After graduating from Johns Hopkins University with BA/MA degrees in economics David pursued studies in applied economics at UC Davis in the late 80s. While in Davis he attended Grace Valley Christian Center (then known as "Davis Evangelical Church") where he met his wife-to-be, Ruth. After marriage they left the church and he later wrote "Regarding Grace Valley Christian Center".

After leaving GVCC, David and Ruth joined Covenant Reformed Church of Sacramento. With a stop in the Philadelphia area the Merkels are currently living near Baltimore, where David works as an investment analyst. From 2003-2007, he was a leading commentator at the investment website He also serves as an elder at Trinity Reformed Presbyterian Church in Beltsville, Maryland. David maintains two blogs: The Tav Blog "The Musings of David Merkel away from Economics" and The Aleph Blog, with stated purposes of "teaching investors about better investing through risk control, and tying all of the markets into a coherent whole." He and Ruth have eight children.