David foreshadowed Christ many times throughout his life. Countless parallels can be drawn between the greatest king in the Old Testament and the truly greatest king in the New. Reflecting upon the parallels between Christ and David leads to a deeper understanding of the continuity of salvation history.
David first enters the history of the Jews as a humble shepherd, assumed by all to be the least probable person to become a mighty king. As a shepherd, he foreshadows Christ, the Good Shepherd, who leads his people safely through dangers into the midst of plenty and lived a hidden life before he began his ministry. David defeated the giant Goliath when the rest of the Israelite army was too afraid to face the Philistine warrior. In like manner, Christ conquered Satan through what seemed to be apparent weakness, dying an ignominious death on the cross.
Another similarity is when Saul, knowing that David would supplant him as king, tried to kill David even after David had served him faithfully. Saul persecuted him greatly, but when Saul found himself at David’s mercy, David spared his life and announced that he “would not put forth my hand against my lord, for he is the Lord’s anointed” (1 Samuel 24:10). So also did Christ, when persecuted unjustly by the Jews, continue serving them all His life and even gave his own life in atonement for their sins. He told them that He came to save them, but when the Jews rejected Him due to their hardness of heart, Christ still desired their salvation and mourned the sufferings that they were to undergo, similar to David mourning the deaths of Saul and Jonathan. Just as David was merciful to the house of Saul which persecuted him, so also does Christ offer salvation even to the ones who rejected him.
God appointed David not only as king of Juda, but of all Israel. He ruled his kingdom well, and in spite of multiple serious sins, he was undoubtedly the greatest king in the history of Israel. He defeated all his enemies who were a threat to the kingdom and made Israel safe, secure, and prosperous. In a similar way, Christ has founded a kingdom that shall conquer hell and all the forces of evil which assail it. Jerusalem, David’s capital city, foreshadows Heaven as well as Christ’s mystical bride, the Church. Yet Christ’s heavenly kingdom is eternal, and His kingship shall endure forever.
David is clearly a type of Christ. Almost the entirety of David’s life can be shown to point to Christ’s life on earth and reign in Heaven. While David’s flaws are not found in our Lord, David’s virtues and successes are infinitely surpassed in the person of Christ. By foreshadowing the Messiah, David gave the ancients a glimpse of the coming redeemer and exhibits for us the continuity, beauty, and glory of God’s plan for our salvation.