Hello King David. I'm writing to you because you are one of the greatest figures in the Bible. You were the founder and king of the first and largest early Jewish kingdom, and you were called the “Shepherd King” because of your humble origins. You were also called Messiah (the Anointed One), a term which in your time were used to describe a high priest, but today describes a person who has been chosen by God, and thus most of us use this term to reference Jesus. You might find it interesting to know that the times when both you, and your son Solomon, were rulers of the land, are depicted quite well in God’s Word, the Bible, specifically in the Old Testament Books: Samuel, Kings, and Chronicle. The books of the Bible that describe your story are captured from I Samuel 16 through I Kings 2.
We know you were born Elhanan be Jesse in Bethlehem about a thousand years before Jesus. For centuries after your birth and your rule, I know you knew that Bethlehem was commonly known as the “City of David," of which I’m sure you were very proud. You were the youngest son of Jesse, as you know, but we don’t know your mother's name, as it was not recorded. The name ‘David’ (meaning "great commander") was later given to you to commemorate your victories on the battlefield.
I’m sure you can remember that as a boy, you were a shepherd. We have learned that to while away the hours in the fields, you learned to play the harp and to hurl stones with a sling with great accuracy. As many of us have learned over the years, these skills would later serve you well.
We first learn of your future greatness when Saul, Israel's first king, is rejected by God for disobedience. God sends Samuel, the first of the Prophets and the last of the judges of Israel, to Bethlehem. There Samuel saw you and predicted that you would one day be the king of Israel. According to I Samuel 16:12, he described you as: "He was ruddy and had beautiful eyes and was handsome. And the Lord said, “Rise anoint him, for this is the one." Samuel anointed David “in the midst of his brethren: and the Spirit of the Lord came upon David from that day forward. How incredible it must have been for you to have been anointed personally by the command of God himself!!!
It was said your qualities were "after the Lord's own heart" and are perhaps best displayed in the famous contest with Goliath. As I’m sure you recall, the people of Israel were confronted by their enemies, the Philistines, and are terrified of their champion, Goliath. Goliath is huge and carries overwhelming military technology. He is reportedly over nine foot tall and seemingly an unbeatable foe, and he calls for a single combat to decide the battle. You simply felled the giant with one stone from your sling and for years to come this legend has been told throughout the Earth. I have to say most men would have been terrified but you and your incredible faith in God made this “battle” a lopsided match on your side. That must have been so exciting!
You should also know that your name and glory as a leader and king has persisted for over three thousand years. You have been celebrated extensively in art, folklore, churches, and census rolls. To Muslims, you are Daoud, the venerated emperor and servant of Allah. To Christians, you are the natural and spiritual ancestor of Jesus, and beloved to God. To the Jews, you are the father of Israel---the shepherd king anointed by God---and they in turn are your descendants and God's Chosen People.
You are celebrated as a warrior, prophet, musician and lover; the ultimate Renaissance man we would say. You are credited with writing many of the Old Testament Psalms, composed no doubt on your famous lyre on which you were said to be a virtuoso. Your brilliant strategic mind enabled the Israelite army to crush the 'barbaric' Philistines on numerous occasions. As I study your life as a warrior leader, I pause to wonder…what made you think of the canny tact to send a crack squad of your troops through the ancient water systems underneath the hill-top fortress town of Jerusalem, in an effort to capture the city? In a heroic Trojan-horse style attack, your forces took the strategically important position and made it your capital. From here you united the 12 tribally disparate regions in Judea and Israel to form one united nation of Israel. You consolidated your territory by beating back neighboring tribes and providing strong leadership. You finally brought all the people of God together – no wonder God so revered you!!!
I believe, as do many scholars, that one of the reasons you were so successful as a king was your relationship with God and how your demonstrated that relationship into the very life of the people. When you established your capital in Jerusalem you also establish it with the Ark of the Covenant, which had to make you beloved amongst all believers. Certainly, one of the most important features of the establishment of Jerusalem as the capital is that you took the Ark of the Covenant in a joyful procession into the capital. Making the capital not only the political heart of the nation but also the religious heart of the nation.
However, it must have disappointed you, that you were not able to build a temple, because you were told by God that you were not the person who is called to build it: ‘it's your son Solomon who will build the temple.’ Nevertheless, you established the worship of God in a single place. This is very important because until this point in time, God had been worshipped wherever the Ark of the Covenant was, and the Ark of the Covenant moved around, wherever the leaders of the people were based, so you put an end to the need for the people to wonder the earth following the Arc, and thus settled the people, the leaders, and the Arc, together in one capital of God’s land; Jerusalem.
The Bible exalts your greatness as a warrior, a leader, a father, and a man of God’s heart. However, your greatest accomplishment may in fact be your writings captured in the Bibles’ book of Psalms. The Psalms really are like a spiritual diary. There's a sense of closeness with God, the ability to question Him, to ask what's going on and to have the faith that God will sort it out. You had to have had this very kind of personal relationship with God, while at the same time God is certainly not present “in-being” the same way that He was in the time of Moses. To me this shows incredible closeness, love, and faith in God; attributes we all need so desperately today.
Finally, King David, you were a great king, the greatest king in Israel's history. There were many victories which you achieved, many people you led to God, many children you brought to this world, and yes, you also made many mistakes. However, I believe your greatness may be in spite of what you did rather than because of what you did. Your greatness is shown through your humanity, through your weakness, through your vulnerability. But for your willingness that even though you were a king and a greatly revered leader, for you to humble yourself and come before God, just as a human being, and say "sorry," certainly exemplifies your character.
It is so great to read your story and know of your great leadership, love, compassion, and most importantly of your great faith and trust in God. All Thanks to You and God, David!!!
My sincerest regards,