Return to About Mormons home

David, Prophetic Figure of Last Days

by Victor L. Ludlow

King David (c. 1000 B.C.) remains today one of the most renowned Old Testament figures. His personality, spiritual sensitivity, creative abilities, military victories, and leadership carried him to the pinnacle of popularity. He had the potential to become an ideal king, but his kingship deteriorated after his adultery with Bathsheba and his involvement in Uriah's death. However, prophecy states that a model ruler in the last days will be "raised up" from David's lineage.

The Prophet Joseph Smith taught that "the throne and kingdom of David is to be taken from him and given to another by the name of David in the last days, raised up out of his lineage" (TPJS, p. 339). Elder Orson Hyde, in his dedicatory prayer on the Mount of Olives, October 24, 1841, prophesied that the Jews would return to Jerusalem and that in time a leader called David, "even a descendant from the loins of ancient David, [would] be their king" (HC 4:457).

This predicted figure corresponds to a promised messianic servant. Hosea, speaking shortly before the loss of northern Israel, foretold that Israelites would return in the latter days "and seek the LORD their God, and David their king" (Hosea 3:5). Jeremiah prophesied of Israel and Judah's future righteousness, and of "David their king, whom I [the LORD] will raise up unto them" (Jer. 30:9; cf. 23:5; 33:15-22). And in Ezekiel it is written, "And I will set up one shepherd over them, and he shall feed them, even my servant David; he shall feed them, and he shall be their shepherd. And I the LORD will be their God, and my servant David a prince among them" (Ezek. 34:23-24; cf. also 44:1-3).

Speaking to Joseph Smith, the angel Moroni 2 cited Old Testament passages telling of significant figures who would be involved with Christ's millennial reign (JS—H 1:40). As prophesied in Isaiah, it appears that two persons are spoken of, a "rod" and a "root" (11:1, 10)—one a leader "on whom there is laid much power," the other a person with special priesthood keys (D&C 113:3-6). These leaders are believed by some to be two forerunners, spoken of in rabbinic literature, one from Joseph and one from Judah (Encyclopedia Judaica, 11:1411).

Although noble attributes and spiritual powers characterize both of these messianic servants, Jesus Christ exemplifies these qualities perfectly (D&C 113:1-2). Jesus is the exemplar prophet, priest, and king. He identified himself as the prophet "like unto Moses" (Deut. 18:15; Acts 3:22-23; 3 Ne. 20:23) and was a high priest after the order of Melchizedek (Heb. 5:9-10; 7:15-22). Jesus is King of Kings (Rev. 19:16), greater than all other leaders of all time. Some see in Jesus Christ the complete fulfillment of the prophecy of a future David. Others feel that, while the titles and functions of the future Davidic king could apply to Jesus, there will also be another righteous king by the name of David in the last days, a leader from the loins of David (and thus of Judah).

(See Basic Beliefs; The Gospel of Jesus Christ home page; The Last Days home page)

Encyclopedia of Mormonism, Vol. 1, David, Prophetic Figure of Last Days

Copyright 1992 by Macmillan Publishing Company

All About Mormons