Pieter de Grebber ca. 1600 – 1653

King David in Prayer

oil on canvas (94 × 85 cm) — c. 1637 Museum Museum Catharijneconvent, Utrecht

This work is linked to 2 Samuel 24:13

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Tags: David

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The story of king David and the three plagues is told in 2 Samuel 24 and in 1 Chronicles 21. In the Chronicles it is Satan who pushes David to take a census. Joab, the captain of David's army, attempts to change his king's mind: why count people when the Lord adds a hundredfold? But David persists.

When the census is done, David is overcome by remorse for his act of vanity. He asks God to forgive him. God sends a messenger, the prophet Gad, to have David choose from three plagues.

In this painting by De Grebber, a painter from the Dutch town of Haarlem, Gad is not present. An angel holds the symbols of the plagues: a skull for three days of pestilence, a sword for three months of persecution by David's enemies, and empty ears of corn for three (or seven) years of famine.

David picks the shortest punishment, one not by man: pestilence. 70,000 men died.

Next to David are his attributes: a crown and a harp.

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