Biography of Jewish Leader King David

Statue of King David by Nicolas Cordier in the Borghese Chapel of the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore.
Jastrow/Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

David, the son of Jesse of Bethlehem, of the tribe of Judah, was the most brilliant leader of ancient Israel.

David's Early Life

When David was just a shepherd boy, he was called to play music for King Saul in order to cure his melancholy. David also gained fame as a youth when he killed the Philistine Goliath (Galyat) with his slingshot. Saul made David his armor-bearer and son-in-law, and Saul's son Jonathan became David's loyal friend.

Rise to Power

When Saul died, David rose to power by conquering the south and then Jerusalem. The northern tribes of Israel voluntarily submitted to David. David was the first king of a united Israel. He founded a dynasty, centered in Jerusalem, that remained in power for about 500 years. David brought the Ark of the Covenant into the center of the Jewish nation, thereby infusing the Jewish national home with religion and ethics.

By creating a nation for the Jews with Torah at its center, David brought the work of Moses to a practical conclusion and laid the foundation that would enable Judaism to survive for thousands of years to come, despite the efforts of many other nations to destroy it.

The Ultimate Jewish Leader

David was the ultimate Jewish leader. He was courageous and strong in war, as well as an intelligent statesman. He was a faithful friend and an inspiring leader. He was skillful at playing musical instruments and gifted in his ability to write Psalms (Tehilim) or songs of praise to God. In his relationship with God, he was pious. Mistakes he did make can be attributed to his rapid rise to power and the spirit of the times in which he lived and ruled. According to Jewish Tradition, the Messiah (Mashiach) will come from the descendants of David.