Beyond this, the full range of possible interpretations is available. The late John Bright, in his History of Israel (1981), takes Samuel at face value. Donald B. Redford, however, sees all reconstructions from biblical sources for the United Monarchy period as examples of "academic wishful thinking". Thomas L. Thompson rejects the historicity of the biblical narrative: "The history of Palestine and of its peoples is very different from the Bible's narratives, whatever political claims to the contrary may be. An independent history of Judea during the Iron I and Iron II periods has little room for historicizing readings of the stories of I-II Samuel and I Kings." Amihai Mazar however, concludes that based on recent archeological findings, like those in City of David, Khirbet Qeiyafa, Tel Dan, Tel Rehov, Khirbet en-Nahas and others "the deconstruction of United Monarchy and the devaluation of Judah as a state in 9th century is unacceptable interpretation of available historic data". According to Mazar, based on archeological evidences, the United Monarchy can be described as a "state in development".
The authors and editors of Samuel and Chronicles did not aim to record history, but to promote David's reign as inevitable and desirable, and for this reason there is little about David that is concrete and undisputed. The archaeological evidence indicates that in the 10th century BCE, the time of David, Judah was sparsely inhabited and Jerusalem was no more than a small village; over the following century it slowly evolved from a highland chiefdom to a kingdom, but always overshadowed by the older and more powerful kingdom of Israel to the north. The biblical evidence likewise indicates that David's Judah was something less than a full-fledged monarchy: it often calls him negid, for Example, meaning "prince" or "chief", rather than melek, meaning "king"; the biblical David sets up none of the complex bureaucracy that a kingdom needs (even his army is made up of volunteers), and his followers are largely related to him and from his small home-area around Hebron.
The Tel Dan Stele, an inscribed stone erected by a king of Damascus in the late 9th/early 8th centuries BCE to commemorate his victory over two enemy kings, contains the phrase ביתדוד, bytdwd, which most scholars translate as "House of David". Other scholars, such as Anson Rainey have challenged this reading, but it is likely that this is a reference to a dynasty of the Kingdom of Judah which traced its ancestry to a founder named David. The Mesha Stele from Moab, dating from approximately the same period, may also contain the name David in two places, although this is less certain than the mention in the Tel Dan inscription.
David (Arabic داود, Dāwūd) is a highly important figure in Islam as one of the major Prophets sent by God to guide the Israelites. David is mentioned several times in the Quran, often with his son Solomon. The actual Arabic equivalent to the Hebrew Davīd is Dawūd. In the Qur'an: David killed Goliath (2:251), a giant soldier in the Philistine army. When David killed Goliath, God granted him kingship and wisdom and enforced it (38:20). David was made God's "vicegerent on earth" (38:26) and God further gave David sound judgment (21:78; 37:21–24, 26) as well as the Psalms, regarded as books of Divine wisdom (4:163; 17:55). The birds and mountains united with David in uttering praise to God (21:79; 34:10; 38:18), while God made iron soft for David (34:10), God also instructed David in the art of fashioning chain-mail out of iron (21:80); an indication of the first use of Wrought iron, this knowledge gave David a major advantage over his bronze and cast iron-armed opponents, not to mention the cultural and economic impact. Together with Solomon, David gave judgment in a case of damage to the fields (21:78) and David judged the matter between two disputants in his prayer chamber (38:21–23). Since there is no mention in the Qur'an of the wrong David did to Uriah nor any reference to Bathsheba, Muslims reject this narrative.
Critical Bible scholarship holds that the biblical account of David's rise to power is a political apology—an answer to contemporary charges against him, of his involvement in murders and regicide.
For a considerable period, starting in the 15th century and continuing until the 19th, French playing card manufacturers assigned to each of the court cards names taken from history or mythology. In this context, the King of Spades was often known as "David".
The Book of Samuel calls David a skillful harp (lyre) player and "the sweet psalmist of Israel." Yet, while almost half of the Psalms are headed "A Psalm of David" (also translated as "to David" or "for David") and tradition identifies several with specific events in David’s life (e.g., Psalms 3, 7, 18, 34, 51, 52, 54, 56, 57, 59, 60, 63 and 142), the headings are late additions and no psalm can be attributed to David with certainty.