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David hiding from Saul




David went on a journey, hiding from Saul. He went to Nob, to Ahimelech the priest. This priest gave him the sword of Goliath for David had no arms. Goliathís scimitar had been kept in Nob, wrapped in a piece of cloth, hidden behind the ephod. David fled to Achish, king of Gath of the Philistines. David was welcomed at first, but the Philistines remembered him so he had to feint lunacy, to feint being a madman so that the Philistines would spare him. David then took refuge as an outlaw in the Cave of Adullam. Davidís family joined him there. David brought his family to Mizpah however, to the king of Moab. The prophet Gad warned David not to remain in the stronghold of Moab because he was in danger there, so David fled on. Saul was still pursuing him. Saul heard that the priest Ahimelech of Nob had given Goliathís sword to David, so Saul ordered Alimelech to die and Doeg the Edomite, Saulís servant, slew all the priests of Nob. One son of Alimelech alone escaped. His name was Abiathar. He joined David and told him the terrible news.

David had heard in the meantime that the Philistines were besieging Keilah. David consulted Yahweh, attacked the Philistines and won a great victory. But Saul then knew where David was, called his men to arms and went on his way to besiege David. David consulted Yahweh because he was aware that Saul was plotting against him. Yahweh warned David that Saul was coming and that the people of Keilah would hand him over to Saul. David escaped from Keilah then and fled into the desert. He stayed in the mountain strongholds of the desert. Jonathan came to David again and made a pact with him before Yahweh. Jonathan told that Saul would not reach David. He said David was to reign over Israel and Jonathan could be his second. David remained in the stronghold of Horesh in the desert of Ziph, on the hill of Hachilah. Later, David installed himself in the stronghold of En-Gedi.

Saul pursued David but messengers came to Saul to notify him that the Philistines had invaded the country. Saul then broke off his pursuit and turned to confront the Philistines. When Saul had fought the Philistines and heard that David was at En-Gedi, he took three thousand men of Israel and moved back in pursuit of David. On that way Saul went one day into a cave to cover his feet. David and his men were sitting in the recesses of that very cave. David cut off a border of Saulís cloak but immediately repented for Saul was still the anointed of Yahweh. When Saul left the cave, David also came out after him in the open. He addressed Saul saying that he wanted no harm to Saul, even though he could easily have killed him in the cave. Saul began to weep aloud, answering that David was upright and he was not. He said he knew he had behaved badly to David. He said he really knew that David one day would reign over Israel but he made David swear not to suppress Saulís descendants or blot Saulís name out of his family. This David swore to Saul and Saul went home.


Abigail before David

Moritz von Schwind (1804-1871). Neue Pinakothek. Munich. 1830.


Samuel died. All Israel assembled to mourn him. He was buried in his home in Ramah. David was at the funeral, and then descended the road to the desert of Maon. David protected the people of Maon.

There was a man of Maon called Nabal, married to a woman called Abigail. When David heard that Nabal was at his sheepshearing he sent some of his men to Nabal to ask for whatever Nabalís hand could give them. Nabal flared up and refused to give anything to Davidís servants, not even some bread. David was angry when his men came back and four hundred of his warriors buckled their swords to punish Nabal.

But Abigail, Nabalís wife, had heard how rudely her husband had answered Davidís polite quest. She took roasted grain, bunches of raisin, cakes of figs, loaves of bread, skins of wine and several sheep and brought these to Davidís camp. She fell before David and told her husband was only a brute and that not her husband but she herself was to blame. She pleaded with David to forgive Nabal.

David was pleased with what Abigail had brought, accepted it and told her that had she not come he surely would have killed her maniac husband. Now David pardoned Nabal. Abigail returned home to Nabal who was feasting. The next morning she told her husband how she had been to see David. Nabalís heart died within him at the news and he became like stone. He died shortly after. David then sent Abigail, now widow of Nabal, an offer of marriage and Abigail accepted David as husband.

David married Abigail. He had two wives since he had also married Ahinoam of Jezreel. Michal was still with Palti, son of Laish.

The painter Austrian-German Moritz von Schwind took up the theme of Abigail for one of his first pictures.

Moritz von Schwind was a painter of the late Romantic period. He was born in 1804 in Austriaís capital Vienna, in Napoleonic times. He was the son of a high-placed civil servant of the court of Vienna and studied philosophy until 1821. Then he learned how to paint and came under the influence of artists of the German Nazarene circle, painters that had worked for longer periods in Rome in a community there. The Nazarenes were so called by the Romans because they wore their hair long and had headbands like the followers of Jesus in Nazareth. The Nazarenes painted religious themes and worked in a clear, Florentine Renaissance type of style of realistic depiction with emphasis on line and drawing, in soft colours. They also reverted to fresco painting in Rome. Von Schwind thus met Ludwig Schnorr von Carolsfeld, who was his teacher at the academy, Ferdinand Olivier and especially Peter von Cornelius who was his teacher in Munich. He moved much in the circles of the musician Franz Shubert and met his friends, musicians, painters, and writers. Von Schwind had learned to know and appreciate von Cornelius, who had been in Rome from 1811 to 1819 when he had been called to Munich by Prince Ludwig. Von Corneliusí work was however not very to the taste of the King, but von Cornelius had become the Director of the Munich Academy. Von Schwind left Vienna for this town to be near to von Cornelius, to study with him at the academy of Munich. Von Schwind moved definitely to Munich in 1828. He learned the art of fresco painting and quickly became socially very acceptable in the circles of the German richer middle-class. He painted for the palaces of King Ludwig I and Crown-Prince Maximilian, even for Ludwig II of Bavaria Ė even though the latter did not appreciate von Schwind much D8 - and he was called in to paint frescoes in town halls of Karlsruhe and Frankfurt. From 1847 on he was a professor at the Munich academy but he also remained connected to Vienna, where he painted frescoes in the Opera House from 1863 to 1867.

Von Schwind was a poetic, late Romantic painter. Since he was much in fashion with the well-to-do middle class and nobility of the major towns and courts of Germany and Austria, he has been classified as an eminent ĎBiedermeier artistí. Biedermeier art was very bourgeois art, sentimental, poetic, genre-oriented and refusing academic historical painting, but remaining very academic in execution. Biedermeier art was deliberately simple and unpretentious, somewhat moralising but that then very gently. It delivered nice landscapes, intimate genre scenes, a few mythological themes and religious romantic pictures. Von Schwind for instance decorated on themes from fables like Cinderella or Snow White and his landscapes were filled with beautiful, elegant elves.

The name ĎBiedermeierí came from a character called Gottfried Biedermeier, invented by the writer Adolf Kussmaul in 1853. Kussmaul and Ludwig Eichrodt wrote poems, ĎThe Biedermeier Poemsí, between 1855 and 1857 that were published regularly in a Munich satirical magazine ĎMŁnchner Fliegende Blštterí (Munich Loose Pages). The Biedermeier period dated mainly from between 1815 to around 1850, the first half of the nineteenth century in Austria and Germany.

Von Schwindís ĎAbigail before Davidí was painted in the middle of the Biedermeier period, in 1830, when the artist lived in Munich and was only just trying to learn painting and make a name for himself. We see Abigail knelt in front of David, pleading for leniency and bringing with her servants food to Davidís men. David is shown as a king, dressed in full armour, as he might well have been at the times of the Bible story, and accompanied by his soldiers. Moritz von Schwind was still young when he made this picture, since he came only to painting from 1821 on. He had made sketches for the scene from 1823 to 1824, and wanted since long to make a real painting of the theme. He stood fully in the influence of Peter von Cornelius. The ĎAbigail before Davidí was one of his very first large oil paintings. So he made a picture that is very Romantic in its aspirations of a young, beautiful, pure young woman coming to present herself humbly to a chivalrous knight. The woman Abigail is fine and noble, gracious and dressed in the fine, elegant clothes of a country lady. She has come to recognise the prevalence and power of David, which was a theme certainly of actuality in 1830 since Western Europe was racked then by growing unrest and challenges to the established nobility. Von Schwind already showed himself to be an artist that was very respectful of traditions and of the men that were in power. Von Schwind painted David in an equally elegant though somewhat mannered poise, known of ancient Roman statues. The whole scene is idealistic, poetic and composed with dignity.

Moritz von Schwind showed a scene of refinement. He used an easy composition, placing the women to the left and the men to the right. In the background he depicted an open landscape to bring more space in the picture and used for that the well-known Ďopen Ví structure, placing high dark trees on left and right. He strengthened the Ďopen Ví by the directions of the top enveloping lines of the figures, as Abigail kneels before David thus allowing a view on the wide landscape. Remark in this picture the clearly delineated colour areas, which were easy for a young painter and one of the design elements characteristic for Nazarene painting, and of Peter von Cornelius. The forms are very apparent, easy to discern for a viewer. Von Schwind also applied soft hues, almost pastel colours and we discover symmetries in his filling in of areas with colours. The hues on the right answer the hues of the right symmetrically. Von Schwind painted a vivid scene with all figures in different poises and he proved already to be able to master scenes with many figures and liking to depict many figures in scenes.

We have first paintings or first major paintings from many painters of course. Moritz von Schwind showed with ĎAbigail and Davidí his skills and rapid learning. He proved himself a painter eager to please the circles in which he was raised with sweet Romantic themes. He knew he had to surprise to please, so he made a picture of a theme that has rarely been painted before him, of the story of David and Abigail.

Other Paintings:




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