Z The Holy Qur'an
QURANIC STORIES: The Story of David
David was a shepherd whom God chose to be not only His messenger but also the King of His people. This came about in a strange way.
After Moses passed away the chiefs of the Israelites approached the aged Prophet Samuel and asked him to appoint a king who would lead them in their fight for the cause of their Lord. Samuel told them he was not convinced they would want to fight Goliath, the powerful enemy. [Bismillah al-rahman al-rahim] 'How can we not fight him,' they replied, 'when he has driven our people out of their homes and separated parents from their children?'
Samuel, under God's command, appointed Saul as king. The chiefs were not happy with the appointment, but Samuel said that Saul would get them back the Ark which contained the sacred relics of the house of Moses and Aaron and fragments from the divine tablets given to Moses. The chiefs were satisfied and joined the army of Saul.
Saul warned his army that God had commanded them not to drink the water of the river when they halted by it; one could at best take a sip of it. But despite the warning, most of them drank to their fill to quench their thirst. With their bellies full and bloated, they were unable to fight Goliath and his army.
Saul was left with just a few believers who decided to put up a fight against Goliath. David, then a young man with hardly any experience in fighting, was one of those who stood by Saul. He challenged Goliath, who laughed at his audacity. But in the encounter, David slayed Goliath and his men were routed. As a reward for his bravery, David was made King of the Israelites.
David's rule was just and good; the mountains praised him at sunrise and sunset and the birds sang his praises while in flight. His Kingdom prospered and became strong because of his wisdom and vision. He was given Zahur, or the Psalms, and he was in particular charged by God to keep the scales of justice even. As the Quran says:
[Bismillah al-rahman al-rahim] O David! God made you a viceregent on earth so that you may judge properly between men and men and not be misled by lust within your heart. Remember, those who stray from the right path will suffer grievous penalty when accounts are taken. [38:26]
Two intruders broke into David's private sanctuary one day, climbing the high walls surrounding it. He eas taken aback, but before he could apprehend them, they pleaded with him, for they had come to him, they said, only to get justice. A quarrel had taken place between the two brothers and one had injured the other. They wanted David to decide who was at fault. One of the brothers had ninety-nine ewes, and the other had only one. The former demanded that the latter hand over his ewe; when his brother refused, he overpowered and assaulted him.
David told the injured one that he had been wronged, but life is like that: the strong always oppressed the weak. The oppressors were no doubt in the wrong, and they would be punished by God. He explained that only believers were on the right path, for they feared the wrath of God and thus acted justly.
On another occasion, a herd of sheep belonging to one person had wandered at night into somebody else's field and eaten up the crops. The owner of the field approached David for justice: David's son, Solomon, was with him at the time. David decreed that, as compensation, the owner of the sheep must hand over the sheep to the person who had lost his crops. Solomion disagreed with his father; he said the compensation was not fair. For the loss of just one year's crops, it would not be just for the whole herd of sheep to be handed over. The owner should get back the sheep as soon as the owner of the field had recovered the loss of his harvest. David upheld Solomon's view, because it was, as the Quran points out, based on [Bismillah al-rahman al-rahim] 'fuller understanding of the matter'.
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