David Character Bible Study Background and Lessons
Meaning of name: Beloved
Ancestry and family life: 1 Samuel 17:12. David was the eighth son of Jesse. It was likely he also had several sisters (just from the odds) which aren’t mentioned because they wouldn’t have been considered by Samuel to anoint as the next king.
Ruth 4:17-22. Jesse was the grandchild of Boaz and Ruth, making David Ruth and Boaz’s great-grandson. That would mean that the story of Ruth takes place near the end of the time of the judges.
When and where he lived: David’s hometown was the city of Bethlehem. Luke 2:4. This was later called the city of David, named after the town’s most famous historical figure and resident. David lived not long after the end of the period of the judges. That was one of the darkest times in Israel’s history as people did whatever they pleased. There was no government, no rule of law. People rebelled against the Lord.
David was born sometime around 1040 B.C. This date is likely reached by tracking back the kings of Judah and Israel from their countries’ respective exiles to Assyria and Babylon in 727 B.C. and 597 B.C.
Before Saul, Israel was a loose federation of tribes. Sometimes they helped each other and worked together and sometimes they didn’t. At times they also had civil wars. Under Saul, the tribes were united and became the kingdom of Israel.
Events surrounding birth: Unknown
Training and occupation:
Shepherd – 1 Samuel 16:11, 17:20, 17:34-35.
Musician and armor-bearer – 1 Samuel 16:16-21
General – 1 Samuel 18:16
King – 2 Samuel 2:4, 2 Samuel 5:2-3
Place in history: David is mentioned in the Bible 983 times. He was the second and most beloved king in Israel’s history. David was one of several individuals God made a special covenant with. The covenant God made with David and his descendants is seen in 2 Samuel 7:8-17 and is referred to as the Davidic Covenant, the key features being God’s continual protection of David, being like a Father to him, and preserving his kingly line throughout history.
Forty chapters in 1 Samuel through 1 Kings deal with David and many more in Chronicles and Kings give another look at David’s life. These chapters are filled with rich and in depth narrative about David’s life, both his weaknesses and strengths. This is roughly the same amount of material as covers the life of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph. Clearly God has inspired this record because there are many lessons we can learn from David’s life both about people and about God.
Special traits: Good musician 1 Samuel 16:16-21.
1. Adultery – 2 Samuel 11
2. Murder – 2 Samuel 11:14-27
3. Poor father – 1 Kings 1:6, 2 Samuel 13:21
4. Pride by ordering a census – 2 Samuel 24
5. Didn’t check/punish Joab – 2 Samuel 3:39
6. Too quick to judge – 2 Samuel 16:1-4
7. Lack of discernment – 2 Samuel 19
1. Faith – 1 Samuel 17
2. Bold –
3. Compassion – 2 Samuel 9:1-13
4. Respect for authority – 1 Samuel 24:4-7, 1 Samuel 26:8-11, 2 Samuel 1:1-16, 2 Samuel 4:9-12
5. Repentant – 2 Samuel 12:13, Psalms 51, 2 Samuel 24:17
6. Humility – Psalms 86
7. Prayer and Praise – Psalms 17, 2 Samuel 22, rest of Psalms
8. Self-control – 2 Samuel 16:5-13
Important acts and events:
How he died: 1 Kings 2:11-12. Died of old age.
Lessons from his life:
1. How did David make the list of the faithful in Hebrews 11? When you look at some of the things he did including murder and adultery it could be hard to understand. Show me why you think God included David in this list? God forgives sinners. David was a sinner. When you consider the New Testament passages stating that hating someone in your heart is like murder to God and lusting after a woman in your heart is like adultery, we can see that we are all like David sinners before God. Because of David’s public position, his weaknesses are aired out like dirty laundry for everyone to see. Time and time again, we learn as we go through this list, that God forgives. Not one of these characters deserves to be on the list because of their own merit. Each is on it because God imputed righteousness to them as a result of their faith in Him.
2. Do not let ministry or work keep you from paying attention to your family. David was certainly a busy man. He was the general of his countries’ army. It was up to him to decide whether or not to go to war, prepare for the war, and strategize. He was the top judge in the land. People from far away would bring their disputes to him and ask him to settle it. He had many responsibilities. Unfortunately it seems that these responsibilities became his priority. David was certainly rich enough that he could have hired any number of baby sitters, nurses, tutors, and educators for his children to get the top education in the land. But these things are not a replacement for a dedicated father. 1 Kings 1:6, 2 Samuel 13:21. David apparently spoiled his children, giving them whatever they wanted. When they had conflicts or sinned it seems he swept it under the rug and ignored it instead of dealing with it (like in the case of Amnon). You might think that his kids would grow up loving their daddy who gave them everything they wanted, but this wasn’t the case. Absalom for example rebelled against David. Another son, Adonijah, tried to usurp the kingdom as well. It seems that some of David’s children grew up resenting him. And this reveals a major flaw in the world’s logic. According to the world, spanking your children will push them towards resentment and bitterness towards you. But actually the opposite is true. If children have clear boundaries and know there will be consequences for going outside of these boundaries, it gives them a sense of security and well-being. Make your family the priority over everything else except for God. Ask your children, “why have you done so?” Communicate with them. Understand them. Help them to understand their own hearts and correct them and discipline them when necessary.
3. 2 Samuel 16:5-13 – Endure troublemakers and annoying people with patience. David was the king of the country and this guy was cursing him. This type of attitude was punishable by death (Abishai wanted to kill him). But David did not allow anyone to punish Shimei. Why? He realized that God is sovereign. He realized that God may have sent this person to curse him. And he realized that God was watching his response and might reward him for responding in kindness and with self-control. This was not a time when David would have been a good or forgiving mood. He was fleeing from Jerusalem because his son revolted against him. He had every fleshly excuse to respond to Shimei in kind, but he restrained himself. This is much like Jesus who endured the lies and false accusations of the Jews without responding.
a) Application: We will all face annoying people, people who seem like they were designed to get on our nerves. How should we respond to them? Why might we face people like this?
4. 4. Everyone needs to listen to counsel, even kings. 2 Samuel 19. In this case, David’s emotions were blinding him to the very serious situation around him. He loved Absalom deeply and his soul was grieved to know that he had died, and that he died without a relationship with the Lord. As a parent, there is nothing worse. David’s strong emotions prevented him from seeing that his followers were going to leave him because of his attitude. David was not objective and not thinking clearly or looking at this clearly. That is very understandable. And that is why it is so important that someone whom he trusted come alongside and tell him to wake up! Joab gave wise counsel. In this case, David didn’t ask for it, but he needed it. To David’s credit, he listened and followed Joab’s advice.
a) Application: You should seek counsel especially when your objectivity is blurred because of strong emotions about an issue. This often happens during guy/girl relationships especially though there are many other cases. You should build strong relationships and let your close friends in Christ know that you are open to their input. This certainly requires humility to be willing to listen. At the same time, it requires a certain boldness to say what needs to be said.
5. Acts 13:22 – David was a man after God’s own heart. How can this be said since David was a murderer and adulterer? Well, David was a sinner yes. We all are. However, his heart was pointed towards God. This is shown through his:
a) Faith – 1 Samuel 17
b) Love for God’s law – Psalms 119
c) Thankful – Psalms 26:6-7
d) Repentant – Psalms 51