The House of David

Amidst all the political turbulence, it's an exciting year for Israel. The Jewish state is commemorating the 3,000th anniversary of David's conquest of Jerusalem. But not everybody is celebrating. Many scholars still deny that King David ever existed. For such biblical skeptics King David's kingdom is no more historical than the mythical founding of Camelot. Like King Arthur, David was a mythical figure around whom a collection of stories has grown up. Why do so many scholars persist in this attitude? Because they consider the Bible to be myth until it is confirmed by other sources. In other words, unless the ancient Philistine or Aramean records mention David, such skeptics assume that David did not actually exist. Until recently King Ahab was the earliest biblical character who appears in secular historical records. His treaty with the king of Syria is recorded in Syrian inscriptions. So by our skeptic's rule, no biblical character before Ahab—including King David—can be considered a historical figure. The summer of 1993 must have come as a great shock to the biblical skeptics. That's when Avraham Biran, an archaeologist at Hebrew Union College, discovered an ancient Aramean inscription at the biblical city of Dan in northern Israel. The inscription dates from the ninth century B.C., and it bears the name "David." Now the biblical account goes like this: The kings of Israel and Judah were at war with each other. The king of Judah, fearing defeat, took the gold and silver from the Temple and used it to bribe the king of the Arameans to come fight on his side. The Arameans agreed. They took Judah's gold, attacked Israel—and captured the Israelite city of Dan [1 Kings 15:16-22]. Just a myth? The inscription at Dan proves otherwise. It mentions the Aramean victory over Israel—and refers specifically to the king of Israel and the "House of David." That's one in the eye for scholars who claim that David's dynasty was a myth, and that the kingdoms of Israel and Judah didn't exist in the ninth century B.C. And there's more. First Kings tells us that the king of Aram was named Ben-Hadad— which means "son of [the storm god] Hadad." Interestingly, the inscription discovered at Dan credits the pagan storm god Hadad with the victory over Israel. Another confirmation of the historical accuracy of 1 Kings. The meaning of these exciting archaeological discoveries has not been lost on Christians. In a recent feature article on the historical accuracy of the Bible, Time magazine stated that "believers around the world are attuned more than ever to the significance of archaeological finds . . . in establishing the reality of the events underlying their faith." So the next time someone tries to tell you that the Bible is a collection of myths, tell them about the archaeological evidence that King David actually existed. Share this special series with your neighbors. And don't forget to join in the 3,000th-year celebration of David's conquest of Jerusalem. It's more than just a royal tale.


Chuck Colson


  • Facebook Icon in Gold
  • Twitter Icon in Gold
  • LinkedIn Icon in Gold

Sign up for the Daily Commentary