Label Text: Marc Chagall was determined that his illustrations for a French publication of the Old Testament would express both the mystery and immediacy he had always experienced in the ancient texts. In this illustration of 2 Samuel 22, King David sings thanks to God for delivering him from the many troubles and enemies he encountered during his rise from young court musician and cunning slayer of Goliath to triumphant King of Israel.
The image illustrates the unfathomable (to the modern mind) tangibility of God’s relationship to the men of the Old Testament. A shaft of heavenly light pierces the darkness, opening a channel to heaven that directs David’s material utterances to a God who seems to be listening from just beyond the edge of the page—within clear sight of David, and yet not visible to us. Chagall invests light, word, and the relationship between God and man with a substantial physicality that was lost to modern society and philosophies.
Chagall, whose work embraced the real and surreal, was uniquely suited to evoke a time when the realm of angels so closely touched the world of men.