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No, King David was not a priest.  The priests were from the tribe of Levi.  David was from Judah.

When David sent for the ephod to inquire of the LORD, he asked Abiathar the high priest to bring it.  Presumably the inquiry was through Abiathar, if the precedent of the instruction given to Joshua, the successor to Moses, was relevant.  Joshua was told to inquire of the Lord through the high priest.  Numbers 27:21:

And he [Joshua] shall stand before Eleazar the priest, who shall inquire for him by the judgment of the Urim before the LORD. At his word they shall go out, and at his word they shall come in, both he and all the people of Israel with him, the whole congregation.”

The Urim and Thummim were in the breastpiece of the high priest which was attached to the priest’s ephod.  (Exodus 28:25)  The breastpiece was folded in half to form a pocket to hold the Urim and Thummim.  The Urim and Thummim were probably stones, which possibly glowed to give the answer of God to the inquiry of the priest.

David was not the only one to send for the ephod or the Urim & Thummim to inquire of the LORD.  King Saul also enquired of the LORD via the Urim & Thummim.  (1 Samuel 14:41)

It was a seriously wrong thing to take the responsibilities of a priest to oneself, under the law of Moses.  We see examples of this in the following incidents:

  • King Saul offering the burnt offering and the peace offering which he should have left for Samuel the priest to offer.  Samuel told him he had done foolishly and had not kept the command of the LORD.  1 Sam 13:9-13

So Saul said, “Bring the burnt offering here to me, and the peace offerings.” And he offered the burnt offering.  (10)  As soon as he had finished offering the burnt offering, behold, Samuel came. And Saul went out to meet him and greet him.  (11)  Samuel said, “What have you done?” And Saul said, “When I saw that the people were scattering from me, and that you did not come within the days appointed, and that the Philistines had mustered at Michmash,  (12)  I said, ‘Now the Philistines will come down against me at Gilgal, and I have not sought the favor of the LORD.’ So I forced myself, and offered the burnt offering.”  (13)  And Samuel said to Saul, “You have done foolishly. You have not kept the command of the LORD your God, with which he commanded you. For then the LORD would have established your kingdom over Israel forever.

  • King Uzziah took it upon himself to burn incense on the incense alter and was struck by God with leprosy in the forehead for doing so.  2 Chron 26:16-20:

But when he was strong, he grew proud, to his destruction. For he was unfaithful to the LORD his God and entered the temple of the LORD to burn incense on the altar of incense.  (17)  But Azariah the priest went in after him, with eighty priests of the LORD who were men of valor,  (18)  and they withstood King Uzziah and said to him, “It is not for you, Uzziah, to burn incense to the LORD, but for the priests, the sons of Aaron, who are consecrated to burn incense. Go out of the sanctuary, for you have done wrong, and it will bring you no honor from the LORD God.”  (19)  Then Uzziah was angry. Now he had a censer in his hand to burn incense, and when he became angry with the priests, leprosy broke out on his forehead in the presence of the priests in the house of the LORD, by the altar of incense.  (20)  And Azariah the chief priest and all the priests looked at him, and behold, he was leprous in his forehead! And they rushed him out quickly, and he himself hurried to go out, because the LORD had struck him.

Hebrew 5 and 7 speak of the priesthood of Melchizedek the priest/king.  These chapters in Hebrews point out the likenesses between the roles of Melchizedek and Jesus.  Hebrews 7  makes it very clear that priests do not come from the tribe of Judah, the tribe David was from.  Hebrews 7:11-18:

 Now if perfection had been attainable through the Levitical priesthood (for under it the people received the law), what further need would there have been for another priest to arise after the order of Melchizedek, rather than one named after the order of Aaron?  (12)  For when there is a change in the priesthood, there is necessarily a change in the law as well.  (13)  For the one of whom these things are spoken belonged to another tribe, from which no one has ever served at the altar.  (14)  For it is evident that our Lord was descended from Judah, and in connection with that tribe Moses said nothing about priests.  (15)  This becomes even more evident when another priest arises in the likeness of Melchizedek,  (16)  who has become a priest, not on the basis of a legal requirement concerning bodily descent, but by the power of an indestructible life.  (17)  For it is witnessed of him, “You are a priest forever, after the order of Melchizedek.”  (18)  For on the one hand, a former commandment is set aside because of its weakness and uselessness

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2 Responses to Was King David also a priest that he sent for the ephod to inquire of the Lord?

  1. Alex Baker says:

    Actually this answer is incorrect. King David was very much a priest, and even though he was from the tribe of Judah, he still was connected to the Priesthood. Take for example II Samuel 9:17-18…”‘The Children of King David were priests’ and not, as it is written in the English text (Samuel 8:18, “…and David’s sons were chief rulers”).”King David was a Levite from the Priestly Clan of Eleazar and of the First Priestly Course, Yehoyaribe, assigned to the Tribe of Judah: “Bnei David Cohanim Ayue”. David was indeed a priest, but he was disqualified from building the temple due to the bloodshed that he was responsible for. No king was allowed in the presence of the Ark of the Covenant unless they were Cohen (Priests). (Chronicle 24) This can also be sited in the Book of Maccabees where during Zerubbabel’s time, the Cohen from the course of Yadayah split the priesthood with Yehoyaribe because Yadayah didn’t want to come out of Babylon to serve in the newly built Temple. This is important because it gives insight in the lineages of Mary and Joseph, and backs a lot of early church writings in regards to the priestly courses Mary and Joseph served in. Anne, Mary’s mother was responsible for the “sheep shearing” of the temple sacrifices. Thus the reason her property and present-day church is based on the pool of Bethesda. Joseph’s line was also a priestly line that served as Cohen in the temple. According to many sources (Pseudo Gospel of Matthew/ Infancy Gospel of James, Matthew 1, and Luke), Mary and Joseph’s son would serve as priests. Even more importantly, the High Priest. We know that John the Baptist was the Son of Zechariah was a priest….thus making John a priest. Notice he is a direct cousin of Jesus. Further more, Caiaphas, Jesus’ second cousin was the Current high priest at the time. According to many sources such as the one’s mentioned above, James (Jacob in Hebrew) the brother of Jesus actually served as the High Priest in the temple after Christ’s resurrection. So why is it important to know that David was indeed a priest? Because it legitimizes the priesthood of our messiah as not only being called after the order of Melchitzedek, but also after the Aaronic line of the earthly priesthood that both John the Baptist and Jesus rejected because of the corruption of the temple at the time. We must not take tradition as a means of interpretation of the scriptures, but we must address it ourselves. In Judaism today, it is widely accepted that David was a cohen. We as christians reject it because we believed in the destruction of everything jewish. (for the most part) But we must not reject the historicity of the scriptures god has laid out. Only priests wore ephods as a sign of who they were. This revelation opens the door to many more revelations of how it is important to know the lineages described in the scriptures. They may be boring, but they gave great insight to who certain characters are in our bible. KNOW YOUR ROOTS!

    • Jonathan Morgan says:

      Very little of this argument comes from scripture, and even those parts that do feel to me highly questionable conclusions.

      But more importantly, Jesus being in the Aaronic line does not legitimise the priesthood of the Messiah: instead it calls into question the entire logic used in Hebrews to draw differences between the priesthood of Melchizedek and the priesthood of Aaron. A big part of Jesus’ mandate there is that he comes from a different priesthood and so is able to change the law, act differently and live differently. Surely being a continuation of the Aaronic priesthood completely undermines this? Consider particularly Heb 7:11 – 14, which seems to me to make it quite clear that Jesus was descended from Judah, and so (according to the law of Moses) had nothing to do with being a priest.

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