Daily Archives: November 15, 2009

Religious Knowledge, Lecture 8


King David Dancing Before the Ark, 15th century


Lecture 8.  November 25, 1947

David and Solomon represent the focalizing of the symbolism of the king, the consolidation of religious and secular authority.  These men are important not so much as rulers as for the consolidating of religion.  David captures Jerusalem, the focus of political and religious aspiration.  But it is the same centralizing of something far more primitive.  It shows up in the Middle Ages in the person of the consolidating figure of the priest-king, the head of religion and state,

Samuel II, Chap. 6: David brings the ark to Jerusalem, the City of David.  Before Jerusalem was taken and the temple was established, the Israelites had a wandering temple, the Ark of God.  This Ark would be the thing that represents the protection of the Israelites by God.  When the Philistines captured the Ark of God, the Israelites knew they were licked.  Then they got it back.  A temple is built for the Ark.  The return of the Ark is told in Samuel, in which it is regarded as a sacred thing, as a reservoir of electric force.  David leads the dancing procession (verses 20-22).

The king who leads the service is also exposed to humiliation.  David is willing to accept this as part of kingship.  Verses 18-19: the entry of the Ark is signalled by a communion feast distributed by the king.  This is repeated in the feeding of the 5000, which is the prelude to the communion feast itself.  The conception of communion is still there.  True honour comes from the act of suffering and humiliation.  David is intimate with God, the chosen Son of God.  It doesn’t make him divine, though.  Psalm 45 shows the symbol of the king.

The city and the temple are seen as the only place were religion is.  God is only there.  The distinction between city and temple is dissolved until there is no distinction.  The king represents the people in a single human form as the elected Son of God.  David is the Son of God and, at the same time, all the Israelites are in the body of David.

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