The rise of David

Summary: God commanded Samuel to find a replacement for King Saul and sent him to the family of Yishai in Beit Lechem. He then commanded Samuel to take a heifer to Beit Lechem as an offering to God and invite Yishai and his sons to the ensuing feast so that God could designate the next King of Israel. When Samuel saw Yishai’s eldest son Eliav, he tried to appoint him by pouring the special oil from a horn onto his head. Yet the oil did not flow. He tried again with Yishai’s second son Avinadav but the same thing happened. This episode repeated with all of Yishai’s seven sons. Yishai then explained that he had one more son called David who was busy tending the flocks. When David arrived, Samuel poured the anointing oil on him and it flowed, designating him as the next King of Israel.

A deeper look: As soon as David had been anointed by Samuel, the Ruach HaKodesh (God’s Holy Spirit which gives the recipient a special level of spiritual sensitivity) left Saul and transferred to David. Although Saul did not know that David had been anointed, the loss of his Ruach HaKodesh left him feeling deeply depressed. Ironically, David himself was called upon to play his harp for King Saul to try and relieve his melancholia (Samuel I 16:19-23). Rabbi Yitzchak Magriso (d. 1687) explains that David’s invitation into Saul’s palace was an act of Divine Providence which would pave the way for David’s kingship (Meam Loez loc cit.).

David’s compositions were not merely artistic works of pleasant music. The song and poetry which composed his Psalms were generated from this Ruach HaKodesh and his deep connection to God.

David’s Psalms form the basis of many prayers yet while we do not know the tunes he played, this episode teaches us that the creation of music is an expression of the soul. Therefore listening to a particular piece can have the capacity to stir one’s heart and rouse the spirit. The ability to compose emotive song is therefore only in part musical talent. The rest is nothing less than an expression of Divine.