After the death of King Saul, David became the King of the Hebrew people. David, who was meek and pious, steadfastly believed in the true God and tried to do His will. He had endured much persecution from Saul and other enemies but did not become embittered, did not lift his hand against Saul, as he was the Lord’s anointed, but placed all his hope in God, and the Lord delivered him from all his enemies.
But it came about that David fell into great sins. Then he repented to the depth of his soul for them. At night he washed his couch with tears, and afterwards improved himself and loved God more and more.
Thus once towards evening, King David went for a walk on the roof of his house and saw a very beautiful young lady. David wanted to have her as his wife. He found out that this lady was called Bathsheba and that she was the wife of Urias the Hittite (cf. II Sam. 11:2). At that time Urias was at war (the war then was with the Ammonites). David very much desired the death of Urias. The King could not get rid of this evil, sinful desire and ordered the military commander to place Urias in the front during the battle so that he would be killed. David’s wish was fulfilled. Bathsheba, discovering that her husband was dead, wept for him.
When the time of mourning came to an end, King David sent for Bathsheba and took her into his house, and she became his wife. Thus King David accomplished a great evil, a two-fold sin, before the eyes of God. Soon Bathsheba bore a son, but David did not notice that he had committed a great sin in the eyes of God.
Then, at God’s command, the Prophet Nathan went to King David and said, "There were two men in one city, one rich and the other poor. The rich man had very many flocks and herds, but the poor man had only one little ewe lamb, which he had purchased, and preserved and reared. It grew up with him and his children together, ate of his bread and drank of his cup, slept in his bosom and was to him as a daughter. Once a traveler came to the rich man, and he took not a lamb from his own flocks to slaughter for the traveler, but he took the poor man’s lamb and slaughtered it for the guest."
King David became very angry with this person and said to Nathan, As the Lord lives the man that did this thing shall surely die. And he shall restore the lamb seven-fold because he had no compassion."
Then Nathan said to David, "Thou art the man that has done this. Thus says the Lord God of Israel, ‘I anointed thee to be king over Israel, and I rescued thee out of the hand of Saul. Why hast thou set at nought the word of the Lord? Thou hast taken the wife of Urias to be thy wife, and thou hast slain him with the sword of the children of Ammon. Now therefore the sword shall not depart from thy house for ever. I will raise up against thee evil out of thine own house.
Then David said to Nathan, "I have sinned against the Lord."
Nathan replied, "The Lord has taken away thy sin; thou shalt not die. Thy son that is born to thee shall surely die." With this the Prophet Nathan departed to his house.
David understood how evilly he had acted and deeply repented. With tears he prayed to God, and fasted and lay on the ground. On the seventh day the child died.
Great was David’s sin, but his repentance was sincere and deep, and God forgave him. During the time of his repentance, King David wrote the Psalm of repentance, the 50th Psalm, which is a model of repentance and begins with these words, "Have mercy on me, O God, according to Thy great mercy; and according to the multitude of Thy compassions blot out my transgression. Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity and cleanse me from my sin…"
For the great faith, meekness, and obedience of King David, the Lord blessed his reign and helped him in everything. He successfully waged wars with neighboring peoples.
David captured the city of Jerusalem and made it the capital of the Israelite kingdom. Instead of the dilapidated tabernacle of Moses, he placed in Jerusalem a new tabernacle and brought the Ark of the Covenant to it with solemnity. David wanted to build a permanent temple but the Lord said, "Thou shalt not build a house to my name because thou hast carried on great wars and hast shed blood abundantly. Thy son will build a house to My name, who will be king after thee" (I Chron. 22:6).
But at that time the Lord announced to David, "Thy kingdom will stand forever" (I Chron. 28:7). This meant that from his descendants would come the Saviour of the world, Christ, Who would reign forever. We know that Jesus Christ was often called the Son of David.
David wrote many sacred songs, or psalms, which he sang in prayer to God, playing on the harp or other musical instruments. In these hymns, David appealed to God, repented for his sins before God, celebrated the greatness of God, and foretold the coming of Christ and the suffering which Christ would undergo for us. Therefore, the holy Church calls Kind David a psalmist and prophet.
The Psalms of David are often read and sung in church at Divine Services. The sacred book in which all these psalms or songs are found is called the Psalter. The Psalter is the most frequently used book of the Old Testament. Many Christian prayers are composed with words from the psalms in this book.
David reigned for forty years and died a very old man. While still alive he appointed his son Solomon as his heir. The high priest Zadok and the Prophet Nathan anointed him King. Before his death David bequeathed to Solomon his wish that the Temple of God be built without fail.
Note: See II Samuel and I Chronicles.
(from: The Law of God by Fr. Seraphim Slobodskoy)