“You are the most handsome of men.
Grace is poured upon your lips.
Therefore God has blessed you forever.
Gird your sword on your thigh
In your glory and majesty!
O mighty one!
The king is the most handsome man in the world. Grace sits on his lips. God has blessed him forever. His sword is on his thigh. He is the mighty one in glory and majesty. He is like a mini-god. Flattery will get you everywhere with this psalmist.
“If one does not repent,
God will sharpen his sword.
He has bent and strung his bow.
He has prepared his deadly weapons,
He makes his arrows fiery shafts.
See how they conceive evil!
They are pregnant with mischief.
They bring forth lies.
They make a pit.
They dig it out.
They fall into the hole that they have made.
Their mischief returns upon their own heads.
On their own heads violence descends.”
If the wicked ones do not repent, God will sharpen his sword against them. The bows and arrows will be ready like deadly fiery arrows. Notice that the wicked ones are always conceiving evil. In a colorful phrase, they are pregnant with mischief. The result of their pregnancy is lies. They dig out pits to snare people, but they fall into their own traps. Thus their conceived mischief and violence returns and descends on their own heads. The tables are turned on the violent wicked ones.
“Judith went up to the bedpost near General Holofernes’ head. She took down his sword that hung there. She came close to his bed. She took hold of the hair of his head. She said.
‘Give me strength today,
O Lord God of Israel!’
Then she struck his neck twice with all her might. She cut off his head. Next she rolled his body off the bed. She pulled down the canopy from the posts. Soon afterward she went out. She gave General Holofernes’ head to her maid, who placed it in her food bag.”
Well, there it is, the high point of this book. The beautiful Hebrew widow chops off the head of the great general of the great army. She even used his own sword and prayed to God before she did it. This dynamic action made her part of medieval European literature in homilies, biblical paraphrases, histories, and poetry. She was the brave warrior and yet an exemplar of pious chastity. Judith found her way into the works of Dante, and Chaucer. In popular stories, the enemy was always General Holofernes. Painters and sculptors like Donatello, Caravaggio, Botticelli, Goya, and Michelangelo, as well as stained glass windows used this account of Judith’s beheading of Holofernes as an artistic subject. Within the biblical context there are overtones of this in Judges, chapter 4, when Jael, the wife of Heber the Kenite drove a tent peg into the temple of Sisera, after giving him something to drink. Another similar but unsuccessful event was when King Saul tired to kill David with a spear while he was playing the lyre, in 1 Samuel, chapter 18.