The Saints of the Basilica

David the Prophet • Feast Day December 29

By Charles Garrity
God was angered when Saul, Israel’s king, unlawfully ordered and later disobeyed a divine instruction to destroy the Amalekites. Consequently, he sent the prophet Samuel to anoint David, the youngest son of Jesse of Bethlehem, to be king instead.

God sent an evil spirit to torment Saul. Saul’s courtiers recommended that he send for David, a man skillful on the lyre, wise in speech, and brave in battle. So, David entered Saul’s service as a member of the royal armor-bearers and played the lyre to soothe the king whenever the evil spirit was upon him.

War came between Israel and the Philistines and the giant Goliath challenged the Israelites to send out a champion to face him in single combat. David, sent by his father to bring provisions to his brother serving in Saul’s army, declared that he could defeat Goliath. Refusing the king’s offer of royal armor, he killed Goliath with his slingshot.

Saul immediately placed David over his army. All Israel loved David, but his popularity caused Saul to fear him. (“What else can he wish but the kingdom?”). Saul plotted his death, but Saul’s son Jonathan, who befriended David, warned him of his father’s schemes and David fled. He became a vassal of the Philistine king Achish of Gath, but Achish’s nobles questioned his loyalty. David was left behind when the Philistines marched against Saul. Jonathan and Saul were killed, and David was anointed king over Judah. Saul’s son Ish-Bosheth contested this and war insued until Ish-Bosheth was murdered.

As king over all of Israel, David conquered Jerusalem and made it his capital. Intending to a build temple for God, David brought the Ark of the Covenant to the city. But the prophet Nathan forbade it because one of David’s sons was to build the temple. Nathan also prophesied that God had made a covenant with the house of David: “Your throne shall be established forever.”

During the Battle of Rabbah, David seduced Bathsheba and caused the death of her husband Uriah the Hittite. In response, Nathan prophesied the punishment that would fall upon him: “The sword shall never depart from your house.” In fulfillment of these words David’s son Absalom rebelled. The rebellion ended at the Battle of Wood of Ephraim, Absolam’s forces were routed and Absolam died at the hands of David’s general, Joab, despite the king’s orders.

When David was old and bedridden, Bethsheba and Nathan went to David and obtained his agreement to crown Bathsheba’s son Solomon as king. Only after another war with David’s elder son, Adonijah, was Solomon installed on his father’s throne.

David died at the age of 70 after reigning 40 years. On his deathbed, he counseled Solomon to walk in the ways of God and to take revenge on his enemies.

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David the Prophet
David the Porphet (1891)
Memory of David Junkin
Stain glass window in St. Mary Basilica

King David (of David and Goliath) holds a lyre which he played to sooth King Saul. He wears a crown because he was King of Israel for 40 years. His feast day is December 29

St. Mary Basilica Coat of Arms