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Psuper Psalm 51: A Cold & Broken Hallelujah

“A Cold & A Broken Hallelujah:

Collaboration of Blake,

Cohen, Dali, & David”

(Psalm 51)

A Painting by Daniel Botkin


     Seated at the table are four men with their four works that provided the raw material for this painting.

     William Blake’s watercolor “The Ancient of Days” provided the pose for David as an old man on top of the blocks.

     Leonard Cohen’s signature song “Hallelujah” provided several details in the painting, including the appearance of the word “Hallelujah” on the blocks.

     Salvador Dali’s painting “Christ of St. John of the Cross” provided the dark sky, the perspective, and the landscape behind the table.

     David and his parchment provided the text of Psalm 51, which inspired this painting. David’s head is modeled after Michelangelo’s famous sculpture of David. Michelangelo sculpted David with his left hand holding a sling over his shoulder. For this painting, Michelangelo’s David is repositioned so his right hand holds the quill that he utilized to pen Psalm 51.    

Botkin_sm_A Cold and Broken Hallelujah.jpg

     The Hebrew word Hallelujah has six letters in Hebrew, eight letters when transliterated into Greek, and ten letters when transliterated into English. This Providential fact, along with the fact that the word begins and ends with the same letter in all three languages, made it possible for “Hallelujah” to be written in a repeating rotation in all three languages.

     At the top of the painting, we see David as an old man, measuring the Hallelujahs of his life and remembering his sin with Bath-sheba, whose name is written in red in the scroll on the table.

     A younger David is seated in the darkened center, tied to a kitchen chair. Like Samson’s Nazarite locks, the locks of David’s hair are figuratively shorn and his strength is depleted. The back of the chair morphs into a harp with broken strings, echoed in the broken strings of Leonard Cohen’s guitar below. The cold, icy Hallelujahs below David’s feet are beginning to freeze and break apart.

     Below the cold and broken Hallelujahs, Uriah lies dead with an arrow in his heart, the victim of David’s adulterous lust. In the lower left corner of the painting, Uriah is welcomed to the afterlife by an angel on the other shore.

     In the lower right corner, Bath-sheba awaits the return of her husband Uriah. But Joab, seated in the boat, returns alone and brings David the news that Uriah was killed in battle after being set up for certain death, according to David’s instructions.

     David has his flag of victory on his marble arch, but he will soon learn that love is not a victory march. It’s a cold and it’s a broken Hallelujah.

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