On December 29, the Church celebrates the Feast of King David, just a few days after Christmas.

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The New Testament begins with the verse: “An account of the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah, the son of David, the son of Abraham” (Matthew 1:1). Jesus is known as “the son of David”, inheriting kingship from the beloved king of Israel. Saint Paul reminds us in the Epistle to the Romans that Jesus Christ our Lord “was descended from David according to the flesh and was declared to be Son of God with power according to the spirit of holiness by resurrection from the dead” (Romans 1:3-4).

David is one of the most well-known figures in the Old Testament, the shepherd who became king and was loved by God. When he seeks to build a Temple for God, God announces to him: “I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come forth from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever” (2Samuel 7:12-13). This son, Christians believe, is not only Solomon but the son that will born to the House of David and who is the Messiah and the Son of God.

Some might be surprised that David is celebrated as a saint in the Church. Indeed he did many great things for Israel but he was also a sinner. This reminds us though that the saint is the person who is profoundly aware of his or her weaknesses and constantly asks God’s forgiveness. According to tradition, David is the composer of the Book of Psalms, a collection that illustrates the entire spectrum of human existence – the joy and exultation and the frailty and darkness of the human person who comes before God.

Perhaps, the most memorable episode in the life of David is his repentance for what he did when he took Bathsheba from her husband Uriah, fathering a child in adultery and murdering Uriah. David’s repentance has been immortalized in Psalm 51, a psalm that has become every Christian’s own song of repentance. “Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Against you, you alone, have I sinned, and done what is evil in your sight, so that you are justified in your sentence and blameless when you pass judgment” (Psalm 51:1-4).