Figures in the Life of David

Major Characters (these appear at various points in David’s life.)

  • Samuel (God has heard) – judge of the people and prophet of God, anoints Saul as king but later announces that the kingdom will be taken from Saul and given to someone worthy. Anoints David as the new king and helps to protect him from Saul.
  • Saul (asked/prayed for) – King of Israel who is eventually rejected by God for disobedience. Fears and resents David, and pursues him so as to kill him. Dies in battle with his sons.
  • Jonathan (the Lord has given) – son of Saul who is loyal to David because of their great friendship.
  • David (beloved) – son of Jesse who is a shepherd and musician. Becomes king of Judah, and then of all of Israel.
  • Michal (brook?) – daughter of Saul who professes her love for David. Later given to another man, then taken back again by David.
  • Ahimelech the priest and his son Abiathar (brother of the king; my father is great) – Ahimelech helps David as he is fleeing from Saul, and is thus executed along with his family. Abiathar escapes and becomes a priest for David.
  • Abner (my father is light) – commander of Saul’s armies, killed by Joab even though he changes sides after Saul’s death to serve David
  • Joab (the LORD is my father) – son of Zuriah and commander of David’s armies.
  • Abishai and Azahel – (gift of the father?; made by God) brothers of Joab, sons or Zeruiah. Azahel is killed in battle, but Abishai remains a key military figure throughout the life of David.
  • Achish (anger?) – Philistine lord in Gath. David feigns madness to escape being take captive by him, but later returns and pledges his loyalty. Achish trusts David completely but the other Philistine lords do not.
  • Ish-Bosheth (man of shame) – (grand)son of Saul who is made king by Abner when Saul dies. Killed shortly after by two of his commanders, who were executed by David as a result.
  • Mephibosheth (dispeller of shame) – son of Jonathan son of Saul. Crippled man who is shown great kindness by David.
  • Ziba (station?) – servant of Mephibosheth who takes care of his estate, but later betrays Mephibosheth and ends up with half of his wealth.
  • Nathan (he gave) – prophet of God who gives David some of the best and some of the worst news he ever receives.
  • Bathsheba (daughter of the oath) – wife of Uriah who David covets and takes for his own, after he has Uriah killed, he marries her.
  • Uriah the Hittite (the LORD is my light) – mighty man of David who is killed in order to cover up David’s adultery with his wife.
  • Solomon/Jedidiah (peace/beloved of the LORD) – son of David by Bathsheba, who becomes a great and prosperous king after David dies.
  • Absalom (my father is peace) – Son of David who kills Amnon for raping his sister Tamar. Sent into exile but later allowed to return, he rebels against David and is temporarily successful at taking Israel from David.
  • Tamar (palm tree) – daughter of David and sister of Absalom who is raped by Amnon.
  • Amnon (faithful) – son of David who rapes Tamar and is killed in revenge by Absalom.
  • Ahithophel the Gilonite (brother of foolishness) – David’s advisor, who serves Absalom during the rebellion.
  • Cherethites and Pelethites – 600 men who leave Gath of the Philistines to follow David for the rest of his days.
  • Ittai the Gittite (with me) – foreigner who pledges loyalty to David and becomes a friend and a leader of his armies.
  • Zadok and Abiathar (righteous; my father is great) – priests for David who remain faithful to him when Absalom rebels.
  • Ahimaaz and Jonathan (brother of the council?; the LORD has given) – sons of Zadok and Abiathar who serve as secret messengers to alert David of Absalom’s plans.
  • Hushai the Archite (enjoyment?) – David’s friend and counselor who foils the advice of Ahithophel during Absalom’s rebellion.
  • Gad (fortune, luck) – a prophet of God who helps David flee from Saul, and later gives him bad news concerning the census he carried out.

Minor Characters (these are often extremely important, but  are not recorded to have played a significant role in multiple different events throughout David’s life.)

  • Jesse (gift?) – father of David.
  • Goliath (uncover, unveil?) – giant Philistine who is slain by David with the help of the LORD.
  • Abinadab, Malchi-shua (father of a vow; my king saves) – sons of Saul, brothers of Jonathan. They all die in battle together.
  • Nabal (fool, senseless, failure) – worthless fellow who refuses to provide for David’s men despite the protection they provide his flocks.
  • Abigail (my father is joy) – wife of Nabal who wisely averts disaster and becomes David’s wife when Nabal dies.
  • Doeg the Edomite (careful, fearful, uneasy) – servant of Saul who kills Ahimelech and the other prophets for helping David to flee.
  • Medium at En-Dor – a woman who can communicate with spirits, who helps Saul to call up Samuel.
  • Uzzah and Ahio, sons of Abinadab (strength; brother) – they help to transport the ark to Jerusalem, but when Uzzah reaches out to steady the ark he is struck dead.
  • ObedEdom (servent of Edom) – the ark is temporarily stored at the house of Obed-Edom and his whole household is blessed.
  • Hanun, son of Nahash king of Ammonites (gracious, merciful, favored) – becomes king after his father; needlessly provokes David to war and it does not go well for him.
  • David’s unnamed child – dies because of David’s sin with Bathsheba.
  • Jonadab (God gives liberally/impels) – David’s nephew. A “shrewd” man who convinces Amnon to rape Tamar.
  • Wise woman of Tekoa – put up by Joab to convince David to allow Absalom to come back from exile. She succeeds.
  • Woman at En-Rogel – hides Ahimaaz and Jonathan and thus helps David escape Absalom.
  • Shimei, son of Gera (hear, listen, obey) – curses David when he flees from Absalom. David promises not to seek retribution, so Solomon executes him after coming into power.
  • Chimham (longing?) – returns to Israel in place of his master, Barzillai.
  • Amasa (burden?) – serves as a commander for David after the rebellion by Absalom, but is slothful and risks David’s position, and is thus killed by Joab
  • Sheba, son of Bichri (oath) – challenger to David’s throne who seeks refuge in Abel.
  • Wise woman at Abel – avoids the destruction of Abel by throwing the head of Sheba son of Bichri down to Joab.
  • Gibeonites – Have seven of Saul’s descendants hanged as retribution of Saul’s violation of their covenant with Israel.
  • Rizpah the daughter of Aiah (coal, hot stone) – mourns for the descendants of Saul and watches after their remains.
  • Barzillai the Gileadite (man of iron) – friend of David who helps him when he flees from Absalom.
  • Araunah the Jebusite (ark, song, strong?) – owns the threshing floor where David sacrifices to the LORD after the pestilence sent by God.
  • Abishag the Shunammite (my father wanders) – beautiful young woman who attends to David in his old age. A point of contention between David’s sons Solomon and Adonijah.
  • Benaiah the son of Jehoiada (son of the LORD) – one of David’s mighty men, who helps him ensure that Solomon succeeds him as king.
  • Adonijah the son of Haggith – (the LORD is master) seeks to become king in place of Solomon when David is old, but fails and is put to death by Solomon shortly after.

It Starts with You

In Acts 1:8, Jesus told His followers, “you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.”

These instructions paint a picture of widening concentric circles spreading out to cover the globe. And indeed, the influence of the church spread out all over the Roman Empire and to the ends of the earth, and it continues spreading to new places to this day.

The church here in Mankato would like to see this as a model for our own efforts to spread the good news. Start in this city, then spread out all over the state, the country, and the world.

But there are times when the Bible would teach us to think smaller for a moment, instead of always thinking big.

In Philippians 2, Paul told his audience to “work out your salvation with fear and trembling.” Some translations even say “work out your own salvation,” in order to emphasize the fact that this is a personal task for the Philippians to think about themselves.

The church has a lot of work to do, but we must make sure that we know where are we are going before we try to lead others there.

In Luke 6, a parable of Jesus is recorded: “A blind man cannot guide a blind man, can he? Will they not both fall into a pit? A pupil is not above his teacher; but everyone, after he has been fully trained, will be like his teacher. Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take out the speck that is in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the log that is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother’s eye.”

If we go out to halfheartedly spread a gospel that we ourselves have not been transformed by, we risk succeeding only in converting people to the same apathy and hypocrisy that we are practicing.

If we go out with logs in our eyes trying to remove specks from the eyes of others, we may succeed only in making matters worse.

This is exactly what Jesus accused some of the religious leaders of His day of doing in Matthew 23:15, “You travel around on sea and land to make one proselyte; and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves.”

Consider also the common scriptural illustrations of salt, light, and leaven. Salt can be spread out all over a large peace of meat in order to preserve it, but what if the salt loses its unique quality? A lamp can shine out on a hilltop for all to see, but what if a bushel is placed over it? Leaven can spread out to affect an entire loaf of bread, but what if the leaven is dead?

Let’s be a light in our city, our state, and our world. But let’s also be a light in our local congregation, our own homes, and even when we are alone in our rooms with the door shut. Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, then go and share what you have found with the world.