David / Dawood; shepherd, poet, king

David is a favorite hero, both in the Hebrew Bible and the Qur’an. As a youngster, he slew the ‘giant’ Goliath, using only sling and stone. According to the Qur’an, God later helped him to manufacture iron armor. However, he was not just a great warrior, but also a musician and the successor of King Saul.

The Bible attributes to David many psalms, in which deep despair alternates with exuberance. The Qur’an speaks of God giving David the Zabur, meaning text written on wood or stone. The (Arabic) Qur’an mentions the ‘Mazamiru Dawud’, zamir(un), as the Arabic equivalent of zimra in Hebrew, which means singing, music or songs. The Qur’an does not dwell on the fluctuating mood of David, but it does note and praise David’s sense of guilt: repentance is becoming to a king. It also stresses his exuberance, with mountains and the birds sharing his joyful song. Both books promise that the virtuous, righteous or meek will inherit the earth.

In the Bible, the story of David is told in the first book of Samuel, and his psalms are numbered. In the Qur’an, David’s story is found in various surahs.


King Saul fears the giant

And Saul and the men of Israel…drew up in battle array against the Philistines. And a champion went out from the camp of the Philistines, named Goliath…whose height was six cubits and a span.…he stood and cried out to the armies of Israel, and said to them, “Why have you come out to line up for battle? Am I not a Philistine, and you the servants of Saul? Choose a man for yourselves, and let him come down to me. If he is able to…kill me, then we will be your servants. But if I…kill him, then you shall be our servants…”

Then David said to Saul, “Let no man’s heart fail because of him; your servant will go and fight with this Philistine.”

And Saul said to David, “You are not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him; for you are a youth…”

…David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone, and struck the Philistine and killed him… David ran and stood over the Philistine, took his sword and drew it out of its sheath and killed him, and cut off his head with it. And when the Philistines saw that their champion was dead, they fled.1 Samuel 17: 2,4, 8-9, 32-33, 50-51

David’s sense of sin and despair
Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me. Psalm 51: 5

My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me? But I am a worm, and no man; A reproach of men, and despised by the people. Psalm 22:1,6

…my life is spent with grief, and my years with sighing; My strength fails because of my iniquity, and my bones waste away. Psalm 31:10-11
Blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity. And cleanse me from my sin. Psalm 51:1-2

Psalms of joy
Sing to Him a new song; Play skillfully with a shout of joy. Psalm 33:3

O Lord… You have lifted me up…O Lord my God, I cried out to You,

And You healed me. O Lord, You brought my soul up from the grave. Psalm 30: 1-3

Praise the Lord from the earth…mountains and all hills, fruitful trees and all cedars, beasts and all cattle; creeping things and flying fowl. Psalm 148:7,9-10

The righteous shall inherit the land, and dwell in it forever… Psalm 148:29

Blessed are the meek, For they shall
inherit the earth.
Matthew 5: 5


David slays Goliath

When Talut (Saul ed.) set forth with the armies… he and the faithful ones with him – they said: “This day we cannot cope with Goliath and his forces.”

But those who were convinced that they must meet Allah, said: “How oft, by Allah’s will, has a small force vanquished a big one? Allah is with those who steadfastly persevere.”

When they advanced to meet Goliath and his forces, they prayed: “Our Lord! Pour out constancy on us and make our steps firm: Help us against those that reject faith.”

By Allah’s will they routed them; and David slew Goliath; and Allah gave him power and wisdom and taught him whatever… He willed.

And did not Allah check one set of people by means of another, the earth would indeed be full of mischief: But Allah is full of bounty to all the worlds. 2 The Heifer, 249-251

…And We made the iron soft for him; – (commanding): “You make coats of mail, balancing well the rings of chain armour, and you work righteousness.” 34 The City of Saba, 10-11

David asks forgiveness
Have patience at what they say, and remember Our Servant David, the man of strength: for he ever turned (to Allah). 38 Saad, 17
…And David gathered that We had tried him: he asked forgiveness of his Lord, fell down, bowing (in prostration), and turned (to Allah in repentance). So We forgave him this (lapse):

O David! We did indeed make you a vice-regent on earth: so you judge between men in truth (and justice): nor do you follow the lusts (of your heart), for they will mislead you from the Path of Allah. 38 Saad, 24-26

The Zabur, a gift for Dawood
And it is your Lord that knows best all beings that are in the heavens and on earth: We bestowed on some prophets more (and other) gifts than on others: and We gave to David (the gift of) the Psalms.

17 The Children of Israel, 55
We bestowed Grace aforetime on David from Ourselves: “O you Mountains! you sing back the Praises of Allah with him! and you birds (also)! 34 The City of Saba, 10
…it was Our power that made the hills and the birds celebrate Our praises, with David: 21 The Prophets, 79

Before this We wrote in the Psalms…: “My servants, the righteous, shall inherit the earth.” 21 The Prophets, 105

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