After the death of Goliath, David was transformed by King Saul from a shepherd leading a quiet solitary life into a warrior at first under Saul and then as a renegade leader of his own army. David killed thousands of men in battles against aggressive tribes, a few in defense of the sacred, and one man for his own lust. For that one he was punished in many ways. But he repented of the murder and composed the glorious 51st psalm which has healed the souls of millions since then.
That a warrior could have the same yielding heart toward God as a shepherd was remarkable. The blazing sun, lack of water, and vicious animals were simply replaced by equally threatening marauding armies with spears and knives. To trust God was as essential for the warrior as for the shepherd. Yet one killed while the other protected.
That a killer and an adulterer could be as faithful and close to God almighty as David gives all of humanity hope and a model to live by. His relationship with God is what made David a great man and the forefather of God’s only begotten Son, Jesus Christ.
Every morning David and his band of righteous killers awoke to a day that would be the last for many of them, and for their enemies. Life and death, victory and defeat looked each other squarely in the eye of the soul. To the victor belonged the spoils. What a village full of men and women had painstakingly made and accumulated: wine, tools, furniture, clothing, were all snatched by the victor as ready prize and payment.
One bleak day when he was away wreaking havoc on others, David’s village of Ziklag was burned to the ground and the people were carried off. They were not killed but stolen as living prize by the dastardly Amelikites. When David and his men found their homes destroyed and families missing they all raised their voices and wept until not a tear was left to squeeze from their miserable hearts. David fled to the Lord, as he had as a child to his mother for comfort and wisdom.
This time the priest, Ahimelech, helped him discern the council from the Lord that they needed. With the help of the ephod, they inquired whether he should pursue the villains or humbly accept the loss. Through the ephod God answered David loud and clear that he should pursue. And so they recovered their families just as God said.
Jonathan, David’s brother of the heart and rightful heir to the throne, and two other sons of Saul were killed by the Phillistines on Mount Gilboa. In the same battle archers badly wounded the king. As Saul lay in agony, he begged his armor-bearer to finish him off so that the uncircumcised would not kill him and then make sport of his empty flesh. But his armor-bearer was unwilling to kill the king.
Another man escaped the battle to take the news to David that Saul was dead. David said, “How do you know that Saul and Jonathan are dead?” He replied that his own eyes beheld Saul writhing in pain, and upon seeing him begged him to finish him off after his armor-bearer refused. This young man reported to David that indeed, he killed Saul as the king commanded. He then took the crown from his limp head and the king’s armulet and he brought them to David as proof.
David tore his clothes and wept and fasted until evening grieving for Saul and for Jonathan. After sunset, when the grief lifted enough for David to speak to the young man again, he asked him who he was. The young man replied that he was an Amelikite, the son of a resident alien in Israel. David said to him, “Weren’t you afraid to lift your hand to destroy the Lord’s anointed?” Then David ordered the young man to be killed. The young man sought a reward and found death because he callously disregarded the anointing of God. He saw a dead body and a crown where David saw God’s chosen king.
What the armor-bearer rightly refused to do, the Amelikite eagerly accomplished. Had Saul obeyed God when he was instructed to kill ALL the Amelikites, he would not have lost his kingship to David, nor his life by the hand of an Amelikite.
What Saul saw as negligible, God required as attention to detail. Beware all ye aspiring immortals of small apparently insignificant commands.
The anointing of young David by the prophet Samuel to be king of Israel became manifested decades later. God is never in a hurry. He is a perfectionist. People who give up believing in God when their prayers are not answered even after several years of fervent prayer are to be pitied. Never give up, never ever give up.
After David received the crown from the killer of Saul, he was told how the king was buried and blessed those men, and he was also told that the respectful armor-bearer, upon seeing his king killed, fell on his own sword. David smiled.
David was thirty years old when he was anointed by the leaders of Judah as their king.
Saul still had a living son, Ishbaal, and a commander of his army, Abner who for over seven years conducted a civil war in Israel against the tribe of Judah. David of Judah won most battles.
When not winning battles David was getting married and producing sons. First there were two wives, and then another six, not to mention concubines.
Seven years into this phase of David’s life as king of Judah, and victorious militant, an important turn of events occurred in the enemy camp. Saul’s son and king of Israel accused Joab, the commander of his army of going into Saul’s concubine. Joab was highly insulted by the accusation to the point of defecting and joining David.
David welcomed Joab, but also sent a messenger to King Ishbaal demanding Michal, Saul’s daughter, who had been promised to him years before. Ishbaal had to tear this woman away from her loving husband who followed her moaning and crying. Michal became David’s arch critic.
Meanwhile Abner shrewdly lobbied the heads of the various tribes of Israel to join him on David’s side, which made David very happy and he sent Abner away in peace. The drama escalated because Joab, a commander of David’s armies, was very skeptical of Abner’s new allegiance to David and had him killed.
David was furious and shamefully grieved over Abner. He cursed Joab and his family for the murder of Abner. David also refused to eat all day. Seeing David’s reaction convinced Israel that David was not personally responsible for the death of Abner.
Soon after, Ishbaal, the king of Israel, was assassinated in his bed. The assassins took his Ishbaal’s head to David. Again, David was furious that anyone would harm the Lord’s anointed king of Israel. The assassins suffered the same death as had the callous Amelikite.
At this point, seven and a half years after David was crowned king of Judah, the elders of the tribes of Israel, at Hebron, proclaimed David as their king too and once again all of Israel was united under one king.
God said, “It is you who should shepherd My people Israel” so once again David was a shepherd.
One of King David’s first moves was to march to Jerusalem, a stronghold of Zion, and there he struck down the native population of Jebusites and continued to become greater and greater.
King Hiram of Tyre sent David cedar trees and carpenters and they built him a house. Now David the shepherd boy, youngest son of Jesse was a proper king with his very own house and his many many wives and sons.
God honored David as Lord of Israel, who honored Him as Lord of all.