David – the Iconic King of Israel

Prophecies say the Messiah would come from the House of David. Who was this iconic king of Israel and why would the Messiah need to be born in his lineage?

Red-headed David as the youngest of 8 boys drew the short straw assigned to be the shepherd of his father’s sheep.[1] Alone in the wilderness, he became an expert with a slingshot and singlehandedly killed lions and bears who threatened the flock.[2]

Summoned by his father, Jesse, one day to come back home in Bethlehem, much to David’s surprise the prophet Samuel was there waiting. He anointed David as God’s choice to be the next King of Israel.[3] David’s legendary fame would begin and grow soon thereafter.

Three of David’s brothers were fighting in Israel’s army supported by their father who routinely sent David to them with supplies. During one visit to the battle front, David was astonished to see Israel’s army afraid of a giant Philistine ace warrior named Goliath who challenged and taunted the army daily.

Asking King Saul’s permission to battle Goliath, the shepherd boy was ridiculed by his older brothers and Saul tried to talk him out of it, but the King relented. David defiantly announced to Goliath he will kill him in the name of the Lord and cut off his head. And he did just that – with a slingshot and a single stone then using Goliath’s own sword to cut off his head. That very day David was placed in the service of King Saul.[4]

David’s fame eventually made Saul jealous who tried to hunt down and kill him.[5] Failing to seek and obey God’s guidance would cost Saul his own life and that of his sons in battle. After his death, the people of Israel anointed David as their king, but he had no throne.[6] The fortified city of Jebus seemed the perfect place.

As a skilled formidable warrior serving in King Saul’s army, David had become well-known to his enemies.[7] Equipped with this savvy and fame, he gathered people of Israel, formed an army and advanced toward Jebus.

Hurling insults at David’s approaching army, the Jebusites yelled “the blind and the lame” could fight off Israel while arrogantly positioning lame and blind people on the city walls in mockery.[8] Taking great offense, David offered the army’s commanding general position to whomever led the army to victory over Jebus.[9] Joab became that commanding general.

Soon after taking the city, it expanded to encompass the Mounts Moriah and Zion. Jebus, formerly known as Salem, now was called by a new name – Jerusalem, the City of David.[10] 

More good news came from God through the prophet Nathan saying David’s future son would be the one to fulfill promises God made to Moses to build the House of God and to Jacob that the scepter would never leave his family:[11]

2 Sam 7:12-13  “When your days are complete and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your descendant after you, who will come forth from you, and I will establish his kingdom.  He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.” [12]

Basking in the glory of his kingdom, David decided to take a census contrary to God’s past instructions.[13] General Joab pressed the King not to do it, but David persisted.[14]

Punishment for David’s sin was heavy upon the nation and the King pleaded with God to punish only himself and his family because Israel was innocent. The prophet Gad delivered God’s response instructing David to build an altar on the threshing floor of Araunah on Mount Moriah and offer an atonement sacrifice for the people of Israel.[15] 

David purchased the threshing floor, the oxen and materials, then built the altar himself. To his astonishment, God sent fire down from heaven to consume the sacrifice.[16] Moved deeply, David declared:  “This is the house of the LORD God, and this is the altar of burnt offerings for Israel.”

The promised House of God, the Temple, was to be built on Mount Moriah, the place where a 1000 years earlier Abraham took his only son, Isaac, to be sacrificed, then spared at the last moment with a substitute sacrificial ram.[17] Incredible coincidence?

Lord Acton’s quote “absolute power corrupts absolutely” applied even to David.[18] Using his celebrity and power, the King lured the married beautiful Bath-Sheba into his palatial bedroom, seduced her and she became pregnant. Her husband, Uriah, was one of David’s top military officers away fighting a war – how would Bath-Sheba explain away her pregnancy? David devised a cover-up plan.

Uriah was summoned by the King from the battlefield under the pretense of some R&R, but in reality to allow an opportunity for him to have marital relations with his wife to provide cover for her pregnancy. It backfired when the loyal Uriah thought it would not be fair to his troops back on the battlefield if he enjoyed the pleasures of Bath-Sheba.

David’s back-up plan was to send Uriah to the frontlines where he was killed in battle. No secret to God, the murder plot was exposed through the prophet Nathan. As punishment, Bath-Sheba’s illegitimate baby died, yet while being consoled in her grief by David, she conceived another son named Solomon who would become the next king of Israel.[19]

In spite of his major human failures, God still honored His promise to David. Prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah and Zechariah over the following centuries would prophesy that the Messiah was to come from the House of David; prophecies confirmed by renowned Jewish Sages Rashi and Maimonides.[20]

David wrote many of the Psalms, some deemed to be prophetic.[21] First words of Psalms 22, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken me?” were uttered by Jesus shortly before he died on the cross. The full 22nd Psalm depicts the dramatic image of a man dying in agony and humiliation remarkably consistent in specific detail with the circumstances of the Roman crucifixion of Jesus a millennium later.

As a mortal, Jesus would have no control over being born a 1000 years later into the royal lineage of David in his same hometown of Bethlehem, especially exceptional considering that up until the last moment Jesus was expected to be born in Nazareth, a week’s long journey away. What are the odds of improbability it was simply by chance?

REFERENCES:

[1] 2 Samuel 11, 16.
[2] I Samuel 17.
[3] I Sam. 16; Chronicles 2, 10.
[4] I Samuel 18.
[5] I Samuel 19.
[6] 2 Samuel 2, 5.  1 Chronicles 10, 11.
[7] 1Chronicles 11.
[8] I Chronicles 11; 2 Samuel 5. Josephus.  Josephus, Flavius.  Antiquities of the Jews. Book VII, Chapter III.1. <http://books.google.com/books?id=e0dAAAAAMAAJ&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q&f=false>
[9] 2 Samuel 5.  I Chronicles 11. Josephus.  Antiquity. Book VII, Chapter III.1.
[10] I Chronicles 17:1. Josephus. Antiquity. Book VII, Chapter III.1-2. Net.bible.org. Hebrew text. “Jebus <2982>”  <https://net.bible.orgLexicon-Concordance Online Bible.  Hebrew “Jebuw <2982>” (Brown-Driver-Briggs). <http://lexiconcordance.com>  Dolphin, Lambert. “Mount Moriah, Site of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.”  TempleMount.org. 1996.  <http://www.templemount.org/moriah2.html> “Zion.”  Fausset Bible Dictionary. 1878. http://classic.studylight.org/dic/fbd>  
[11] Genesis 49; 2 Samuel 5; 1 Chronicles 11, 17; Chronicles 5; 1Kings 2; Judges 1; Psalms 76.  Josephus.  Antiquities. Book VII, Chapter III.2.    
[12] NASB.  I Chronicles 17.
[13] Exodus 30.
[14] I Chronicles 21; 2 Samuel 24.
[15] I Chronicles 21; 2 Chronicles 3; 2 Samuel 24.
[16] I Chronicles 21.  2 Samuel 24. “Araunah.” Jewish Encyclopedia.  2011. <http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com> “The Site – The Temple Mount.”  Bible-History.com.  n.d. <http://www.bible-history.com/jewishtemple/JEWISH_TEMPLEThe_Site.htm>  Josephus.  Antiquities. Book VII, Chapter III.
[17] NKJV.  I Chronicles 22; 2 Chronicles 3.  
[18] “Lord Acton writes to Bishop Creighton…” Online Library of Liberty. 2017. <http://oll.libertyfund.org/quote/214>
[19] 2 Samuel 12.
[20] Isaiah 9; Jeremiah 23; 33; Zechariah 12.  The Compete Jewish Bible – with Rashi Commentary. Rashi commentaries: Gensis 49:10; Numbers 24:17; Zechariah 12:12; Micah 5:2.  
Maimonides.  Mishneh Torah.  “The Law Concerning Moshiach.” Chapter 11. <http://www.kesser.org/moshiach/rambam.html#SIE>
[21] The Complete Jewish Bible with Rashi’s Commentary. Rashi commentaries on Micah 5:2 and Psalms 118:22. “Salvation.” Jewish Encyclopedia.  2011.

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Abraham – Patriarch of Jews, Muslims and Christians

One of the biggest, if not the biggest, irony in all the major world religions is that Jews, Muslims and Christians have a common religious patriarch – Abraham. Muslims trace their lineage back to Ishmael, son of Abraham.[i] Jews trace their ancestry back to Jacob, son of Isaac, son of Abraham. Christians trace the lineage of Jesus through the line of David back to Abraham.[ii]

A Chaldean having been born in the Chaldees, a future region of Babylon, Abram moved with his father, Terah, and their entire family to Haran in the land of Canaan.[iii] Decades later as a 75-year old man, God told Abram to move his own family to an unnamed destination promising “…and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”[iv] Faithfully, Abram eventually resettled at the mounts of Moriah near a city named Salem. 

Abram one day asked God how His blessing would be honored since he and his wife, Sarai, was childless and were both very old. They had already second guessed God by agreeing that Abram would produce a child through Sarai’s maid servant, Hagar, their son being named Ismael.

In a rare angelic birth announcement, God promised Abram and Sarai she would miraculously have a son at her old age of 90, the newborn to be named Isaac.[v] The Angel of the Lord blessed Abram, changed his name to Abraham, Sarai to Sarah, and promised Abraham that his descendants would produce nations and kings, a seemingly difficult concept for a man who had no nation to call his own:

Gen. 17:5-6 “And your name shall no longer be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham, for I have made you the father of a multitude of nations. And I will make you exceedingly fruitful, and I will make you into nations, and kings will emerge from you.” (Complete Jewish Bible)

After Isaac was older, God tested Abraham’s faith once again instructing him to sacrifice his only son without whom the promise of a royal legacy would also die.[vi] Horrific human sacrifices such as to the pagan gods Baal and Moloch were not uncommon in that era. On the sacrificial alter, Isaac was spared at the last moment by the Angel of the Lord and was redeemed with a substitute sacrificial ram entangled in a thicket.[vii]

Isaac went on to marry Rebekah, a story in its own right. To them was born a set of paternal twin boys, Esau and Jacob, with completely opposite personalities. Eventually Jacob, the second born, would deceive his blind father and steal Esau’s firstborn blessing.[viii] Isaac unwittingly passed along to Jacob his inheritance blessing received from his father Abraham.

Enraged, Esau planned to kill his twin brother, but Rebekah tipped off Jacob who fled the country. Over the next 20 years in exile, Jacob fathered 10 sons through his first wife, Leah and one to his second wife, Rachel. Jacob decided to risk returning to his homeland with all his family and possessions still believing Esau might want to kill him.[ix]

Ratcheting up the fear factor, the night before entering his homeland Jacob received word that Esau was coming to meet him with a band of 400 men – certainly not the appearance of a friendly welcome home party. In a dream that night, God changed Jacob’s name to Israel.[x] The next day, Israel entered the land of Abraham and much to his relief, Esau welcomed him with open arms.[xi]

Rachel would die during the childbirth of Israel’s last and 12th son, Benjamin. She was buried near Ephrath, in the district of Bethlehem, a very short distance from Salem, one day to be called Jerusalem.[xii] Israel’s sons would live to become known as the fathers of the 12 tribes of the Children of Israel.[xiii]

Years later, Israel still oft called Jacob, and his sons were forced to flee their enemies. Returning with his clan to the site of Bethel, the place where God had changed Jacob’s name, he offered a sacrifice. God reappeared to Jacob reinforcing that his name had been changed to Israel and blessed him saying:

Gen 35:11 …”I am the Almighty God; be fruitful and multiply; a nation and a multitude of nations shall come into existence from you, and kings shall come forth from your loins. (CJB)[xiv]

A severe famine in the land of Canaan compelled Israel to send his sons to Egypt in search of food as his grandfather Abraham had once done. The second most powerful man in Egypt turned out to be their long lost brother, Joseph, whom the jealous brothers had sold into slavery years before telling their father he had been killed by a wild animal.[xv]

Returning home to get their father and families, eventually all would be joyfully reunited in Egypt with Joseph where they lived out their lives under his protection. Before Israel died, he gave a blessing to each of his sons. For only one son, Judah, did he provide a blessing of power and royalty describing him as a lion:

Gen 49:8-10 “Judah, [as for] you, your brothers will acknowledge you. Your hand will be at the nape of your enemies, [and] your father’s sons will prostrate themselves to you.  A cub [and] a grown lion is Judah.  From the prey, my son, you withdrew. He crouched, rested like a lion, and like a lion, who will rouse him?  The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the student of the law from between his feet, until Shiloh comes, and to him will be a gathering of peoples.” (CJB)

Rabbi Rashi, one of Judaism’s most revered scriptural interpreters, identified Shiloh as the “King Messiah, to whom the kingdom belongs” and the scepter refers to the royal lineage of “David and thereafter.” [xvi] According to Rashi, the prophetic blessing of Judah was a pretext to the establishment of the kingdom of David.

Jesus of Nazareth is a direct descendant of Jacob, Isaac and Abraham, all of whom were blessed by God to produce a kingdom, in fact, the Messiah – was it merely by chance that Jesus was born in this lineage?

REFERENCES:

[i] Qur’an Surah 2:127-128, 133; 3:68, 84.  Cross reference Qur’an passages about Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in Surah 3:65; 4:163; 6:84; 19:47-52; 29:27; 33:7; 38:45-47.
[ii] I Chronicles chapter 1. Matthew 1. Luke 3. Qur’an Surah 3:33; 19:58.
[iii] Genesis 11- 12.
[iv] Genesis 12:3.  NASB, NKJV, NRSV.
[v] Genesis 15, 17, 21.  Qur’an Surah 11:69-73; 14:39; 21:72; 37:109-112.
[vi] “Human Sacrifices.”   Bible-history.com.  n.d.  <http://www.bible-history.com/backd2/human_sacrifice.html>  Last accessed 8 June 2014.   Hefner, Alan G. “Baal.”  Encyclopedia Mythica.   11 Jan. 2004.  <http://www.pantheon.org/articles/b/baal.html>   Last accessed 24 May 2014.  “Sacrifice.”  Jewish Encyclopedia.  2011.
[vii] Genesis 22.
[viii] Genesis 25, 27, 29.
[ix] Genesis 29-30.
[x] Genesis 32, 35.
[xi] Genesis 33.
[xii] Genesis 35.
[xiii] Genesis 35; I Chronicles 2.  Qur’an cites the “Children of Israel” 41 times – Trans. Abdullah Yusuf Ali.
[xiv] Cross reference Qur’an Surah 19:6; 21:71
[xv] Genesis chapters 37; 39-47.  Qur’an 12:4-102, 111.
[xvi] Rashi. The Compete Jewish Bible – with Rashi Commentary.  Commentary on Gensis 49:10.  “Rashi (Rabbi Shlomo Yitzchaki).”  Jewish Virtual Library. 2014.   Mindel, Nissan. “Rabbi Shlomo Yitzchaki – Rashi.” Publisher:  Kehot Publication Society.  2008.  Chabad.org.  2014.  <http://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/111831/jewish/Rabbi-Shlomo-Yitzchaki-Rashi.htm

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