The story of David's life and kingship begins when the prophet Samuel visits his father, Jesse, at their home town in Bethlehem. Samuel informs Jesse that Saul, the King of Israel, no longer enjoys God's confidence, and that God has chosen one of Jesse's sons to replace him. Samuel has come to anoint God's chosen one, but after meeting all of Jesse's sons he finds that he can anoint none of them. Jesse admits that his youngest son, David, is out working in the fields; Jesse had not summoned him because he assumed the youngest son was not significant. Samuel finds that David is God's chosen one and anoints him.
War breaks out with the Philistines and David's brothers go to war. David visits the front to bring them gifts from Jesse. On one such occasion, he attracts the attention of Saul by playing music so sweet that it soothes the king's restless spirit. Then, when the Philistine champion Goliath challenges the Israelites to send a champion to fight him, only David is willing to accept the challenge. He defeats Goliath without any weapons beyond a sling and stones, and with his faith that God will allow him to triumph. This victory is so unlikely that Philistine resistance collapses and David's reputation as a great and holy man is established.
Saul rewards David generously, even allowing him to marry his daughter, Michal. However, Saul soon grows jealous of David when he realizes that the young man is more popular than the king himself. Saul attempts to kill David, and David must flee into exile. However, much of the Israelite army is loyal to David, and fights to defend him. David refuses to kill Saul, believing the older man remains God's anointed king for as long as he lives. When Saul is killed in battle against resurgent Philistines, and his sons with him, David assumes the crown.
After several years, David retakes the city of Jerusalem, which had been lost to Israel many years earlier. Under David's leadership, the Israelite army decisively defeats the Philistines and many others, giving Israel secure borders and even military hegemony for the first and only time in its history. His passionate devotion to God also brings him to lead a spiritual revival, and piety in Israel reaches its highest pitch since the time of Moses. God is pleased and protects the kingdom, allowing it to thrive.
David faces two great crises during his kingship. In the first, he seduces Bathsheba, a beautiful woman who conceives a baby with him. Bathsheba's husband, Uriah, is an officer in the Israelite forces away on campaign. David attempts to give Uriah leave to return to Jerusalem, so that it will be possible to convince him that Bathsheba conceived during his visit, but Uriah refuses to enjoy the comforts of home while his men remain in harm's way. David then instructs his general to send a unit led by Uriah to attack a strong enemy position. All of Uriah's men will have secret orders to withdraw, leaving Uriah alone to be killed.
This injustice so infuriates God that He temporarily withdraws His favor from David. God causes David's son with Bathsheba to die in infancy as punishment, and David further shows his remorse by enduring a rigorous self-imposed fast. This does not save the life of the baby, but David takes Bathsheba into his house as a wife, and they have another son, Solomon, who will one day become David's successor.
Later, Absalom, another son of David, attempts a coup d'etat against David. Solomon leads David's forces and defeats and kills Absalom. David's kingship survives, but he mourns for his lost son.
David's reign lasts 40 years. His son Solomon succeeds him, and under Solomon Israel's economy grows very rapidly, while the kingdom enjoys forty years of peace. However, while Solomon originally continues his father's religious policies, he eventually allows paganism to creep back into Israel. When Solomon dies, his son, Rehoboam, assumes the throne and quickly angers God. With God's encouragement, the Northern Tribes rise up against him, and Rehoboam rules only the small rump state of Judah. Most of Rehoboam's descendants are impious kings who disrupt God's relationship with His people, but out of respect for David, God continues to allow them to reign for about four centuries, until Judah is conquered by Babylon. Eventually, Jesus is born as a direct descendant of David.
The six-pointed star used as a symbol of Jews, Judaism, and the post-1948 State of Israel, is known as the Star of David, however its origin is unknown and it was not used as a Jewish symbol until over 2,000 years after David's death.
David in "Occupation Duty"
Tabitas of the Evraioi was the Moabite champion who responded to Lord Goliath's challenge. Goliath defeated Tabitas, and the Philistines conquered the Moabites. They continued to rule Moab more than 3000 years later, though Moab was forever making life difficult for its conquerors.
In OTL, David has never been considered a Moabite. The story's implication is that after the Philistines conquered the region, they called all its natives Moabites regardless of actual tribal affiliation.
- Biblical Allusions in Turtledove's Work#King David, for additional minor references.
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|King of Israel|
1010 BC–970 BC
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