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Portraits of a King


David is one of the greatest heroes of the Bible. He was given the title “a man after God’s own heart.” But that doesn’t mean he didn’t face trials, deal with struggles, and make poor choices. All through his journey we find portraits of people who chose him, encouraged him, tried to kill him, and ultimately pushed him to God’s purpose for his life.


Book Overview

1 and 2 Samuel cover almost 150 years of Israel’s history (approximately 1100 BC to 970 BC). The books are named after Samuel, the primary prophet in Israel under whose leadership the people of Israel progressed from being a loose confederation of tribes to a single unified nation. Samuel anointed the first two kings of Israel, and his influence paralleled that of Moses, an earlier leader of the nation (Psalm 99:1, Jeremiah 15:1). Samuel, Saul, and David are highlighted as the primary characters in the books. Throughout the narrative, the reader encounters the repeated themes of God exalting humility, opposing pride, and promising a future king who would rule perfectly.

"God exalts humility, opposes pride, and promises a future king who would rule perfectly."

Place and Context

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Timeline of David

(images by Karbel Multimedia, Logos Bible Software 2011)


Week 1

The Chosen One

Have you ever been overlooked? Maybe you even underestimate yourself. Perhaps you have been beaten down so much that you wonder what you could ever accomplish. So many of us have been there, but what is amazing about God is that He often chooses the most overlooked to fulfill His mission. Maybe what other people don’t see in you is what God is going to use the most.


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David and Samuel

Samuel was the primary spiritual leader of Israel for almost 60 years from the time of the Judges in various tribes, to a unified nation under a king. Samuel was the first prophet under the monarch, and in that role was called by God to act as an intermediary between God and His people. Samuel was the son of Elkanah and Hannah, a miracle child his mother Hannah had prayed for. Because God answered Hannah’s prayer, she gave her son the name Samuel (which means “God has heard”) and dedicated him to God’s service.

As a prophet, Samuel led Israel to a restoration of God’s blessing, subduing the Philistines and rescuing the Ark of the Covenant. Samuel anointed David as the future king of Israel. David was selected as a young boy (between 10-15 years old) and waited at least 15 years for the promise to be fulfilled. David was 30 years old when he officially assumed the throne (2 Samuel 5:4).


Anointing in the Old Testament


To anoint with oil symbolized being chosen and set apart for a specific purpose. Throughout the Old Testament, people and objects were anointed with oil: kings (Saul, David, Solomon), priests who served in the tabernacle (Exodus 40:13- 15), and vessels used in worship in the tabernacle (Exodus 30:26-30). A ram’s horn or wineskin flask was typically used in the anointing ceremony.


Week 2

How to Kill a Giant

Many of us want to be a giant-slayer. We want to be David in the battle against Goliath. However most of us aren’t willing to watch sheep to prepare for the battle. The truth is, most battles we face are not won on the battlefield, they are won long before the battle begins. David teaches us how we can prepare for the battle so we are ready to face the giants in life. 

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David and Goliath

Goliath was the champion warrior of the Philistines, one of the foremost enemies of Israel for decades. The Philistines lived in the southeastern coastal region of the Mediterranean Sea and were governed by five kings in five principal cities: Ashdod, Ashkelon, Ekron, Gath, and Gaza. They were a technologically advanced people with iron weapons and chariots, and were ruthless in battle.

Israel and Philistia were constantly at war because of land disputes. During their exodus from Egypt, the Israelites were promised the Philistine land (Exodus 23:31). However, they were unsuccessful in fully conquering those lands in the time of Joshua and the Judges, and the Philistines remained an enemy. Throughout the Old Testament, there are repeated battles between the two nations.

The most well-known of these battles occurs between David and Goliath in 2 Samuel 17. In a duel format, champions were chosen as representatives from each country to avoid devastating losses on both sides. The winner would receive the spoils and the surrender of the defeated.


Height Comparison

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Goliath was a soldier from Gath, a city with a history of producing giants among men (Deut. 1:28, 2:10-11, 2:21, 9:2, Joshua 11:22). The average height for a male in ancient Israel was around 5 feet, 5 inches. David, probably a teenager at the time of battle, could have been slightly shorter than the average height. Goliath was considered a giant in the range of 6 1⁄2 feet to perhaps over 9 feet tall. His armor weighed 125 lbs and he carried a spear that weighed 15 lbs.


Week 3

Best Friends Forever

Unfortunately, in a culture dependent upon electronic communication like email, texting and social media, many of us have lost the value of true community. We only get so close to people because we don’t like being vulnerable and putting ourselves out there. David puts his life on the line and in the end, he discovers the value of true friendship - something that has gone missing in many of our lives.

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Jonathan, the son of King Saul and heir to his throne, was known throughout the Israelite army as someone who was faithful, brave, and loving. Jonathan is first introduced in 1 Samuel 13 where just he and his armor-bearer defeated a group of twenty Philistine soldiers. Jonathan’s story is interwoven with David’s after David defeated Goliath and was invited to become a member of King Saul’s house. 1 Samuel 18 describes David’s and Jonathan’s souls being “knit together”, a term depicting deep friendship.

Jonathan and David made a covenant together before the Lord to establish their friendship. Setting aside personal ambition and desire for power, Jonathan recognized and honored God’s choosing of David as the next king (1 Samuel 18). This
attitude enraged Saul and further fueled his multiple attempts to kill David (1 Samuel 20:30,31). Jonathan was a faithful friend to David throughout his life and helped him escape from Saul. Jonathan died in battle, and David mourned and wept for his friend (2 Samuel 1:11-12).



The bow and arrow was a dominant weapon in the ancient world because of its power and range. Made of flexible wood, sinew, or bone, the bow was glued together or wrapped tightly with cord and used in hunting (Genesis 27:3) and war (1 Chronicles 12:2). Arrows were constructed of wood shafts and tipped with metal or stone. The best ancient bows had a range of 300-400 yards.

While David was fleeing from Saul, many skilled archers joined his ranks (1 Chronicles 12:2). Later kings of Israel expanded their armies to include numerous soldiers trained as archers (2 Chronicles 17:17). In 1 Samuel 20, Jonathan used his bow and arrow to send a secret message to David about Saul’s intentions to harm him.

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Week 4

No Cutting Corners

Leadership is one of the most active conversations in our world today. Many of us strive to lead in our homes, businesses, jobs, schools and the places we go. But do we truly understand the character traits a leader needs? In one of the most pivotal decisions in David’s life he shows us the marks of a true leader.

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David and Saul

God’s desire was to personally rule over Israel (Exodus 19:3-6), but Israel rejected Him (1 Samuel 8:7). The nation wanted a human king to lead them into battle and fight for them. Their desire to be ruled like the nations around them revealed a lack of trust in God. Though God warned Israel of the consequences of a human king (1 Samuel 8), He granted their desire and chose Saul. Tall, handsome, and from a prominent family of the tribe of Benjamin, Saul reigned over Israel for 42 years. However, his heart did not remain fully devoted to the Lord. He consistently disobeyed the Lord’s commands (1 Samuel 13 and 15).

Because of this, God rejected Saul as king and chose David to replace him. Instead of repenting and turning to God, Saul became jealous and tried to kill David. Saul hunted David for almost a decade while David hid in the wilderness and fled to various cities. David traveled over 250 miles through the wilderness as he fled from Saul’s murderous intentions. During this time, David penned many Psalms of trust in God (7, 52, 54, 57, 59, 63, 142).

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David Flees

1. David fled from Saul at Gibeah to Ramah (1 Samuel 19:18)

2. Then to the city of Nob, where he collected food and Goliath’s sword (1 Samuel 20:1, 21:1)

3. Went to the Philistine city of Gath (1 Samuel 21:10)

4. And then to the cave of Adulam (1 Samuel 22:1)

5. Brought his parents to Mizpah in Moab (1 Samuel 22:3)

6. Went to the “stronghold” (Masada?) (1 Samuel 22:4)

7. After a while, traveled to the Forest of Hereth (1 Samuel 22:5)

8. And then rescued the city of Keilah (1 Samuel 23:2)

9 . When Saul heard David was in Keilah, David fled to the Desert of Ziph (1 Samuel 23:14)

10. The people of Ziph betrayed David, and he fled to the Desert of Maon (1 Samuel 23:24-25)

11. Saul pursued him there, but David escaped to En Gedi (1 Samuel 23:29)

12. David spared Saul’s life in the cave, and then David returned to the “stronghold” (Masada?) (1 Samuel 24:22)

13. Afterwards, he went to Desert of Paran (1 Samuel 25:1)

14. He was betrayed again by the people of Ziph, and David fled to Achish king of Gath (1 Samuel 27:1-2)


Week 5

The Fallen

Even the greatest leaders can make terrible choices. In this portrait of David, he makes one of the most costly decisions of his life. No matter what position you hold or how great your life is, you are only one choice away from losing it all. Sin is powerful and it can cost you greatly. David found this out the hard way.

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David and Bathsheba

In 2 Samuel 11, David made a decision to stay in Jerusalem and not go to war with his men. This decision proved costly. As his army besieged Rabbah some fifty miles away (present-day Jordan), David was safe at home strolling the walls of his palace. The text introduces Bathsheba as “very beautiful...the daughter of Eliam and the wife of Uriah the Hittite.” Bathsheba’s grandfather was an advisor to King David and Uriah was a mighty warrior in David’s army. He was part of a select group of soldiers known as “The Thirty,” decorated battle heroes whose military accomplishments set them in elite standing (2 Samuel 23).

Uriah’s name means “Yahweh is my Light” and throughout the story is portrayed as a noble and honorable man. Because of Uriah’s position in David’s army, it is likely that his home was located close to the palace. From his palace vantage point, David looked directly to the flat roof and open courtyard of where Bathsheba was bathing. David’s lust led him to one of the darkest moments in his kingship and resulted in lying, murder, death, and family conflict.


Week 6

Redemption at a Cost

Sin can be fun, exciting, and promises the thrill that we desire; that is why we often choose it. Yet sin can give us tunnel vision where we see the thrill, but miss the pain and cost that always follow. David didn’t understand that until Nathan called him out, and David had to deal with the cost of his decisions. David realized sin is never worth the price we must pay for it.

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David and Nathan

The prophet Nathan was a trusted adviser and spiritual counselor to King David. His role included making records for the king (1 Chronicles 29:29) and setting up the instruments in the temple (1 Chronicles 29:25). He appears in at least three significant moments in David’s life.

First, when David desired to build a permanent temple for the Lord, Nathan met with him (2 Samuel 7). In Nathan’s second appearance he confronted David about his sin with Bathsheba and the consequences (2 Samuel 12). Lastly, near the end of David’s life, Nathan was involved with establishing the reign of Solomon (1 Kings 1).

Interestingly, David named one of his sons Nathan, perhaps because of the respect and appreciation he had for Nathan’s influential role. Nathan’s role in the story of David and Bathsheba is filled with confrontation, consequences, repentance, and mercy. As a punishment for David’s sin, his son dies. But through God’s grace, David and Bathsheba’s next son Solomon reigns as king in Israel and his line continued toward a future Savior, Jesus Christ.


Redemptive Line of Christ

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The Gospel of Matthew begins with Jesus’ family tree: “This is the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah, the son of David, the son of Abraham” (Matthew 1:1).The genealogy of Jesus is a picture of God’s grace and faithfulness to preserve His people and bring HisMessiah to the world.

God chooses kings, shepherds, the wealthy, the outcast, a prostitute, and the foreigner to be included in this redemptive line.Setting aside cultural norms of excluding women’s names from genealogies, Matthew includes five extraordinary women, each with an incredible story of faith.


Week 1

1 Samuel 1-2

1 Samuel 3-4

1 Samuel 5-6

1 Samuel 7-8

1 Samuel 9-10


Week 4

1 Samuel 26-27

1 Samuel 28-29

1 Samuel 30-31

2 Samuel 1-2

Psalm 18

Week 2

1 Samuel 11-12

1 Samuel 13-14

1 Samuel 15-16

1 Samuel 17

Psalm 27, 37


Week 5

2 Samuel 3-4

2 Samuel 5-6

2 Samuel 7-8

2 Samuel 9-10

2 Samuel 11, Psalm 32, 51

Week 3

1 Samuel 18-19

1 Samuel 20-21

1 Samuel 22-23

1 Samuel 24-25

Psalm 34, 63


Week 6

2 Samuel 12-14

2 Samuel 15-17

2 Samuel 18-20

2 Samuel 21-22

2 Samuel 23-24