DAVID MADE A LIVING AS A RAIDER. He wiped out Philistine-friendly towns in what is now southern Israel. He killed everyone, took their stuff, got rich, and bought powerful Israelite leaders who declared him King of the Tribe of Judah.
DID YOU KNOW that before David was a king, he was a raider who wiped out entire villages—babies and all?
That’s how he made a living and got rich.
He killed Philistines and their friends. Then he took what they had. That wealth is how he made powerful friends because he shared the wealth.
David was only too human
Okay, that shocked me. I knew David was human and flawed. He impregnated the wife of one of his soldiers. Then he secretly ordered the soldier’s commander to make sure that warrior for king and country died in battle on the front line.
That’s plenty human. Too human. But he did worse.
I just finished paraphrasing and creating 3D Bible maps for much of David’s story, reported in the Bible books of 1-2 Samuel. You may know that after David killed the Philistine champion warrior, a giant of a man named Goliath, Israelite ancestors of today’s Jewish people cheered him as a hero.
Israelite King Saul went crazy with jealousy. He made it his mission to kill David. That’s what forced David into a life on the run, chased by the king and his men.
Bad news for Goliath’s relatives
David eventually figured out how to stop Saul from hunting him. David faked out Philistine King Achish of Gath. That city was the hometown of then-dead Goliath. Why the king welcomed David is a crazy mystery. As in, “You killed the hometown hero, sure, come on in.”
The king even gave David a city. So, Jerusalem wasn’t the first City of David. Ziklag was. Who ever heard of Ziklag. It’s about 15 miles (25 km) east of what is now the ruins of Gaza City. That puts it near the area that Hamas raiders struck Israeli settlements and wiped them out on October 7.
What Hamas did to Jewish people, David did to Philistines and their friends. He killed them all. He considered them his enemy and a threat to Israelites. I know that’s hard to hear. It’s hard to report.
David’s job description: Raider
“David and his men made a living as raiders. They raided enemies of Israel and friends of the Philistines…
When David and his men attacked a community, they killed all the people. But they kept the livestock and gave it to King Achish: sheep, cattle, donkeys, camels. They gave him stolen clothing as well. King Achish would respond to the gifts by asking, ‘Who’d you raid today?’ David would lie and say he raided Israel or their allies…
No victims could dispute David. He killed them all. David kept pitching his lies to the king, one raid after another. He did this for as long as he lived among the Philistines.
Achish thought he had a solid ally in David—someone who would never move away. The king figured that after all those raids David made on his own people in Israel, they must hate his guts.” (1 Samuel 27:8-12, Casual English Bible).
Instead, they kinged him.
After Philistines killed King Saul in battle, David began a campaign of friend-making.
“He distributed the confiscated property to his friends and leaders in his tribe of Judah. He told them, ‘This is my gift to you. We took this from the LORD’s enemies.’ He sent gifts to the following locations: Bethuel, Ramoth of the Negev [the list goes on]…Hebron and wherever David and his men traveled” (1 Samuel 28:26-31, Casual English Bible).
The Lord’s enemies
David implied that he killed on behalf of God.
I watched a video of a Hamas raider chanting about the greatness of God while he shot people to death before someone finally shot him, apparently to death.
Any god who would feel great about what this man did would seem more hellish than holy.
And I don’t see anything in David’s story suggesting God told him to erase the Philistines. Joshua got that order centuries earlier. And the seeming cruelty of that order causes many Christian scholars to mumble a forced defense. That’s because to some Christians, baby-killing never seems good and godly.
Blood on David’s hands, by the way, is why Bible writers said God wouldn’t let him built the first Jewish Temple (1 Chronicles 28:3).
And the point is?
There’s a lot of violence in God’s name.
In God’s name, may we as a species find our way to peace before there is no one left to pick up the pieces.
We are no less violent than in David’s day, it seems. But we are much better equipped for it.
We are more than capable of blowing it all to holy high heaven.