Psalm 89:20 ,27 NASB

20 “I have found David My servant;With My holy oil I have anointed him,27 “I also shall make him My firstborn, The highest of the kings of the earth.

David was not a firstborn son.

1 Chronicles 2: 13-14 NASB

13 and Jesse became the father of Eliab his firstborn, then Abinadab the second, [g]Shimea the third, 14 Nethanel the fourth, Raddai the fifth, 15 Ozem the sixth, David the seventh;

  • 1
    It says My firstborn, not Jesse's firstborn.
    – Lucian
    Commented Jun 30, 2020 at 22:07

5 Answers 5


The birthright that fell due to the firstborn of each family had three components:

  1. A double portion of the inheritance of land
  2. To be the patriarch or leader of the family
  3. To be the priest of the family

In the case of Jacob's family, this should have gone to Reuben (Gen 49:3, 4). However, the birthright's privileges were split among the other members of Jacob's family: Joseph received a double portion of the promised land; Levi received the priesthood; Judah received the kingship and became the progenitor of Christ (Gen 49:8-10, Matt 1).

There are numerous examples where this normal course of the birthright privilege was changed:

  • Ex 4:22, 23 - Israel is called God's firstborn son. However, Jacob was not firstborn nor was the nation of Israel the first nation nor the greatest; but Jacob was the recipient of God's favors.
  • Num 3:12, 15, 41, 8:18 - the tribe of Levi was appointed priests as part of the Levitical covenant in place of the actual firstborn, Reuben, or the actual firstborn of each family.
  • Num 32:12 - Caleb was the leader of the tribe of Judah during the Exodus despite being a Kennizite.
  • 1 Chron 5:1 - the inheritance of a double portion of land that should have gone to Reuben went to Joseph's sons, Ephraim and Manasseh.
  • Col 1:18 - Jesus is called the firstborn of the dead. Jesus was not the first person resurrected, but Jesus was easily the most important person resurrected.
  • Col 1:15 - Jesus is described as the firstborn of all creation, meaning the most important person.
  • Heb 12:16, 17 (compare Gen 25:33, 34, 27:32, 36) Esau sold his birthright to Jacob and Jacob truly inherited all the benefits of the being the firstborn.
  • Heb 12:23 - all the saved saints are called the "congregation of the firstborn" because of our privileges.

King David is a perfect example of this same phenomenon - the last in a series of sons but was chosen by God to receive the effective birthright and become the progenitor of Christ, despite being the youngest. David, was the favoured son and had the most appropriate character to be king (according to God) and thus was called the "firstborn".

  • I do not see the logic of this. (Not my down-vote.)
    – Nigel J
    Commented Jul 1, 2020 at 7:06
  • 1
    It's allegorical rather than logical. A purely logical person would tell you that the Bible itself is illogical.
    – moron
    Commented Oct 16, 2021 at 7:38

The Hebrew text of Psa. 89:27 literally states,

Even I will make him firstborn, higher than the kings of the earth.

One who is “firstborn” has pre-eminence above all others.1 Just as the nation of Israel was Yahveh’s firstborn,2 and Yahveh would make the nation of Israel “high above all nations that he made,”3 the Messiah, who is David,4 just as he is Israel,5 Yavheh would make firstborn, “higher than the kings of the earth,” for one “David” said in Psa. 18,

43 You have delivered me from the strivings of the people; You have made me the head of the nations; A people I have not known shall serve me. 44 As soon as they hear of me, they shall obey me: the strangers shall submit themselves unto me. NKJV, ©1982

David, the son of Jesse, was not the head of the nations, but only the head of the nation of Israel, nor did other nations serve him. On the other hand, the Lord Jesus Christ is higher than the kings of the earth, and all nations serve (or shall serve) him.


        2 Gen. 49:4–5 cf. Col. 1:18
        2 Exo. 4:22
        3 Deu. 26:19
        4 Jer. 23:5, 30:9; Eze. 34:24; Hos. 3:5
        5 Isa. 49:3; Hos. 11:1 cf. Matt. 2:15

  • 2
    While I do not disagree with your answer it has some gaps - David was king of many nations as evidenced by the huge tribute revenues he collected from Moab, Amam, and many others: 1 Chron 18:2, 6, 2 Sam 8:1, 2, 6, etc. In fact, the part of the prophecy that applied to Christ was V29, I will establish his line forever, his throne as long as the heavens endure.
    – Dottard
    Commented Jul 8, 2020 at 23:38
  • @Dottard—Thank you for the correction regarding nations being conquered by David. Commented Jul 8, 2020 at 23:44

I want to say first, I really appreciate the full answer of Der Übermensch, fantastic answer and in harmony with not only the Bible's message but the intent of the text itself.

I just wanted to emphasize further, that the Bible's author, referred to in this passage, has the rights to do as he pleases. I have no issue at all with this because he's righteous and just, I wouldn't trust anyone else except who he's authorized.

If the author of the passage wants to make someone a firstborn of anything, does he not have the power and right to proclaim he will and following to do so?

It says "I shall make him my firstborn." That's the author making the plan known. Taking someone out of their place to become something he has purposed. Is that not his name sake, YHWH, he causes to become? The aspect of the present tense "I AM" gets emphasized at the loss of the future tense "I will become" too often. His name is a verb, ancient Hebrew verbs are conjugated through context, and this is an example of that. He is saying he will cause David to become his firstborn, even though naturally he is not anyone's firstborn.

Best wishes 🙂

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    – agarza
    Commented May 20 at 13:42

Legally, firstborn sons receive a double portion of possessions.

Deuteronomy 21:17 He must acknowledge the son of his unloved wife as the firstborn by giving him a double share of all he has.

Figuratively, a firstborn son is the favored one over the father's other sons.

Joseph's first born was Manasseh. Before Israel died, he claimed Joseph's two sons as his own and blessed them in Genesis 48:14

But Israel reached out his right hand and put it on Ephraim’s head, though he was the younger, and crossing his arms, he put his left hand on Manasseh’s head, even though Manasseh was the firstborn. Israel favored Ephraim as the firstborn over Manasseh.

Jeremiah 31:9 I am Israel's father, and Ephraim is my firstborn son.

Similarly God favored David as the firstborn over his brothers in Psalm 89:27.


David wasn’t a biological son of Jesse. And his mother maybe wasn’t the mother of earlier sons of Jesse either.

David himself states he was conceived in sin (out of wedlock?)

Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, And in sin my mother conceived me. New King James Version PS51:5

Also he states that he were monogeneous (all genes from one parent only, and him being a male it has to be his father as only males have Y chromosome):

ῥῦσαι ἀπὸ ῥομφαίας τὴν ψυχήν μου, καὶ ἐκ χειρὸς κυνὸς τὴν μονογενῆ μου· Swete's Septuagint Ps22:20

Rescue from the the sword my soul and from the hand promiscuous my monogeneous [genome]

Here I could not find an adequate and relevant translation, so above translation into English is mine.

Herewith we are making a case that Nahash could be argued as David's biological father and Jesse as the adoptive one, with a possible motivation by God to infuse the qualities of a successful military leader into the lineage of the king of Judah.

Nahash was a king of the Ammonites, a group often in conflict with Israel, yet possessing strong military leaders. This military prowess could be seen as beneficial for David's lineage, particularly as he was to lead the Israelites in many battles. The Ammonites and the tribe of Judah had intertwined histories, with land disputes often at the center of their conflicts. The Ammonites claimed rights to parts of the land of Canaan based on their descent from Lot and their historical occupation of the land (Deuteronomy 2:19).

In the time of Samuel, the Israelites demanded a king to lead them like other nations, signaling a transition from a tribal confederation to a monarchy. This request was granted in the form of Saul, and later David took over (1 Samuel 12:12-13). The need for a king arose from the necessity of organized military leadership and governance, and a leader of Ammonite descent like Nahash could be seen as meeting these needs due to the Ammonites' known military capabilities.

The assertion that David was not the biological son of Jesse but was instead the son of Nahash can be inferred from several passages. For instance, the cryptic mention of Abigail as the daughter of Nahash in 2 Samuel 17:25 may suggest a closer relationship between David and Nahash.

Furthermore, Psalm 51 provides a window into David's own perception of his sinful nature from birth (Psalm 51:5). The emphasis on sinfulness from conception could be seen as an allusion to a controversial or non-traditional lineage.

Finally, the questioning of David's lineage in 1 Samuel 17:58 could imply uncertainty or ambiguity about his paternal ancestry.

This hypothesis suggests a deliberate divine intervention to strengthen Israel through the qualities of a formidable leader like Nahash, thus ensuring the survival and success of David's kingship and the people of Israel.

So David can indeed be biologically a first born son to his biological mother, and biological(?) father(?) and as an adoptive son to Jessy not be the oldest son of Jesse.

  • 1
    If you are correct about David where is your proof? You have made an assertion but with no evidence or logic to back it. You might be right or you might be wrong but without references we cannot see where you are coming from.
    – C. Stroud
    Commented Aug 4, 2023 at 9:56
  • Thanks for your attention. I’m happy to do so. Just bear with me a bit I will extend my answer and include the quotes.
    – grammaplow
    Commented Aug 4, 2023 at 17:07
  • 1
    These things can take time.
    – C. Stroud
    Commented Aug 4, 2023 at 17:10
  • I see that you saw my other answer to a related question. So I just need to get those quotes rearranged to have a relevant narrative here.
    – grammaplow
    Commented Aug 4, 2023 at 21:29
  • 1
    You say, "D' wasn't a biological son of Jesse". But 1 Samuel says "D' was the son of an E' of Bethlehem in Judah named Jesse". I do not think you resolve this difference clearly. If "born in sin" is because "all sinned" then "born in sin" is not to do with "out of wedlock". For "all sinned" see Romans 5 esp' verse 12.
    – C. Stroud
    Commented Nov 4, 2023 at 12:01

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