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by Norman J. Barlow
David, King of Israel, was the youngest of eight brothers, sons of Jesse (1 Sam. 16:6-12), a descendent of Boaz and Ruth (Ruth 4:21-22) and an ancestor to Jesus Christ (Matt. 1:6-17; Luke 3:23-31). He was born at Bethlehem and died in Jerusalem c. 1015 B.C., after reigning over Judah for seven years and the united kingdom of Israel for an additional thirty-three (1 Kgs. 2:11). He was buried in the ancestral home, in Bethlehem (1 Kgs. 2:10). He was perhaps the greatest King of Israel, once called "a man after [God's] own heart" (1 Sam. 13:14). Mormon interests in David have often dwelt on the issues of his plural marriages and his status in the afterlife.
While the scriptures relate different stories of his introduction at Saul's court (1 Sam. 16:14-23; 17:55-58), David's vault from obscurity to national awareness seems to have come as a result of his courageous defeat of the giant Goliath (1 Sam. 17:49).
David's strength and reliance on the Lord marked him as an exceptional leader and the epitome of Israelite heroism (2 Sam. 5:1-3; 22:2-51). Subsequent rulers were measured against his stature (cf. 1 Kgs. 15:3-5, 11), and his name was linked with that of the awaited messiah (Mark 12:35; Luke 1:32; Rom. 1:3). Scripture indicates that David's blessings, including his wives, were given to him as a result of God's favor (2 Sam. 5:12-13; 12:8; D&C 132:39).
But when David also acquired wives and concubines, apparently under his own authority, he was condemned by God (Jacob 2:23-24). Certainly David lost divine approval as a result of his adulterous union with Bathsheba and the subsequent contrived murder of her husband, Uriah (2 Sam. 12:1-12; D&C 132:38-39).
Because of David's transgressions, his eternal blessings were taken from him (TPJS, pp. 188-89). The Lord granted David a continuation of life for another twenty-one years, perhaps because of his immediate and deep remorse (cf. Ps. 51), his acts of repentance, and his continued faithfulness to Jehovah (2 Sam. 12:13, 16; cf. WJS, p. 335). However, he must await in the spirit prison the redemption promised to him (Acts 2:34; WJS, p. 74). Even with the assurance of the Lord's ultimate mercy (Ps. 86:13), David lost much that God had given him on earth, he fell "from his exaltation" and his wives were given unto another" (D&C 132:39). Yet his personal integrity appears in his insistence that he be punished in place of his people, whom he saw in vision being destroyed (2 Sam. 24:15-17).
(See Basic Beliefs home page; The Holy Bible home page; People in the Bible home page)
Bright, John. A History of Israel. 3rd ed., pp. 184-228. Philadelphia, 1981.
McCarter, P. Kyle. Second Samuel. Anchor Bible. New York, 1984.
Encyclopedia of Mormonism, Vol. 1, David, King
Copyright © 1992 by Macmillan Publishing Company
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