What comes to mind when you think of David from the Bible?
Last year Rene Schlaepfer shared a series of sermons about David as part of Mount Hermon’s “Camp in Box” (their way of providing camp during the pandemic). I found it fascinating! Rene did a wonderful job of showing David as a real, historical man rather than the simplified character that graces the pages of so many kids books.
Now, a year later, my mom and I decided to read Rene’s book, Chasing David. I thought I’d share the new things I’m learning as we go through it.
David’s World: Worse Than 2020?
David was born in 1040 B.C., during the end of the Late Bronze Age collapse. About 150 years before, almost all the kingdoms in the Mediterranean and Fertile Crescent, which had enjoyed a long golden age, started to collapse. No one knows exactly why, but there’s evidence of:
- Severe famine.
- Volcanic eruptions.
- Roaming bands of pirates.
All these things were happening at once and led to about 300 years of post-apocalyptic anarchy where small bands of people tried to survive. Rene goes into more detail about the time period that’s also interesting, but I liked this modern way he summarized it:
The closest thing to this in our contemporary imaginations, as strange as the analogy may sound, is the zombie apocalypse movie genre, with outnumbered survivors forging small alliances against an overwhelming and super-powered foe (page 23, Chasing David).
This sort of historical context really shapes the world David was born into. I know the pandemic has been hard, but those things all at once sounds worse!
House of Bread
David was born in Bethlehem, which literally means “house of bread.” I never really thought about what Bethlehem might mean before. But apparently Ancient Israelites loved baking. In fact, baking trays are one way that archaeologists identify if a ruin is Isarelite or not!
When I mentioned this to my husband, he also pointed out that understanding bread’s cultural value provides one reason Jesus called himself the bread of life. Perhaps in another culture he’d be called the rice of life?
It’s also worth noting that Bethlehem in David’s time wasn’t the same as Bethlehem when Jesus was born. It was the same physical place, but when David lived there, “It was an important sacred burial site for those of wealth and power, a prestigious place with the best artisans, located directly on a strategic north-south trade route” (page 28, Chasing David).
By the time Jesus was born, the Assyrians and Babylonians had invaded the region and Bethlehem had become the little town we think of from Christmas carols.
More to Come
Stay tuned for more fascinating insights into David!