Advent offering 6 December

Today’s advent image is from that master artist, Rembrandt van Rijn. The painting I’ve chosen is  Saul and David, which depicts the narrative found in I Samuel 16. Saul, stricken by evil spirits inflicted upon him by God, finds solace only in the musical therapy offered by David’s harp playing. The scene we see here is incredibly tranquil – you can almost hear the soothing melody coming from the instrument being plucked intently by the young David, who sits, totally engrossed in his musical endeavours. Saul, meanwhile, rests beside him, still clearly distressed despite the music he is listening to, and wiping away tears that run down his cheek. The dark background gives the painting a sombre feel – there is quiet, there is music, but there is great sadness too. The utter tragedy that wraps around the entire narrative of Saul like his heavy brocade cloak is almost palpable. And, all too soon, the relationship between these two men will shatter into a thousand moments of hostility, distrust, and threat. Best leave them then, caught in this peaceful moment, a king and a musician sharing their love for melodies that soothe the soul.

Rembrandt van Rijn (and/or workshop), Saul and David (between 1650 and 1670)

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