Theophany

THE QUINTESSENCE OF THE WISDOM OF EXISTENCE

IN THE LOGOS OF DAVID

Since the station of prophecy and rank of messenger hood are a distinction conferred by God and one of the infinite divine gifts — not a reward deriving from a previous act, nor a gift springing from the expectation of a subsequent thanksgiving or worship — and in the same way since most of the gifts which derive from this station are effusions of pure bounty and beneficence and of perfect mercy and gratuitous gift, in this Wisdom, alludes to some of the gifts which David received with his words, He gave David as a bounty, i.e., as grace and gratuitous gift, knowledge of Himself not necessitated by his works. For if his works had necessitated it, it would have been a reward, whereas it has already been mentioned that prophecy and messenger hood are a distinction conferred by God and unrelated to acquisition and effort, just as are most of the gifts and favors which pertain to this station. And in the same way, he gave him Solomon, for He said, “And we gave unto David Solomon” (cf. Qur’an). And there remain His words, “And We gave David bounty from Us” (cf. Qur’an). Was this gift referred to as a “giving of bounty” the giving of a reward for his works, or did it mean a gratuitous gift?

Obviously, it is the second, because He mentioned that He gave David bounty, and He did not say that He gave him what He gave him as & a reward for his works; and He did not seek recompense from him for that bounty. When He did seek thanksgiving for that through works, He sought it from his House, not from him, as He said, “Perform works, О House of David, as thanksgiving” (cf. Qur’an), because blessings upon the forebears are blessings upon the descendants. So in David’s case, it was the bestowal of a gratuitous gift and a grace, and recompense was sought from his House. And He said, after seeking thanksgiving from the House of David in the form: of works, “and few are those who are truly thankful among My servants” (cf. Qur’an), employing the intensive form, or “truly thankful”, in order that it might embrace “prescriptive thanksgiving”, which the servants are required to perform according to the prescriptions of the Divine Law, and “voluntary thanksgiving”, which is not prescribed, but which the servants perform voluntarily, for to intensify one’s thanksgiving is to perform both of its kinds. Voluntary thanksgiving is referred to by the words, “Shall I not be a thankful servant?” — the words of the Prophet, when he stayed awake the whole night until his feet became swollen, and it was said to him, “Refrain, for God has forgiven thee thy early sins and the later,” and he answered the above. And prescriptive thanksgiving is that which is commanded by God, like His words, “And give thanks to God” (cf. Qur’an) and His words, “And be you thankful for the blessing of  God” (cf. Qur’an).

And between the two kinds of thanksgiving, there exists a difference of degree or qualitative disparity which is equivalent to the difference between the two kinds of people who render thanks; so just as he who renders thanks voluntarily is more excellent than he who renders it as a result of prescription, in the same way, voluntary thanksgiving is more excellent than prescriptive thanksgiving. This is patent and obvious for him who understands things from God, and not on the basis of his own reason. And David is specifically appointed to the vicegerency by God to judge among men and exercise free disposal among men, for God said, “David, behold, We have appointed thee a vicegerent in the earth,  therefore judge between men justly” (cf. Qur’an); and the imamate, i.e., he is also specifically appointed to his imamate, for imamate in relation to vicegerency is like sanctity in relation to prophecy, since every vicegerent is an imam but not the reverse. Whereas other than he, or other than David, like Adam or Abraham, is not so. As for Abraham, this is because God’s words concerning him were, “Behold, I make you an Imam for the people” (Qur’an). He did not say “vicegerent”, even though we know that here the imamate is a vicegerency; but it is not as if He had mentioned it by its most particular name, i.e., vicegerency itself.

And as for Adam, although his vicegerency was stipulated by the text of the Qur’an, it is not like the stipulation concerning David. For God said to the angels, “I am setting in the earth a vicegerent” (cf. Qur’an); He did not say, “I am setting Adam as a vicegerent”. And what is mentioned afterward in his story does not indicate that he is that very vicegerent whom God stipulated in the Qur’an. And also He did not make explicit His appointing him a judge among men. And here we are only talking about the explicit mention in the text of the Qur’an. And he who has been given general vicegerency by God has been given rule and free disposal in all the world, and David was of this type, and therefore he was given the power of free disposal over the various kinds of beings, as it indicates with his words: the mountains’ echoing God’s praise with him — for whenever he chanted and echoed the praise of God, the mountains would chant and echo it with him (cf. Qur’an) — and likewise the birds’ echoing praise with him announce the agreement or the agreement of these two kinds of being with him and their obedience to him.

And the reason these two kinds were specified as agreeing and concurring is that they are the beings the most disdainful of man, the most elevated above him, and the most inclined to reject obeying him, because of the sway which hardness and lightness hold over them. Obviously, both of them refuse to obey or to accept the power of free disposal over them: as for the first, because of the extremity of its “grossness” and heaviness, which refuses to be influenced; and as for the second, because of its extreme lightness and the fact that it is not fixed before the agent when it is influenced and controlled.

Evidently, if these two extremes with their exaggerated refusal and their disdain do obey David and agree with him, the agreement of man with him is more suitable, for man has a position between the mountains and the birds and approaches a state of equilibrium. Necessarily David’s relationship with a man is firmer and more manifest (i.e., it was much easier for him to exercise free disposal over man).

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