IntroductionThe Bible’s account of King David dispels any rumor that he was a mob boss who covered his tracks by eliminating his own hit-men; it reassures us that his side-kick Joab was in no way ordered to wipe out all David’s rivals, including his son Absalom. The Bible cannot be accused of political cover-ups and agendas.
David, Protégé of Saul
Abner, Saul’s cousin and general
Ishbaal, Saul’s son
Absalom, David’s son
Joab, David’s nephew and general
The Story of David and the Philistines’ ForeskinsKing Saul became jealous of his protégé David, and devised a plot to get rid of him. “My daughter Michal loves him”, he thought, “so I will offer her hand in marriage in exchange for a hundred Philistines’ foreskins; and when he attacks the Philistines they’ll kill him!”
So Saul’s servants told David, “The king really likes you, and wants you as his son-in-law.” David said “Really? But I’ve no money for a dowry!” And the servants told him that the king wanted no dowry, just a hundred Philistine foreskins.
At this, David was delighted. He went off with his army and killed not one hundred but two hundred Philistines; then he returned and counted out the foreskins, one by one, before the king. And that was how he won the hand of the princess Michal in marriage.
— 1 Samuel 18:6
The Embarrassment of King SaulBecause Saul suspected David of planning to become king in his place, he tried to kill him with a javelin. At this, David ran away to the wilderness of Judah where he assembled a gang of outlaws. However, Saul heard where he was hiding and set off with three thousand men to find him.
When Saul came to the sheepfolds he went into a cave to relieve himself. David and his men were hiding in the cave, and David’s men said to him, “The Lord has put your enemy right into your hands.” Then David stealthily crept up behind Saul and cut the skirt off his robe, and when Saul stood up and walked out of the cave David called after him “I could have killed you just now, but I didn’t!”
Saul burst into tears and replied, “You are a good man. I know you will be king. Just promise you won’t kill my descendants.” And David promised him.
Continued on page 21…
— 1 Samuel 24
David Gives ProtectionA certain rich man called Nabal wasn’t very nice, but his wife Abigail was clever and beautiful. David sent ten young men to Nabal, saying “We’re David’s men. Peace and prosperity, God bless you, and what will you give us? Because when we came upon your shepherds in the wilderness we didn’t hurt them.”
But Nabal said “Who‘s David? I can’t feed every stranger who turns up!” So David set off with four hundred of his men to attack Nabal. Now one of Nabal’s shepherds warned Abigail, and she hurriedly rode down the hill with food and wine to greet David.
David said “I protected your husband’s sheep and got no thanks. I’ll kill all those who piss against the wall before morning.” Abigail got off the donkey and knelt before him, saying; “O lord, you’re such a good and holy man that you will definitely be king. Murder would be bad for your reputation, so let God deal with my husband; and when you are ruler over Israel, don’t forget me.”
And David replied, “God bless you; without your advice there would have been none left of those who piss against the wall. I will spare your people, but take you for my own.”
That night Nabal held a feast; he was merry, for he was very drunk, so Abigail didn’t tell him what David had said until the next day. Then he had a heart attack, and died. And when David heard that Nabal was dead, he said “Blessed be the Lord for killing Nabal, so I didn’t have to; it serves him right.” And he sent for Abigail to make her his wife.
— 1 Samuel 25
David Disapproves of Mercy KillingA youth with torn clothes and earth in his hair came and knelt before David, and said, “I’ve come from the battle between the Philistines and the house of Saul.” David said, “What happened?” and he answered, “Many are dead, including Saul and his son Jonathan.”
David asked the young man, “How do you know that Saul and Jonathan are dead?” The youth said, “I happened to be passing on Mount Gibeon, and came across a battle; and as I walked through it, I came across Saul, who was leaning on his spear. He called, ‘Who are you?’ and I answered, ‘I am an Amelekite.’ He cried, ‘Please kill me, for I‘m in great pain!’ So I killed him, for I knew he couldn’t survive his wound.”
Then David tore his clothes and his men imitated him, and mourned and wept. He lamented “The beauty of Israel is slain; Saul and Jonathan were swifter than eagles and stronger than lions. O weep, you daughters of Israel!”
David said to the youth, “How dare you kill the Lord’s anointed!” and told one of his young men “Kill him”. And the young man slashed the youth till he died. David said, “You’ve only yourself to blame, because you admitted “I killed the Lord’s anointed!”
And David became king of Judah.
— 2 Samuel 1
The Teams are ChosenAfter Saul’s death, his son Ishbaal became king of Israel in the north while David was king of Judah in the south. Ishbaal’s general Abner met David’s general Joab at the pool of Gibeon. Their two armies sat down opposite each other on either side of the pool and Abner said, “Let the young men get up and play before us”. Joab said, “Let them stand up.” So they stood up, and twelve men from each side were chosen. Then each one grasped his opponent’s head and thrust his sword into his opponent’s side and they all fell down together. It was a tie.
So a very rough battle ensued in which Joab’s brother chased Abner until he cried “Stop chasing me, I don’t want to kill you! How could I face Joab?” But Joab’s brother continued, so Abner killed him with a javelin. Then Joab chased Abner till the sun went down, when his men surrounded Abner on top of a hill.
Abner called to Joab, “Why must we keep killing each other? Don’t you know it only leads to bitterness?” At this, Joab blew a trumpet, and his people stopped pursuing the Israelites.
— 2 Samuel 2:12
The Assassination Of Abner; In Which David Is In No Way ImplicatedNevertheless, the war continued between Ishbaal and David, and while David’s side grew stronger, Ishbaal’s grew weaker, and General Abner sent word to David, saying, “Let’s join forces against Ishbaal!”
He came with twenty men, and David made them a feast. Abner said to David, “I’ll gather all our soldiers onto your side, so you can conquer whoever you want.”
But when Abner left, Joab said to the king “What have you done? Why did you send him away? You must know he only came here to spy on you!” And Joab sent for Abner and stabbed him in the stomach.
When David heard of this, he said, “Before God, I swear I had nothing to do with this! Blame Joab, and let his family be cursed. He killed Abner because Abner killed his brother.” And David said to Joab and all the people who were with him, “Tear your clothes, and dress in sackcloth!”
And King David himself followed the coffin. He raised his voice, and wept at the grave of Abner; and all the people wept too. And the king wailed over Abner, and said, “You were killed by wicked men.” And all the people wept again. And David refused his meals, and the people noticed and were pleased, as they were pleased with whatever the king did. For all the people and all Israel understood that the king had nothing whatsoever to do with the murder of Abner. And David said, “Although I am anointed king, I feel weak today. Joab is too ruthless for me. May the Lord punish the evil-doer according to his wickedness.”
— 2 Samuel 3
FatherhoodThe sons of David who were born in Hebron were: Amnon of Ahinoam, Daniel of Abigail, Absalom of Maacah, Adonijab of Haggith, Shephatiah of Abital, and Ithream of Eglah. And David took wives from Jerusalem where he fathered more sons, whose names were Shammuah, Shobab, Nathan, Solomon, Ibhar, Elishua, Nepheg, Japhia, Elishama, Eliada and Eliphet. Then there were the sons of his mistresses. And daughters…
— Chronicles 3, 2 Samuel 3:2, 2 Samuel 5:13
David Disapproves of MurderWhen King Ishbaal heard that Abner had died he stopped fighting the war, and all Israel was alarmed. Two officers crept into Ishbaal’s house at noon. The portress was sifting wheat and had dozed off, so they slipped past her into the middle of the house and stabbed Ishbaal to death. They found him lying in his bedroom, and there they struck him, killed him, beheaded him, and took his head to David in Hebron.
The officers said, “Look, here’s the head of Ishbaal, son of Saul, your enemy!” And David answered, “When a man came to tell me that Saul was dead, expecting a reward, I killed him. You’re much more wicked than that, because you killed an innocent man in his bed, and I must destroy you from the earth!”
And David commanded his young men to kill them, cut off their hands and their feet, and hang them up over the pool in Hebron.
And David became king of all Israel.
— 2 Samuel 4
David’s Wife is MortifiedWhen the Israelites brought the Ark of the Covenant from Judah to Jerusalem, David danced before the Lord with all his might, wearing nothing but a linen apron. There was shouting and the sound of trumpets as the ark came into the city, so that David’s wife Michal, who was Saul’s daughter, looked through the window; and when she saw her husband leaping and dancing, she despised him heartily.
When David returned to his house and Michal came out to meet him, she said “How glorious was the king of Israel today, shamelessly uncovering himself for all the servant girls to see!’ And David said, “I was dancing before the Lord, who made me King of Israel instead of your father. And I will behave even more shamelessly with those servant girls you mentioned!”
And he left Michal childless to the day of her death.
— 2 Samuel 6:12
David’s Conquests Are Laid End to EndAnd David prayed, “Lord God, you have made a generous promise to your servant, and by your blessing my house shall be blessed forever.” After this, David killed the Philistines and got rid of them.
And he attacked the people of Moab, and measured them with a line, making them lie down on the ground. He marked off two lengths of line to be killed, and one length to be spared. Then he slaughtered 22,000 Arameans and 18,000 Edomites.
The Lord preserved David wherever he went, and he consecrated to the Lord all the silver and gold he had taken from every nation he had conquered, from Edom and Moab, from the Ammonites, from the Philistines, from the Amakelites, and from the plunder of Hadazer.
— 2 Samuel, 7, 8
The Insult of the Half-Beards and Bottoms is AvengedThe king of Ammon died, and Hanun his son reigned instead. David said, “I will show kindness to Hanun, as his father was kind to me,” and he sent his servants with condolences.
But the Ammonites said to Hanun, “Do you think that David is paying his respects to your father, or that he’s just sent his servants to spy out the city so he can overthrow it?” At that, Hanun took David’s servants and shaved off one half of their beards, and cut off their clothes in the middle, as high as their bottoms, and sent them away.
When David heard this he sent messengers to meet them, because the men were embarrassed; and the king said, “Stay at Jericho till your beards grow back, and then return.” And the Ammonites saw that David thought they stank.
So they hired 20,000 Syrians, 1000 men from king Maacah, and 12,000 men from Tob; but in return David sent Joab and all the mighty men against them. Then the Syrians fled, and when the Ammonites saw that the Syrians were fleeing, they fled too. When Syrian reinforcements came from beyond the river, David slaughtered 700 charioteers, 40,000 horsemen, and Shobach their captain. And when all the kings saw that they were beaten, they made peace and became subjects of David.
— 2 Samuel 10
David’s Song of ThanksgivingThe Lord lets me win because he loves me, and rewards me because I’m a good person. God is my strength and power, who teaches me the skill of warfare. I pursued my enemies and destroyed them. I attacked them and wounded them, so they could not get up; oh yea, they are fallen under my feet. You gave me the necks of my enemies and they looked but there was so-one to save them and the Lord didn’t answer their prayers. Then I pounded them into smithereens, I stamped them into the mud of the street, and spread them around. You have raised me, Lord, and saved me from violent men.
— 2 Samuel 22
David and Bathsheba; Rape or Romance?While Joab was killing the Ammonites, David stayed in Jerusalem. One evening he was walking on the roof of his house, and looking down saw a beautiful woman washing herself. When he asked after the woman, someone said, “Isn’t she Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah the Hittite?” And David had her brought to him and had sex with her; then she went back to her house.
But the woman became pregnant, and when she told David he sent for her husband Uriah, who was a soldier. David asked Uriah how Joab was, and how the people were doing, and whether the war was going well. He sent him home with some dinner; but Uriah stayed at the door of the palace with the other officers, and told David the next day, “How could I eat and drink and sleep with my wife when your majesty’s soldiers are camping in the open fields?”
So the following night David made him drunk; but still he would not go home and have sex with his wife. In the morning David wrote a letter to Joab, and sent it with Uriah. It said, “Send Uriah to the worst part of the battle so that he’ll be killed.”
So Joab put Uriah where he knew the bravest men were, and he died; and a messenger was told to bring a long account of the battle to David, casually mentioning, “Uriah died too.” David replied to the messenger, “Tell Joab, ‘Don’t worry. What does it matter which soldier dies?” Bathsheba heard that her husband was dead, and she mourned. Then, when the mourning period was past, David made her his wife and she bore him a son.
— 2 Samuel 11
David Overcomes His GriefBut the Lord was not pleased, and said, “I will bring evil against you from your own house; I’ll take your wives and give them to your neighbor, and he’ll have sex with them where everyone can see. And your child will definitely die.”
Then the Lord made the child of David and Uriah’s wife very sick. David prayed to God for the child, and he stopped eating and lay all night on the ground. The elders tried to make him get up and eat, but he refused. And when the child died, the servants were afraid to tell David, saying, “He’ll be heartbroken.”
David saw his servants whispering, and asked, “Is the child dead?” And they said, “He’s dead.” Then David got up and washed and prayed and sat down to his supper. His servants asked, “Why did you fast and weep when the child was alive, but now the child is dead you’re eating heartily?” And he replied, “Now he’s dead, why should I fast? Can I bring him back?”
And David comforted Bathsheba and had sex with her.
— 2 Samuel 12
Absalom Stakes His ClaimA message came to David saying that his son Absalom was plotting to become king, and had the support of the soldiers.
David said “Quickly, let’s leave in case he attacks the city.” And the king took all his household except for his ten mistresses, who he left as housekeepers.
Absalom asked a counselor, Ahithophel, “What would you advise me to do next?”
Ahithophil said “Go and have sex with your father’s mistresses, then all Israel will know that your father hates you and your allies will take courage.”
So they pitched a tent on top of the house; and Absalom went up and had sex with each of his father’s mistresses where everyone could see.
— 2 Samuel 15:13
David Has a CriticDuring King David’s flight he came across a relative of Saul whose name was Shimei; and Shimei was swearing as he walked down the road, and threw stones at David and his servants, And as he cursed, he cried “You bloody man, it serves you right to lose the throne after all the blood you spilled in taking it from Saul. The Lord has given your kingdom to your son Absalom to punish you for your wickedness, because you’re a bloody man.”
Shimei ran along the hillside as David and his men passed by, and cursed as he went, and threw stones and cast dust.
— 2 Samuel 16:5
David Regains PowerDavid mustered his army against Absalom, and said to the soldiers “I intend to go with you myself.” But they replied, “You mustn’t come with us. Even if half of us die, we don’t matter. You are equal to ten thousand of us!”
So the king said “Well, whatever you think best.” He commanded his generals “Be gentle with young Absalom for my sake.” And all the people definitely heard the king give these instructions.
During the battle, Absalom rode under an oak tree and his hair caught fast in the branches. Joab found him, and stabbed him through the heart with three pikes.
The army returned, and the king asked “Is the young man Absalom safe?” When he was told that Absalom was dead, the king went up to his chamber over the gate and wept. Joab was told, “Look, the king is weeping for Absalom”, and the victory was turned into mourning, for the people heard how grieved the king was for his son.
And the king covered his face and cried loudly “O my son Absalom, O Absalom my son, my son.”
— 2 Samuel 18
The Critic ApologisesAfter David regained the throne, Shimei came to meet the ferry boat which carried the king’s household across the river Jordan. He fell down before the king, and said, “Please don’t blame me, forget what I said that day, I know I did wrong!”
David’s nephew Abishai said, “Shall we kill him because he swore at the Lord’s anointed?
But David said to Shimei, “We won’t kill you.” And the king promised him.
Continued on page 25…
— 2 Samuel 19:8
The Next Rebellion Against DavidWhere was another rebellion against David by a Benjamite called Sheba. The king went first to put a guard around his ten mistresses; he fed them but did not visit them, and they stayed indoors as widows until they died.
Then the king told General Amasa “Gather the soldiers within three days.” Amasa didn’t return when he was supposed to, so David sent Joab and the mighty men who found Amasa at the great stone of Gibeon.
Joab said, “How are you, my brother?” and took Amasa by the beard to kiss him. Amasa didn’t notice the sword in Joab’s hand until Joab stabbed him, and his bowels spilled out onto the ground.
A man said “If you support King David, you must follow Joab”, but no-one moved because Amasa was wallowing in blood in the middle of the road. Then the man dragged the body into a field and covered it with a cloth.
After that, the people followed Joab, gathering tribes as they went. They cornered Sheba at Abel and battered at the city wall until a wise woman cried from within “Why would you destroy an Israeli city?” Joab answered, “Indeed. So give us Sheba, then!” And the woman said “Alright, I’ll throw his head over the wall.”
She went in her wisdom to the people, and they cut off Sheba’s head and tossed it out to Joab. He blew a trumpet and returned with the mighty men to Jerusalem.
— 2 Samuel 20:3
David Saves the HarvestWhere was a famine for three years, and David asked the Lord for a reason. The Lord replied, “Because Saul killed the Gibeonites”, and so David said to the Gibeonites “How can I make up for this?”
They answered, “Give us seven of Saul’s descendants, so we can cut off their arms and legs.” And the king said, “Alright.”
The king took the two sons of Rizpah and the five sons of Merob, who were Saul’s grandsons, and gave them to the Gibeonites; and the Gibeonites hanged them on the hill, where all seven fell together in the first days of the barley harvest.
Then their mother Rizpah took sackcloth and spread it over the bodies until it began to rain, and she wouldn’t let the birds feed on them during the day, nor the wild animals at night.
— 2 Samuel 21
Repentance and PunishmentThe King said to Joab, “Go now and number the people”; and Joab said to the king, “The Lord God decides the number of people, so why must you presumptuously count them?”
Nevertheless, the king’s word prevailed, and Joab and the army went out for nine months and twenty days to count the people of Israel. But when they came back, David was full of remorse and said to the Lord, “I‘ve sinned greatly in taking a census. Please, O Lord, forgive the wickedness of your servant, for I’ve behaved very foolishly.”
And the Lord gave David three choices: “Shall seven years famine come to your land? Will you run away for three months with enemies pursuing you? Or shall there be three days plague in your land?
And David said, “Please don’t let me fall into the hands of my enemies!” So the Lord sent a plague and seventy thousand men died.
— 2 Samuel 24
A Warming Virgin for the KingWhen King David was old and frail his servants covered him with bedclothes, but he couldn’t get warm, so they said to him, “Let’s look for a young virgin who can lie with you to warm you up.”
They looked for a beautiful girl from coast to coast throughout all Israel until they found Abishag, a Shunammite who they brought to the king. And she was very pretty, and cherished the king, and looked after him; but he didn’t have sex with her.
— 1 Kings 1
David Sings the PsalmsI am disapproved of not only by my enemies but by my neighbors, and my friends are afraid of me; when people see me out and about, they run away. Everyone’s afraid of me. They get together and plot to take my life. Those people with lying lips who slander my goodness must be silenced.
False witnesses turned up; they accused me of things I knew nothing about. With hypocritical mockery they gnashed me with their teeth. Yes indeed, they opened their mouths wide against me and said, “Aha, Aha, we saw what he did!”
I am troubled; I am bowed down greatly; I am miserable all day long because my genitals are filled with a disgusting disease, and there is no healthiness in my flesh. My lovers and friends stand well away from my sores, and my relatives stand even further away.
There are more people who hate me for no reason than there are hairs on my head. I’ve become a stranger to my friends, and I’m alienated from my brothers and sisters. The soldiers at the gate speak against me, and drunkards sing songs about me. Let them all go blind, and may their genitals continually tremble.
— Psalms 31, 35, 38, 69
David’s Last WordWhen the time came for David to die, he said to his son Solomon “I’m dying, as all creatures die. You must be strong and prove you’re a man. You know what Joab did, murdering the generals Abner and Amasa; I want you to make sure he doesn’t die peacefully of old age.
And Shimei is still with us, who cursed me so unpleasantly when he came to meet me at the river Jordan. I swore I wouldn’t kill him, but you’re a wise man and know what you have to do; bring him also to a bloody end!”
So David slept with his fathers, and was buried in the city of David.
— 1 Kings 2
More Last WordsThese are the last words of David who God anointed, the sweet psalmist of Israel.
“The spirit of the Lord spoke through me, saying ‘He that rules over men with justice and in fear of the Lord is like the morning light at sunrise on a cloudless morning; he is like the tender grass springs that from the earth, shining after rain.’”
— 2 Samuel 23