King David…. One of the Bible’s most inspiring and appealing personalities. But did he really exist? We live in a time when all sorts of things are being doubted, and that is alright.
Some historians assume that King David actually existed, but that (as with King Arthur, for example) many of the stories about his life are more likely to be apocryphal and they should not be considered hard historiography. So what? There is still such a thing as faith. And it is a reassuring and lovely story, which is so much needed in our troubled times.
King David, besides being a good man, a naughty husband and a harpist, was also a brilliant poet. His psalms are still among the finest that poetry has ever produced. His influence on art and certainly on music was and is immense. His psalms have therefore been set to music by many composers, think Bach, Allegri, Schütz, Strawinski, Kodaly, among others…. which is one of the reasons I started looking into David again. Whether or not he existed does not really matter. Inspiration does not need scientific evidence and art does not need to be tested against facts.
A small (with an emphasis on ‘small’!) selection of what’s out there. The order is random.
David’s harp playing soothed Saul’s mind and spirit.
Gerrit van Honthorst (1590-1656), King David Playing the Harp (1611), Centraal Museum, Utrecht, Holland