Just the gist (for small children and others with tiny attention spans):
God told the prophet Samuel to anoint David, son of Jesse, causing the Spirit of the Lord to come upon him. At the time, the Israelites were at war with the Philistines. David killed Goliath, the Philistine’s giant warrior. When King Saul died, David became king of Israel. He brought the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem and conquered a bunch of land. God made a covenant with him that from David would come a king whose reign would last forever. Despite not being perfect, no king will come anywhere close to being as awesome as David until we get to that little dude on Day 25.
For those that can handle just a bit more:
The final judge was a prophet named Samuel. His mother was a woman named Hannah who was one of two wives for her husband. Not only was she sad because “the Lord had closed her womb” (1 Samuel 5), but her sadness was magnified on account of the fact that her husband’s other wife tormented her because she was barren. (Remember it was a great source of shame for a woman to not be able to have children back then.) Barren Lady Gets a Baby: After much fervent prayer, God finally sent Hannah a baby. So thankful was she for God’s gift that once Samuel was three, she brought him back to the temple as a gift back to God to remain forever in the Lord’s presence.
Samuel grew in both stature and favor with the Lord and with men. (1 Samuel 26) God had him anoint the first king of Israel, a man from the tribe of Benjamin named Saul. Saul was a hot mess. God took away his kingship and had Samuel anoint the second king of Israel, Jesse’s youngest son, David, a man from the tribe of Judah. (1 Samuel 13)
David was from Bethlehem. He was handsome, strong and courageous. He was a musician and wrote many, many of the psalms. He was a shepherd. Shepherds had to be tough back then. In order to protect their sheep, they had to fight off wild animals like lions and wolves and nihilists with little more than a staff, a sling or their bare hands. David was tough indeed and he had a strong faith in God. So, it was really not as surprising as it appeared on the surface when David volunteered to engage Goliath in battle when all the professional soldiers were too afraid to fight the giant Philistine. David had the experience of fighting animals much larger than himself and the assurance that’s God’s hand was with him.
David pulled out his sling and said to Goliath, “The battle is the Lord’s and he will give you into our hand.” (1 Samuel 17:47) With that, he slew the giant enemy of Israel with a single stone to the forehead and became an instant hero complete with book deal and late night talk show appearances.
King Saul, still Israel’s king at the time, was initially pleased with David. David helped win the battle with the Philistines, he was best buds with King Saul’s son Jonathan and his rad harp playing was the only thing that soothed the demon-tormented King. However, King Saul soon grew envious of the star power David had accumulated in Israelite society. His envy became murderous rage and he set out to kill the young man who was once the only person who could bring him peace. (1 Samuel 18:9)
Ancient Near East culture was a brutal time. People did anything and everything to accumulate or keep power. While running for his life, not only did David know he had been chosen by God to replace Saul, he also had several opportunities to kill the enraged monarch. He could have ended the cat and mouse game with one thrust of his sword and taken his rightful place as king. David, however, refused to harm even a hair on the head of Saul. For Saul had been anointed by the Lord and David’s respect for the Lord’s chosen was absolute, even though he had been anointed to take Saul’s place as King of Israel.
Saul was eventually killed in battle and David, the anointed one, became king. He brought the Ark of the Covenant, the very dwelling place of God, to Jerusalem to put God back in the center of Israel’s existence and danced before it. (Theologians argue over whether he Cabbage Patched or Moonwalked). Life was good.
Covenant Alert! God promised David a descendent who would build God a temple, be the Son of God and rule over Israel forever. (2 Samuel 7)
Then, David got spiritually lazy. He committed some pretty major sins that aren’t really Christmas talk. Just know that they involved a woman named Bathsheba, her husband named Uriah the Hittite and David not acting at all like he was the man after God’s heart. (It can all be found in 2 Samuel 11)
The prophet Nathan had an intervention with David. David was contrite and paid a heavy penance for his sins (2 Samuel 12. Grab the tissues).
The rest of David’s life was spent dealing with the temporal consequences of what he’d done. God had warned him, “The sword shall never depart from your house.” Which is Bible talk for “Whoa Nelly! There’s going to be a lot of fighting in your life.” And boy, was He not kidding! Violence erupted within David’s family and within his kingdom. Much of it is not Christmas talk, but just know that part of his story made The Game of Thrones seem like a kid’s show by comparison.
Despite it all, he never lost his faith nor love for God and God never lost his favor for David. And yet, their relationship was but a precursor to the relationship to come between God and the New David who makes his appearance on Day 25.