A Chronology of David's Life

Appendix 4. A Chronology of David's Life

Life of David, Discipleship Lessons in 1 and 2 Samuel, by Dr. Ralph F. Wilson
Available as a book in paperback, Kindle, and PDF formats.

The absolute date of David's reign is based primarily on counting backwards from a fixed event, the Battle of Qarqar in 853 BC, in which Israel's King Ahab took part, as recorded on the Kurkh stela.[333]  It's pretty complex when you get into it. K.A. Kitchen determines the date for David's 40-year reign to be from about 1010 to 970 BC.[334]

It is difficult to pinpoint relative dates for events in David's life. The primary scripture with relative dates of David's life follows:

"David was thirty years old when he became king, and he reigned forty years. In Hebron he reigned over Judah seven years and six months, and in Jerusalem he reigned over all Israel and Judah thirty-three years." (2 Samuel 5:4-5; cf. 1 Kings 2:11)

Here and there the scripture tells us the number of years for some event. But the rest of the dates in David's life are only approximate, suppositions based on the amount of time something might take.



David's Age



1040 BC


David born

2 Samuel 5:4



David and Goliath




David is a fugitive from Saul[335]




David becomes king at Hebron

2 Samuel 5:4-5



David becomes king over all Israel and conquers Jerusalem

2 Samuel 5:4-5



Palace built, Philistine and Aramean campaigns




David's kingdom established




David sins with Bathsheba




Amnon rapes Tamar




Absalom kills Amnon, flees to Geshur, stays 3 years

2 Samuel 13:38



Absalom returns to Jerusalem

2 Samuel 14:28



Absalom sees David's face after 2 years in Jerusalem

2 Samuel 14:28



Absalom wins the hearts of Israel over 4 years

2 Samuel 15:7



Absalom becomes king in Hebron, David flees Jerusalem




Absalom killed




Sheba's rebellion




David becomes exhausted in Philistine battle

2 Sam 21:15



Adonijah and Solomon vie for the throne.




David dies

2 Samuel 5:4-5; cf. 1 Kings 2:11

[333] Baldwin, 1 and 2 Samuel, p. 19.

[334] K.A. Kitchen, "Chronology," DOTHB, 183-184. K.A. Kitchen, On the Reliability of the Old Testament (Eerdmans, 2003), pp. 82-83. So John N. Oswalt, "Chronology of the OT," ISBE 1:673-685.

[335] Bright (History, p. 194, fn. 23) says, "Saul's death end came within a very few years after he had driven David from him, perhaps three or four years at the outside. David's stay in Philistia was only a bit over a year (1 Samuel 27:7) -- and his outlaw days perhaps two or three years (?)"

[336] If David were 45, Amnon, Absalom, and Tamar would be no older than 15. If he were 50, they wouldn't be any older than 20 (Michael A. Whitney, "Lessons from the Life of David" (Navigators of Maine, 2009)

Copyright © 2024, Ralph F. Wilson. <pastor@joyfulheart.com> All rights reserved. A single copy of this article is free. Do not put this on a website. See legal, copyright, and reprint information.

Sign up now!To be notified about future articles, stories, and Bible studies, why don't you subscribe to our free newsletter,The Joyful Heart, by placing your e-mail address in the box below. We respect your privacy and never sell, rent, or loan our lists. Please don't subscribe your friends; let them decide for themselves.
Country(2-letter abbreviation, such as US)
Preferred FormatHTML (recommended) Plain text