Biblical Archaeology Review 40:4, July/August 2014

Strata: The Bible in the News: King of the Column

By Leonard J. Greenspoon

In antiquity, you could be born to kingship or fight your way there, often with the help of your mother. Or, as was true with King David, you could rise to this position as a result of divine appointment—or lose your place through divine disappointment, as happened with David’s predecessor, Saul. In the modern world, unlike the Biblical era, there are many King Davids. As was the case then, royal reigns are never easy to maintain.

Take, for example, the world of sports, amply and colorfully chronicled by the popular press worldwide. In tennis—which, like a monarchy, has its courts—we read in the New Zealand Herald a story with the headline “King David Forced Off Throne.” The article begins, “The reign of King David is over. David Ferrer, world number 3 and four-time Heineken Open champion, was deposed by Yen-Hsun Lu, of Taipei, 6–4, 7–6(4) last night in the tournament’s biggest upset for some time.” Or, to put it in “Biblical” language, David has slain his hundreds (of tennis opponents); Lu, his thousands (1 Samuel 18:7)!

The acclamation “Hail King David” (so the Daily Star) is not limited to the playing courts but can also be heard in the ever-fecund world of entertainment: “Noel Gallagher [the ex-Oasis man] has paid tribute to comeback king David Bowie for not relying on his glorious past like other rock veterans.” In my view, a forward-looking observation of this sort accords well with David’s deathbed advice to his son and successor, Solomon (1 Kings 2:1–9).

Join the BAS Library!

Already a library member? Log in here.

Institution user? Log in with your IP address.