Don't Look at David: the Children's Bible Commentary

Look at David! Jolly shepherd boys a-plucking strings
and all-good kings,
wisest men in flowing beards
and spotless travellers in the wilderness.

Shimmering sweet angels
(let's hope they're on our side,
for even Satan can appear
an angel of light).

Beauteous maidens
with potted heads.
They rarely show Jael
at work with her tent peg.

Look at David,
the man
after God's own heart
hell-bent on massacre
until a woman blocked his way.

Look at David's wife:
poor Michal tossed
from bed to bed
as mad Dad and David
positioned for power.

Life she gave her husband, her life risking,
and he despised her love
for other women in the wilderness.

I don't wonder she despised him,
baring his body before the serving girls of Israel:
the body that should have been hers

All the grace he gave for her grief
(this man after God's own heart)
was judgment.
Did she never bear children
because of 'God's punishment'
(the God of grace),
or because of her husband's
lifelong rejection?

And Bathsheba, shadow woman:
kidnapped? enticed and willing?
Summoned to the king's bedding;
what choice did she have
when they came to her door?

Widowed, hidden
as her belly grew;
no doubt she guessed, later she knew
her new husband to be the murderer;
he who apologised most earnestly...
to God, but not to her.

Did she and Uriah have children?
Were they left bereft,
sacrifices to the king's lust
for secrecy?

How the court wept
for the king's woe
as his little boy lay ailing...
but not for Bathsheba,
assailed again by grief.

She was 'comforted',
oh God 'comforted' the man-scribe wrote,
in the bed of that one
whose lust was all her sorrow.
How could she bear his hands?

Now she was his son-bearer,
lifelong slave
to palace pettiness and plots.

I'd like to read
the psalms of Michal,
Bathsheba and Abigail,
but I don't suppose
they'll ever make it
into a children's Bible.

King Solomon, so wise
he took a thousand wives
(hurrah for the shiny temple
on page a hundred and forty-three),
and forgot his own pure words
to 'rejoice in the wife of one's youth...
may her breasts satisfy you always'.
Where were the prophets to nail him
as Nathan kindly did his father?
Were they all in awe at the stony beauty (see p 143)?
never lifted a hammer, probably.

King Abimelech, now,
him I'd like to meet!
A real king, who told off Abraham
(for cowardice, lies and
selling his wife for sheep agistment),
and Isaac, for the same offences...
no matter how long their beards were,
or how many promises
God had made them.
What a neighbour.

Maybe just as lust-crazy as David-King & Co,
but straight as a die when he sniffed deceit.
What a crew
those whiskered patriarchs were:
imagine the Sunday Telegraph
if drought-stricken farmers
tried that on today.

Look at David, ruddy-cheeked!
Do you think children
have no sense of justice?

Look at David!
He wouldn't like it, he
who wanted all
to look at God alone,
and cried for grace
at last.