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King David’s big, dark secret

The prophet Samuel anointing David as the future king of Israel.

The prophet Samuel anointing David as the future king of Israel.

There was a big, dark secret in David’s life that few people are aware of. It’s not that David tried to keep it secret, but many of us simply fail to connect the dots.

When we study David’s life, there are a number of Biblical passages that at first read seem quite puzzling. One such passage is 1 Samuel 16:1-13.

God had just rejected Saul as king of Israel and commissioned the prophet Samuel to anoint one of the sons of Jesse of Bethlehem as the next king (v 1). Samuel approached the elders of Bethlehem and arranged the meeting. Once Jesse and his sons had gathered, Samuel quickly realized none of the boys standing before him was the one God had chosen.

Puzzled, Samuel asked if there were any other sons and was told the youngest, David, was attending the flock. Samuel ordered David brought before him and anointed the young shepherd boy as the next king of Israel.

I was always curious as to why David was not initially included. Traditionally, most believe David was omitted because he was the youngest, but I don’t believe this theory  holds up under closer scrutiny of the Biblical account.

When Samuel first approached Bethlehem’s elders, the Bible tells us they were “trembling” (v 4). They were terrified of the prophet. When he said jump, the only pertinent question was how high.

So when Samuel requested a special meeting with Jesse and his sons, all were expected to show up. There must have been some convincing reason not to extend an invitation to David.

Why was David excluded?

I believe David actually provides the answer to this question in Psalm 51 penned in the chaotic aftermath of his adulterous affair with Bathsheba.

In verse 5, King David wrote: “Behold I was brought forth in iniquity and in sin my mother conceived me.”

So what was David trying to tell us in this verse?

Traditionally, most believe David was explaining his affair was due to the sin nature that plagues all mankind because of Adam and Eve’s original sin. However, this does not explain why David committed adultery (though all humans have the same sin nature, not all commit adultery).

Setting aside all fancy theological interpretations, we need to interpret verse 5 simply as it reads — “in sin my mother conceived me” means exactly what it says — David’s mother conceived him in an act of sin. She committed adultery and David was the byproduct of this infidelity.

This explains why David was not initially included in the meeting with Samuel as technically it could be argued David was not a true son of Jesse. However, God did include David as part of Jesse’s family much in the same way Jesus was considered a son of Joseph though conceived by the Holy Spirit.

Who was David’s mother?

This is where it gets interesting. No where in scripture is David’s mother mentioned by name. This is a bit unusual, as mothers of several ancient prophets and patriarchs are not only mentioned, but many times written about, as they often played a significant role in the upbringing of their children — such as Moses’ mother Jochebed (Exodus 6:20) and Samuel’s mother Hannah (1 Samuel 1:1-20).

However, David’s mother was different — as a wife who committed adultery, she brought shame upon Jesse and his family and it’s not surprising her name was excised from the Biblical account.

There are several possibilities on what happened here — Jesse’s wife had an affair with another man or Jesse had an affair with another woman (married or unmarried).

Perhaps David’s mother was a prostitute. It was not uncommon for children born from such an illicit relationship to live with the father.

In the book of Judges, we have a story about Jephthah who was conceived when his father Gilead had sexual relations with a prostitute.

11 Jephthah the Gileadite was a mighty warrior. His father was Gilead; his mother was a prostitute. Gilead’s wife also bore him sons, and when they were grown up, they drove Jephthah away. “You are not going to get any inheritance in our family,” they said, “because you are the son of another woman.” (Judges 11:1-2 NIV)

Though conceived through this illicit encounter, Jephthah nevertheless grew up in Gilead’s house who took responsibility for raising the child.

But Jephthah’s arrival created a tremendous tension with the sons born of the true mother. They eventually drove Jephthah out of the family to prevent him from receiving any of his father’s inheritance (v 2).

If David’s mother was also a prostitute it would explain why she wasn’t mentioned and I suspect it was the brothers who pushed not to have David included when Samuel called for a meeting with the sons of Jesse.

David’s miserable early life

David refers to his mother one more time in Psalm 69 which — next to Psalm 22 — is the most quoted Psalm in the New Testament. It is generally believed Psalm 69 covers David’s early life prior to his anointing by Samuel.

In verse 8, David writes: “I have become estranged from my brothers, And an alien to my mother’s sons.”

It is interesting how David seems to talk about two groups of children. He was estranged from his brothers (Jesse’s family) and an alien to his mother’s children. It implies both sets of children rejected David supporting the idea that his mother was either a prostitute (with other children) or possibly another married woman whose husband rejected David, forcing Jessee to look after his illegitimate son.

According to Strong’s dictionary, the Hebrew word for estranged “zur” means to “turn one aside from lodging” and can also refer to a person who has come from “adultery – to come from another man” or another woman. In fact, the word is rooted in the Hebrew word “mamzer” which means bastard or illegitimate.

Zur intimates David was not included in regular family activities such as meals. In fact this may be what verse 21 suggests when David says they gave me “gall for food” and “vinegar to drink.” It appears the brothers made David’s life miserable.

One thing oddly missing in Psalm 69 is any mention of David’s relationship with Jesse. Not once did David point to Jesse as the source of his misery. Neither do we see any hint of conflict when Jesse asked David to take food to his brothers who were fighting the Philistines, but as soon as David showed up at the army camp, you immediately see the animosity between David and his brothers (1 Samuel 17: 28-29).

The conflict between David and his half-brothers indicates it may have been the brothers who demanded David not be included in the meeting with Samuel.

Psalm 69 also addresses the misery David endured growing up. Because of his mother’s sin, David’s childhood was full of loneliness and rejection. He speaks of hours spent crying because of the rejection (v 3). He explains his frustration of being punished for a sin he did not commit (v 4) – his mother’s sin. Worse, he became the object of mockery as the drunkards sang about his plight (v 26).

David’s life also became a byword or proverb — literally a living warning — of what happens to those whose mother commits adultery.

“When I made sackcloth my clothing, I became a byword to them. Those who sit in the gate talk about me…” (v 11b, 12a)

What was particularly hurtful was those who “sit at the gate” used him as an example (v 12) of what happens when people sin. The term “sit at the gate” refers to the elders of the city who sat at the gates and made judgment on cases (see Proverbs 31:23; Deuteronomy 21:19; 22:15). These would be the same elders of Bethlehem who did not think it necessary to include David when Samuel wanted to meet with Jesse and his sons.

David then adds he carried the personal shame of his mother’s sin.

You know my reproach and my shame and my dishonor; 
All my adversaries are before You.
 Reproach has broken my heart and I am so sick
 And I looked for sympathy, but there was none,
 And for comforters, but I found none. (v 19, 20)

No one cared that David was the innocent byproduct of his mother’s sin. It was Jewish belief children could be punished for the sins of the parents. We see a hint of this in the gospels, when the disciples — after stumbling upon on a blind man — asked Jesus if he was being punished for the sins of his parents or his own sins (John 9:2,3).

Though despised and rejected by his family and humiliated by those in his home town, God saw David’s heart and how he responded to the rejection and the ugliness that filled his childhood and chose this boy as the next king of Israel.

Through this we gain a keen insight in the redemptive nature of God, who will use anyone despite their background and heritage as long as they have a heart for God. — EZ

More in the Tabernacle of David series:



    • Thanks for your comment and link. I had heard of this Jewish tradition, but there was no Biblical mention of it, so I left it out. I think it is easy to fall into a trap of trying to make our Biblical heroes appear better than they really are. The fact is they had their struggles just like we do. Some, like David, came from very rough backgrounds, but God chose to use them nevertheless. It doesn’t matter our back ground or what we have done, God will still use us, if we give our hearts to Him.


  1. Yes I agree with you and I really enjoyed your article, Dean. I’m writting a novel about David’s life and childhood and I was looking for more information and historical background. I think that the value of God’s choice by annoiting David as King of Israel, takes much more sense now… He choses people for the heart despite of the history or past you have. Amazing! thanks for the reply and the article. My first language is spanish so my website is in that language, but if you still want to take a look, you are more than welcome.


    • Diego

      Thanks for your kind words. I wish you all the best on your novel. I checked out your website. I see you have written a number of books already — I am impressed. I used Google translate so I only have a rough idea of what was written, but I liked what I saw. Good job.


  2. I doubt David was the lineage of Christ but the son of an illegitimate affair.
    How could that be?
    I believe the his birth would have to be from a union with Jesse (her husband) and his mother (Jesse’s wife) regardless of the strained relationship between them at that time.


    • Well, I believe David’s lineage through Christ is well proven and straight forward. Genealogies were very important to the Jews. It is not something we do in our culture as much. As For my assertion that David was illegitimate, I can’t prove it, but will let the story and the Biblical record speak for itself. I spoke on this once in a church setting and had someone interrupt me in the middle of my message to tell me that I was wrong, so I am used to it lol.

      However, when David says “I was conceived in sin” (Pslam 51:5), you must twist the scripture in order to have it say something than what it is clearly saying.


  3. Read these please!
    Ruth 4. 22 And Obed begat Jesse, and Jesse begat David.
    1 Samuel 17. 12 Now David was the son of that Ephrathite of Bethlehemjudah, whose name was Jesse
    1Chronicle 2. 13-15 >> 13 And Jesse begat his firstborn Eliab, and Abinadab the second, and Shimma the third, 14 Nethaneel the fourth, Raddai the fifth, 15 Ozem the sixth, David the seventh:
    So Bible clearly claims, that David’s father was Jesse, he had begotten David, no somebody else.
    There is a difference about numbers of Jesse’s sons (7 or 8), but no argument about genetical relation between Jesse and David.
    Yes, we don’t know anything about the mother, Bible doesn’t report her. But we must keep our focus on true facts that Bible says.
    If we don’t understand some part of the Word, we must not explain our presumptions, immaginations or any legends against the clear Word.


    • Thanks for your comment. Yes, I agree there are those verses, but it is possible that they refer to Jessee as simply the father of David in the same way that Joseph raised Jesus as his son.

      Based on Psalms 51:5, when David says he was conceived in sin, most Jewish commentators take that at face value and believe he was conceived in an act of sin.

      Another possibility is that Jessee committed adultery with another woman and David was conceived through that relationship.

      The Talmud which is an ancient Jewish commentary had a different take on this. First based on Psalm 51:5 where David said he was conceived in sin, they had no doubt that David was conceived through an illicit relationship.

      However, one story out of the Talmud stated that Jessee had divorced his wife, probably because of an illicit affair. Later after the divorce, his former wife briefly came back to Jessee, which was forbidden under the Law (Deuteronomy 24:4), and David was conceived at this time.

      Thanks for adding to this discussion.


      • Margaret says

        To remain Biblical, if anything, it would have to be Jesse’s indiscretion with another woman, and not the son of another man with David’s mother. The Bible clearly states more than once, as noted above, that David was the son of Jesse. Moreover, in Matthew, when describing the lineage of Christ, it also plainly states that David was in that line going all the way back – meaning, that the lineage was pure – going back to Abraham. It was promised to Abraham, that to HIS SEED, which was Christ, that the nations would be blessed. So no, David was not the son of another man with David’s mother. That would make him not the legitimate seed of Abraham. Somehow, something happened with Jesse , as has been noted.


      • Margaret says

        Hi, another comment – this is in addition to my other comment posted today.
        The scenario that makes the most sense is what you said above, about Jesse coming back with his wife after she had an illicit affair with another man. They perhaps got divorced, and then at one point got back together, and then had David.
        If they were divorced at that point , they must have reconciled. We know this because in one passage, David sends his mother and father to go live with the King of Moab for a while to keep them safe (I Sam 22:3-4). So obviously they got back together and stayed together after David was born.
        So let’s say Jesse’s wife had an indiscretion with another man. Jesse puts her away. Then they get back together. This is “taboo” for everyone because of the law, but Jesse does it anyway. Then they have David. Then David would have been considered a bastard because he came from Jesse’s wife who had the indiscretion and whom Jesse divorced, even though they got back together. The stigma of her sins would have stuck – normally because people are so unforgiving and judgmental.
        Isn’t this what happened with Hosea as well? His wife committed adultery and yet God tells him to take her back. And this is a picture of God with Israel, and how they sinned against Him and yet He wanted her back.
        This would fit with the compassionate heart of God, who went through this with Israel, and still wanted to reconcile with them, as stated in Jeremiah 3:1:
        “They say, If a man put away his wife, and she go from him, and become another man’s, shall he return unto her again? shall not that land be greatly polluted? but thou hast played the harlot with many lovers; yet return again to me, saith the LORD.”
        I say this because I do not believe that God would allow fornication in the blood line of Christ.
        Jesse and his wife reconciling would show God considered them to still be married and then reconciled. So this “indiscretion” with Jesse and his former wife – was them coming back together, after she had an illicit affair. Otherwise, there would be fornication in the line of Christ , the bloodline, and that cannot be possible. I believe this was one of the reasons why God did not allow David and Bathsheba’s first child to live – because it was born out of wedlock and in fornication. There were foreigners, yes, in Christ’s bloodline, like Rahab the harlot, but she still married into the bloodline.
        Anyway, this is more to consider.


      • Margaret says

        Sorry, one more comment to my own comment below! I said that God would not allow fornication in the bloodline of Christ – his natural fatherly bloodline, and yet there it is in Matthew 1 – Judah begot Perez by Tamar…. that was clearly out of wedlock and in fornication….


      • I agree with this last comment, the child is an innocent byproduct of the parents’s sin. And actually, I believe God raised up David to show how far His grace extends. And again the Perez situation in someways is similar to what we see happening with Jessee who I suspect had an illicit relationship with an unnamed prostitute. Thanks for your comments.


    • Tehillah-James says

      I enjoy the reading but I actually agree with D Nagy Tamas. The bible has not hidden sins done by certain people. Even in the GENEOLOGY of Jesus, where sin was involved it was exposed. Eg Solomon by Uria’s wife, Pereze by Tamer, etc. Looking on that patterns in the geniology of Jesus, David’s father would have been exposed. I believe that that would have been exposed too. So it can be dangerous for us to assume that based on Psalms 51:5 David was born in adultry. If we must not interpret it like Dean Smill is asserting let us not also interpret Ruth 4:22, 1 Sam 17:12; 1 Chro 2:13-15. Scriptures D Nagy Tamas has pointed. If the facts Dean is using is the story of David excluded amongst the sons of jersey when Samuel came and Psalms 51:5. There is not enough evidance to believe it. There is more evidance that David was the son of Jessey that those two scenarios. The bible was also very clear that though Jesus was the son of Joseph, it was clear that Joseph was not the biological son of Joseph. The bible has not left any dark areal of anybody, it exposed sins of all men who where used by God. David, Abraham, Jacob, Samuel who couldn’t raise his children well. I believe that that which the bible has not revealed we mustn’t try and bring a revelations of it, lest we end up in error. Thanks but I like your writing Dean.


      • Thank for your comment. You made some good points. However, I don’t think the Bible was hiding David’s lineage. When in Psalm 51:5, David says I was conceived in sin, he is very clear about what happened. Many have interpreted the verse to mean something else. I have chosen to interpret the verse literally. But certainly there is room for differing opinions on this. Thanks again for your reasoned comment. As I said you made some valid points.


      • Enid Riley says

        I quite agree with you. Some many have accepted the explanation given about David’s parents without doing research for themselves. What about prayerfully seeking the help of the Holy Spirit for understanding of God’s word.


    • BW Zishwili says

      I still believe that David was the son of Jesse even though Jesse doubted this.
      The bible cannot lie by listing David as the son of Jesse


      • Thank you for your comment Bettie. The problem is that the story that you are citing comes from the Mishnah. This is Jewish commentary on the Old Testament handed down through the centuries. It is not part of the Torah or Old Testament. These oral traditions were finally compiled in written form in the second century, a century or so after Christ’s death, in what is today called the Talmud.

        The Mishnah or Talmud was simply Jewish teachers trying to interpret the law and explain how it worked in everyday life.

        Now some Jews consider the Mishnah/Talmud as having the same authority as the Bible, but it DOES NOT. It has no more authority than my article. Only the Old Testament is God’s word.

        The Old Testament does not once mention the name of David’s mother.

        Now some Jewish leaders had a problem with David being born as a result of an illegitimate relationship, because this meant God was not a respecter of persons. The Jewish teachers believed the sins of the parents carried down to the children. So an illegitimate child was equally a sinner as the parents (Exodus 20:4-5).

        If you believed you had to obey the law to be blessed by God, how could David be one of the great heroes of faith in the Old Testament if he was a bastard.

        So I believe they came up with these stories to try to get around this problem. They tried to make David’s illegitimacy seem not so bad.

        However, the Bible is clear that David was a bastard and I believe God purposefully chose David to demonstrate God’s mercy and grace over-ruled everything. God is not a respecter of persons. If a person had a desire for God, God would use them.


  4. Why do you think “possibilities” are stronger than clear claims in the Word of God?
    We can read two times “Jesse begat David”
    Ruth 4. 22 And Obed begat Jesse, and Jesse begat David.
    1Chronicle 2. 13-15 >> 13 And Jesse begat his firstborn Eliab, and Abinadab the second, and Shimma the third, 14 Nethaneel the fourth, Raddai the fifth, 15 Ozem the sixth, David the seventh:

    All the literatures out of Bible don’t named as “Holy Word”. No Talmud, nor Midrash, non other historical or poemic heritages named as “Holy Word”.
    So imaginations or “let’s figure out” can not compare with written facts in the Holy Word.
    If we create explanations based on David’s Psalms mentioned by you above, why don’t we say trees have got hands for clapping, and hills have got legs for jumping? Are these pictures allegorical or literal?

    We maybe don’t understand what David had been thought behind his sentences. But it doesn’t give us a right to figure out any comments. And further more how we get the right to accuse Jesse with illegitim sexual activities?! Bible doesn’t say this! We must not say this!


    • I believe that because David said “And in sin my mother conceived me” Psalm 51:5 (literally an “act of sin”). Since relations between a married man and woman is not considered sin, then something else must have happened.

      Either Jesse or David’s mother had an affair.

      Like you said, we are not told clearly told what it was. But David did not try to cover up what had happened.

      All the ancient Jewish commentators had no doubt that David was conceived in an illicit act because they interpreted the verse simply as it says. In the Talmud, they were simply trying to understand what had happened, because based on their understanding of the Hebrew there was no doubt sin was involved.

      It is only more recent Bible teachers that have tried to have this verse say something else than what it clearly says.

      To me it shows that God is not a respecter of persons. It does not matter what your background is, God will use anyone who seeks after Him.

      I encourage people to study it out and decide for themselves. You have added some good points that show the other side of the argument.

      Obviously we are going to disagree on this, but that won’t be the first time.

      Thanks and God bless


      • James Chen says

        Just want to add that David stopped by Nob (where the Moses’ Tabernacle located) while fleeing from Saul.(1Samuel 21:1)


    • No I am not rejecting original sin, there are many passages that speak of original sin such as “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” Romans 3:23. I absolutely believe in original sin.

      Certainly that has been the traditional understanding of Psalm 51:5, but I am wondering if there is room for a more literal translation of the words “And in sin my mother conceived me?”


  5. There are some other translations:
    NET (New English Translation): 5 ​​​​​​​Look, I was guilty of sin from birth, a sinner the moment my mother conceived me.
    HCSB (Holman Bible): 5 Indeed, I was guilty when I was born; I was sinful when my mother conceived me.
    BBE (Bible in Basic English): Truly, I was formed in evil, and in sin did my mother give me birth.
    CEB (Common English Bible): Yes, I was born in guilt, in sin, from the moment my mother conceived me.
    CJB (Complete Jewish Bible): True, I was born guilty, was a sinner from the moment my mother conceived me.
    NIV: Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.

    There is no mentioned in the Holy Bible if David’s mom or dad would’ve committed any kind of illegal sexual affair. This same Bible speaks David’s affair with Bathsheba; Reuben’s affair with Bilhah, etc.

    “Traditional understanding” … Well, there are some Sages have been thought this. These same Sages had been improved that David didn’t commit adultary with Bathsheba, and wasn’t guilty in death of Uriah…
    Traditional understanding many times goes against the Holy Word of God.


    • Thanks for those verses. Like I said I believe in original sin and there are a number of verses, aside from Psalm 51, that show this. People can see your comments and read the article and decide for themselves. We need to study the Bible carefully and I hope this discussion causes others to look at it carefully. You seem to be posting your comments at different times. Do you live in North America or are you from somewhere else?


    • Mimi1 says

      D Nagy Tamas, Mr Smith is not going to budge. As mortals, we can all make assumptions, and form an opinion on certain scriptures, but it is an entirely different thing when we pervert what scripture says. Nowhere in the Word of God does it say that David was a bastard son, though he could have been. If the Lord wanted us to know that, He would reveal that in His Word. We were all born in sin in our mother’s wombs, but that does not mean that adultery was involved, and it is a very serious offense to plant assumptions into the minds of believers and especially non believers. We have been warned, so we must be extremely careful what we share with others.


      • Though you seem to suggest that I have committed some type of sin with this article, my only sin is taking the words of David “I was conceived in sin” and interpreting them literally. The ancient Jewish scholars interpreted this verse exactly as I have. They believed David was conceived in adultery. But came up with the story of how Jesse had divorced his wife and then reconnected, which was forbidden under the law, to try to soften it. They could not believe God would raise a bastard to be there greatest King. But God is no respecter of persons.


  6. Arman says

    Psalm 51:5- “Behold, I was shapen in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.” KJV

    This is a Hebrew poetic parallelism, with the second line of the verse saying the same thing as the first line in a slightly different way.

    The subject of this verse is NOT the state or constitution of David’s nature as a sinner at, or before, his birth. The subject is, as the verse clearly states, the `circumstances’ of his conception- the sexual union which produced him was an act of sin, and addresses the unrighteousness of his mother’s act, not anything (such as a sin nature) inherent within himself.

    The NIV’s version of this verse is an INTERPRETATION, not a translation: “Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.”

    David had two half-sisters (Zeruiah, Abigail)…..:

    1CHR 2:13-16 13 “And Jesse begat his firstborn Eliab, and Abinadab the second, and Shimma the third, 14 Nethaneel the fourth, Raddai the fifth, 15 Ozem the sixth, David the seventh: 16 Whose sisters were Zeruiah, and Abigail. And the sons of Zeruiah; Abishai, and Joab, and Asahel, three. 17 And Abigail bare Amasa: and the father of Amasa was Jether the Ishmeelite.”

    ….and the father of David’s half-sisters was not Jesse, but Nahash: 2Sam 17:25 “And Absalom made Amasa captain of the host instead of Joab: which Amasa was a man’s son, whose name was Ithra an Israelite, that went in to Abigail the daughter of Nahash, sister to Zeruiah Joab’s mother.”


  7. What is your opinion about NET (New English Translation), HCSB (Holman Bible), BBE (Bible in Basic English), CEB (Common English Bible, CJB (Complete Jewish Bible)?
    Well, I am not a scholar of Hebrew language, so I’m not able to compare any Bible translations, I can’t say: this is less holy, that is more holy. I believe KJV and NIV are equal, no difference in ranks. Both of these and all the other translations try to put original authentic text into the spoken language of time of translation.
    You wrote: “This is a Hebrew poetic parallelism”… Well, genre itself of this psalm is poem. Words, sentences, pictures are poetic tools, which express the heart of the writer. In this Psalm 51 David speaks about his own sin against God, Bathsheba and Uriah. He doesn’t speaks anybody else’s sin. Cocluding David’s parent’s sin from this psalm is unbiblical.
    Bible clearly speaks people’s sin. No hides that. No matter who was the sinner. Therefor we know Adam and Eve’s disobedience, Cain’s hate, Lot’s daughters incest, Jacob’s cheat, Moses’s anger, David’s adultary and bloodshed, Solomon’s idolatry, Judas’s betray, Ananias and Sapphira’s lie, Peter’s hypocrisy and so on…
    If Jesse or David’s mom would’ve made any illegal sexual affair, Bible would’ve reported that surely. Nobody ought to scrape a Psalm for some hidden dark secret. There is no there. Scraping person can find himself on the unbiblical ground, full of legends, stories, imaginations, assumptions, etc. But it is not the Holy Word of God.


    • I am not sure what version Juan uses but my preference is the New American Standard which I believe more accurately translates the Bible than many other versions.

      One way is how they translate Exodus 20:5. The NASV properly translates the verse saying that the “iniquity” (awon) of the parents will be passed on to the children. Many versions use the word “sin” which is completely different from iniquity. There is a big difference between iniquity and sin and it is a way to test a version’s accuracy. In Psalm 51:5, David says he was conceived in sin and born into iniquity. Two different Hebrew words with two different meanings. The Exodus passage has the word for iniquity but many versions translate it sin.


  8. 1. Bible uses quite few expressions to sign acts against God: sin (chatta’ah), iniquity (avon), transgression (pesha), wickedness, evil deeds (ra), etc. But these are not technical terms or definitions, which mean the same exact things all through the Bible. There are at least 50 verses in OT both sin and iniquity refer the very same act wherein.
    I agree what Arman wrote: “This is a Hebrew poetic parallelism, with the second line of the verse saying the same thing as the first line in a slightly different way.”

    2. Sins or sinful actions are so many kinds. Why are you so convinced, that David’s mom conceived in a wicked, sinful, unclean way? Let me repeat, in Psalm 51 David speaks about his own sin, not his mom’s sin. It is important what kind of glasses we read this scripture with.

    3. Why can’t you accept if her sin was the “original sin”? In Brit HaHadashah (hebrew translation of New Testamant) Rom 3.23 “for all have sinned” uses חָטָא, like Psalm 51.5 חַטָּא


  9. patricia says


    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for your comment Patricia. The point I was trying to make in this article, is that God does not care who you are and where you came from. For the Jews lineage was very important and through David’s life God was showing them it wasn’t. He can and will use anyone.


  10. P. V. Cherian says

    Your imagination and fantasy conclusions are appreciated, but has no relevance. Bible clearly gives the genealogy of most important people in the Scriptures and the descendants of Abraham through his wife Sarah, through Sarah’s maidservant Hagar, and through Abraham’s second wife Keturah, whom he married after Sarah’s death. Moreover, the ancestral lines in the patriarchal period from Adam to many generations are clearly given further 1 Chronicle 2:1-9:44. In chapter 2:13-16 Jesse’s sons names are given and it clearly states David was the seventh son of Jesse. Whether they were born in the same mother or different mothers is not a question here as in the patriarchal period it was legally allowed to have many wives and concubines which many patriarch had. Let us stick to the Biblical Scriptures and the reasonable commentaries we have. Any story beyond the Scriptures is irrelevant here and Psalm 69 is a Messianic psalm as is Psalm 22. David may have been despised by some of his older brothers just as Joseph was, who by providence became the Second in Command who God chose and the provider for the Israelites when severe famine hit Israel. God has plan and purpose for everyone who mat even be born out of wedlock.
    Prof. P. V. Cherian, M.Div., Ph. D


  11. If I may encourage you, and I do not mean to offend, but such conjecture is fruitless discussion (1 Tim. 1:6). For one thing, you are giving Jewish commentaries far too much credibility. Plus, if this totally groundless theory were true, then David would have been a bastard and would not have been allowed to enter into the congregation of the Lord (Deut. 23:2), which he did do, of course, many times with great delight (Ps.42:4). This entire conjectural theory has been discredited long before now, and I would encourage you to pursue more edifying exposition of what the text of Scripture, and that alone, declares.
    — Dr. J. D. Watson, pastor/author


    • Candice says

      Thank you Doc Watson. The above article is rife with speculation and theories, while discounting the clear word of God. There is no clear indication in the Bible that David was the product of adultery or any other sexual sin. One can certainly take the opinion that his statement about being born in sin and shaped in iniquity meant that but it is wrong and even dangerous, to present one’s opinion (unsubstantiated by clear evidence) as fact. It is even more dangerous to then take a theory that one has and use that to discount what the Bible clearly says about who David’s biological father was. Anytime we come up with a theory or opinion based on our reading of the Bible that is not clearly and unambiguously and sufficiently supported by facts in the Bible and we then choose to present our theory as fact, when it may not be and we cannot prove it, we have gone down the wrong road and can only end up at a wrong destination. Nothing is wrong in having an opinion. However, we need to be always careful to make a distinction to those who read our material or hear us preach, as to what is fact and what is merely OUR opinion. OUR opinion could be wrong but what the Bible gives as fact, never is. What the Bible clearly says is authority. What we think is not.


      • Dr. J. D. Watson says

        Hi, Candace. I appreciate your encouragement and rejoice in your discernment. God bless you.


      • Dr. J. D. Watson says

        Greetings. I do wish I had the time to further this, but alas I do not. It’s doubtful I would persuade you anyway. Once we are in print, we are stuck with it. That is one reason I did not publish until I was 50 years old and in ministry for 30+ years. You are obviously a dedicated, passionate student of God’s, but if I may lovingly say that you are incorrect on this issue. At any rate, I must leave it as one of my old professors used to say: We will agree to disagree agreeably.


  12. Maureen Brown says

    How amazing is our God. We know that Jesus humbled himself and took on flesh, but he didn’t choose to be born into a “perfect” family. He chose one beset with all the problems / scandals / disputes etc that all of mankind faces. Certainly not what we would have chosen for him, thank God he reigns and we do not. Doesn’t this discussion cause you to appreciate even more what Jesus did for us, and to fall afresh on you knees in wonder and worship?



    I was about to continue a teaching on the secret of David in our church when the Holy Spirit led me to your article via the internet. I AM SO BLESSED! When the Holy Spirit led me to announce this study, I knew this is something I needed to know. I knew there is something in the past of David that has shaped him for the future that we see. I couldn’t see it until about 2 hours before the Bible Study time after reading your thoughts. THANK YOU. THANK YOU SO MUCH. In Jesus all veils are taken away so we may understand hidden mysteries. I look forward to the revival this teaching will start in our centre. God specializes in setting our feet upon the rock. Thanks! Thanks!!


  14. Carolyn Doby says

    Sorry, but weighing the meaning of scripture by other scriptures is the safest way to determine meaning. In Ps 86:16, David states, “give thy strength unto thy servant,
    and save the son of thine handmaid”, clearly defining his mother as a servant of God. He does it again in Ps 116:16, “O Lord, truly I am thy servant; I am thy servant, and the son of thine handmaid.” So, if indeed you want to take the literal interpretation of his being “conceived in sin,” then perhaps Jessee raped a virgin and according to law she became his wife. Also, his half sisters could have been conceived after the death and remarriage of his mother – or another of Jessee’s widows. That is all speculation and not to be taught as truth. The truth is that David’s mother was a handmaid of God.


  15. Adeniji Magbagbeola says

    Interesting indeed.
    Narrations have their shortcomings depending on who gives them and hi or her bias. This brings me to the core issue about whom Jesus Christ is. My view is that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and not a Jew being not conceived by the sexual union of a man and a woman as revealed by the narration of His birth. Jesus once ask the followers ‘ who do men say that I am?
    I subdmit that Jesus is the Son of God and all of us who believe are heirs to the coming Kingdom if not then all except the Jews who believe are the most miserable


  16. Gbenga Olaifa says

    What an explosive, comprehensive, expository and informative article! Kudos to the writer…but the truth be told, David is the son of Jesse and biblical inferences established that Jesus Christ emerged from same lineage. We really do not need to be canally minded in interpreting the antecedence of David’s birth, but rather, should require help of the Holy Spirit of God in inquiring about the real truth that lay thereon. Above all, God is not a respecter of persons and will always take delight in using ONLY those whose hearts truly thirst for him – just as he did in the lifes of David, Joseph, Moses, Jephtah, Saul (who later became Paul), etc. God bless you all!
    Gbenga Olaifa, Lagos – Pastor, Bible Teacher and Marriage Counsellor.


  17. Oladipupo Paul A says

    Let me confess that I’m highly enriched by the content of this article and the following comments of people both in support and as well as in opposition to the writer’s standpoint. May the Lord teach us how to divide His word rightly in Christ Name.
    Oladipupo Paul, Ise-Ekiti, Nigeria.


  18. Dr.MELCHIZEDEK DEVASIKHAMONY BSc,BDS,BTh,FRSH,PhD. Doctor, Scientist, Bible Teacher and Evangelist. says

    Wow! Amazing! Thanks Brother Dean Smith. Once again thank you for such an eye opening article. Thanks also for the comments. I really enjoyed reading your article and the comments given by all the readers.

    I believe that because David said “And in sin my mother conceived me” Psalm 51:5 (literally an “act of sin”). Since relations between a married man and woman is not considered sin, then something else must have happened.
    David did not try to cover up what had happened. In Ps 86:16, David states, “give thy strength unto thy servant, and save the son of thine handmaid”, clearly defining his mother as a servant of God. He does it again in Ps 116:16, “O Lord, truly I am thy servant; I am thy servant, and the son of thine handmaid.” So, if indeed you want to take the literal interpretation of his being “conceived in sin,” then perhaps Jessee raped a virgin and according to law she became his wife. Also, his half sisters could have been conceived after the death and remarriage of his mother.

    David had two half-sisters (Zeruiah, Abigail)…..:
    1CHR 2:13-16 13 “And Jesse begat his firstborn Eliab, and Abinadab the second, and Shimma the third, 14 Nethaneel the fourth, Raddai the fifth, 15 Ozem the sixth,
    David the seventh: 16 Whose sisters were Zeruiah, and Abigail. And the sons of Zeruiah; Abishai, and Joab, and Asahel, three. 17 And Abigail bare Amasa: and the father of Amasa was Jether the Ishmeelite.
    Ruth 4. 22 And Obed begat Jesse, and Jesse begat David.
    1 Samuel 17. 12 Now David was the son of that Ephrathite of Bethlehemjudah, whose name was Jesse

    So Bible clearly claims, that David’s father was Jesse, he had begotten David. And the mother of David was also the mother of David’s half-sisters Zeruiah and Abigail
    Yes, we don’t know anything about the mother, but Bible report her as …and the father of David’s half-sisters was not Jesse, but Nahash: 2Sam 17:25 “And Absalom made Amasa captain of the host instead of Joab: which Amasa was a man’s son, whose name was Ithra an Israelite, that went in to Abigail the daughter of Nahash, sister to Zeruiah Joab’s mother.”


  19. Renrick Hall says

    Good reading and information the it brought out from the other commentators. I have come to accept that the Bible was written in summary – “And it came to pass” (a fact that many Christians do not accept; but eighteen years of Jesus’ life is not mentioned) – so getting some background, and with the other links, this is enlightening.


  20. In Ps 116 David says that he is God’s servant, the son of God’s maidservant. This would require, I believe, that at least at some point, if not at the time of his conception, David’s mother was faithful to God. Given also all of the other occurrances of Jesse and then David in the lineage, I find your assertion to be intriguing but not quite correct. Perhaps, as you said, David was the son of another woman. But I believe if that is the case Jesse must have been largely culpable. After all, David did not call himself the son of God’s manservant.

    Yes, I know that it is prophetic. Still…

    Any thoughts about Ps 116?

    Oh, now I see commentary already to this effect. Have you come to any new conclusion?



    • Thanks for your comment Mary. You make a good point about David’s mom. I would just make a couple of points about David’s mother being called God’s handmaid. First when David wrote that Psalm, he was probably in his 20s, maybe even older. A lot can happen in the span of 25 years. But more importantly, though David was God’s anointed, he wasn’t perfect. He committed adultery and ordered a godfather type hit on Bathsheba’s husband. Yet despite these horrendous failures and others, David is described as a man after God’s own heart. This is one thing I like about the Bible it does not gloss over the sins and failures of the men and women of God. His mother whoever she is had a moment or moments of failure just like her son, but still she was forgiven and accepted by God.


  21. Ted Beckett says

    I just came upon your interesting article on David’ interesting lineage. I was in The Land in1988 doing a film on Israel’s 40th anniversary when I had an interesting experience. I got into a conversation, in Jerusalem, with several gun toting Settlers who lived on a religious commune in Judea overlooking the Dead Sea.
    They invited me to spend Shabbat on their Settlement and I agreed. While perusing their ultra religious library, I found a story about Jesse in an encyclopedic style book that gave what seems to be the accepted Rabbinical side of the story.
    I don’t remember all the details but it went something like this. Apparently someone brought up the fact that Jesse should not be married to a Jewish woman because he came from the lineage of Ruth and Boaz and Ruth was a Moabites, raising the question that Jesse might not be a full blooded Jew and therefore should not be living with his wife, a Jewish woman.
    While they were attempting to sort out the answer, it was agreed that Jesse and his wife would live apart. Over the course of time, while living apart, there was a big festival and Jesse got drunk, his wife, tired of living apart slipt into his tent and David was conceived.
    Time goes on and Jesse’s wife is obviously pregnant, the brothers (her sons) find out and blame mom for playing the harlot and want her stoned. Finally Jesse fesses up, but the sons are not convinced, so an agreement was made that the child (David) would not be a full fledged inheritor but would serve in a servant role.
    That’s why David was tending the sheep, while the boys (considered dukes) were running the business. The problem with Jesse’s great grandma Ruth was worked out and mom moved back in with Jesse.
    This all made sense to me, but I would love your opinion. In these kind of extra-biblical issues we really don’t have much choice but to look to Jews for their historical concepts.
    Ted Beckett


    • Ted

      Thanks very much for your comment. That is an interesting explanation. I have heard a similar version of that story. It is possible that is what happened. However, there is no Biblical evidence this is what took place. I think the story was used to try to water down what happened.

      I suspect the Jewish leaders had a very difficult time dealing with the fact that one of their greatest kings was a bastard. When the disciples were leaving the temple, they saw a blind man, and asked Christ if he was being punished for his sin or the sin of his parents (John 9:2). They believed the sin of the parents was be transferred to the children.

      Yet I believe, this is exactly the very reason God chose David. God wanted to challenge this strongly held belief. God judges a person on their merits, not their parents. People are not written off because they are illegitimate. The Jews didn’t like it so they concocted this story to try to legitimize David’s lineage. Yet David is very clear, he was conceived in sin.

      I wrote an article to further explain this:

      Thanks again for your comment. God bless


  22. Jessica says

    I would like to comment on Mr. Doc Watson’s comment from August 2016. With all due respect Sir what you said about if David was a bastard he would not have been allowed to be in the congregation of the Lord, that was true for Old Testament law. The beauty and redemption of our God is still reflected in the account about God telling Samuel to go anoint David as King of Israel: God looked at the heart of David more than He looked on the circumstances of David’s birth/origins.. Let us remember that the Law was given to point us to Christ the coming Messiah and to show us that as sinners we are without Hope unless we put our trust in our Savior Jesus Christ. If God were unmerciful and ungracious He would NOT have chosen David to be the next King of Israel but God shows us even in the Old Testament that though the Law still was Law, since God was the Originator of that Law He alone could make the exceptions to the Law. To me the the story of God choosing David to be anointed as King tells me and reminds me that our God is Mercy personified. He’ll use anyone whose heart is toward Him. I myself was a “bastard” as you referred to David: I was conceived in illegitimacy but I was adopted into a loving family who also introduced me to the Saviour. I understand that you were commenting on this article regarding taking the author’s literal interpretation of David’s origins. But it also felt like an attack of sorts. Our God is a God of judgment yes but He is Merciful. It just felt like Pharisaical judgment to imply that God only uses people whose conduct or origins are pure/exemplary. He Redeems. I’m sorry if that’s not what you intended to imply from your comment. But being “illegitimate” myself it touched a sensitive spot as I’m sure it might have for others.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Woodrow Nichols says

    You have opened by eyes. I have been working on an article I call the Trail of Sin and Grace, beginning with Cain. I saw why chose Solomon because he was from the woman of sin, Bathsheba, and God’s chosen line was always one of sin so that his grace would be magnified. Also Jesus came from Nathan, another one of David’s sons through Bathsheba, but for David himself to be born of adultery never crossed my mine. Many thanks.

    Woodrow Nichola


  24. Pingback: Triggered by looking in a mirror – Just Salt

  25. Johnny says

    Your analysis of David’s mother was completely ignorant to Jewish teachings . David’s mother was not a prostitute nor had she sinned. Please do accurate research in the Jewish oral teachings before tarnishing the House of David.


    • I know the Jewish commentators think it was Nitzevet, but I don’t give the Talmud any authority. The Torah, the Old Testament, is God’s Word and I believe it tells a completely different story than the Talmud.


  26. Connie Akins says

    This discussion has been SO interesting! So many excellent points made about what the scriptures actually says about Jesse, David, his mother and others connected to them. But I feel like they are obscuring the big point that David was raised with extreme rejection and experienced a lot pain as a child. Out of this, or rather – in this – he came to know and love and see God is a way that is amazing. The Lord WAS his shepherd! God chose the least, the over-looked, the scorned and raised him up to the highest place. It is a deep comfort and brings hope to all of us who grew up believing we were “the least.”


    • Thank you for your comment. Yes there has been an interesting discussion about this article. Some have made very good points opposing my position, but in the end I believe David’s illegitimacy is the only thing makes sense of many of the things that happened to David.


  27. I have always believed that the 69th Psalm was a prophecy of Messiah’s sufferings, but I concede that it might well be both prophetic and autobiographical. I stumbled upon your article while researching “tabernacle of David”. I’m glad I found it. It was very enlightening Thank you!


    • Thank you very much for your comment. I am not wanting to be dogmatic on this view that David’s mother was illegitimate, but I believe it makes sense of several passages in the Old Testament including why David set up the Tabernacle of David.


  28. Dr. Daniel Wanyoike says

    How did David know he was a product of illicit affair? Those who sat at the gate and his siblings are the ones who made David and us conclude this. We need to ask ourselves, were they correct in their assumptions? My answer is no, the only two who can clear the air are 1. David’s mother and 2. God.
    God promised to bless Abraham, and he did this all the way up to Isaac, Jacob, Oved, Boaz, Jesse, David all the way to Jesus. The answer to David’s heritage is in the day he was conceived and the true is, David can not 100% tell us how he was conceived. True is, he was conceived the right way, he was Jesse son kept in the dark for a number of reasons.
    Dr. Daniel Wanyoike


    • Thank you for your comment Dr Wanyoike. I think that King David’s questionable lineage was well-known at the time. When Samuel came to Bethlehem asking the elders to have all the sons of Jesse brought before him, the Bible says that the elders were trembling. They were terrified of the prophet. When Samuel asked for all the sons, there was no question they would bring all the sons. So why was David not brought before Samuel? The only obvious reason why they didn’t was because they did not believe David was a legitimate son. Even David admits he was conceived in sin. There is only one way that you are conceived in an act of sin and that is due to some type of illicit relationship. So how would they know. One way they would know is if Jesse’s wife had died before David was born and Jesse had some type of illicit relationship with another woman, possibly even a prostitute. Everyone would know under these type of circumstances. But it appears that David’s brothers, the elders of the city and even David knew something about what happened.


  29. Darrius says

    Forgive me for posting this on two articles if that is a problem.

    1 Samuel 22:3 seems to be a scripture that helps show that David was legitimate. The fact that his father and mother are kept together and not separated seems to show that he is legitimate. For if they were not truly married, then it is sinful for them to be together.

    Also in Judges 11:2, Jephthah is not mentioned as having brothers, but rather they are mentioned as “Gilead’s wife’s sons”. If the scribe who wrote Samuel indeed knew such, would it not be written?
    In other words why would David be mentioned as one having brothers contrary to the style of the book of Judges. These are some scriptures that mention David having brothers. (1 Samuel 16:13, 17:17, 18, 22, 28. 2 Samuel 13:3, 32)

    Although I know with either leaning one can possibly find endless opportunities to prove whatever choice. It seems to me logical to conclude


    • Thanks for your comment. Interesting verse about David bringing his father and mother to live with him.

      The only thing I would respond with is that in Psalm 51:5, David says he was conceived in sin. If we take this literally it can only mean one thing, David was conceived in some type of illicit relationship. The ancient Jewish scholars understood this to mean exactly that. The only thing they differed on is on what type of illicit relationship did it involve.

      So how did David end up bringing his mother and father to live with him? Well the answer is found in that same passage.

      That is because Psalm 51 was written in the aftermath of David’s sin with Bathsheba as he tried to explain how he ended up doing what he did.

      And David’s own actions explain the verse in 1 Samuel 22. David had an adulterous relationship with a married woman, Bathsheba, and then after she became pregnant, David arranged the death of her husband and then married Bathsheba.

      It is entirely possible that after their illicit relationship, David’s parents (like David and Bathsheba) ended up married.

      I have no doubt David was conceived in some type of illicit sex act, the Bible is clear on that. What we don’t know is the details surrounding it?


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