A beautiful, reflective image for today’s advent offering – a painting of Israel’s King David by Yorkshire artist Frederick Leighton. Rather than depicting the king robed in splendour or engaged in some high-powered affair of state, Leighton presents us with a man who, on this cool evening, has cast aside his crown (weary, perhaps, of his royal responsibilities) and who sits on the roof top, contemplating the grey clouds that are jostling their way into his horizon. Certainly, we need only read II Samuel to know that David’s life had more than its fair share of clouds (many of which he invited in himself). And yet here, perhaps, he is also looking beyond them, to the glorious sun-soaked golden clouds that stretch out in the distance and to those two doves, hovering in the twilight sky, who, perhaps, represent for Leighton’s David that glorious, untrammelled sense of liberty and peace of mind, which, as King of Israel, he can only dream of.
O that I had wings like a dove!
I would fly away and be at rest;
truly, I would flee far away;
I would lodge in the wilderness
I would hurry to find a shelter for myself
from the raging wind and tempest.”(Psalm 55:6-8)