6 April 1997
The tribes of Israel need to defeat the superior might of the Philistines: "Now appoint a king to lead us, such as all the other nations have." (I Samuel, 8:5). And so the prophet Samuel gives the Hebrews their first king, Saul, a simple farmer, who with God's help becomes a brave and mighty warlord who leads the united tribes of Israel against their enemies. Saul, however, has incessant doubts about his mission. Not trustful enough of divine wisdom, he acts of his own accord and thus sins against the Lord. The influential prophet Samuel turns away from Saul in order to select a new king according to God's will: David. He is still a young boy, tending sheep in the fields, when, secretly Samuel oints him as the next king of the Israelites. When David - as courageous as he is intelligent - emerges victorious from his encounter with Goliath, the Philistines' most powerful warrior, he becomes a hero. His fame arouses the jealousy of King Saul, who senses that David is going to dispute his right to be king - and tries to kill him. David flees from Saul, and finds many supporters and loyal companions who believe that he is destined to be king. In exile, David waits for his time to come, since he does not want to take the place of Saul by violence. He is young and in the prime of his strength, while King Saul is a broken man. When Saul falls upon his sword after losing a battle, David's hour is at hand. The new King David conquers Jerusalem. The magnificent city is to become the royal residence for the glorious hero, who now plans to leave the business of war to others in future and to become a King of Peace. However, this temperamental man, with so many years of battle behind him and still in the bloom of youth, is not predestined for a quiet, orderly life at all. Very soon he plunges into an illicit love affair with Bathsheba, a married woman - an affair that threatens to become the king's undoing when it turns out that she is expecting his child. To conceal his adulterous fatherhood, the king sends Bathsheba's husband Uriah - one of his best and most loyal soldiers - to his death, and then marries her. The prophet and royal adviser Nathan announces to David that his act will result in divine punishment: the Lord will not countenance such an outrage. Violence and evil will continue in David's own family and bring disaster upon the heads of the numerous sons born to David from his wives and concubines. Then the child of David and Bathsheba dies. She gives him another son, Solomon, but very soon David suffers another sharp blow of fate: his grown-up son Absalom kills one of his brothers for the latter's rape of his sister. David is far too mild in response to this: not only does he fail to bring the incestuous seducer to justice, he also leaves the fratricide unpunished. The king does not realise that he is gradually losing control over his family, and that his hold on the people is also growing weaker. For David is obsessed with his plan of building the finest and largest temple in the world in Jerusalem. He demands immense sums from the populace for this project, even though God has commanded him to leave the completion of the building to his successors. David's ambitious son Absalom thus finds it very easy to drum up support for a conspiracy against his father. After a fierce battle, culminating in Absalom's death, David makes it back to Jerusalem.
- Written by