I fell in love with David’s story, if not always with the man himself, when I first read the Bible at age 21. Since then, I have gone back to his story many times to find my bearings, to figure out both how to live and how not to live, to the point where David’s story sometimes feels like a part of my own. Years later, I began to immerse myself in the extensive secondary literature on David and his times (a bibliography of works is included at the back of the book). These secondary sources confirmed, clarified, amplified, and sometimes corrected my growing sense that David represents an historical and literary figure of immense complexity and vitality whose life repays careful study and reflection regardless of one’s own personal beliefs.
In 2009, sitting on a sandstone beach on a small island near Victoria, BC, the beginning of this work came to me, unbidden. It came in the form of an almost auditory experience: I “heard” Michal, David’s first and later estranged wife, as an old woman thinking back on her life with David. She spoke with bitter, rueful incisiveness. On the spot, I wrote down what I heard.
The novel took another 10 years to complete, with many rabbit trails, false starts, dead ends. In 2018, I decided to break the story into three parts and publish it as a trilogy, beginning with this present book, David: Rise, which traces the story from David’s “birth narrative” in the story of Ruth to David’s coronation in Hebron as king of Judah. In the forthcoming Book II, David: Reign, I will trace the story over the seven years of civil war between the House of Judah and the House of Israel through to David’s ascension to the throne over Israel at age 37, his establishing of a new capital called Jerusalem, and his expanding and consolidating his rule over Israel. The trilogy will conclude with Book III, David: Descend, which will cover the final two decades or so of David’s life, beginning with his encounter with Bathsheba and ending with his death. Book II is slated for release in 2021 and Book III in 2022.
This trilogy is a work of fiction. Though I have made every effort to be faithful to the David story as it comes to us in Scripture, particularly in 1 and 2 Samuel, and have drawn widely on academic, popular, and artistic depictions and interpretations of David and his times to ensure biographical and historical accuracy, I have also taken many liberties. The biblical account of David is silent or sparse on many details of character, setting, and chronology, and our historical and archeological knowledge about the man and his times is partial and oftentimes tentative, and so my depictions of any given character – his or her physical appearance, emotional states, deep motivations, inner and often outer dialogue – or any given event – its timing, setting, dynamics – is oftentimes imagined. In some instances, I have wholly invented characters and scenes, though always attempting to be true to the story’s cultural, biblical, and narrative context.
One hope I have in publishing this novel, and the two novels that will follow it, is that you, the reader, will go back and read the original story of David.
Paperback is available now, E-book will launch March 31st. 2020