The First Book of David
Even those who have a superficial understanding of the Bible have a familiarity with her heroes. Abraham, Jacob, Samuel, David, and Solomon are among the many names echoing throughout the beautiful pages of the Old Testament. These pages tell the ancient Hebrew’s history and leave us with a legacy of powerful, righteous men who helped shape one of the world’s dominate religions. But who were these men and how would those closest to these heroic figures tell their stories? It is with these questions in mind that Pastor Larry L. Booker composed The First Book of David, a historical fiction that tells the tale of King David through the voices of those who were closest to him.
Much like the biblical account of King David, The First Book of David opens with the prophet Samuel. While on his way to Bethlehem to anoint the unsuspecting young David, Samuel has a series of flashbacks and digressions that tell his story and how he came to be the great Judge that he is at the start of the novel. With this initial exception, the entire narrative revolves around David and tells of the different parts of his life: shepherd, musician, poet, husband, warrior, outlaw, and King. Above all, however, David is a loyal follower of God, whose steadfast reverence and trust moves Israel out of a state of shame and persecution from the philistines and into an era of conquest and prosperity.
Stylistically, The First Book of David is incredibly strong. David’s story is told in segments through the words of those he loved and of those who loved and hated him, some of whom being Samuel, Abner, Goliath’s armor bearer, and David’s first wife, Michal. Having the narrative told from these different characters not only creates a dynamic David, and illustrates the depths this man would have had, but it also allows for the reader to picture what the people in David’s life would have been like. Most notably, Pastor Booker gives a voice to Michal, and though her tale of David, we also learn of what life may have been like for her historical counterpart. The love, betrayal, and eventual disdain that David and Michal endure come to life for the reader and allow for a deep empathy to be shared for the heartbreak that the two would have felt because of King Saul’s insane jealousy.
In terms of biblical accuracy, the novel is equally strong. Pastor Booker does a beautiful job of faithfully sticking to the sequence of events outlined in the books of First and Second Samuel. While he humbly describes his novel as a “meager human work,” its dualistic nature of both being an accurate history in terms of the biblical events it relates and a fiction in terms of the character development he creates allows King David’s world to live in the minds and hearts of the reader.
While there are points in the characters’ dialogue where the historical period is broken with overly contemporary phrasing, The First Book of David is a beautifully written, creative, and entertaining tale of King David’s life and legacy.
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