Sydney Avey

Dynamic Woman — Changing Times

Book Review: The Secret Chord

Sep 20, 2017 | Book Reviews | 0 comments

The Secret ChordThe Secret Chord by Geraldine Brooks
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Secret Chord is the fourth Geraldine Brooks novel I’ve read. I’m a fan. I was especially interested when I heard she was writing about the life of David. I wanted to know why he was so beloved of the Lord.

Because Brooks chose to tell his story from the point of view of Nathan the Prophet, we do not get inside David’s head. That was probably a wise decision. While I am not satisfied that I better understand the special relationship David had with the Name (as Brooks portrays Jehovah God) I have a deeper appreciation for the historical context in which David became king. Brooks excels at revealing cultural influences and the emotional lives of her character.

Not your Sunday School David

This is not your Sunday School David. I always thought God played hardball with David when he denied him the opportunity to build the temple because he had shed blood. He was a soldier, after all. That’s what soldiers do. But Brooks shows us a David who may have relished his military leader role excessively. She portrays him as so brutal in his quest to unite the kingdoms that God’s withholding this honor was perhaps necessary to restore a sense of balance to the nascent kingdom. Solomon does seem like the better choice restore the kind of peace that allows for temple construction.

Regarding David’s character, some Evangelicals may have difficulty with the quick jump Brooks makes to assert that David and Jonathan’s relationship was sexual.Although such a relationship was outside the Jewish norm, it was certainly not outside the prevailing cultural norm. And Biblical language does seem to raise the possibility.

Brooks does a masterful job of fleshing out a familiar story. Music was as much a part of David’s life as military warfare. The difficulty is that it is easier to employ all the senses to depict battlefield carnage than it is to help us hear the music.

David is a pivotal Biblical character whose life story takes up more than a fair share of Scripture. He was passionate in everything he did, prideful by this account, but a man who humbled himself again and again before his God. He celebrated victory and suffered injury, even self-afflicted setbacks, with all his being. It seems to be his listening ear that earned him the love and respect of his people and rare access to God.

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