David in Distress

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This book analyzes the thirteen historical psalms (3, 7, 18, 34, 51, 52, 54, 56, 57, 59, 60, 63, 142) in the Psalter that refer to crucial moments in King David’s life as recorded in the Samuel narrative (1 Sam 16 – 1 Kings 2). Because most Psalms research focuses on the original setting, the so-called Sitz-im-Leben, of these late additions to the book of Psalms, they have received little attention.

Using a text-based analysis, Johnson has found that these historical psalms focus on episodes of King David’s life in which he experienced trouble. For example, Psalm 3 refers to the coup started by his son Absalom, Psalm 59 refers to the evening when Saul tried to kill David, and Pslam 57 refers to David's days as a fugitive fleeing from Saul. By highlighting situations of David during his times of distress, these historical psalms tend to recast him as a man who prayed to his God in every moment of difficulty. This recasting of David adds to the various portraits representations of David found in biblical narrative.