Timeline of King David

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Life of King David Series
Fighting Giants  -  Key of David  -  Goliath's Spear
David's Battles   -   Census Sin   -   Waiting to Rule
Mighty Men  -  Star of David  -  More!
This timeline covers the period from King David's birth in 1040 B.C. to his rise as ruler over all of Israel's tribes in 1003.

King David is arguably one of the three greatest individuals in the Old Testament along with Abraham and Moses. Of these three giants of faith, however, far more (as this timeline shows) is recorded about King David's life and actions than the other two! Not only is he discussed in 28 Biblical books, his name is recorded more times in the King James Bible (1,139 times) than anyone else!

1040 B.C.
Birth and Family

David is born to a man named Jesse in the Judean city of Bethlehem. He is the eighth and youngest son (1Samuel 17:12 - 13, 1Chronicles 2:13 - 15) and the great-grandson of Ruth and Boaz (Ruth 4:17 - 22). His family also includes at least two sisters (1Chronicles 2:16). As he grows up he is considered the least of Jesse's sons and assigned the humbling task of tending sheep (1Samuel 16:11).

c. 1025 B.C.
Anointed King, Fighting Goliath

The prophet Samuel, because of King Saul's rebellion against God, is charged with anointing a new ruler over God's people (1Samuel 16). He visits Jesse and after rejecting his first seven sons finally anoints David, in a private ceremony, as Israel's new king.

Statue of King David as a youth
Gian Lorenzo Bernini, 1623 - 24

King Saul becomes distressed and depressed after God's spirit leaves him (1Samuel 16:13 - 14). His servants suggest finding a skilled musician to help change his mood and further recommend David due to his admirable traits.

Behold, I have seen a son of Jesse the Bethlehemite who is skillful in playing, and a mighty warrior and a man of battle, and prudent in speech. And he is a person of good form, and the Lord is with him (1Samuel 16:18, HBFV).

David not only becomes Saul's musician but also his armor bearer (1Samuel 16:15 - 23).

The Philistines, Israel's implacable enemy, soon gathers their army to invade the country. Saul's forces also gather and camp near the enemy. Goliath, the Philistine champion, taunts Israel for forty days to send out a man worthy to fight him (1Samuel 17:16). His challenge receives no response.

David, coming to give supplies to three of his brothers in the army, appears among Saul's troops. He offers, after hearing Goliath's taunts, to fight him by himself! He defeats the giant in battle, cuts off his head, and then goes on a whirlwind tour of Israel touting his victory (1Samuel 17).

David and Saul's son Johnathan become the best of friends and make a friendship covenant (1Samuel 18:1 - 4).

c. 1020 B.C.
Attempting Murder

King Saul makes David one of Israel's military leaders (1Samuel 18:5).

Women sing praises, after one of his victories over the Philistines, that David has slain tens of thousands and Saul thousands. The king hears this praise and begins to view David as a threat to his throne (1Samuel 18:6 - 9).

Saul twice attempts but fails to personally murder David (1Samuel 18:10 - 11). He then decides to distance himself from him by making him a commander over 1,000 men (verse 13). The king then offers him his daughter Michal in marriage if he brings to him 100 Philistine foreskins. His plan to have the enemy dispose of David backfires, however, when he returns with 200 foreskins (verses 20 - 27)!

1020 - 1012 B.C.
On the Run

Jonathan, Saul's son, seeks to protect David from his father's wrath. He is able to calm his father down and have David return to the king's service (1Samuel 19:1 - 7). David then fights the Philistines at an unknown location and slaughters them (verse 8).

An evil spirit moves Saul to attempt to murder David, forcing him to flee to Samuel for safety (1Samuel 19:9 - 17). The king then sends three sets of assassins that ultimately fail when God distracts them from their mission. Saul himself then travels to Samuel but is also distracted from carrying out the murder (verses 18 - 24).

David secretly meets with his close friend Jonathan (1Samuel 20:1 - 23) and renews their friendship covenant. They hatch a plan where David's absence at a New Moon festival would be used to gauge whether Saul still sought his life. The king's anger at his absence, however, spills over in an attempt to kill Jonathan with a javelin. Jonathan then informs David that Saul still wants him dead (1Samuel 20).

David travels to the city of Nob and meets with Ahimelech the High Priest (1Samuel 21). He then secures food for his starving men and flees to Gath. Fearful of his identity being discovered in the Philistine city, he pretends to act like an insane person. His act convinces the king of the city to leave him alone (1Samuel 21:10 - 15).

David soon leaves Gath for an Adullam cave. He then travels to Mizpeh where he secures a safe place for his parents to stay (1Samuel 22:1 - 4). God then informs him to go to the land of Judah.

King Saul meets with the High Priest and the priests of Nob to accuse them of treason for aiding David. Although they deny the charge, they are all murdered when the king has Doeg slay all 85 of them. Doeg then proceeds to Nob where he slaughters most of its innocent inhabitants (1Samuel 22).

David fights, with God's blessing, the Philistines who are raiding the city of Keilah. He soon slaughters the enemy and saves the city (1Samuel 23:1 - 5). He then leaves with his men for the safety of the wilderness of Ziph. Jonathan finds him in the forest and the two men meet for the last time (verses 16 - 18).

The Ziphites, who know where David is hiding, reveal his location to Saul. As the king and his men begin to close in on David, a messenger arrives to inform him that the Philistines have again invaded the land. Saul breaks off his pursuit and rushes to fight the enemy as David travels to hide himself in Engedi (1Samuel 23:19 - 29).

Saul continues to pursue David after he finishes dealing with the Philistines. Saul's life is spared, however, when David refuses to kill the king when the opportunity to do so presented itself in a cave (1Samuel 24).

1012 - 1010 B.C.
Samuel Dies

The prophet Samuel dies in 1012 B.C. (1Samuel 25:1).

David sends ten young men to a man named Maon to ask for help. Maon's refusal and his nasty response almost gets him killed if it weren't for his wife Abigail quickly stepping in and apologizing to David. Her wise response, coupled with Maon's death about two weeks later, leads her to become one of his wives (1Samuel 25).

The Ziphites betray David a second time when they inform Saul where he and his men are hiding. David and a few of his men, however, discover Saul's camp and take on the dangerous task of secretly entering it. They, once again, spare the king's life but take his spear and cruse of water as proof they could have killed him. Saul is made aware of the merciful act and calls the future ruler a righteous man (1Samuel 26).

David soon hides himself again at Gath. He then requests King Achish of Gath give him and his 600 men a place to live in. The king obliges and gives him the city of Ziklag (1Samuel 27:5 - 6). He and his men will stay in the city for 16 months (verse 7). While they live in Ziklag, they launch raids against the Geshurites, Gezrites and the Amalekites (1Samuel 27:8 - 9).

1010 B.C.
Saul Killed, Judah Anoints David

The Philistines prepare to invade Israel yet again (1Samuel 28, 29:1). Saul and his forces gather to repel them at Gilboa near Jezreel. The military might of the enemy frightens the king to the point where he justifies consulting a witch in Endor in a vain attempt to contact Samuel's spirit. Although the response he receives frightens him it does not change his war plans.

David and his forces, whose help was rejected by the Philistines when they gathered to fight Israel, travel back home to Ziklag (1Samuel 29). When he arrives in the city, he finds it burned down by the Amalekites. He also discovers many of the inhabitants, including his family, were taken captive.

David and about 600 men then begin to pursue the Amalekites by traveling south of Ziklag to a stream named Besor. Leaving 200 men behind at the stream due to fatigue, his forces cross it and attack the Amalekites. He destroys the enemy along with rescuing his family and other captives (1Samuel 30). He and his men then return to Ziklag.

It is on the third day after his arrival in Ziklag that David learns the Philistines attacked and overcame Israel's army on Mount Gilboa (2Samuel 1:1 - 2). Killed during the battle were three of Saul's sons, one of which was his beloved friend Jonathan. Saul, wounded during the battle, avoided be captured alive by committing suicide (1Samuel 31). Upon hearing the sad news David and his men mourn and fast for their slain brethren (2Samuel 1).

David, after mourning the loss of Saul and Jonathan, asks God if he should move out of Ziklag. The Lord informs him he should move him and his family to Hebron (2Samuel 2:1 - 2).

David, at age 30, is anointed king of the tribe of Judah in Hebron (2Samuel 2:3 - 4). He also commends the men of Jabeshgilead for retrieving Saul and his sons' bodies from the wall of Bethshan and burning them (1Samuel 31:8 - 13, 2Samuel 2:4 - 7).

Saul's military commander Abner, shortly after David is made Judah's king, begins to execute his plan to make Saul's son Ishbosheth (Eshbaal) ruler over the rest of Israel (2Samuel 2:8 - 32). He takes Ishbosheth to Mahanaim then soon takes several men to Gibeon. In Gibeon, twelve of his men fight and lose to twelve of David's men led by Joab.

1010 - 1003 B.C.
Civil War

Abner and his men engage in a civil war with David's men led by Joab (2Samuel 3).

Middle of 1005 B.C.
Ruler Over Most of Israel

Ishbosheth, at the age of forty, becomes king of over all the Israelite tribes except Judah (2Samuel 2:10).

Middle of 1003 B.C.
Ishbosheth Murdered and a Unified Throne

Abner, angry at an accusation laid against him by Ishbosheth, abandons supporting him. He then meets with David and promises both he and the rest of Israel will now support him (2Samuel 3:7 - 21). Joab, angered that David didn't arrest or kill Abner when he had the chance, murders Abner when he returns to Hebron.

Two of King Saul's military captains, sensing Ishbosheth's weakness after the death of Abner, murder him in his sleep (2Samuel 4:1 - 7). Ishbosheth's rule lasts only two years (2Samuel 2:10).

All the tribes of Israel, right after Ishbosheth's death, anoint David as their king. David ruled only over the tribe of Judah for seven and one-half years (2Samuel 5:1 - 5).

Further Study

To delve further into the details of King David's life delineated in this timeline, please see the Biblical chapters of Ruth 4, 1Samuel 16 to 30, 2Samuel 1 to 24, 1Kings 1 and 2 and 1Chronicles 2 - 3, 6, 9 to 29.

Recommended Articles
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David Versus Philistines Timeline
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Where Is David Buried?
Was David a Homosexual?

Complete Book of Who's Who in the Bible
Harmony of Samuel, Kings and Chronicles by W. Crockett
Holy Bible, a Faithful Version, Chronology I
People's Dictionary of the Bible
Willmington's Complete Guide to Bible Knowledge