Archaeology and the Reign of David -- By: Merrill F. Unger

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 111:441 (Jan 1954)
Article: Archaeology and the Reign of David
Author: Merrill F. Unger


Archaeology and the Reign of David

Merrill F. Unger

Later Hebrew history looked back upon David as the ideal king, and regarded his reign, and that of his son Solomon, as the golden age of the Hebrew kingdom. In the esteem of the nation David was accorded a place only second to Moses himself. Whereas Moses had led the tribes out of bondage and merged them into a nation at Sinai, giving them a common faith and laying down for them their civil and ecclesiastical law, David was the real founder of the Hebrew monarchy. It was he who “carried into effect the whole system, civil and ecclesiastical, which had been foreshadowed at Sinai.”1

Moreover, in contrast to Saul, who although noble in his strictly national aspirations, was nevertheless rough and repelling, David possessed a singularly gentle and winsome personality and showed a remarkable gift for attracting friends. This pre-eminent element in his character not only eventually won for him the kingship which was entirely unsought, but also assured him the fullest success in it when once he was chosen to the high office. It is quite certain that Jonathan, being heir to the throne after Saul, would not have been such an ardent friend and supporter of David in everything had the latter from the beginning conspired to bring about Saul’s downfall and possessed selfish plans to assume the royal title.2

David’s magnanimity was remarkably displayed toward Saul upon numerous occasions. After he became king of Judah, similar tactics of patience and moderation in national affairs won for him the kingship over all Israel and in

international affairs enabled him to carve out a substantial empire to bequeath to his son Solomon. This feat of empire-building he was able to accomplish largely without resorting to wars that were waged for conquest. By simply fighting in defense of the Israelite nation when it was threatened by those who refused his overtures of friendship and who were jealous of his expanding power, he was able to extend his domains apart from actual military aggression.

David’s policy as king seems clearly to have been “to be strong at home, but to live side by side with other nations as his allies.”3 Ties of amity accordingly were established with Hiram, king of Tyre (2 Sam 5:11) and Toi, king of Hamath (2 Sam 8:9–10). David’s proposed alliance with the Ammonites, on the other hand, was contemptuously rejected (You must have a subscription and be logged in to read the entire article.
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