Celebrated in the OT as Israel's ideal king and in the NT as an ancestor of the Messiah, though David's personal life did not seem to portend such a status. He was the greatā€grandson of a foreigner, Ruth the Moabitess (no comfort here for later narrow nationalism!) and the youngest of eight brothers, sons of Jesse; and the narrative of 2 Samuel is by no means silent over his misdemeanours and family feuds. At the same time, it is recorded how he bravely confronted the Philistine champion Goliath (1 Sam. 17; but was it Goliath? 2 Sam. 21: 19), and was then invited to serve as a musician in Saul's court and to calm him in his manic phases. David established a deep friendship with Saul's son Jonathan (1 Sam. 20: 17).

After the death of Saul, David became king of Judah (c. 1000 BCE) at the age of 30 and reigned at Hebron for seven years. But after interā€tribal warfare the supremacy of Judah over the other tribes was consolidated when David captured the Jebusite city of Jerusalem (hitherto belonging to none of the twelve tribes) and made it his capital, a choice of astute diplomacy. This was reinforced by bringing in the ancient Ark of the Covenant and so initiating a central sanctuary for corporate worship which David's son Solomon would complete with the building of the Temple (c. 950 BCE).

David was honoured as a poet (2 Sam. 1) and he may have written some of the earlier psalms; and although this reputation is mostly the product of the nostalgia of later ages, it is possible that David's entourage at court did encourage literary and musical talents which were still flourishing in the time of the 8th cent. prophet Amos (6: 5).

David was celebrated by Jews as their ideal king, though his orders to ensure the deaths of Uriah (2 Sam. 11: 15), and Joab and Shimei (1 Kgs. 2: 6, 9) were not signs of nobility. He did indeed extend the country's frontiers from the border with Egypt to the upper Euphrates, and there was great material prosperity. The dynasty founded by David was not to last over the whole nation; but over Judah, at any rate, it survived until the Exile (586 BCE). After the Exile David's piety and sagacity are recounted anew in the story of 1 Chronicles.