St. David, king, prophet, sinner, penitent – 16 or 29 Dec?

Holy Church considers many Old Testament figures to be saints.

My Roman Curia wall calendar indicates that today, 16 December, is the feast of King David, considered to be a saint.  I think, however, that the calender is wrong.

Open your trusty copy of the 2005 Martyrologium Romanum and you will find on 29 December, just below the St. Thomas Becket, this interesting entry:

2. Commemoratio sancti David, regis et prophetae, qu, filius Iesse Bethlehemitae, gratiam invenit ante Deum et oleo sancto a Samuele propheta unctus est, ut populum Israel regeret; in civitatem Ierusalem Arcam foederis Domini transtulit ac Dominus ipse mox ei iuravit semen eius in aeternum mansurum esse, eo quod ex ipso Iesus Christus secundum carnem nasciturus esset.

You readers can come up with your renderings of the Latin original, either in a smoother version or perhaps in a slavishly literal way.

Changing tracks slightly, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (I have posted about this before), there is a fine painting of King David, part of a series with other Old Testament figures.

These are elements from an altar piece by Florentine painter Lorenzo Monaco (known also as Piero di Giovanni +1422).

Moses is at the top left.  Next to him is Abraham.  Below him on the bottom right is Noah with his ark.

David is on the bottom left, holding a psaltery.

When you get the audio guide at the Met and listen to experts talk about the works, sometimes you get a sample of period music.  In this case, you get to hear some music played on a psaltery.

I dug around a bit and found some psaltery music on Youtube and elsewhere.

You can hear in this file a sample of bowed psaltery (also psaltry) together with a small harp, also appropriate to David, as well as plucked psaltery in two versions of a Medieval Lament for Tristan.

Listen as you do your translation!


Speaking of sinners and saints, I am reminded of something that Pope Francis said in his Angelus address on the Feast of All Saints:

“The Saints are not supermen, nor were they born perfect. They are like us, like each one of us. They are people who, before reaching the glory of heaven, lived normal lives with joys and sorrows, struggles and hopes. What changed their lives? When they recognized God’s love, they followed it with all their heart without reserve or hypocrisy. They spent their lives serving others, they endured suffering and adversity without hatred and responded to evil with good, spreading joy and peace. This is the life of a Saint. Saints are people who for love of God did not put conditions on him in their life; they were not hypocrites; they spent their lives at the service of others. They suffered much adversity but without hate. The Saints never hated. Understand this well: love is of God, then from whom does hatred come? Hatred does not come from God but from the devil! And the Saints removed themselves from the devil; the Saints are men and women who have joy in their hearts and they spread it to others. Never hate but serve others, the most needy; pray and live in joy. This is the way of holiness! Being holy is not a privilege for the few, as if someone had a large inheritance; in Baptism we all have an inheritance to be able to become saints. Holiness is a vocation for everyone. Thus we are all called to walk on the path of holiness, and this path has a name and a face: the face of Jesus Christ.”


A reader send this video.  Cool!

And then there is this.  A sweet sound.  One wonder how they might have accompanied chanting of the praises of God.

And this guy plays with two bows!

Please share this post!

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in Liturgy Science Theatre 3000, Pope Francis, Saints: Stories & Symbols and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to St. David, king, prophet, sinner, penitent – 16 or 29 Dec?

  1. Speaking of King David, what about his son, King Solomon? Is it, as I recently read or heard somewhere, the general opinion among the Fathers and Doctors that Solomon is in hell, on account of the folly to which his wives and concubines led him?

  2. Tom in NY says:

    “The commemoration of St. David, king and prophet. The son of Jesse from Bethlehem, he found favor before the Lord and was anointed with holy oil by Samuel the prophet , so that he would rule Israel. He transferred the Ark of the Lord’s Covenant, and the Lord soon swore to him that his line would remain through eternity, through which Jesus Christ would be born to the flesh.”
    Note the parallel of anointing on both sides. Note how English picked up transferre.
    Salutationes omnibus.

  3. Johnno says:

    Solomon is an ironic account about how the wisest can fall so low. He wished to expand his empire and so broke God’s commands not to enter into treaties with other nations in order to import horses and other goods, and so most treaties in those days with other nations involved peace treaties which would also require taking a wife from the family of the other ruler, the thought being such family ties will strengthen the bonds and prevent warfare. The problem is the peace treaties and Solomon’s legal wives also imported the immorality of other nations and their false gods into Israel which as a nation of people set apart was to be isolated from the corruption of other nations. This influence brought the same immorality and decadence into Israel, and Solomon, in order to appease his wives sought tolerance and freedom of religion, himself building up temples and shrines to these atrocities including the child sacrificing Baal and more.

    Solomon’s ambitions also required money so he taxed the people heavily and this led to civil war and divisions in Israel that finally led to schism, the greater part forming Israel, the fewer becoming Judea (if I recall correctly), because Jerusalem was its capital and that was where the Temple was . There are many many parallels there to the situation today in much of the world and even typology with regards to the Church.

    What became of Solomon was a tragedy. But looking into it further it makes sense why many in the Early Church would have that opinion of Solomon.


    “The Saints never hated. Understand this well: love is of God, then from whom does hatred come? Hatred does not come from God but from the devil! And the Saints removed themselves from the devil; the Saints are men and women who have joy in their hearts and they spread it to others.”

    I must admit that I have trouble with this in my own personal life… There is always hatred there. Many a times fueled by zealotry for justice, or just general frustration. Every time I think I’m finally past it, something will occur that shows me that there’s still always more buried there between the surface. Just the act of emptying oneself of hatred is itself an impossible task. in fact, we always tend to think of things like love and hatred in terms of one being good and the other evil. But I would turn more towards the teachings of the Orthodox from the Philokalia, where feelings such as love and hatred are not good or evil of themselves, there is a context to everything that determines their worth. it is not ‘love everything and hate nothing’ but rather ‘love what is right and hate what is evil.’ God created us with the capacity to love and hate, and in fact He Himself states when He love something, and when He hates something. Are emotions of love and hate are both created by God and imitate Him and thus are good. But the devil distorts these things. He tries to trick us to love wrong and hate right. He rewires us, and thus we must seek to channel our love and our hatred towards their intended purposes. Thus hatred becomes a positive if it is directed towards what is evil. Because without hating evil, you will not be moved to put an end to it. In order to have justice, one must be possessed of hatred and anger for what is unjust. Archbishop Sheen would’ve said that he who possesses no hatred for what is wrong cannot love. So we cannot ever be free of hatred, rather we should direct our hatred towards sin.

  4. Imrahil says:


    by Jewish and early Christian tradition, the hagiographs are prophets, even if they are not known as “prophets” nor even as biblical historiographs (“frontside prophets” to the Jews). David is a prophet because he wrote Psalms.

    By Our Lord’s words, all the prophets are sitting with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob at the table in the Kingdom of Heaven.

    Solomon wrote Ecclesiastes, Proverbs (in part by collecting), maybe (I don’t recall) the one or the other psalm; and Wisdom is also ascribed to him.

    I’m not downplaying his sins, but I’d be surprised if he did not receive grace. Clear is that he was drawn into his sins by good intentions (which are not the way to Hell, as Chesterton reminds us). The Eastern Orthodox (as reported by Wikipedia) venerate him as a saint.

  5. Imrahil says:

    Solomon wrote… and of course the Song of Songs.

  6. StnyPtGuy says:

    Ok, on the dating … 16 December, 29 December … that’s a difference of 13 days. Which is the classic difference between Old Style and New Style dating. Maybe the difference got lost in the shuffle.

  7. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    It would be fun to think of Beethoven being born on the Feast of St. David (for his fairly recently (re)discovered setting, see “Lost Beethoven Hymn – Pange lingua” on YouTube).

    As to Solomon, a quick bit of looking around found an 18th-c. Kievan icon of him (with nimbus) and the assertion that he is celebrated by the Orthodox among the Holy Forefathers on the second Sunday before Christmas (i.e., yesterday, Gregorianly, 29 December, Julianly) in the English Wikipedia article about him, and a painting by Bartolome Bermejo (c. 1480) in the Harrowing of Hell article in which one of the four figures leading the procession is identified as him. Saint Solomon, King of Britanny and Martyr (874), is commemorated on 25 June in the (or some) Orthodox calendar(s), while the 1910 Catholic Encyclopedia article on Saint Magnus notes that “Bishop Abbot Solomon III of Constance dedicated a church in honour of St. Magnus at the monastery of St. Gall”, so it seems to have been a baptismal name. And the Blessed Solomon le Clerq (baptized Nicholas) took that name when he entered the novitiate of the Brothers of Christian Schools on 25 March 1767. In their edition, Psalmoi Solomontes (1891), Ryle and James consider (while not favoring) the possibility that the work is commonly called The Psalms of Solomon because the subject of Psalm 16, there, “a thanksgiving for pardon after a fall into grievous sensual sin, offered a sufficiently close parallel to the traditional close of Solomon’s life” (p. lxi: Internet Archive scan).

    While the Holy Father’s words – ““The Saints are not supermen, nor were they born perfect” – are undeniably true in general, I understand that, upon the basis of his prophesying in St. Elizabeth’s womb, St. John is presumed by some to have been so graced there as to be born without sin.

  8. Quanah says:

    Can’t comment as to why David is listed today except to say that it is not correct. There is an Old Testament saint today though: St. Haggai. His book is quite short (only two chapters) and worth the quick read.

  9. Precentrix says:

    Randomly commenting on the psaltery…

    The psaltery depicted in the images is not a bowed psaltery, but a plucked psaltery. It’s basically the same, but without a bow, and would give a sound more similar to the harp, maybe with a hint of zither-ness… plus it’s easier to play the plucked one and sing at the same time, even if using plectra rather than one’s fingers/nails.

  10. The Masked Chicken says:

    “The Saints are not supermen, nor were they born perfect”

    Okay, I have to say it. There is one exception to this: a The Blessed Virgin Mary. She was born perfect. From William Wordsworth.

    The Virgin

    Mother! whose virgin bosom was uncrost
    With the least shade of thought to sin allied;
    Woman! above all women glorified,
    Our tainted nature’s solitary boast;
    Purer than foam on central ocean tost;
    Brighter than eastern skies at daybreak strewn
    With fancied roses, than the unblemished moon
    Before her wane begins on heaven’s blue coast;
    Thy Image falls to earth. Yet some, I ween,
    Not unforgiven the suppliant knee might bend,
    As to a visible Power, in which did blend
    All that was mixed and reconciled in Thee
    Of mother’s love with maiden purity,
    Of high with low, celestial with terrene!

    The Chicken

  11. Supertradmum says:

    It is clear from the Psalms and by Garrigou-Lagrange’s intense study on the mystical life and life of holiness, that Saint David indeed reached the heights of holiness. Examining the Psalms reveals a man, like St. Paul, who experienced the Illuminative and Unitive States.

    All sinners can become saints, and to dwell on the sinning part of a saint’s life is not helpful. Concentrate on David’s deep holiness.

    His heart was like that of God, say the Jews and early Christian commentators…..He is a saint who was in love with God. And, grew in that love.

  12. Disc-Thrower says:

    King St David is my baptismal saint! :) I am wondering if it there are propers for the Saint for Mass. Don’t suppose anyone would know?

  13. asperges says:

    Better late than never:

    “Commemoration of St David, king and prophet, who as son of Jesse of Bethlehem found grace before God and was anointed ruler of Israel with holy oil at the hands of the prophet Samuel. He transferred the Lord’s Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem and presently the Lord swore to him that his seed would prevail eternally, and through it Jesus Christ would be born in the flesh.”

Comments are closed.