Friday, June 05, 2009
David Spares Saul, again!
A few years ago I drew a picture of King Saul asleep in a cave, while David, who was hiding in the same cave with his men, cut off the corner of Saul's cloak while he slept. I'm not the only Bible artist who has depicted this scene in this way. I've seen a number of pictures like this over the years by different artists. (See samples 1, 2.)
So what did we all do wrong? Well, we all got our Bible stories mixed up! In 1 Samuel 24, Saul didn't go into the cave to sleep, he went in to use the toilet! This is probably why we don't see that many pictures depicting this scene, although Annie Vallotton managed to illustrate this scene both accurately and discreetly.
Mistakes like this stem from the fact that there are a number of Bible stories which are very similar, but not the same. This is another reason why we need to read each story very carefully before illustrating it! The picture above is from a very similar story when King Saul was again hunting down David. It's found in 1 Samuel 26. In this story David and Abishai go down into Saul's camp at night and they take Saul's spear and water jug from his side while he sleeps. Abishai wants to kill Saul with his spear while they have the chance, but David will not allow him to because Saul had been appointed by God.
The best way that David could show Saul that he meant him no harm was by taking Saul's belongings from his side while he slept. This clearly displayed to Saul that David could easily have killed him if he had wanted to. Just as David had done previously in 1 Samuel 24 when he cut off the corner of Saul's cloak. I've drawn Saul's bodyguard Abner soundly snoring in the foreground.
As always, all comments welcome!