The Secret Chord by Geraldine Brooks

The Secret Chord_As someone who went to Sunday School from a young age, I am pretty familiar with the the story of David, the shepherd boy who killed the giant Goliath and became king of Israel. So I wondered what more I could learn about David from Brook’s new book, The Secret Chord which is about David’s life.  The answer is, quite a lot!

Told from the viewpoint of the the prophet Nathan, who became David’s conscience and moral compass we hear how David rose from the obscurity of being a shepherd boy, to the fearless young man who killed the giant Goliath, a Philistine who had been taunting the Israel’s armies. Although David then became a companion to King Saul, Saul’s madness and paranoia soon drove him into exile in order to save his own life and sets him on the path to eventually become king himself.  David’s failures as a husband and father as well as his ultimate betrayal of trust to one of the men who served him are vividly portrayed as well as Nathan’s role in calling him to account for his wrongdoing. This is the complicated story of a less than perfect man who somehow became one of the most loved kings of Israel, and who forged a strong relationship with his God in spite of his own short comings and imperfections.

From the beginning, Brooks transforms the biblical narrative of David’s early life giving context and meaning to why David was sent away from his family at an early age to become a shepherd for his father’s flocks. Her insightful reasons for why a father might do that sets the tone of David’s life and allows us to understand some of the choices he makes later on in his life in ways that I had not thought about before. I really appreciated how Brooks wove in many of the songs (Psalms) that are attributed to David throughout the book; letting his own words speak for themselves.  Brooks allows us to a see a more complicated human being, someone to whom I could relate to and identify with rather than just a story I heard in Sunday School and that is quite an achievement!

Brenda’s Rating: ****(4 out of 5 Stars)

Recommend this book to: Sharon, Keith and Ken

Book Study Worthy? Yes

Read in ebook format.

This entry was posted in Fiction, Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to The Secret Chord by Geraldine Brooks

  1. The title of Brooks’ book, The Secret Chord, resonates with Leonard Cohen’s much-loved song, “Hallelujah” also about David. Cohen wrote:

    I’ve heard there was a secret chord
    That David played, and it pleased the Lord
    But you don’t really care for music, do you?

    The fourth, the fifth
    The minor fall, the major lift
    The baffled king composing Hallelujah

    Hallelujah, Hallelujah
    Hallelujah, Hallelujah

    Your faith was strong but you needed proof
    You saw her bathing on the roof
    Her beauty in the moonlight overthrew you
    She tied you to a kitchen chair
    She broke your throne, and she cut your hair
    And from your lips she drew the Hallelujah

  2. bseat says:

    Yes, indeed! Thanks for posting the lyrics!

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