The Expository Files

David: From Fiction to Demon

Here they go again. The "experts," I mean; the ones who do not believe the Bible and enjoy attacking the faith by whatever means possible. Now, in the center of their bull's eye is David, the writer of many of the Psalms and the shepherd who became the second king of Israel and an ancestor of the Messiah. An article appeared in the "U.S. News and World Report," March 19, 2001 on page 45 under the heading, "Science & Ideas - Religion" and the title of the article was "King David: not the man he used to be?" It tells of modernistic revisionists and their attacks on the veracity of the Bible and its account of David. Essentially, they trash him. They say, for example, that he was not a powerful king but little more than a tribal chieftain (and ditto for son Solomon as well). The article uses words such as "ruthless," "homicidal," and "scoundrel" and only in later generations was his image glamorized to give the people a needed folk hero. They say that the Pentateuch was written by priests on David's court to legitimize his reign -- Genesis through Deuteronomy. (Editor's note: For more on David, see my article "The King, The Prophet and God's House" in this issue of Expository Files).

Baruch Halpern of Pennsylvania Sate University says the real David was "not someone whom it would be wise to invite to dinner." He wrote a work entitled "David's Secret Demons: Messiah, Murderer, Traitor, King" and says he was conniving and used "murder and mayhem" as tools of statecraft. He says the Bible was probably written to answer David's contemporary critics. Another author, professor of Hebrew at Rhodes College in Memphis compares David to Saddam Hussein. He accuses David of murdering his predecessor. Of course, the Bible points out David refused to do this, but remember, the Bible was written as David's defense, so they say.

There is a short paragraph at the end of a full page article which says that not all scholars agree and that such revisionism is hotly contested, but you'll miss it if you're not careful. No one who believes the Bible is quoted in the article.

Here is the irony. These "experts" hate it when they are proven wrong. Up until recently they denied that there was ever a real David at all. Why did they change tack? Well, in 1993 a dramatic discovery in Northern Israel of an Aramaic inscription from the ninth century B.C. makes reference to David's dynasty. The inscribed words are "House of David"... previously they had said that David was a made up figure during the captivity centuries later to inspire the people. Now they cannot say that anymore. So, out of that ancient three word inscription David goes from fictional character to a Saddam Hussein look-alike who is ruthless brigand traitor.

The truth is, these people just can't take the truth.

By Jon W. Quinn
The Front Page
From Expository Files 8.4; April 2001