Monday, July 13, 2009

David: a Meditation

The name itself means beloved and David is loved by everyone, from the LORD down. Ruddy and handsome, his lyre and song can dispel the demons that haunt a king. He turns the heart of a king's daughter and a king's son, and the king himself even as he is driven mad by it. The people love him, of course, and sing his praises, "Saul has killed his thousands and David his ten thousands."

But who does David love? Only three, almost only two. First of all, Absalom, 'Father of Peace', the beloved son, the sacrificial son? Hylas? Absalom, driven by David's inaction, challenged by David's inaction to take up arms against him, sacred combat. Is Absalom the sacrifice by which the king is renewed. Hung on the tree, pierced for the father's sins. What ritual invoked here? And when Absalom went into hs father's concubines in view of all Israel, were they just surrogates for a son's desire... for a father's desire? Oh how David lamented Absalom's death, even though he drove him to it and was renewed by it, by Absalom's blood, by Absalom's semen. Was the lament just a part of the ritual?

Does David love Saul? He laments him but does he love him after all. He laments him but love? Saul loves David to start but love turns to hatred... as the desire grows? Is desire the evil spirit sent from the LORD to plague and torment Saul? Did Saul hunger for David's lips, for David's penis, for David's hole? Is David the surrogate, the stand-in for the royal sacrificial son, and therefore his body Saul's by right, to take before the final coup de grace? Would Saul then lament this fallen beloved, whose lifeblood and semen wet and reinvigorate the earth? The king's power, the king's virility restored by the penetration of (penetration by?) the beloved.

But David does love Jonathan and Jonathan very definitely loves David and cuts a covenant with him. Jonathan, the LORD gives, the gift of the LORD. Through Jonathan, David is given life and kingship. Does David's life mean Jonathan's death? Jonathan; while everyone loves David, succumbing thus to the aura of the beloved, surely Jonathan is the only worthy person in the whole narrative. Heroic, noble, devoted, his love is true, which is more than can be said for even the beloved. Does the beloved really know how to love? Does he really ever love anyone? Certainly he desires people and what they can offer him, but love? But Jonathan loves true, and hence he must die? Was there no chance he could live on as Hephaestion to David's Alexander? Perhaps the ritual's narrative demands a death, if not the surrogate then the sacred son.

Does Jesus, son of David, redeem this old blood debt of David's so that John, a so much later beloved - a gracious gift from the Father to the Son perhaps? - could sing, "let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God." And as if in response, David sings:

How good and pleasant it is
when brothers live together in unity!

It is like precious oil poured on the head,
running down on the beard,
running down on Aaron's beard,
down upon the collar of his robes.

A lament for lost possibilities?

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