David Mourns Absalom

David, too, is one of Chagall's favorite biblical figures. Chagall presented him as a victor over
Goliath, as mighty king with the harp, but also as lonely mourner. David Mourns Absalom
shows a king tragically torn between the love for his son and the reconquering of his power. The
mighty walls and towers in the background are symbols of David's political achievements and
riches. For the time being, however, he has turned his back on them, and even his tilting crown
seems to be suggesting temporary indifference for earthly power and glory. David is all wrapped
up in himself and his sorrow. But grief is only one of many conflicting emotions. David is king and
father. Absalom was a rebellious son reaching out for the father's crown. Absalom was doomed by
his beautiful hair, and David's followers stabbed the trapped son to death. Now grief seems to win
the day. David has retained his love for Absalom and bemoans his death. The sun in the back-
ground is like the mirror image of David's torn soul. Is it the rising sun of David's re-established
power or the setting sun of his fatherly love and grief?
Related scripture reading:  2Samuel 19: 1-4


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