A king of ancient Israel in the Old Testament.
David was a son of Jesse of the tribe of Judah. He was a courageous youth who slew a lion, a bear, and the Philistine giant Goliath (1 Sam. 17). David was chosen and anointed to be king of Israel. Like Saul, in his adult life he was guilty of grave crimes, but, unlike Saul, he was capable of true contrition. He was therefore able to find forgiveness, except in the murder of Uriah (D&C 132:39). His life can be divided into four parts: (1) at Bethlehem, where he was a shepherd (1 Sam. 16–17); (2) in the court of King Saul (1 Sam. 18:1–19:18); (3) as a fugitive (1 Sam. 19:18–31:13; 2 Sam. 1); (4) as king over Judah at Hebron (2 Sam. 2–4), and later as king over all Israel (2 Sam. 5–24; 1 Kgs. 1:1–2:11).
David’s sin of adultery with Bathsheba was followed by a series of misfortunes that marred the last twenty years of his life. The nation as a whole was prosperous during his reign, but David himself suffered from the consequences of his sins. There were constant family feuds, which, in the case of Absalom and Adonijah, ended in open rebellion. These incidents are a fulfillment of the pronouncement of Nathan the prophet upon David because of his sin (2 Sam. 12:7–13).
In spite of these disasters, David’s reign was the most brilliant of Israelite history, for (1) he united the tribes into one nation, (2) he secured undisputed possession of the country, (3) he based the government on the true religion so that the will of God was the law of Israel. For these reasons, David’s reign was later regarded as the nation’s golden age and the type of the more glorious age when the Messiah would come (Isa. 16:5; Jer. 23:5; Ezek. 37:24–28).
David’s life illustrates the need for all persons to endure in righteousness to the end. As a youth, he was said to be a man after the Lord’s “own heart” (1 Sam. 13:14); as a man, he spoke by the Spirit and had many revelations. But he paid a heavy price for his disobedience to the commandments of God (D&C 132:39).