Following the death of King Saul, David mourned for the man who had been his arch-enemy. After consulting God, he then settled in the town of Hebron. Forces loyal to King Saul continued to resist David’s claim to the throne, but eventually he overcame them.
The Second Book of Samuel goes on to say: “All the elders of Israel came to the king at Hebron; and King David made a covenant with them at Hebron before the Lord, and they anointed David king over Israel. David was thirty years old when he began to reign, and he reigned for forty years.” (2 Samuel 5:3-4)
The early part of David’s reign was a golden age for Israel. He captured Jerusalem from the Jebusites and made it his capital city. David built himself a royal palace in the city and installed the Ark of the Covenant in a tent on Mount Zion. Jerusalem then became the religious centre of the nation.
King David’s wars against surrounding nations were very successful and he extended the boundaries of his kingdom far and wide. He himself heard court cases and surrounded himself with a staff of advisors and officers. For the first time, Israel even had a regular army under the command of his nephew, Joab. (2 Samuel 8:15-18)
David’s great faith was also seen in the many hymns he wrote and in the way he organised the priests and officials who worked in the Temple (2 Samuel 23:1; 1 Chronicles 23:1-25:8). He was later celebrated for being a skillful king with a good heart (Psalm 78:70-72).
After completing his grand palace, David decided he also wanted to build a beautiful temple for God. Through the prophet Nathan, however, God told him that it was not to be. Rather, his son would be the one to build it. However, David’s good will was rewarded with the promise of great blessings for his descendants.
God said to David: “Your house and your kingdom shall be made sure for ever before me; your throne shall be established for ever.” (2 Samuel 6:17) This was an important promise. It meant that as long as David’s descendants were faithful to God, someone would always sit on his throne (cf 1 Kings 2:4).
However, following David’s death, a series of unfaithful kings ruled over his nation. As a result, following the exile in Babylon, the monarchy died out. But Israel never gave up hope. The prophets often spoke of the coming of a new king, the Messiah, who would restore David’s kingdom to Israel and rule with justice.
This stained glass window picturing King David is by the Arts and Crafts artist, Sister Margaret Rope. Dating to 1927, Rope originally produced it for a convent near Ipswich, but now it’s found within the Church of the Holy Family and St Michael, Kesgrave. The vivid colours, natural details and expressive features of David’s face are typical of her style.
The image presents David as a young king, playing the music that led to his great fame. The Latin text in his halo explicitly identifies him as a king, while his cloak also contains royal symbols (the Lion of Judah and a horn of anointing; cf Genesis 49:9; 1 Samuel 16:13). The detail at the top of window presents Christ as his royal descendent, alongside the words of Psalm 72:19 in Latin.
See the full image:
Detail of the top of the window:
Where to find this work of art
Holy Family and St Michael, Kesgrave
Read the relevant passage
2 Samuel 5:1-7:29