The young David as depicted by Rembrandt
Sunday, February 10, 2008

The End of David

II Samuel; I Kings 1-4. The picture above is David in old age.

Samuel 1. David learns of Saul’s death. The version given differs from that in I Samuel 31. A soldier tells David that he killed Saul, and David says that he should not have killed the Lord’s anointed, and has the soldier killed. David then launches into a poetic elegy of Saul and Jonathan.

Samuel 2. David is consecrated king at Hebron, and Abner makes Ishbaal king over Israel. Israel and Judah go to war and have a battle at Gibeon.

3 starts off with a list of David’s children, then goes into the rift between Abner and Ishbaal and Abner’s negotiations with David. Joab has Abner murdered, something he will regret in I Kings. Ishbaal is also murdered in chapter 4.

David is ultimately anointed king over a united kingdom of Judah and Israel, and brings the Ark into Jerusalem. He wishes to build a temple and Nathan the propher agrees at first, then he is told in a dream that David is too blood-stained to build a temple.

In 8:15 we have the start of David’s TO for the kingdom.

It is at 11 that we have David and Bathsheba. David sees Bathsheba bathing on her rooftop. Maybe this is annotated someplace, but it seems strange that she is bathing where she can be seen. Maybe there is some exhibitionism here; maybe there is some technological reason why she’s on the rooftop. (Note: I just checked my translation, and David sees her from his roof. He could have been peeping through her window.) David sends for her, and she becomes pregnant. David tries to cover it up by putting Uriah, her husband, in a position where he will have sexual relations with her. Uriah, who is a Hittite, and presumably not Jewish, is observing a religious rule about continence while on military duty, so he doesn’t have sex with Bathsheba. In order to avoid scandal David has Uriah put into a position where he will be killed. Nathan gives David God’s reprimand over this. Ultimately Solomon, who is Bathsheba’s second son, is born. He is a direct ancestor of Jesus.

At 13 we have the story of Absalom. This begins with Ammon’s violation of Tamar, his sister. David’s partiality toward his children ultimately ends in tragedy with Ammon dead, and Absalom dead.

At 16 David is cursed by Shimei, and David pledges not to punish him for his curse. Shimei too will come to a bad end in I Kings.

21 through 24 are supplementary information. Chapter 22 is a long psalm by David. Chapter 23 contains David’s last words, and long passabe about David’s champions. Chapter 24 is about the census, David’s punishment, and the building of an altar to Yahweh on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite.

I Kings 1. David is given a beautiful girl to keep him warm. As Mel Brooks might say “It’s good to be the king.” We also have an intrigue involving Adonijah, Nathan, and Bathsheba. Adonijah wants to supplant Solomon and be heir to the kingdom. This alarms Nathan and Bathsheba, the mother of Solomon. David arranges to have Solomon consecrated as king in advance of his expected demise. (A similar situation occurs in the movie and play Becket.) Adonijah flees, and Solomon reassures him that if he behaves, he will live.

In 2 David dies, but before he passes on he gives Solomon his enemies list. Joab, for killing Abner and Amasa, and Shimei, for cursing David, make the list. Adonijah screws up by asking for Abishag of Shunem in marriage. As a wife of the deceased king this would give Adonijah a claim on the kingship. So he gets whacked. Joab and Shimei also get whacked. (Benaiah is Solomon’s Luca Brasi or Al Neri.)

In 3 we have Solomon’s dream in which he is given the gift of wisdom, and of his judgment on the two prostitutes and the baby.

Chapter 4 lists the TO of Solomon’s kingdom.

What is noteworthy here is that David and Solomon act like Vito and Michael Corleone. David’s last words to Solomon, are reminiscent of Vito’s advice to Michael about the five families towards the end of his life. Solomon carries out the executions with all the ruthlessness of Michael Corleone at the end of Godfather I.

Next up, selections from the Psalms.