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Why Davidic Chiasmus?

The “courses of the heavens and the earth” roll in perfect balance, according to laws governed by the grand Creator, “giving light to each other in their times and seasons” (DC 88:40­45). The kingdoms of the world in all their majesty down to the most basic elements constituting the material universe are equally arranged in wisdom and in order.

Surely, if all of God’s creations are arrayed in an ordered and harmonious way, from the temple which is a “house of order” (DC 88:119; 109:8; 132:8) to the simplest “lilies of the field” (Matt. 6:28; 3 Nephi 13:28; DC 84:82), would not the written word of God also conform to such a pattern with glorious perfection?

Perhaps the great contention over the interpretation of scripture comes from our very ignorance over the Lord’s pattern of writing. Some scholars have suggested that the scriptures must be viewed as an elaborate jigsaw puzzle; the paramount objective is to find adjacent pearls of wisdom and arrange God’s word out of this seeming chaos until he can complete the rest of the picture. Do these same scholars see a similar jigsaw puzzle within the heavens on a starlit night, among earthly kingdoms or among all other creations of God?

In the 1984 masterpiece motion picture “Amadeus,” the accomplished composer Antonio Salieri surreptitiously receives a folder of musical scores written in draft form by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. He thumbs through these manuscripts and finds to his utter amazement that none of the scores contains a single error or correction. As he peruses each flawless page, rich and vibrant chords of music expand all around him; tears immediately swell up in his eyes. Overcome with emotions by the rather apparent “gift from God” that rested within Mozart, Salieri lets the pages flutter to the floor. If these very same sonatas, concertos and symphonies were introduced in their original form to the untrained, would order be manifested? Yet, if the eye could but understand the notes, timing, rhythm, melody, and harmonious blends of the written score with precision, would they resonate rich luxuriant chords within one’s soul, stir our deepest passions, and embrace our very being, as they did Salieri?

In truth, the Word of God transcends even the most brilliantly written musical score in both power and beauty.

“For as the rain…and the snow 
 [cometh down] from heaven, 
  and returneth not thither, 
   but watereth the earth, 
    and maketh it bring forth and bud, 
     that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater:

So shall my word be 
 that goeth forth out of my mouth: 
  it shall not return unto me void, 
   but it shall accomplish that which I please, 
    and it shall prosper 
     in the thing whereto I sent it.” (Isaiah 55:10-11).

To the Ancient Patriarchs, the Word of God once spoken took on its own existence. This order was the organizing principle by which this earth came into creation, it is the means by which the Lord destroys confusion and contention, and it is the means by which spiritual darkness will be overcome by the dawning of God’s light.

To the Ancients, each “system of writing itself is an effective seal on the holy books, a cryptogram, a secret formula which the profane do not know” (Nibley, Timely and Timeless, p. 112). The place of writing was always, “part of the temple, and the books contain the earliest poetry, for poema means ‘creation’ and the business of the Muses at the temple was to sing the Creation song with the morning stars” (Nibley, Timely and Timeless, p. 115).

This Davidic literary pattern is introduced as the governing structure that binds and incorporates all other poetic and rhetorical devices within prophetico-Messianic literature. This structure testifies of God’s preeminent Son, Jesus Christ, his wholeness, completeness and perfection as the Davidic Servant. This pattern further testifies of the “last days” and the hope of redemption for the humble followers who will ultimately inherit the Kingdom of God. Finally, it serves as a model of the story of Adam in his fallen state and his journey back home and thus marks all such conforming scriptural text as “ritual literature.”

We will never really understand the paradoxical essence of the scriptures until we understand how the original prophetic writers shaped it. Until then, these scriptures will remain largely beyond us. But once we learn the pattern of God’s words, and the laws and principles by which they are governed, we begin to approach the scriptures with renewed reverence and respect. We then will begin to know for ourselves, and “not then be dependent on man for knowledge of God; nor will there be any room for speculation” (TPJS p. 11-12). Only then, we will be able to sing the song of salvation with the heavenly choirs.

Jared R. Demke, August 2001

1 comment to Why Davidic Chiasmus?

  • Scott Vanatter

    Why is this structure named “Davidic Chiasmus”?

    The divine message of this literary structure is summarized with the name “Davidic.”

    1. In every dispensation, the Lord has given keys of knowledge, power and revelations to prophets, i.e., messianic servants. All of these prophets serve as a type of Jesus Christ, who was called the Son of David (Matt 1:1; 9:27; 12:23; 15:22; 20:30-31; 21:9,15; 22:42).

    2. The word David means “beloved” and the name gives reverence to Jesus Christ (Matt 12:18; 17:5; Luke 9:35; 20:13), who is the exemplar Davidic servant.

    3. There are many biblical prophecies that address the Lord’s Servant, who would exemplify righteousness, and be the Branch and King to Judah in the latter-days (2 Samuel 7:8-19; Psalm 89:1-4; Psalm 132:1-18; Isaiah 9:7, 11:1-11, 49:7, 55:3-4; Jer. 23:3-8, 30:8-9, 33:15-22; Ezek. 34:23-24, 37:21-28; Daniel 7:14; Hosea 3:4-5; Micah 2:13, 5:2; Amos 9:11; Zech. 3:8-9, 12:8). Joseph Smith prophesied that “The throne and kingdom of David is to be taken from him and given to another by the name of David in the last days, raised up out of his lineage.” (Joseph Smith History of the Church 6:253). In view of these prophecies and of the fifteenth Beracha of the Shemone-Esre (the daily Jewish prayer consisting of eighteen benedictions): “make the branch (zemach) of David thy servant to shoot forth speedily, and let his horn rise high by virtue of Thy salvation,” it is hardly to be doubted that this future Davidic Servant will play a most prominent role associated with the Lord’s Second Coming.

    4. Finally, the name itself implies that all of God’s children have it within themselves the regenerative powers to become like Christ. Joseph Campbell wrote, “The cosmogonic cycle is presented with astonishing consistency in the sacred writings of all the continents, and it gives to the adventure of the hero a new and interesting turn; for now it appears that the perilous journey was a labor not of attainment but of reattainment, not discovery but rediscovery. The godly powers sought and dangerously won are revealed to have been within the heart of the hero all the time. He is ‘the king’s son’ who has come to know who he is and therewith has entered into the exercise of his proper power – ‘God’s son,’ who has learned to know how much that title means. From this point of view the hero is symbolical of that divine creative and redemptive image which is hidden within us all, only waiting to be known and rendered into life.” (The Hero with a Thousand Faces, p. 39).

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