David's Ancestors

David was born in Beth-Lehem, in the land of Judah, in the year 2854. He was only ten generations removed from Judah, one of Jacob's twelve sons.

David belonged to the princely family of his tribe, which had given Israel princes and leaders. One of David's early ancestors, Nachshon, the son of Aminadav, won fame at the crossing of the Red Sea, after the liberation of Israel from Egypt. He was the first to jump into the sea, whereupon the sea was divided for Israel. Since then, Nachshon was the most honored of all the princes of Israel. (He was the first to bring his offerings to the Mishkan, which was erected in the desert in the following year).

David's great grandfather, Boaz, or Ibzan, was the tenth Judge of Israel. He was one of the greatest scholars and most pious men of his generation. His estates were many, and his generosity was renowned.

When Boaz was eighty years old, he married Ruth.1 Ruth was a member of the Moabite royal family. Her grandfather was the powerful King Eglon of Moab. Yet Ruth preferred to become an ordinary Jewish woman, rather than a royal princess of Moab. All her trials and misfortunes did not dampen her great devotion to her newly acquired people. Even among the modest and fair maidens of Judah, Ruth stood out with a charm of her own; her modesty and piety, her selflessness and devotion became known far and wide. But how richly Ruth was rewarded! She became a princess in Israel—the wife of the ruling Judge, and the great-grandmother of King David. She lived long enough not only to see the glorious reign of King David, but also to see Solomon succeed to the throne of a great and glorious Land of Israel.

Throughout the years, the great traditions of the noble family, going back to Judah and Jacob, were maintained by the house of Jesse, David's father. Here was a house of scholarship, piety, kindness, generosity and wealth. And the noble traits of all his great and famous ancestors were bestowed upon David.

David Anointed

Soon G‑d appeared to Samuel and told him to go to Beth-Lehem, where he would find the future king among one of the sons of Jesse. Samuel was to anoint the chosen one as king.

The prophet went to Beth-Lehem on the pretext of holding Divine services there, for he feared lest Saul detect his true purpose. Once in Beth-Lehem, Samuel imparted his secret to Jesse. Jesse presented to the prophet each of his seven sons in turn. David was absent, tending the sheep. Although they were all men of laudable qualities, none of them qualified for this high position. "When Samuel was informed that Jesse's youngest son was in the field tending the flocks, he demanded that he be brought to him immediately. Seeing David, Samuel knew by Divine inspiration that he was the chosen one. Samuel then anointed him as the future king of Israel. From that day the spirit of G‑d rested on David.

Saul Stricken With Melancholy

Almost simultaneously with the anointment of David, Saul was stricken with an evil spirit which threw him into a deep melancholy. The king's friends and courtiers noticed this sudden change and advised him to seek a good musician to ease his mind with the strains of sweet music. David, the future Psalmist, had already become known for his wonderful music as well as for his divine poetry. David was summoned to the king's court, where his sweet music on the harp helped to set the king's troubled mind at ease. Little did Saul know that the young lad who was playing before him was destined to be his successor.