Psalm 51, Day 5 – David and Iago

Triad Study Psalm 51 Bible with Theo Orange Dark Chocolate

Today’s Chocolate: Theo Orange Dark Chocolate

Today’s Passage: Psalm 51

So, generous Chocolate Book supporter Matt Rizkallah sponsored a scripture doodle via my Patreon. For his doodle verse, he chose Psalm 51:6: “Behold, You desire truth in the innermost being, and in the hidden part You will make me know wisdom.” And…oh no, what have I done.

Doodle cartoon based on Psalm 51:6 - "In the hidden part you make me know wisdom"

The wisdom in the hidden part clearly eludes me. This is what I have drawn for Matt Rizkallah’s sponsored doodle; it is this. Good job, me.

I think about the circumstances surrounding Psalm 51’s composition, and the role that truth and appearance vs. reality play in the story of 2 Samuel 11. As David tries to conceal his adultery, you’d be hard-pressed to identify anything he says that is factually inaccurate; he doesn’t technically lie about his actions. But he calls Uriah back from the battlefield and tries to get him to go home, even gives him excessive food and wine to put him in a good mood, in the hopes that Uriah will go home to his wife and sleep with her. Bathsheba is pregnant, and David wants it to appear that the child is legitimately Uriah’s.

But when Uriah refuses to return to the comforts of home while there are men at the battlefront, David resorts to Plan B. He has his commander place Uriah at the most dangerous part of the conflict, then orders him to withdraw support for Uriah so that he dies in battle. After Uriah dies, David waits for Bathsheba’s time of mourning to end before he takes her as his wife, and as the account notes, “the thing that David had done was evil in the sight of the Lord” (2 Samuel 11:27). David here reminds me of Iago from Shakespeare’s Othello; it’s difficult to pinpoint any untrue statements or overt lies in anything Iago says in public, but as he plants Desdemona’s handkerchief as “evidence,” asks leading questions, and conspires underneath the surface against Othello. And when he issues commands to his accomplice Roderigo, I even see a parallel to David’s instructions for his commander Joab.

Who would have expected for David, ancient Israel’s most renowned king, to find comparison with one of Shakespeare’s most hated villains? But the difference is that by the end of the play, Iago shows no regret that he did what he did, only that he was caught. David, on the other hand, repents. He owns up to his sins and admits that he needs God’s forgiveness. We’re all Iago at the outset–but “a man after God’s own heart” (1 Samuel 13:14)? That’s the man who receives a clean heart from God. That’s the man who repents by the end of the play.

And that’s King David of Israel.

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