King David, the “sweet singer of Israel,” reigned over Israel for nearly 40 years, from 1000 B.C. to 962 B.C. David’s greatness as a leader was forecast years prior to his kingship, as a young shepherd who, beyond all odds, defeated the towering Philistine warrior Goliath. However, the road to David's reign as ruler was not easy, as a young David fled for his life from a jealous King Saul. He eventually came back to Israel after Saul’s death in battle against the Philistines to become Israel's anointed king.
Unification of Israel
King David was able to accomplish something that remained elusive to King Saul: unify Israel. Previous to David’s kingship, Israeli tribes had been held together as a loose confederacy, but as recounted in 2 Samuels, tribe elders -- who held great esteem for David -- came together and chose David as their leader: “When all the elders of Israel had come to King David at Hebron, the king made a covenant with them at Hebron before the Lord, and they anointed David king over Israel.”
Although David was anointed king in Hebron (2 Samuels 5:3), he established the walled city of Jerusalem as the capital of his kingdom. It was one of David’s greatest accomplishments as king and one of the first actions he took as ruler of Israel. To this day, Jerusalem remains Israel’s most sacred and holy city. Prior to the capturing of Jerusalem, the Hebrew Bible, which also refers to Jerusalem as “Jebus,” describes the city as a strong fortress occupied by a Canaanite tribe, the Jebusites (Judges 1:21).
Although it is King David’s son, Solomon, who builds Israel’s first temple, King David brings the “ark of God,” or the Ark of the Covenant -- a wooden chest holding the original two tablets of Jewish law -- to Jerusalem, which David established as the capital of Israel. This sets the foundation for the building of Israel’s first temple in Jerusalem, as a single Jewish place of worship becomes recognized and established in Israel’s capital. Under David, Jerusalem would not only become the political capital of Israel, but also its religious center.
Not only did King David successfully rule over a unified Israel, but his reign also established a powerful dynasty, whereby his offspring would be blessed: “Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me; your throne will be established forever.” (2 Saul 7:16) Within Judaic tradition, it is believed that the messiah or the “anointed” one, would descend from David’s bloodline and that within the Davidic line, the messiah would restore and rebuild Israel.