He was apprenticed to a flax-dresser and rope-maker at Carmarthen, afterwards spent three years at Bristol, and finally married and settled down at Carmarthen. Long connected with the Calvinistic Methodists, he began to preach at the age of forty-six, and was one of the first lay-preachers ordained ministers in South Wales in 1811.
He helped to establish the "Home Mission", but was forced to retire in 1828 after suffering a stroke. He died on 2 September 1834, and was buried at Llangunnor.
His best-known hymns include "O fryniau Caersalem ceir gweled" ("From the hills of Jerusalem are seen").
E. Wyn James, ‘David Charles (1762–1834), Caerfyrddin: Diwinydd, Pregethwr, Emynydd’, Cylchgrawn Hanes (Cymdeithas Hanes y Methodistiaid Calfinaidd)/Journal of the Historical Society of the Presbyterian Church of Wales, 36 (2012), 13–56. ISSN 0141-5255.