Who Was King David? Fun Facts and Teaching Tips About Israel's Second King
Who was King David really? As a Christian educator working in early childhood education, I've noticed that as adults, we are so familiar with some Bible stories we forget they are fresh and brand new to children.
In fact, kids may have lots of unanswered questions about Bible characters. They want to know if David ever got into trouble (like they do) or if he had brothers and sisters and so much more.
Teaching Kids About King David
I've found it helps to keep a list of facts about people like King David handy when preparing lessons and activities. That way, I can personalize lessons for age appropriateness and help the kids realize that David was a child just like them in many ways.
Here's a cheat sheet of information I've created about King David that you may find useful in your own classroom, home school environment, or for family devotion time. As a bonus, I've included some fun extension activities for lessons about David and Goliath.
David and His Family
Here are some fun facts about David's family that kids will like:
- Jesse was David's father. The Bible does not tell us his mother's name.
- He had seven brothers and two sisters.
- He was the youngest of Jesse's sons.
- David's job was taking care of the family's sheep (shepherd). In addition to being a shepherd, David was a poet, musician, writer and warrior.
- Jesse sent David to take bread and corn to his three older brothers at the battlefield where Goliath was.
- David was supposed to bring his father a pledge (a lock of hair from each of his brothers) to prove that they were still alive when he returned from the battefield. (1 Samuel 17:18).
- Samuel was surprised God chose David rather than one of his older brothers to be the next King.
David and King Saul
- Saul was jealous of David's popularity with the Israelites.
- Even though Saul tried many times to kill David, when David had a chance to kill Saul, he did not do it because Saul was God's anointed (chosen) king.
- David became king when Saul was killed during a battle with the Philistines. According to 2 Samuel 5:4, David was thirty years old when he became king.
- David's reign as king of Judah lasted for almost eight years. His reign as king of both Judah and Israel lasted for 33 years.
David and Jonathon
David and Jonathon (King Saul's son) were best friends. Because Jonathon was Saul's first son to be born, the throne was supposed to be his when his father died. However, God chose David to be the next king instead. Even though David would one day have the throne and the title that should have been his, Jonathon was not jealous of David. When his friend Jonathon was killed in battle, David found his son Mephibosheth and adopted him as his own son.
Fun Facts About David the King
The Bible calls David a "man after God's own heart." Even though David sometimes made some poor choices, he was always sorry for what he did wrong. He repented and asked God to forgive him.
Jerusalem was called the city of David. This nickname was given to it when David conquered the area. He made the city the center of his reign as king and brought the Ark of the Covenant there. His son, Solomon, would later build Israel's first temple and provide a permanent home for the sacred Ark.
Jesus is often referred to as son of David, and he is a descendant of David through his earthly father Joseph.
David and Goliath
David is famous for killing the giant Goliath with one small stone, but he also killed a lion and a bear when he was just a young boy. Did you know that in Hebrew, the word "goliath" means splendid?
All the odds were against David in this battle with the giant. Goliath was wearing armor to protect himself - about 270 pounds of armor, according to Roger Christopherson.
Some of the pieces of his armor were a helmet, brass leg coverings, and a coat of mail. Additionally, he had a shield bearer who went before him for protection.
David wore no armor and went into battle alone. King Saul offered his armor to David, but it was too bulky and heavy for the young lad. (1 Samuel 17:42 refers to David as a "youth."
David used Goliath's own sword to cut off his head. While the Bible does not say exactly how old David was at this time, according to Barnes' Notes on the Bible, he was about 20. The story of David and Goliath in the Bible is always a favorite with most students.
Fun Math Problems for Older Students
- Did you know that Goliath was over 9 feet tall? According to 1 Samuel 17:4, he was 6 cubits and one span. If one cubit equals 18 inches and one span equals 9 inches, exactly how tall was he? (Let the kids do the math for themselves just for fun.)
- The Bible says the head of Goliath's weighed 600 shekels. If a shekel equals .403 ounces, how much did the spear head (not the entire weapon) weigh? (Hint: 600 x .403 will tell the kids how many ounces the spear weighed. Help them convert the answer into pounds.)
David and Goliath Word Scramble
Use the words in the word bank below as clues to unscramble these jumbled letters and learn some vocabulary words from the story of David and Goliath.
Word Bank: battle, David, Goliath, Samuel, Saul, Philistine, giant, stone, slingshot, sword
Teacher's answer key: slingshot, philistine, david, gaint, goliath, samuel, stone, saul, sword, battle
Using This Information to Teach
Preschool and elementary students are still in the concrete rather than abstract thinking mode. So, when we say David was just a boy when he killed Goliath, they might wonder how a child like them could kill anyone!
It helps them understand and internalize lessons better when they can relate to people like King David in terms of their childhood world.
The information presented here can be used with a wide range of grade levels by simply modifying it to suit your needs.
Simplify (where necessary) for early childhood education classes, and use it as is for upper grade levels.
Turn the statements into questions to make quick pop quizzes or homework assignments. For instance, the statements "Jesse was David's father. He had seven brothers and two sisters " can become two questions:
- Who was David's father?
- How many brothers and sisters did David have?
For elementary students who are reading and writing independently, you can change these into fill-in the blank questions with a word bank:
Use the word bank to fill in the blanks in the sentences below.
Word bank: Jesse, seven, two.
- David's father's name was ___________.
- David had _________ sisters and __________ brothers.
However you chose to use this information, the key thing is to just have fun with your children and students as you discover together the answer to "Who was King David in the Bible?"