuel 12 Nathan confronts David regarding his relationship with Bathsheba and the cover-up of their affair. The Lord had commanded Nathan to share a story of a rich man who took and killed a poor man’s only lamb. David was justifiably angry at the injustice (verses 5–6). Nathan then answered, “You are the man!” (verse 7). David had blood on his hands. He was guilty of killing Bathsheba’s husband as well as committing adultery. God brought judgment upon David for his sin, including the death of his and Bathsheba’s child. However, David repented, was forgiven, and remained king.

The third meeting of the king and prophet occurs in 1 Kings 1, near the end of David’s life. David’s son Adonijah sought to take over the kingdom, setting himself up as king. Nathan, who was not part of the plot, came with Bathsheba to King David to discuss the situation. Upon hearing of Adonijah’s treachery, David appointed his son Solomon as king. Nathan and Zadok the priest then anointed Solomon as king (1 Kings 1:45), and Adonijah’s supporters disbanded (verse 49).

In addition to serving King David, Nathan also wrote what are called the records of Nathan the prophet (1 Chronicles 29:29; 2 Chronicles 9:29) that detailed the events of David’s and Solomon’s reigns. This lost writing was likely used as a resource in the writing of 1 and 2 Chronicles.

Nathan the prophet was a blessing to King David. He was a close, trusted friend. He spoke truth to David, even when that truth was difficult to hear. He was loyal in his service to the king and faithful to God and His Word. These are all important traits to possess in any friendship. It says something that David and Bathsheba later named one of their sons “Nathan” (1 Chronicles 3:5).

The story of David and Bathsheba is one of the most dramatic accounts in the Old Testament. One night in Jerusalem, King David was walking upon his rooftop when he spotted a beautiful woman bathing nearby (2 Samuel 11:2). David asked his servants about her and was told she was Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah the Hittite, one of David’s mighty men (2 Samuel 23:39). Despite her marital status, David summoned Bathsheba to the palace, and they slept together.

Bathsheba later discovered she was pregnant (2 Samuel 11:5). When the king was told of this, he asked for Uriah to report back to him from the battlefield. David sent him home that evening, hoping Uriah would sleep with his wife and thus provide a cover for the pregnancy. Instead of obeying orders, Uriah slept in the quarters of the king’s servants, refusing to enjoy a respite while his men on the battlefield were still in harm’s way (2 Samuel 11:9–11). Uriah did the same thing the next night as well, showing integrity in sharp contrast to David’s lack thereof.

David then commanded his military leader, Joab, to have Uriah placed on the front lines of battle and then to purposefully fall back from him, leaving Uriah exposed to enemy attack. Joab followed the directive, and Uriah was killed in battle. After her time of mourning, Bathsheba married David and gave birth to a son. “But,” 2 Samuel 11:27 notes, “the thing David had done displeased the LORD.”

When the child was born, the Lord sent the prophet Nathan to confront David. Nathan used a parable: a rich man took a poor man’s only sheep and killed it, even though he had many flocks of his own. David, a former shepherd, was so angered by this story, which he thought was true, that he responded, “As surely as the Lord lives, the man who did this must die! He must pay for that lamb four times over, because he did such a thing and had no pity” (2 Samuel 12:5–6).

Nathan then pointed to David and uttered the chilling words, “You are the man!” (2 Samuel 12:7). David was the one guilty of this sin, and judgment would be upon his house in the form of ongoing violence. David repented (see Psalm 51), and Nathan said, “The Lord has taken away your sin. You are not going to die. But because by doing this you have shown utter contempt for the Lord, the son born to you will die” (2 Samuel 12:13–14). The child did die a week later, and David’s household experienced further hardship in later years. In total, four of David’s sons suffered untimely deaths—the “four times over” judgment he had pronounced upon himself.

In this account we find many lessons. First, secret sin will be found out. Second, God will forgive anyone who repents. Third, sin’s consequences remain even when the sin is forgiven. Fourth, God can work even in difficult situations. In fact, Bathsheba’s next son, Solomon, became the heir to the throne. Even in bad situations, God has a plan that serves His sovereign purpose.

First Chronicles 3:1–9 lists the sons of David. The list reads like this:

“These were the sons of David born to him in Hebron:
The firstborn was Amnon the son of Ahinoam of Jezreel;
the second, Daniel the son of Abigail of Carmel;
the third, Absalom the son of Maakah daughter of Talmai king of Geshur;
the fourth, Adonijah the son of Haggith;
the fifth, Shephatiah the son of Abital;
and the sixth, Ithream, by his wife Eglah.
These six were born to David in Hebron, where he reigned seven years and six months.
David reigned in Jerusalem thirty-three years, and these were the children born to him there:

Shammua, Shobab, Nathan and Solomon. These four were by Bathsheba daughter of Ammiel. There were also Ibhar, Elishua, Eliphelet, Nogah, Nepheg, Japhia, Elishama, Eliada and Eliphelet—nine in all. All these were the sons of David, besides his sons by his concubines. And Tamar was their sister.”

Breaking down this list, we first have David’s six sons born in Hebron: 1) Amnon, 2) Daniel, 3) Absalom, 4) Adonijah, 5) Shephatiah, and 6) Ithream.

Next, we have the thirteen sons born to David in Jerusalem: 7) Shimea, 8) Shobab, 9) Nathan, 10) Solomon, 11) Ibhar, 12) Elishama, 13) Eliphelet, 14) Nogah, 15) Nepheg, 16) Japhia, 17) Elishama, 18) Eliada, and 19) Eliphelet.

In addition to the nineteen sons David had by his wives, were a number of unnamed sons David fathered through his concubines. He also had a daughter named Tamar. Another son named Jerimoth is mentioned in 2 Chronicles 11:18, although it is unclear whether he is one of the sons mentioned above (using another name) or one of David’s sons by a concubine.

David also had a son with Bathsheba before she bore Solomon. This son died seven days after his birth (2 Samuel 12:16–23), and it is possible that he is not included in this list. If so, the sons of David with his wives would total at least 20. To that total we would add all the unnamed sons of his concubines.

At least three of David’s sons died during David’s lifetime. In addition to the death of Bathsheba’s first son were the deaths of his sons Amnon and Absalom. Another son, Adonijah, was executed shortly after David’s death for trying to usurp the throne (1 Kings 2:25).

David’s son Solomon succeeded him as king and later built the temple of the Lord that David had dreamed of building. Ultimately, Jesus Christ was born as a descendant of David (Matthew 1:1), providing a fulfillment of prophecy and bestowing the greatest possible honor to King David.

We know from 1 Samuel  18:1 that Jonathan loved David. Second  Samuel 1:26 records David’s lament after Jonathan’s death, in which he said  that his love for Jonathan was more wonderful than the love of a woman. Some use  these two passages to suggest a homosexual relationship between David and  Jonathan. This interpretation, however, should be rejected for at least three  reasons.

First, the Hebrew word for “love” used here is not the typical  word used for sexual activity. This word for “love” has clear political and  diplomatic connotations (see 1 Samuel  16:21 and 1 Kings  5:1). Second, David’s comparison of his relationship with Jonathan with that  of women is probably a reference to his experience with King Saul’s daughter. He  was promised one of Saul’s daughters for killing Goliath. But Saul continued to  add conditions upon this marriage with the underlying desire to have David  killed in battle (1 Samuel  18:17, 25). The  love David had received from Jonathan was greater than anything he could have  received from Saul’s daughter. Third, the Bible clearly and consistently  denounces homosexuality (Genesis  1:26-27; Leviticus  18:22; 20:13Romans  1:18-25). Extolling a homosexual love between David and Jonathan would be  contradicting the prohibitions of it found throughout the Bible.

The  friendship between David and Jonathan was a covenantal relationship. In 1 Samuel  18:1-5, we read of David and Jonathan forming an agreement. In this  agreement, Jonathan was to be second in command in David’s future reign, and  David was to protect Jonathan’s family (1 Samuel  20:16-17, 42; 23:16-18).

Obviously, these two men were also  very good friends. In their relationship we can see at least three qualities of  true friendship. First, they sacrificed for one another. In 1 Samuel 18:4, we read  that Jonathan gave David his clothes and military garb. The significance of this  gift was that Jonathan recognized that David would one day be king of Israel.  Rather than being envious or jealous, Jonathan submitted to God’s will and  sacrificed his own right to the throne. Second, in 1 Samuel  19:1-3, we read of Jonathan’s loyalty toward and defense of David. King Saul  told his followers to kill David. Jonathan rebuked his father and recalled  David’s faithfulness to him in killing Goliath. Finally, Jonathan and David were  also free to express their emotions with one another. In 1 Samuel 20, we read of  a plan concocted by Jonathan to reveal his father’s plans toward David. Jonathan  was going to practice his archery. If he told his servant that the arrows he  shot were to the side of the target, David was safe. If Jonathan told his  servant that the arrows were beyond the target, David was to leave and not  return. Jonathan told the servant that the arrows were beyond the target,  meaning that David should flee. After releasing his servant, Jonathan found  David and the two men cried together.

Rather than being evidence for a  homosexual relationship in the Bible, the account of David and Jonathan is an  example of true biblical friendship. True friendship, according to the Bible,  involves loyalty, sacrifice, compromise, and yes, emotional attachment. That is  what we should learn from David and Jonathan. The idea that the only person in  the Bible described as “a man after God’s own heart” (Acts 13:22), was a practicing homosexual (or bisexual) is  ridiculous and has no true biblical basis.