Holy, Broken Hallelujah
Esteemed Biblical scholar, Robert Alter, describes the story of David told in 1 and 2 Samuel this way:
“The Story of David is probably the greatest single narrative representation in antiquity of a human life evolving by slow stages through time, shaped and altered by the pressures of political life, public institutions, family, the impulses of body and spirit, the eventual sad decay of the flesh. It also provides the most unflinching insight into the cruel processes of history and into human behavior warped by the pursuit of power. And nowhere is the Bible’s astringent narrative economy, it’s ability to define characters and etch revelatory dialogue in a few telling strokes, more brilliantly deployed.”
That’s a mouthful. But so it goes in trying to sum up of the significance of the story of the Hebrew Bible’s central figure.
Over these next several Sundays in June and July we’ll try to do a little better and take an extended look at the story of David in worship under the theme of “Holy, Broken Hallelujah.” Of course, this comes from a line in Leonard Cohen’s classic song, “Hallelujah,” which takes the David story as its muse.
There’s no question David’s life was holy—he was set apart as God’s chosen when he was just a boy. And yet there’s also no question David’s life was broken. All the many pressures named by Alter would eventually leave their mark. At times more than simply a mark, but real fractures.
And the hard truth that we’ll explore this summer is that many of these pressures were a result of his “call.” His divine chosenness. What perspective might this give us as we wrestle with our own notions of call?
Knowing that people are somewhat scattered in these summer months, we’ve put together a little booklet with each of the passages we’ll be studying in worship along with some questions for reflection to help you follow along with the story. We’ll have some smaller copies and some in larger print, so be on the lookout around the church starting Sunday.
Also, starting June 20 we’ll once again convene for our Summer Wednesday Noon Bible Study. We’ll gather in the fellowship hall at 11:30 for lunch (bring your own!) and at noon begin our study together which will fill in the gaps in the David story that we can’t cover in worship. I hope you’ll consider joining us for this deeper dive as well.