Cracks In The Foundation: Ominous Signs In The David Narrative -- By: Robert B. Chisholm, Jr.

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 172:686 (Apr 2015)
Article: Cracks In The Foundation: Ominous Signs In The David Narrative
Author: Robert B. Chisholm, Jr.

Cracks In The Foundation:
Ominous Signs In The David Narrative

Robert B. Chisholm Jr.

Robert B. Chisholm Jr. is Department Chair and Professor of Old Testament Studies, Dallas Theological Seminary, Dallas, Texas.


Readers of David’s story should not become enamored with its positive side and ignore its tragic dimensions. The tragic is hard to overlook once one arrives at 2 Samuel 11, but David’s fall did not occur out of the blue. Tragedy is latent in the narrative from its beginning. Ominous signs appear throughout the story and foreshadow David’s moral demise. This article attempts to identify these “cracks in the foundation” and develop the dark side of the narrative that becomes predominant with David’s cold-blooded murder of Uriah.


If one assesses David strictly on the basis of information presented prior to and following the David narrative in the Former Prophets (1 Samuel 16—1 Kings 2), a positive portrait of the king emerges. Before the narrator ever mentions David by name, he calls him “a man who is loyal” to God (1 Sam. 13:14, NET).1 After the account of David’s death, the narrator holds David

up as a paradigm of loyalty to God (1 Kings 3:3; 11:4, 6; 15:3, 5, 11; 2 Kings 14:3; 16:2; 18:3; 22:2). Only once is this affirmation sullied by a reference to David’s crimes against Uriah (1 Kings 15:5). Even God himself refers to David as a model of allegiance (1 Kings 3:14; 9:4; 11:33-34, 38; 14:8). In these texts the focus appears to be on David’s undivided worship and cultic purity.2

Outside the Former Prophets, the Chronicler gives a sanitized version of David’s career and depicts him as a model leader. His account of David’s reign (1 Chron. 11-29) highlights his role as worship leader (15:1-16:43), with special emphasi...

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