For most of his reign, David was obliged to conduct many bloody but, in the main, skilful campaigns to establish full sovereignty thereby to foster the unity of his people within a stable and wealthy economy. It was, therefore, not until much later in his life that he resolved to build a permanent temple - 'A House for Yaweh' - within which to retain the Ark. One is led to suppose that, in size, the proposed temple was to take the form more of a Royal chapel than a full scale temple in the accepted sense; nevertheless, David's aim was to make it the centrepiece of his proposed seat of government, as well as the religious focus of the Jewish nation. Hitherto, there had been no co-ordination of the country's administrative affairs, except in military matters. David was resolved to put this right.

As a first step, David seized the small township of Jerusalem (its ancient name was Shalem) with the intention of creating his country's capital. He did this for two reasons: first, for the political reason that Jerusalem was located close to the territorial division between the tribes of Judah and Israel; second, because he was attracted to the unusually conical shape of one of the three hills lying just north of the township. Later it came to be known as Mount Moriah, with Mount Zion to the west and Mount of Olives to the east. Another advantage was that Mount Moriah had its own ample water supply which was derived from streams coursing down the Kidron and Tyropoeon Valleys, and which already contributed to a small reservoir in Old Jerusalem, known as the Siloam Pool.

David's idea was to create a centre of government which was to include a Judgement or Mercy Seat (or throne), a Treasury (later known as the House of the Forest of Lebanon), Law Courts, quarters for priests, administrators, scribes, guards, servants, storage, archives and, of course, the royal apartments. Finally, the whole complex was to be enclosed within a fortified citadel on top of the mount which, if need be, could be capable of prolonged defence. The ultimate aim was to develop and convert the township of Jerusalem into a walled city embracing that citadel.