One of the marks of a good book is when you turn that last page looking for more. Asking, “What happens next?”. And with Brooks’ The Secret Chord, you already know what happens next. And, yet, still….
I remember the first time I actually sat down and read Samuel and Kings as an adult. The David I met through the verses was a very different man from the prettied up version I was taught. And, still, this book made me see the ancient tale with new eyes.
The desperate loneliness of a boy neglected and abused by his father and brothers, denied the love of his mother. Then he finds affection, devotion, and deepest love in the family of a madman. Only to have it all torn away by the madness.
You can’t help but feel Michal’s hopeless, helpless, rage at the neglect and abuse she suffered from her mad father and her oblivious husband. At, finally, finding happiness and affection from someone, and having that torn away to appease that husband’s honor. Batsheva’s fear of a king’s desire and her grief when, as a consequence, she loses her child. David’s sorrow and grief as the four-fold punishment unfolds. Tamar’s terror and the outrage of Maacah and Avshalom.
Then there’s Natan, at the center of things, yet outside them. Knowing what is to come but unable to speak of it. The scene where he utters his first prophecy, feet caked in the blood of his father, resonates. Another chord, pulsing throughout.
On the flip side, the passages about David and Yonathan are achingly poignant. Beautiful. As was his relationship with Avigail. And, of course, his gorgeous music and obvious love for and devotion to the Land and the Name.
At the end, as the joyous celebration resounds through the streets, David listens from his sickbed, and is comforted, while Yoav and Adoniyah, hearing it from their treasonous feast, are anything but. Then it’s, “What happens next?”.
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars