look, ‘Here am I, Sitting in a House of Cedar…’ ”
HaMelech, “ King David, had finally succeeded in bringing the Ark of the
L-rd to “Ir David,” the City of David, in a joyous procession involving
him “leaping and dancing” (Shmuel II, 6:16) before the L-rd.
He was “at peace now from all his surrounding enemies” (Shmuel
II, 7:1), and he reflected on the apparent absurdity of his situation.
“And the King
said to Natan the Prophet, ‘Here am I, sitting in a House of Cedar, and
the Ark of the L-rd reposes behind a curtain.’ ”
David was a
master at recognizing the paradoxical element in human life, as is evident
in Tehilim 8:4-6,
behold Your heavens, the work of Your fingers,
“What is man,
that You are mindful of him?
“Yet you have
made him only a little lower than the angels,
But here David
has conceived the idea of building a “permanent home,” an abode for the
Divine Presence, that would also be a spiritual center for the People of
Singer of Israel”
In the Talmud (Masechet
Berachot 3b), we find, “Rav Acha bar Bizna said in the name of Rav Shimon
Chasida, ‘A lyre was suspended above the bed of David, and exactly at
midnight, a northern wind would enter his chamber and cause the strings of
the lyre to vibrate. At that
time, David would awaken, and occupy himself with the study of Torah, till
the break of dawn…’“
poetry, he was able to capture in the Book of Tehilim, of which he was the
principal author, all aspects of life.
Warrior for the Name of G-d
Yishai, sent him to visit three of his older brothers, (similarly to the way
that Yaakov had sent Yosef
to visit his brothers) who were
with the Army of Israel, led by King Shaul, fighting against the
Philistines. When he arrived,
David came upon a terrible scene.
The forces of
Israel were arrayed against the forces of the Philistines.
But a giant warrior from the camp of the Philistines, named Galyat,
was coming out every day to challenge the army of Israel to put up their
champion to fight with him to the death, to settle the matter between the
nations in a more “gentlemanly” way, by letting the fight be resolved by
just one struggle.
If Galyat would
prevail, then the Jews would be slaves to the Philistines.
And if the Jewish champion would prevail, the Philistines would be
slaves to the Jews. But,
because of Galyat’s huge size and terrifying appearance, not one of the
warriors of Shaul had the courage and sufficient trust in HaShem to come to
his aid, to accept the challenge of Galyat.
This had been going on for some forty days, and the morale of the
Jewish forces was shrinking rapidly.
When David came
and observed the scene, he said that he would fight the Philistine giant.
Shaul argued that David was only a youth, while Galyat had been a
military man from his early childhood.
The Midrash traces the roots of the conflict between David and Galyat to
deeper sources. In fact, Galyat
was a descendant of Orpah, the Princess of Moav, daughter of King Eglon,
whose commitment to the G-d of Israel had not been strong enough, and she
had in the end abandoned No-omi. While Ruth,
ancestress of David, also a Princess of Moav, said to No-omi, her
mother-in-law, the following immortal words:
“Entreat me not to leave you,
convinces Shaul by telling him that HaShem has given him the strength to
fight against powerful enemies, such as the mighty lion and the ferocious
bear, when they had stolen sheep from his flock, and he had pursued them,
rescuing the sheep from their grasp, and killing them. (Shmuel 1, 17:34-36)
approaches the Philistine and says (Shmuel 1, 17:45), “You come against me
with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin; but I come against you in
the Name of the L-rd of Hosts, the G-d of the armies of Israel, Whom you
have taunted…” And David
kills Galyat with a single, precisely aimed stone from his slingshot.
Because of this display of courage, Shaul appoints David as the head of his armies, and David becomes more successful as a military leader even than Shaul. So much so that the women of Israel take to singing, “…Shaul has slain his thousands, and David his tens of thousands” (Shmuel 1, 18:7)
Response to David’s Offer to Build a Temple
“And it came
to pass the same night, that the word of the L-rd came unto Natan, saying:
Go and tell my servant David, ‘Thus says the L-rd: shall you build a house
for Me to dwell in? For I have
not dwelt in a house since the day that I brought up the Children of Israel
out of Egypt, even to this day, but have walked in a tent and a tabernacle.
In all the places that I walked among the Children of Israel, did I
speak a word with any of the tribes of Israel whom I commanded to pasture My
People Israel, saying: ‘Why have you not built Me a house of cedar?’ “
days are fulfilled, and you will sleep with your fathers, I will set up your
seed after you, who will proceed from your body, and I will establish his
kingdom. He shall build a
House for My Name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom
house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before you; your throne
shall be established forever.”