DAVID. One of the greatest heroes of ancient history was David, a poor shepherd boy who killed the giant Goliath. According to the Biblical story of his life, which is told in detail in the Old Testament, David was born about 3,000 years ago.
Then David met Goliath. This Philistine had challenged Saul for 40 days to send out a man to fight him. No one had responded, for Goliath stood more than nine feet tall. He brandished a spear that had a 20-pound head of iron and a shaft “like a weaver’s beam.” David wore no armor and carried only a sling hidden in his hand and five smooth stones in a shepherd’s bag at his side.
As Goliath came into range, David reached into his bag, put a stone in his sling, and let go with all his might. The stone pierced Goliath’s forehead, and he fell dead. David then cut off the giant’s head as a present to Saul. The Philistines fled in terror. David’s heroic deed aroused Saul’s jealousy.
At that time, David became a very good friend of the king’s son Jonathan. Jonathan gave the humble shepherd boy his royal garments, his sword, and his bow. David, now a full-fledged warrior, fought so bravely against the Philistines that according to the Bible the women of Israel said, “Saul hath slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands.”
Fearing that the people would make David king, Saul tried to kill him. He even tried to kill his own son Jonathan for shielding David. Jonathan, however, helped David to escape. Saul’s army followed and David had to hide. Twice David could have killed Saul, but he would not seize the throne by murder.
In the battle of Gilboa both Saul and Jonathan were killed. With Saul gone, David ruled at Hebron as king of Judah for almost eight years. When the king of Israel was murdered, the Israelites made David their king in about 1000 BC.
David ruled Judah and Israel as a united nation until he died 33 years later. He moved from Hebron to Jerusalem, which his nephew Joab had captured for him. Joab also conquered Israel’s neighbors until the nation’s power reached into Syria.
Years of bloodshed and famine marked David’s reign. The treason and death of his favorite son, Absalom, filled the king with grief. David’s worst crime was his betrayal of his faithful captain Uriah, so that he might marry Uriah’s wife, Bathsheba.