Monday, May 27, 5963

Israel - David (c. 1037-967 BC) - Psalms

Israel is a country in Western Asia located on the eastern edge of the Mediterranean Sea. It borders Lebanon in the north, Syria in the northeast, Jordan in the east, and Egypt on the southwest, and contains geographically diverse features within its relatively small area.

The West Bank and Gaza Strip are also adjacent. With a population of about 7.28 million, the majority of whom are Jew of many backgrounds, Israel is the world's only Jewish state.

It is also home to the substantial Arab Israeli population, including most numerously Muslims, Christians and Druze. Other religious and/or ethnic minority groups also reside.

The modern state of Israel has its roots in the Land of Israel (Eretz Yisrael), a concept central to Judaism since at least 1000 BC.

[Jacob Wrestling with the Angel, Gustave Dore (1832-1883)]

Over the past three thousand years, the name "Israel" has meant in common and religious usage both the Land of Israel and the entire Jewish nation. The name originated from a verse in the Bible (Genesis, 32:28) where Jacob is renamed Israel after successfully wrestling with an angel of God.

[David, Michelangelo (1475-1564)]

David (HebrewStandard Dawid Tiberian Dāwîḏ, Arabic: Dāwūd, "beloved"), was the second king of the united Kingdom of Israel according to the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament. He is depicted as a righteous king -- although not without fault -- as well as an acclaimed warrior, musician and poet (he is traditionally credited with the authorship of many of the Psalms). The biblical chronology places his life c.1037 - 967 BC, his reign over Judah c.1007 - 1000 BC, and over Judah and Israel c.1000 - 967 BC.

There is little in the archaeological record to substantiate the bible's detailed narrative, but his story, as recorded in the books of Samuel (from I Samuel 16 onwards) and Chronicles, have been of central importance to Jewish and Christian culture

God withdraws his favor from King Saul and sends the prophet Samuel to Jesse, "for I have provided for myself a king among his sons." The choice falls upon David, the youngest son, who is guarding his father's sheep: "He was ruddy, and fine in appearance with handsome features. And the Lord said [to Samuel], 'Anoint him; for this is he.'"
[edit]David plays the lyre before Saul

[Saul and David, Julius Kronberg (1850-1921))

Saul is tormented by an evil spirit. His servants suggest he send for David, "skillful in playing [the harp], a man of valor, a man of war, prudent in speech, and a man of good presence; and the LORD is with him." So David enters Saul's service, and finds favour in his sight, "and whenever the evil spirit was upon Saul, David took the harp and played it with his hand; so Saul was refreshed, and was well, and the evil spirit departed from him." (1 Samuel 16:14-23)

[David and Goliath, Michelangelo Caravaggio (1571-1610)]

The Israelites are facing the army of the Philistines. David, the youngest of the sons of Jesse, brings food to his brothers who are with Saul. He hears the Philistine champion, the giant Goliath, challenge the Israelites to send their own champion to decide the outcome in single combat, and insists that he can defeat Goliath. Saul sends for him, and reluctantly allows him to make the attempt. David is indeed victorious, felling Goliath with a stone from his sling, at which the Philistines flee in terror and the Israelites win a great victory. David brings the head of Goliath to Saul, who asks him whose son he is, and David replies, "I am the son of your servant Jesse the Bethlehemite."

Saul makes David a commander over his armies and gives him his daughter Michal in marriage. David is successful in many battles, and the women say, "Saul has slain his thousands, and David his tens of thousands." David's popularity awakens Saul's fears -- "What more can he have but the kingdom?" -- and by various stratagems the king seeks David's death. But the plots of the jealous king all proved futile, and only endear the young hero the more to the people, and especially to Saul's son Jonathan, one of those who love David. Warned by Jonathan of Saul's intention to kill him, David flees into the wilderness.

In the wilderness David gathers a band of followers and becomes the champion of the oppressed while evading the pursuit of Saul. He accepts Ziklag as a fief from the Philistine king Achish of Gath, but continues to secretly champion the Israelites. Achish marches against Saul, but David is excused from the war on the accusation of the Philistine nobles that his loyalty to their cause cannot be trusted.

Saul and Jonathan are killed in a battle with the Philistines, and David mourns their death.

Following this, David goes up to Hebron, where he is anointed (messiah) king over Judah; in the north, Saul's son Ish-Bosheth is king over the tribes of Israel.

War ensues between Ish-Bosheth and David, and Ish-Bosheth is assassinated. The assassins bring forward the head of Ish-Bosheth to David hoping for reward, but David executes them for their crime against their king.

Yet with the death of the son of Saul, the elders of Israel come to Hebron, and David is anointed King of Israel and Judah. Upon these events he is 30 years old.

David conquers the Jebusite fortress of Jerusalem and makes it his capital, "and Hiram king of Tyre sent messengers to David, and cedar trees, also carpenters and masons who built David a house."

[Depiction of the Ark of the Covenant in Raiders of the Lost Ark, Steven Spielberg (b. 1946)]

David brings the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem, intending to build a temple.

God, speaking to the prophet Nathan, forbids it, saying the temple must wait for a future generation. But God makes a covenant with David, promising that he will establish the house of David eternally: "Your throne shall be established forever."

Then David establishes a mighty empire, conquering Zobah and Aram (modern Syria), Edom and Moab (roughly modern Jordan), the lands of the Philistines, and much more.

David lies with Bathsheba, "the wife of Uriah the Hittite," and Bathsheba becomes pregnant. David sends for Uriah, who is with the Israelite army at the siege of Rabbah, that he might lie with her and so conceal the identity of the child's father, Uriah refuses to do so while his companions are in the field of battle. David then sends Uriah back to Joab, the commander, with a message instructing him to abandon Uriah on the battlefield, "that he may be struck down, and die." And so David marries Bathsheba and she bears his child, "but the thing that David had done displeased the LORD."

The prophet Nathan speaks out against David's sin, saying: "Why have you despised the word of the LORD, to do what is evil in his sight? You have smitten Uriah the Hittite with the sword, and have taken his wife to be your wife." And although David repents, God "struck the child ... and it became sick ... [And] on the seventh day the child died." David then leaves his lamentations, dresses himself, and eats. His servants ask why he lamented when the baby was alive, but leaves off when it is dead, and David replies: "While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept; for I said, who knows whether the LORD will be gracious to me, that the child may live? But now he is dead, why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he will not return to me."

[Absalom caught by the hair (upper right) in a Medieval manuscript]

David’s beloved son Absalom rebels against his father. The armies of Absalom and David come to battle in the Wood of Ephraim, and Absalom is caught by his hair in the branches of an oak. David’s general Joab kills him as he hangs there. When the news of the victory is brought to David he does not rejoice, but is instead shaken with grief: “O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! Would I had died instead of you, O Absalom, my son, my son!”

[David playing the harp in a Medieval manuscript]

Israel - Jewish Chant

David is described as the author of the majority of the Psalms. One of the most famous is Psalm 51, traditionally said to have been composed by David after Nathan upbraided him over Bathsheba and Uriah. Perhaps the best-known is Psalm 23:

1 The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.

2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures:
he leadeth me beside the still waters.

3 He restoreth my soul:
he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.

4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil: for thou art with me;
thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

5 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies:
thou anointest my head with oil;
my cup runneth over.

6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life:
and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever."

"Thus David the son of Jesse reigned over all Israel. The time that he reigned over Israel was forty years; he reigned seven years in Hebron, and thirty-three years in Jerusalem. Then he died in a good old age, full of days, riches, and honour; and Solomon his son reigned in his stead."


Arthur Honegger's oratorio, Le Roi David ('King David'), with a libretto by Rene Morax, was composed in 1921 and instantly became a staple of the choral repertoire; it is still widely performed.

In 1997, lyricist Tim Rice (Jesus Christ Superstar, Evita) collaborated with Alan Menken to create a musical based on the Biblical tale of King David. Based on Biblical tales from the Books of Samuel and 1 Chronicles, as well as text from David's Psalms, a concert version, produced by Disney Theatrical Productions and André Djaoui and directed by Mike Ockrent, was presented as the inaugural production at Disney's newly-renovated New Amsterdam Theatre (the former home of the Ziegfeld Follies), playing for a nine-performance limited run in 1997.


Psalms (Hebrew: Tehilim "praises") is a book of the Hebrew Bible included in the collected works known as the "Writings" or Ketuvim.

An individually printed volume of Psalms for use in Christian religious rituals is called a Psalter.

The word psalms is derived from the Greek: Psalmoi, originally meaning "songs sung to a harp," from psallein "play on a stringed instrument."

The Book of Psalms consists of 150 psalms, each of which constitutes a religious song, though one or two are atypically long and may constitute a set of related chants. When the Bible was divided into chapters, each Psalm was assigned its own chapter. Psalms are sometimes referenced as chapters, despite that chapter assignments postdate the initial composition of the "canonical" Psalms by at least 1,500 years.

The organization and numbering of the Psalms differs slightly between the (Masoretic) Hebrew and the (Septuagint) Greek manuscripts:

Hebrew Psalms Greek Psalms
9–10 9
11–113 10–112
114–115 113
116 114–115
117–146 116–145
147 146–147
Psalms 9 and 10 in the Hebrew are combined into Psalm 9 in the Greek
Psalms 114 and 115 in the Hebrew are combined into Psalm 113 in the Greek
Psalm 116 in the Hebrew is divided into Psalms 114 and 115 in the Greek
Psalm 147 in the Hebrew is divided into Psalms 146 and 147 in the Greek

Protestant translations are based on the Hebrew numbering;

Eastern Orthodox translations are based on the Greek numbering;

Roman Catholic official liturgical texts follow the Greek numbering, but modern Catholic translations often use the Hebrew numbering, sometimes adding, in parenthesis, the Greek numbering as well.

For the remainder of this article, the Hebrew Psalm numbers will be used unless otherwise noted.

Most manuscripts of the Septuagint also include a Psalm 151, present in Eastern Orthodox translations; a Hebrew version of this poem was found in the Psalms Scroll of the Dead Sea Scrolls. The Psalms Scroll presents the Psalms in an order different from that found elsewhere, and also contains a number of non-canonical poems and hymns.

Jewish and Muslim traditions maintains that the Psalms are the work of David (seventy-three Psalms are with David's name), basing himself on the writings of ten ancient psalmists (including Adam and Moses). Many modern scholars see them as the product of several authors or groups of authors, many unknown. Most Psalms are prefixed with introductory words—"superscriptions"—(which are frequently different in the Masoretic and Septuagint traditions, or missing in one while present in the other) ascribing them to a particular author or saying something, often in fairly cryptic language, about the circumstances of their composition or use; only 73 of these introductions claim David as author. Since the Psalms were not written down in Hebrew before the 6th century BC, nearly half a millennium after David's reign (about 1000 BC), they doubtless depended on oral or hymnic tradition for transmission of any Davidic material.

Psalms 39, 62, and 77 are linked with Jeduthun, to be sung after his manner or in his choir. Psalms 50 and 73–83 are associated with Asaph, as the master of his choir, to be sung in the worship of God. The ascriptions of Psalms 42, 44–49, 84, 85, 87, and 88 assert that the "sons of Korah" were entrusted with arranging and singing them; 2 Chronicles 20:19 suggests that this group formed a leading part of the Korathite singers. Hebraist Joel M. Hoffman suggests that Psalm 49 may be an anti-corruption Psalm, not "for Korah" but "against Korah."[1]
Psalm 18 is also found, with minor variations, at 2 Samuel 22, for which reason, in accordance with the naming convention used elsewhere in the historic parts of the Bible, it is known as the Song of David.

In Jewish usage, the Psalter is divided, after the analogy of the Pentateuch, into five books, each closing with a doxology or benediction:

The first book comprises the first 41 Psalms. All of these are ascribed to David except Psalms 1, 2, 10, and 33, which, though untitled in the Hebrew, were also traditionally ascribed to David. While Davidic authorship cannot be confirmed, this probably is the oldest section of the Psalms.

The second book consists of the next 31 Psalms (42–72). Eighteen of these are ascribed to David. Psalm 72 begins "For Solomon", but is traditionally understood as being written by David as a prayer for his son. The rest are anonymous.

The third book contains seventeen Psalms (73–89), of which Psalm 86 is ascribed to David, Psalm 88 to Heman the Ezrahite, and Psalm 89 to Ethan the Ezrahite.

The fourth book also contains seventeen Psalms (90–106), of which Psalm 90 is ascribed to Moses, and Psalms 101 and 103 to David.

The fifth book contains the remaining 44 Psalms. Of these, 15 are ascribed to David, one (Psalm 127) as a charge to Solomon.

Psalm 136 is generally called "the great Hallel," but the Talmud also includes Psalms 120–135. Psalms 113–118 constitute the Hallel, which is recited on the three great feasts, (Passover, Weeks, and Tabernacles); at the new moon; and on the eight days of Hanukkah. A version of Psalm 136 with slightly different wording appears in the Dead Sea Scrolls.

Psalms 120–134 are referred to as Songs of Degrees, and are thought to have been used as hymns of approach by pilgrims to the Temple in Jerusalem.

Psalm 119 is the longest Psalm. It is composed of 176 verses, in sets of eight verses, each set beginning with one of the 22 Hebrew letters. Several other Psalms also have alphabetical arrangements. These psalms are believed to be written (rather than oral) compositions from the first, and thus of a relatively late date.

Psalm 117 is the shortest Psalm, containing but two verses.

Scholars have determined that there are groups of psalms that can be classified together because of similarities. The main forms are:


Imprecatory Psalms

Individual Laments

Communal laments

Songs of Trust

Individual Thanksgiving Psalms

Royal Psalms

Wisdom Psalms

Pilgrimage Psalms

Liturgical Psalms

Psalm forms or types also include: Songs of Zion – Psalms 48, 76, 84, 87, 122, 134; Historical Litanies – Psalms 78, 105, 106, 135, 136; Pilgrim Liturgies – Psalms 81, 21; Entrance Liturgies – Psalms 15, 24; Judgment Liturgies – Psalms 50, 82; Mixed Types – 36, 40, 41, 68

Notable settings of multiple psalms as a single composition include:

Symphony of Psalms by Igor Stravinsky

Chichester Psalms by Leonard Bernstein

Tehillim by Steve Reich

The psalms also feature large in settings of Vespers, including by Claudio Monteverdi, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and Antonio Vivaldi who wrote such settings as part of their responsibilities as church musicians.

Settings of individual songs include:

Psalm 121, and Psalm 124 by Loys Bourgeois (c. 1500–1559)

Levavi oculos meos (Psalm 121) by Orlando di Lasso (1532–1594)

Psalm 1, Psalm 29, Psalm 121, and Psalm 150 by Heinrich Schutz (1585–1672)

Beatus Vir (Psalm 112) by Antonio Vivaldi (1678–1741)

Psalm 121 by Johann Sebastian Bach (1685–1750)

Psalm 148 by William Billings (1746–1800)

Psalm 150 by Cesar Franck (1822–1890)

Psalm 13 by Johannes Brahms (1833–1897)

Psalm 148 by Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872–1958)

Psalm 148 by Gustav Holst (1874–1934)

Psalm 14, Psalm 24, Psalm 25, Psalm 42, Psalm 54, Psalm 90, Psalm 135, and Psalm 150 by Charles Ives (1874–1954)

Psalm 121 and Psalm 150 by Zoltan Kodaly (1882–1967)

Psalm 121 by Darius Milhaud (1892–1974)

Psalm 24 by Lili Boulanger (1893–1918)

Psalm 121 and Psalm 150 by Howard Hanson (1896–1981)

Praise Ye the Lord (Psalm 147, 148, and 150) by Roger Sessions (1896–1985)

Psalm 121 by Henry Cowell (1897–1965)

Psalm 150 by Roy Harris (1898–1979)

Two Motets (including Psalm 121) by Gerald Finzi (1901–1956)

Psalm 28 by Alan Hovhaness (1911–2000)

Psalm 29 by Hugo Weisgall (1912–1997)

Psalm 150 by George Rochberg (1918–2005)

I Was Glad (Psalm 122) by Daniel Pinkham (1923–2006)

A Psalm (13) and a Proverb by Ned Rorem (b. 1923)

A Psalm of David (Psalm 13) by Robert Starer (1924–2001)

Psalm 24, Psalm 40, Psalm 121, and Psalm 150 by Samuel Adler (b. 1928)

Three Settings of the 13th Psalm by Edwin London (b. 1929)

Psalm 143 by Yehudi Wyner (b. 1929)

Psalm 150 by William Mathias (1934–1992)

Psalm 8 by John Corigliano (b. 1938)

Psalms 1-125 by Mark Alburger (b. 1957)

Psalm 40 and Psalm 116 by U2, the latter setting sung by Bono before U2's live performances of Where the Streets Have No Name

[6000 Central Africa / 5963 David / 5949 K'ang]