Jesse was the father of David. He had eight sons. He was an Ephrathite of Bethlehem in Judah. As with many parents of famous children, what we know of Jesse comes largely by way of information about his son David. If it’s true, however, that “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree,” then Jesse must have been someone with a heart that was deeply devoted to God.
Jesse had eight sons, the eighth of which was David. After the Lord rejected Saul as king, the Lord sent Samuel to Bethlehem to anoint one of Jesse’s sons as king. All seven of Jesse’s oldest sons were brought before Samuel, but it was Jesse’s eighth son, David, whom Samuel anointed as the next king (1 Samuel 16). Soon after this, Saul sent messengers to Jesse asking him to send David to the palace to be his royal musician.
Jesse’s three oldest sons joined Saul’s army to fight against the Philistines (1 Samuel 17). Jesse sent David to carry food to his brothers and their commander. While David was there, he fought and killed the giant Goliath, establishing himself as a great warrior in the eyes of the Israelite people. Later David became king of Israel, and Jesse would forever become known as the father of David.
For a time, David left his father, Jesse, and his mother in the care of the king of Moab (1 Samuel 22:3–4), the country just across the Dead Sea from David’s tribe of Judah. The Moabites were often enemies of the Israelites, but David needed a place for them to stay beyond the reach of Saul, who was seeking to kill David.