11/04/16 Aggiornato il:

Rembrandt | Saul and David, 1655-1660 | Art in Detail



According to the Hebrew Bible, Saul was the first king of a united Kingdom of Israel and Judah. His reign, traditionally placed in the late 11th century BCE, would have marked a switch from a tribal society to statehood.
After Samuel tells Saul that God has rejected him as king, David, a son of Jesse, from the tribe of Judah, enters the story: from this point on Saul's story is largely the account of his increasingly troubled relationship with David.




  • (1 Samuel 16:1-13) Samuel is surreptitiously sent by God to Jesse. While offering a sacrifice in the vicinity, Samuel includes Jesse among the invited guests. Dining together, Jesse's sons are brought one by one to Samuel, each time being rejected by him, speaking for God; running out of sons, Jesse sends for David, the youngest, who was tending sheep. When brought to Samuel, David is anointed by him in front of his other brothers.
  • (1 Samuel 16:14-23) Saul is troubled by an evil spirit sent by God. He requests soothing music, and a servant recommends David the son of Jesse, who is renowned as a skillful harpist and soldier. When word of Saul's needs reach Jesse, he sends David, who had been looking after a flock, and David is appointed as Saul's armor bearer and remains at court playing the harp as needed to calm Saul during his troubled spells.
  • (1 Samuel 17:1-18:5) The Philistines return with an army to attack Israel, and the Philistine and Israelite forces gather on opposite sides of a valley. The Philistine's gigantic champion Goliath challenges the Israelite army to send their champion to fight with him. David is described as a young shepherd boy who happens to be delivering food to his three eldest brothers in the army, and he hears Goliath's challenge. David speaks mockingly of the Philistines to some soldiers; his speech is overheard and reported to Saul, who summons David and appoints David as his champion. David easily defeats Goliath with a single shot from a sling. At the end of the passage, Saul asks his general, Abner, who David is.
Saul's son Jonathan becomes David's dearest friend. Jonathan recognizes David as the rightful king, and 1 Samuel 18 states "Jonathan made a covenant with David, because he loved him as his own soul". Jonathan even gives David his military clothes, symbolizing David's position as successor to Saul.
God makes David successful wherever Saul sends him. Therefore, Saul sets David in charge of the army. Upon David's return from battle, the women praise him in song; "Saul has slain his thousands and David his tens of thousands", implying that David is the greater warrior. Saul fears David's growing popularity and henceforth views him as a rival to the throne.
In one incident, David plays the harp for Saul, who -possessed by an evil spirit -throws a spear at him but misses twice. Saul removes David from the court by sending him into the field at the head of the army, but David becomes increasingly successful and Saul becomes increasingly resentful. Saul offers his daughter Merob to David as a wife, but David protests that he is unworthy to marry the king's daughter and Merob is married to a different man. When Saul's other daughter Michal falls in love with David, Saul offers him her hand. David initially rejects this offer also, this time claiming he is too impoverished to marry her. Saul offers to accept the unusual bride price of only 100 Philistines foreskins, intending that David die trying to remove them. Instead, David obtains 200 foreskins and is consequently married to Michal.

Now Saul actively plots against David, but without success due to Jonathan's help. Saul sends assassins in the night, but Michal helps him escape, tricking them by placing a household idol in his bed. David flees to Jonathan, who arranges a meeting with his father. While dining with Saul, Jonathan explains David's absence, saying he has been called away to his brothers. But Saul sees through the ruse and reprimands Jonathan for protecting David, warning him that his love of David will cost him the kingdom. The next day, Jonathan meets with David and tells him Saul's intent. The two friends say their goodbyes, and David flees into the countryside. Saul later marries Michal to another man.

Saul is later informed by his head shepherd, Doeg the Edomite, that high priest Ahimelech assisted David, giving him the sword of Goliath, which had been kept at the temple at Nob. Doeg kills Ahimelech and eighty-five other priests and Saul furthermore massacres the entire population of Nob.
David had already left Nob by this point and had amassed some 400 disaffected men including some outlaws. With these men David rescues the town of Keilah from a Philistine attack. Saul realises he could trap David and his men by laying the city to siege. Upon receiving divine council (via the Ephod), David learns that the citizens of Keilah will betray him to Saul. He flees to Ziph pursued by Saul. Saul hunts David in the vicinity of Ziph on two occasions:

Some of the inhabitants of Ziph betray David's location to Saul, but David hears about it and flees with his men to Maon. Saul follows David, but is forced to break off pursuit when the Philistines invade. After dealing with that threat Saul tracks David to the caves at Engedi. As he searches the cave David manages to cut off a piece of Saul's robe without being discovered, yet David restrains his men from harming the king. David then leaves the cave, revealing himself to Saul, and gives a speech that persuades Saul to reconcile.
On the second occasion, Saul returns to Ziph with his men. David hears of this he slips into Saul's camp by night, and again refrains his men from killing the king; instead he steals Saul's spear and water jug, leaving his own spear thrust into the ground by Saul's side. The next day, David reveals himself to Saul, showing the jug and spear as proof that he could have slain him. David then persuades Saul to reconcile with him; the two swear never to harm each other. After this they never see each other again.








Saul è un personaggio biblico, primo re del Regno di Israele (1079-1007 a.C.), il suo regno sembra abbia segnato il passaggio da una società tribale ad una statale. Il significato del nome Saul in ebraico è "richiesto/pregato". Era figlio di Chis e apparteneva alla tribù di Beniamino.
L’intera vicenda narrata nei capitoli 16-31 del primo libro  di Samuele è segnata dal contrasto, che ben presto diventa confronto serrato, tra il re Saul, respinto dal Signore per la sua disobbedienza, e il nuovo unto, David, che comincia la sua ascesa fino alla conquista del trono. 
La crescente fama di Davide irritò talmente Saul che Davide dovette fuggire. Davide andò da Samuele a Rama, gli raccontò di come Saul aveva cercato di farlo morire. Saul cercò più volte di riportare indietro Davide ma senza successo. Quest'ultimo strinse un patto di amicizia con Gionata, il quale si dimostrò incredulo nel sapere che suo padre Saul voleva ucciderlo: ma dovette ricredersi. Infatti, il primo giorno di Luna nuova, Davide avrebbe dovuto sedere a tavola con Saul, ma non si presentò e neanche l'indomani. Saul si adirò e questo fu il segno che convinse Gionata circa i timori che gli aveva manifestato Davide.
Quest'ultimo andò quindi a Nob e si fece dare del pane consacrato dal sacerdote Achimelech e la spada che era stata di Golia. Mentre Davide si trovava a Mizpa in compagnia della sua famiglia, Saul venne a sapere che egli era stato a Nob.
Successivamente, Davide liberò Keila, sconfiggendo i filistei e insediandosi nella città. Venuto a sapere che Saul lo cercava, si rifugiò nel deserto di Maon. Anche qui Saul gli diede la caccia ma, quando stava per accerchiarlo, dovette rinunciarvi e andare via perché i filistei avevano invaso il paese.
Davide si rifugiò poi nel deserto. Saul, ancora una volta, andò alla sua ricerca e si addentrò in una caverna dove Davide era nascosto. Quando il re uscì fuori facendogli capire che se avesse voluto lo avrebbe potuto uccidere, Saul gli fu riconoscente e gli chiese di non sterminare la sua stirpe una volta che fosse diventato re di Israele.
Davide si nascondeva sulla collina e Saul vi si recò con tremila uomini per dargli la caccia. Mentre erano accampati e dormivano, Davide,di soppiatto, prese la lancia che era conficcata nel terreno e la brocca, entrambe vicino al capo di Saul, e si allontanò. Da lontano Davide gridò verso Saul, dicendo che non gli voleva alcun male visto che gli era andato vicino mentre dormiva portando via la lancia e la brocca.
Per non essere più perseguitato da Saul, Davide si stabilì presso i filistei; il re di Gath gli diede la città di Ziklag, dove si insediò insieme alle sue due mogli Ainoam e Abigail.
Qualche tempo dopo, Davide e i suoi uomini si aggiunsero ad Achis e ai filistei che avanzavano per affrontare gli israeliti, ma gli altri principi lo rimandarono indietro, perché non lo consideravano uno di loro. Tornato a Ziklag, la trovò sottosopra, devastata dagli Amaleciti, che avevano razziato tutto e portato via donne e bambini, tra cui anche le due mogli di Davide. Prese con sé i suoi 600 uomini e recuperò il bottino riportando indietro donne e bambini.
Intanto la fine di Saul era vicina, gli israeliti furono decimati: a soccombere anche i figli di Saul. Quest'ultimo, piuttosto che perdere la vita per mano dei filistei, preferì morire gettandosi sulla sua stessa spada e rimanendone trafitto.