- James W. McKinnon
(flc1010–961 bce). Founder, king and charismatic ruler of the united kingdom of Israel. He occupies a central position in Jewish and Christian musical tradition.
The story of David is told in the books of Samuel, dating from nearly contemporary sources, and 1 Chronicles, from the 4th century bce, containing material of somewhat lesser reliability. He was obviously a man of special talent. Born the youngest son of Jesse (Yishai), a sheep herder from Bethlehem, he acquired, by a combination of prowess at arms, vision, opportunism and force of personality, the kingship of Judah upon the death of Saul, united it to the northern provinces of Israel, established his court at Jerusalem and conquered the neighbouring rivals of Israel within an area stretching from the frontier of Mesopotamia to Egypt. His political achievement, which showed signs of disintegration in his later life, was never again equalled in ancient Israel. Thus he became the ideal of Jewish kingship and was also closely related to the Messianic ideal. These ideals carried over into Christianity so that a medieval ruler like Charlemagne was referred to as the ‘novus David’, and Jesus of Nazareth, whom the Christians accepted as the Messiah, was, according to the Gospels, the ‘son of David’ of the ‘tree of Jesse’....