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david saul’s david’s samuel

Saul was the first king of Israel (eleventh century B.C. ); his life is recounted in 1 Samuel 9-31. He features in art primarily in episodes illustrating his variable relations with his successor *David. Saul was anointed as king by the prophet *Samuel but repeatedly disobeyed *God’s commands (e.g., in sparing the life of the Amalekite king Agag and in disobeying Samuel’s command and making sacrifices to *God). Hence, God instructed Samuel to anoint the youthful *shepherd David as Saul’s successor. David was brought to Saul’s court, where he entertained him and soothed his melancholy with his harp playing, but Saul became jealous and suspicious after David’s victory over *Goliath, David’s formation of close relations with Saul’s son *Jonathan, and David’s marriage to Saul’s daughter Michal. Saul had hoped to kill David by requiring that he slay 100 Philistines in order to gain Michal, but David triumphed by killing 200 Philistines. Saul tried to murder David with a lance while David was playing music for him (a scene frequently shown in art); David fled from Saul’s court but was pursued by Saul, whose life he later spared in an encounter in the hills. Saul was eventually defeated in battle with the Philistines, as foretold by the ghost of Samuel whom Saul contacted through the medium or Witch of Endor, and he committed suicide by falling on his own sword.

Various scenes involving Saul and David are found in art from the early Christian through late Gothic period: David refusing the arms offered by Saul before the combat with Goliath, David presenting Saul with the severed head of Goliath, Saul soothed by David’s harp playing but also attempting to kill David with his lance, David sparing Saul’s life, the *death of Saul and David’s grief.

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