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Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary
the celebrated king of Israel, was the youngest son of Jesse, of the tribe of Judah, and was born 1085 years before Christ. The following is an abstract of his history: He was chosen of God to be king of Israel, and at his command was anointed to this dignity by the hands of Samuel, a venerable prophet, in the room of Saul; who had been rejected for his disobedience to the divine orders, in feloniously seizing, to his own use, the prey of an enemy, which God, the supreme King of Israel, had devoted to destruction. He was introduced to court as a man expert in music, a singularly valiant man, a man of war, prudent in matters, of a comely person, and one favoured of the Lord. By his skill in music, he relieved Saul under a melancholy indisposition that had seized him, was highly beloved by his royal master, and made one of his guards. In a war with the Philistines he accepted the challenge of a gigantic champion, who defied the armies of Israel, and being skilful at the sling, he slew him with a stone, returned safely with his head, and thus secured to his prince an easy victory over his country's enemies. The reputation he gained, by this glorious action, raised an incurable jealousy and resentment against him, in the mind of the king his master; who made two unsuccessful attempts to murder him. In his exalted station, and amidst the dangers that encompassed him, he behaved with singular prudence, so that he was in high esteem both in the court and camp. The modesty and prudence of his behaviour, and his approved courage and resolution, gained him the confidence and friendship of Jonathan, the king's eldest son, "Who loved him as his own soul," became his advocate with his father, and obtained from him a promise, confirmed by an oath, that he would no more attempt to destroy him. But Saul's jealousy returned by a fresh victory David gained over the Philistines; who, finding the king was determined to seek his life, retired from court, and was dismissed in peace by Jonathan, after a solemn renewal of their friendship, to provide for his own safety. In this state of banishment, there resorted to him companies of men, who were uneasy in their circumstances, oppressed by their creditors, or discontented with Saul's tyrannical government, to the number of six hundred men. These he kept in the most excellent order, and by their valour he gained signal advantages for his country; but never employed them in rebellion against the king, or in a single instance to distress or subvert his government. On the contrary such was the veneration he paid him, and such the generosity of his temper that though it was thrice in his power to have him cut off, he spared him, and was determined never to destroy him, whom God had constituted the king of Israel. His friendship with Jonathan, the king's son, was a friendship of strict honour, for he never seduced him from his allegiance and filial duty. Being provoked by a churlish farmer, who evil treated and abused his messengers, he, in the warmth of his temper, swore he would destroy him and his family; but was immediately pacified by the address and prudence of a wife, of whom the wretch was unworthy: her he sent in peace and honour to her family, and blessed for her advice, and keeping him from avenging himself with his own hand. Being forced to banish himself into an enemy's country, he was faithful to the prince who protected him: and, at the same time, mindful of the interest of his own nation, he cut off many of those who had harassed and plundered his fellow subjects. When pressed by the king, into whose dominions he retired, to join in a war against his own country and father-in-law, he prudently gave him such an answer as his situation required; neither promising the aid demanded of him, nor tying up his hands from serving his own prince, and the army that fought under him; only assuring him in general, that he had never done any thing that could give him just reason to think he would refuse to assist him against his enemies. Upon the death of Saul, he cut off the Amalekite who came to make a merit of having slain him; and by the immediate direction of God, who had promised him the succession, went up to Hebron, where, on a free election, he was anointed king over the house of Judah; and after about a seven years' contest, he was unanimously chosen king by all the tribes of Israel, "according to the word of the Lord by Samuel." As king of Israel, he administered justice and judgment to all his people, was a prince of courage, and great military prudence and conduct; had frequent wars with the neighbouring nations, to which he was generally forced by their invading his dominions, and plundering his subjects. Against them he never lost a battle; he never besieged a city without taking it; nor, as for any thing that can be proved, used any severities against those he conquered, beyond what the law of arms allowed, his own safety required, or the cruelties of his enemies rendered just, by way of retaliation; enriching his people by the spoils he took, and providing large stores of every thing necessary for the magnificent temple he intended to erect, in honour of the God of Israel. Having rescued Jerusalem out of the hands of the Jebusites, he made it the capital of his kingdom, and the place of his residence; and being willing to honour it with the presence of the ark of God, he brought it to Jerusalem in triumph, and divesting himself of his royal robes, out of reverence to God, he clothed himself in the habit of his ministers, and with them expressed his joy by dancing and music; contemned only by one haughty woman; whom, as a just punishment of her insolence, he seems ever after to have separated from his bed. Though his crimes were heinous, and highly aggravated in the affair of Uriah and Bathsheba, he patiently endured reproof, humbly submitted to the punishment appointed him, deeply repented, and obtained mercy and forgiveness from God, though not without some severe marks of his displeasure, for the grievous offences of which he had been guilty. A rebellion was raised against him by his son Absalom. When forced by it to depart from Jerusalem, a circumstance most pathetically described by the sacred historian, he prevented the just punishment of Shimei, a wretch who cursed and stoned him. When restored to his throne, he spared him upon his submission, and would not permit a single man to be put to death in Israel upon account of this treason. He, with a noble confidence, made the commander of the rebel forces general of his own army, in the room of Joab, whom he intended to call to an account for murder and other crimes. After this, when obliged, by the command of God, to give up some of Saul's family to justice, for the murder of the Gibeonites, he spared Mephibosheth, Micah, and his family, the male descendants of Saul and Jonathan, who alone could have any pretence to dispute the crown with him, and surrendered only Saul's bastard children, and those of his daughter by Adriel, who had no right or possible claim to the throne, and could never give him any uneasiness in the possession of it; and thus showed his inviolable regard for his oaths, his tenderness to Saul, and the warmth of his gratitude and friendship to Jonathan. In the close of his life, and in the near prospect of death, to demonstrate his love of justice, he charged Solomon to punish with death Joab, for the base murder of two great men, whom he assassinated under the pretence of peace and friendship. To this catalogue of his noble actions must be added, that he gave the most shining and indisputable proofs of an undissembled reverence for, and sincere piety to, God; ever obeying the direction of his prophets, worshipping him alone, to the exclusion of all idols, throughout the whole of his life, and making the wisest settlement to perpetuate the worship of the same God, through all succeeding generations.
To this abstract a few miscellaneous remarks may be added.
1. When David is called "the man after God's own heart," a phrase which profane persons have often perverted, his general character, and not every particular of it, is to be understood as approved by God; and especially his faithful and undeviating adherence to the true religion, from which he never deviated into any act of idolatry.
2. He was chosen to accomplish to their full extent the promises made to Abraham, to give to his seed the whole country from the river of Egypt to the great river Euphrates. He had succeeded to a kingdom distracted with civil dissensions, environed on every side by powerful and victorious enemies, without a capital, almost without an army, without any bond of union between the tribes. He left a compact and united state, stretching from the frontier of Egypt to the foot of Lebanon, from the Euphrates to the sea. He had crushed the power of the Philistines, subdued or curbed all the adjacent kingdoms: he had formed a lasting and important alliance with the great city of Tyre. He had organized an immense disposable force; for every month 24,000 men, furnished in rotation by the tribes, appeared in arms, and were trained as the standing militia of the country. At the head of his army were officers of consummate experience, and, what was more highly esteemed in the warfare of the time, extraordinary personal activity, strength, and valour. The Hebrew nation owed the long peace of Solomon the son's reign to the bravery and wisdom of the father.
3. As a conqueror he was a type of Christ, and the country "from the river to the ends of the earth," was also the prophetic type of Christ's dominion over the whole earth.
4. His inspired psalms not only place him among the most eminent prophets; but have rendered him the leader of the devotions of good men, in all ages. The hymns of David excel no less in sublimity and tenderness of expression than in loftiness and purity of religious sentiment. In comparison with them the sacred poetry of all other nations sinks into mediocrity. They have embodied so exquisitely the universal language of religious emotion, that they have entered with unquestioned propriety into the ritual of the higher and more perfect religion of Christ. The songs which cheered the solitude of the desert caves of Engedi, or resounded from the voice of the Hebrew people as they wound along the glens or the hill sides of Judea, have been repeated for ages in almost every part of the habitable world, in the remotest islands of the ocean, among the forests of America or the sands of Africa. How many human hearts have these inspired songs softened, purified, exalted! Of how many wretched beings have they been the secret consolation! On how many communities have they drawn down the blessings of Divine providence, by bringing the affections into unison with their deep devotional fervour, and leading to a constant and explicit recognition of the government, rights, and mercies of God!
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Watson, Richard. Entry for 'David'. Richard Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/​dictionaries/​eng/​wtd/​d/david.html. 1831-2.