David's Reign
1 Samuel 16:1-23
And the LORD said to Samuel, How long will you mourn for Saul, seeing I have rejected him from reigning over Israel?…

B.C. 1051-1011. (References: 1 Chronicles 10-29; 1 Kings 1, 2; Psalms. For his earlier life, as shepherd at Bethlehem, servant of Saul at Gibeah, outlaw in the wilderness of Judah and elsewhere, see 1 Samuel 16-34.) When Saul fell on Gilboa, David was about thirty years old; the age at which Joseph stood before Pharaoh, the Levites entered on their official duties, and Jesus began his public ministry. The Second Book of Samuel describes the steps by which he became king ever Judah, and (after seven years and a half) king over all Israel, the consolidation and victorious expansion of his kingdom (ch. 1-10.); his deplorable fall (when about fifty years of age), his repentance, the consequences of his transgression, and the restoration of his impaired authority (ch. 11-20.); and (in an appendix, ch. 21-24.) among other things some events and utterances of his last days (his life ending at three score years and ten). "He most happily combined all the qualifications for becoming the true support of the extraordinary efforts of this period; and he thus succeeded in winning, not only a name unequalled in glory by any other king of Israel, but also a halo of kingly fame as ruler of the community of the true God, unattainable by a king of any other nation of antiquity" (Ewald). "The reign of David is the great critical era in the history of the Hebrews." In it we see -

I. THE PURPOSE OF THE DIVINE KING OF ISRAEL FULFILLED. That purpose (subordinate to the larger purpose mentioned in the preceding homily), to make David ruler instead of Saul, was:

1. Previously indicated. It was first announced by Samuel, in indefinite terms (1 Samuel 13:14; 1 Samuel 15:28), symbolized in the anointing of David (when about sixteen years old), afterwards doubtless plainly declared to him by the prophet, and clearly manifested by the course of events. It was also more and more generally recognized (1 Samuel 24:20; 1 Samuel 25:30; 2 Samuel 3:17, 18).

2. Vainly opposed, at first by Saul, and, after he had been made King of Judah, by Abner and "the house of Saul." It was impossible for them to succeed. "There is no wisdom nor understanding nor counsel against the Lord" (Proverbs 21:30).

3. Gradually, surely, and fully wrought out. There were times in which it seemed to fail, but only to become more apparent and effectual; like a stream disappearing beneath the surface of the earth, and after a short distance bursting forth with renewed strength.

4. Its fulfilment shows the power and faithfulness of God, and should confirm our faith in the fulfilment of all his promises. "Wait on the Lord." "There hath not failed one word of all his good promise," etc. (1 Kings 8:56). "The Davidic age, with those that lie immediately around it, towers by its special glory like a giant mountain above a wide tract of more level periods. It was, moreover, soon afterwards recognized by the nation itself as a period of unique glory in the fortunes of the monarchy; and its memory has therefore been preserved in the historical narrative with the most exuberant fulness of detail" (Ewald).

II. THE CHARACTER OF THE HUMAN KING OF HIS CHOICE PORTRAYED. The interest of David's reign centres in David himself; his activities, achievements, experiences, utterances, so fully recorded, not only in the history, but also in his psalms. His character (more completely revealed than that of any other man) was the growth of a noble and gifted nature under the influence of Divine grace.

1. It was matured by long and varied discipline. While keeping his father's flock, in the court and camp of Saul, as an exile at the head of his heroic band, by persecution, calumny, hardship, meditation, temptation, prayer, and during his "apprenticeship to monarchy" in Hebron, his natural endowments and moral qualities were strengthened, developed, and perfected.

2. It was marked by a many-sided excellence. His insight, skill, prescient sagacity, tender sensibility, sympathy, imagination, fervour, versatility, courage, magnanimity, power of leadership, and of winning the passionate attachment of others, were never surpassed. He was "one of the greatest men in the world" (Bayle). "The most daring courage was combined in him with tender susceptibility; even after he had ascended the throne he continued to retain the charm of a pre-eminent and at the same time childlike personality" (Wellhausen).

"Great, valiant, pious, good, and clean,
Sublime, contemplative, serene,
Strong, constant, pleasant, wise!
Bright effluence of exceeding grace;
Best man I the swiftness and the race:
The peril and the prize!"

(Christopher Smart.) There never was a specimen of manhood so rich and ennobled as David, the son of Jesse, whom other saints haply may have equalled in single features of his character; but such a combination of manly, heroic qualities, such a flush of generous, godlike excellences, hath never yet been seen embodied in a single man (Edward Irving). "The most thoroughly human figure, as it seems to me, which had appeared upon the earth before the coming of that perfect Son of man, who is over all, God blessed forever. Amen" (Charles Kingsley).

(1) In relation to God he was eminent in faith, hope, and love; loyal obedience, fervid zeal, holy aspiration, enthusiastic devotion, lowly submission, and thankfulness (Nehemiah 12:36).

(2) In relation to men he was tenderly affectionate toward his family; considerate and grateful toward his friends; generous and forgiving toward his enemies; faithful and just, self-denying and self-sacrificing toward his people.

(3) Beyond any other monarch of Israel he was a truly theocratic king. His heart was perfect with the Lord his God (1 Kings 11:4). "David did that which was right in the eyes of the Lord, and turned not aside from anything that he commanded him all the days of his life, save only in the matter of Uriah the Hittite" (1 Kings 15:5).

3. It was marred by grave defects and aggravated transgressions. Although these were in great measure due to the spirit of his age, the effect of temptation incident to his position, contrary to the general course of his life, and deeply repented of, yet they incurred heavy guilt, and were followed by severe chastisements.

4. It thus affords a warning as well as an example. "In this history we have the pattern of a pious and prudent prince. Its utility and profit for example of life appears in the prudence, piety, zeal, humility, equity, and good government of David, and all other his heroic and godly virtues worthy of imitation. As also are set down David's infirmities and falls, as examples of the weakness of the best when they watch not over themselves, or are left to themselves, proponed to be eschewed, ut majorum ruina sit minorum cautela, as likewise his repentance to be imitated, and the sharp corrections notwithstanding, as medicinal corrasives wherewith he was chastised; as we see in the Lord's dealing with his dearest sons and servants (Hebrews 12:6, 7)" (W. Guild, 'The Throne of David:' 1659).

III. THE MAJESTY OF THE DIVINE-HUMAN KING MESSIAH FORESHADOWED. David is to be regarded, not simply as an individual, but as a noble, though imperfect, representation of the idea of a theocratic king, and therefore also as an adumbration of One in whom that idea would be perfectly realized (Luke 1:32). "His relation to the history of redemption is most peculiar and remarkable. The aim and import of the Old Testament history to prefigure, prophesy, and testify of Christ concentrated in him as in a focus" (Kurtz). "As we have a great increase of the prophetic light breaking forth, and encompassing the family and kingdom of David so subsequent prophecy reverts often to the same subjects, insomuch that there is no individual, king or other person, one only excepted, of whom more is said by the prophets than of this king and his throne" (Davison, 'On Prophecy'). "It is David who, without intending it, supplies the personal foundation of all the Messianic hopes, which from this time contribute with increasing power to determine Israel's career; and so he stands at the turning-point in the history of two thousand years and separates it into two great halves" (Ewald). High above him, in the dim and distant future, rose the majestic form of "the King of kings, and Lord of lords." "A person, as such, can never be a symbol. It was not David, or Manasseh, or Ahab, that was the type of Christ as King of Zion; it was the royal office with which these were invested, symbolical as that was of the theocracy, which was typical of the kingly dignity of the Redeemer" (W. L. Alexander, 'Connection of the Old and New Testaments,' 315, 418). The kingly dignity of the Messiah appears in:

1. His Divine appointment (Psalm 2:6,.7) founded on the Incarnation. "In Jesus the Christ, Jehovah and the Son of David become one. Heaven and earth interpenetrate, that they may unite in him and be united by him" (Delitzsch).

2. His glorious exaltation after deep humiliation and patient endurance.

3. His righteous administration (Psalm 72:1, 2).

4. His advancing triumph over the enemies of his kingdom and our salvation - "the devil with all his retinue, the world, the flesh, sin, death, and hell; whatever doth oppose his glory, his truth, his service; whatever consequently by open violence or fraudulent practice doth hinder our salvation" (Barrow).

5. His munificent gifts and the blessings of his reign; refuge, refreshment, repose (Isaiah 32:1, 2); "righteousness, peaces and joy in the Holy Ghost." As a King he gathers, governs, protects, and perfects his people.

6. His wide dominion.

7. His endless continuance. "His Name shall endure forever."


1. Submit to his rule. "Kiss the Son," etc. (Psalm 2:12).

2. Rejoice in his salvation.

3. Cooperate with his purposes.

4. Look forward to his final triumph. - D.

Parallel Verses
KJV: And the LORD said unto Samuel, How long wilt thou mourn for Saul, seeing I have rejected him from reigning over Israel? fill thine horn with oil, and go, I will send thee to Jesse the Bethlehemite: for I have provided me a king among his sons.

WEB: Yahweh said to Samuel, "How long will you mourn for Saul, since I have rejected him from being king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil, and go. I will send you to Jesse the Bethlehemite; for I have provided a king for myself among his sons."

David's Parentage and Education
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