David, the King

January 24, 2022
Monday of the Third Week in Ordinary Time
Memorial of Saint Francis de Sales, Bishop and Doctor of the Church

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, our readings place us at watershed moments in the lives of David and Jesus.

All the tribes of Israel came to David in Hebron and said:
“Here we are, your bone and your flesh.
In days past, when Saul was our king, 
it was you who led the children of Israel out and brought them back.
And the LORD said to you, ‘You shall shepherd my people Israel 
and shall be commander of Israel.’”
When all the elders of Israel came to David in Hebron, 
King David made an agreement with them there before the LORD, 
and they anointed him king of Israel.

2 Samuel 5:1-4

In 2 Samuel 5, David fully assumes the kingship through the approbation of the community. The scene marks the culmination of his rise to power and “the beginning of the rest of his life”.

Through our readings in Samuel until now, we have ascended with David to the pinnacle of his life. We are about to begin weeks of moving down “the other side of the mountain”.


Scholars generally see the David narrative in two primary units, the Rise of David (I Sam. 16:1—II Sam. 5:10) and the Succession Narrative (II Sam. 9:1—20:26; I Kings 1:1—2:46). Chapters 5:11—8:18, fall between two larger units. Whereas the first presents David in his ascendancy, the second presents David in his demise and expresses pathos and ambiguity. Our chapters thus come after the raw vitality of the rise of David and before the terrible pathos of the succession narrative. They show the painful process whereby this beloved chieftain is transformed into a hardened monarch, who now has more power than popular affection.

Walter Brueggemann, First and Second Samuel

In our Gospel, Jesus also comes to a sort of “continental divide”. But rather than community approbation, Jesus encounters the condemnation of the scribes who have come from Jerusalem to assess him.

The scribes who had come from Jerusalem said of Jesus, 
“He is possessed by Beelzebul,” and
“By the prince of demons he drives out demons.”

Mark 3:22

From this moment in his life, Jesus too launches into his “kingship”, one that looks very different from David’s. The ensuing chapters of Samuel will reveal how David struggles and succumbs to the temptations of power and domination. The Gospels, on the other hand, describe Jesus’s “kingdom” as one of humility, mercy, and love for those who are poor and suffering.

Only through faith can we understand the inverse power of God present in the Life, Death and Resurrection of Jesus, and in our own lives. Jesus, the “new David”, is anointed in the Spirit to reveal and incorporate us into the kingdom of God.


Prose: from Immanuel Jakobovits who was the Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth from 1967 to 1991.

To those without faith
there are no answers.
To those with faith, 
there are no questions.

Music: King David, music by Herbert Howells, sung by Sarah Connolly from a poem by Walter de la Mare

King David – Walter de la Mare

King David was a sorrowful man:
    No cause for his sorrow had he;
    And he called for the music of a hundred harps,
    To ease his melancholy.

    They played till they all fell silent:
    Played-and play sweet did they;
    But the sorrow that haunted the heart of King David
    They could not charm away.

    He rose; and in his garden
    Walked by the moon alone,
    A nightingale hidden in a cypress-tree
    Jargoned on and on.

    King David lifted his sad eyes
    Into the dark-boughed tree-
    ''Tell me, thou little bird that singest,
    Who taught my grief to thee?'

    But the bird in no wise heeded
    And the king in the cool of the moon
    Hearkened to the nightingale's sorrowfulness,
    Till all his own was gone.

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