David, Saul, and God: Rediscovering an Ancient Story by Paul Borgman

By Paul Borgman

The biblical tale of King David and his clash with King Saul (1 and a pair of Samuel) is likely one of the such a lot colourful and perennially renowned within the Hebrew Bible. lately, this tale has attracted loads of scholarly recognition, a lot of it dedicated to exhibiting that David was once a miles much less heroic personality than looks at the floor. certainly, a couple of has painted David as a despicable tyrant. Paul Borgman offers a counter-reading to those stories, via an attentive studying of the narrative styles of the textual content. He makes a speciality of one of many key positive aspects of historical Hebrew narrative poetics -- repeated styles -- taking distinct notice of even the small diversifications every time a development recurs. He argues that such "hearing cues" might have alerted an old viewers to the solutions to such questions as "Who is David?" and "What is so unsuitable with Saul?" The narrative insists on such questions, says Borgman, slowly disclosing solutions via styles of repeated situations and dominant motifs that yield, ultimately, the excellent paintings of storytelling in historical literature. Borgman concludes with a comparability with Homer's storytelling procedure, demontrating that the David tale is certainly a masterpiece and David (as Baruch Halpern has acknowledged) "the first actually glossy human."

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That greatness will become known. 1 The initial angles of vision prepare the audience for the many faces of David, faces that mask a hidden interior. For much of the story, the narrator keeps a veil over David’s true motivations and deepest emotional responses. The mystery of who David is, insisted on by the narrative, is located narratively in an even larger mystery about God. What has God seen in David that makes him ‘‘better’’ than his predecessor Saul, so much better as to help change God’s mind about the divine choice of Saul as king over Israel?

Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed [David], surrounded by his brothers’’ (I, 16:13). The outsider is now encircled by his family—though unknown to them, David is seized on by God: ‘‘now the spirit of the Lord came mightily upon David from that day forward’’ (I, 16:13). The episode ends without a single word or action from David. We have met David, but not really: we know nothing about him except that God likes him—for good reason, apparently, but reason known only to God (I, 16:7). The mystery of God and David are linked: how God thinks and feels will become most clear when we are most certain about the man who delights the divine heart—which happens by the end of the story.

We don’t know if David has understood that what passed for family sacrifice back there, with the prophet, was actually his anointing as Israel’s second king. Presumably a spirit’s coming ‘‘mightily upon David from that day forward’’ (I, 16:13) would have been at least a clue that, if only a sacrifice, this was an occurrence of some significance for the boy. Perhaps in positioning himself to marry into the royal family, he is wittingly or unwittingly in league with God’s initiative in anointing him as Israel’s next king.

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