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.

Mentors in Scripture

Every time I read the opening chapters of the book of Proverbs, I cannot help but notice how often Solomon addresses his wisdom to “my son.” I count 19 times in the first 8 chapters where Solomon refers to the hearer or reader of his words as “son” or “sons.”

What a fantastic resource the book of proverbs can be to a young man who is growing up, or has grown up, without a father in his life. What a rich source of fatherly guidance.

For that matter, the book of proverbs is a wonderful resource for all of us, young or old, male or female, whether we had two parents in the home or not. After all, the Bible tells us, “God gave Solomon wisdom and very great discernment and breadth of mind, like the sand that is on the seashore. Solomon’s wisdom surpassed the wisdom of all the sons of the east and all the wisdom of Egypt. For he was wiser than all men… and his fame was known in all the surrounding nations.” (1 Kings 4:29-31)

Even if you had the most wise and loving parents in the universe, there is still more wisdom for you to find in the book of Proverbs. Even if your friends are the best examples of godly living that anyone could imagine, they are still imperfect humans who may sometimes lack the perfect knowledge revealed in scripture.

Let Solomon be a mentor to you through the book of Proverbs.

Of course, the reason why Solomon was so wise was because he got his wisdom from God. The words recorded in the book of Proverbs are God-breathed (2 Timothy 3:16). When we open the Bible to learn, we are literally being taught by God. Jesus Himself said so in John 6:45, “It is written in the prophets, ‘AND THEY SHALL ALL BE TAUGHT OF GOD.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father, comes to Me.”

We all need someone wiser than us to help us to learn and grow in life. Think of a classic mentor-trainee relationship such as Daniel and Mr. Miyagi in “Karate Kid.” That is what God offers to be for us. In John 13:13 Jesus said “You call Me Teacher and Lord; and you are right, for so I am.” In Luke 6:40 He said, “A pupil is not above his teacher; but everyone, after he has been fully trained, will be like his teacher.”

Will you allow God to be your teacher? Will you submit yourself to His instructions, even when you do not understand them, knowing that He can help you to become more like Him?

And will you spend time with the mentors that God has appointed throughout history to teach us various lessons, both through listening to their wisdom and through observing their mistakes?

There is much to learn from the words and actions of men and women like Adam, Eve, Enoch, Noah, Job, Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Rebekah, Jacob, Rachel, Joseph, Moses, Zipporah, Miriam, Joshua, Rahab, Deborah, Gideon, Jael, Sampson, Naomi, Ruth, Hannah, Samuel, David, Abigail, Solomon, Elijah, Elisha, Esther, Mordecai, Ezra, Nehemiah, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel, Jonah, John the Baptist, Mary the mother of Jesus, Mary the sister or Martha, Anna the Prophetess, Peter, Andrew, James, John, Paul, Silas, Pheobe, Priscilla and Aquilla, Lydia, Dorcas, Barnabas, Timothy, and Titus. And that is just to name a few!

The Bible is full of father figures, mother figures, big brother and sister figures, and friends to help you learn and grow. Hebrews 12:1 describes them as a great cloud of witnesses surrounding us and cheering us on in our walk of faith.

Avail yourself to their guidance and support through God’s word.

Wisdom is Calling

In the first chapter of the book of Proverbs, beginning in verse twenty, wisdom is personified:

“Wisdom shouts in the street, she lifts her voice in the square;
At the head of the noisy streets she cries out;
At the entrance of the gates in the city she utters her sayings:
‘How long, O naive ones, will you love being simple-minded?
And scoffers delight themselves in scoffing and fools hate knowledge?
Turn to my reproof,
Behold, I will pour out my spirit on you;
I will make my words known to you.’”

When someone is standing out in a busy square shouting and calling out while people bustle all around and go about their own business, our typical response is to ignore them and go about our own business as well.

As a matter of fact, amid the “noisy streets,” as Solomon describes them here in the Book of Proverbs, it is surprisingly easy to tune out such a crier. Especially if you live in a big city and you see the same person out preaching or protesting every day, it could be easy to tune them out so thoroughly that you cease to even notice them.

The urgency of wisdom contrasts sharply here with the mundane business of those around her who are totally unconcerned.

Maybe we are guilty of tuning out wisdom as well. Maybe we have known what we ought to do and failed to do it for so long that foolishness has become our default. Wisdom does not even cross our minds anymore. Her cries blend right in with all the other noise.

Perhaps we just do not have time to sit down with Wisdom, while the world rushes by all around us, and listen intently to her appeal.

There may come a time when we have ignored her for so long that irreparable damage has been done.

“Because I called and you refused, I stretched out my hand and no one paid attention;
And you neglected all my counsel and did not want my reproof;
I will also laugh at your calamity;
I will mock when your dread comes, when your dread comes like a storm
And your calamity comes like a whirlwind, when distress and anguish come upon you.
Then they will call on me, but I will not answer;
They will seek me diligently but they will not find me,
Because they hated knowledge and did not choose the fear of the Lord.
They would not accept my counsel, they spurned all my reproof.
So they shall eat of the fruit of their own way and be satiated with their own devices.”

grand-central-station-690180_1280