Life of David – overview with Psalms

This table is intended to serve as an overview of the life of David in 1 and 2 Samuel and the psalms that he wrote which speak to events in his life.

“Psalms direct” refers to psalms that are directly attributed to particular events in David’s life in their headings.
“Psalms apparent” refers to psalms that I believe strongly correlate with particular events or the themes within them.
“Psalms additional” are other psalms of David that speak on similar themes.

It should be noted that there is some amount of subjectivity regarding what events certain undesignated psalms most directly relate to, and also that the historical dates given are not universally agreed upon.  I included them just as a rough guide of the passage of time throughout the account of his life.

Week

Scripture

Probable Date Event Psalms direct Psalms apparent Psalms additional Occasion of Psalm
1 1 Sam. 16 1024 BC Samuel Anoints David at Bethlehem   23, 19 8 David as a shepherd
1 1 Sam. 17 1024 BC David Kills Goliath   36 9 On the victory over Goliath
2 1 Sam. 18 1015 BC Jonathan’s Friendship with David   11   When David was advised to flee Saul
2 1 Sam. 19 1014 BC David Protected from Saul 59     On Saul surrounding the house of David
2 1 Sam. 20 1013 BC David and Jonathan’s Covenant        
3 1 Sam. 21 1012 BC David at Nob and Gath 56; 34     David with Philistines at Gath; On David’s leaving the city of Gath
3 1 Sam. 22 1011 BC Saul Slays the Priests of Nob 142;52   17, 35, 64, 109, 140 David in the cave at Adullam; On the murder of the priests by Doeg and the following persecution
3 1 Sam. 23 1011 BC David Flees Saul 54 31   Betrayal by Ziphites; Persecution by Saul
4 1 Sam. 24 1011 BC David Spares Saul’s Life 57;63   58 On David’s refusal to kill Saul in the cave; prayer of David in wilderness of Engedi
4 1 Sam. 25 1011 BC Samuel Dies; Nabal and Abigail        
4 1 Sam. 26 1011 BC David Spares Saul a Second Time        
5 1 Sam. 27 1010 BC David Flees to the Philistines   141   Prayer of David when driven from Judea
5 1 Sam. 28 1010 BC Saul and the Witch of Endor        
6 1 Sam. 29 1010 BC Achish Sends David Away        
6 1 Sam. 30 1010 BC David Destroys the Amalekites   22   David is in distress, but trusts God
7 1 Sam. 31 1010 BC Saul and His Sons Killed        
7 2 Sam. 1 1010 BC David Mourns for Saul and Jonathan Song of the Bow (in the text)      
8 2 Sam. 2 1010 BC David Made King over Judah; Civil War Between Abner and Joab   101   David will strive to be a good king
8 2 Sam. 3 1006 BC House of David Strengthened; Joab murders Abner        
8 2 Sam. 4 1004 BC The Murder of Ish-bosheth        
8 2 Sam. 5 1003 BC David Reigns over All Israel   40 139 Prayer of David when made king over all Israel
9 2 Sam. 6 1000 BC The Ark is Brought to Jerusalem 30, 1 Chronicles 16 68   On the return of the ark to Jerusalem
9 2 Sam. 7 1000 BC David Plans a Temple   2, 110 16, 61 On the delivery of the promise by Nathan to David
10 2 Sam. 8 998 BC David Defeats the Philistines 60 133 108 On the conquest of Edom; Israel united
10 2 Sam. 9 995 BC David and Mephibosheth        
10 2 Sam. 10 995 BC David Defeats Ammon and Aram   20 21 On the war with the Ammonites and their allies
11 2 Sam. 11 993 BC David and Bathsheba   32 33 On the pardon of David’s adultery
11 2 Sam. 12 991 BC Nathan Rebukes David; Solomon is born 51 38   Confession of David after his adultery
12 2 Sam. 13 990 BC Amnon and Tamar; Amnom Killed by Absalom        
12 2 Sam. 14 988 BC The Widow of Tekoa; Absalom Recalled   103    
13 2 Sam. 15 976 BC Absalom’s Conspiracy; David Flees Jerusalem 3 70 4, 5 On Absalom’s rebellion and David’s flight from Absalom
13 2 Sam. 16 972 BC David and Ziba, Shimei   131 7 On the reproaches of Shimei
13 2 Sam. 17 972 BC Hushai’s Warning Saves David   41, 55   Treachery of Ahithophel
14 2 Sam. 18 972 BC Absalom Slain by Joab   143   During the war with Absalom
14 2 Sam. 19 972 BC Joab Comforts David        
15 2 Sam. 20 972 BC Sheba Rebels Against David   37   Sheba’s rebellion foiled
15 2 Sam. 21 970 BC The Gibeonites Avenged        
16 – Wed 2 Sam. 22 970 BC David’s Song of Deliverance 18 (in text)     On the conclusion of David’s wars
16 – Wed 2 Sam. 23 970 BC David’s Last Song last song (in text)      
16 2 Sam. 24 970 BC David Counts the Fighting Men        
16 1 Kings 1 970 BC David’s Last Days   145   David, when old, reviewing his past life
16 1 kings 2 970 BC David dies, Solomon Cleans House      

Love Poems to God

King David of Israel is seen as a hero of faith by many Jews and Christians. What he achieved in his lifetime is impressive, and Acts 13:22 records that God Himself called David “a man after My own heart.” But David probably seemed a little odd to some of the people around him.

On one hand, David was as tough as you could imagine. He commanded large groups of fighting men with effective leadership. His valiant successes in battle led the young ladies to brag that “Saul has slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands.”

On the other hand, David’s psalms reveal that he could be very emotional, very submissive, very meek, and humble. He made no secret that he wept bitterly many nights. He made no secret that his refuge was in God and not in his own strength. And he certainly made no secret that he loved God’s word with all of his heart.

It is a rare occurrence to find such an individual: extremely successful by worldly standards, yet totally submitted to God.

There is also the fact that David was “ruddy, with beautiful eyes and a handsome appearance” according to 1 Samuel 16. He had a good reputation. He was a talented poet and musician. He prospered in whatever he did. There was surely no shortage of eligible bachelorettes for David to give his heart and soul to.

And yet, it was to God and His word that David wrote his love poems. It was God, more than anything or anyone else that he panted for as a dear pants for water. It was God who he stayed awake thinking about and talking to in the watches of the night.

David truly loved God. Not as a last resort when wealth, fame, success, sex, and romance had failed him. Rather, even in the midst of those things God remained his focus and his aim.

This kind of behavior makes the world ask “why?!” Why does someone who has such attractive alternatives still give their heart to God? The obvious answer is because God is in fact more attractive than any possible alternative. “Your loving-kindness is better than life.” David says in Psalm 63.

And when we live like David, whether that means being satisfied with God in the absence of all else, or being focused on Him in the midst of all else, we demonstrate to the world in an “incredible” but noticeably genuine fashion that God really is sweeter than all else.

Christians and Time Management

Americans as a whole devote considerable amounts of time to leisure activities.

  • We will happily devote a couple of hours to watching an interesting movie.
  • We will sit through an entire NFL game on television, which averages 3 hours 12 minutes of airtime, with over 100 commercials and only 11 minutes of actual play.
  • NASCAR races take 3-5 hours.
  • Some prefer to run, walk, jog, bike, kayak, etc. regularly for extended periods of time.

There is nothing inherently wrong with watching a movie, a game, a race, or going for a run. In fact, having times of rest, relaxation, and refreshment is vital for our mental and physical health. But it may be beneficial to consider our use of time on such activities in comparison to our devotion to spiritual disciplines.

  • In Luke 6:12, Jesus spent all night in prayer.
  • In Mark 14:32-42, at the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus expressed concern that His closest friends could not devote even one hour to watching and praying for Him without falling asleep.
  • In Luke 6, the apostles sought out willing servants to help with the churches work, so that they could devote more time to the Word and prayer.
  • David often remarked in the Psalms that he meditated on God’s Word day and night. He often lay on his bed during the watches of the night, treasuring God’s commands.

Of course, praying long prayers or devoting countless hours to study is not some formulaic way to earn God’s favor. We should not “babble on” in lengthy prayers in he hope that we will “be heard for our many words” as those who are mentioned in Matthew 6:7.

But it might surprise us how little time we actually devote to the Lord, if we were to time it. Why not give it a try? Perhaps see how it feels to spend half an hour in prayer a few nights this week.

The goal is not to achieve a higher spiritual status by enduring monotonous disciplines. This is simply a reminder for us all that our use of time can be an indicator of our hearts deepest desires.