The biblical King David of Israel was known for his diverse skills as both a warrior and a writer of psalms. In his 40 years as ruler, between approximately 1010 and 970 B.C.E., he united the people of Israel, led them to victory in battle, conquered land and paved the way for his son, Solomon, to build the Holy Temple. Almost all knowledge of him is derived from the books of the Prophets and Writings: Samuel I and II, Kings I and Chronicles I.
David was the eighth and youngest son of Jesse from the kingly tribe of Judah. He was also a direct descendent of Ruth the Moabite. David began his life as a shepherd in Bethlehem. One day, the prophet Samuel called him out of the field and anointed him without the knowledge of the current king, Saul. David simply returned to his sheep. His first interaction with Saul came when the king was looking for someone to play music for him, and the kingfs attendant summoned the skilled David to play for him. Saul was pleased with David and kept him in his service as a musician.
The first time David publicly displayed his courage was when, as an inexperienced boy armed with only a stick and a few stones, he confronted the nine-foot, bronze armored Philistine giant, Goliath of Gath. After skilled warriors had cowered in fear for 40 days, David made a slingshot, invoked Godfs name, and killed the giant. After this, Saul took David on as commander of his troops and David formed a close friendship with Saulfs son, Jonathan.
David was successful in battle against the Philistines and this aroused the jealousy of Saul, who tried to kill David by throwing a spear at him. David stayed with Saul, however, and Saul offered him his own daughter, Merav, as a wife. He later reneged on his promise, but offered David his second daughter, Michal, in exchange for the foreskins of 100 Philistines, a price that David paid.
Saulfs jealousy of David grew and he asked his son Jonathan to kill David. Jonathan was a friend of Davidfs, however, and hid David instead. He then went to his father and convinced Saul to promise not to kill David. Saul promised, and David returned to his service. This promise did not last and, after Saul attempted to kill David a second time, Michal helped David run away to the prophet Samuel in Ramah. David returned briefly to make a pact of peace with Jonathan and to verify that Saul was still planning to kill him. He then continued his flight from Saul, finding refuge with the king of Moab. On the way, the priest Ahimelech of Nob gave David a weapon. When Saul heard this, he sent Doeg the Edomite to kill 85 of the cityfs priests.
In the course of his flight, David gained the support of 600 men, and he and his band traveled from city to city. At one point, in Ein Gedi, David crept up on Saul while he was in a cave, but instead of killing him, cut a piece from his cloak and confronted Saul. Saul broke down and admitted that David would one day be king and asked David to swear that he would...